Stephanie and Sam enter the gym, the families yell surprise at her, and Sam goes into his proposal speech. It involves a lot of whispering "I love you." He says that he wants them to be together forever, and that Stephanie makes him better. Then he gets down on one knee and opens a small box. It is a ring made of Subway hot peppers. Not really, though it is totally a product placement, as if you'd expect less. Sam asks Stephanie if she will be his wife, and she cries and nods. Oh those crazy kids! They kiss, and their families applaud. Stephanie's mom, Patty, is on hand and seems quite pleased. She says it's a wonderful day, and they're happy to have Sam become part of their family. Koli is there too. He gives Sam a huge hug and says that he's truly happy for him. Stephanie's dad toasts to them, and I think this is a Jillian-approved champagne situation. And maybe in retrospect it put a tiny crack in my carrot-stick heart.
After a commercial break, we learn that five former contestants have decided to get off of their couches and get to work battling the childhood obesity epidemic. They are season five's emotional Boston-area brothers Mark and Jay, season six's villainous Ed and Heba, and Biggest Loser all-star Ali Vincent, who won season five. In their various communities, they do jumping jacks with kids and shit. Heba's total current weight loss is 101 pounds, and apparently she's an avid runner and racer. She and Ed hooked up with an organization called Louie's kids, which is focused on treatment of childhood obesity. Ed should maybe work on treating his own self again, because he's looking a touch hefty. Heba's no stick figure, but she's clearly pretty healthy. The kids seem to enjoy them, and likely didn't see what a raging nutcase Heba was during her season.
In New Bedford, MA -- a mere half hour from where I live! -- Jay and Mark hang out in the Boys and Girls Club and pass out some basketballs and such from an organization called Good Sports, which provides equipment to underfunded sports programs. Mark and Jay throw some balls in the air, and the kids go nuts. Mark is half afraid to get trampled, but manages to hold the seven-year-olds at bay. Jay feels great to play even a small part in bettering the lives of kids. Go, New Bedford!
In Phoenix, Ali notes that at some point in our history we stopped going outside and playing. And really, hula hooping outside is totally fun! That's the biggest reason why I go to folk festivals. Ali is working with a program called Kids Rock, which has a kids' marathon. They log one mile at a time, which can be equivalent to one hour of hard, sweaty play. I want to do that marathon! They run their 26th mile at a big event, and look adorable while doing so. Ali has done a good job fashioning a quasi-career out of her victory, and also still looks pretty great.
After a commercial break, we're reminded that over a dozen married couples have come on the show together. The quite enjoyable Phil and Amy Parham came to the ranch weighing a combined 560 pounds. Two years later, they've found that Biggest Loser has changed their family's habits and given their youngest son hope. Phil currently weighs 210 pounds -- a loss of 121 pounds total -- and is rocking the modern-day Howie Mandel look. Amy started at 229 pounds and is now at about 144 and looking fly. They're authoring, and speaking, and traveling around the country talking to others. They're paying it forward, and also hopefully getting paid. Amy and Phil's youngest son, Rhett, is autistic and they were told that there were lots of things Rhett wasn't ever going to be able to do. A "brain training" company approached them after seeing them on the show, and as a result of that therapy Rhett has improved academically and is in regular classes this year. That's awesome! I can't believe they didn't product place that company. Amy says that their family is healthy and happy and embracing all the opportunities that come their way.
Oh, and THEN. Remember Abby from season eight, and her tragic story of losing her husband and two kids in a car crash? Saddest story ever. I'm crying again just watching the montage. Abby tells us that she was at her lowest point when she went on the show, and had no purpose in life. Today she's maintained a 100 pound weight loss, and even though every day isn't perfect, there's a lot more joy in her life. She gets up with energy and looks forward to her day and smiles a lot more. She also looks really great, and has also embarked on something of a public speaking career. We see Abby talking to a crowd, and telling them about her first workout with Jillian. She's a pretty great inspirational speaker, I think because she's so genuine. It's contestants like Abby that make putting up with all the inevitable bozos worthwhile. Abby works out with a personal trainer twice a week, and says that just getting up and moving really makes you feel better emotionally. She goes to classes at the gym, and has good friends who go out with her for sushi. Abby tells us that she went from having a wonderful life to living a nightmare, and wondered how to get up from it. She's still working it out, and it's an ongoing process, but when you incorporate good health and loving friends and family, then you can move forward. Amy's at a rockin' 147 pounds, and should totally look me up for a sushi dinner if she's ever in New England.
As we go to a commercial transition, we have Sami tell us her favorite BL moment. It's the Dallas 5K. She loved running with the contestants and all the other people who showed up. And then she shot J.R., which was the best part of all.
After commercials, there's more 5K news! This September, over 2,600 people from 36 states descended upon Myrtle Beach, SC to participate in the Biggest Loser 5K challenge. Oh man, I wish I had known! Bob invokes the crowd with the mantra, "Don't compete, just complete." He slaps the hands of the race entrants until his palms are raw, and talks with folks about their stories. There are cancer survivors, people who were morbidly obese, people who had breakdowns, and people who were morbidly obese AND had breakdowns. Past contestants were there to inspire. There's season two's at-home winner Pete, who's maintained a 163 pound weight loss; Sherry from season nine who has lost 102 pounds total; and the previously mentioned Amy and Phil. Sherry loves talking to other people and encouraging them to make healthy changes. Some people are already fit, while others have just started their journeys. Even though this show employs some suspicious techniques, it is pretty great to see that it has really inspired folks. It even inspires me to pause when I'm desiring a sweet, fatty recapping snack. Usually in that pause I pour myself another glass of wine. Thank you, Biggest Loser!
And then it's time for a "Where Are They Now?" home video. We see season eight's Shawn, who suddenly looks like he's in a boy band. I guess he always did have hair that was leaning that way. Shawn lost 155 pounds in six and a half months, and has a mess of little kids. His littlest daughter is named -- wait for it -- Jillian Mae! She was indeed named after Ms. Michaels, because they wanted to remember the year when daddy took his life back. Maybe she too will grow up to be an uncredentialed therapist! Dream big, kid.
Meanwhile, just when I had forgotten about keyboard cat, he's now advertising pistachios! I love that guy. This one gets me every time. Happy holidays to you and yours!
When we return from a break, we get to take a visit with season seven's Sione. He was half of the original Tongans, and tells us that weight is a big thing in the Tongan culture. Sione was super hard-core, and also quite hot. He took the lessons he learned to his Tongan community in Arizona, but that was not enough! He wants to share what he's learned with the Kingdom of Tonga, with his father by his side. Sione takes a plane to Nuku'alofa, Tonga, and is clearly proud of his father