In the biggest season yet of The Biggest Loser, Patti and Stephanie Anderson — who started out at 243 pounds and 264 pounds, respectively — seem like lightweights, but that doesn't mean they've got an edge. "Actually, we thought it would be a disadvantage, but we're really all in the same boat," Patti tells In Touch. And in the first episode of season nine, the mother/daughter duo from California was almost sent home before they even unpacked, thanks to a tough 26.2-mile biking challenge. Luckily, the Purple Team managed to become the last team to qualify to stay, and as they fight to keep themselves above the yellow line, they'll be giving InTouchWeekly.com readers all the exclusive behind-the-scenes dish every week. "There are some really heartfelt moments," Patti tells In Touch of the first episode. "It was really surreal to see myself on television. I was sad for myself and everyone else, but happy we're all there."
Click here to read more about what you didn't see on this week's episode of The Biggest Loser.
Your team narrowly missed being sent home because of the bike-riding challenge. How did that happen?
First of all, we had barely stepped out of the limos when we were faced with this challenge! Personally, I haven't ridden a bike in probably 30 or 40 years. To think that we have to ride a marathon, it was really frightening. And then to find out that the last two teams wouldn't even get into the house — talk about added stress! It was really intense, and in all honesty, it was probably the hardest thing I've ever done other than childbirth. Maybe this was even harder, considering I had C-sections! So it was really scary and really hard, because we didn't really know what we were doing on the bike as far as the gears were concerned. We were pedaling as fast as possible, but we weren't getting anywhere. So we finally conquered that challenge, and then it was down to the three teams. I was so happy when it was over, and we had made it in. It was unbelievably exciting.
When you got to the house, was there another team you bonded with quickly?
Truly, every single person in that house is outstanding, but the Pink Team had a room off of our room, and we shared a bathroom, kind of like college. So I guess we bonded quickly with them, but I felt like I bonded with each and every one [of the contestants].
What expectations did you have about the show, and how was the reality different?
From watching it, I thought it was going to be a real life-changing event and so hard, but quite honestly until you get there and start living it day in and day out, you have no idea how hard it is. But it's amazing how you dig down deep and you can pull this strength. They pull that out of you. I was very proud of myself, even from day one.
Did you and Stephanie talk about strategy?
Our strategy from day one was not to worry about what anybody else does, to stay focused and to stay above the yellow line. We also went into it with the thought that we're never going to take a temptation. That's the only control we had.
You have another daughter who doesn't have a weight problem, right?
Yes, Pamela Anderson! She's blond, beautiful, an attorney. Everyone has a struggle with weight, but she's always been very physical, has always been in touch with her body. Stephanie and I have always had to struggle, and it was hard for her to understand, but she has always been supportive, always tried to give us encouragement, so she's more than proud.
And your husband has been supportive, too?
We've been boyfriend and girlfriend since I was 14 in eighth grade, and he was 15. We've never dated anybody else, and we're still best friends. It really has been an awesome life with him. We own a business, so we work together, but we have fun together, and that's the important thing. But he is so supportive. And over the years, he's been worried about my health and watching me getting bigger and bigger, but always saying, "You have such a pretty face." He's just so thrilled, though, that I'm reclaiming my life.
Has he ever struggled with his weight?
No. He's been a mover for 33 years, so he's out there doing physical work, day in, day out.
Pamela takes more after him?
That's right, and Stephanie is just like her mom.
Did you try to step in to help Stephanie?
Absolutely. I've always tried to encourage her, but it has to come from within yourself. You can get all of the outside support, including The Biggest Loser, but you're the one who has to do the hard work.
What is it like sharing this experience with her?
It's hard to explain that. I have such a close relationship with both of my girls. Now, they're my best friends. Stephanie lives in West Hollywood, and I'm in Northern California, and although we talked every day on the phone, I didn't see her for months at a time. So being with her every day and sharing this most important thing is really hard to describe. We exercised, walking and holding hands! I just love her so much. I really truly never thought I could be more proud of her, but I am, and she is of me. Every day she amazes me. Every day, she's just getting stronger and healthier and more determined.
Is there anything we didn't see on the show?
There was a shot of me vomiting out the window. I also did stumble off the treadmill and almost passed out. But Dr. Huizenga is right there whenever there's a workout or challenge, so you feel safe. Especially because never doing this before, it's so scary. I fell off and he was right there and I just regained my composure and got right back on that treadmill. That's what you have to do: pull yourself up and get back on. It's so hard, but it's worth it. I'm worth it.
It came down to the twins, John and James. What went into your decision to vote off James?
My mom was a twin, so I know firsthand how close twins are. James and John are wonderful men and it was a really tough decision. Both need and deserve to be there. Stephanie and I just decided that James had more support at home and would probably succeed better. It's so hard: the first week, you really don't know the people that well and all you can really go by is what they're telling you and respect their wishes. But what I really hope that everyone gets out of this is that you don't have to go on this show to succeed. It's so overwhelming; you think there's no way I can get out of this hole, but it just takes one step at a time. You just need a little bit of knowledge, encouragement, support and determination. We just need to get healthy. I wasted 20 years of my life being a diabetic and I just hope I can get some of those years back. Anybody can do this, they just need to make up their mind that they need to do it.