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'The Biggest Loser' premiere: Bigger contestants, biggest twist yet

January 6, 2009 |  2:33 pm

Biggestloser Season 7 of “The Biggest Loser: Couples” kicks off tonight with its most diabolical and heart-wrenching twist yet. Too bad we are sworn to secrecy. But let’s just say that it’s a twist that will amp up the competition to a whole new level.

And that’s just one of the reasons this season will stand out from the rest. Break out the superlatives because this season of “The Biggest Loser” will also include:

--The heaviest woman ever to appear on the show –- that would be Carla, who weighs in at 379 pounds.

--The youngest contestant ever: Ron, 18, who weighs 388 pounds.

--The oldest contestants ever: grandparents Estella and Jerry, both 63. (She weight 242 pounds, and he weighs 369 pounds.)

--And the heaviest contestant ever: Daniel, who, at just 19, already weighs 454 pounds.

Once again, contestants will . . .

... be brought in as pairs: Cousins, best friends, father and son, sisters, mother and daughter.

It’s a format that has proved popular with viewers as it adds to the drama.

But it’s not so popular with trainer Jillian Michaels, who says it can interfere with her ability to do her job.

“I would have gotten rid of that format. I hate it,” she said.

As fans of the show know, Jillian is all about bringing contestants to the breaking point both inside and outside the gym as she tries to, in her words, “drill down” to the emotional reasons behind contestants’ obesity.

Forcing contestants to get raw and look at those truths is uncomfortable.

And that’s a state Jillian wants them to live in for a while as they confront their weight.

But contestants can be pulled back to their old reality by having a loved one to turn to in the midst of all of this — someone who will give them a shoulder to cry on and tell them, “There, there. It’s not so bad,” or make Jillian out to be the bad person.

"I’m like, ‘I’m so close. I’ve almost got them where I want them. Leave them alone!’” Jillian said during an interview at the start of the filming for Season 7.

“Things don’t change when you’re comfortable,” she added. “You need to get uncomfortable and face these issues — once and for all.”

There’s a stunning example of this in tonight’s episode, when Jillian is all up in the grille of one of the contestants on the green team. We won’t give anything away, but watch closely and you’ll see the contestant literally shaken from the “trance” Jillian has put her in when her friend comes over in the midst of it all to give her a “there, there” hug.

Surprising that Jillian didn’t snap at her.

Jillian and co-trainer Bob Harper say there can be an upside to the couples format, however. Bob said the interaction between couples gives him clues to the reasons behind a contestant’s obesity and helps him tailor his approach. And contestants ideally can rely upon each other when they’re back home.

“It’s information, and information helps me do what I do,” Bob said.   

rene.lynch@latimes.com

(Photo courtesy NBC)

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