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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is a transcript of an interview with eliminated contestant Justin Pope on March 23, 2011 about the show The Biggest Loser.

Justin Pope

Question:
What was different about training with Cara and Brett versus training with Jillian and Bob?

Justin Pope:
Probably the biggest difference that I noticed was just the type of training that we did. You know, we did a lot of intervals and a lot of checking our heart rates and pushing ourselves at MRT. Less hours of activity for more calories burned and not as much steady cardio is probably the biggest difference between the two sets of trainers.

Question:
Tell me about the Justin Call Out shirts and what you've got going on with that program?

Justin Pope:
Okay. Basically, it's just a shirt that I like to push people and so I designed the shirts and it was originally just for a handful of people that I felt like needed a call out that needed me to help them learn everything from exercise to diet to self-confidence; all of those things.

And so, I delivered them to their doors and have them come down to class. We do a 5 o'clock in the morning workout. We do an 8 o'clock at night workout. It's not just a Call Out, it's a Help Out, help people out and gives them someplace to turn. I'm kind of greedy myself because I use their fire to light my own fire, you know? It makes me push harder when I see them there and I feed off their energy, and it makes it for a good workout when you're feeding off each other.

Question:
What motivates you now, as compared to before you went to the ranch?

Justin Pope:
I think the biggest difference between me before the ranch and now is the fact that I'm educated now. I know what I need to do to make myself better, and I have. I wouldn't necessarily say that I've made myself better, but I've kind of found that person that I lost that I didn't know where he was. I've found something else that I really enjoy helping and pushing people. And there's just that feeling of brotherhood and companionship that I enjoy in a workout, and so it makes me feel better to help other people out and it makes me a better person.

Question:
Can you tell me about balancing all the game play versus the honest hard work at the ranch?

Justin Pope:
Well I don't think the game play is nearly as big of a deal as maybe a lot of people are saying about it. You know, I can say that there wasn't a day at the ranch that I didn't lay it out; that I didn't give everything that I had. And, you know you can look over from one week to the next and there's legitimate weight loss across the board. Not just me, but everybody has legitimate weight loss. In weeks when you think and know somebody's going home, you don't take all the same steps that you would on a week when you're fighting for every ounce of weight.

And everybody on a week when somebody's going home enjoys a supper. You know, they don't skimp on the last few calories. You know, they don't push their hydration to the limit. And I don't really think that it's a matter of game play,you can look around and see what the game is giving you, and everybody wants to do their best and tries to do their best. And I think the game play is over played, to be honest with you.

Question:
What do you think is the most important thing you learned from being on the show?

Justin Pope:
You know, I think the most important thing that I learned is just to have mental strength for the first time in my life being comfortable with who I am and what I've become. And it didn't hurt at all that I learned how to exercise, and that I learned how to count calories and all those things. But really being able to spend that time with yourself and have all those things come together, and then to put it together in your mind and have it work it makes for a great experience across the board when you don't have to worry about those other things.

Of course, you worry about your family and your loved ones at home and small things, but you know everyday life things don't seem to bother you as much, because you're tired, you're working out, and you know it's a whole experience that makes it worthwhile.

Question:
What's been the most difficult thing about going home after having been on the show?

Justin Pope:
You know, actually for me the least difficult thing has been getting the exercise, burning the calories; the diet. You know, I got that in check. But the most difficult is just trying to get back into life with your family, you know? You know, you've been away, you've changed, and they've been at home and they haven't changed.

And I think my family kind of mourns the person I used to be, in a sense, you know? On one hand they're proud of my accomplishment, what I've done, but they have to get know a new and a different person. And I need to start dating my wife again, and you know falling in love all over again and starting those relationships.

And so, that's been the toughest part is just you know having other people accept that you're new and you're different. You have confidence and you're opinionated, and sometimes you're stingy with your time. And you learn how to say, "No," and all those things are difficult. The exercise and the diet they're spot-on for me. I don't have a problem with them at all.

Question:
Iin light of what you were saying about game play, maybe it being overrated, what your thoughts were on Kaylee and what happened at the weigh in, and whether there are any hard feelings that she wanted to go and you ended up going?

Justin Pope:
Oh, no, no hard feelings whatsoever. I mean, Kaylee wanted to go home and Kaylee had approached me earlier in the week and told me she was ready to go home and I told her no. It was probably my most proud moment of Kaylee when she looked at me in the eye and she says, "You know what, Justin, I'm telling you, I'm good. I'm going home. You know, I'm not that shy little girl that couldn't look you in the eye a while ago and not tell you."

From day one Kaylee and I have had a relationship where we pushed each other. We pushed each other harder than anybody did at the ridge, and we're friends and we'll continue to be friends. There's no hard feelings there. You think something's going to happen, it happens different, and all things happen for a reason. And I have no hard feelings towards anybody.

Question:
Just before the elimination, you told everybody, "Don't even think about voting for me to stay." Was that something that you thought about beforehand that if it got to that stage you were willing to go?

Justin Pope:
No. It's not something that I had thought about before. I had thought about with Arthur and I felt like Arthur needed to stay, but at that time my team really expressed to me that, "Hey, we need you here. You know, we enjoy what you do for us." And so, it just didn't work out with Arthur, but when it came to Courtney, yeah I felt like she had to be there. Like, that was her place and what she needed to, even though if it would have came down to it I would have the votes to stay. And I could have said you know, "Hey, keep me here."

But that definitely wasn't the right thing to do and I didn't ever think I was going to win the show from the start anyway. I didn't feel like I had enough weight to lose to win it. And so, from day one I took full advantage of everyday I had there and when it was time to go, I was glad to go and I hope Courtney got left in good hands and she's doing well.

Question:
When Kaylee came to you and said that she wanted to go home or she was ready to go home, obviously your initial reaction was, no. What did you say to her to try to discourage her from taking that route?

Justin Pope:
I took the approach that, "Hey, you know what, it's never been about weight loss for you, Kaylee," and we'd had that discussion before. You know, I told her from the start "For you, it's when you can have your voice be heard and be proud of who you are, and not that shy bashful girl that doesn't have an opinion."

And so, once she came to me and it was different, because it wasn't her looking down at her feet and trying to have a conversation. It was her looking me in the eye and saying, "Hey, I'm ready to go. I'm ready to take the next step in my life, you know? I want to go home. I want to go college. I want to date guys. I'm ready to do something different with my life. I'm just exercising at this point." I couldn't argue with it at that point. I'm like, "Okay, Kaylee I understand. You know if you're ready to move on then move on." And really it's - I was proud of her at that point that she could have that opinion.

Question:
You were a great motivator and leader to people on the ranch, and now people in your classes. Why do you think before you went on the show you weren't able to motivate yourself to stay fit and at a healthy weight?

Justin Pope:
I've been motivated in my life, just not motivated in exercise, you know? And I think it all comes back to telling yourself a lie, you know? I didn't see myself as obese. I had a hard time saying that word. I knew I was overweight. I knew I was even fat, but not obese. And, you know I still woke up every morning and went to work and worked just as hard, or harder than anybody around me. And I put in the hours and I didn't really have a focus that my weight was a problem. You know, you learn to live that lie and that's your life.

And another thing is, is I think that some people are just intimidated and it's - and myself, and that's a strong word, but there is some intimidation by not knowing really what to do about your weight problem. I knew how to exercise. I played college sports. I've done those things. I knew how to exercise.

And I kind of knew about calories, but there's so many "You should watch fat, you should this, you should that." I don't think anybody ever sat down and spoke plain English to me and said, "You know what, calories in, calories out, that's just the way it is." And at some point I just said, "You know what, I'm going to do this. If I'm going to be away from my family that I love and miss, and this and that and the other, I don't care."

And it's strange, but for the first time in my life I didn't care who was watching me ever, you know? If I was at the other end of the field or the other end of the gym, I didn't care if the trainers were watching or somebody else was, I was giving 100%. And I told everybody out there, "You know what, I use your energy to lift me up and I hope my energy lifts you up." And that's the way I started living my life and it just became a lifestyle for me.

Question:
At the elimination, you said to your fellow players, "I'm a better person because of every one of you." Can you tell us how the other players have affected you?

Justin Pope:
Every player there is my friend and they have affected me in every way. You know, to be honest with you, it's too bad that everybody can't see a full weigh in from start to finish. And that's when you really get people's true feelings and how they feel, and they'll talk up there and they'll say where they're at, what they're accomplishments are.

And I know there's not enough time in a show to put all that, but to me it was just inspiration time. I was like, "Look, I've had this file in my head where I put these stories, these accomplishments that everybody's pushed through and are proud of." And when I have, and I call that chatter in your head when you're pushing yourself so hard that chatter's saying, "Quite. Don't do this. Don't do that." You know, obviously you have those mainstay things that you go to like your wife and your kids and your - you know, your lifestyle, and - but then, you start going to the people around you, you know? "I know he went through this," and you just put yourself into a different world and into another zone, and they've all become my friend and I've pushed them.

And I don't know that they were willing to take that one. I mean, I came over from the ridge and most of them were like, "Ah I don't know if I like Justin yelling. I don't know if I like the," you know, I hear the stories, but you know it was in a matter of a day or two, people are coming up and it's like, "Hey, can I work out on this machine beside you? I love your energy. Push me," you know? "Sure hop on. Let's go." And there's just that brotherhood that's built there in those conversations that are had that are really kind of priceless.

Question:
No one really ever expected you to get sent home last night, the Red Team seemed so strong. Were you surprised and what was going through your head when you realized that you were going to go?

Justin Pope:
You go from number one guy on campus for weightloss to the guy that's going to be heading home, and it all becomes kind of a blur. I was definitely surprised. I thought I knew who was going to home. But, I just wanted to keep my head about myself the whole time, you know? I went there and I wanted to return home with honor, and to me that was what needed to be done, you know? I had no question in my mind that it was time and quite frankly I didn't want to leave the game, but I missed home. I missed my wife, my family, and I was good with going home. I was comfortable, you know?

There's always that feeling of, "I should have done this. I should have done that," but you know what, it's the way life is, none of us can stay there forever, and you know I'm lucky because I had a great support system to come home to, and people loved and cared about me.

Question:
Hi, Justin. Thanks for taking the time. I'm curious if there's like a rule that you follow now, something that you feel like you have to follow to stay on track?

Justin Pope:
I think that there's probably going to be a day when I need to examine each and every one of those rules to stay on track. Right now, it hasn't been tough. You know, I know I'm going back to the Finale. I now I'm doing those things. And it's kind of funny because I tell every contestant that's eliminated, "Hey, this is what I'm going to weigh at the Finale, and you know I hope like hell you beat me. But, I'm going to push you to that point. If you step up and beat me, good job. I'm proud of you," you know? And so for me, that's just one more motivator to be the best I can be. And II've just got to get one last push in on everybody.

Question:
Is there anyone in particular that you feel like is your greatest competition for the Finale?

Justin Pope:
You know, you probably look at everybody and to be 100% honest obviously there's Arthur and there's people that are eliminated, this, that, and the other that you know about. But, to me it's really about I know where I'm going. I'm not going to push myself any harder or any less because somebody's got this much weight or that much weight. And I've been straight up with everybody. You know what, I'm going to 200 pounds 199; I'm going to be there. You know what, come beat me. I hope you do. And that's just kind of the way I feel. I hope they all beat me, to be honest with you.

Question:
There was a lot of talk about people being homesick and wanting to go home. Kaylee almost did last night. What kept you at the ranch week after week wanting to stay?

Justin Pope:
You see a lot of it is competition the spirit of the competition and you see the changes that you've made. At first they're kind of slow and then they get a little faster and faster, and you start becoming comfortable with who you are, what you are. And when I left I told my wife, I said, "You know what? I'm going to be stingy. I can't hear about the bad things. You can't write me a letter and say, ???Oh, this and this and this is going on,' and whatnot." And I just had to trust that everything was good at home and that's the way it is.

Between competition and trust that everything's going to be fine and a little bit of prayer and some heartaches that you hide. You know, you don't always show them everything's that going on, everything that's in your head. You know, there's times that it's tougher than it looks, but you just deal with it.

Question:
What kind of eating habits did you have before the show, and how have they changed now?

Justin Pope:
Okay. You know what, I never was really a binge eater or I didn't consume a ton of calories all the time. I just did what I wanted to do and it was always take out, fast food, and living on the run. Some days, I'd eat once a day, some days I'd eat four times a day. And when I would go eat, I ate what I wanted. If I wanted to order two hamburgers, I'd order two hamburgers. If I wanted to order three, one, I just consumed and I had no idea how many calories.

I still don't know. I try to thing back and think of what I did eat and what I didn't eat and I don't really don't know how many calories I ate it was always fast food. And since I've been home that's one of the adjustments with the family. You know, I talked about dating my wife again and she's used to living that lifestyle. I do a lot of things, I own different companies, but I've always got something going on and we've learned to adjust. We've learned how to eat at home, we've learned how to pack snack, but we've also learned how to eat out and that's part of my class that I teach, my co-op class. We go out to restaurants and eat about every week and a half, and we learn how to order from the menu. We learn how to ask them to prepare something different.

We have a local restaurant that has actually came to me and said, "Hey, I like what you're doing and we're willing to help you out." And they actually started sponsoring some meals and whatnot for us to help us out. They liked the conscience they said, "Hey, you're making a change; we want to make a change with you." And so, it's all about education, you know? And we don't all have to live out of a brown sack or at home eating meals. We can be on the go and on the run, but be prepared pack a snack with you. And you just learn to know what calories are in your head there's books and apps on your phone and all those things.

I think it's important that you write it down or you know what they are so at the end of the day you can make a conscience choice, "Well, do I want this for this many calories, or maybe I shouldn't have ate that earlier today because I could have at this tonight, you know?" That's the other thing I teach my class is that, I start them out and I'm like, "I don't care how many calories you guys eat. I could care less if you eat a candy bar. I don't care what it is. I just want you to start writing it down."

And then I start narrowing it down on their calories, and so they have to start making the choices and that's when I started turning the corner when I actually wrote it down and started making choices. "Hey, you know what, an egg is great, but if I take the yolk out of it I just cut 50, 60 calories. I could eat three or four whites for that yolk," you know, and start making those choices.

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