“I went to the ranch to save my son’s life,” said Maria Ventrella, mother of the show’s heaviest contestant ever, Michael Ventrella. “Then I woke up and realized this is for [me], too!” The consummate caregiver had arrived on the ranch with goal, to help her son regain his health and his life, but in her brief three weeks on the show, Maria found new motivation for herself.
Following her elimination, Maria spoke with us about what life is like now that she has made herself a priority, stating that “I’m important, too!” She also explains how making simple substitutions in her cooking allows her to still enjoy many of her favorite foods. Listen now, and then continue reading to learn more about Maria’s journey.
For Maria, the journey was supposed to be about Michael. At least that’s how it started. And while this mom won’t waiver in her dedication to her son, she has learned that she has to be important, too. She’s overcome her fear of water, overcome her habit of emotional eating, and even surprises herself physically with all the things she can do.
“I feel weird at the gym with all these young guys, I’m old!,” she remarks. But then celebrates that she can keep up with them. Physically, Maria says she’s doing a lot more now than she ever thought possible. Namely swimming, which she enjoys, weight training and even the stairmaster, when a flight of stairs used to be the enemy.
Her changes are inspiring friends and family, too. Maria proudly shared that her husband had lost 42 pounds since her journey began, her sister is losing weight, and her nieces have started exercising. Both Maria’s and Michael’s friends join her at the gym.
Maria says leaving the Biggest Loser ranch was difficult, as she feared being left alone Michael would slip into a depression. In turns out that her departure might have been the best thing for him. She says it opened his eyes and helped him realize why he was there. Today, Michael’s a completely different person and she expects we’ll see him at the finale.
It might be a lot of changes for a woman who always put everyone else first, but Maria says her motivation is the way she feels. It’s not feeling tired, achy and sore any more that keeps her going. And when she gets to her goal weight, the reward won’t just be her renewed health and sense of self, but the allowance of a single bite of pizza, her guilty pleasure.
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January 20th, 2010