‘The Biggest Loser’: A record falls and a bird takes flight

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It was face-off week. Amanda had a meltdown. Jillian wondered, ‘Why are these contestants so freaking difficult this season?’ Shay began scratching the surface of the pain that led her to gain more than 400 pounds. Rebecca snapped her neck. The World Series-bound Derek Jeter helped coach the black team to -- finally -- a victory. Aussie chef Curtis Stone taught us how to cook a low-cal burger. Rudy set a record, becoming the first ‘Biggest Loser’ contestant to lose 100 pounds in seven weeks, breaking Dane’s record from last season. (It took Dane eight weeks, and he graciously returned tonight to watch his record being smashed.) The hilarious Liz may have a future life as a sidekick commentator -- I could listen to her crack wise all day. And something is up with Daniel -- he has only lost 3 pounds in two weeks.

OK. I think that covers all the highlights.

Now, let’s get to Abby.

When Abby first stepped foot on the Biggest Loser Ranch, I’m not sure anyone had much hope for her. Sympathy, yes. After all, her husband and two young children were killed in a car crash. But there seemed to be questions about whether she had the mental grit and strength to make it. For many of the contestants, their families at home are what they cling to to get them through the pain. Abby didn’t have that. She had to do it for herself.

And she did.

Abby and Jillian had some one-on-one time in the gym, and I’ve never seen Jillian at such a loss for words. She had no words of wisdom to pass on to Abby -- Abby was the one doing the teaching. And one of TV’s toughest trainers admitted that she didn’t know if she was strong enough to survive such a thing.

We also got to see just how tough, yet giving, Abby really is: When the black team lost the face-off elimination and had to send a member home, she volunteered herself. Danny urged her to put herself first, and to fight to stay. But Abby explained that she was never in this thing to win, and she never had a problem putting herself first, anyway. She had a problem finding the will to live. But she found it at the ranch. And so, she was ready for the next part of the journey.


She asked her teammates to eliminate her from the game, adding that she had no doubt that her weight loss would continue successfully at home.

‘My journey is about being truthful to who I want to be,’ she said. ‘I have gotten the kickstart of a lifetime.... I am going to be fine.’

Most of her teammates abided by her wishes, even Shay, who suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of a drug-addicted mother: ‘Every time I see you, I see the mom I wanted and didn’t have,’ Shay told Abby. (I had to reach for the Kleenex at that point.)

Daniel, however, voted for Danny, which may suggest some growing divide in the black team and frustration over Daniel’s recent inability to shed pounds.

‘My husband and I spent a lot of time dreaming ... big dreams ... and I thought those dreams had died,’ Abby said. ‘But I’m starting to have new dreams again. I’m having new dreams again.’

She said she came to the ranch ‘shattered and broken.’

Now, she added, ‘I’m ready to fly again.’

And indeed, she is. After a police escort delivered her to a homecoming with friends and family, we learned that Abby had lost a total of 80 pounds and was now a motivational speaker encouraging others to look at her story and find their own second chance.

She said when she came to the ranch, about all she knew is that God had saved her from the wreck for a reason.

Now, she knows what it is.

The evening’s episode was dedicated to Abby’s late husband and their two children, who were killed when their vehicle was struck by another motorist traveling over 100 miles per hour.

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: NBC Universal