- Jim DiBattista is a husband and father of three boys, who joined The Biggest Loser at 385 pounds.
- After losing his parents too soon, Jim feared he would die early because of his weight.
- With help from his trainer Erica Lugo and his support system at home, Jim won The Biggest Loser, coming in at the final weigh-in at 230 pounds.
Husband and father Jim DiBattista came onto The Biggest Loser at 385 pounds, determined he would need to lose weight in order to be there for his family longterm. Keeping his sons' names in his head when things got tough, the Philadelphia local was able to get through challenges with the help of his trainer Erica Lugo, along with the support of his fellow contestants, trainer Steve Cook, and host Bob Harper. Knowing his family was there waiting for him to come home a healthier man was what kept Jim going, and in the end he came out victorious. The emotional finale showed Jim winning the big prize, and looking and feeling amazing.
Floor8 spoke with Jim exclusively about his experience on The Biggest Loser and how he's been doing since the show, including all the emotional and physical challenges he's faced along the way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Floor8: Congratulations on winning The Biggest Loser! When you joined the show did you look at it as something you had the chance of winning, or were you in it more for the experience?
Jim: I think it was a good combination. I won't do something that I don’t think I have the shot of winning—that seems kind of counterproductive—but I was honestly not there to win. I wanted to get healthy. I knew if I put a plan in place, a strategy in place, I’d have a shot. It was one step at a time for me.
Floor8: There were certainly a ton of tough moments throughout the show for everyone, between both physical challenges and emotional ones. Did you ever consider giving up at any point, and if so how were you able to keep going?
Jim: Giving up, honestly, I did everything I could to not let that enter my brain. But of course, I talked about it a lot, but I would compartmentalize when I was at home. I would take thoughts and put them in the back of my brain. There were times where, for example the Skype call with my wife, where home was brought to my attention, so those were moments where I did feel like going home. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to quit, but I wanted to leave to be home to be with my family.
I would just repeat my boys' names, and that was my strategy going in. I would say their names over and over and over again until certain thoughts went out of my head. And it worked. I did it since the first mile so I wouldn't quit.
Floor8: Can you describe the feeling you had walking through the door to see your family when you came home the first time? You said you had been dreaming of that moment—did it live up to expectations with how far you had come?
Jim: Dreaming of that moment, sometimes I was even dreaming while awake. I would be on the treadmill and would slip into an imaginary world of me walking through the door and my family being proud of me. It helped me through that hour workout on the treadmill. So when I went home and it actually came to fruition and became real, it was surreal. It was like a dream come true and I was so proud of myself, and my boys were speechless and my wife was speechless.
Floor8: Besides just your family, how did the kids you coach react to your transformation, and how different did it feel going back to work now that you were so much healthier?
Jim: When I showed up to coach the kids for the practice that you guys saw, that was the first time they saw me. They did not see me before. And what was really neat about it was how wide-eyed every kid was. Their faces were just like, “Who is this guy?” And when I started running, doing the drills with them and goofing around, you could tell from their faces how overwhelmed they were. They were blown away that I left one person and came back another.
Floor8: One concern you had when you got back home was time management. Have you been able to figure out a schedule for your work, your family, and your fitness journey since then?
Jim: Yeah, it's hard. I work a pretty intense job, especially now because we’re essential. I work for a telecommunications company, and we’re installing Wi-Fi in people’s homes right now, which, can you imagine a more important item in a house right now? It’s crazy. Before Coronavirus, it was still a pretty intense job, so I’ve made it a point to structure out my plans ahead of time. To me that’s the most important thing. So if I’m going to work out at CrossFit at 5:30 a.m. two days a week, I know what days, my wife knows what days, and we talk about it. She works out at a gym as well, so we coordinate with each other. To me, planning out your week and meal prep are the two most important things you can do as an adult to keep your life together.
Floor8: The energy in the room felt absolutely amazing when all the contestants reunited again. How great did it feel to see everyone, and did you ever expect to see those major transformations back on Day 1?
Jim: Seeing everyone walking into the door was amazing. It was amazing seeing everyone’s transformation, and even just seeing everyone dressed up. We spent all the time we were on campus in workout clothes, pajamas, and the occasional jeans and t-shirts. None of us ever got dressed up—we should've done, like, a Biggest Loser prom. It was amazing seeing everyone at their best, in their Sunday best. Especially for the people I was really close with, it was amazing.
Floor8: Being up there for the final weigh-in must have been so incredibly nerve-racking. What was your initial reaction when [host] Bob [Harper] announced that you had won, and how did it feel to hug your wife and kids, as well as your trainer Erica? It was so emotional just watching it from home.
Jim: As for being up there being nervous, of course I was nervous. Did you see the two guys I was standing next to? They looked unreal. I got really nervous, but when Bob said I needed to have lost 117 pounds, I was just like, “I think I got this.” I was pretty confident so it was a weird moment like, did I just win? It was a weird couple of seconds. Do you ever fall, but you have that second of, oh crap I’m falling? That’s what it was like. I looked at Erica and she was crying, and I looked over to my wife and she was crying. It was incredible. I jumped off stage, and, when you win a championship, you go to your coach to celebrate, so I went to Erica, and then I went to my family. To have my boys and wife share that moment, I don’t want to be morose, but I felt that I could die a happy man. It was fantastic.