“I was 100 percent confident I was going home,” admits Arizona’s Filipe Fa, who lost 10 pounds — bringing his total loss to 130 — in the last Biggest Loser: Couples weigh-in, but it still wasn’t enough to keep him above the yellow line. “I just knew that I was a bigger threat than anybody else and they would obviously play the game and vote me home.”
But Filipe, one of the show’s most passionate contestants, kept a positive outlook on leaving the ranch and has lost 13 more pounds at home. “That was an emotional week for me just in general just because I really realized what the whole purpose of this show was to inspire people,” he says. “Bob kept telling me, ‘I want you to work your hardest, but I just want you to remember that it’s not about winning the game, it’s about fixing what’s broken.’ That’s what I really focused on the whole week — just thinking about how far I’ve come and the knowledge that I’ve gained and the opportunity that I have to spread that to others.”
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What’s your relationship with Jillian like now, since you had a pretty big fight with her when you defected to Bob’s team?
I had that little blow up with Jillian. I think it was Week 10; we just had a miscommunication that week. It had nothing to do with the fact that she wasn’t working me out. I didn’t really mean to blow up on her and then she didn’t mean to say some things also as well. Off camera, we talked about it and actually made up and we’re actually really good friends right now. I love Jillian; I think she’s a wonderful trainer. I haven’t spoken to her, but I have no ill feelings and I wish the best for her.
Were you surprised by how emotional you got on the show?
I’m usually like that all the time. I’m not a big emotional wreck, but I think I got that from my mom. Every time she expressed her love for us, I thought she was very emotional about it, and I think it rubbed off on us.
You seemed really committed to life on the ranch — how difficult was the transition to home life?
When you’re on the ranch, sometimes it feels like you’re in a bubble where all you have to do is just work out and eat healthy. It’s easy, because that’s your job 24/7. But at home, you have responsibilities and you have to make time to work out, and that’s been my biggest challenge because as much as I set my schedule for workouts, something always comes up. So I’ve learned to expect the unexpected but also to work around the unexpected.
How has your family adapted to your new lifestyle?
They love it. Well, I don’t know if they loved it at first! But everything’s been going good. My family has definitely adopted it and my daughter loves being healthy. In fact, she tells me every day, “Dad, I feel so much better, I feel so much alive.” So my family — my immediate family and my extended family — have definitely benefited from me being home and helping them out.
It seems like the Tongan community has really been open to this. Have you been met with any objection to introducing a healthier lifestyle?
Well I’ll tell you just a little joke. There was this group of Tongan women, sitting down at the table at a luau two weeks ago. They all said to me, “Hey, Filipe, you so look so good! What’s the secret?” I said, “Exercise.” And they all said, “Oh.” So there are always going to be some older people who say to me, “It’s okay, just help the younger generation,” and I’m like, “No, you’re the one that needs the help.” But a good 85% to 90% of my community here has been coming to work out.
How has your relationship with Sione changed since you started this journey with him?
I think for the most part it’s drawn us even closer. You know, Sione’s always been there for me. He was always a close cousin to me, so being able to make the journey with him has been amazing. We’ve gotten so close that we talk to each other every day and as much as it is a competition, we still work out together every morning.
Is there a little friendly competition going on with you and Sione for the at-home prize?
We have the same trainer, so it’s hilarious because when our trainer tell us to do five reps I’ll do five extra just to see if Sione will do five extra. Of course he’ll do it, so there is a friendly little competition. We talk trash to each other every day, but I still love the guy.
You’ve done Polynesian dancing since you were young. Is it easier now that you’ve lost so much weight?
Not only is it easier, it’s so much more fun, because when I was heavy, I used to perform, then run offstage and pump my inhaler and just take a good 15-minute break to try to catch my breath. Because when you do Polynesian dancing, the adrenaline is so hyped up that it’s hard to really catch your breath. Now doing it, it’s amazing. It’s one of my big passions.
So you can really put on a show now.
Yes I can. And I’ll probably do one at the finale!