Viewers chose to give Amanda Arlauskas a chance to change her life during last season’s Biggest Loser finale. Having started out wearing the formidable Pink shirt, the 20-year-old nursing student is now part of the Black Team and will be giving InTouchWeekly.com readers all the exclusive behind-the-scenes dish every week! The seventh episode of the season features “Face-off Week,” in which contestants from each team are pitted against each other, but for Amanda it was a week to face the issues that made her overweight in the first place. “This was the first show that really brought me out and almost introduced me in a way,” she tells In Touch. “I was able to confront my fears then and there for the world to see. I overcame a lot in this episode. That truly was my breakthrough week.”
Click here to read more about what you didn’t see on this week’s episode of The Biggest Loser.
You broke down in the gym with Jillian. What was it like to see yourself like that?
It was really hard to watch. I was brought back to that place, that day on the treadmill. I remember how upset I was and how many emotions I had running through me. We had been working out for four hours and Jillian wanted me to do this last sprint before I left the gym and I was so physically and mentally exhausted. But Jillian is the type of trainer who wants to dig: “Why are you so tired, why are you doubting yourself?” She doesn’t like to hear that you can’t do something. So that was her moment. She talked to me about that fat girl mentality that I had that I couldn’t do things. I was so used to failure, to being the girl in the back who couldn’t keep up. To be put into that leadership role, in the front, where you’re expected to be able to run this sprint, was scary. It’s hard for me to accept change.
So you think it helped?
I needed that talk. When I first came on the show, I told everybody that I was sick of being so unhappy with myself, but I really hadn’t confronted my fears. They showed a few seconds, but that was a 45-minute conversation. I needed to open up. You’ll see in future weeks, I became a different person. You’ll hear Bob say how I’ve grown so much on the show and I truly believe it started that moment in the gym.
Was it difficult to open up because of your issues or Jillian or the cameras?
It was everything. You know millions of people are going to be watching, but you don’t think of those people at that moment. You’re so full of emotion talking to Jillian, who’s not only a trainer but a therapist. She can dig deep and figure out the problems. But there are cameras in your face and crew around. It’s personal. It’s opening up about something that you’ve never wanted to admit before so it takes a lot to share what really eats at you inside.
Did it make you closer to Jillian?
After everything we had been through, it was nice to have that with her. Bob and I had similar conversations, but she and I hadn’t had a good connection yet. But it made me realize that she was talking to me because she wanted to help me. It made me realize that she is a really good person and I don’t know if I could have had that conversation with anybody else but her. But it’s hard because she’s blunt and she’ll tell you to your face something that you don’t want to hear. I was at a breaking point. I remember walking out of the gym that day, distraught. I was almost having a panic attack. And I went to this area we called the Zen Garden and I sat and cried and cried. I can’t even describe the emotions going through my head. I was sad, confused, angry, but happy because I was changing into a better person. It was so much but it was hard because that was the time that I most wanted my family and friends and I still had no contact with them so I felt like I was facing it all alone.
How did your family react to seeing it?
It was hard. My mom had tears in her eyes. I was getting text messages from everyone close to me, saying, “Watching you cry made me so upset. I’ve never seen you so upset.” People that know me know that I’m not typically that person. That was real. Everything that people saw was just what I’ve been hiding for so long. That’s what was behind my smile that people needed to see.
Shay also had a big breakdown in the gym and Danny was nearby when you had yours. When people are having these big emotional moments, what do the other contestants do?
We always back off. The trainers are very good at recognizing what is a problem and they know when it’s the right time to confront those problems. It was just Danny and I left in the gym when that happened. He knew to let me and Jillian have our time, but he wouldn’t leave the gym because he wanted to be supportive. After that, the whole Black Team was waiting down at the garden for me. They were ready to support me as soon as I was ready. We just sat there forever and talked and talked and it felt so good. The support system is phenomenal. You grow to love these people and all you want to do is help them. The emotions are just overwhelming.
Did you talk to Bob about what happened?
When I was crying, I told somebody that I needed to speak with Bob, but he had already left. The following day, I pulled him aside and he was glad I was finally able to confront my fears. But it was nice to have a change and trust in Jillian to help me in that moment.
You and Rebecca were pitted against each other and she helped her team win the first challenge — were you happy for her or also annoyed that she gloated?
Rebecca and I were very close, but we did have a competitive relationship. I was happy that she did well in the challenge, but I wanted my team to win, of course. We were all cheering for Daniel and I said as a joke, “Rebecca’s getting tired.” And she snapped, “No I’m not!” She took it very personal. We had a weird relationship. I was happy she was doing well, but she was so overconfident sometimes that it drove me nuts. There comes a point where you feel like she’s rubbing it in your face a little bit.
You’re still close, though, so you must have worked things out since then?
Oh yeah, yeah.
Derek Jeter made a video to introduce your next challenge. Are you a fan?
Yeah, being from New Jersey, just 35 minutes out of New York City, the Yankees are my team. When Ali said his name, I thought he was going to walk out on the field and I thought, “I’m going to have a heart attack.” It was a bummer that he wasn’t there but it was cool that he made that video. And that he pointed out, “Black Team, you aren’t doing so well” — and then we won the challenge! I hope the message got back to him that the Black Team did step it up because that was definitely motivation.
Will you be watching the World Series?
One hundred percent! I’m definitely excited about being able to support my home team in the World Series.
The Black Team got a 2-pound advantage, which they gave to you. Why did you ask for it?
Jillian had told me that with all of my emotions, I wouldn’t have a good week on the scale because my Cortisol levels were going to be raised and I would be holding water. It wasn’t just that day on the treadmill; I had been emotional week. So she told me I was going to be in trouble. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and Rebecca killed it.
Everything got really emotional again with Abby.
It was hard sending Abby home. She was one of my best friends in the house. Abby is such a wonderful woman. She is just so kind. It was difficult because I think so many people thought it was Daniel’s time to go home. So do you send Daniel, who was begging to stay, or Abby, who was saying she’d be okay? I went with Abby because she asked us to send her home, but I remember second-guessing myself in the elimination room, just because he was having a tough time and not losing the weight he should have been losing.
He was having a lot of trouble. Will that be explained?
It was around that time – I don’t know if they’ll show it on camera — that they did try to figure out what’s wrong. They changed up his diet and exercise because it was weird. You’ll see his progress in the coming weeks.
Anything else to add?
You’ll see that I start to shine now because I finally allowed myself to realize that I’m a happier person, more confident and I can be a leader. I faced a huge issue and I was ready to overcome it.