Published on Willo’s Web – with others in a Summer long series of interviews with Biggest Loser Contestants
Also, published in a French Canadian Magazine … whose name I can’t recall .. and I actually got paid real money!
July 2007

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Our “Where Are They Now” Summer Series continues with our favorite past contestants from NBC’s hit reality show “The Biggest Loser”. The premise of this series is simple … asking the same set of questions to all participants … getting honest answers in return.

Erik Chopin in the current CHAMP and winner of Biggest Loser Season 3. He came onto the show as the guy with the most weight to lose. Watching him overcome his struggles, seeing him push through the pain, was inspiring to many like him across the nation!!!

While Season 3 was on the air – my first experience with Erik Chopin was not Erik himself – but his wife Michelle. She had stopped in the chat room and was excited to us all talking about the show. Michelle offered words of support and encouragement to everyone in the room – and some great advice to some of our rumor Mill friends. Which goes to show you – that every strong man has a good women beside him!

Erik Chopin

Since leaving the show have you gained weight?

  • Have you found it relatively difficult to maintain?

At the finale I weighed 193 lbs. My initial goal was to get to 207 lbs, which would have been an even 200 lbs lost. I ended up going below 200 lbs. because I still had time before the finale, which in my opinion was a competitive weight for my 6’ 2” frame. In the last month prior to the finale, I stopped all weight training and focused on cardio, for fear of muscle weight showing on the scale. Additionally, the day prior to weigh-in there was some dehydration. I was so obsessed about the competition that I had brought my digital scale to the finale with me. Before the weigh in, I weighed myself and my scale was in sync with the 193 lb weigh in. The next day, I weighed myself out of curiosity after re-hydrating and eating a decent meal, I weighed 210 lbs. I feel like 210 is my true weight, and today my current weight is 228 lbs. At the start of the competition, my shirt size was a 5XL and my waist was 54”, at the finale my shirt size was Large and 34” waist. I am still size 34” jeans and size L shirt.

What sort of training plan are you following now?

  • Have you seen results?

My current training regime is a goal of one hour of cardio everyday (which ends up realistically being 4-5x a week) and I have added more intense weight training with heavier weights. I’ve been trying to add more muscle tone to my physique.

What target/goals have you set for yourself?

I’d like to keep a consistent weight of 215 lbs, which means I need to lose 10 lbs. I remind myself that I will never allow myself to buy clothes in the next size. Additionally, since getting a full body lift surgery I would like to add muscle tone to my abs.

Can you tell me a little about your experiences on the ranch?

  • Best times?
  • Worst times?
  • What’s the ONE moment you’ll never forget?

best times– Some of the best times would be hanging out with my buddies Brian and Bobby, we were roommates and we shared the master suite of the ranch. It was a really cool room and it was the biggest bedroom in the ranch. I can remember us up late at night plotting and scheming on how we can be the final three, we used to giggle like little kids. As an adult it’s rare that you get to hang out with buddies the way you did back in college or adolescence, it reminded me of living in the dorms at college, so much fun.

worst times– Those first two weeks were probably the hardest weeks of my life. Days before arriving at the ranch, I was a couch potato and here I was working out and dealing with this guy Bob who was relentless. I never had been so out of breath like that in my life. My breathing was so heavy I would be actually panting. I remember thinking to myself careful what you wish for; this place is way more than I bargained for.

Never forget– I remember being in the kitchen and feeling like I was in such a great mood. At the time, I must have already lost over 50 lbs. I realized that for the first time in a really long time that this feeling of depression was finally starting to lift. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on camera, but I took Bob aside and I told him that I wanted to thank him, because he made me like myself again, Bob later told me that was the nicest thing that anyone had ever told him.

What type of support have you had in regards to dealing with the mental obstacles that come with obesity?

  • Do you feel overcoming these mental blocks have helped in maintaining your current health?

My wife and I support each other. Despite learning so much throughout this process, we still struggle everyday, but at least now we’ve learned how to address these struggles and we support each other

Do you feel better equipped to handle weight loss and maintenance after being on the show .. or do you feel the same?

I definitely feel better equipped handling weight maintenance after the show. A big part of maintenance is applying the new eating habits and exercise routines that I learned, to everyday life. It’s just that now it doesn’t have to be as extreme as the weight loss approach.

How was the transition from “Reality TV Star” to “Real Life”

I am the same regular guy that I was on the show. It’s just that now I appear physically different and I was able to identify that I had lost control of my life. But almost everyday I am reminded that I was on TV when someone says hello to me in public. I am grateful that each time this happens people always have something positive to say. It’s really nice to hear from so many that they were inspired by me, I am very flattered.

Were you able to incorporate what you learned at the ranch into your everyday routine?

On the ranch we learned so many different types and ways to exercise and we were introduced to healthier food alternatives. Many of these things that I learned I have applied to my life, its great that I don’t have to do the four to five hours of cardio that I did on the ranch, but it allows me to choose just one of those types of exercises for my hour of cardio and each day I can switch to a different exercise that I learned so that it keeps me from getting bored.

What’s the BIG lesson you learned from your experience with The Biggest Loser?

Bob helped me identify one of the main reasons that I got so heavy. And that is I had to change my relationship with food. Food had become too important to me; food was “the” event of my life. And now, I still love food, but I realize it’s not the only thing that makes me happy.

What are you doing now? Work? Home? Life in General?

Well, recently we made the decision to sell the deli. Several career opportunities have come my way and most of these have involved out of town travel. The deli business requires an owner to be on the premises consistently. Being away from the deli too often could possibly de-value the store. It was a very difficult decision for me, but I realized it was the best decision at this time to sell it and pursue these other opportunities with a clear mind. I really miss the deli, but I remind myself that I have removed yet another source of temptation. The opportunities I mentioned include working on a Diabetes campaign and motivational speaking, usually at Health and Wellness Expos and various Corporate Headquarters. I am also finalizing some endorsement deals and have begun writing a book. I have discovered that an organization has purchased my first and last name as a domain name, so I have not been able to use it as a website. In the meantime, I have a myspace (erikbl3) and I am working on getting that website name.

I just want to thank everybody for all of the support and encouraging commentary. It really means a lot to me. I think we all will always struggle with this, but supporting one another could be invaluable. When I read about some of your success stories I become just as inspired and it gives me a new source of motivation.

Next week’s Where Are They Now will feature another winner from the Biggest Loser franchise. She’s the very first – and ONLY – female winner of the series too! You don’t want to miss it!

© Copyright 2007 Jaci Willoughby

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