WELLNESS
04/22/2013 08:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'The Biggest Loser' At-Home Winner Gina On How She Really Lost The Weight

Danni Allen was crowned The Biggest Loser's official season 14 winner. But Gina McDonald, 48, of Hoover, Ala., took home $100,000 as the at-home winner of the NBC show. We caught up with Gina to hear her weight loss success story, in her own words.

Name: Gina Harris McDonald
Age: 48
Height: 5'2"
Before Weight: 245 pounds

How I Gained It: I struggled with weight my entire life. I had moments of "skinny" after crazy fad diets, but then would regain all the weight and then some. The five years prior to being cast for "The Biggest Loser," I let everything and everybody get in my way of becoming fit and healthy. The biggest thing I let get in my way was me! I had just decided that I was going to live out my life sitting on the sofa at the end of the day and all weekend. I spent all week giving to others: clients, family and friends -- at the end of the day I didn’t think that I had anything left to give. And anyway, who was I hurting by eating huge portions of fat-laden food and not doing any exercise?

Breaking Point: I think my light bulb moment came when I found myself losing confidence in myself as a lawyer and a wife. Physically, I could not zip my suits and had to wear a jacket all of the time to not expose myself. I would sweat when everyone else was freezing. I was out of breath just walking a few steps to the front of a courtroom, and I could not tie my own tennis shoes without help. Medically, I had developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and Type 2 diabetes. Emotionally, I was easily angered and depressed most of the time. I found no joy in any aspect of my life.

I had worked so hard to make my dream of becoming a lawyer and law firm owner come true, and now I found myself not enjoying my job or life in general. Nothing brought me joy. Something had to change, and I knew I could not do it by myself this time if I was going to make lifelong changes. I was miserable with myself and making everyone around me miserable.

How I Lost It: When I first arrived on the ranch I thought that this journey would be all about the physical changes. I would do the hard physical work and lose weight. Sounded so simple in principal. I was angry and frustrated most of the first few weeks. Angry because of what I had let myself become, frustrated that no one seemed to understand me, fearful of the task at hand, worried that I could not achieve success.

As the weeks went by, I discovered that the physical change that was occurring was not making me any happier with myself or anyone else. What was wrong with this picture? I was following all of the rules, working out, eating right, resting, even monitoring my physical activity and calories consumed using my BodyMedia, but my mind and spirit were still in crisis. That is when I knew that there had to be changes inside me, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. As I began to understand this, amazing things happened. Bob took me to the side one day and said, "If you could only see what I see in you." Dolvett spoke to me and said, "Get out of your own way, Gina." Confidence began to build inside me, and I was beginning to believe that I could actually get the job done this time and for good. Mentally, I was changing!

I was privileged to spend a lot of time with Jillian, and that interaction brought everything together for me. She helped me see that I had a tendency to go around life's obstacles, rather than through them. I especially did this with relationship difficulties. Those days of interaction with Jillian defined the remaining time on the ranch for me, and I am forever grateful, because that is where my true emotional healing began.

My spiritual awaking began on the ranch with a chance encounter with Season 11's Hannah Curlee. She had such a strong spirit, and I felt her closeness with God from the moment I met her. Through Hannah, I was introduced to trainer Carter Hays, who guided me to the finish line. I felt God leading me, and this time I listened. I learned to dispel worry and fear and have faith -- what a freeing feeling!

After my journey on "Biggest Loser" has ended, I am still a work in progress. I am a busy mom of two college students, manager my law firm and a practicing lawyer, a wife, and now I am a fitness and nutrition junkie. I still monitor every aspect of my fitness, nutrition and sleep. I use the same tool I used on the ranch, BodyMedia. For me, it takes the guesswork out health and fitness! I love working out. I spend about two hours a day working out. I make sure I am eating healthy, good food in the right portions. I also make sure I get plenty of sleep. I discovered that I do have time to "be all and do all." It is amazing that two hours in the gym makes my day seem to have extra hours, and I have tons more energy. I am living life out loud, experiencing joy beyond belief and living without Type 2 diabetes, and that is the best news of all!

After Weight: 132 pounds
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