When the Blue Team found itself in the the elimination room–a familiar place after their third straight loss–a mother’s desire to put her child first made their decision a unanimous one. Cathy Skell, 48, of Shiocton, Wis., volunteered to leave so that her 28-year-old daughter Kristin Steede, the second heaviest woman in Biggest Loser history, could remain. Now home, Skell, who has lost 78 lbs. so far, talks to PEOPLE.com about a mother’s sacrifice, some surprising discoveries about life on the Ranch and how 20 years of sobriety has helped her weight loss at home. –Rebecca Gross
Last week the Blue Team seemed pretty set on sending either Mandi or Aubrey home. What changed this week to keep Aubrey off the hook?We bonded more as a team. Ron had immunity so it was between Kristin, Aubrey and myself. The big thing in my mind was that I couldn’t afford for it to go to a tie. We couldn’t risk there being a tie and the Black Team would come and get to choose whoever they wanted to send home. I was afraid it would be Kristin.
What was the most shocking thing about your life on the Ranch?What really shocked me was that we were totally responsible for our cooking, our laundry and for our exercise. We didn’t have a schedule of exercise. What you did you had to do on your own. You could go take a nap if you wanted to or you could go walk or hike the Ridge. It was all in your hands.
What’s the most difficult part for you being at home while trying to lose weight?My biggest temptation is if we go out to eat, so I knew I needed to avoid that. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have children at home. I’m an empty nester, so my cabinets are pretty much cleaned out. It goes with the little bit of will power you have for staying sober for 20 years, so I’m putting that towards sweets because that was my addiction. I have such a sweet tooth.
How has your years of sobriety helped you with this weight-loss journey?Knowing where you’ve been and you don’t want to be there again — I’ve put that same concept of will power and staying strong into weight loss now. Why I could never do it before, I don’t know. But it’s clicking now.
How do you stay motivated and what message would you give other women your age to find their motivation?The No. 1 thing is do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are your own person. Don’t think of what you are not losing, but think of what you have lost. Don’t give up because anything is possible. You just have to stay strong, stay positive and surround yourself with positive as well.