'Biggest Loser' : Nice Guys Finish Last

Photo: Chris Haston/NBC

You know what they say: Nice guys finish last. That’s exactly what happened Tuesday as Bernie Salazar, 27, a teacher from Chicago, became the fourteenth contestant dropped from The Biggest Loser: Couples. Although he had a free pass granting immunity from elimination, Bernie could not use it for himself. He graciously gave it to his original Blue teammate, Brittany, and gambled on losing enough weight to keep him on the ranch.

“We’ve been here quite a long time, and no matter what happens tonight,” Salazar said, “I want to make sure she’s here for another week.” Bernie began his stay on the ranch at 283 lbs., leaving at 195! PEOPLE caught up with Bernie to see how he is faring off the ranch in his battle to lose weight and how Biggest Loser changed his life:

How has you life changed since you are back home?I was able to reclaim my life. Before the show, I could not tie my shoes without losing my breath; I could not walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath; I wouldn’t take my shirt off at the beach and I was uncomfortable in movie theaters. I wasn’t self-confident. When I drove, I had to put my car seat all the way back. It looked like a low-rider. I dressed like an old man and I was 27-years-old.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before Biggest Loser?I feel good in clothes and look a lot better. I can walk upright. I can buy clothes off the rack and that is awesome. I used to look like a square SpongeBob. My pants were like a square. My waist was length of my pants.

What is on your diet now?I eat between 1,500 and 1,600 calories a day. At breakfast, I usually have two scrambled eggs over easy and two pieces of Ezekiel bread toast. Sometimes, I’ll have Synergy cereal with soy milk and crushed almonds. If I am on the go, I’ll take a Granny Smith apple and some dry roasted almonds. For lunch, I’ll have some Ezekiel bread and hummus and some low sodium turkey breast from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I’ll take fruit, I am digging apples, and maybe some blueberries or strawberries. I might also have some chicken breast with romaine lettuce and tomatoes or zucchini with red wine vinaigrette and oil. Dinner is a nice piece of fish — halibut or tilapia — with olive oil and garlic and spices like basil or garlic powder. I’ll prepare vegetables like asparagus and string beans.

Do you snack?In the afternoon, I’ll grab some yogurt, zero or two percent fat and throw in a sugar substitute and some cinnamon as wells as almonds and strawberries or blueberries. This is very convenient because you can take this on the go. These are somewhat pricey but I do like organic eggs and vegetables and fruits and everything else from the market so I can stay within my budget. This is a lifelong commitment, but I have to make it affordable.

Why did you overeat in the past?It was comfortable. I was what I knew. It is something I grew up with. Being in a Latino household, it was always about food. It was part of the family life. We would always gather for a family meet when we had gathering. If we went to a movie or a play, we would eat before or have a snack in between. When my mother and I would talk, we would have something to eat. Now when my mom comes over, we are more active we go for a walk or go to the gym.

What is it like for you now when you walk down the street?I don’t see staring back at me in disgust. Maybe that was a lot of projecting onto myself. I am not as self-conscious. I don’t have to think anymore that I will have to move over to let some guy through when I am walking. There is a lack of attention I am getting, which is really nice. –Frank SwertlowChris Haston/NBC

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