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HOME > The Biggest Loser > The Biggest Loser 14

Dannielle "Danni" Allen: Food deprivation is what gets to you, you need to splurge a little


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/22/2013 

The Biggest Loser crowned Dannielle "Danni" Allen its fourteenth-season champion during Monday night's live finale of the NBC reality weight-loss competition.

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Danni, a 26-year-old advertising account coordinator from Wheeling, IL, began the competition at 258 pounds and weighed-in at 137 pounds during the finale -- giving her a 121-pound weight-loss that won her the show's $250,000 grand prize.

Jeff Nichols, a 24-year-old pharmaceutical representative from Monroe, MI, finished as the runner-up, while Jackson Carter, a 21-year-old volunteer coordinator for LGBT resource center and movie theater assistant manager from Layton, UT, claimed third place.

During a Tuesday conference call with reporters, Danni talked to Reality TV World about her The Biggest Loser experience and victory. To read what she had to say to us specifically, click here. Below are some additional details from Danni's call. For more, click here.

Can you talk a little bit about the bond that you formed with Jillian Michaels while you were on the ranch?

Danni Allen: Certainly. You know, I think the best thing that could ever happen for me is I can actually call Jillian Michaels not just a trainer, but a friend. And you know, she was there for me 100% percent.

Yes, she was my trainer. She was there for the physical part, but she was also my therapist. She was there to really help work on me mentally, because she knew we couldn't get anywhere without fixing what was behind the scenes and what had been guarded.

And once we got that process, it became a great bonding moment, because she would share and expose her demons and stuff. You know, Jillian Michaels seems like this hard, rough exterior, but she is a beautiful person inside and out. And just when she shared and exposed her stories, that made me feel comfortable to really open myself up, and you know, we both kind of exposed ourselves to each other.

And with that, I think we developed a bond and a trust for each other that we knew that if we just confided and trusted in each other, we could -- we can do amazing things and miracles would happen. And I truly for the first time, she helped me learn what it was like to dream again, and I will be truly and eternally grateful for that. She is one of the best people I have been able to surround myself by.

What's been the proudest moment that you've had during this whole journey?

Danni Allen: There are so many moments, but I think one of my favorite really and proudest was -- just because it really showed the hard work -- was one time, there was one time that I think they showed.

I was sitting in my room with my mom and my sister and going through my old clothes, and I held up my fat jeans, and they almost wrapped completely around me, and that was only at the makeover stage, and I just remember feeling the proof is in the pudding, you know?

I'm holding up a size 20 jean, yet I'm standing here in a size 10 at the time, and now I'm talking to you and I'm a size 4. So it's just like, when you can hold those up -- I'm actually making a shadowbox of three sets of jeans, my biggest pair of jeans, my makeover jeans, the jeans I sang in during that challenge, and then my new size 4 jeans.

It's like that perfect display, and that was one of the culminating moments that just visually put it in there, and that's one of the things that Jillian taught me, is you do have to visualize something to really believe it.

I just loved that moment, when my jeans wrapped around my waist. And I had a moment last night with [Subway's Jared] talking about our jeans, and we said we'd bring them with each other to our Subway commercial that we'll be doing.

What did it take for you to be motivated enough to lose the weight and to finally make that change to be more healthy?

Danni Allen: You know, I think one of the biggest things that I had gone through right before this whole experience was my father was put into the hospital and in the ICU and it was too scary of a moment where I thought I was going to lose my dad, and he turned 50 years old in that hospital bed.

And I knew that I was very much like my dad, and if I continued the lifestyle that I was living, I would end up too in the hospital at 50 years old -- which should be halfway through my life, not ending my life. And with the miracle of him turning around and starting to get his life back together, I knew I needed a change.

And when I tried out for The Biggest Loser, it was just supposed to be my turning -- you know, my ignition to light the fire. And it ended up being my miracle and that was one of the biggest things. It was like, you know, The Biggest Loser was there to give me the tools because I knew I was ready for the change.

How has The Biggest Loser experience changed the way you've eaten? Like, did they teach you different styles or something that we can relate to, maybe?

Danni Allen: Yes, certainly. I mean, the best thing that they taught us is learning -- learn your food. You know, don't go just by the basics of what you read in a book, and it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle, right?

You have to actually know what you're doing, and the best thing that The Biggest Loser gave us are the tools to experiment with great food. You know, we cook in the kitchens together. We tried different things, and many times they sucked.

We're like, "Ugh, that's not something we want to try," but we knew we didn't like it so we tried something else until we found something we liked. The best thing you can do is find something you like. You can't force something down. It's just not going to work. So we were able to give the tools of what we knew was healthier.

And then you know, Jillian helped break down for me what time of days you should eat, so when you're having carbs, those should be at breakfast, because you have the rest of the day to burn it off and you kind of have the king, queen, pauper mentality. You eat like a king at breakfast, queen at lunch and a pauper at dinner, because you don't have as much time to burn it off.

So when I keep those visualizations, then I know exactly when I should be eating a certain food, and it kind of helps me realize it turns it into that lifestyle of "I know what I can and cannot eat." And then you know, we did have our splurges, too. You know, you can't just deprive yourself. Deprivation is what's going to get you.

Can you tell us a little bit in detail about your exercise routine since the show and where you work out around Chicago and a little bit more about this trainer that you've been utilizing?

Danni Allen: Sure. When I was in Chicago honestly, Jillian was just like, "Run your ass to China." It was a lot, a lot of cardio, because she wanted to make sure -- she was happy about the 19 pounds of muscle. But like, you know, let's stop it there. We need to make sure you keep losing weight, so I honestly mostly did spin classes and running while I was home and then swimming as well.

So it's all cardio, cardio, cardio, and then I had some fun every once in a while and threw in some salsa funk. And you know, I just developed a team of like trainers there. They weren't necessarily training me, but they were joining me, and having those people side by side.

Like [my trainer] that I mentioned before, she runs with me every single day, and I have my spin instructor, and she’s just amazing as well, so it’s just like, I surrounded myself around the people that I knew I could trust to keep me going, and that I knew were going to be there afterwards too, because you know, this didn't end on finale night. It was going to be continued further after that.

What gym do you go to?

Danni Allen: I went to Lifetime Fitness in Vernon Hills... It's a great place, a great environment, and they have helped me with all their -- all the people there and then the community.

I grew up there, and so I have people from my high school that show up and are just there to kind of give me support, and that was the best part. If you can set yourself up around the people that are going to help you maintain your lifestyle, that's the best thing you can do because that's how you're going to keep it.

Do you think in hindsight maybe being the only member of the White Team was the best thing that ever happened to you?

Danni Allen: Honestly, I hate to say it in the sense that it was the most heartbreaking thing to lose my entire team, but at the same time I think -- or looking back at it now, I think it was the best thing that could have ever happened, because it forced me to confront myself and I was the girl that had the disease to please. I was always worrying about everyone else and not worrying enough about myself.

Well when my team left, I had no one else to worry about but myself, and I was finally able to put into perspective that you have to help yourself before you can help anyone else, because you need to be the best. [Hannah Curlee] from Season 11 taught me, there's only one Danni.

You have to be the best Danni, so be the best Danni out there, because that Danni is the one that's going to help people go forward. And that's what I had to learn, and that's -- I learned it the hard way, but sometimes the hard way is the best way.

You mentioned this as well. We saw you singing in public earlier in the season. Is that something you want to do more of? Do you want to do more singing, or was it just kind of a one-off thing?

Danni Allen: No, honestly, I do think I want to keep on singing. Now do I want to be, you know, a famous singer? I don't know. I just know the feeling that I get when I'm onstage. You do get that amazing rush, but I'm hoping that you know, as time goes on and the confidence keeps building, my fear will slowly start to go down and I can truly just enjoy what singing makes me feel like.

It kind of does expose you, but there's an exciting exposed feeling, and it's just -- I love it, you know? It's something silly. It's something that kind of takes my mind away from the everyday world, and I just -- I do love it, so I would like to keep exploring that as well, as well as other options that are coming my way.

Because you were so good as well. I was really impressed.

Danni Allen: Oh, thank you. I watched it again. I was like, "Whoo, that started off really shaky," but you know, I did -- I think I hit it in the end, which is kind of the story of this show. It's rocky in the beginning but that last note can save it.

Danni, can you tell us a little bit about these demons that you keep talking about? Can you give us an example?

Danni Allen: Certainly. I think one of my biggest demons was my feeling of not being deserving. A lot of times, you know, growing up, I really thought that I didn't deserve the great life that I had.

I never had to worry about food on the table or the roof over my head or enough money to be able to play soccer and do anything I wanted to do. My family was able to take care of me, and one thing is, you know, we were also kept grounded. So I was like, "What did I do?" I was just born in the right house.

I didn't do enough to deserve it. You know, "What did I do to deserve it?" So I always felt like I had to work so much harder because I didn't do anything to deserve it. Well, you know, being me is enough to deserve anything, and as long as you're a good person and you can do what you can to pay it forward, that's enough. And I just had to realize, "You are enough," you know? "And you can be more."

So once I got over that feeling of undeservedness, and just really felt like, why? It was always the, "Why me?" I kept saying, well, "Why me? Why did I get this? Why was I lucky enough to have this?"

And I'm like, you know what? "Why not me? And why can't I go for that one in a million opportunity?" There's one, right? At least there's a chance. You can't get something if you don't try, and so the "Why me?" turned into the "Why not me?"

I was wondering if you have any new favorite foods now that you've been completely immersed in 100% percent healthy eating.

Danni Allen: Yes, you want to know what my funny favorite food is? And I bet everyone's going to make fun of me and wince their nose, but I absolutely love brussel sprouts, because I've found so many ways to cook them now because they were just my one go to food. I love them.

Anything else?

Danni Allen: Oh, there's plenty of foods that I absolutely love. I wanted to make new things with cauliflower, like cauliflower mash. They're just absolutely -- you know, I'm an experimenter. I think the one thing I really do want to somehow indulge in is maybe some culinary arts, because I really want to learn more about food. I've been able to manipulate food.

I think that's the best thing you could ever do. If you could make a vegetable not look and taste like a vegetable, you are truly a chef. And so, I think I've become a chef in this process, as experimenting with food and just finding new things to eat, but I'm not going to lie.

At the end of the day, I still needed my nibble -- not every day, but the nibble of dark chocolate, because that is my simple food. It just makes me feel -- "Ah, I got my bite of dark chocolate."

I read something this morning online and I didn't know whether it was true or not, but it mentioned something about you perhaps pursuing a reality dating show.

Danni Allen: I don't know how that came about. I don't remember saying anything like that, no. I do not plan on doing any reality dating. I think I need to just you know, concentrate on myself right now.

A lot of people are focusing on the fact that I'm single and what am I going to do with it, but right now, I'm just enjoying being me. So no, I would love to put the kibosh on that because I don't want to do a reality dating show.

Above are some additional highlights from Danni's Tuesday conference call with reporters. To read what she had to say to Reality TV World specifically, click here. For more from her call, click here.



(Photo credit NBC)


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