Jerry Skeabeck eliminated from 'The Biggest Loser: Families'
By John Bracchitta, 10/01/2008
After encountering a new health issue and a twist in the competition's elimination process, Jerry Skeabeck, a 51-year-old police sergeant from Cleveland, OH, became the first individual contestant eliminated from The Biggest Loser: Families during last night's broadcast of the NBC reality series' third episode.
Rather than eliminating an entire two-person team through the show's usual voting process, Tuesday's broadcast instead forced the week's least successful family to send one of its own members home.
Once faced with the decision, Jerry -- who had been on a reduced training regimen during his stay at The Biggest Loser ranch -- insisted that he leave the competition instead of his daughter Coleen Skeabeck, a 23-year-old receptionist from Cleveland, OH.
"When I leave here tonight I am going to miss [Coleen]. I came here with her encouragement and all she's done here is work hard and keep me in the game, and motivating me to do what I've accomplished. As a father I can't express to you the word 'love.' It's all good, its been very good. A good ride," Jerry said following his ouster and tearful goodbye with his daughter.
"I came to the ranch weighing [380 lbs.] , and I'm leaving the ranch 20 pounds lighter at [360 lbs.]... Here I am I've been on blood pressure medicine for 15 years and in three weeks I've eliminated it. My time here at the ranch has set me on a mission, and I'm gonna complete," he said with a determined tone and tears still in his eyes. "I'm happy for my new life, and when it comes to exercise and nutrition its gonna make me a better man."
"America the next time you see me you're going to see a lot less of me physically but you'll see a bigger heart and a bigger mind," he added.
The Biggest Loser: Families' third episode began with the six remaining teams packing their bags in preparation for a surprise trip to the Grand Canyon, which The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney had revealed to the teams at the end of the previous episode.
While all the contestants were excited about the trip, some of them also acknowledged a little bit of fear due to the competition's knack for adding surprising twists and turns to its activities.
"When I think of the Grand Canyon, I mean, 'beautiful' comes to mind. I can't wait to see it and I think it's gonna be gorgeous. The fact that it's connected to The Biggest Loser, however, makes me somewhat nervous," Brown Team member Vicky Vilcan, a 37-year-old anesthetist from Houma, LA, explained afterwards. "Am I gonna be trying to climb it?"
After boarding the bus and settling into their seats for the trip, the contestants' bus pulled to a stop in front of a convenience store and was met by an RV containing Alison.
Alison showed the teams the luxuries of her RV, before she brought them each outside where they found camping gear and were subsequently told that they were about to face their "first temptation."
After going into the convenience store -- which Alison warned was "a pretty convenient place to put on weight" -- she told the teams that she would be showing them snacks from around the store and asking the teams to step forward and guess the calorie-count of the food.
She added that the first team to guess the closest to the exact calorie-count of three snacks without going over would be given the RV to sleep in for the rest of the Grand Canyon visit while the other teams would be relegated to a camp site.
However Alison also quickly added that there was a catch:
"If you don't have the winning guess, you have to eat the snack," she told the teams.
After almost gambling away their future on the show in the previous week's episode, Yellow Team members Jerry and Coleen were quick to turn down the offer to take part in the challenge.
"We survived by the skin of our teeth, and we're not gonna go through that again," Jerry said.
The Orange Team -- consisting of Ed Brantley, 31-year-old chef, and his wife Heba Salama, a 30-year-old pharmaceutical sales representative, both of whom live in Raleigh, NC -- jumped out to a quick lead by coming the closest to guessing the 26-calorie-count of a chocolate covered caramel and exactly guessing the 80-calorie-count of string cheese.
After no other team challenged them to guess the calorie count of a hot dog, their safe guess of 10 calories was, by default, the closest guess without going over the 280-calorie-count of the snack and won them the RV for the night.
Following the temptation, the teams were led to the edge of one of the canyon's walls where Alison met them and told them that the reason they had been sent on the trip to the canyon was to drive home the point that "things don't happen overnight."
"Think of the power that was taken, the time that it took to carve out this canyon. And believe in yourselves. Believe that each of you has the ability to change your lives, reshape your bodies, your hearts and your minds. The same way that river did," Alison told the teams encouragingly.
Once at the camp site, which Purple Team member Shellay Cremen -- a 51-year-old mom from Royal Oak, MI --described as "desolate," the teams were given weight balls and workout bands to exercise with. However after simply tossing the balls around in a confused manner, some teams resorted to going on a walk while others simply rested.
"Well I'm not gonna go, like, pick up boulders to work out or anything, said Purple Team member Amy Cremen, a 26-year-old purchasing department representative from Auburn Hills, MI. "That's not my style but what can you do? I mean you can't say 'take me to the gym' in the middle of the Grand Canyon."
The following day, teams were brought to the Colorado River in between the Grand Canyon's walls. After paddling in kayaks to a pier, they were introduced to their challenge for the week.
After giving one team member from each team 90 seconds to paddle away from the pier in a kayak that was still attched to the pier by a rope that their other team member was tasked with slowly releasing, a member of a competing team would begin pulling the rope in an attempt to get the kayak back to the pier.
Alison added that the last team to have their kayak touch the pier would win an RV like the one the Orange Team had stayed in the evening prior.
The challenge had added significance for Jerry, as it was the first challenge that doctors cleared him to participate in.
After getting stuck in the current for much of the time given to her to travel away from the pier, Pink Team member Michelle Aguilar, a 26-year-old assistant director from Ft. Worth, TX was easily pulled in by the Red Team member Phillip Parham, a 41-year-old real estate agent from Greer, SC.
The competition eventually was whittled down to Red Team kayaker Amy Parham, a 40-year-old real estate agent from Greer, SC, and Orange Team kayaker Ed. In what became a tight race, Ed eventually prevailed, winning their second consecutive challenge as well as the RV.
After celebrating Colleen's 24th birthday at the campsite that night, the teams eagerly awaited their return to the camp so they could shower and resume their regular exercise schedule once again.
However, upon returning to The Biggest Loser ranch and informing their trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper of their diminished exercise while away, both trainers criticized their teams for failing to realize all of their workout options.
"You need a gym? You're at the Grand Canyon! You don't need a gym! Get outside!" Bob vented to cameras after speaking with his team. "It made no sense to me whatsoever."
"Last week we lost the Gray Team," Jillian told her team sternly. "We need to pull it together, we've got a weigh-in coming up!"
Both Bob and Jillian incorporated the equipment that had been given to the teams while they were at the campsite into their workouts, with Bob dubbing the uneven pushups he made his team do outside while using the weight balls their "Grand Canyon workout."
Meanwhile, Jillian incorporated the elastic bands into her last chance workout, which also included sprints, that she held outside as well.
However, after being cleared to participate in his first challenge only days earlier, Jerry was once again bothered by a medical issue during the workout. After complaining of pains in his right leg, Jerry was sent to a hospital for tests after the show's doctors feared that swelling in his leg could be signs of a blood clot.
"It would be disappointing for me to see my daughter put out of the game because her father was such a weak link," said a frustrated Jerry.
While tests came back saying that Jerry had not suffered a blood clot and could remain in the competition, they also revealed that he had suffered a torn hamstring.
As the teams approached their last chance workouts, both Jillian and Bob decided to up the difficulty of their team's workouts.
"I have to make up for a weeks worth of workouts in one day," Jillian said. "Someone's gonna die."
"We're just gonna keep it going up until the time that they kick their little flip flops off, take their shirts off and walk up to that big-ass scale," said Bob.
While Coleen acknowledged a "huge sigh of relief" upon hearing that her father would be okay, she also held some uncertainty about what effect the injury and doctors visits could take on his weigh-in.
"I just don't know what to expect off the scale form my dad and I," she said worriedly. "I worked as hard as I could in the gym until I was almost to tears. And my dad worked as hard as he could through his injury. But I'm just worried about the weigh-in."
The teams convened for their weigh in that night, where Alison revealed to them that the team with the lowest percentage wight loss would have to send one of its members home.
Red Team couple Amy Parham (5 lbs.) and Phil Parham (-10) once again led the percentage of weight loss with 2.95%.
Orange Team couple Ed (10 lbs.) and Heba (6 lbs.) improved from their third place finish in Week 2 to second place with 2.72%.
Purple Team members Amy (6 lbs.) and Shellay (3 lbs.) finished in third with 2.14%.
Pink Team members Renee (6 lbs.) and Michelle (3 lbs.) followed with 1.91%.
Brown Team couple Brady (5 lbs.) and Vicky (3 lbs.) were next with 1.51%.
While Yellow Team member Coleen was able to shed 7 lbs., Jerry gained 2 lbs. and -- which left them in last place with a 0.89% weight loss and stuck them with the decision of which family member should be sent home.
"When I was on that scale and saw that '+2' come up it was complete shock. It was disbelief. I stuck to the game plan, I stuck to nutrition. It should have been a negative," a shocked Jerry said.
"After I saw seven pounds I almost, like, jumped out of my skin because I was so excited and all we needed to do was lose more than eight pounds and I'm like 'Oh if my dad loses two pounds we're fine, at least for one more week.' And then I looked over there and it was like my heart broke in my chest," a saddened Coleen added.
Coleen spent the team's deliberation hour attempting to convince her father to let her go home so he could continue to lose weight, however Jerry refused to take the opportunity away from his daughter.
"As your father I'll tell you this. I wish I had this opportunity at your age. This is your opportunity and you have to show me this is the time you showed your father how to change his life," He told Coleen.
"I just want to do everything I can to protect him and keep him around long. We both needed this so badly but he needs to stay here more because he needs to lose the weight," a teary-eyed Coleen told cameras of her mindset while she and Jerry made their decision. "He needs absolute professionals and 100% focus on him."
"It's gonna open doors for you. It's something I could never give you," Jerry said as the time dwindled before a decision had to be made.
"I want to get married," Coleen responded. "I want you to be there as I walk down the aisle."
After reconvening with the other teams and Alison, Coleen revealed that she had relented and Jerry would be sent home.
"Just be happy you guys did have to make this decision tonight because it really sucks," she told the other teams through her tears.
During an update that followed the episode, the show revealed that Jerry has continued to keep his workout and healthy lifestyle.
The drastic change in his lifestyle even prompted Dr. Robert Huizenga -- The Biggest Loser's chief physician -- to surprise Jerry and congratulate him on his weight loss, which had reached 70 lbs. since his initial weigh in at the time of the update.
This is what the show The Biggest Loser is all about," Robert told Jerry with a smile.