Update: View Erik’s last video update: Final check-in at the Biggest Loser Resort Here.
It’s been three and a half years since the confetti fell on the Biggest Loser season three stage, where Erik Chopin became a record-setting winner. He was the heaviest contestant they’d ever had, weighing 407 pounds. During four months on the ranch and four months at home he lost 214 pounds; a finale weight of 193.
Erik went home and enjoyed the limelight of his success, working closely with a pharmaceutical company, NBC and touring the country for speaking engagements. He says the activity correlated with his accomplishment and helped to hold him accountable. A year and a half later, the offers slowly stopped and there were new winners and new people in the spotlight. Erik slowly grew depressed, and even rationalized snacking on the junk food that had made its way back into the house by his wife, pregnant with their son.
Listen now to our exclusive interview with Erik from the Biggest Loser Resort, or continue reading.
The baby came, she stopped eating the junk, but Erik didn’t. As we found out last year, on both Oprah and a Biggest Loser Where Are They Now special, Erik struggled with his weight at home. In fact, he’d gained most of it back, going to a high of 368 pounds. He didn’t like his job, he’d stopped exercising and he sought comfort in food, all of which fueled his depression and weight gain.
“You definitely know it’s going on, there’s no denying it,” he told us about the weight creeping back. He says he didn’t need a scale to tell him what he could recognize in the fit of his clothes and the reflection in the mirror. He kept telling himself that he’d reign it in tomorrow, but then tomorrow would come and he’d, as he calls it, cope the wrong way.
In 2009, Erik did a special documentary with Discovery and TLC, at which point he’d gone back to the 368 pounds. He was watching his weight and boxing regularly when Bob Harper, Biggest Loser’s trainer, showed up at his door to confront him, on camera, about the weight gain. At that time, Erik had dropped to around 330 pounds. Bob challenged him to return to the finale for season nine and weigh-in once more. Blindsided by the request on camera, Erik shook Bob’s hand and said “Let’s do it.”
He says doing that episode for Biggest Loser was tough, because he had this great success story and then faltered. It was easier to hide out and do as little press as possible until “I fixed it,” he says. But he accepted the challenge.
For the next five weeks, Erik will be staying at the Biggest Loser Resort. He’s calling it his insurance policy, as he prepares to walk on to the most famous scale in the country once more. He says no matter what “I’ll be proud of the number because I know I did the work,” he says. “It’s more about how I feel, my fitness level and being comfortable in my own skin.”
After watching both Oprah and the Biggest Loser special, Resort Marketing Director Renee Jarvis contacted NBC and Reveille to invite Erik to the Ivins, Utah weight-loss resort. “I saw something special in Erik”, said Jarvis, “and I felt confident the resort could help him get his jumpstart back to a healthy lifestyle.”
After that confetti falls once more, Erik says he’s ready to take on maintenance once again, having learned a lesson. One of his biggest breakthroughs in this “second chance” has been working with a therapist at the Biggest Loser Resort and discovering that his emotional issues stemmed from not having a purpose. He’s proud to share that he now knows, and plans to pursue, what that purpose is – being a life coach to help others with weight issues.
Exclusively at DietsInReview.com, you can see weekly video check-ins from Erik on his progress leading up to the finale in the Biggest Loser Newsletter.