We had the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Anderson, the latest eliminated contest on The Biggest Loser Couples. She talked to us about her romance with Sam from the show, her struggles during her last week on the show, and how she is balancing a career and weight loss at home.
So in your ‘Where Are They Now’ piece, you told your family and friends that you fell in love and I think we all know it’s Sam. So can you tell us a little bit more about that? And also are you surprised that they didn’t really air that all in the show?
Stephanie Anderson: Well, yes. Sam and I have – we did. We formed a really great friendship and that fell into like that fell into love. And, you know, this isn’t a Survivor. This is not Big Brother.
This is the Biggest Loser where my focus there, as Sam’s was, to focus on myself, to change my habits, to change not just my physical appearance but what’s going on emotionally, mentally, spiritually just to kind of change my whole outlook because I’ve struggled with weight for all of my life. Been up and down many times.
They don’t showcase a romance because that truly isn’t what this show is about. It’s about our efforts and about our transformations and about our overcoming obstacles. So, you know, we were aware that they weren’t going to showcase Sam and I. And, you know, obviously in the beginning as a woman who’s never been in love, it was very – I was happy that they weren’t going to show it because it’s, you know, it’s very personall. I’m happy now to share with everyone because I am genuinely truly the happiest I’ve ever been. And I believe Sam is as well, you know, from what he says.
And I think from my ‘Where Are They Now’ me mentioning about love because Sam’s still on the ranch and we’ll have to stay tuned to see if it comes out anymore or in the future how that looks. But my friends and family are really happy for me and the majority of them have met Sam and fallen in love with him too.
So how has life in general changed? I mean you fell in love. You look fabulous. You’ve lost so much weight. How is there anything different now that you’re home?
Stephanie Anderson: Well, you know, I – ultimately I am such a positive person. I’ve always put a smile on my face. Always tried to make the best of a situation, you know, make lemonade out of lemons. And for me I was thinking a lot, you know, and I wasn’t genuinely happy. I just kept feeling like if I pretend I’m happy, I’ve got to be happy. I had so much in my life to be thankful for. I had a great – I mean a supportive loving beautiful family, wonderful friends. I have a career here in Los Angeles. You know, I’ve established myself. I mean I had everything that I thought I wanted but myself.
And for me it was okay, I’ve got to stop putting so much into work. I’ve got to stop putting so much into building a life because ultimately at the end of the day I’m coming home unhappy with it. And no matter what I do to create this career or to establish myself, I’m not happy. And that’s why I walked away from my job at the time. You know, they let me go on a leave and were so supportive because they knew that ultimately in the end if I’m able to change my outlook from the inside, it’s going to project on the outside. And I feel I’m genuinely – like when I’m saying happy like I mean it. And you can see it. And I’m more relaxed. And my friends are like “Wow, you just seem just so much more chilled.” You know, I mean just more relaxed and happy and comfortable in your own skin. And, you know, I’m still working towards my final ultimate goal and – but I know that this is so much more than just a finale in May. You know, this is my forever and that brings me ultimate joy. And that’s what you see.
I would love to ask you about Sam. What do you guys do together for fun?
Stephanie Anderson: Oh well, when we get the chance to hang we love hiking. That became a passion of both of us just being in the outdoors. I am the first to admit I’m a girly girl. You know, I work in a business environment where I wear stiletto heels and I wear a lot of dresses. I know I made jokes about that the week that we did the football challenge.
And I’ve found a new love for the outdoors. I like to, you know, be outside with Sam. We love spin class. I mean taking spin with Bob and Jillian on the ranch and having them use that as a workout, it’s fun and anybody’s able to do it at any level. And, you know, because it’s up to you to up your resistance to fit where you’re capable of doing what, you know, the activity. And so Sam and I like spinning together. I got some spin shoes. I go to spin here now at least twice a week. And I just – we just like laughing. I mean that sounds so cliche but I have a blast with Sam and he – it’s just what you see really is what you get. He’s just a genuinely great guy.
And you guys live in different cities, right?
Stephanie Anderson: We do. Yeah. I mean – but he’s from the Bay area, about an hour from my parents. And because we’re so close, we’re able to spend time together more frequently than expected and obviously, you know, eventually if he’s going to move down here permanently or if I’m going to move back up to the Bay area permanently because all my family lives there, that’s for the future. We’re taking one day at a time.
But the time that we do spend together is great.
And where are you living now? And I just want to know what are the secrets to having a successful long-term relationship?
Stephanie Anderson: Well I live in West Hollywood. And, you know, I don’t know the – I don’t know the secrets yet. Everything’s still so new. And, you know, we’re just taking one day at a time. And, you know, I know Sam is extremely supportive of me and encouraging and wants only the best for me. And that would be the best secret. Find a partner that truly loves you for everything you are and everything you’re not. And that for me has been Sam.
So I was wondering, has the drama that surfaced on last night’s episode been resolved between you, Ashley, Koli and Andrea?
Stephanie Anderson: That’s a good question. You know, the situation came to light to me just recently. Watching the show, you know, was one of the first times I saw what was happening behind the scenes with Koli and with the girls. And, you know, Ashley and Drea both have called to reach out to me to apologize. They both have said they were wrong and that they were sorry. And they’re genuine apologies. I believe that they feel that they were misguided and they were.
I did no such things that were described of me. I didn’t throw the weigh-in. I didn’t manipulate the game. I never played – it wasn’t playing a game to me. It was never a game. And maybe that’s where I was naive in this.
But in terms of the situation with Koli, it has been resolved and I’m definitely looking forward to a chance to have that resolved in the future.
Before your weigh-in last night you mentioned that the stress you were experiencing on last night’s episode affected your weight loss and therefore your weight loss wasn’t going to be what you had wanted it to be, what you expected it to be. Can you describe what you meant by that?
Stephanie Anderson: Well, my weight – I had lost – you know, my body never lost a consistent five or six pounds. You know, Jillian talks a lot about averages to us on the ranch. Most of the women if you look at the weeks and you try to average them out, most of the women lost between 10 and 11 pounds every two weeks. You know, it could be a five and a six. It could be a seven and a four or seven and a three. And for me it always seemed to be that way, you know, an eight and a two and a nine and a one. And the average was always about the same.
I – before going home for, you know, the ‘at home week’, there was a lot going through my mind. It had been almost three months. I was on my period. I was, you know, Sam and I got in our first fight. I missed home. It was so upsetting. You know, our team kept losing. We had to clean the kitchen. We had to – I mean it was just – and the Blue Team was gloating and it was just a really tough time. And I’m a sensitive girl. You know, I’m sensitive. And I let it affect me along with my training and, you know, Jillian – I was running four miles. You know, no other contestant at the time – we were all running significant amount of times but I broke through a four-mile barrier mark. You know, and I was the first one to do that.
And I was just putting a lot of pressure on my body and I was eating – you know, I restricted some of my calories trying to – want to lose more weight. The week before I had a three-pound weight loss and it affected me and I lost two pounds.
Went home, lost nine pounds, you know, because everything – I wasn’t on my period. I wasn’t stressed. And then that week after I came home and we had this week, I just felt things were off. And I felt things were off with Ashley and we lived together basically in a suite. And, you know, I just – I kept asking her. You know, “Is everything okay?” And she goes, “Yeah, I’m just focused. And I just – I miss home and,” you know, and I’d ask Drea like were we cool because they went on hikes without me which was weird because we’d always go together.
And I just – you know, I’m a girl – I got women’s intuition. I got intuition. Something’s going on. Everyone said, “No, no, no. We’re good. We’re good.” And I was stress out. I was stress out. I had lost so much weight the week before and knew I was going to have a low week just because your body – that’s the way my body is. And Jill was prepping before it and then I had the breakthrough with Jillian and the breakdown — so to speak — and, you know, her saying, “It’s okay Steph, you got to let go of the control.” You’re not going to, you know – my whole thing was I’d been hurt in the past. I’ve been used by friends and past relationships and ex-boyfriends. I’ve been betrayed and I’ve been lied to and we all have those hang-ups and it’s not an excuse. But I was afraid. And I was afraid that I was going to – my feelings were going to be right and that people were going to hurt me. And Jillian’s like you got to let go of that because you can’t control what other people do if they’re going to hurt you or not.
And it’s ironic because she looked at me that week and said, “You know, you need to trust these people. You know, Sam’s not going to hurt you. Ashley’s not going to hurt you. Drea – Sunshine – these are your friends.” And that was three days before I found out about, you know, before Ashley finally said to me, “Yeah, you know, I have been feeling this way” and Drea said, “Yeah, I have heard this.” And that was the night before the weigh-ins. So, you know, to lose a pound, I can’t fault my body. I would have probably lost only a pound or two anyway. But the stress definitely took its toll on me emotionally and physically and mentally and I was a mess.
Now I’m okay. I’m okay with saying that. You know, we all have our moments and I try to stay strong through a lot of this and try to stay positive. And I – the thing I’ve learned is it’s okay to not be okay all the time. Everything’s okay now.
I wonder what you made of what Koli said. Why would he say what he said last night? Do you feel – I mean you were not exactly a threat to him. And I wonder do you think he was trying to come between you and Sam? Or what did you – in retrospect, what do you make of all of that?
Stephanie Anderson: Honestly I don’t know. I don’t – I don’t know anything Koli said. I don’t know what his journey is and that’s – I really truly meant that at the elimination table that this isn’t about me. And I don’t feel that him creating (the fabrication) had anything to do with me.
You know, there’s 11 weeks for him to talk to me about his feelings and, you know — in terms of Sam and I and that, he never made mention that it bothered him or, you know, but again, that’s more of a question that he’s going to have to answer, you know, probably to Sam and to his family and probably to people who wonder. That’s up to him if he wants to explain.
For me, I’m not going to assume or presume. I just – I know it was hurtful and I’m bummed out and, you know, I know it hurt Sam and – but I can’t change what happened and I definitely can’t try to understand what Koli’s feeling or presume what he’s feeling unless he tells me. And if he doesn’t explain it to me, then I just – I won’t know. And I just have to be okay with not understanding.
You’re taking everything that Jillian said to heart…
Stephanie Anderson: I am. I mean at this point I have no – legitimately as upsetting as it was to watch last night, I have no control over it. It’s happened and, you know – my whole thing is I would have organically been eliminated at some point. I was getting smaller. I’m almost 5’9″.
I never – I started this at a weight where 50% or more of my body weight is just probably unlikely, you know. And, you know, put me in the low 130s, high 120s at almost 5’9″, that’s just not healthy. So I never was in this for a grand prize. I was in this for me and for my mother who has gone from knocking on death’s door in less than five years to being able to see me walk down the aisle, being able to see me have children.
And like that to me is priceless. And, you know, for Koli, I don’t know what his purpose is. And I’m not going to judge because I can’t change what happened. Do I agree with what happened? Am I happy with how he handled things? Not at all. But, you know, not everything in life works out the way we want and is fair and it’s up to me how I handle it. All I can do.
And how are you striking that work life balance now?
Stephanie Anderson: It’s tough. It’s really tough. You know, I work in radio sales in the biggest radio market in Los Angeles. It’s 100% commission so I don’t have a salary. If I need to develop – find and develop new business and, you know, create business (bands) and close deals in order to get an income.
So I’ve been working a lot of hours trying to catch up on, you know, four months of missed work. And it’s – they’ve been really phenomenal in supporting me but at the same time now it’s up to me, you know, to bring home my paycheck. So the balance is really tough.
Working out every day. I’m eating on my plan. You know, I’ve had a few slip ups here and there of just not wanting to go workout or, you know, I don’t write down – if I don’t write down my calories or keep close enough track, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m already 150 over, you know, my budget like crap. What do I do?” And that’s real life. That’s going to happen. And then but, you know, I hop right back on and I haven’t had any, you know, I’ve not had any previous – I haven’t like – I haven’t gone to fast food. I haven’t binged. I haven’t cheated in terms of, you know – have I had a bite of ice cream? Yeah. You know, have I had a quart of ice cream? No.
You know, and I think, you know for me it’s all about the balance now and I’m just really trying to stay focused on finding that balance.
So, when did your relationship with Sam begin exactly?
Stephanie Anderson: Well we, you know, definitely there was a flirtation very early on. And we became friends and started spending a lot of time hanging out and working out early on, Weeks 1, Weeks 2. My mom left Week 2 and, you know, I was really bummed out and he helped – he’s like, “Let’s go for a run.” And I was more capable, you know, than some of the contestants at the time in terms of my cardio level I guess I could say. I could never quite keep up with Sam but I always felt like he pushed me to be better. And so I always wanted to workout with him because I felt when I was done that I got a much better workout than on my own.
And we just had fun together. So it was about Week 3 that we were all hanging out. We did some swimming as a group in the pool. We were trying to burn some cardio dancing to the music. I mean there’s not much to do with no TV, no Internet, no phone, no newspaper. So we were having a little dance party in the rumpus room and then one by one everyone went to bed and Sam I were just talking and I was just like I really like this guy but I don’t want to mess things up. We’re having so much fun as friends and, you know, my mom just left and my feeling – this attraction because, you know, my mom’s not here or do I genuinely care?
You know, all those feelings went through my head. And once I realized that I really genuinely liked him, I just decided to, you know, let my guard down. And I’ve always pushed, male relationships away because I was so afraid of being hurt. And I was so afraid of being rejected. And I was so afraid of maybe finding something in myself in a relationship, something that I didn’t like or I just – I was afraid. So for me it was a struggle initially to kind of let that guard down go, which is why I denied him the first kiss. It wasn’t to have the control. It was to – it was because I was scared.
And then I realized I made a mistake because I did like him. I wasn’t going to be afraid anymore. And that next day we went on a planned hike and brought picnics and like lunch up there and I leaned in and I kissed him. And then the rest is history.
That’s awesome. And also how much weight have you lost so far?
Stephanie Anderson: Well I – and that was on there last night. As this process starts, you know, there’s a – there is a pre-process, it’s not talked about a whole lot. But the applying and when you see some of that footage of me in video was before I was selected to be a part of The Biggest Loser and at that time I was 278 pounds and I was miserable. I couldn’t even – I mean I was missing work because I was – I would wake up and I wouldn’t have anything to wear. I would cry. I would be – I was so – I was depressed. I was moody. I was anxious. I was just all of those because I was so obese. And for me once I started the process for The Biggest Loser, I said I was not turning back.
And I was too ill and too far gone to just keep going at my life and hoping I’d be past knowing that, you know, over 200,000 people apply and they pick 22. I thought, “Why are – what are they going to see in me? Why are they going to pick me?” And I have to change this now. And I started losing weight. And I just stopped eating the fast food. I stopped, you know, the partying. I stopped – I started working out a little bit to try to shed off some of those first pounds and I lost about 14 pounds before I weighed in on The Biggest Loser scale which was 264 pounds. So on the show I’ve lost 82 pounds. I’m 182 pounds. And so for the show I’ve lost 82 but since I started, my weight loss, it’s 96 pounds.
So that’s where the confusion – yeah. So there’s a little confusion because I saw that last night and I go, “Crap. People are going to get confused by the numbers.” But because my friends and family saw me when I was 278 because I was going through this process and losing and that’s not typical I know. Technically I weighed in at 264 but I’m proud that I’ve lost, you know, that – because I know what it felt like to be 278, you know, just months before I was 264. So, you know, for the show I’ve lost 82 pounds and at least by the finale to be 100 pounds.
So you know, that’s 164. My real goal is in the 150s though for my height and, you know, I gained 19 pounds of muscle and so I want to look healthy and I want to be toned. No super skinny girl here.
Well, you talked about some of the depression you were going through before you went on the show. If there was somebody else out there that you’d want to give advice to who’s thinking auditioning for The Biggest Loser, what would you tell them?
Stephanie Anderson: Don’t wait to start. You know, for me The Biggest Loser really is a life changing experience in more than just losing weight. You know, anyone who goes onto The Biggest Loser ranch is going to lose weight. But it’s so much more than that. It’s really everything encompassed. And that’s what I would tell anyone auditioning or wanting, you know, an opportunity for The Biggest Loser that it’s, you know – for me I didn’t wait until I got past.
And I feel like most important thing for anyone who’s trying to lose weight is to not just do it the right way with, you know, healthy exercise regimen and healthy eating habits and taking a look at all that. But, you know, they’re right when they say like it’s just so much more of like it’s just so much more of like – a mental, you know, and the emotional, the heart. And a lot of us have had ups and downs because for me I’ve been under 200 pounds.
In 2004 I was 198 pounds. That’s the lowest I’ve ever been before now. And I gained back, you know, almost 80 pounds after I was 240 and went down to, you know, under 200 and then gained it all back. And I’m like, “How did that happen over five years?” Well I let it happen because I was so afraid to do something about it. And it wasn’t necessarily just exercise and food, which is a huge majority of it. But I needed to figure out inside and really legitimately why, Stephanie Anderson, are you allowing yourself to put this way back on. Why are you not taking care of yourself? Why do you not consider yourself a priority? Why is whatever you’re doing more important than you?
And, you know, I’m not yet married. I’m not yet a mother. So I can’t necessarily compare my feelings to that of child rearing and mothers who kind of feel that they have to put their children first. But for me it was my career. For me it was my career. And now I’m realizing, you know what, I can have it all. Like I just need to find that balance. And for those, you know, advice would be just to find that balance and start today. Just small steps.
Well how do you feel about Victoria being one of the two people back now? I mean she was gone so, so early in this.
Stephanie Anderson: I am actually really happy for Victoria. You know, I was torn. I wanted to vote for Victoria, the pure fact that she hadn’t been on the ranch. I also – before anyone weighed in, you know, I only made mention that the nine of us on the ranch have lost over 20% of our body weight. And I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s incredible.” And then this – I said, you know, I’m going to vote for the person who has the least amount – has lost the least amount of percentage of body weight and that person in my opinion needs the most help.
You know, if I – if someone already lost 20% of their body weight at home, in my opinion, the ranch is to help us. It’s to – because I again never saw it as a game. I saw it as a place to like work on me. You know, like a mechanic shop. Like help me under the hood figure out what’s going on so not only can I take this weight off because all of us are going to take the weight off, the majority of us. But it’s who’s going to keep it off. How are we going to be able to get us some of the tools to not put it back on? And, you know, Victoria never got that shot so my heart definitely was happy for her. And (Sharita), her mother is like the most amazing woman, like amazing.
And – but James, man, was over 400 pounds so – and I couldn’t walk away with – and I said this and, you know, editing sometimes doesn’t show everything, but I just – I mentioned that James was over 400 pounds and that my heart would not be able to be happy knowing that I didn’t speak up for him and give him a voice. Because he left week one. I mean I didn’t know him just as much as I didn’t know Victoria. So for me it was just this man needs help. Fourteen percent of his body weight when, you know, Victoria, whomever else was over about 20%. You know, a lot of the contestants had lost more than 20%.
So in the end though when James wasn’t chosen I was a little sad, but for Victoria I was really happy. And then I mentioned the other person coming back on, you know, whoever it was going to be on the step challenge. And that’s where I wasn’t happy, you know, bringing two people back.
Official The Biggest Loser Site: nbc.com/the-biggest-loser