“Biggest Loser” competitor discusses her experiences, shares health and fitness tips

Rebecca Marcucci, Assistant Campus Life Editor
February 14, 2013
Filed under Campus Life

How does it feel to go from weighing 316 pounds to losing 155 pounds while America is watching? Season 7 finalist of NBC’s hit show, the Biggest Loser, Tara Costa, says it was a life-changing experience for her.

“My starting weight on the show was 294 pounds,” Costa said. “But the heaviest I had been was 316 pounds. I lost weight for the show thinking I didn’t want to be fat on TV.”

The 28-year old New York native and undergraduate from New York University said her a-ha moment for losing the weight came to her one weekend while out clubbing with her gal pals.

“We roll up to this club and the bouncer lets all my friends in,” Costa said. “He tells them to go back and have a good time and everything is provided for them. Then he gets to me and he puts the red rope up. He tells me, ‘Sorry honey but we’ve reached our capacity.’ And I’m just standing there. Everyone can see that I’d just been rejected. So I take off and buy myself some Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and some Entenmann’s Pop ‘Ems. I head back to my apartment and I ask myself, ‘Why are you eating your emotions away?’ At that moment I dumped everything in the sink and poured dish soap on it so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. I knew it was time for a change.”

Before the Biggest Loser, Costa thought her weight was something that was inevitable.

“I always thought I was just a bigger girl,” Costa said. “I used to be a cute and pudgy little girl and then I turned into a chunky teenager, and then a rolly, polly big ‘ol woman.”

Costa had spent her life as a plus size model for Tommy Hilfiger and Jennifer Lopez’s Plus Size Lovelies. She was making $350 an hour and was making a solid living until she was told she’d become too big to be a plus size model.

Motivated to lose the weight, Costa had tried every diet plan out there.

“I did the Zone Diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, you name it, I tried it,” Costa said. “Dieting didn’t go over too well with my family either. I’m Italian, Cuban, and Polish. We have seven course family dinners. If you’re not eating, it’s, ‘What’s wrong with you? You need to eat!’ or if you’re eating something else they’ll say, ‘What is that? You need to eat this!’”

Costa relied on convenience for many of her meals as well during her fast-paced lifestyle.

“McDonald’s delivers in New York City,” Costa said, “So every day I had Jose bring me a number 8, an Egg McMuffin meal.”

It wasn’t until Costa’s roommate had  recorded an episode of the Biggest Loser

By Rebecca Marcucci

Assistant Campus Life Editor

How does it feel to go from weighing 316 pounds to losing 155 pounds while America is watching? Season 7 finalist of NBC’s hit show, the Biggest Loser, Tara Costa, says it was a life-changing experience for her.

“My starting weight on the show was 294 pounds,” Costa said. “But the heaviest I had been was 316 pounds. I lost weight for the show thinking I didn’t want to be fat on TV.”

The 28-year old New York native and undergraduate from New York University said her a-ha moment for losing the weight came to her one weekend while out clubbing with her gal pals.

“We roll up to this club and the bouncer lets all my friends in,” Costa said. “He tells them to go back and have a good time and everything is provided for them. Then he gets to me and he puts the red rope up. He tells me, ‘Sorry honey but we’ve reached our capacity.’ And I’m just standing there. Everyone can see that I’d just been rejected. So I take off and buy myself some Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and some Entenmann’s Pop ‘Ems. I head back to my apartment and I ask myself, ‘Why are you eating your emotions away?’ At that moment I dumped everything in the sink and poured dish soap on it so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it. I knew it was time for a change.”

Before the Biggest Loser, Costa thought her weight was something that was inevitable.

“I always thought I was just a bigger girl,” Costa said. “I used to be a cute and pudgy little girl and then I turned into a chunky teenager, and then a rolly, polly big ‘ol woman.”

Costa had spent her life as a plus size model for Tommy Hilfiger and Jennifer Lopez’s Plus Size Lovelies. She was making $350 an hour and was making a solid living until she was told she’d become too big to be a plus size model.

Motivated to lose the weight, Costa had tried every diet plan out there.

“I did the Zone Diet, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Atkins, you name it, I tried it,” Costa said. “Dieting didn’t go over too well with my family either. I’m Italian, Cuban, and Polish. We have seven course family dinners. If you’re not eating, it’s, ‘What’s wrong with you? You need to eat!’ or if you’re eating something else they’ll say, ‘What is that? You need to eat this!’”

Costa relied on convenience for many of her meals as well during her fast-paced lifestyle.

“McDonald’s delivers in New York City,” Costa said, “So every day I had Jose bring me a number 8, an Egg McMuffin meal.”

It wasn’t until Costa’s roommate had  recorded an episode of the Biggest Loser that the wheels started turning in her head.

“I saw at the bottom of the screen that it said come to Rockefeller Center to try out for a chance to be on the show,” Costa said. “I had never even heard of this show before but I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working.”

After waiting in line for hours, at the auditions, Costa experienced a lightning round of questioning.

“Each person was given 30 seconds to say why they should be on the show,” Costa said. “So I told them how I had been a plus sized model and I explained my club experience to them.”

Costa was called back for a second round where she further explained about herself.

“They told me, ‘You’re OTS.’”, Costa said. “And I said, ‘What’s that?’ ‘You’re on the show,’ they said. So I said, ‘Great! Now how do I get off of work?’”

During her 18-week stay on the Biggest Loser Ranch from December 2008 to May 2009, Costa proved her worth by never falling below the ‘yellow line’, winning a record-setting eight challenges, the most ever attempted on the show, and by pulling a car half a mile down a racetrack.

The commitment on the ranch is serious, Costa said. Not only are contestants challenged physically, but also through technology.

“When I got there they took away my cell phone and my computer,” Costa said. “You’re only allowed to have your iPod, that’s it. We couldn’t watch TV or read the news, nothing.”

After being beat up, battered, and bruised from her many challenges, Costa picked herself up each time until weighing in for the finale at 139 pounds.

After the show, Costa went on to earn her Masters in Physical Education and became a cross fit and triathlon coach while also starting up her own charity called the Inspire Change Foundation specifically helping those with childhood obesity.

Costa was also featured in US Weekly, OK Magazine, Good Housekeeping, and Runner’s World Magazine just to name a few. She also completed the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon and is currently training for the Lake Placid Triathlon.

Costa’s advice for those wanting to achieve their own personal health and wellness goals is, “There is no time like the present.” Not everyone may have a Jillian Michaels on their case, but she promises that any goal can become a reality.

Costa’s presentation was sponsored by SRU’s Physical Therapy department, Exercise Science department, and Slippery Rock University’s Wellness Committee in the Robert M. Smith Student Center ballroom Wednesday   evevev ev evening at 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

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