At the Biggest Loser 7 finale, a fit and trim Filipe Fa walked out on stage next to his teammate and cousin Sione Fa and performed a rousing Maori Haka, a traditional war dance from their native Tonga. Filipe made it through 17 grueling weeks on the infamous ranch, ultimately sweating and beating 135 pounds off his frame. But the ranch and home are two very different places, and the years since Loser have put Filipe back where he started.
“In the last few years, Filipe’s put the weight, plus some, back on,” said his cousin Sione Fa, who is now a personal trainer at the Biggest Loser Resort in Ivins, Utah. Since his finale, Filipe has gained 155 pounds, twenty pounds more than he’d originally lost.
“It’s difficult to admit,” Filipe told us. “But it’s not that you can’t see it!” He’s hung back from alumni events like finales and given up speaking opportunities because he felt “embarrassed, inadequate.” He explained that nothing tragic happened, he gained weight like a lot of people do. First, it was 10 or 15 pounds and you think you’re OK, and then he explained the days turn in to weeks, turn in to months, and you’re back at your starting weight..
“I feel like it’s my time to lose weight again,” Filipe told us, as he talked about his new partnership with Walgreens, the Biggest Loser Resort, and his trainer Sione.
Without the pressure of the cameras, Filipe visited the Resort last October with an attitude that he was ready to start over. Walgreens, an on-going sponsor of the Biggest Loser television show, got word of his efforts and wanted to help. With the cousins they launched a web series, so far with eight episodes, that captures Filipe’s personal journey back to health.
There’s no pressure this time, says Filipe. “I’m not working to stay another week. The intention is to lose weight for a healthy lifestyle. I don’t have to worry about a red or yellow line,” he told us.
Since re-committing to his health goals, Filipe has lost an impressive 98 pounds and is well on his way to a sustainable weight and fitter lifestyle that works for him. To get there, he’s had to say out loud what works for him.
For one, that’s a morning workout. When this is a priority, he says it’s easier to make good choices throughout the day.
And second, finding the workout he likes best. Right now, that’s Crossfit. He enjoys the functional movement and credits the intense workouts with helping him prevent any loss of muscle mass. In fact, through his nearly 100-pound weight loss he’s gained muscle!
“The biggest difference in [Filipe] is that he’s got his confidence back,” commented Sione. “It’s OK to mess up and admit you’ve fallen off. You don’t have to hide.”
He’s proud of Filipe for speaking up and taking charge of his health, and he’s not alone. Filipe sounded grateful to fellow alumni like sisters Hannah and Olivia and season 11 contestant Courtney Crozier for offering a lot of support. And Filipe’s brave move to help himself is in turn helping others, which falls in line perfectly with the pay-it-forward theme Biggest Loser has promoted for years. Sione mentioned that other contestants who’ve regained since the show have reached out and asked, “can you help me?”.
“I want to show everyone there is hope,” Filipe said. Away from the cameras and game play, Filipe is like any other guy who gained weight, got a wake-up call, and decided he wanted a better quality of life for himself, his wife, his three kids, and friends and family.
In his second week on the ranch during season 7, Filipe said, “Never do anything with all your heart unless your reason is big enough.” It looks like he finally found his reason.