Ali started The Biggest Loser Couples tipping the scales at 234 pounds. By the finale, she had completely changed her body—and life—and weighed in at 122 pounds, losing a whopping 47.86 percent of her total weight. Nowadays, she's working as a hair dresser and rocking it as a spokesperson and role model for health and fitness.
We had the opportunity to ask Ms. Biggest Loser a few questions. And here's what Miss Thang had to say:
FBG: How has your life changed since winning The Biggest Loser?
AV: My entire life has changed. I now look for more active ways to spend time with my friends and family. I only work in the salon a few days a month, and I am traveling around speaking to people at health expos and different events. I am also an official spokesperson for 24 Hour Fitness, which is so much fun. I went from being the Biggest Loser to being a spokesperson for a gym—talk about life changing.
FBG: Did you think that you'd win it from the start? Why or why not, and how did that change as the finale got closer and closer?
AV: I said from the start that I was going to be the first female Biggest Loser, but, quite frankly, I was just faking it 'till I made it. I believe in voicing your dreams and putting it out to the universe, but you also have to put action behind it. I would say over and over "Believe it, Be it…. I’m going to be the first female Biggest Loser," but it wasn’t until week four that I knew it with every pore of who I was that I would be. As the finale drew closer, I could almost grab it. It seemed like it was right there within reach. What I had to address was the fact often in my life that I would go 99.9 percent of the way then self-sabotage. It was if I knew I should and could create what I wanted in my life, but then something inside me would believe that I didn’t deserve it and sabotage the situation. Luckily, I had “child-proofed” my environment with a strong support system and healthy choices. So when self doubt reared its ugly head, I was ready for it.
FBG: What's the biggest lesson you learned while on the show?
AV: I believe the biggest lesson I learned was that I was living my life like a child. Trust me, I didn’t like the sound of that either when I first heard it. Bob told me I needed to grow up and I was like “Excuse me?!” What he meant was that I was living my life through immediate gratification, not considering the consequence. When I stopped and really thought about it and what that really meant, he was right. I had no consideration for what would happen if I didn’t consider the consequence of what that chocolate cake was going to do to me. Now I still eat chocolate cake, I just choose to spend extra time on the treadmill, or do nothing and pay the price of gaining weight.
FBG: If you could tell women one thing, what would it be?
AV: If I could tell women one thing, and they could really hear it and own it, I would “own your greatness.” We all are incredible women and deserve to be celebrated, but all too often, we look outward to be validated. Look inside. You will like who you see, and if you don’t, do something different. We have the power inside us to create our destiny. You are the creator of your reality. What do you want that to look like?
FBG: And everyone is dying to know, how much did you eat and work out on the show, and how rigid do you have to be now that you're maintaining your weight?
AV: When I was in the process of actually losing the 112 pounds, I was on a 1,200 calorie budget and I worked out 6 to 8 hours in the beginning and a little longer towards the end. I use a tool called the BodyBugg—it tells me how many calories I burned throughout the day. So basically when the BodyBugg told me I was done, then I was done for the day. Losing weight is a mathematical equation. You figure out how much weight you want to lose and how many days you have to lose it, and then make sure that you have a calorie burn of that for each day. For example, if I want to lose three pounds in a six-day week (you always have to have a day of rest), then I simply add 10,500 calories (3 pounds) plus 7,200 calories (1,200 intake budget) and divide by six (days to lose), which means you need to burn 2,950 calories a day. So when your BodyBugg tells you have burned it, you are free to enjoy the rest of your day. Now that I am maintaining, I just need to make sure I burn at least what I eat.
FBG: Any other thoughts?
AV: What I have learned and continue to learn for what I know will be a life-time journey is that everyday is a new day. Forgive yourself, whatever that looks like for you. Celebrate your journey, every part of it. If you make a bad choice in one moment, know that you have the opportunity in the next to make a choice that you can be proud of. We all too often waste time beating ourselves up for what we think we should, or, must, do. What if you just didn’t? What if today you told the truth and started doing something to get you where you wanted to go? I believe you can have anything you want if you put action behind it. So dream and dream big. Collect evidence for you want to see and you will see it and believe it and BE IT.
Wow. If you're not inspired, check your pulse. — Jenn
Dying for FBG to interview someone else in the fitness world? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com, and we'll do our best to make it happen.