It was all about Black Team dominance in last night’s Biggest Loser. Although Neil posted a double-digit loss at the weigh-in, he and Hollie slipped below the yellow line in an emotional episode that saw Isabeau, Bill and Julie guaranteed spots in the final four. And for the first time in the show’s history, only one team, Jillian’s, will be represented in the finale. But far from feeling defeated, Neil Tejwani, a 25-year-old chemical engineer from Marblehead, Mass., went home to lose even more weight. He’s gone from 421 lbs. to 257 lbs.! PEOPLE spoke to Neil about his infamous 17-lb. weight gain, life at home and romance. –Cynthia WangMost will remember you as the guy who gained 17 lbs. in one week to oust Jez or Isabeau from the Ranch. Do you regret that move?I regret it, but I think forget I did not do it for personal gain but to keep others in the game. When you are on campus for four months, you don’t realize how close you can get to these , and the thought of not having Nicole, Kae, or Ryan around for another week at that point just killed me. They brought out the best in me every day and we brought out the best in each other.
You were posting numbers week to week that bested Biggest Loser winner Eric Chopin’s. How hard was it to leave campus to work out at home?There is a lot of tempting food and finding the workout routine that fits in your life was hard at first. Lots of my friends have recently graduated from college and still drink and go to bars and stay out until 2 in the morning. I don’t ever want to limit myself from having those social situations but it’s about adapting. Now I will have a Diet Coke while everyone else is having a couple drinks and, instead of stuffed mushrooms, I will have a lean chicken breast.
On the show, you said you were thinking seriously of the future with your girlfriend. My girlfriend Stephanie is absolutely a great girl. Before, I couldn’t really show her the level of commitment I would like to because it was hard to start making plans when you don’t know if you will see past 30. It’s funny but she has never known me as someone under 400 lbs. before. She is so mesmerized every day at the transformation I have made.
What has been your best purchase since losing all the weight?I have been getting screwed by the big and tall stores for years! I just bought a sports coat the other day that was a size 42. I used to wear a 64; I have dropped over 22 sizes. When you’re big, it’s not as easy to run and get a new outfit when a function comes up. Now I can. People who don’t have a weight problem could easily overlook something like that.
Did you ever think you would go from the 400s to the 200s in a half a year?No! To know I didn’t have to resort to surgery–that was a huge to me. I was actually 460 lbs. last year, and I was looking into gastric bypass surgery but I always wanted it to be the last resort.
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Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC;Sean Jennings