As some of you know, I am obsessed with the TV show Biggest Loser. I love that show. Love it!! Watching the contestants change their lives and get to the root of the issues… always motivating to me. Every Tuesday during the season I would faithfully watch the show. Being out West, I also avoided social media and any texts from my equally obsessed friend who HAD to talk about it right away! If I didn’t get a chance to watch it, I would avoid any articles about it the next day, and, after a few spoilers in emails from said friend, made her write in the subject line: ‘NO BL Spoilers’ to make sure I would read her emails, lol. Anway…. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Filipe and Sione Fa from season 7 of The Biggest Loser. Remember them? The two Tongan cousins? I loved them from the start, their support and strength were such motivators for me, and who didn’t love their dances?? After their season, Sione had completely transformed his life as a professional trainer at Biggest Loser Resorts, focusing on healthy eating, staying active, and a dedication to helping others struggling with their weight. Filipe on the other hand, had fallen back into old habits, gained 119 pounds, and weighed in at a life threatening 350lbs. Sione vowed to help his cousin get his life back and serve as his trainer and track his progress towards a goal of losing 70 pounds by the end of the series.Together, the two have chronicled the journey through Walgreen’s and Biggest Loser which can be seen HERE.
For those that haven’t heard of Walgreen’s Way to Well Commitment program, it’s great! I have my Fitbit synced to the site and get badges and points for steps I take! Walgreen’s dedication to helping people “get, stay, and live well” through their Way to Well Commitment program has inspired the eight episode web series on NBC.com centered on former Biggest Loser contestants and cousins Sione and Filipe Fa. On the show they both lost over 135 pounds, and were Season 7 fan favorites. While they may have shared similar progress towards the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle during their time on the show, once the cameras were off the relatives could not have been more different when it came to their commitment towards sustaining a healthy weight.
Here are their before photos:
Filipe Fa Before
Sione Fa before
I prepared my questions around the day to day struggles of someone who is trying to lose weight or lost weight and regained and has to “start over” as Filipe did. I also asked some questions on motivation. Things I thought many of us could benefit from. Here is a recap of my interview! (My thoughts are in italics)
1: Could you discuss the struggles you had with feeling like a “failure” for gaining weight back and losing sight of your goal? How hard was it to admit the failures and ask for help?
Filipe: It was very difficult, especially after being on a TV reality show about losing weight. I swallowed a lot of humble pie. It was a huge help to finally admit that I am vulnerable and human. That gave me power to start over, with that, I lost stress and realized I could lose at my own pace, whatever that was. I love that he mentioned realizing he was human and needing to reset his goals to what worked for him in the real world.
2: Sione, What worked for you to stay on track?
Sione: I had challenges as well, fell off track a little, but made the decision to break the cycle. I stopped stressing about weight and looks. I learned to be present in the moment and do for myself. I realized I have the power to make changes in my life. I still fall off track, but now it is minimal.
3: What advice would you give people who have faced this struggle and have to start over?
Filipe: My advice: Make sure the purpose of WHY is strong and motivating enough to be the catalyst to move you forward in weight loss and health. Take it one day at a time. It’s a struggle when you do a whole lot of work and see no improvement. Focus on that day, not the week or month or the numbers. Also, write down your successes every day. It helps to see your successes even if there is no weight loss. Perhaps you didn’t lose weight, but you hiked with a friend for an hour, identify all your successes, not just the number on the scale. Remember, it’s a lifestyle change, it took a while to gain the weight, it will take a while to lose it. Our society is a microwave society, we want everything instantly, and with health, it is a lifelong process. I loved this response. Loved it! I actually took out my journal that day and wrote down my successes for the week. I make sure to do this now, so I know what I have accomplished every day.
Sione: Take it day by day, do it for yourself and remember we all go up and down. It’s not failure, it’s trial and error. Also, remember personal trainers aren’t perfect. I used to think they worked out all the time, never drank and always ate steamed chicken and vegetables. That’s not true. Also, don’t have a pity party, we have to decide how badly we want it and remember, there is no all or nothing mentality; that is what got you where you are. I think the words “it’s not failure, it’s trial and error” are going to be my new motto. I also love his comments on how “all or nothing” can be destructive. Very sound advice on staying positive and in the moment.
4: What do you do or say to remain positive through the journey?
Sione: We help each other when we struggle, and just having each other is a support. If your family isn’t supportive, find a group for support, they’re out there, so you really cannot use “I have no support” as an excuse. There are run groups and hiking groups, group fitness, etc. There are support systems out there, find them. This is SO true! My husband is very supportive, but doesn’t run. I have found great support in the running community to help me reach my goals. Search the internet, try meetup.com, there are options out there to find support groups.
5: What benefits have you seen from having a support system in your journey?
Filipe: We work out together 6 days a week. You need accountability and we give it to each other. Sign up for races or join groups to keep you motivated and accountable. Your support group is the key to your success.
6: For those of us that are like you Filipe, and love food, what suggestions do you have for continuing to eat food you enjoy and stay healthy?
Filipe: Eat it! That food you really love, find a healthy alternative and eat that. On the ranch we follow a 90/10 rule (eat healthy/clean 90% of the time). Remember to make it a cheat MEAL not a cheat DAY. Having to recover from a bad meal is much easier than a day with 3+ meals in it. Don’t completely restrict any food. Enjoy the meal, but then get back on track. We wait too long to get back on track and the downward spiral continues.
7: When you work hard, eat healthy and do what is needed, but don’t see the changes on the scale, how do you stay motivated?
Filipe: You won’t feel motivated to work out every day. Some days you have to force yourself. Those days, visit the purpose for the goal. Why do you want to lose weight? The purpose and the why will lead you to your success. This statement made me really look at my purpose and my goal. Taking the time to really think about it and determine this will help in the long run.
8: What are you hoping viewers take away from the web series?
Filipe: For those that are on track, to keep them motivated; for those that aren’t on track, I hope they come back, see that struggle happens and get back at it; and to those on the fence, I hope this helps them go workout more often. I hope it motivates people in some way to inspire themselves and others; to help someone somewhere; that people work to pay it forward.
9: As a runner, I remember the struggle to run my first mile when I was overweight. Filipe, when you ran that mile in under 15 minutes, how were you feeling mentally and emotionally?
Filipe: At 10 minutes, I wanted to die. I had to focus on finishing the goal. Sione told me to not look at the clock, I focused on a tree outside the window the whole time, not the clock. Afterwards, it was a huge boost of confidence and strength mentally that I can accomplish a goal. It doesn’t make this easy, but to just believe in yourself and that you are capable of accomplishing goals was a huge boost. Remember that not everything is easy. Some runs, you have that runner’s high, other runs you keep praying for it and it never comes, but you keep running. YES! YES! YES! When I started running, it sucked, but I kept at it, and there were runner’s high moments and moments of struggle. There still are. The key is perseverance.
Here are their after photos!
Filipe after Biggest Loser
Sione after Biggest Loser
I cannot begin to tell you how inspiring and motivating this conversation was for me. As I have recently blogged, I have gained a little weight back, I was struggling with the why, the restart, you name it. This interview really helped me take a step back and refocus my goals. These two were a great inspiration to me during their season, and continue to inspire me today. Thank you Sione and Filipe for being honest and keeping it real during your journeys to lifelong health!
Follow Sione and Filipe on Twitter @FilipeFa and @SioneFa and Instagram @flipmo81 and @sionefa to keep up to date on their journeys! Also, continue to turn into NBC.com to watch the web series. Go to biggestloserresort.com for more information on their locations and wellness programs.