Biggest Loser Becomes Biggest Winner

Posted by cservaes on March 12, 2012 in Alumni When you’re in the fight of your life, for your life, you will do anything to win. Some would describe John Rhode ’06 AZ as a tenacious competitor on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, and Rhode himself would agree. “I was fierce,” he said. “I thought my competitive juices were long gone. I thought I had given up on myself and everything else, but when I got to the show, I realized I still had fire in my belly.” That fire led Rhode to go on and win the show’s $250,000 grand prize by losing more than 200 pounds, and to win his life back. After years of turning to food to deal with stress and emotional letdowns, Rhode became overweight, weighing in at 445 pounds. The Desert Ridge High School special education teacher and football coach, and self-proclaimed family man, realized there was a very real potential for serious health risks that could leave him either seriously incapacitated or dead because of his weight. Not wanting to burden his family and desperate for change, Rhode applied for The Biggest Loser, a reality television show that follows overweight contestants on their journey to lose weight and change their lives. “We have two adopted children, one whom is autistic,” he said. “The last thing I wanted to happen would be for my wife to have to raise our kids alone. When I was chosen for the show, I was just elated. I was so filled with hope, even though I knew I was in for it. I had watched the show and had an idea of what was to come, but I was so ready for change that I was willing to put myself through whatever to make this permanent and everlasting change in my life.” Rhode’s transformation began in June 2011. He traveled to “The Ranch,” where he spent six months competing against 14 other contestants, all equally desperate for change. “I went out there to get healthy,” said Rhode. “If I could win and make some money along the way, that’s great, but my primary objective was to work very hard to shed that weight and keep it off forever.” Rhode said the key to his success on The Biggest Loser, and the key for anyone who has a desire to lose weight, is to figure out why they want to lose the weight. “It’s important to know the real reason. When it gets tough and you feel discouraged, like you can’t do it anymore, you have to draw strength from what it is that you want. It takes a lot of introspection, looking deep inside of yourself, for why you want to bring about change - and not just to look good in your jeans,” he said. Family, longevity and quality of life were Rhode’s motivation, and what drove him to be tougher than anyone else. That motivation and a team of unyielding supporters also helped to change Rhode’s view of himself. “My outlook on life has completely changed,” he said. He no longer turns to food for comfort and is honest with himself in dealing with his emotions, trying to be the optimist that he knows he is. These things keep Rhode on track for the healthier lifestyle he now leads since the show’s finale. “I have to fulfill my obligation to those that supported me,” said Rhode. “Having the support of the people at home, my trainer Bob Harper, and the entire Biggest Loser crew made it a great and lasting experience.” An experience unlike any other that Rhode has had. “The moment that it was announced that I had won was indescribable,” he said. “It was a whole mix of emotions. My wife’s sacrifices, my workouts, every drop of sweat, and everything I had been working for were all in my mind at that moment. Everything I went through was completely validated.” And after that moment, Rhode became an instant celebrity, traveling the country and inspiring others. “I have a message I want to share,” he said. “I heard the squeak of the hinges on a new door opening and I am going to make the most of this opportunity.” Rhode is sharing his message by maintaining his new healthier lifestyle and supporting others in their journey to weight loss. Appearing on numerous news broadcasts, at speaking engagements and hosting the Phoenix Marathon, Rhode hopes to continue to spread the message of health, fitness and well being. “I recently took the hand of a woman struggling to finish a 10K we were running for charity. She had been running with me the whole way and was about to give up. I just told her, ‘We’ll do this together.’ It was really neat to cross that finish line with her,” he said. For weight loss tips, recipes or to contact Rhode, visit his website at www.johndrhode.com.