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Biggest Loser‘s Abby Rike: I Have Rejoined Life

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Dave Bjerke/NBC; Jill Carmen/NBC

After losing the weigh-in, the Black Team was forced to deliberate over which member of their team to send home. The remaining contestants voted off Abby Rike after she offered herself for elimination. The 34-year-old teacher from Mabank, Texas, captured hearts early in the season with her tragic story of losing her husband and two young children in a 2006 car accident. She recently spoke to the reporters about how The Biggest Loser has helped her to rejoin life and how she has managed to go from 247 lbs. to 167 lbs. — and keep it off! –Nina Tyler

You used to use food as a coping mechanism. What did you replace food with, or how have you confronted your issues?At this point I’ve just learned about ‘what do I really want out of life?’ and it’s about feeling good physically for me and so I choose foods that physically make me feel good, but I also I reach out and I lean on my support system … I make plans and I maintain and have made some great new friendships that I treasure. I’ve joined into fitness classes that are a wonderful outlet. I think I’ve just really made it a point to actively engage in my life and that is what I use now.

When did the epiphany hit you on the Ranch that you could dream again?I realized that I started physically feeling better and the tears and the sweat were so healing for me. I was actually in the pool a lot by myself, so I had lots of time for reflection and thinking and those types of moments. Shay was my roommate and we spent lots of time visiting and talking and I guess it was just that whole culmination of — I was feeling again, and even if it was pain, it was feelings and then it was happiness … I was really happy for many members of my team and some on the blue team, too. So it was just I started feeling again then it was like “Okay, what do I want to do with my life?” And that ball just started rolling.

Now that you are home what are your weight loss and body goals? How are you going to achieve them?I physically feel so much better. It’s hard to say because I’ve put on a ton of muscle. I feel so strong and so I think I have about probably fifteen to twenty pounds of fat to lose to be at a super healthy weight … I just try not to be a slave to the scale. I count every calorie, I choose foods very wisely, I eat super clean, and I work out really hard and so whatever number ends up popping up at the end is just going to have to be what it is.

What’s been your biggest challenge since returning home? When I first got home, it was just finding out how to assimilate what I’d learned into my life. How do you maintain a balance? Because if you trade one addiction for another, you just have a different addiction and I didn’t want that at all, so it took me few weeks to figure out how do I work out, eat right, and maintain friendships and have that part of me because that was so important for me.

How much do you attribute your success to The Biggest Loser and how much of it was just finally being ready?The Biggest Loser is such a great catalyst to kick start toward finding that light again. I think that it’s one of those things that when things are really tough and really sad, it’s hard for to know what to say and I get that completely. But then whenever something great is happening, it’s like are comfortable coming up and … supporting you, saying the things they thought this whole time and so I think that The Biggest Loser was just the greatest venue for showing the world that I wasn’t just falling apart and that I was still here and still a part of life.

You have gone through a lot in your personal life. In what ways have you been able to rejoin life outside of your weight loss?Where I’ve rejoined life is that I’m in the moment. I feel again. For the longest time, I just thought things were very unimportant. It was hard to find things that really mattered. Now, it’s just — things matter again! That, I think, is where I rejoined life. I stay present in the moment, I enjoy where I am, I count my blessings … I take joy from the small things that make up the whole of our lives.

Dave Bjerke/NBC; Jill Carmen/NBC