'The Biggest Loser's Teri Aguiar on Prioritizing Herself, Working Through Injury, and Reconnecting With Her Kids
- Teri Aguiar is a mom and flight nurse from Illinois, who joined The Biggest Loser at 256 pounds.
- As a former beauty queen, even winning the title of Miss Missouri in 1999, Teri ultimately put her health on the back burner when prioritizing everyone else in her life.
- Teri suffered a broken ankle during The Biggest Loser and still finished in fourth place, being eliminated in Episode 9.
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Teri Aguiar joined The Biggest Loser for this year's reboot in hopes of finally put herself first again and be able to live the healthy lifestyle she once did. As a divorced mom-of-two who also works in healthcare, the Illinois native did not make time to work on herself, and started the show at 256 pounds. Throughout her journey on the competition series, Teri actually got injured and suffered a broken ankle, but despite having to make modifications and slowing down for some challenges, she didn't let it crush her spirit.
Floor8 spoke with Teri exclusively about her decision to join the show, pushing herself through an injury, and how her journey has positively affected her relationships back home.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Floor8: As a mom of two kids and as a nurse, you definitely were used to putting the needs of others before your own prior to The Biggest Loser. Do you think that mindset contributed to you getting out of shape, and how were you able to finally make yourself a priority to then join the show?
Teri: I absolutely think that was part of it. I think there was always something else that I felt I should have been doing, whether it be for the kids or for the house, or for my prior relationship. I think that what I did learn on campus was that for me to be able to give the people in my life the 100% that I want to give them, I had to take care of myself. I had to be in a place where I wasn’t tired all the time and where I could be involved in the activities that they were doing. I think we forget that sometimes taking time for ourselves can give more in the end.
Floor8: In your final episode you said that you almost didn’t want to do the show because you didn’t want to put yourself out there for everyone to see. Was there one defining moment or a breakthrough where you decided joining The Biggest Loser was something you absolutely couldn’t pass up?
Teri: I felt like I didn't know when else I would have the opportunity to put enough distance between me and all the bad habits I had created over the years. I think all of us, at one point or another, have been successful for short periods of time and then revert back to the same habits as soon as there's a stressful event, or something negative happening. I knew that it was going to take time to establish new habits, and I really wanted to put as much time and distance between things that I had developed as coping mechanisms in my life and things that were going to sustain me for the long haul.
Floor8: Breaking your ankle on the show was obviously a major part of your overall experience and really tested you both physically and mentally. Were there times you thought about giving up, and how were you able to get past that if so?
Teri: I never really thought about giving up. From the moment I was injured, it was about looking for ways to stay. I knew the momentum was possibly going to be slowed down, but I didn’t want to stop moving forward. With the support of production, trainers, and the physicians on set, I knew that I was in a safe place to continue, so I couldn’t think of any better place to be to prove to myself that I didn’t have any excuses anymore. If I could figure out how to work the modifications around an injury like that, there would never be another time in my life that I would have an excuse for not taking care of myself.
Floor8: A super emotional scene in your final episode was when everyone watched video messages of themselves from eight weeks prior. What was your initial reaction to seeing yours, and how did it motivate you to keep going?
Teri: Kind of like I said I the episode was, looking back at that person, I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. I didn't realize how big I was. I didn't necessarily feel that all the time—it would be, seeing a video or picture of myself, and then realizing that was me and that was my condition. I think it was emotional to know that you can be right in the middle of something and not even see it.
Floor8: You noted after watching your video message that with coming onto the show you really “had more to shed than just weight.” How did your journey on The Biggest Loser affect your mental health?
Teri: I think we bury ourselves in our day to day responsibilities. Stuff that I thought I had healed from—feeling defeated in a failed marriage, and even what my relationship is going to be co-parenting and moving forward—those were all things I had a lot of time to think about. And it’s interesting because as much anger as I had about it towards the other person, I also recognized and took ownership of my own piece of that. I think when you really take that long look in the mirror and own your side of it, it makes it really difficult to blame or continually be angry at someone else. I think there was a lot of growth by me taking the time to process the stuff I hadn't.
Floor8: After your elimination, everyone was very emotional, but [trainer Erica Lugo] visibly broke out in tears right away. Can you describe the bond you formed with her, and how helpful she was to you throughout the show?
Teri: Erica was an amazing support. She was there for us not just on camera and for workouts, but she was the one who would stop by the lodge periodically to sit down with us and have talks. She’d also look at our food logs and see where we were having trouble with our nutrition. We knew it was more support than just the gym. Erica truly cared about each one of us individually, and she had a different relationship with each of us individually, which I thought was amazing. For me specifically, Erica challenged me and pushed me, in a competitive way that hadn’t felt familiar for a long time. Being from a sports background, I think she brought that side out of me again, of knowing that I am capable of meeting these challenges.
Floor8: It was really awesome to see how well you were doing in the “Where Are They Now?” segment. How would you say this experience has changed your relationship with your kids?
Teri: It has just allowed me to be part of their lives, and not just watching from the sidelines. I was able to grab a sled and enjoy the snow with them, even if they made fun of my form [Laughs]. My daughter went through a breakup shortly after I got home, and normally that would've been an excuse for me to say, “Hey let’s go get some ice cream and make this better,” and she just looked at me and said, “Mom, I just need to go run.” And I said, “Okay, let me grab my shoes.” We went down to the track and just ran until she was done crying, and then we walked and talked for another several miles, and by the time we got into the car to go home we both felt better. It was just so amazing to know that not only was I not giving her bad habits, but I was also able to be there with her in that moment and be a support. It was a turning point knowing I can support my kids on a much deeper level.
Floor8: You said when you were being eliminated that you hoped watching you continue to stay motivated and stay on the show even in a boot would be inspiring for people. What has the response been from your friends, family, and even fans watching you week after week? Just looking at your Instagram page shows so many supportive comments.
Teri: My friends and family have known for a long time that I kind of grew up as a tough kid [Laughs]. I was always in for the long haul—the long runs in track, the long swims in swimming. I think they knew that piece of who I am. What has been inspiring has been the amount of people who have reached out to say, I have bad knees and I never thought that I would be in shape or lose weight. Or, I broke my ankle several years ago and just don’t know what I can do, or I’ve been watching your exercises on the show and am trying to mimic that. It just has been so cool to be able to reach out to people and say, it doesn't matter how fast you're moving forward as long as you're moving forward. One of the great quotes by [trainer] Steve Cook is, “You don’t lose until you quit trying.” You're not defeated until you quit, and as long as you’re trying there’s success to be had. I am really hoping that people take that to heart and improve their situation if that’s what they want.