If everything had gone according to plan, Justin Pope would still be on The Biggest Loser.
Before last week’s weigh-in, Pope’s former teammate Kaylee Kinikini had told her fellow contestants that she was “ready to go home.” A decision that Pope was, at first, strongly against.
“When Kaylee approached me about wanting to go home I told her ‘No,’ ” Pope explained to reporters last week. “But it was my most proud moment when she looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I’m telling you I’m good. I’m not the shy little girl that couldn’t look you in the eye a while ago and not tell you.’ ”
But when Kaylee’s teammate, Ken, saved the Green Team from the threat of elimination, Pope, 39, was suddenly on the chopping block next to Courtney.
“I felt like [Courtney] had to be there,” Pope said of his decision to ask to be sent home over his younger teammate. “I had the votes to stay but that wasn’t the right thing to do.”
Always seen as a motivator by his fellow contestants on the Ranch, Pope has now moved on to lighting a fire under people in his hometown of Logan, Utah, with his Justin’s Call Out program.
“It’s not just a call out, it’s a help out,” Pope said of teaching twice-a-day classes. “They learn everything from diet to self-confidence.”
Pope also urges his students to write down their calories and has even gotten a local restaurant involved in providing healthier options.
“We don’t all have to live out of a brown sack or at home eating meals,” he said. “We go out to eat every week-and-a-half and learn how to order from the menu.”
Running Justin’s Call Out makes Pope “feel like a better person,” he said. But that may not be a person his family necessarily recognizes.
“My family kind of mourns the person I used to be,” he explained. “They’re proud of my accomplishments, but they have to get to know a whole new person.”
That includes his wife, who had grown accustomed to their fast food dinners and Pope’s more sedentary lifestyle.
“I need to start dating my wife again, and falling in love all over again,” he said.
Because of his low starting weight, Pope does not see himself as a real contender for winning the at-home prize, but he does expect to reach his goal weight of 200-lbs. by the May finale.
And while Pope has lost weight, he has found something as well.
“I’ve kind of found that person I lost,” he said. “For the first time in my life I am comfortable with who I am and what I’ve become.”