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'Biggest Loser': You could call it denial -- or determination

September 16, 2009 |  9:19 am

Abby I was struck by two things when I interviewed Abby Rike shortly after she arrived at "The Biggest Loser" ranch earlier this year as shooting began for Season 8. First was that Abby would catch herself referring to her family in the present tense, even though her husband, 5-year-old daughter and newborn son were killed by a speeding motorist back in 2006. Even more unsettling: She relayed these basic details while struggling to keep a smile on her lips, and her eyes bright, even as tears began streaming down her face.

A few moments later, I found myself talking to trainer Jillian Michaels, who was eager to get any insight about Abby that she could, and asked me what I thought about her ability to hack it this season. I relayed the above. "She's in denial," Jillian said. "She is going to be a tough one."

It is, of course, too soon to say how any of this will turn out. But this much is certain: Abby is going to be a tough one all right, but perhaps not in the way that I had assumed.

There have been many poignant moments on "The Biggest Loser," but none that have ever come close to the elimination weigh-in for the Season 8 premiere. One by one, the contestants had talked about their motivation for losing weight, how it would help them cheat a too-early death, or allow them to give their familes the mother or father or grandmother that they deserve. But, of course, all those aren't motivational options for Abby, who showed up at the ranch with 247 pounds on her 5-foot-4 frame.

Abby acknowledged as much after discovering she'd lost 15 pounds. And once again, there was that unsettling, matter-of-fact demeanor, that smile and bright eyes, and the tears that I recalled from our first meeting: "Death doesn't scare me," she said. "Death would be an easier choice for me. ... It's getting up and taking that step that's hard. There's not anyone else. It is just for me. So I get up and I give it my best."

But then, there was a glimmer of an impish, girlish smile and bright eyes that seemed absolutely appropriate and befitting the moment, as she added, "It feels goooood!"

-- Rene Lynch

Here's a closer look at what's to come this season, as well as a photo gallery look at all the competitors.

Photo credit: NBC Universal