‘Biggest Loser’ champ Danni Allen says Chicago marathon in the runningContinue reading.
Wheeling woman has a shot at winning ‘Biggest Loser’
When NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” held a casting call in Downers Grove last summer, Danni Allen and a co-worker decided to give it a try.
Both women were struggling with their weight. They figured they could meet other people battling the same problem and use the experience as a jumping off point to get healthy.
“It was a last-minute decision,” said Allen, 26, an advertising account coordinator who grew up in Mundelein and now lives in Wheeling. “I had no plans of making it.”
Not only did Allen make it onto the weight-loss competition, she’s one of five contestants still in the running for the $250,000 grand prize that will be awarded during the live finale March 18.
“I didn’t even think I was going to make it thru the first work out let alone week one, and then week two,” said Allen, the last remaining member of tough-love trainer Jillian Michaels’ team.
For Allen, the fight to drop pounds started long before the show began filming in September. She was a chubby kid and, despite an active lifestyle, stayed that way through her tenure at Mundelein High School and Clemson University in South Carolina.
“I was in show choir so I had dance every day,” Allen said. “I had varsity soccer practice. I played water polo in college. Before I went on the show I tricked myself into thinking I was a healthy eater, but my portions were out of control.”
Instead of eating a handful of grapes, she’d eat the whole bag. She’d cook healthy foods like whole-wheat pasta and quinoa but consume far too much of them. Her eating habits were similar to those of her father, who landed in the emergency room with cardiovascular problems a year ago. He recovered, but the scare left a lasting impression on his oldest daughter.
“I saw myself at 50 years old being in the hospital,” she said. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
When Danni started season 14 of “The Biggest Loser,” she was at her highest weight ever: 258 pounds. On last week’s episode she’d knocked 84 pounds off that number and was down to 174.
Contestants aren’t allowed to say how much they currently weigh until the finale airs. On Monday’s penultimate episode, the two contestants with the highest percentage of weight loss will be safe from elimination. Viewer votes will send a third hopeful through to the finals.
When the season started, Allen didn’t imagine getting this far. Like her weight, things changed along the way.
“Around week five I started to think, ‘Why not me?” she said. “That’s when I really felt like, ‘I can take this. I’m going to go for it and give it everything I’ve got.’”