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

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

Comments () | Archives (29)

Abby is my inspiration! I woke up this morning and realize I have no excuse and no reason to feel sorry for myself. I no longer feel the need to be depressed or stressed over anything. My whole world changed last night when I watched Abby tell her story. My outlook on life is forever changed and I will be working out today and every day that God has me here on this earth. Well...there might be things that come up on occassion but for the most part, every day. I can't wait to see her journey and the end result. Good Luck to all them all.

I think that the person who wrote this article is very shallow and has possibly never lived through a life altering traumatizing experience. You say she's in denial because she talks about her husband/kids in the present tense even though they died in 2006? Are you suggesting 3 years is long enough for someone to get over having their children and husband killed? Do you have kids? I dont' care if it happened in 1996 or 1986. It's your children!!! You don't just "get over" that. So what if she talks about them in teh present tense? Did it ever occur to you that they are alive in spirit? Did it ever cross your mind that it's a defense mechanism that helps her survive. I cannot believe you said her demeanor was "unsettling" because she was smiling. Ever heard of positive thinking? That is how she survives. She tries to be positive. Smile and keep getting up every day. She is a SURVIVOR. To the writer of this article...when you lose all your children and spouse in an instant...then let us know how a person is SUPPOSED to act. I found this woman completely inspiring, positive, and amazing. I think you have issues to write an article like this. Shame on you.

I'm pretty sure Abby won't get to read this, but what the heck, here goes, anyway.

Abby, I don't need to lose weight, but I will say you are an absolute trooper. I don't watch tv anymore (it's been some 10 years), but reading this story brought tears to my eyes when I think about the times I thought things were rough for me and I didn't want to keep going, either. I'm embarrassed to admit it now, though, having read this article. You knocked my socks off and I'll remember to be a little more grateful now, even when the chips are down. I'm pulling for you, in every positive aspect you find in your life, right now. You go girl!

I wept last night at Biggest Loser during her story, and frankly even today after I was retelling it to a friend. I hugged my daughter so close this morning and thought of her, and how she can't do that. But her motivation and determination to not give up on life, has completely jump started me. I'm on track to lose weight again because of her. If she can do it, I certainly can too. I wish her nothing but success, happiness, and peace.

The foul language used by Jillian was way overboard. I almost turned the chanel 2 times when she as demeaning the contestants with curse words. She used to be a pretty, and fit woman. Now she is just ugly.

Abby is an inspiration. She is still here for some reason and I hope she finds that purpose. How strong must one be to endure that loss and still be able to see light at the end of the tunnel. Best of Luck Abby and to anyone who has the courage to step up and make a change.

My husband and I love the biggest loser, but if the foul language continues (even though it gets bleeped out) we will no longer be watching the show.

The events of last week surrounding Annie Le and then watching Abby on Biggest Loser last night (I am a huge fan of the show) were a reminder that any type of tragedy could befall any one of us. Both stories are utterly heartbreaking, and my wife, as she watched Abby tell her story, was in tears. We have no kids, got married last year, and yet here's 1 person who was just on the cusp of starting, and 1 person who had it all taken away. (Also recall the man in San Diego whose family was killed when a fighter jet crashed landed on his house.)

As many have already expressed, I am also 100% pulling for Abby and hope she goes far.

It's funny. You watch crime shows and they always point out that a person who isnt greiving a loss refers to the person in past tense. A husband kills his wife and he says "I LOVED my wife". They jump on the past tense of love. Still to this day I refer to my mother in present tense and she died almost 20 years ago. I am not overly religious but I do believe her spirit is with me at all times so she is NOW, not in the past.

You do not know how you will react to something, how you will cope with something, how strong you can be until you have to do it. She is not in denial, she is strong and facing things head on. She has experienced the worst thing a mother can experience and there is nothing on the planet that can be more painful, why can't she smile when she is crying? The event is saddening but her memories are not.

Nice moving story.

The show's foul language is but another manifestation of how American civility is going down the drain: Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Jillian...and that's just this week.

I go to the gym daily and see people pay for personal trainers who use positive motivation. I guess if it's free and on TV anything goes.

Abby is a true inspiration to ALL human beings. I too feel saddened with her loss and feel that her demeanor last night was not "unsettling" but very positive. Things happen for a reason and God has given her a purpose to be here on earth for the time being. I agree 110% with you H!!

As far as the profanity from Jillian, needs to be taken down a few notches. My 13 and 12 year olds were watching and they even commented on her many bleeps. You can get your point across with your yelling minus the F bombs. Encouraging and berating are two different spheres.

I hope NBC realizes that this is a show younger viewers watch so keep it clean and stay on a positive track.

I died at hearing her about Abby's story - I wonder if I could ever be that strong.

BUT...what were they thinking, putting highly overweight people through a one mile "race", then two of them wind up in the hospital? INSANE.

I lost my son almost 3 years ago. He was 32 years old and left behind a wife and two very small children. My heart breaks still today when I think of him, but there are some moments of smiling when i remember who he was. The pain never goes away, but life certainly does go on. I so admire Abby for doing this and trying to take back her life. going through my tragedy I can now understand how people slip into depression. While her heart is broken for her loss she is still alive and God does have a purpose for her. I'm amazed at her strength having lost 3 of her family members. I am so in her corner and hope she reaches all of her goals. Perhaps Jillian will break through and help her emotionally in some way. She seems to have a way of doing that. You go Abby!!!!! God Bless you.

Many of us who know Abby personally continue to feel her tremendous pain... Her faith and belief in God gives her the strength to persevere...............no matter how hard every day is. We are all in your corner, Abby...........you go girl! We know you can do this! What a fabulous beginning already. And I know you will block out all of Jill's unnecessry profanity. I agree with others, to encourage people does not require foul language!

I too think Jillian needs to curb the foul language. I almost turned it to another channel last night when the bleep, bleep, bleeps kept coming. Wouldn't it be a shame for the show to be cancelled because viewers stop watching due to her lack of self control. She is a great trainer, and I understand that you need to break some people's mentality of "I can't", but if she wants to use this language, perhaps she should join the military and become a boot camp instructor. TV is no place for profanity.

I too like everyone else felt my heart break for Abby when I watched her last night, and in the same heartbeat found her so inspirational. To be able to find that little light in every small act she accomplishes is most admirable. I still get goosebumps when I recall her comments at the weigh in. I will be watching her hopefully right to the final episode! Good luck to you Abby!

PS re the comment posted by H....It wasn't the writer who said that Abby was in denial, it was Jillian.

I love Abby and I cried,but I can't stand Jillian and now Bob because of their language. I tried to watch the show with my children ages 4 & 6 and they kept wondering why the TV is bleeping when they talked. They kept pointing out the 2 mean people (Bob and Jillian) and my son kept asking how "G" (Shay) and the "lady in the hospital" was doing. NOTE to Bob--if it discourages you how fat America is getting remember what ages it starts possibly 4 & 6 years old and try to be a role model by keeping it clean and motivating. Watching the show, why would my children even want to work out?

I am glad to see that others feel the same way that I do about the verbal abuse from Jillian. Why would she grab somebody by their shirt and pull them around like that? These people are already at one of lowest point in their life then to finally make this life changing decision to come on TV for the world to see them at their worst and then to be verbally abused is unexusable. There were times when I wanted to change the channel myself. Was the yelling and degrading really necessary?

On one of my blogs it says, "Not a lot on the outside, but alot on the inside."
It is a same that you, Jillian and Bob, only care about the outside. I'm
overweight and you are a mean human being and I can lose weight, but you will never change.

When I heard Abby's story, my heart just broke...How?? How can a woman move forward and make this huge commitment in such a short time since her family passed away??? I am so looking to her for inspiration, not to lose weight, but because I lost my 21 yr old daughter three months ago and find it incredibly painful to put one foot in front of the other at times. I find Abby REMARKABLE. Thank you for giving us all hope in learning how to live through difficult times. God Bless you!

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