Nicole Brewer wowed everyone at the ranch when she got the opportunity to return after 13 weeks at home — and turned out to have the second-highest percentage of weight loss of all of the contestants who had stayed in the game. “I was on top of the world. I got to see all these people and it was kind of a celebration of what I had done at home,” Nicole says. “And all of a sudden, it’s just all this drama. As much as I know that I’m a strong person, my emotions were all over the place. I knew I had to watch my back.” But the stress of her triumphant comeback turned out to be too much: Nicole was five pounds heavier at the weigh-in and promptly sent home again. “As much as it seemed like it was this big, happy family, it wasn’t,” she says. “It was no longer just a group of overweight people who wanted to change their lives. It was the survivors, and it was now about who was going to win the prize at the end of the game. So it was definitely a very different ranch, and it wasn’t a lot of fun.”
For more with Nicole, click here.
How long did it take you to realize you had a target on your back?
The very first day when we weighed in with Ali Vincent. As soon as she announced that I was the one who won the weigh-in and I joined the rest of the contestants on the ranch. Tara put an X on my back — physically!
Why do you think you gained five pounds?
Because it was a completely different environment. I lost all of my weight at home under no stress with the man that I love. I also feel that, let’s face it, every month women’s bodies kind of go through a fluctuation in fluids, and unfortunately, that’s just something that you can’t ever really anticipate. Just like people trying to lose weight at home, some weeks you don’t lose as much as you want to lose. But it’s something that you can’t ever really predict. So I think the combination of the change of environment and fluctuation in fluids.
When you were working out at home and doing really well losing the weight, did you have any setbacks like that?
I actually didn’t. There would be periods of time where I would have a very low weight loss, but never at home had I ever gained any weight.
When you got home after that, did you lose it right away?
Right away. That very next weigh-in, I was back down to 182. It was great getting on the scale and being like, “Okay, great. I’m not crazy, I was just retaining water.” I did not gain fat, so it was good to know that I was back on track.
Is there anything that you could have done before the weigh-in that would have helped?
It’s funny because when I was at home, around my period time, I’d always get really upset and I always wanted to know, is there some kind of trick? Is there something I can do? Is there a different machine I can do or is there another workout? And the doctors would just say no, it’s just something that your body does to protect itself. I have no regrets. I worked hard. I did absolutely everything I could possibly do just like I worked hard at home and I didn’t change my diet one bit. I guess I just have to deal with the fact that it’s just what happens at home sometimes, you know.
What was your at-home weight loss strategy?
My strategy was to really follow the plan. I had thankfully been equipped with a toolbox full of tools: I had my calorie counter, I had my calorie count. I knew what my budget was. I knew that I had to cook my own meals in order to control my calories. I knew I had to measure with my Biggest Loser scale. And I knew I had to pack my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with me before I rode my bike over to Manhattan to the gym.
What was the main exercise that you think helped you the most?
I live in Brooklyn but I work out in Manhattan. So first of all, I would ride over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and back every day for about six days a week. So that got my calories burning first thing in the morning and last thing at night. And I have to say the thing that I hate most about New York City and the thing that when I was heavier I would avoid is stairs. So the very first thing that I had to do at the ranch was the stair-climber. Once I realized that I could do it, every day when I went into the gym that was the first thing that I was going to do because it was my biggest fear and it was one of the things that I needed to tackle. I’m going to say the stair-climber is the number-one way that I burned the calories.
You’re a wardrobe stylist — what’s it like to get clothes for yourself now?
It feels amazing. I actually did have to go and buy some new clothes. And I was able to go into a store that I normally would go into for my clients. When I came out of the store, I was on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and I just completely sobbed because I could not believe that I could wear clothes from a normal, regular-sized store. I can’t even describe the feeling, so I am extremely proud of myself. And I can’t wait to see what my new style is going to be. I’ve always been about showing women how to dress their curves and how to look good no matter what size they are, but now I’m going to have to figure out how to style my own curves and I just can’t wait. But I’m waiting until after the finale before I buy anything new because I am not at my goal weight yet.
You’re going to marry Damien soon. How are your wedding plans going?
We haven’t picked an exact date but it’s definitely going to be a late-summer wedding. We both live in Brooklyn, so we’re going to be getting married in New York. We are absolutely going to be inviting some members of our Biggest Loser family to join us for our nuptials. Damien has been saying that we’re going to have a whole Biggest Loser table. I’m really excited.
What was it like to try on that size 12 wedding gown on the show?
It was amazing. When I first went shopping for my wedding gown, I was so happy. I had a man who wanted to marry me. I was going to have a beautiful wedding. But I was really unhappy that I was at that size. So this time around, I could look at dresses that I would never have looked at a size 24. I felt sexy, I felt beautiful. I felt victorious.
Are you doing any special workouts to prepare?
Because I did a lot of cardio, I’m still going to continue with cardio. I’m becoming a runner, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say. But I probably will do more strength training so that I can have a really sculpted body and look absolutely fabulous from all angles when I walk down that aisle. At this point I just feel like I’m living a dream because I had thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to get married fat.” Now knowing that I’m going to get married fit is just a dream come true.
How is Damien doing with his fitness?
Damien is doing great. Every day I fall more in love with him and I’m reminded why I am marrying the perfect man for me. He has lost over 100 pounds himself. He won’t have to go to the big-and-tall men’s shop to get his tuxedo. He’s looking forward to that.
How does your training style differ from Damien’s?
We definitely support each other, but one of the things that we’ve learned to do during this whole process is to support each other, it’s also giving each other some space. But we come together in cardio classes like boot camp fitness, kickboxing and spinning. So it works.
Can you bring us up to date on your exact weight loss?
I’ve lost 107 pounds. And I feel fabulous. But I know I’ve got some ways to go. I can’t wait for the finale. I’m going to dazzle everybody when I step out on that stage!
It’s amazing that with just one week of training at the ranch, you were able to do so well at home.
Thank you very much. I feel really proud and that’s the other reason why I’ve been able to accept this whole thing. I want to be the one to show America that you can do it at home and you don’t need a magical ranch or someone screaming at you. You just have to believe that you can do it and decide that you want to change your life. That’s what I’ve decided.