You know it’s the inevitable backhanded compliment when the elimination team sends home the person they think can actually excel well at home, yet that’s what happened this week to Blue Team captain Jerry Lisenby. At 62, Lisenby was not only the oldest contestant ever, but also the person to have lost the most weight in a single week in the show’s history: 31 lbs. in the first week! The 5’11” retired firefighter from Peoria, Ill., started at 297 lbs. when he set foot at the Biggest Loser Ranch; now he is down 88 lbs. to 209–and still losing! “I’m just tickled by the whole outcome of this thing,” he says. We spoke to Lisenby about the temptation room, overcoming age and his cross-country bike trip next year. –Cynthia WangSo what happened in the temptation challenge where Patty ended up getting the 3 lb. pass? We had talked a little about an eating contest. We thought, ‘Who could eat the most amongst us?’ And we picked Neil. Everyone said, ‘OK, Neil, you’ll take one for the team and we will cheer you on.’ He agreed to it, and so when Patty did it, she didn’t trust us. She thought that we would vote her off if she was not up to par on losing the weight so she went against the team and that’s what upset us. I don’t know her fate… I think she should be looking over her shoulder!
What was the best piece of advice Bob, your trainer on the show, gave you?Well, I was the only person ever to be able to pick my trainer by winning the race across the Mojave Desert and I picked Bob. I knew that he and I would see a little more eye to eye. Plus, my wife had told me, ‘Go to the Blue person because your grey hair looks better with blue!’ But one of the best things he told me was to stop all the carbonation… and don’t eat to eat but eat the right things in the right proportions.
Are you still using a trainer?Yes. After I got home, at first I didn’t think I needed it, but my son, who is an Olympic Trials qualifier in swimming and coaches now as a volunteer, said that… even his hardest workers don’t come back in a shape as good as the ones with a trainer. So I have a young girl who is not only a trainer but a nutritionist, Stephanie Polito. She is one tough cookie! I told her she is like Ginger Rogers. She can do anything Bob can do and do it backwards!
You said you wanted to be an inspiration to others, especially older folks… The YMCA told me that 11 signed up and said, ‘I want to do the workout that Jerry Lisenby’s doing,’–that has just been in the last three weeks! I’ve got friends of mine that have been calling me who I hadn’t heard from in 45 years. My whole goal was to inspire in my generation but I’ve gotten calls from 25 years old who say I am going to do it now before I get old, and that’s great.
Has your success motivated your family?My wife Lynn has lost 11 lbs. She was only 122 lbs. to start with and solid steel. We are riding our bicycles across the U.S. next year. As I said on the show, age is just a number, and that’s what I’ve named my bicycle tour next year. The Age Is Just a Number Bicycle Tour Around the Country.
Photo: Trae Patton/NBC