CHEWING THE FAT ABOUT NEW SEASON
EACH season of The Biggest Loser presents a unique set of challenges, but Shannan Ponton says this year is the toughest yet. Newcastle’s Pestell family – Terry and daughters Melissa, Ali and Jodie – have a combined weight of 560kg.
Ponton, left, says the closeknit family bring out the worst in each other, subconsciously fuelling each other’s bad habits: “They band together and make their unhealthy eating and inactivity worse,” he says.
They are used to pushing people away – and Ponton was no exception – making the first few weeks of the show a “living nightmare”. “They almost broke me,” Ponton says.
One daughter has never been in love, another can’t get work because of her size and the third refuses to marry her partner at her current weight.
“They’ve had people saying the most awful things … that drove them to retreat into themselves,” Ponton says.
“They stopped going out. With that came pain and anger. They were so angry. They started out as this pack of bloody banshees.”
Without giving too much away, Ponton says the transformation – while very, very gradual – is incredible.
The newest season of the long- running Channel Ten show once again focuses on families. It starts with the trainers spending a week living with their teams, eating what they eat.
“We’ve done that once before and I swore to God I’d never do it again,” Ponton says. “The damage it did to my body last time … my energy levels and my confidence.”
It was no less harrowing this time, the Pestels’ eating habits as monstrous as you’d imagine.
“One afternoon, we had a snack that was a whole Bavarian chocolate cheesecake, probably 30cm in diameter,” he says. “One of the girls devoured the whole thing. And that was a snack. Incredible.”