As the countdown to season five of NBC’s Biggest Loser begins, we thought we’d catch up with two of the contestants. Neill and Amanda Harmer make up the white team on the first time Biggest Loser Couples season. The Oklahoma City couple has been married for three years, they have a two-year old son and say they’ve both battled their weight most of their lives.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with Neill and Amanda a few days before the big premiere. And I’m glad that I did. If you haven’t already made a decision on which of the ten teams you’re going to cheer for- I think the Harmers should be a top choice. They are so genuinely down to earth, have a captivating sense of humor and are truly in Biggest Loser to win. You can tell that above being a devoted married couple, they are the best of friends.
Be sure to tune into NBC this coming Tuesday night, January 1 at 7 p.m CST to watch the Harmers and the other couples on Biggest Loser’s premiere. You can follow along right here at Diets in Review for weekly episode updates. We plan on catching up with Neill and Amanda at the season’s finale to chat about the things that were hush-hush during this interview.
Diets in Review: How did you get the courage to apply?
Amanda: It was totally a fluke, we didn’t think much about it, that’s why. We happened to be watching the show one night and saw a call for entries. The deadline was a week away so we quickly put our tape together and sent it in. Less than a week later we heard back. It all happened really fast.
Neill: We had no time to think about it. It was such a whirlwind.
How did you find out you’d been accepted and what was your reaction?
A: They brought all of us, the cast, in a room at the hotel. The producer told all of us that all of you in this room are going to be on show. Everyone was hugging, crying and jumping. The producer told us to remember this moment and how we feel right now on the awful days.
What is your personal motivation for going on BL?
N: We started to notice we couldn’t do much. We’re trying to run after a 2-year old and couldn’t keep up. We were eating bad food and just wanted to lay around. We knew we needed to do something about this. We had tried dieting in the past and would “call it” exercise, but nothing compared to what we’ve recently been through. It never stuck or lasted. We felt we needed something extreme.
A: I just turned 30 on the 15th [of December]. Luckily we don’t have any health problems, but we’re smart enough to figure out that health problems will come. It’s a huge issue to be healthy for our son.
It’s going to be the first couples’ season – thoughts?
A: We just felt really fortunate. Someone goes home from this and it’s always up to them to change their entire family’s way of life. We felt fortunate that we got to work together and it wouldn’t just be one of us making the change. Ultimately making the change for the long-term. I can’t imagine going through this without him, it was hard with him too, but can’t imagine going through this without him.
N: Those days when one of us didn’t want to work out we just kept pumping each other up. We wouldn’t have done near as well as we have being a couple and doing this together.
Amanda has said you’re definitely going to be the Biggest Losers – what’s your edge over the other teams?
A: I think we’re super competitive that it’s almost ridiculous. We’re husband and wife, so we’re used to working together and getting through difficult situations. We bought a house and had a baby the first year we were married. We have an edge over the people who are friends because we work together naturally.
What does being the Biggest Loser mean to you?
A: Really proud that we’ve come this far, made so many changes in our life. It’s still sinking in that we’re being role models and influencing other people. Definitely proud to make it on the show.
N: Just making it on the show. 200,000 people applied. Being a loser at this point is a great thing because losing weight the right way, learning how to eat and exercise and that we can do it is – you can call me a loser all day long, I’m all for it and hope to continue to be a loser.
What was your starting weight and your goal weight?
A: Starting weight was 204, I’m 5’2, and my goal is 120-130.
N: Starting weight was 317 and goal is to be under 200. 180 would be amazing, I’d be skinnier than my brother, and I’ve never been skinnier than my brother.
Did you start with these goals or did the show influence that?
N: Prior to the show my goal was 220. Now I know I can do so much more if I put my mind to it and do it right.
A: It seems a lot more attainable now than before. Just not as overwhelmed.
Neill said in his blog “Some things have put a strain on our relationship, other have made it stronger” – how have your weight and Biggest Loser played into that?
A: We’ve always celebrated with food, we reward with food, punish with food. We always plan our days and dates and plans around meals. We ask where will we go eat and then determine plans around that. We’ve always been bad influences on each other. I would suggest to go get ice cream and he’s of course not going to say no. Going through this experience together made us stronger. We had to work together so much. Now I know there’s nothing we can’t overcome together.
N: We had to concentrate on ourselves and each other – In real life there’s bills, house, cleaning, food, our son. We were able to concentrate and get to know each other in a different way.
Were you surprised about your dependence on each other?
N: Yeah – Amanda likes to yell a lot. She’s usually meek and quiet. Not at me, just yell. I totally learned that.
A: We learned so much about ourselves that the other person has gotten to see us accomplish and take something to the end. I didn’t know that about ourselves and it’s nice that the other learns about that too.
How does your new lifestyle affect your marriage?
N: [Immediately starts laughing]
A: Umm, It’s been good.
N: She totally knows what I’m thinking about. [Continues to laugh a lot]
A: We can be more active. [Laughing] You’re taking this, I’m done.
N: Definite positives intimately. I was talking to a friend who read in Reader’s Digest that if you lose 10% of your body weight the benefits in that area are amazing.
As married teammates, you say it lends for good support and someone to talk to – it can also cause you to push each others buttons. How are each of you most supportive?
A: I’m more the cheerleader, more let’s go, let’s keep moving. I tend to be really emotional. Neill tends to be the voice of reason. He’s really good at talking me back down and thinking rationally.
What are those buttons? Who’s more likely to push?
N: It depends on the situation and goes back and forth quite regularly.
A: We push in a good way. We’re really similar believe it or not, that makes it pretty easy to read each other – which can be a good thing or bad thing.
You’ve got a toddler, how will this weight loss help you as parents?
A: We’re setting a really good example on what to eat and how to be active. He’s still young enough that he’ll just grow up not knowing any different. We only eat whole grains and vegetables; mommy and daddy go work out. Hopefully it will become a part of his lifestyle as well as ours. It’s natural to him. He doesn’t have to change old bad habits
N: Or have to go through the things we went through in Junior High and High School. Those years are hard enough.
You have a great sense of humor and seem to really play off of one another well. How does that attitude help you in this?
A: As hard as it is you just have to laugh. You can choose to be miserable or have a good time. We chose to have a good time.
Did you make friends with any of the other couples?
A: We made really good friends.
If you weren’t rooting for yourselves and weren’t a part of the show which team would you be cheering on?
A: Brown Team!! The other married couple. They are just amazing people, really really amazing people. They work really, really, really hard.
When you are named Biggest Loser, what will you do with the prize money?
A: I don’t know, what do you think baby?
N: Probably stuff around the house and a college education for our son. Maybe a vacation, have some fun. We’re dying for a good vacation.
Tuesday is the premier, thoughts? Excited, Anxious, Nervous?
A: All of those! Just nervous how we’re going to be portrayed. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll be portrayed well.
N: They say you can’t make an asshole out to be nice and a nice person to be an asshole. Guess we’re going to find out what we are. You get to where the situation becomes very natural. There are things you would want people to see and things you wouldn’t. It’s very interesting.
A: Like falling on the treadmill. They keep showing that in the commercials. That was the one thing he said he didn’t want to show.
Neill and Amanda thanks for your time. Good luck from everyone at Diets in Review, we are excited to follow your journey on Biggest Loser Season 5!
December 30th, 2007