StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116664406125591.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116664722025600.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Mark Wylie before (above) and after his appearance on The Biggest Loser.‘);
Two days before The Biggest Losers season finale, I had the chance to talk to Mark Wylie, one of the four finalists. (Yep, Wylie has a first name, not that most viewers ever heard it.) He didnt seem nervous, considering in about 48 hours hed be on live TV, vying for the $250,000 Biggest Loser prize.
The Biggest Loser takes a long time to make. Taping started in Aprilwhen Wylie was 307 poundsand ran through July. Then, they sent us all home to continue, he says.
The last time we saw Wylie, who represented Florida, hed already lost 90 pounds. At the final weigh-in, hed lost 129 pounds. The shocker? He came in third.
Considering the winner, Erik, shed an astounding 214 pounds53 percent of his starting weight of 407its probably a good thing Wylie didnt win, since 163 is kind of thin for a guy whos 6 feet tall.
Wylie never expected to make it to the final round. My expectations were, Im gonna go, Im gonna lose weight, and Im gonna make some friends, he says. His reason for losing weight was simple: I knew Id die at an early age if I didnt figure it out.
Wylie wasnt competing against other contestants; he competed against himself.
What you dont realize is that youre really taking yourself on from the inside, he says. Youre faced with demons you didnt realize you even hadWhy am I overweight? Why am I the person I am? Its sort of like self-therapy. You learn a lot about yourself, and thats the beauty of it. And you learn to take care of yourself.
Learning to take care of himself meant taking a couple months away from his job at the charitable organization, Best Buddies. His role there is to get celebrities and sports figures involved with the group, which strives to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-on-one friendships and integrated employment.
Already a role model for his many years of service with Best Buddies, Wylies now an inspiration for people who want to get fit.
The most amazing part is, if I can do this, anybody can. Because Im That Guy, he says. Im that person who was sitting behind my desk or on my couch at home thinking, Wouldnt it be amazing to be that person holding out an old pair of pants to show the huge difference hes made in his life?
The Biggest Loser gave Wylie the knowledge and tools to transform himself, inside and out.
Ill be able to take that and use it for the rest of my life, he says. Isnt it a beautiful gift? This isnt something Im going to take lightlyIm going to live with it for the rest of my life.
Predictably, Wylie wants to share what hes learned from his experience.
Just because the shows over doesnt mean I wont continue to try to be healthymind, body and soul, he says, and Ill try to take everybody else who wants to join along for the ride!
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.
From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue