Danni Allen said she spent the last several months visualizing herself winning Season 14 of "The Biggest Loser." She imagined what it would feel like stepping on the scale for one last time. She imagined feeling the confetti raining down on her, signaling victory.
But she refused to envision what she'd do if she won the $250,000 grand prize in NBC's weight-loss competition. Why? She didn't want to jinx herself.
An exhausted Danni talked to the media Tuesday and said she has not decided how to spend the money, save one small splurge: She and Jeff, who were the only two guaranteed finalists going into Monday night's competition, made a pact that the winner would take the other one along on a vacation to reward all their hard work. And she plans to follow through on that promise.
"I'll probably take Francelina too," she said, referring to Jeff's girlfriend, another competitor on the ranch. Danni joked that she'd be the third wheel on such a trip but added: "Everybody is talking about how I'm single and hot, so, hey, maybe I'll find love on this trip too."
Danni had one of the most amazing transformations in "Biggest Loser" history, in part because of an unusual body composition that allowed her to put on at least 19 pounds of muscle at the ranch while simultaneously losing fat. The 26-year-old joined the cast weighing 258 pounds. She lost 121 pounds — or 46.90% of her body weight — over the course of the competition. And Danni walked — strutted, actually — into the finale looking like a sculpted fitness model.
She beat out Jeff by a mere pound, making for one of the closest weigh-ins in show history. But she said that was fitting.
Danni was a one-woman wrecking crew, demolishing challenge after challenge and weigh-in after weigh-in, even as all her white team teammates were eliminated one by one, until she was the last one standing alongside trainer Jillian Michaels. It was both a dream scenario and a nightmare — there would be no slacking off during Jillian's punishing workouts. But it also meant that Jillian could give Danni her undivided attention, driving her to victory.
"It was the best thing that could ever happen," she said of turning into a one-woman team. She said she showed up at the ranch suffering from a "disease to please." "When my team left, I had no one else to worry about but myself.
Here are other highlights from Danni's conversation with the media Tuesday:
—She said plans to continue setting fitness goals for herself. Next up? The Chicago Marathon in October.
—Danni was working two jobs to help pay off a mountain of student loan bills. She does not know whether she will return to those jobs. She is considering a changing to a career in nutrition and fitness.
—In addition to the "disease to please," Danni said she suffered a great deal of guilt because she was living a comfortable middle-class life when so many other people in the world were suffering. She said she finally had to channel those feelings into a desire to be "the best Danni" she could be, so she could help others. She said she had to come to believe that she was worthy of happiness. "The 'Why me?' turned into the 'Why not me?' "
—She believes her long-term success will be boosted by her whole family being on board with getting in shape and losing weight, her parents included. Her mom, for example, is taking boxing classes.
—Visualization exercises were key, in addition to diet and workouts. "Jillian told me, 'You can't have it if you can't see it." … It just kept me motivated me every single day."
—She said that one of the first things she did after returning home was to turn her apartment into a "safe zone" stripped of junk food.
—Danni said her new way of eating is not about starving herself. She even makes room in her diet for daily nibbles of dark chocolate. No junk food. "It's not about deprivation," she said. "It's about a new lifestyle and balancing everything. 'Balancing your nutrition,' that's the best thing I learned."
—That finale dress? It was a Halston Heritage. And it perfectly mirrored her personal theme song, Alicia Keys' "Girl On Fire." "That was my fire dress," Danni said. "I felt like I was on fire [Monday] night."
—She is making a shadow-box display of her jeans, showing the 20-plus-sized jeans she wore before arriving at the ranch, the size-10 jeans she wore midway through her journey, and now the size-4 jeans that slide on quite easily, thank you.
—Danni said that Pam was a key cheerleader along the weight-loss journey and will be a lifelong friend. When Pam left the ranch, she grabbed Danni by the shoulders and stared her in the eyes and told her that she could go the distance. After Danni won, Pam grabbed her and whispered in her ear: "I told you so." "I can't wait to continue our friendship," Danni said.
—There is one rumor Danni would like to clear up: She is not planning on doing a reality dating show, despite some on-lines stories suggesting so.
She said that there is nothing special about her results and hopes that others will be inspired by it: "If I can do it, you totally can do it."