Biggest Loser season 3 winner Erik Chopin gained nearly all of his weight back in the years after he took home the top prize, so trainer Bob Harper challenged him to take it off again in time for this season's finale — which is on May 25! "I'm getting there," Erik, seen here on Easter with his family, tells In Touch. "But I feel like there's still a way to go." Luckily, he's spending his last three weeks on his own special "last chance workout" at the Biggest Loser ranch in Utah!
Read on for Erik's exclusive update on his journey.
Have you noticed your body changing?
I can see things coming back. I got some smaller jeans recently. You feel like you walk a little different. My energy level is better. Physically, people have said they could see changes. The belly goes down, it’s a little flatter in front.
You had surgery to remove your skin after your last weight loss. How will that be affected when you take off the weight again?
I’m not sure. I thought it was something I would never have to deal with because when I had the surgery it was recommended that I really make sure I’ll be at a specific weight. And that was kind of the reason I wanted to do it because I knew I never wanted to move away from the finale weight, or at least stay close to it. Unfortunately what happened, happened. But I suspect that it’s not going to be so bad. I had the full body lift, so there was a 36-inch incision around my whole body. But it seems to me that it’s going to kind of go back where it was. I don’t know that I did any major stretching, thank goodness!
Now that you're getting healthy again, what specific things have you done with your children to discourage them from getting heavy?
They’re so impressionable. The school district has embraced health and they have their wellness weekends, and the fact that their dad was the Biggest Loser, it’s almost cool to be healthy. My daughter Emma had a friend over and she showed her our almond butter. She said, “We use this instead of peanut butter.” Her friend said, “Wow, let me tell my mom.” She didn’t hide it. When I was younger, I would have said, “I don’t want anyone to see that. Put out the Skippy!” There are a lot of food substitutions that they’re fine with. And then just more activity: We like to go bike riding and it carried through after The Biggest Loser. When I was off track, I wasn’t doing it as much and my daughter would ask me about it. There’s a difference between sending them out into the backyard and saying, “Go out and play,” and going out there with them. They love it. So having more stamina and being able to keep up with them makes it all the better.
Do they get any junk food?
We don’t totally cut it out, but they don’t really ask for it. They do ask for ice cream. I can't deprive them of that, but I’ll save it for once in a while as opposed to every day. That’s a philosophy I’ve been hearing more and more. Even at the resort, they talk about 90 percent of the time, eat something healthy, and 10 percent of the time, have what you’ve been craving. I try to apply that to the kids.
You recently visited the Biggest Loser ranch for the episode that airs on NBC at 8 p.m. ET on May 11. What advice did you give the contestants?
I just wanted to at least identify some obstacles that they may come across, based on my experience. When you lose weight as rapidly as we do on The Biggest Loser, you kind of give yourself a pass as you gain weight, saying, “It’s no problem. I’m like a weight loss guru.” All of a sudden it goes too far. I told them to set a weight and don’t let that happen. If they can benefit from my struggles then I’ll feel better about it, because at least somebody benefited. I’ve been thinking about becoming a life coach, and I feel like I’m a good listener and going out there was almost a test on how to do that. It felt good. I was so psyched about that visit.
What advice do you have for someone who has gained weight after losing it?
There’s a lot of regret and feeling disappointed and you may dwell on that a bit, but you have to just move on and take advantage of today and look forward.
Are you on target to reach your goal?
I wish I had a little more progress, but I have the resort!