Exclusive: Vicky Vilcan talks about her time on 'The Biggest Loser'
By John Bracchitta, 12/19/2008
Michelle Aguilar may have been the winner of The Biggest Loser: Families, but it was probably Vicky Vilcan who stole the show.
Vilcan, a 37-year-old anesthetist from Houma, LA, went on the NBC reality weight-loss show with her husband [Brady Vilcan] looking to lose weight together and improve the eating habits of their children. However, although she ended up making it to the show's finale and finishing in third place, viewers eventually came to know Vicky more for her portrayal as the biggest gameplayer and strategist in The Biggest Loser's history and less for her actual weight loss.
On Thursday, Vicky spoke to Reality TV World about how she feels she wasn't portrayed accurately on the show, what she thinks of trainer Bob Harper's comments about her, why she was so angry about her husband's sudden elimination from the competition, and how she and her husband had planned to win both of the finale's weigh-in prizes prior to their arrival at The Biggest Loser ranch.
Reality TV World: Do you think [Heba Salama] and yourself were portrayed accurately on the show?
Vicky: No, I really don't think that we were.
Reality TV World: What portions [your portrayal you do think] were inaccurate for you and Heba?
Vicky: Actually I think most of it was inaccurate unfortunately. I'd have to go through every single episode with you which would take probably a lot longer than the 15 minutes that we have to go through everything that was portrayed inaccurately.
Reality TV World: So if you feel it was [the editing], why do you think [The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper] was repeatedly shown talking about his concerns about how hard you had been playing the game?
Vicky: I think because that's exactly what the producers of the show wanted you to think about me and so that's why that is all they ever showed Bob talking about.
Reality TV World: Do you think Bob was playing along with the producers and making things up, or [are you saying] they were just selective about what they showed?
Vicky: I think that some of it was [the producers being] selective about what they showed. I definitely think that Bob definitely thinks that I was a big gameplayer. I was... I am pretty quiet [and kept] to myself for most of the time and so I did most of the work and really didn't talk to most of the people, except for Heba and Bob.
I would have to admit that the few things I did talk to Bob about were probably about the game, so, you know, it makes perfect sense that he would think that I was this big, huge gameplayer.
Reality TV World: How do you feel about Bob's comments that you are the biggest game player in The Biggest Loser history? Were you insulted by that or [did you find it] flattering?
Vicky: No, I think that women can play the game. I used my head more so than a couple other people did on the show, but it's not like I didn't do the work to stay there, you know? I didn't fall below the yellow line except for one gameplay penalty and I worked really, really hard to stay on the show.
I think that being a gameplayer was something that everybody did while they were on the show. I mean, Michelle gave me a penalty, [she] tried to play the game just like everybody did. I think that for me, it was just more focused on that.
Reality TV World: During your final week at the ranch, [Bob] also confronted you about how he was concerned that you'd been so focused on being the game's "puppetmaster" that you hadn't focused on finding out the emotional reasons behind your weight gain and ways to not have them crop up again once you got home. Why do you think it took you longer to get to the bottom of those issues than it seemed to for the other contestants?
Vicky: You know I'm not sure. I was really taken aback by Bob [when he] asked me those questions because I felt that I had learned a lot, and maybe that's when I first realized that I hadn't shared enough of myself with my trainer -- and really with other people except for Heba -- because I was just so focused and so determined on just working out.
Being on the ranch, to me, wasn't a vacation. It was getting a job done that I had to do, because every second I was away from my kids I was thinking "I need to make the most of this. I gotta work out as much as I can and learn as much as I can."
So other people would go and they would relax a little bit more, and I was always [like] "Let's go to the gym." When we were in New York, all I wanted to do was get to a gym because I felt like I was robbing my kids of my time unless I was really getting something accomplished towards my weight loss.
I think that maybe by [keeping] so much to myself and not opening up to other people as much is why Bob had that big feeling about me.
Reality TV World: So you didn't agree with [Bob's concerns] then?
Vicky: Well, yeah. I'm not saying that... (pauses) I definitely feel like I made the changes, I think I just didn't relay those to him as much as he would have liked.
Reality TV World: What type of reaction did you get from people as the season unfolded on TV?
Vicky: Most of the time people didn't recognize me. But the few people who did [I did get reactions from] it was either from family and friends that were just very, very supportive, or it was some stranger who was asking me if I was really that mean on TV.
But, for the most part, I really don't get a whole lot of people that see me or that wanna talk to me about it.
Reality TV World: You have mentioned that your busy daily life, from your work to your children, would make it difficult to maintain a daily workout regimine. Based on the videos shown in the finale, you seemed to struggle to continue losing the weight when you first got home but that clearly ended up changing before the finale -- how were you able to achieve that?
Vicky: For me, changing it was at Week 7 [at home] when I realized how sad I was that I was trying to work out the same I was at the ranch, because it was in my head that I had to work out 8-10 hours-a-day just like I did on the ranch. I could not keep that up at home and keep up my family life.
Then the show kinda started coming out, and seeing the editing on it, it just kinda hit me like "What are you doing? Am I really trying to be "The Biggest Loser" to represent this type of show that is portraying me so badly?"
I cut my workouts back a few hours per day -- I worked out an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening -- and I decided at that point that I was never gonna miss another soccer game. I was gonna be the mom that my kids needed me to be, and I wasn't gonna keep on focusing on trying to win a prize [from] this show that really wasn't worth it to me.
When I did that, the weight just sorta started coming off. Everything in my life just started... (pauses) All the pieces of the puzzle came together. I was a better mom, my kids had more of my attention. [Working out] two hours a day is definitely something I can keep up for the rest of my life, and it just all worked out for me so much better.
Reality TV World: You and [Phillip Parham] had that memorable argument when he returned to the ranch in Week 7, how long did that argument last, and were there parts of it that were not shown on the show?
Vicky: (Laughs) There were definitely parts of that argument that weren't shown on the show. But, I mean, Phillip is a good guy. I definitely don't think that I could live with Phillip again, but I think he's a really nice guy, He has intentions. I think he and his family definitely came out of this a winner just like [my husband Brady Vilcan] and I did. We partied it up after the finale and I've spoken with all of his family and friends. It's just, what you see on TV is played up for drama.
Reality TV World: [So] is there any "bad blood" between you two, or did you make up soon after?
Vicky: There is no "bad blood." I mean it's a TV show for cryin' out loud.
Reality TV World: During your time at the ranch, you also had a pretty memorable relationship with [Amy Cremen], who ironically ended up on your new Blue team after Heba decided to send Phil to the new Black team. Given she hadn't been working with Bob for very long, were you guys really surprised that she decided it was in her best interests to send Brady home?
Vicky: I don't trust people very easily, and so all week long I had been telling Bob and Heba and Brady that I really didn't think that, if Brady fell, Amy would keep him here, and they were like "She will, she promised she would."
So I think part of me wasn't surprised by what she did. You know, she went with her heart, it's what she felt she needed to do. I still think it was the wrong decision, but, you know, if it was right for her than it was her decision.
Amy and I made up from that, I still consider her a very good friend. When she ended up having to go home, that was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. I think Amy did fantastic.
Reality TV World: At that time you were playing the game very hard, as Bob said, so why did you hold such a grudge against Amy when she did that same, at that time at least?
Vicky: Well, I played the game by strategizing, but I never lied to anybody, and a lot of people think that I'm a liar because of the way the editing came out but I never lied. Yeah, I looked and said Michelle was the biggest threat and she's the person that should be voted out, but a lot of the gameplay you saw never really occurred. Brady and I never water-loaded [before the] weigh-ins, we never did those things [that made] us look like big giant gameplayers.
But I think that you can play the game and you can play it with integrity and not lie to people. So when Amy voted Brady out, I truly felt that she had lied to me and that's why I was so upset. But Amy and I talked it out, and she really thought I was lying to her. I guess if I thought that [then] I would lie back to somebody.
We really worked through it, we decided to come together as a team. Unfortunately the worst case scenario is what happened. Amy [fell below the yellow line] with Heba, two of my best friends and I didn't have a choice I had to vote out one of them.
I really didn't want to vote out either. Had Amy fallen with Ed it would've been easy, Ed would've went home. Anybody else but Heba [and] there would have been a very easy decision for me and she would have stayed. But unfortunately that's the way the worst case scenario happened for our team.
Reality TV World: After Brady was eliminated, Amy seemed to go out of her way to show you that she was still being loyal to you by keeping you around and sending Coleen home, but you didn't seem to see it that way. Can you explain how you perceived that vote?
Vicky: No, I absolutely saw it that way. Unfortunately when Amy went home they didn't show the whole answer [I gave], but what I said was "Does it come down to Brady being eliminated or you keeping Coleen over me." If Brady was still [on the ranch] I would've sent [him] home that week.
It came down to Heba and Amy, and I promised both of them and Amy understood that. There were no hard feelings when Amy left and I truly consider her a great friend.
I mean, they didn't show me crying and hugging Amy, but when Amy fell below that yellow line and she was standing on that scale I was crying just like she was and my heart was breaking. I did not do that out of vindictiveness.
Reality TV World: And [so] you think you would have saved her if someone other than Heba had been the other person in the bottom two?
Vicky: 100%, absolutely without a doubt. Had Amy fallen with anybody else but Heba Amy would have still been there. Had she fallen with Ed, I would've voted Ed out. I would have 100%. When I make someone a promise I keep it, I don't lie to people.
Reality TV World: You actually referenced this just a few [questions] ago, but before that vote in which Amy saved you, you two had a conversation in which you told her you if was going to be very hard for you to ever trust her again because "don't trust people." Can you go into some further detail about that?
Vicky: I just told her that I really appreciated what she was telling me when she apologized and that it was really hard for me to trust people, and she just smiled back and said that it was hard for her to trust people too, which is why the two of us weren't so sure about each other [at the beginning]. She trusted Heba 100% and I trusted Heba 100% and, like I said, I was kind to myself.
So I was always working out while everyone else was kinda making these relationships. I think that was probably my biggest thing, not letting her know that she could trust me. Yes I know that you can play the game, but you can play the game honestly, and when you make alliances with people and when you give them your trust they should be able to count on you.
So I think that was probably my biggest fault, and I actually told Amy that [she shouldn't take 100% of the responsibility for Brady going home] several times, and I felt that part of it was my fault for not letting her know that she could trust me more.
Reality TV World: Before that vote in which Amy saved you, you also mentioned that you'd be "very surprised" if she did so. Do you think you benefited from the fact that the elimination happened to quickly that [Coleen Skeabeck], Michelle and [Renee Wilson] didn't have the chance to talk with her before you guys went straight to the vote?
Vicky: I don't know. I think that had the week before it not gone so quickly that Brady would have been able to stay. I think that because it was consistent both weeks it would've been about the same. It wouldn't have made sense to let everybody deliberate [for] only one week. It would have either been Brady staying and me going home or vice-versa.
It's something that had to happen, and Brady and I never both planned on being in the finale anyway, so we always planned on sending him home and it was just a matter of when. Unfortunately it happened sooner than we expected.
Reality TV World: [So you and Brady not both going to the final weigh-in was] a plan that both of you had when you were both going into the ranch?
Vicky: Well we both just didn't want to be competing for the same prize and we thought it would be best to stay on the ranch as long as we could and learn as much as we could. But one or the other [would go home eventually so we could] compete for both [the $250,000 and the $100,000] prizes.
Reality TV World: Everyone we've talked to has spoken about your extreme knowledge of The Biggest Loser, exactly how avid a watcher of the show are you?
Vicky: Oh, I was, like probably the No. 1 fan. I've seen every episode. I was the girl sitting on the couch who just felt like it was either gonna be a [gastric bypass surgery] or getting on that show and that was the only thing that could save me. I was 100% convinced by it, and I totally believed it was 100% real and everything I saw on TV was real.
So this whole process for me has been like finding out that there's no Santa. It has truly been amazingly difficult because when [the episodes] started coming out and airing I was like "That didn't happen like that. I didn't smile when Jerry gained weight, I never did those things." So it was really, really a tough pill to swallow because me, of all people, probably thought this show was more inspirational than most people did. It was hard for me, not only because of the way I was portrayed, but the fact that favorite show was kinda fake.
Reality TV World: Before the competition started, you'd mentioned the fact that your kids were growing up overweight as one of the big reasons you'd wanted to do the show. How are they doing now?
Vicky: My kids are doing fantastic! As a family we go rollerskating and we exercise together, we don't eat out anymore. I mean if you look at the positives that happened to my family [because of] this show, they are huge, huge positives.
My daughter hasn't lost any weight, but I really don't think a five-year-old should go on a diet to lose weight and I'm just hoping that she grows into the size she is, and is eating healthier and more active, which is what we really wanted.
(Photo credit NBC)
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