Biggest Loser season 15 casting calls announced!


Check out the above graphic to see when and where the open casting calls for the next season of Biggest Loser are being held! Exact times and locations will be updated soon at the casting website, What this means, since filming usually begins 4-6 months before the season premiere, is that we’re probably looking at another January launch to the show. Casting will happen over the next few months, be finalized in the summer, and begin filming late summer for a January premiere. Good luck! For more advice on trying out for the show, check out my casting tips blog post.

So who’s going? And to which city? I’d love to hear how it goes!

Noah and Scleroderma

Noah's selfieIt’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on Noah and his battle with Scleroderma. You can find my previous posts/updates here. It’s starting to feel like we go through spells of very little to report … and then get slammed with waves of challenges. At the moment, it feels like a bit of a wave.

We’re currently easing Noah down to a much smaller dose of steroids. This is good as the side effects are frustrating for Noah. He gets teased for being chubby by other kids even though it’s really just a reaction from his boy to the steroids. Unfortunately, over the last few years, the steroids have been the only truly effective response to the Scleroderma.

At the same time, we’re increasing his dosage of Cellcept. The hope is that this will work in holding back the progression of the disease, but it will take time to find out.

Last Friday we spent the day at the hospital getting an MRI for Noah. Because of his age, this meant he had to be knocked out for the duration, so it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience for him – but he’s a trooper! The picture to the right is him playing with my phone and taking selfies after he woke up! Originally, the purpose of the MRI was to get a closer look at what’s happening under the skin at his face and brain, mostly as a precaution to see just how deep the disease is impacting him below the skin, but also to see if there is any connection at all with headaches he’s been complaining of the last few months. But then …

In either a demonstration of great timing … or just the pattern of things surging at the same time, the week of the MRI Noah had an appointment with the dentist where they discovered the tissue in his gums had deteriorated along the path of the Scleroderma to the point of causing one tooth to recede dangerously, as well as impact a couple other teeth as well. No matter what he’s going to have to have oral surgery at some point in the next month or so to correct it. The timing of the MRI was really good because they were able to really take a closer look at that region of his face to see if it’s a coincidence that he has something going on there (highly doubtful), or if it’s the Scleroderma, and if so, examine just how deep the impact is.

On top of everything else, Noah has to start meeting with the plastic surgeon annually so he can track Noah’s growth and the development of his face. As he grows, the scarring around his nose and eyes will look more and more pronounced. By starting the tracking now, it will give the plastic surgeon more to work with once Noah is old enough (probably around 16) .

Pray for Noah! The next couple months will probably be difficult with him; the oral surgery will be a painful experience for him to recover from, and the increased doctor’s visits are not on his list of favorite things to do!

Lose weight with Dr. Huizenga of the Biggest Loser!

clinic by dr. h

The man actually behind all the success at the Biggest Loser is Dr. Huizenga. He’s the one who designed the workout programs, who tracks the contestants, developed the diet, and more. So much of what we see on the show is done for entertainment, but when the cameras aren’t rolling, it’s Dr. H and his team that really make it all happen. You can read a lot of how he does that (and the behind the scenes story of season three, my season, from his perspective) in his book, ‘Where did all the fat go?’ I might be biased since I’m in the book, but I think it’s great.

He recently opened The Clinic by Dr. H, a fantastic new weight loss program where you can spend time with him, his team, and former contestants in California learning how to lose the weight right. I had a three day boot camp with him before heading home and losing 176 lbs on my own; I can’t imagine the impact of two weeks with him and his team! Even better? He has a scholarship program to help everyone be able to take advantage of his program! Check it out:

Great news from The Clinic by Dr. H!!!

We will begin offering Scholarships to 4 lucky individuals (alternating between men and women) for every two week session here at The Clinic! The Scholarships will help to greatly reduce the cost of attending The Clinic! These are once in a lifetime opportunities for the lucky individuals selected.

Here’s what you need in order to be considered for a Scholarship:

1. Write an essay of no more than 500 words (essays over 500 words will not be considered) and tell us why you have a medical necessity / financial hardship and need access to our Scholarship and what attending The Clinic by Dr. H would mean to you.

2. Please send your essay in an email to

3. You must have a valid PPO or Point of Service insurance to be eligible.

Individuals will be selected on an ongoing basis and will share all aspects of their journey, including their room, and help support each other while they’re at The Clinic.

We look forward to helping you change your life!

No dating for middle school students!

An interesting article exploded across the internet yesterday talking about the dangers of middle schoolers dating. It was fascinating to see a lot of worries I’ve had and heard documented in this long running study. Basically, they found that the sooner kids began dating, the more likely they were to have negative behavior in dating, school, academics, drugs, alcohol, etc.

Check out this snippet:

Middle school students who habitually date are twice as likely to use alcohol and drugs and often have worse study habits, prompting researchers to say that ‘dating should not be considered a rite of passage in middle school.’

Ah, young love.

Tweens are practically bursting with feelings of possibility and new-found joy when they discover that “special someone.” Then again, when you’re fresh out of puberty, love is awkward and can be heartbreaking.

New research from the University of Georgia (UGA) paints a grim picture of middle school daters—they are four times more likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to drink and smoke marijuana, and tend have worse teacher-reported study habits.

And this one:

“A likely explanation for the worse educational performance of early daters is that these adolescents start dating early as part of an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors,” Orpinas said in a press release.

Other amplifying factors include the emotional difficulties teens often face in middle and high school: bullying, depression, and anxiety. All of these have been linked to higher rates of smoking, drinking, and drug use.

You can read the full article here. What do you think? It certainly challenges parents to think through a strategy when it comes to our own children and the guidelines we set for them. For me, having some concrete information documenting the dangerous negative impacts of dating too young really helps bring some clarity to the issue.

Biggest Loser casting tips (season 15)

Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser is getting ready to start casting for season 15!  Casting calls will be posted on the Biggest Loser casting website.  Basically, this post is a collection of tips I’ve written based on my experience making the cast of season three, as well as some links to casting advice I don’t think you should miss:

  • NBC has posted casting information and the application here.  They have all the casting news and information on a special blog just for Biggest Loser casting, which you can find here.
  • Pete Thomas, the season 2 $100,000 winner has some of the best casting call advice out there, which you can find at his website, Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever.
  • Holland, a casting director for Biggest Loser sent me a bunch of great advice on how to be casted, you can find it here.  She updated them October, 2009.
  • I’ve been posting these casting tips for the last few seasons and they always seem to end up with thousands of comments; just about every season has contestants that were hanging out on here, reading and giving each other thoughts and advice.  You can find the most recent one here.
  • If you’re dealing with disappointment about not being cast, then check out my post on Biggest Loser casting disappointment.

One of the questions I hear a lot is about money … how do contestants afford to be away from home and work for months at a time? I don’t know what it is now, but when I was a contestant there was a $500 a week stipend for cast members on the ranch. When you received the check you could cash it and spend it, send it home, save it, whatever. All airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, etc., for the contestants and potential cast members are taken care of by NBC, and during the casting process it self there was a $50 per diem to cover food costs.

Another question is timing; typically a season lasts for about 8-9 months. About four of this is spent in filming; if you last all the way until the final three or four, you could be away from home for as much as four months or so. Once the ranch filming wraps and the last few contestants are sent home, however, there is still another four or five months that all the contestants have to continue losing weight until the finale. In addition, potential cast members are flown out to California a couple weeks before filming begins for the final round of casting, medical checkups, psychological evals, etc. NBC brings out more people than what they need and the cast is not finalized until filming literally begins. People have been cut at the last minute and replacements flown in with hardly any time to spare. Nothing is in stone until it’s on camera!

When will you hear from Biggest Loser about your video? There is no way of knowing. I heard back a few weeks after I sent it in, but even after that it’s a big waiting game. If you get a phone number or email from a casting direction, definitely drop them a line/call every couple weeks to find out if you’re still in the running or what’s going on. Schedules and plans change almost every day, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you don’t hear back within a month I would think your video didn’t make the cut. That doesn’t mean you can’t send in another or visit a casting call – it’s just up to you!

Finally, here’s my video application tips! This is by no means a recipe for success; it’s based on my video application and the conversations I had with casting directors out in LA in between things. I was pretty curious about the whole process so I was pumping them for info even after filming began. I’m such a nerd!

  • They’ve usually decided if they’re interested in you within the first 30-60 seconds of your video, so front load it with your best stuff. Make it interesting! Start off with something funny or exciting!
  • Keep in mind, if you’re going to be cast, your video is going to be watched hundreds of times by producers, executives, casting directors, etc. If it bores you or your friends the second or third time watching it … put some more time into it!
  • Special effects? Don’t bother! We’ve all got video editing software with all sorts of bells and whistles on our home computers, but fancy transitions are not going to sell you to people who do video editing for a living. In fact, it can distract from who you are. I’m a video editing nerd and I didn’t use any special effects other than putting my name and contact info on as a subtitle at the beginning.
  • Don’t bother talking about why you need to lose weight. When I first started filming my audition video I started describing all of my health reasons for losing weight – but when I was watching it back, I realized … they don’t need to hear it! One look at me was all they needed to know I needed to lose weight! Show them why you need to lose it; I said I needed to lose weight for my kids, and then I followed it with a minute or two of the best footage I could find of me with wrestling with my three boys. We probably filmed half an hour of that insanity and I grabbed the cutest, loudest, and funniest few moments for the audition video. Your physical need to lose weight is not nearly as interesting as who or what your losing the weight for.
  • Live loud! Reality TV is over the top, dramatic, and filled with loud personalities. They need to see that on your video! I wanted them to know that even though I was morbidly obese I was up to the challenge of the crazy competitions and workouts – so I threw on a bunch of clips from my different youth group activities; me getting slimed, snowtubing, playing paintball, screaming at events, being on stage, running around … you get the idea. Other contestants did things appropriate to their lives; Tim from Oregon had himself spinning out on his Harley, Tim from Delaware recruited his elementary school class to do things with him, Heather Hanson filmed herself running around in a sports bra all day doing her household chores and errands. The less talking and more action you can have, the better (in my opinion)!
  • If you have footage or photos of yourself thin, include those at some point on the video. If you can show them what your after will be, then do it!

Remember, enjoy the conversation here and know that I will never compromise your anonymity – not to NBC, 3Ball, Casting Directors or anyone. You can post anonymously, or you can leave your names and contact information … just remember that NBC likes to be the one announcing their cast for the show, so if you start identifying yourself publicly as a finalist, you’ll probably find yourself eliminated from the casting process. Be aware that casting directors do check in at my blog to see what people are saying, get a feel for what questions are going on out there, and sometimes to give us updates. Good luck to everyone … and let me know if you make the show! I get a kick out of hearing about the different contestants that have hung out on my blog before making the show! ;)

Biggest Loser season 14 premieres Sunday!

Anyone else excited for the new season of Biggest Loser? I am … for the first time in a LONG time. I know some would disagree with me, but I really think the switch to one season per year instead of back to back seasons helps build anticipation for the show. It used to wear me out trying to keep up with all the episodes! The shorter season, time off from the last one … changing it up … should make for a better season all around.

What are you looking forward to? Personally, I’m cheering on Michael Dorsey … another (former) youth pastor on the show! That brings the total to five former or current youth pastors that I know of; Tim Thomas and myself from season three, Sean Algier, Mark Cornelieson from last season, and now Mike.

Anyway, the two night premiere is Sunday and Monday night. Post your thoughts here!

An update on Noah

It has been a LONG time since I’ve given any updates on Noah and his scleroderma, mostly because there hasn’t been much to report. Towards the beginning of the year we had to make the switch from methotrexate to celcept to treat it. It’s frustrating, because neither drug is actually designed for his disease – they’re for organ transplant recipients to protect against rejecting new organs. However, the limited success they’ve found over the years in holding off the progression (there’s no cure) of scleroderma has been in large doses of these drugs. Unfortunately, the size of the dose carries with it potentially severe side effects, which Noah began suffering from with the methotrexate (the preferred treatment for the time being). Massive headaches, constant nausea and ultimately, a liver in the red zone forced the doctors to pull Noah off of it. It was disappointing especially given that he was only at a fraction of the dose he needed to be at.

He was switched to cepcept and steroids, with the hope that the steroids would jumpstart the process and undo the amount of inflammation he was experiencing. Unfortunately, while the steroid did seem to succeed in that, the side effect was a lot of swelling, especially in the face, which meant he started getting teased about being fat and chubby. Over the last few months we’ve been dialing back the steroid dose which has been good since the puffiness has also largely gone away.

We’re also about to start increasing the dose of the celcept. The doctors are glad to see the inflammation reduced, but it’s still not to the point where we would want it. Heather and I had been concerned because we were noticing a lot of blueness/darkness appearing around his nose and eye and feared the scleroderma, but according to the doctor it’s due to the thinning of his skin (related to the disease, but not as scary as the inflammation which is the first step in serious degradation and scarring) and being able to see the blood vessels below the skin.

Ultimately, he hopes to get Noah back on the methotrexate injections. The real goal is to get him through the next 5-6 years without much progression and it will hopefully have gone away by then. He won’t be cured, and it could/will pop up in other places on his body, but it will have hopefully have moved on from his face by that point. Noah is generally in good spirits, although lately he’s been complaining more and more about having to take the medicine. He’s a trooper, but after several years now, he’s getting tired of it and wants to be done. The last couple weeks we’ve caught him fibbing to Heather and I when it’s time for his medicine – he’ll tell me that Heather already gave it to him, or tell her I already did.

Anyway, overall he’s doing good at the moment, but still not where we want him to be. Thanks for all the prayers!


Biggest Loser’s new logo

Well, it’s almost here … after half year hiatus, the Biggest Loser will be coming back in January with a new cast, Jillian Michaels back, and a new logo (see above)! I actually think the time off the air will do the show a lot of good. I’ve thought for a while now that two seasons a year would wear viewers out, especially with two hour episodes. I think the return to one per year, with (hopefully) shorter episodes to go along with the shorter season will actually give the show what it needs – it will leave people wanting more!

I’m intrigued by the logo redesign, though. Maybe I’m still getting used to it; it’s actually the third in the series history. Season one saw the original logo; if you notice ‘the’ is actually on the upper left, and the the rest of the logo isn’t quite as smooth or refined as later versions. That’s Gary Deckman rocking his finale weigh in, by the way, one of my long time inspirations. By season two they made the switch to the logo that carried the show through twelve seasons and the special editions, however, even as far as season three there were still leftover shirts from season one popping up now and then with the original logo. I know I received at least one.

Of course my favorite is the logo I wore. I’ve always felt like it perfectly summed up the show through the shrinking waistline, the tape measure, and besides that, it just looks good. I think I’ll miss seeing contestants sporting it on the show! But I definitely agree with the recent seasons ratings declining, the show definitely needed some retooling and rethinking. Then again, most of the decline I still attribute to the changeover in production companies. Hopefully this time around they find the right inspirational feel for the show in their editing!

But now that I’ve had my long winded say … what do you think of the new logo and what you’ve seen so far of the new season?

Biggest Loser is casting kids?

Well, I have a lot of thoughts on this one.

Here is what I know based on my own experience as a former contestant and the stories from my other alumni: the Biggest Loser experience itself, months of isolation and reality TV manipulation, as well as the resulting media attention, the brutal online fan reactions and criticisms and more all made being part of a weight loss competition something that has long lasting emotional and psychological ramifications. Yes, I had a blast doing it, but I have many friends who have said after going through it that they would NEVER encourage one of their loved ones to ever be a part of it. It’s brutal.

As a youth worker, I know all too well the confusion of adolescence. With hormones raging, enormous pressures from peer groups, schools and home, and the crucial identity formation taking place, the teenage years are a volatile and intense stage of development with massive potential for long lasting damage.

I cannot imagine a scenario where throwing a group of 13-17 year old adolescents into anything remotely similar to what my fellow alumni and I experienced as being anything other than damaging for them.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? And why?

Predisposed to weight regain?

After 13 seasons of NBC’s Biggest Loser, Dr. Huizenga, the lead doctor for the show, has accumulated several hundred individuals whom he has been tracking, studying, and doing significant obesity and weight loss research on. When it comes to studying individuals who have lost weight at an aggressive, rapid pace based on counting calories and heavy exercise, he is one of only a few doing anything on the subject.

His latest article on the topic, based on his research, did not give good news. One of his hopes with the program he designed for Biggest Loser was that through intense exercise the muscle mass under the fat would be retained (the reality is, someone who is several hundred pounds has a solid core of muscle existing to just transport the weight) and the weight loss would be mostly fat loss (in a typical diet plan, it is not unusual to lose muscle weight as well as fat weight). Ultimately the hope was the muscle mass and exercise would bring the metabolism to a healthier norm. Unfortunately, his research indicates otherwise:

Despite relative preservation of FFM [fat free mass, e.g., muscle], exercise did not prevent dramatic slowing of resting metabolism out of proportion to weight loss. This metabolic adaptation may persist during weight maintenance and predispose to weight regain unless high levels of physical activity or caloric restriction are maintained.

In other words, all these years where I was swearing I put weight on easier than others around me? It wasn’t my imagination. The reality is, after a lifetime of abusing my metabolism, my body gravitates towards a heavier norm. His phrase ‘high levels of physical activity or caloric restriction are maintained’ literally means dieting for life.

The weird thing is, I was actually relieved to read his findings. It made a lot of my frustrations make sense. It doesn’t give me an excuse, but it does help me to understand that there is no easy health road for individuals like me. I will always need to count calories. I will always need to exercise three to five hours a week. Otherwise I will eventually outweigh my pre-Biggest Loser self.