By Agatha Kasprzak
Roberto Hernandez, a 36-year-old physical/health/driver’s education teacher from Illinois was named The Biggest Loser, winning $250,000. He started season 17 at 348 pounds and ended weighing 188, dropping 160 pounds. OHSOGRAY participated on a press call with Hernandez after his big win, where he reflected on his time on the show.
Whether he thought he would win:
I was confident all the season. You know, (Colby), myself, and (Luis) from the very beginning decided to tell each other that we’re going to root each other on and have each other’s backs. So, kind of in a way start alliance. We were each other’s friends and we would always say that we’re the top three contenders there. And so, from the very beginning we all thought that we were going to be the finalists, we were going to – three finalists.
Whether he ever thought about giving up when he returned home:
I just kind of wanted a moment for myself, and to relax, and I was thinking that a week would have been okay. [I]t was maybe the third or fourth day of me being home, and Jacob wasn’t liking what he was seeing and thank God he gave me a little toy because that gave me the motivation to keep going. And he said, “I promised,” he said, “Daddy you promised that you wouldn’t do this and here we are.” And I get off that couch and started – got the other wheel rolling.
What made him decide to go on the show:
[T]his past May, Luis ended up getting a email saying, “We would like for you to resubmit your application. It’s going to be a couple’s tournament this week – this year and we would like you to apply.” And so, he did and then a month later they – we were Skyping and then a month after that we were at the ranch.
Advice for someone thinking of going on The Biggest Loser:
[S]tart the process, fill out the application, and if you’re lucky enough to get on, enjoy the process, and believe in the process. These people really take care of you.
What he’s taking away from his time at the ranch:
I am human, I am going to need rest, I am going to indulge sometimes in food that are not the healthiest, but I’m going to earn it. […] [W]hat’s wrong with rewarding yourself with food once in a while? It’s expected and it’s earned.
What he learned about himself:
I’ve always been an athlete. I’ve always wanted to be a strong person and I always wanted to get up and play with my son, and give him the father that I had as a child. So this is something that I really want to do. I wanted to learn to see who I really was, “Am I really that person that wants to sit on the couch or is there someone inside of me that can do more, be more, and be happier?”
What went through his mind standing on the scale at the finale:
[I]n that particular moment I got a great feeling that I was going to win that and I definitely thought was God and the Virgin Mary standing next to me, putting their hands on my shoulders saying, “Roberto, you’re going to be okay.”
The most challenging part of the show:
[T]he workouts and having to start a new food regimen was tough, I’m not – that was really very challenging within itself. But the biggest challenge for me was being away from my family and not have any contact with them. That was the hardest part. You do it for the show, because they don’t want you being distracted or they don’t want you thinking about anything else, or making phone calls. We were there for 12 weeks but we were there a few weeks beforehand for the selection and everything. In all we were gone maybe 16 weeks.
How his diet has changed:
[H]igh protein, salad, greens, you know, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce… [I]f I have sometimes feeling like going to have a burger but I want to watch my calories, , I grab some of the Roman lettuce and I do my burger and that’s how I eat it or maybe having some carrots instead of fries. So, basically the same thing I was doing at the ranch. They taught us a lot. [T]he nutritionist on the show was there and she helped us quite a bit. And so, some of the stuff that they gave us there and the tips that we got, I try to incorporate into my meals every day.
On what the future holds:
[A]s of right now that’s my plan, going back and teaching and touching my community, and helping my community. As of right now, I don’t have any intention on quitting my position as a teacher. It’s a very rewarding position and I enjoy it right now and I think that this is going to help it a little bit.
What he plans to do with the prize money:
I haven’t really thought about that. […] I never really thought about it because we decided that we were doing journey for the weight loss and not for the money. When it does come and I have it, I’ll probably do a little bit of remodeling of the house and buy a big rock for the wife — maybe something like that.