Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Interview with The Biggest Loser's Brendan and Mark

Trae Patton/NBC

NBC's The Biggest Loser is down to the final four and most fans were shocked by who made it to the end. In last week's elimination Brendan and Mark, two of the strongest players, were sent home from the ranch while the season's weakest link, Elizabeth, was once again saved. She will join the remaining contestants Frado, Patrick and Ada as they return home tonight to complete the final stretch on their own (including the now requisite marathon) to determine who will be back next week for the finale.

But at then end of the day this show is not about who wins, it's about weight loss, healthy living and changing lives. And this season's theme was paying it forward. We spoke with Brendan and Mark in a conference call interview after their eliminations about how they plan to give back, the difficulties of going home and their predictions on the outcome of the finale.

Watch The Biggest Loser semi-final tonight and the finale next Tuesday, December 14 at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central to see who becomes this season's Biggest Loser.

Q: Who do you think is going to win?

MARK: I think Patrick’s going to win.

BRENDAN: Honestly I mean Elizabeth’s really far behind. And right now it’s between Patrick, Frado and Ada. But I honestly don’t think Ada has that much weight to lose. She’s already almost at her goal weight. So I think it’s between Patrick and Frado. And that’s not because of any bias I have. It’s simply because of their bodies and how much weight they still have to lose.

MARK: Brendan’s right. Brendan’s definitely right.

Q: Mark, what are you doing at home right now to take that at-home prize?

MARK: I’m just doing what I did from day one. Just hard work, just keep working, keep working, keep working hard. I think I’ve got my diet down pretty well at the ranch, which carried over to home. When I first got home it was a little difficult adjusting back to my life, actually workout-wise. My diet was 100% perfect. So I’ve just been trying to be as consistent as possible. And the weight’s been coming off pretty consistently.

Q: Mark, who do you think is your biggest competition for the at-home prize?

MARK: [I've] always been honest. Brendan, he’s a workhorse. You know? He’s an obvious threat for the at-home prize. You also have to look at Adam, who also killed it in the gym all the time consistently, was taking off weight and Rick as well. Those three were probably three of the hardest-working people. So I can see them really keeping a consistent routine this entire time that we’re home until the finale.

BRENDAN: Mark, you got it in the bag, dude. You know that.

MARK: I don’t know. We’ll see. I’m still nervous about it.

Q: What's the hardest part about being home and having to maintain your new diet, your lifestyle?

BRENDAN: You know, Mark mentioned this in his "where are they now." We come home to the same similar surroundings. I came home and my friends are still going out to eat, going out drinking. And I can’t do that anymore… I’m not going to not eat pizza the rest of my life or not eat Thanksgiving, but I have to do everything in moderation now. And it’s tough. It’s tough because before I came to the ranch, I ate pizza every night. I ate subs every night. And now I eat healthy all the time. So it’s definitely been a difficult process. But I’m working on it.

MARK: Well for me there was definitely a little bit of a learning curve going home because I went right back into work. And I worked as a bartender. So the late hours were what were killing me. But in a way that was good because it really helped to test myself, really test my true grit and my will. And I learned to adapt to it. So I was going to go out with friends or going to go out to work I’d have a normal dinner to eat before I did that so I wouldn’t go and pig out afterwards. However it was a little difficult still maintaining that lifestyle. So I actually quit my job. And I’ve been training since then. It's just like Brendan touched upon, you get home, you’ve changed so much and it seems like nothing else has changed around you. So it’s really still on you to adapt that situation. So if anything it’s a little harder going home than actually being on the ranch, because being on the ranch it’s almost like you’re in like a little biosphere where everything’s sealed. It’s a very sealed system there where there isn’t a lot of room for error. But when you go home there is a lot of room for error.

Q. What is your current at-home program?

MARK: Well to be honest with you, my workouts I try to get in between four and five hours a day of working out, at least two sessions if not three sessions of working out. And, I’ll do about 2, 2-1/2 hours of very intense workouts. And the rest are slow-burn cardio workouts. To be honest with you I know they might get mad at me, but I don’t have no clue what my burn rate is, because I haven’t worn my Bodybugg since I left the ranch. So I think I know my body well enough now that I know when I’ve had a good enough workout. And I’ve been pretty consistent. The weight’s been coming off. So I think I know my body well enough now that maybe I don’t need the Bodybugg. I hope. They don’t like to hear that though.

Q: Do you focus on cardio or do you focus on weight training?

MARK: I’m doing more cardio to be honest with you. I’m doing light circuit weights, just so I don’t lose all my muscle mass. But I am doing mostly cardio. That seems to work best for me for ripping the fat off.

BRENDAN: On the ranch we worked out for eight to ten hours a day. Like Mark said, only an hour or two is really intense. And then the people that stay around at the ranch are the people that walk all day, all morning and all night, those are the people that last the longest. So when I came home I thought I could do that. I was working out eight hours a day. And it wasn’t realistic. And then I had a couple issues at home. I had surgery and then I’ve had some orthopedic issues that kind of slowed me down. And now I’m just back to three hours a day. I do my hour of cardio in the morning and I go to the gym two hours at night. And I just do what I can. I try to take the realistic approach and I do my cardio, but I’m focusing more on weights. Like I said in my audition tape I want to be the first Biggest Loser bodybuilder so I want to come to the finale rocked out. Honestly I don’t really care about winning the at-home prize. I really don’t. I mean everyone thought I was a game-player that wanted the money. I really don’t care. I just I want to come to the finale rocked out.

Q: What would you do with the at-home prize money if you won?

BRENDAN: If I won it I would definitely want to start some type of foundation in the inner city here in Boston with the kids that I work with… I teach freshmen every year and I would just love to go in the classroom and have an incentive program where every few months I could take the kids on a college tour. And I’m not talking UMass Boston. I’m talking about traveling the country and actually let them see what’s out there for them and see past these walls that they can’t get out of. So I would love to pay it forward. Obviously I would pay some bills off as well. But again I would love to start a little foundation in Boston.

MARK: I want to spend a little time with my father and go traveling because I’ve been working so much… pretty much since I got out of college. I really haven’t had a chance to go anywhere and see the world. And I really want to take my father along with me because he really enjoys traveling. And with his condition I want him to experience all that, god forbid should anything happen. But I also want to use the money as a way to launch an initiative in this country to start eating right and get fit because it’s such a huge epidemic in this country especially among lower income families. Where in the world are low income families morbidly obese? It just doesn’t exist except in this country. It’s because of the easy access you have to poor food and poor education about that food and working out as well. And I’d really like to start some sort of initiative to get people on the right track.

Q: How do you guys both plan to continue paying it forward now that you’re back home?

BRENDAN: With me, I think I paid it forward my whole life. I was a school police officer and now I’m a special ed teacher in the inner city and I coach. And I’m going to go back to my regular life. I’m going to go back to teaching these kids who need a role model. And I think now because of The Biggest Loser I’m better equipped to be that better role model.

MARK: I started with my family first of all when I got home. Obviously my cousin lost a lot of weight on her own. She’s lost a little bit more since we filmed our Where Are They Now. My mother has been working out. She’s very obese. And now that I think have my family on the right track I really want to get out there and spread the word around the country. I want to travel to every corner of this country even if it’s to talk to one person just to get them motivated because I don’t want anybody to feel the way that I felt beforehand because I know I’ve been there. And it’s not a good place to be. So I really want to start inspiring people around this country.

Q: What were the two tips that you guys would pay forward?

BRENDAN: I would say for anyone that doesn’t think they can do it -- I don’t know if Mark can attest to this -- but all you’ve got to do is walk. Literally, like Mike Ventrella from last season, people said, the first eight weeks on the ranch all he did was walk. Just get out there and walked and the weight will come off.

MARK: Yeah. I 100% agree with Brendan. That’s what I always tell people. Just keep moving. Just move, move, move, move. If you think you just want to sit there and watch television just get up and do squats or just walk in place. Or go out for a walk after dinner. Just walk, walk, walk. Just get your body moving. And one important lesson that goes along with that that I actually learned at Camp Pendleton, the Marines, which I had a blast there -- that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life -- is they said you can always take one more step. Just when you think you’re going to keel over, you think it’s done, you’re dead, you can always take one more step. And you just keep going with that mindset and you’ll be fine.

Q: In last week’s episode you put on all the weight that you’d lost to do the challenge. So can you talk a little bit about what was going through your mind as that whole thing unfolded?

BRENDAN: Yeah. For me I’ve taken the weight off and putting it back on so many times in my life that it was a wake up call to do that again. It’s a milestone when you reach that challenge in the show. And putting all that weight back just reminded of how miserable I really was. It reminded me of the blood pressure meds, the cholesterol meds, the depression meds. It reminded me of my orthopedic issues. It was tough putting all that weight on. But as the challenge went on and we got to release it, it was exhilarating at the end of that challenge just to raise that flag. It didn’t matter who won that challenge.

MARK: Yeah. I agree with Brendan. It was very difficult putting that weight back on, especially I had a 41-pound vest on. I couldn’t keep my balance. I don’t know how I balanced when I was 421 pounds. How was I just able to stay upright? It was extremely difficult. And I’ve taken off the weight once. I haven’t been in a situation like Brendan has been where he’s yo-yo-ed up and down, up and down. I’ve taken the weight off once and just put it back on for that challenge. That’s enough for me. I’m never doing that again, never, never, never in my life. Like I said in the show the weight has beat me once, now I’m winning and it’s never going to happen again. And as I was shedding the weight, going through the challenge it was more than just the physical weight that was being lifted off my shoulders. It was the emotional weight that was being taken off along with that and kind of like the completion of my journey on the ranch. And like you said I know I have no shot to win that challenge. But it was good for my mind to go through that challenge, to really cement what I’d accomplished through my entire stay at the ranch.

For other Biggest Loser stories check out:
A Big Week for The Biggest Loser
Bruno Schiavi & Ashley Johnson on the Biggest Loser Clothing Line

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