"The campus is not a prison," the host writes, "and any contestant can leave whenever they want"

By Alison Sweeney
April 19, 2012 09:20 AM
Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

To say this week’s Biggest Loser was full of surprises would be an understatement. When I arrived at the Ranch to start our week, I learned from the producers that all five remaining contestants were planning to quit the show.

As I’ve said before: The campus is not a prison, and any contestant can leave whenever they want. That certainly has been true this season. While a contestant’s choice to leave is one I respect, I asked each of them to really consider before making such a huge decision whether they will feel they made the right choice six months from now – five years from now.

For our contestants this season, that’s something we’ll all be hoping to understand better during the live finale on May 1.

What I can tell you about this week on campus was that it was intense. There were reports that contestants were quitting, fans were writing on my website, on this blog and Tweeting at me to find out what happened.

All the while, we were focused on the contestants themselves. We wanted to make sure they had all the facts laid out to make the best decisions possible. No doubt, it’s an incredibly difficult situation to be in – and as contestants who make it this far in the competition always say, it’s incredibly emotionally and physically exhausting. And when you’ve been so focused on one thing for so intently, sometimes it’s hard to pull back and see the forest for the trees.

When I sat with each of the contestants and heard their feelings about the latest twist in the show, I really wanted to help give perspective on the other side of the equation. Not to mention how this decision would impact them moving forward.

Jeff was there to provide the legal perspective, so they’d understand the contracts they’d signed. As Jeff read, this twist was specifically included in the contracts each contestant signed before joining the show. They signed and agreed to the clause stating that the eliminated players would have an opportunity to be back in the game and it would be unfair, not to mention irresponsible, for the show to go back on that commitment.

Ultimately, Mark and Buddy chose to leave campus and return to their families. They both were close to their goal weight and that means they’d both already won from my perspective, and hopefully from their families’ once they got home (and I’m sure they had some explaining to do!).

I was so sad to say goodbye to both of them – I really like and respect Buddy and Mark. I was so proud to stand on the scale with Buddy when he lost a 100 lbs, and opened up about how meaningful that number meant to him. Buddy’s story will always stay with me as one of the most meaningful moments on the show, and I will miss cheering him on at the finale.

After getting through all that, it was time to move on with our week on campus and to get to work. The theme of the week was “I lack motivation,” so with the prize of a car the contestants certainly were motivated.

Then, as they each watched their individual journeys from audition tape to present, I think Conda, Jeremy and Kim were reminded of what really matters – that the show has helped each of them to transform their lives and that Kim and Conda will be healthier mothers because of their journeys. It was so amazing to see how far they’ve come. I could hardly recognize Kim from the before video.

At weigh-in, Kim shocked us all with her incredible weight loss of 15 lbs. Also shocking was Conda’s reaction to Jeremy being eliminated. She showed that she fights just as hard for her brother as her brother fought for her.

Make sure to tune in next week as the eliminated contestants return and vie for the coveted third spot in the live finale on May 1!