Interview: Miggy Cancel and Darrell Hough from ‘Biggest Loser Couples’

We had the pleasure of speaking with the most recently eliminated contestants from Biggest Loser Couples, Miggy Cancel and Darrell Hough about the challenges they faced on the ranch, their continuing weight loss, and how their lives have changed since their return home.

My first question is for Miggy. Were you surprised to be voted out?

Miggy Cancel: No, I was not surprised to be voted off. My major concern was once we went into teams that was the moment for them to get rid of me, because that was the only time I’d ever – I was going to give them the opportunity. So – and it happened, and no I was not surprised at all.

And with your number as well, you weren’t surprised or you were disappointed?

Miggy Cancel: Well, I was a little disappointed. I had worked very hard that week, but even though I was in the lowest percentage of weight loss that was the sad part for me, because I didn’t leave because of the weight loss, I left because of a decision of the group.

And how have you been able to keep up your weight loss at home?

Miggy Cancel: Well, there is a combination of things that I do at home. I have an awesome trainer right now, Desmond, and he has incorporated in my routine a lot of meditation, a variety of different types of workout, and he checks on me on every day, so…

And you’re doing mostly exercise or are you keeping up with diet as well?

Miggy Cancel: Oh, I have not gone off the diet at all. I do have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods really close to my house and I get typically everything I was getting at the ranch.

And you’ve been working out with Nicole as well?

Miggy Cancel: Yes. I have – I reached out to Nicole and she was so great. She is supporting me. We’re running together, we’re working out together. She calls me and keeps me on track also.

What changes have each of you made since returning home? What are the things that you’ve been doing, the foods you’ve been eating or even just kind of the motivation, if there’s anything that’s really kind of motivating you?

Darrell Hough: Typically, my diet is pretty much mirrored what we were taught at the ranch as far as what to eat and when to eat it, and how to break your meals up into like four meals a day.

So, there’s really been no change diet-wise for me. I mix it up the best I can and I try recipes out of The Biggest Loser books just to keep the variety there. But, as far as the exercise part of it, being back to work I don’t have the time like I did at the ranch to dedicate my calorie burn over a 8, 12, 14 hour day that you’re awake. That I – that needs to be more condensed to working out before work and working out after. So, consequently, my workouts at home are more intense for a shorter period of time to get the calorie burnt. So, that’s probably the biggest change there.

Miggy Cancel: Well, I keep having the same kind of diet that I did at the ranch. The only thing is I’m trying to incorporate the regular foods and change them into a healthier way. So, I don’t want to go away from my everyday life that I used to have, but I have healthy choices. Whenever I can go lean or whole grain, those are the changes I’ve made.

And when it comes to working out, it’s really hard when you have to go back to work. I just incorporate workouts like, I run to work every morning instead of getting in the car and getting to work. It’s eight miles, but I got my first eight miles already in the morning, and that’s it for me for the rest of the day.

Once you guys are at work is there any kind of things you do maybe at your desk or whatever you’re doing, some sort of little exercises that you do while you’re there? Miggy, how is it showing up to work probably drenched in sweat?

Miggy Cancel: Well, there is a gym right next to where I work, so I go to the gym and get ready and then go to work. I’ve got an advantage, I work on Base so right next to the club that I work at I have a gym. And then, I have also included in my everyday thing a weighted vest. I wear a 40-pound vest all day while I’m working, walking back and forth, and cooking and putting up boxes or whatever it is that I’m doing. So, that helps me raise my heart rate and burn more calories.

Darrell Hough: I work in a – it’s a printing facility. It’s a big warehouse with presses. So, the – typically I’ll get 20,000 steps in a day just in an eight hour day at work. So, now if I’m heading across the warehouse from end to the other, I just literally pick the pace up. I’m able to walk much faster so my 20,000 steps now are at a higher intensity, you know? If I got to get from point A to point B I get there as fast as I can.

Miggy, is shopping for clothes more fun now?

Miggy Cancel: It actually is. It is exciting and I’m still in that stage where I go straight to the 2X and extra large and when I put them on I’m like, “Wait a minute, I’m not there.” So – and it’s exciting and I go, “Okay, I’ll go for a large,” and then I put on the large, “Oh, wait a minute, I’m not a large anymore.” And then, I end up in a medium and I’m like, “Wow.”

And that is where I’ve seen the huge change, and the satisfaction of knowing how hard I’ve worked and it’s paying off. As the sizes go down, it’s actually – it’s great to shop. I don’t want to shop too much, because I still got a couple of more to go.

How much weight have each of you lost to-date?

Darrell Hough: Okay, Miggy it’s time to be honest.

Miggy Cancel: I’ve lost over 70 pounds.

Darrell Hough: I’ve lost 140 pounds.

Darrell, I wanted to know, how do you think you’re elimination will factor into Andrea’s success?

Darrell Hough: Well, you know, I thought about that quite a bit at home, and as a dad I even worried about it and for no reason though. She’s very strong. She had friends at the ranch and to be quite honest with you, a lot of the time Andrea was my strength. So, it went back and forth, but I don’t think she had an issue with it, to be honest. I think she knocked it out of the park.

And Miggy, now that you’re off the ranch how are you managing your return at your career as a chef, and how has it changed?

Miggy Cancel: It’s changed quite a bit. I’ve had to go back and cook the normal meals I always have and catering to these parties and balls; that hasn’t changed. But, I do have a lot of people approaching, “Are you going to make a catering menu? Are you going to make a wedding menu where it’s healthier, it’s lower calories? Can I get a Biggest Loser recipe,” or “Can I get a plate that you guys eat that’s better than what we’re having?”

So, a lot of the things now, I was just told by my boss, I have to revamp all the menus and break them down where I can give them a healthy choice – give them the regular one plus a healthy choice. So, there are a lot of conscience people. There are a lot of people crying for the help of, “We need to watch our weight. We need to watch what we eat,” and they’re trying to get the help everywhere they can.

So, I am working on that and soon they’ll have their recipes and the plates and everything that they’re asking me for.

Well, since you mentioned that when you went back you were still making the same kind of food, did you find that a hard temptation to resist?

Miggy Cancel: No, I haven’t. I haven’t. My hardest temptation was the soda and I actually had like a half a cup. I’m going to be honest, I had a half of cup and I was in pain for the rest of the day. It gave me horrible cramps. So, I haven’t gone back to it, and you know, we test ourselves. We know what we can and cannot eat and what we should and shouldn’t, and that was one of my major things.

But, I have just been converting my regular recipes into a healthier choice trying to eliminate the fat and the salt, and it’s working really well.

Miggy, I was wondering how you felt about the pop challenge where Mike got to pick the teams. Did you think it was incredibly unfair?

Miggy Cancel: You know I would have done a similar selection. I would not have done the exact one, but I think that anybody in that position that’s looking out for themselves and looking out for, you know, staying at the ranch – you know, when we’re there, in our minds what crosses us is, “What can I do to stay here longer?”

Kind of like with me, after my surgery I said, “What can I do?” I asked the doctor, “What can I do?” And he says, “All you can do is walk.” So, I walked and I didn’t stop walking for those three days to be able to make it. And that’s our major goal is like, “How – what can I do to stay?” And he made the decision on what to do to stay. I didn’t necessarily agree with all of it, but I would have done something similar.

Would you say that Mike is more of game player than you were?

Miggy Cancel: Yes, definitely.

What was the most surprising thing when you – I assume that you watched the show before you were up at the ranch, what was the most surprising thing when you got there and thought, “I can’t believe I’m actually here.”

Miggy Cancel: I really didn’t watch the show as much and I wish I did. But, definitely the way things – the clash of personalities is the only thing that really surprised me. The workouts were excruciating. I was expecting something really tough and I think that the biggest thing that told me, “Wow, I’m really in a place that I’m doing something big,” was when I started finding myself.

I’m like, “Oh, my God, yes I am at the ranch. I am at The Biggest Loser. This is my conversion to a new person.” So, to me that was the biggest thing that shocked me when I was there.

Darrell Hough: I guess the big – you know, I watched lots of episodes of Biggest Loser and I anticipated that all the pain and anguish that I saw was for real. I didn’t understand the impact on my body being a couch potato. You know, when you’re sitting in that position you think you can conquer anything.

So, watching it on TV was not enough to prepare me for what went on when we first got to the ranch. And to be totally honest with you, I can remember telling myself, “Who in the heck would put the gym on a hill. I got to walk up this hill every day? Are you kidding me?”

Darrell, weight loss has traditionally kind of been a female thing; men don’t usually talk about it or, you know, make it a big part of their lives. So, I’m curious working in, what I have to assume is a fairly male environment, what has this weight loss experience been like for you as a male, and what have you seen coming, as far as support or interest from kind of your peers?

Darrell Hough: For me, weight loss, I guess if you want to make it gender-specific, it’s mostly women that I’ve ever seen have success. Whether it was up and down or down and down, most guys that are overweight that I know or know of never lost weight. It was a steady gain.

So, not a whole lot to draw on from that with the success that I’ve had, with Biggest Loser, guys are coming out of the woodwork asking all sorts of questions that typically, you know, if being 413 pounds you never talked about that kind of stuff. Now, it’s more, “Hey what are your workouts? What – you know, how many calories are you eating? How do you eat this? How do you handle that situation?” So, it’s been very positive and reinforcing with the people that I know and work with to not only live it, but to talk it out.

Miggy, with you, I’m curious. The early episodes when your daughter Migdalia was still at the ranch, it seem – you two both seemed very kind of closed off, shut down, and once she left, you really seemed to kind of open up and blossom. And I’m curious what the big change was when she left, and why that occurred when she left?

Miggy Cancel: Well, ever since we won the first challenge, we felt that we were a target. And in a certain way with things – how they played out, unfortunately what the people saw was our reactions to other things. We were still as bubbly as we are right now and it’s just hard to – it was hard to digest the beginning. It was a period of adjustment. And when she left I definitely thought that the world had fallen down for me.

So – and after that night, it was the night of my surgery, and I said to myself, “You know what, I have to drop this. I have to move on. What am I going to do to be able to stay here? Okay, let me start new.” And that’s what I put in my mind and when I got in – back into the role, I was like, “Okay, let me just be me and not worry about anything else,” and that’s what showed. I tried to show me – there are different parts of me that are shown. Yes, I’m a very strong person, very determined, but at the same time, I am a sweetheart that it’s starting to show now. Unfortunately, I mean that’s the way it is.

Miggy, I’d like to know what was the single biggest lesson you learned on the show, and how you’re incorporating this into your life at home?

Miggy Cancel: Wow, there is not one single, there’s many. The one thing I learned was that I had to learn to accept myself first, and I had not done that. And I started learning that towards the end, and now that I can look inside myself and say, “Okay, this is what’s wrong or this is what’s okay, and this is what’s making me happier, or this is what’s making me sad,” and be able to channel each feeling.

I’ve never accepted my feelings and I have learned that. I started learning it over there and I’m putting it into practice now, and it’s working out very well for me.

And now that you’re not on the show, what do you think your biggest fear, as far as possibly gaining back the weight or slipping?

Miggy Cancel: You know there’s always the fear of gaining weight and there have been moments where the weight has like been on a standstill, when we plateau maybe because we didn’t have enough exercise or we’re having the same exercise. There are different things that come into play. I don’t fear that anymore like I used to because I have the tools. I was given the tools of how to lose the weight, how to keep it off, what I have to watch for, so now I know. I don’t worry about that like I did before.

Darrell, in your pre-show video with your daughter, she mentioned that she was looking forward to being able to do things with you whenever you both got healthy again. I was wondering is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Darrell Hough: Yeah, Frisbee golf, anything that has to do with fun, games, and outside. Growing up, you know, wiffle ball in the backyard, just the family, croquet, bocce ball. Anything that we did as a family outside was great memories and there’s a point where that just was not going to happen. You know I’d get home from work and sit in a chair until it was time to go to bed.

So, there were things that as she was growing up that we used to do that we’re looking forward to the snow disappearing so we can get right back at that stuff again.

And Miggy, have you been working out with Migdalia at home? Is there a competitive edge? Are you supporting each other?

Miggy Cancel: Between Migdalia and me there’s always a competitive edge. We will call each other in the morning and we’ll say, “Okay, what’s the workout today,” and we’ll say, “If it’s our trainer, two hours, what are we going to do?” And she says, “Okay, let’s get on it,” and we’ll start doing both the workout, we’ll call back when we’re done and we’ll say, “Okay, what did you do?” And I did that and she did that.

For instance, if we’re doing running that day and I’ll tell her, “Well, I’m going to run five miles,” and I go back and I run my five miles or I decide that I’m going to run six or eight. And she’ll call me and say, “Mom, I did ten miles instead of five,” and I’m like, “Oh, I did eight.”

Things like we do and it’s to the point I tell here, “Well, much did you weigh,” and I’m like, “Oh, more or less the same,” and she won’t tell me her weight and I won’t tell her my weight. So, it’s kind of funny because we’re like competing with each other and that keeps us motivated. We’re doing a half marathon soon and that’s when we’re going to see each other again.

Your daughter had said something about how upset she was Jillian kind of – was trying to make her feel too much and she didn’t want to have to feel, and trying to make her breakdown. And it seems like you kind of adopted – you really – you spoke about this how you adopted that attitude. Have you talked to your daughter about this all, and what are your feelings toward Jillian and what are her feelings towards Jillian right now?

Miggy Cancel: Jillian is an awesome trainer and we love her to death. I enjoyed her and I learned a lot from her, so did my daughter. And when we talk about the incident and – it was really Jillian trying to help her and she knows that. And she’s come to realize that at that moment she reacted the way we know how to react.

You know, when you don’t know any other way, you do what you know and learning now, she’s able to sit and say, “You know, Mom, this morning just felt like crying,” so she cried. And, “Oh, I’m stressed out,” she’s able to say, “I feel this, I feel that,” and I think she has been growing a lot.

Darrell, that Olympic Torch challenge seemed really difficult on you. I just wanted to know, which challenge did you find the most fun?

Darrell Hough: Typically the challenges are fun. All the challenges are fun. Strategically, there might be some that Andrea would have done instead of me with the idea of winning immunity. But, challenge day is probably the best days there at the ranch. You know you’re going to do a work out. Challenges are usually geared around some sort of a workout, and they usually end up being fun.

The torch challenged sucked, mind you. You know, we worked out earlier in the day, my knees are pretty bad and standing in a squatted-type position was misery from second one. It’s difficult to describe. I went as far as I could go. Knowing today what I know now, I probably would have been hell bent to stay there until dawn came up, one way or the other. I wouldn’t have quit. I wouldn’t have slipped. I wouldn’t have moved. I would have just stood it out a whole long longer.

I’m learning that with pain – typically pain comes a threshold and when you get to the point where you can’t go any farther, I’ve learned that you’re knocking on the door to get to the next level and to push through that is everything.

So, it’s just like a mind over matter kind of thing?

Darrell Hough: Yep, mind is weak. Mind’s getting stronger, but the mind is weak.

Miggy, what was it that you recognized about yourself that led you toward learning meditation?

Miggy Cancel: What I learned was I could actually reach down and channel, and I was not able to do that before. I would always react. It was kind of like action and reaction with me. It was never like, “Stop, think, analyze, okay, this is the way I’m going to do this,” I never did that. I always had a reaction to any action, and now I am able to look at it from a different perspective, I’m able to analyze before I actually react or even talk sometimes.

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