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'The Biggest Loser': Meet your new trainers, plus a shocking night on the scale

January 19, 2011 | 11:32 am

Trainers The most shocking "Biggest Loser" weigh-in. Ever. Am I right?

Twin brothers Dan and Don apparently do everything together. They both work in law enforcement. Both gained more 100 pounds of excess fat. And both managed to gain nine apiece in their third week at "The Biggest Loser" ranch. They insisted they did not game the weigh-in, but do you think that's true? Dan was clearly looking for any way he could take to leave the ranch, even saying that he would volunteer to save another player from the chopping block if the "game" would let him. So he had motive. Let's hope we'll gain more insight Wednesday when Dan holds a media conference call.

Here's my question: We know Dan was in the gym each day busting his behind. So what the heck did he eat and drink to gain that much weight? (Maybe he water loaded, a la Season 4's Neil. I still think this week's was the more shocking weigh-in because I did not expect shenanigans from the twins.) We do have to give Dan this much: He ultimately did what he said he would: He's gone home and lost weight on his own, finally.

But let's get down to the real business at hand: How do you like your new trainers, America? (Other than the fact that they are kind of "hard" on the eyes. As in, it's "hard" to look away.) Do you deem Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova suitable replacements for Jillian when she leaves after this season? We've  had only a glimpse so far of their workout approach and philosophies, but it seems to be working. Will these two upstarts be able to play nicely with top dog Bob?

I interviewed both Brett and Cara on a cold morning at the ranch recently, here are some of the highlights:

If you looked at Brett and thought, "Hmmmmm, he looks familiar," it could be because he has been featured in magazines, including Vogue, has been named one of the best trainers and life coaches in New York and helps keep Victoria Secret supermodels in bikini shape. But he's also the RevAbs guy from late-night TV. His "real" credential, though, is this: He trains Jillian in the art of capoeira, which combines martial arts and elements of dance. And when she found out he was trying out for the gig, "she got right on the phone and called some people. I kinda went to the front of the line after that."

The New Jersey native says he can identify with the players on two fronts. First, he's adopted. And though he grew up in a loving, supportive family, he understands the emotional struggles that some of the players go through: Am I good enough? Am I worth it? He was also overweight himself and lost about 50 pounds in high school. "I've been where a lot of these folks have been, so I understand," he said.

Brett was on a premed track when he realized that he wanted a career in fitness. His family raised its eyebrows, then supported him every step of the way. Brett said he plans to build the players' trust and confidence by "walking the walk": "I don't just tell them what exercises to do, I go out there and lead them. I don't ask them to do anything that I'm not doing. I'm not just blowing whistles. I'm the guy out front."

Brett, who is 5-foot-10 and weighs 160 pounds, said he has two guiding principles that he tries to impart to his students. "The No. 1 thing is believe in yourself. But the problem is, these are not people who have the mental, physical and emotional ability to do that. They just don't believe in themselves. So that's my job. And in my world, it's not 'seeing is believing.' It's 'doing is believing.' So I get them to do things that they don't believe they can do. And when they do it, I tell them, 'Man, if that doesn't validate you, I don't know what will.' And we build from there."

For the viewer at home, he said there is no secret to fitness. "Just find something you like. There has to be something out there that you like to do. It can be anything that gets you moving. Exercise does not have to be something you hate. Make it something you enjoy doing, and then you never have to 'work' out."

It's been hard to keep the secret that he was one of the "unknown" trainers. "It's been tough. I wanted to jump up and down and tell everyone." He said he feels blessed to be on the set -- and hopes it will turn into a permanent gig. "This is one of the most coveted -- actually, the most coveted -- job in fitness. It's an honor to be here. I don't know what the future will hold, but I want to end up on the show to help America with this obesity problem that we have."

Cara said she is "still pinching herself" after joining the "The Biggest Loser." She doesn't own a TV and hadn't followed the show all that closely. She came to the attention of producers who saw her in a documentary about female boxers. No doubt her good looks caught their eye, but so did her titles: She is a two-time Golden Gloves winner and at one point was ranked as a No. 2 boxer in her weight class by USA Boxing.

As a girl, Cara was taught to box by her father. She dabbled in it because he -- a former Marine -- enjoyed it so much, but she never thought it would end up being a career. But when Cara was a teenager, her father, who struggled with obesity, died suddenly due to complications related to his weight. She found herself drawn to the ring as a way to keep him closer, but also as a way to combat the loss. At first, she was just training other boxers. Then, she began fighting -- and meeting with success. "Even though I had been boxing, I had no idea I could beat somebody in the ring. And I had no idea I could really take a punch. When I realized that, I really started taking off."

She stands 5-foot-5 and weighs about 120 pounds. She has never had a problem with her weight but  said that will not keep her from connecting with the obese contestants on the show. Instead, she helps them see how their weight adversely affects other family members, especially their children. "I lost my father to obesity as a young girl. I can tell them how much I lost." Cara's mother died in a car accident four years ago, leaving her to take care of her aunt, who also struggles with weight, and her younger brothers. The unexpected loss of both parents, plus family obligations, also helps her relate to players who feel like life is just closing in on them and is just too hard.

But most of all, she says, she connects to them through boxing.

"I don't care who you are or what you have gone through -- everyone has something they are fighting for," she said. "Boxing helps them see that. A lot of these people have given up. There's no fight in them. You can just tell by looking at them. Well, It's my job to keep pushing them to fight again, to fight for their lives. And what better way to do that than through boxing."  

Cara said she was filled with anxiety during the shooting of the season's first episode, fearing that no one -- absolutely no one -- would choose the unknowns. But when they did, she said she felt relieved. "I just said, 'Thank God.' "

To the person at home looking to banish bad eating habits, Cara said this: Don't worry so much about why you are eating (because, if you are like most people, it's not a big mystery: You eat because of stress, frustration, etc.). Instead, she says, focus on the habits themselves -- eating ice cream before bed, eating too much fast food, etc. -- and look for ways to reprogram yourself.

"I know that when I get stressed, I want to eat junk food. So now I just know -- 'I'm stressed, I want to eat junk food, so I'm going to go workout instead, or eat something healthy.' It really works."

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / rene lynch

Photo: NBC

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