Ship Shape - An Interview with the Navy Wives of The Biggest Loser: Special Editionby Brian Towers -- 04/20/2006
NBC recently broadcast a series of episodes of The Biggest Loser under the banner Biggest Loser: Special Edition. The last of these aired had a military theme, featuring four wives from two different branches of the services, and the Navy wives won the “battle” over the Marine wives.
However, the story seemed as much about the unique lives these ladies lead as it did about weight loss. Well, the women made contact with me after the show aired and after further communication, I learned there was more to their story than what we saw. Here, then, is an interview with the four Navy ladies that explores their adventure into the world of reality TV.
Before we get started, I need to report that in my last article, I included an incorrect weight chart. To set the record straight, here are the correct values for each Navy wife:
Ladies, I apologize for the errors. Now, let’s get on with the interview. We began with some general questions, and I asked about their time before the show.
Brian: We all know that you four formed a team because your husbands all worked on the same ship, but did you actually know each other beforehand?
Dari: I knew Jessica, and I had met Tami more recently. Tina was a stand-in for someone else, and I met her the day we found out we were going to the ranch.
Tina: Jessica was the mutual link. I met her a year before the show.
Jessica: I knew all the ladies. Dari and I had known each other for quite some time. I met Tina about ten months prior to the casting call. Tami was new to the command, so I only knew her for a couple of months.
Tami: Yes, my husband had just joined the ship in March.
Brian: Did you apply to get on the show as a team? How did that evolve?
Tami: I looked The Biggest Loser up on the Internet because I was disgusted with myself and was a fan of the first season. I kept telling my husband I needed to be on the show, and he kept telling me I wasn’t going to get on there until I at least tried. It took me a couple of months to do it though, but then they just happened to be coming to San Diego for a casting call. I called Jessica up and ask her if she was interested. I thought they would be interested in the whole Navy theme.
Dari: I was the only one available to make the casting call. I pitched us to the casting people, and they loved the idea or my enthusiasm. I say that because there was another group of Navy wives pitching their team, but they chose to have our team back to their hotel to interview us further.
Jessica: Tami and I had actually joined a local gym about a month or so before trying out for the show. That really opened my eyes as to how out of shape I was.
I was in the Army a long time ago and exercise just came easy to me. I was never overweight, quite to the contrary, but fifteen years and three children later I didn’t focus on [myself] any more and I started gaining weight. Like I said on the show, I lost “me” along the way. The Biggest Loser was the vehicle that helped me find myself again.
Brian: In the scene where you learn you are going to be on the show, you seem quite surprised. Are you really good actors, or were you tricked into thinking something else was going on?
Dari: I don’t think “tricked” was the right word to use here but they did tell us they needed more video footage for our pitch to the network. They told us they were sending a producer down to take the footage so it would look more professional. We were all so nervous, as we didn’t have any idea that they had actually chosen us at this point. So, the kitchen scene was absolutely real.
Tami: That was actually a totally surprise for me.
Jessica: I thought we were still in the casting interview process at this point. I thought we had an excellent chance of getting on the show, but was still unsure. I didn’t know that we were officially “in” until we got the call. When the phone rang, I thought it was going to be an NBC executive that would give us either a yes or no, but it was Bob! Our reactions are truly genuine.
Tina: It’s funny how they edited it, though. I recall the camera in my face every second - I think the camera guy had a crush on me or something. But once the show aired, it was very limited camera time for myself, Tami, and a couple of the other Marine wives.
Brian: It’s known that the actual weigh-ins happen behind the scenes and the big scale is really just a dramatic display device. How long do you have to wait to actually find out your results?
Jessica: We would do the weigh-in the day of the shoot, in the morning. We stood in a room with two or three more people, holding clipboards. There were lights, a video camera and those people there to log our weights. They had to do that to make it all official.
Dari: Yes, the weigh-in was done on a professional scale and monitored by no less than two people and videotaped. We didn’t find out the results until they show them up on the big screen. We tried like heck to figure it out by the way they were writing the numbers or by their reactions, but they were good and we had no idea.
Jessica: I tried like crazy to see what they were writing on the clipboards, but no luck. They wouldn’t smile, frown, or anything. They all had awesome poker faces. I would even kid around with them hoping I would get some kind of reaction that would maybe tip me off, but I couldn’t shake them.
Tami: It sucked waiting, but it was a relief knowing it was done and over with first thing in the morning, nothing you could do after that to change it.
Tina: Our reactions were true… the first time. If they had to redo the scene then you had to act surprised. But from what I saw, all of our reactions were the original reactions.
Brian: It wasn’t exactly clear in the show - were you at the ranch for ten days, then home for seventeen weeks?
Jessica: It was actually ten days that we were at the ranch. Other days were spent at a hotel before and after the ranch, two days before going and two days after. That was for medical screening and stuff. They wanted to make sure we were healthy enough to endure the ranch, and before sending us home, they wanted to make sure we were okay. Then I think we were home for almost four months before the final weigh-in.
Tami: We were all disappointed when we found out that we weren’t going to be on the full season show and be there for three months, but let me just tell you... I was counting down the days, after the first workout with Bob!
Brian: Now, let’s talk about some of the events associated with the first episode. Tell me, what was life like on the ranch? Was it all eat-sweat-sleep, or were there periods of boredom? Homesickness? Fun?
Jessica: Life on the ranch was work. My husband was deployed, [I was] away from my three kids, tired, sore, all the while going through this adventure. At one point, we were all so sore that when we tried going to the bathroom, we didn’t sit… we FELL on the seat and hoped for the best!
There was a lot of exercise. I did more exercise during that time at the ranch than I did some days in basic training when I was in the Army!
I don’t think we were ever really bored. There wasn’t time to be bored, except when we were stuck in a van one day off and on for eleven hours. That was the day of the first weigh-in. We were miserable! But through the homesickness, missing our husbands and kids, the hard core exercising, we managed to have some fun. Leave it to the Navy wives to have some fun at the most awkward or inconvenient times. We were told not to talk to the camera or sound guys. We were told not to look at the cameras. PUH-LEASE – I guess they forgot who they were working with! We would always mess with everybody that crossed our paths, it didn’t matter who they were. We were determined to have some fun and we definitely did.
Tina: We all have three children. so of course there were times when we missed our kids. But there were no periods of crying. Tami missed her husband a lot; she was the newlywed of the group. Me, I was on a “vacation” because I knew my kids were in good hands. So, the ranch experience was EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EAT, SLEEP!
Tami: It was basically eat, work out, and try to sleep through Dari's snoring! I ended up sleeping on the sofa the whole time. There might have been a couple of laughs. On the ranch, Jessica got so serious and focused on her workouts that she didn't talk as much as usual. And, well, not everyone gets along all the time.
Brian: I can understand that, there’s a lot of pressure, everyone’s tired and hungry, and there are going to be moments where the irritation takes over.
Tami: Both teams had their moments with each other. When you get four women in one little bungalow working out like crazy every day, everyone worrying if they were doing all they could do, we were all tired. There are definitely going to be moments, and we all had them.
Dari: There were moments of fun, but our focus was trying to make a life change. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, including childbirth. We missed our kids terribly! There was no time to be bored – if we were bored, we knew we had to do more cardio!
Brian: Was the initial weigh-in the lowest point of your adventure? Did it bother you to wear those unflattering outfits?
Jessica: The initial weigh-in was very stressful. I mean, I would barely get in a bathing suit to go to the beach with my family and there I stand in front of crews – mostly men might I add – cameras, Caroline Rhea, my friends, the competition… everything sagging and hanging out... it was horrible!
Dari: The outfits were HORRIBLE!
Tina: I can say that the initial weigh-in was heartbreaking. My first reaction was DENIAL. I felt that it was no way that I weighed as much as they said I did. Those outfits were ridiculous. We all tried to adjust them to fit us more flattering, to no avail.
Tami: I just hated the thought of my husband knowing the actual digits. My best friend kept saying that she couldn't believe I was going to be on TV letting everyone know the digits when she has known me for thirty years and has never known them. It was a little hard to take.
Dari: The weigh-in was one of the most humiliating experiences, but the whole time on the ranch was horrible! Not the people or the cameras, but the physical exercise and lack of down time.
It looked like we were in pain – and that was so real. We worked out one day for seven hours. Ninety minutes of cardio in the morning, and another ninety before we went to bed. A hundred push-ups and hundred sit-ups. Two hours with Bob in the gym and whatever “homework” he gave us. One day it was to hike the trail around the ranch five times. I couldn’t do it. I still would like to go back and try it again now that I am fit.
Brian: Was that table of “temptation food” actually tempting? Are there often temptation foods laid out?
Jessica: The temptation food at the weigh-in was actually pretty disgusting. It was all of our favorite foods, but to see them all put together like that was just very unappealing. It actually kinda made me sick to look at it.
Tina: There was candy laid out in the confessional room, but that room was loaded with cameras. There were even cameras filming you when you were not filming yourself for the confessional! So if you were stupid enough to eat it, you knew you were being filmed doing it.
Dari: In a normal everyday setting, the foods would have been tempting, but we as a team were not tempted by any of the foods. We were positively totally ready to make a change. Most of the time we were too tired and nauseous to eat. There were times that we had to force ourselves to eat to make up our daily calorie consumption of 900 calories. That was the caloric intake only for the time we were on the ranch.
Jessica: They had a couple of candies lying around our bungalow, kinda decoratively. The first thing we did was throw all of it in the trash. We were unwavering in our dedication to not fall to temptation. And I’m proud to say that we didn’t!
Tami: Yes, our bungalow was filled with food that Bob wanted us to have.
Brian: What was it like working out under Bob’s tutelage?
Dari: Our workouts with Bob were miserable! His personality made it bearable, but we were in so much pain and in a state of total exhaustion. We were so out of shape, and the first week of any new workout is painful, never mind being under the gun with cameras and people everywhere watching.
Jessica: Bob was tough. And if you showed him any kind of strength, he’d go after you. I know that because he was pretty hard on us, but in a good way. If I was running ahead of the team, he’d run up next to me and tell me to step it up. If I was doing some weight training and showing some strength, he’d add more weight. He wanted to push us to our limit to see what we were made of so he could get a better idea of how to train us. Just when you found yourself getting pissed off at him for pushing you too hard, he’d do or say something that would make you smile or better yet, he’d make you proud of yourself. He was really contagious.
The endorphins – I called them “Bob-dorphins” – kicked in and sometimes he made you feel that you could do anything. He still managed to piss us off every now and again though, and I’m sure we were no walk in the park for him at times.
Tina: Bob was BOB! He was no joke. I had a lot of fun with him on the ranch. After leaving the ranch, Bob was only a part of my weight loss for the camera. Meaning, we just saw him when they did a filming with him in it.
Brian: The temptation challenge was kind of a “minefield” game, where you had to work your way along a route that included many spots where you’d have to eat “bad foods” and a few spots of “free parking.” Neither team played the game. Why didn’t you start playing to see if you could luckily avoid the bad spots, and just quit the game if you did?
Jessica: I don't recall the rules that were told to us saying anything about starting the game but quitting if we had to eat. I wasn't risking anything. The payoff wasn't worth it. They would have had to up the shopping spree a couple thousand bucks more than what they were offering!
So, why risk it? Our bodies had been going through a detoxification period. I worried that if I ate something that it would make me sick, or that maybe I wouldn’t be able to hold off on any other temptations. Not to mention the fact that we didn’t want to let Bob down. And the prize kinda sucked too. It just wasn’t worth it to me.
Tina: The temptation was tempting, but not for the food aspect of it. It was tempting for the prize part of it. I think that we should have done the challenge. It would not have hurt us as far as our weigh-in was concerned. It was more of someone said, “I don’t want to disappoint Bob.” The rest of the team just went along with it. But I have heard from others that they regret not doing it.
Tami: We had promised Bob that we wouldn’t give in to it. I would have liked to have the money, though it just didn’t seem like that much, once you split it between four girls. And I don’t think once you started that quitting was an option.
Brian: Well, without knowing that they might not let you quit, it was the only way to go.
Dari: I summed it up as we had lost and gained too much to risk blowing our progress for a shopping spree. The prizes were not enough to even tempt us into risking the progress we had made. It wasn’t about the money for our team.
Brian: In the “Win a nanny for a week” boat-oriented challenge, carrying those heavy (25 pounds) and cumbersome items seemed like quite the challenge. Was that as hard as it looked? How long did it last? They had fun with you on the show, highlighting that Navy wives had difficulty with the boats. Do Navy wives ever go rowing? Tami: That damn challenge is going to haunt us for life!!
Tina: It was the… funniest thing in the world! We were all trying to get the boat going. Tami was having a fit. The behind the scenes crew LOVED it. They laughed so hard. They said all they heard was bleep, bleep, bleep, and more bleep!
Dari: I grew up on boats so I had a little bit of an idea about how to row a boat but as a team we were clueless. We stunk! It was a very hard physical challenge and the weights were SO heavy.
Jessica: I don’t know why we all had such a hard time. It was definitely a team loss. There are a few things I don’t do well and boating is one of them. I knew I couldn’t steer a boat to save my life, but I knew I had muscle and could at least paddle my butt off. We just kinda worked against each other.
Tami: I was about five seconds from jumping off the boat and pushing us in the right direction when we finally got it going. I was SO frustrated! Then we get out there, I grab a buoy and it popped of the rope and sank. I wish we could have done that again, like we did everything else a hundred times. When it aired on the east coast I thought my cell phone was going to explode from all of the calls about the challenge!
Tina: Truth be told, we were not interested in receiving a nanny for a week. We all have children old enough to take care of themselves. The only motivation we had was just to win.
Jessica: When the prize was announced, I was like, “What the hell?” I had absolutely NO need for a nanny! And if you’ll remember, the camera didn’t show the reaction of the Navy wives, just the Marine wives.
Tami: “Nanny for a week” gave me absolutely no motivation towards winning that challenge, that was the worst idea they could have come up with. Now if they would have said we would win a cruise... that might have been a different story, I would have been pushing us out of there. The Marine wives seemed happy about it though – maybe that’s where the difference in age comes in.
Jessica: I heard from the crew that it really actually was a close race, but I don’t see how. We sucked! You didn’t see the 25 pound weight drop on my knee, you didn’t hear us grunting and cussing, you didn’t see one of the buoys sink before we could grab it. But excuses, excuses. We lost the challenge. The finger can be pointed at each person on the blue team. No big deal though, because we won where it counted.
And why on earth anybody would think we should have known how to row a boat is beyond me. Does a brain surgeon’s wife know how to perform a lobotomy? Do the Marine wives know how to disassemble and reassemble an M-16? Actually… I do, from my time in the Army! It was all in good fun though, and I laugh every time I see the boat challenge.
Brian: I agree that they milked that. I’m sure when your husbands come home on leave, water is about the last venue they want to see.
Dari: We made the comment to Caroline that if they made it a spa trip for a week we may have been more motivated to win. Give us a spa trip, don’t give us a nanny! I think by the time they taped our show the budget was running thin. No pun intended.
Brian: Yes, puns are far too unsophisticated for you cussin’ Navy wives!
Brian: One staple of these “Special Edition” shows has been the gifting of food, a fridge and gym equipment at the start of the second episode. Instead, your guys got dinners. As much as I like sea bass, where’s your fridge?
Dari: Like I said, I think their budget was running thin.
Tami: We got robbed when it came to the gifts, and equipment. I still don’t understand that! I like to eat, but I can go out to eat if I needed someone to do the cooking. Where's my new kitchen appliances??
Tina: Jessica, Tami, the Marine wives, and myself all lived in military housing. Dari rented. So, sorry, no fridge for us. We could have gotten the food put in the cabinets for us like the other families, but what could we say? I was pissed when I first saw it, but once those W9 tax forms started coming, I was grateful.
Jessica: You know, that was kind of a sore spot with us. But at least we got the experience, ya know? As Dari said, maybe they ran out of money when they got to us, I don’t know. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but DANG!
We did get personal training sessions and a one-year membership at a local gym. But then, so did all the other contestants on all the other shows.
And no, they didn’t pay our way to Hawaii, we did that ourselves. We had a lot of personal expenses that went along with this adventure. We paid for the care of our children in our absence, whether while we were at the ranch, in Hawaii where they taped the reuniting with our husbands and my vow renewal, when they would come to our homes to do tapings, when we went on other locations for tapings, and more.
Some of us had to fly family members to San Diego to care for our kids. Remember, our husbands were deployed at the time and we’re military families with no family near. For instance, Dari had to fly her mother from ISRAEL and I flew a niece and her two children in from Kentucky to take care of our families. Huge expense. Not to mention certain clothes we were asked to bring with us to wear at the ranch and other locations.
So, we didn’t really end up with $12,500 in prize money. There’s tax on that money too. We were given a Precor Elliptical that retailed around $6,000, but even though we used those machines in production of the show, we still pay taxes on that too. I’m not bitter about it. It’s just one of those things, ya know? I’m happy that I had the opportunity to participate in the show. More… or better… prizes would have been awesome though!
Brian: Tell us how difficult it was to maintain (a) the diet, and (b) the workouts back in the real world.
Dari: In the beginning it was so scary to leave the security of the ranch. I felt like we were part of a cult no one understood. In the days at the ranch we learned so much, and were so scared to screw up.
Tina: It was harder to maintain the eating habits because we were required to purchase the foods ourselves. Reality kicks in at home when you are buying for a family of five.
We received a one hundred dollar gift certificate to a local grocery store. We had to of course add our own money in to that to shop. Multiply that by the time we were home and you have an extremely high added expense, and the bill was not picked up by the show.
Jessica: I agree, at times it was difficult. A lot of times, I find that my boys and me eat on the fly going to their sport activities or other events. When my husband came home, it made it a bit tougher because although I wanted to be a positive influence on their diets, I didn’t push it off on them. And with me being from the south, it’s hard to find something low calorie equal to the taste of pork fat!
There was nothing really hard about going to workout, but I had some knee issues that prevented me from working out as hard or as long as I wanted to. Life sometimes dealt me something that I had to work through with my diet and exercise, but if I slipped, I got back on track. I wasn’t perfect in my eating or my workouts, but I adapted it to fit my lifestyle.
My goal wasn’t to become a skinny little waif, it was to lose some weight that would make me feel better and become healthier. Being totally skinny is not my reality. I like being healthy, yet buxom. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. I met and exceeded my personal goal. It wasn’t about anybody else’s goals for me… it was about what Jessica wanted and what was going to make her healthier.
Brian: As it should be!
Tami: It was a lot more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I was the only one of the girls working full time so it was rough. Not to mention I was driving my kids an hour away for school and then had to pick them up again after work, another hour, and in traffic.
At one point the producer called me on a Friday night and asked me to call the doctor that I work for to ask him if I could go either part time, take a leave of absence, or quit. I ended up going part time, but once the show was over I had to find a new job because they had to replace my full time position. I have to admit after I stopped working full time, a lot of the stress I had was gone.
While all of this was going on, Jessica and I were planning the ships homecoming... which was almost like a fulltime job itself. Then we had the homework, dinner, all of it.
I don’t think people that aren’t military really have any idea what the spouses of service members go through. I don’t think they could even imagine it until they have lived it, especially for Jessica who is the ombudsman and myself whose husband is the XO of the ship and I'm also the Family Support Group leader. Lets just say it was a rough transition for me.
Brian: I had surmised in my original article that your story was partly about the busy lives of military wives, but this spells it right out.
Dari: We had a completely different way of looking at food and the thought of screwing it up for my team was always a weight on my mind. The workouts were not so hard. Working out only two hours a day was like a vacation. Some times I felt guilty, only spending two hours on my workouts. I took spin classes five times a week and spent an hour with my trainer five times a week. The show did make it easier for us in that they gifted us with 36 personal training sessions and gym memberships.
Brian: Tell us your thoughts as you received the “Biggest Loser-Gram.”
Jessica: I honestly didn’t know what it was, but had a slight suspicion it was a picture of the Marine wives when I saw the envelope.
Tina: We were surprised. It was nice to see what the other girls were looking like. We had heard rumors from our trainers that they were not doing as well as we were. That motivated us. The picture helped us kick into gear even more. We had actually paired ourselves up against one particular wife from the other team.
Tami: When I saw the Biggest Loser-Gram I kind of thought it was going to be another challenge. I was kind of hoping they would give us a second chance at the rowing. Then again…
I thought Amanda looked great. I can’t remember the young one’s name…
Tami: Right. I kind of thought she looked like she had gained.
Brian: You seemed genuinely surprised when Bob came running up on ship in the second episode. Were you acting? And has Navy security gotten THAT lax?
Tami: I was pissed about that whole thing for about a week! We were told my husband was going to work us out on the ship, and none us girls were happy about that. Needless to say, my husband ended up telling me in a roundabout way so I didn’t kill him before the day of filming. I think the other girls had an idea he might come on board but I don’t think they knew for sure... or, maybe they did.
Tina: Bob’s arrival was a surprise to us. We were told that we were going to do a workout on the ship and that is all.
Jessica: We were definitely surprised. But with the producers and crew trying to be all “hush-hush” about it, we suspected something was up. So yes, the reaction you saw was genuine.
Dari: I was just so happy to see him for the sheer fact that I could stop doing jumping jacks. I hate jumping jacks! By the time Bob came on the ship we were up to something like 25 for the third time. There are no “for television” workouts. Even when they say this shoot is for television, it is no walk in the park.
Jessica: As far as the Navy’s security being lax… are you kidding? NO WAY! NBC, 3Ball Production, and Reveille had to jump through hoops to get clearance. The base folks were very nice and accommodating though, and there was somebody who escorted them during their time on base.
It was quite the opposite for the Marine wives – they wouldn’t let the camera crews on Camp Pendleton at all.
Brian: I understand there were some problems that kept members your team from working out as much as you might have intended when you got home. Can you elucidate?
Dari: I came home from the ranch with an injury. The top of my tibia had a bruise. It was a bone bruise from running on the treadmill for an hour and sprinting every 90 seconds. I was in a full immobilizing leg soft cast.
Tina: Basically all of us had injuries on the blue team. I had cancer the entire time and did not know it. I felt very tired a lot of the time. I laughed it off thinking that I was lazy.
Brian: The best wishes of your many fans at RealityNewsOnline are with you, Tina. Too many people know of what you speak, and they all hope for the best of outcomes!
Tami: I ended up having emergency surgery done in August and couldn’t work out at all for six weeks. That was not in my plans, but I still lost weight by watching what I ate. I probably could have lost a lot more than that if I would have been able to exercise my 90 minutes in the morning and 90 more at night.
Jessica: I had some issues with severe swelling in my legs and knee problems that prevented me from doing certain exercises such as running, jumping, etc. and I wasn’t able to work out as hard as I wanted to. Thank goodness for my Precor Elliptical and the help of a personal trainer that could help me modify my workouts. I still don’t do any high impact exercises. Hurts too much.
Brian: So, one of the main reasons your team did all right but didn’t achieve record-setting weight losses was because you all had to shut it down to varying degrees for health-related issues. I’m surprised none of that information came out during the second episode.
All: We agree!
Brian: How important was that final week of training you won with Bob?
Tina: To be very honest, I did not participate in the final week. I had a job that I did not want to miss work for. For the camera, I worked out with my teammates on the weekend before the final weigh-in.
Dari: We were not all able to do the final week but for those who did, it was an edge above the rest. I wasn’t able to do the whole week. It gave us time to focus on dropping those last few pounds before the weigh-in. That being said, they make it sound like a big bonus when in actuality it was only an hour a day with Bob. I do more than that at home on a normal day. Jessica and I did a lot on our own but they afforded us the chance to be away from our families and focus on ourselves.
Jessica: Very important for me! Unfortunately, Tina, Tami, and Dari weren’t able to take advantage of it. I was the only one that was able to completely get away.
Tami: Yes, I was only in LA for one day for that, and it only lasted about twenty minutes.
Brian: Once the mirror was raised at final weigh-in, did you think you had won?
Dari: Amanda did great, she was the competition I was worried about. I think we knew we had it when we saw the “telegram.”
Jessica: The first person I saw was Amanda, and that worried me, but when I saw the rest of the team I thought we might come out on top.
Tina: To be honest, I felt very confident when I saw the other girls. Amanda and Sharon I could tell a difference, but Amber I could not. I was not too sure about Rosalina.
Tami: When I saw the girls for the first time that night, I kind of had a good feeling about things. Amanda was the one that worried me, she looked fantastic.
Brian: Post show, how's it going? Are you still workout buddies?
Jessica: Everything is going well with me! I’m still keeping the weight off. I’m working out, but not seven days a week though.
Unfortunately, because Tina and Dari have moved to the east coast, we don’t get to see each other, but we keep in touch by phone and email. Tami and I live in the same neighborhood, but rarely see each other. We talk a couple of times a week though. Life is just busy as all get out and it’s hard to hook up sometimes.
Tami: No, I don’t talk to Dari, Jessica lives a couple of blocks away and I've only seen her at a few ship functions. I talk to Tina probably more than anyone, but she lives in Virginia now.
Tina: Things for me are OK considering all that I am going through. I try not to make cancer the main focus of my life. I try to live a normal life. I do the best I can with my limitations. I do not work out because of my limitations. I do, however, take part in physical therapy. My physical therapy is no way near as helpful to me as regular exercise. It helps with mobility of my right arm that was affected during my first of three surgeries.
Dari: Unfortunately, I had to move away from California the day after the final weigh-in. It was a really tough transition for me as I moved across the country. I am in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I love being here as I spent most of my life here.
The difficult part was that there is no 24 Hour Fitness here. Therefore, I lost my gym membership that show had given me, and I also lost 25 personal training sessions that I had left at 24 Hour Fitness – it was truly starting over for me. For Christmas I had my husband purchased me a gym membership at Gold’s Gym, and I have stuck to my way of eating. I count calories. I have good days and bad days but overall I am pleased with my results and my continued progress. I am comfortable in my skin now and much happier with the person I see in the mirror.
Brian: Did you ever get used to the constant presence of cameras and microphones?
Dari: I loved it. I think I was born to be on television; I never had a problem with the cameras and I felt very natural when I was interviewed.
Tina: For a week and a half it was a normal part of my everyday life. We became experts, we knew how and where to hook it up. We were very helpful to the camera and audio crew.
Jessica: At first it was a novelty, then it got old, then became fun again. I guess it depended on what we were doing, our frames of mind, or how we were feeling. Most of the time we had fun with it though.
Tami: For me, not really. I can’t stand being fake or acting fake so I just shut up. It’s not me, if I'm not feeling something I can’t fake it. An example, they wanted me to say how happy I was about the workout with my husband on the ship... they got frustrated with me and moved on. I thought that was hilarious!
Brian: Did you have many interactions with the other team? Was the Navy/Marine conflict a set-up for TV?
Dari: The conflict is natural and of course we played it up for the show. In all they were lovely girls. We wanted to not like them but in actuality they were great and very nice to talk to.
Tami: We saw them on the ranch but not once we got home. I actually ran into Sharon at the gym one day, but that was about it. I don’t keep in touch with them or anything like that. The show was fun and I'm glad I did it, but it's over and I'm ready to get on with my life. I’m not living for the next big interview or to become a TV star.
Jessica: We saw the other team daily on the ranch. After that, I didn’t see them. I think I talked to Sharon once or twice before the weigh-in, but we kept it kinda sterile as far as giving away any details about how the teams were doing. She’s a really nice gal; I like her a lot. I hear from Amanda too, she’s doing great. I got an email from Amber once. I’ve never heard from Rosa.
And the Navy/Marine rivalry goes back years. It’s mostly something I think we all have fun with though. I have a lot of friends who are either veterans of The Corps or have husbands that are Marines. I love them all. I don’t care what branch of service anybody is in.
Now what was really funny, during one interaction that didn’t air, we were all sitting down talking and eating some healthy snacks that each team prepared and it came out that (Marine wife) Amanda’s husband is actually in the Navy! He worked with the Marines and was stationed at Camp Pendelton!
After the shows aired, she called me, and during our conversation she apologized for talking so much smack! I asked her if she meant it at the time she said it. She said she did. And I told her “Well then, you don’t need to be apologizing!”
Tina: On a personal level I became very good friends with Sharon Lott. Sharon and I talk at least every other week. She is some I consider a very good friend. The other girls I do not keep in touch with. I was very surprised at the amount of trash talking Amanda talked in particular considering she is a NAVY WIFE herself. That is all I will say about that.
Brian: Tell us about series hostess Caroline Rhea. Is she only around when her scenes are being filmed or does she come by at other times? Is there off-camera interplay with Caroline?
Jessica: Caroline is really nice. We didn’t spend a whole lot of time with her, but the time we did have with her, she was very nice and very funny. She’s seemed very down to earth and does her job really well.
She won me over at the first weigh-in. We were dressed in those horrible shorts, little sport bra tops and flip-flops, and it was really damp and cold that night. I guess she noticed the eight of us standing there, shivering, while they were trying to fix something on the set. She pretty much jumped on the crew and made them send us to our vans to warm up. She was fully dressed and cold so she knew we were freezing our behinds off.
Tina: Caroline Rhea was wonderful. She was around for days she filmed with us. We laughed a lot with her. We told her on the day of our challenge that we did not want the nanny services and she laughed so hard. We were making faces like we don’t want that. Sorry to appear ungrateful, but send us to the spa instead. The spa, we found out, was something they offered to the teams after us. We should have kept our mouths closed.
Dari: I honestly was not a fan of hers until I met her, now have a greater liking for her. I did enjoy the times we were with her.
Jessica: At the final weigh-in, I felt she went out of her way to come over to us to say hello while we were waiting in the wings to come out onstage. We had a few laughs. She really was cool.
Brian: Tell us about the behind-the-scenes people you interacted with. Who else was there and what are their roles?
Tami: There were so many people involved with this show its unreal but everyone was very nice and accommodating.
Dari: We had people that catered to us called “handlers,” they were terrific. Everyone was nicer then the next. We had three in particular that were there with us the most Tim, Al and Chandler. They put up with us and our goofy pranks. They were great guys!
Jessica: We had one hell of a producer named Pam Griffiths who wrote the first hour of the show. She was so easy to interview with and she really made you feel comfortable. We became very good friends and we still talk to this day – I love her to death!
The directors were also great. The name of everybody escapes me, but I remember Mark Jacobs’. He went on to direct Breaking Bonaduce. He is very talented and an all around nice guy. All the producers, sound folks, camera folks, lighting crew, everybody – they were great!
I have to give a special shout out to the Production Assistants: Jaime, Carly, who put up with a lot of crap from everybody, Gray, Tim, Al, Chandler… I know I’m forgetting a lot of names, but all of them, they were all so nice to us. They’ve got tough jobs and I don’t think they get the props they deserve. Without all the PAs and the support staff, there would be no show.
Jessica: I also want people to understand that we were closely monitored and contacted often by our show doctor, Dr. Robert Huizenga. This man is amazing, a true genius in every facet of the word. You should Google him sometime! We were drug tested, checked on during our time at the ranch to make sure we were okay, and he would call and check on us while we were at home, too. He still does. He was very instrumental in helping Tina finding out about her breast cancer sooner! I love him. He’s awesome!
Brian: Having been on the show, are there any changes to the process you’d like to see?
Dari: I would have liked to have been more informed of the process along the way. It seemed as if the production company was flying by the seat of their pants to get things done. The process was concrete but the information passed down was vague.
Tami: We were always left in the dark about everything, we never knew what we were doing until right beforehand.
Jessica: Maybe a bit more organization and less waiting. I mean, we were stuck in a van for ELEVEN hours once. A couple hours here and there. We could have been working out or something. I guess there’s a method to their madness though.
Tina: I will go back to saying, equal air time or close enough to equal will be fair instead of it being a one or two man show when there are more than one participants on the show. This could lead to mixed feelings by air. I guess I am kind of stuck on that. I have heard so much by my family and friends and even some of the other participates, it's stuck.
Um, this is not even a “process” answer!
Brian: In my recap I said you seemed to disappear, in the second episode especially.
Tina: Back to the question at hand – the process was good.
Brian: Was there anything not shown that you wish had been aired?
Jessica: I really and truly wished they would have aired more interaction between us and our trainers. More of our workouts. And something that was very close to my heart… my vow renewal on the flight deck of the USS Rushmore when we flew to Hawaii to see our husbands for the first times since deployment. Not seeing that was a BUMMER!
Tina: I would say that I would have liked to have seen more air time for each girl that participated. I have had several of my family and friends say that they seemed to focus more on one or two particular girls. We also had a scene where we had dinner with Bob after our workout on the ship. I think that with the amount of time we spent away from our families, they could have at least showed this as part of the show.
There were a lot of parts that we did at the ranch that did not make the cut. We had a part where the doctor came in and talked to us about issues that we were having medically. We had a time on the ranch where they came in and filmed us in our bungalow cooking meals.
Brian: One comment I often get from readers is that there isn’t enough emphasis on the diet and food preparation.
Tami: There was so much material left out of that show we could have done a full week, probably. Jessica's wedding renewal was one. Interviews that lasted all day long at our homes. Interviews with our children, workouts with Bob. They filmed us in La Jolla eating lunch with Bob.
Tina: We all got into it with our trainers, both teams. There were some issues of miscommunication and not enough clarification that did not make it to the big screen that I would have loved to seen on air.
Dari: They had enough footage to tape a whole season with us. Of course we wished we had been given more time. It was a truly unique experience and I would not give it up for anything.
Brian: Why did the participants of some Biggest Loser Special Edition shows appear on other shows like Tyra, Today Show, or Entertainment Tonight and your teams did not?
Tina: We were told that we would do press for the show. But it never happened. I know in particular my group was told we would do People Magazine, Access Hollywood, and Star Magazine. Hey guys I’m still waiting!
I would love to share with women, people in general that healthy lifestyle changes can save your lives. I am a witness. Because if I had not done the show I would not have found the lump in my breast that lead to the discovery of breast cancer. I am grateful for the opportunity that was given to me and I would love to share my experience in a helpful way.
Brian: Do you think it would have transpired differently if your trainer had been Jillian instead of Bob?
Tina: Well, let me be the first to be honest on this question. The results would have been the same!
WE did the majority of the work ourselves at home on our OWN. We took what they gave us the on the ranch and incorporated it into our daily lives. The Marine wives received the same information and were given the same opportunities that we were, in that they had gym memberships, and personal trainers as well. They too were given the $100 gift certificate to a grocery store.
So to tell you the truth if we had had Jillian "Little Hitler" we would have still kicked ass. I did mention that we very rarely heard from our trainers once we stepped foot off of the ranch, they were busy doing the remaining three episodes. Even though we were the fifth episode of six to air, we were the third of six to be filmed. So, our trainers were not around. They also had the Biggest Loser 2 to be a part of.
Tami: I'm so thankful I had Bob as a trainer. I think he was a better fit for our team than Jillian. Even though I think she is a great person outside of the gym, I didn’t want to work out with her. She's very friendly and supportive to everyone. Some of the girls from the Navy team had questions about injuries and she didn’t have a problem giving them advice.
Jessica: I personally am very thankful we got Bob. I think I could identify with him better than Jillian. Not to mention the fact that although I think Jillian is a truly wonderful trainer, I think there would have been some friction between her and I.
When I was in the Army, I could take the heat from a male drill instructor much better than I could a female. I had a not so pleasant experience with a female drill instructor who tried to break me, and when she couldn't, she got tougher and tougher and tougher on me. I did every single thing she told me to do, over and over again. I was utterly exhausted and reached muscle failure, yet she continued to push me. She wanted to see me break down and cry, and when she finally realized she wasn't going to get what she wanted, she moved on. I guess it left a bad taste in my mouth after all these years, so I'm really glad to have had Bob as our trainer.
I'm not saying that I feel Jillian would have mistreated us by any stretch of the imagination. That gal has a heart and you could see that when she worked out the Marine wives. She also spent time talking with them. She's got great character. She even gave us Navy wives some tips and was so very nice to us.
But I felt Bob was the right person to work with the Navy wives. We were four heavy-weight older broads that needed to be handled a certain way and Bob knew exactly what to do to us and how to treat us.
Brian: Anything else you’d like to say?
Jessica: In my experience as a military wife, I’ve met a lot of people along the way. Some become lifelong friends and I knew from the first meeting with each of these ladies that they would be my friends forever. This experience has made me even closer to them
Dari: For the record I want to say that I think our show was harder than the season show. We only had eight days on the ranch to learn all that we learned and then we had to take it home and finish it on our own. If I had been sequestered on the ranch for three months I would have probably doubled my weight loss.
Reality is we have families and we had to incorporate all aspects of life into our weight loss, including not having our husbands around to help out. I do however think that as a life-altering event we will be more inclined to stick to it because of the fact that we had to force ourselves to learn how to do it on our own. I am truly grateful for the experience and thank everyone involved with the show for affording us the ability to succeed.
Brian: Well, that concludes our session. I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as we enjoyed exchanging thoughts!
My profound thanks to all four Navy wives for their honest and open expression of their memories and their feelings, and I hope they get that interview with People Magazine, including the cover shot!
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at email@example.com. He likes to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email. If you want me to pass a message on to one or more of the wives, I can do that too.