Feeling sluggish after the Christmas-cookie bingefest? Starting to make those New Year's resolutions about actually putting that gym membership to good use? The 17th season of NBC's The Biggest Loser, premiering at 9 p.m. Monday, starts when its audience needs the motivation to get off the couch and onto the treadmill.
Two of this year's contestants are Jacky, 42, and Stephen Kmet, 43, a married couple from Hainesport, N.J. Longtime fans of the show, they're one of eight couples - including Survivor Season 1 victor Richard Hatch - trying to shed weight on national television with the help of trainer-turned-host Bob Harper and trainers Dolvett Quince and Jennifer Widerstrom.
The Kmets, who have two kids, met at Albright College in Reading. "I saw her in the cafeteria getting a glass of lemonade and I knew I wanted to spend my life with her," Kmet said. Twenty-four years later, they're taking the weight-loss plunge together. They talked to The Inquirer about why losing weight is like Pixar's Inside Out and why they needed to go on the show together.
Why did you decide to go on "The Biggest Loser"?
Jacqueline Kmet: It was something we needed help with. My kids thought I was scared to do things but the reality was I was too big to, say, get on a ride in Ocean City. My kids didn't know the real me because I love adventure, but when you're 204 pounds, you're limited by your size. I just wanted my kids to know the real me.
Stephen Kmet: I'm a pharmaceutical sales manager. I did well in interviews but would never land the job. I came to realize it was my appearance. No one wanted a big guy selling their products. This wasn't just affecting my health but my career.
But why reality TV? Why not go the more traditional route?
JK: For me, it wasn't about TV, it was about being able to focus on yourself. We're parents, and I work. There's a reality to consider about having the ability to go away and truly focus on your health and your well-being without the distractions. Season after season, they're making these amazing transformations, and I needed that kick in the butt. The TV part still hasn't even kicked in for me, but just that opportunity to really focus on health and having that time was a big draw for me.
SK: It's not like we haven't tried before. We would go to meetings and have a little bit of success, but wouldn't have the success we were looking for. We wouldn't get any sustained success, but it was spinning out of control.
JK: It's not just about losing the weight, either; it's about figuring how you got there in the first place. That was something I never really dealt with. We would lose weight, but then something crazy would happen like death or Stephen's dad was diagnosed with ALS. I just wanted to focus on the positives. It's like the movie Inside Out - I would focus on joy and push sadness away. But I didn't know how it was hurting me in the long run. You're dealing with the emotional component, and learning how to cook healthy meals, and exercise. So, why not us?
I'm glad you brought up the emotional component.
JK: If you had asked me at my highest weight, I would say, 'I'm great, I have a great job, I have a great family, I have a great life.' But there was this reality of being forced to look at myself and forced to look at the truth.
What was the most difficult part?
JK: When I was watching the show, it was always about the exercise. But the reality of it for us was we left our kids at home. How can I be away from them? You start to second-guess your decisions. But you're not just helping yourself, you're helping your family in the end.
SK: Beside the emotional struggle of not being with the kids, you see the exercise, you think there's a chef working for them, someone making them go to workouts. But you have to make your meals, you have to be accountable for your own exercise, you have to be accountable to your trainer. There's no Oprah type waking you up in the morning.
JK: But the reality is that you have to do this when you go home. If you have someone cooking for you, what kind of lesson is that?
SK: To Jacky's point, it would be nice if someone woke you up in the morning.
JK: [Laughs] We're a little bit different as a couple.
Why was it important for you to do this as a couple?
JK: Stephen is my everything. We met at 18. We've known each other for 24 years, married for 18. When I need extra strength, he's my rock. Losing weight is never easy and to throw in the intensity of the show and changing our lives, I needed him. If one person goes away and gains all this knowledge but the other person doesn't, you don't have that support when you get home.
SK: I can't imagine doing this without the love of my life. She's my inspiration and always has been ever since I met her. It took her a little convincing, but, bottom line, she's an amazing individual.
Jacky, you mentioned you wanted to show your kids the real you. What did they think when you got home?
JK: They missed us dearly. I don't know who was more excited, the kids or Grandma, who was finally relieved of parent duty. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and our village really came together so we could do this.