'Biggest Loser' : Renee's Before & After Photo

Photo: NBC

Her can-do attitude, mega-watt smile and fierce love for her daughter and teammate Michelle made her one of the more likeable contestants to the ranch on this season’s Biggest Loser: Families. But Renee Wilson, 47, left her daughter behind on Tuesday night’s show after Vicky’s swing vote sent her home during the elimination.

While she can’t reveal her weight — “It’s so close to the finale!” she says — she has lost well over 70 lbs., and talked to PEOPLE about her tips for keeping it off, meeting Tyra Banks and her hopes for Michelle to win the game. — Sara Hammel

You said on Tuesday’s show you hoped Vicky would take out Ed instead of you. Did you think that was a real possibility or were you just hoping?With Vicky you never can tell what she was thinking or doing. I was holding out hope. I felt the odds were stacked against me, but I was thinking maybe for a moment it would be an all girl finale.

Now that you’re back home, how do you keep losing weight without the help of a personal trainer or a chef? Cardio, cardio, cardio! I try to do as much as I can two to four hours a day. So, that’s a long day, but I just try to keep perspective. You have a goal you want to reach and you have to keep on going and do your best. I don’t eat any white bread. I have eaten a lot of organic whole natural foods. I don’t eat anything processed. I’ve definitely changed my whole eating regimen since I came to the ranch. I eat fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken — all these great foods.

You seem like a very upbeat, can-do person before you even got to the ranch. What kept the weight on for so long before Biggest Loser?I started gaining weight little by little, after my divorce, and started getting older, and started making excuses and just saying, it’s just because I’m older, and I turned around and I’ve gained 50 lbs. and I think, “How did I get here?” I had to put actions to my words. I would wish to be thinner or drop 20 pounds, but wishing wouldn’t get me anywhere.

What was it like getting a makeover and meeting Tyra Banks?It was my happiest week at the ranch. I kept on thinking the makeover show has to be coming soon. I’ve been waiting 46 years for a makeover, and praise God I finally made it! The fact we were going to be on TV with Tyra Banks, that was amazing. I felt like a princess for a day. Here we were at the ranch sweating, working out 8-10 hours a day, and then we got to go to New York in a limousine, have somebody do your hair, pick out cute clothes. It was a fairy tale come true.

The contestants were told Tuesday that America will vote for the winner at the finale — and at next week’s elimination. How do you feel about that?I feel really good. I feel like Michelle has just shined through this whole process, and I don’t feel like she’ll have a problem at all. I have no worries at all about who might be eliminated. It’s going to be a fabulous finale. I have all confidence in America!

You recently turned 47. How has losing so much weight at this age affected your health?I’m too old to keep doing the losing weight/gaining weight story in my life. This is a life change. My husband’s very fit and works out every day. Now it’s just been an added to our marriage. We go running, we go walking, we work out together at the gym — and he trains me on the weekend. It’s been such an enhancement to our marriage. It’s taken our marriage to whole other level. … Changing my lifestyle habits and eating and working out has given me my life back. I don’t ever want to lose that again. This is my life. NBC

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