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'The Biggest Loser': As the country song says, I'm gonna miss her

February 10, 2010 | 12:13 pm

Colorado Maybe I was out of the room getting a bowl of ice cream. But did I miss the part where aliens come in and replace the manipulative Melissa with a gritty, charming and sweet model that looks just like her?!

I know that just last week I was giddy at the thought of Melissa getting bounced. So I should be thrilled after she gained -- gained! -- a pound while spending the week working out at the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Instead, I actually felt ... sad. Is it possible that deft editing kept us from seeing this other side of Melissa? And is it possible that she really wasn't trying to manipulate the game early on? After all, how in the world did she gain weight this week? She certainly didn't try to get herself eliminated in a week where two people were going home, right? (Although, this did briefly cross my mind: Is she trying to get sent home because she thinks she has a shot at the at-home prize? But she just doesn't have enough weight to lose.)

Who was this Melissa who dug deep during the sliding board challenge, and then, when it became clear that she was going home, gave us a glimpse of the woman that Lance must have fallen in love with?

From the scale, Melissa asked all the players to take care of her husband and not to send him home until he was in the 250s -- she has alluded again and again to the fact that Lance's weight was "a huge issue in their marriage." And she told her husband that she didn't want him worrying about her, or the kids, because she would take care of everything at home. His job was to stay focused on himself and stay at the ranch for as long as he could. "I'm going home, don't you follow me," she gently, tearfully chided her husband. He  finally answered the sweet haranguing with a "No, ma'am," that earned him some chuckles.

And then, Melissa did the remarkable. She walked over to Jillian, and, seemingly without any resentment, hugged her hard.

In the "where are they now" segment Melissa looked downright glamorous, and she now weighs 175 pounds. She insisted once again that there was no game playing "every bit of that was real," she said, and added that folks can learn from her journey. Just keep doing the right thing, and the weight will come off -- maybe not in record time, but it will come off: "What I want people to realize is, give it time," she said. Last week, it would have killed me to say this. This week, I say it and I mean it: Congratulations, Melissa, maybe I was wrong about you all along. And looking forward to seeing less of you at the finale.

Other highlights:

--Speaking of glamorous. Miggy is changing before our eyes, and the years seem to be rolling backward.

--The wackiest challenge yet: Holding a torch on your head.

--I know this is all very much an NBC tie-in, but it was great seeing such Paralympic and Olympic athletes such as Allison Jones -- even Jillian seemed inspired -- and Julia Mancuso, Jeret "Speedy" Peterson and Kelly Underkofler. So cliche, but so true: if Jones and Underkofler can accomplish what they do while missing a limb, what excuse do the rest of us have?

--The Olympic setting -- and the lighting of the torch -- seemed to specially ignite the competitor in O'Neal: "That sparked the torch in my heart. Let the games begin." And it did --  he went on to win the week's biathlon-esque challenge.

--Quote of the week, courtesy of Lance: "It's crazy that being fat got me to the Olympics."

--Koli getting real, recognizing his tendency to run and turn to food when things get too tough. He's decided to make a different choice: Instead of running away, he's going to run into it.

--The contestants dodged a bullet: How could anyone possibly choose between Darrell and Cheryl?

--Michael is a monster. While he did not reach his goal of losing 100 pounds in six weeks, he came pretty darn close. And he apparently was bitten by a spider -- did you see how he climbed that wall....backwards!

--And let's not overlook Darris, who, despite being perceived as a bit of a slacker, has nonetheless lost the largest percentage of his body weight so far on campus.

--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo caption: The challengers file into the training center. Photo credit: NBC Universal