The most dramatic transformations ever seen on The Biggest Loser

Since its 2004 premiere, The Biggest Loser inspired contestants to do more than just lose a lot of weight. The reality TV competition examined the underlying causes of excessive weight gain, often uncovering deep emotional trauma that started these folks on the path to obesity. Of course, the literal tons of pounds shed over the years can't be ignored, like Season 8 winner Danny Cahill's astounding 239 pound drop, or Season 15 champ Rachel Frederickson leaving 155 pounds behind to walk away from the finale at a svelt 105. 

Others found inner healing, such as Abby Rike's emotional journey to recovering from the death of her husband and two children. Michelle Aguilar's transformation was also family-related, as the show allowed her a chance to reunite with her estranged mother over the shared goal of of shedding weight. Whatever the reasoning, and whatever their motivation, these contestants turned in the biggest transformations in the history of The Biggest Loser.

Bill Germanakos: From baklava to built

Bill Germanakos said during Season 4 of the show that his 334-pound frame gave him "a body built by baklava," (per People). By the end of 2007, the Long Island native melted 164 pounds from his frame, leaving a body built of muscle and an additional $250k in his pocket. "After living my entire adult life obese," Germanakos said during the finale, "this place has given me the strength and the knowledge to know that I can do it. ... The Biggest Loser campus is a place where hope stays alive, and where dreams come true."

Putting the (low fat) icing on the cake, was Bill's twin brother, Jim, taking home the $100k prize as the top Loser outside the final four. As of 2010, the brothers were still going strong, teaching a "twin spin" class, according to a YouTube video posted to Jim Germanakos' account.

"My mantra on the show was to be- come half the man so I could be- come twice the man. Now, I'm trying to reach that second half by trying to educate people," Bill Germanakos said in an interview with Newsday in 2010.

America watches Abby Rike heal

Abby Rike didn't come close to dropping the most weight during her Season 8: Second Chances appearance. But in a season filled with inspirational stories, Rike's mental and spiritual transformation was perhaps the most moving in the show's history. Her heartbreaking path began with four simple words in 2006: "We found no survivors," Rike wrote in her book "Working It Out: A Journey of Love, Loss and Hope," (per Today) about losing husband, 5-year-old daughter, and two-week-old son in a car crash near her Mabank, Texas home.

"My choice to apply for TBL was never about aesthetics," Rike told CBN. "I learned that health and wellness have so much to do with healing. Losing the weight made me a more complete person."

While Rike dropped significant weight during her time on The Biggest Loser ("around 86 pounds," she said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show), her spiritual transformation was so dramatic, she volunteered to be voted off the show after Week 7 in order to save fellow contestant who were "on the cusp of breakthroughs." She explained the decision to Reality Wanted, saying, "Though I have suffered a great tragedy, I feel like I have been equally blessed. My journey was about feeling, loving, and living again and I am!"

Rachel Frederickson's transformation causes controversy

Rachel Frederickson had the most dramatic — and perhaps controversial — weight loss journey of any contestant in the history of the show. When she stepped on the scale during the season finale, her astonishing 155-pound weight loss during Season 15 brought her down to 105 pounds, putting an extra $250k in her pocket, but simultaneously touching off debates as to whether she was actually too thin.

"If Rachel lost her weight through hard work and determination, I definitely applaud her efforts. However, to lose 60% of your body weight in a short period of time can be unhealthy," doctor and best-selling author Ian Smith told USA Today in 2014.

While Frederickson admitted to being a little over-zealous leading up to the final weigh-in, the voice-over actor from Los Angeles assured fans of the show that she lost nearly 60 percent of herself the right way. "I dieted and exercised and did it healthy the whole way. I appreciate all the concern, and I can see where it comes from," Frederickson told Today.

Her drastic weight loss and the controversy that ensued led her to being named one of Today's 2014 Voices "I was there to get my life back. I knew if I worked hard every day...I could do it. I'm a competitor. I could win," she wrote in her essay.

Allen Smith used fear to drive him

Allen Smith's transformation on Season 8: Second Chances was a matter of life and death. Clearly, Smith's health was at risk, as he tipped the scales at a staunch 325 pounds when he began the show, but he also had a direct impact on those he would come in contact with on a daily basis as a firefighter/EMT. The fear of losing his job because of his weight, or worse yet, costing someone their life inspired Smith to make a weighty change.

"If someone needs to be saved and I impede the progress of getting to them, then that person's going to die and I never want to say, 'You know, 'cause Allen couldn't get his fat a** out of the way,'" Smith said on the show in September 2009 (per WTHR).

While he finished one spot shy of making it to the finale, Smith dropped nearly 100 pounds and put to rest his fears about his job. He told Digital Spy that he drew a lot of inspiration from teammate Abby Rike. "Life will throw you some curve balls and kick you when you're down but you have to stand up, dust yourself off and say, 'Here I am.'"

"My values, my priorities have all changed," Smith told Diets in Review after the finale. "Just know that I'm back to the Allen of old. And I really wanna stay here."

Michelle Aguilar lost more in emotional baggage

Michelle Aguilar's victory during Season 6: Families was about so much more than weight loss or the $250k top prize. America watched along as the Fort Worth, Texas native shed much more in emotional baggage. Her journey began with a phone call from her mother saying she was leaving her father. "I didn't know how to deal with my pain. ... I couldn't help but think that her leaving — that it meant that there was something wrong with me," Aguilar, a devout Christian, said in a video video posted to her YouTube channel.

Aguilar and her mother, Renee Wilson, hadn't spoken in nearly six years when Aguilar asked Wilson to join her on the show. "I was still trying to wrap my brain around the idea of doing anything with my mom," Aguilar told CBN of the tough decision. And while their strained relationship was evident from their introductory video, so too was their want to repair that relationship. But the unorthodox attempt at reconciliation apparently worked, as Wilson was the first person (aside from trainer Jillian Michaels) that Aguilar hugged after stepping off the scale and being crowned the winner at the live finale.

"The weight loss is tremendous, but the stuff I worked on on the inside means the most to me," Aguilar told Today. The 110 pounds Aguilar lost was amazing to watch, but her emotional transformation on the show, was worth every commercial.

Rebecca Meyer finds love with fellow contestant

Rebecca Meyer found a lot more than a new body during her weight loss journey in Season 8. After shedding 139 pounds from her 270-pound starting frame, she pocketed $100k as the show's at-home winner, and debuted a whole new look at the finale (per People). But more importantly, Meyer found love with fellow contestant Daniel Wright.

But it wasn't love at first sight for the duo. "We didn't really like each other all that much in the beginning," Meyer told People (per the New York Daily News). Their love didn't begin to bloom until after they both were sent home. After being named the at-home winner, Meyer began singing a different tune. "Daniel and I are moving in together, and now we — I have a down payment for an apartment," Meyer joked in an interview following the season finale.

The two lost a combined 250 pounds during Season 8 and went on to marry in 2012 (per Hollywood Life). Unfortunately, the couple's wellness goals suffered a tragic blow when Wright was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017. He died May 26, 2019 at age 30. 

Former contestant Courtney Crozier Respess shared a message of condolence and a link to a GoFundMe page on Facebook (via People): "Please keep him & his beautiful, amazing, and beyond strong wife Rebecca Wright in your prayers ... Rebecca will need all of us to lift her up now & for the months & years to come."  

Erik Chopin transforms Miss America-style

Erik Chopin knows about dramatic transformations. The Season 3 champ topped 49 other contestants as the representative from New York in the Miss America-styled competition, shedding an astounding 214 pounds from his 407-pound frame. Bottoming out at 193 pounds, the deli owner appeared ready to continue his newfound healthy lifestyle. "Nothing could stop me from reaching my goal," Chopin told the Bucks County Courier Times. "I felt like [winning] was my destiny at that time."

Shortly after the show, however, doubt began to creep in. "I started making excuses like 'just this big dinner once. Just this pizza with hot wings once,'" he told the New York PostUnfortunately for Chopin, like so many other contestants, when the lights of The Biggest Loser went out, the weight started to come on. "After about a year and a half, I started to put the weight on," he told US Magazine. "And within another year and a half ... I got back to 368 pounds."

His weight gain and notoriety led Chopin to have his own reality show, Confessions of a Reality Show Loser, on Discovery Health, during which he aimed to drop the weight all over again. In 2018, InTouch Weekly reported that Chopin was back down to 245 pounds.

Ali Vincent makes most of second chance

Ali Vincent and her mom, Bette-Sue Birkland, were eliminated from Season Five in just the fourth episode. Her story could easily have ended there, but Vincent didn't give up her weight loss quest, and in a surprise move, the show brought her back into the competition mid-season.

"The 'a-ha!' moment for me was that healthy people are healthy because they choose to be," Vincent told the Phoenix New Times. After being eliminated, Vincent dropped another 30-plus pounds at home and got a second chance. "I say I created my own destiny, but we all know there was a writer's strike and NBC bought a couple extra episodes," Vincent joked to Kansas City Live! in 2012.

Whatever the reason for Vincent's return to the show, her second chance would prove quite lucrative, as the Mesa, Az. hairdresser dropped nearly 48 percent of her body weight to be crowned the Season Five champion. Besides becoming the first female champion on The Biggest Loser to that point, Vincent also found a whole new version of herself.

"I am a whole new woman. There are no limits. There are absolutely no limits and I started to dream big again," Vincent told Today shortly after her victory.

Toma Dobrosavljevic loses half himself

Toma Dobrosavljevic was a man equally as big as his name going into Season 16: Glory Days at a sturdy 336 pounds. While his name didn't get any shorter, the Addison, Illinois native lost over half of himself in taking home the title of Biggest Loser in dramatic fashion. The former soccer player stepped on the scale needing to lose 170 pounds to bring home the $250k grand prize. He made it, but just barely, dropping 171 pounds and taking the title by mere percentage points. At the final weigh-in, Dobrosavljevic pumped his now-muscular arms in the air and let out a scream.

"Knowing that I've lost, in the last year, over 200 pounds, it's just amazing. I started the show at 366 but at the beginning of the year I was 377 — to get to where I'm at, I've lost an entire person and a little bit more. It's unbelievable," Dobrosavljevic told US Magazine shortly after his win. According to People, Dobrosavljevic's "wake-up call" for needing to lose the weight call came "when his life insurance agent told him he was almost uninsurable because of his weight."

"It was the most amazing experience I've ever had in my life," the then-33-year-old said of his experience on the show to Today's Tamron Hall. "I think I've got a bright future ahead of me."

Danny Cahill was one of the Biggest Losers

Danny Cahill truly is a big loser. In fact, after his 239 pound weight loss in Season 8, he became the biggest loser in the show's history to that point. Cahill said (via a Q&A on his blog) he drew a lot of inspiration from his wife and two children during his run on the show. His wife, Darci, lost 60 pounds along with him and his daughter, Mary-Claire, who was one of the ultimate reasons for Cahill going on The Biggest Loser, dropped 10.

"The thing that flipped the switch for me was my daughter telling me that she wanted a fat belly like mine. That aside, I would have to say that it was my faith," the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native told CBN during a 2012 interview for his book Losing Big. "And here I am with a 69-inch waist, and she's saying she wants a belly like mine. It freaked me out. That's when I decided something needed to change.

Cahill's dramatic transformation from 430 pounds down to just 191 gave him a new lease on life, nevermind a slimmer body.

"Just to move from room to room was a task," Cahill told The Joy Behar Show the day after the finale. "Six months, three weeks ago, my blood pressure was through the roof. I was a walking time bomb. Now look at me."