'The Biggest Loser's Francelina Morillo: Jeff Nichols and I "have something special"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/25/2013
The Biggest Loser contestant Francelina Morillo was eliminated during last Monday night's NBC broadcast of the reality weight-loss competition's eighth fourteenth-season episode.
Francelina, a 25-year-old student and store manager from Albany, NY, was automatically ousted from the competition after she finished with the lowest weight-loss percentage at the season's eighth weekly elimination weigh-in -- which featured a red weigh-in line and the seven remaining contestants weighing-in individually as singles.
During a recent conference call with reporters, Francelina talked about her The Biggest Loser experience and current relationship with contestant Jeff Nichols.
As you probably know because I'm sure plenty of people have told you, The Biggest Loser has a better track record of romance than a lot of dating shows on TV. Why do you think that's the case and what set off sparks between you and Jeff Nichols?
Francelina Morillo: Oh I definitely agree with it just because you get to see the person at their worst and you see them blossom and grow and become this better version of themselves, so you just learn to appreciate them and admire them in a different way.
Jeff and I, you know, we have sort of the same stories. Our fathers passed away. They both had tumors and we dealt with the situation in the same manner. And on the show we got to see each other grow and open up and just blossom into just such amazing people and we learned to appreciate each other.
Tell me more about the romance with Jeff and what the future holds for you two.
Francelina Morillo: Well, you know, it's definitely new. I think we have something special. I have found a bond with him that I haven't had with anyone else. Like I said before, you know, I have had relationships in the past -- long-term relationships -- where I always felt that there was something missing.
And on the ranch, I found out that it was me. I was always not present because I didn't love myself enough, so how can I love somebody else? And I think that now I do love myself, so that alley to love somebody else is open now. And I have very good hopes for him and I.
So are you working out with him now in preparation for the finale or are you still going back and forth?
Francelina Morillo: Yes right now, you know, we're working out together and we're motivating each other till the end.
Could you talk about the steps you're continuing to take towards becoming a doctor and also if you could run through exactly what you are doing? What's your workout like right now? What are you eating and what makes doing that with a partner, like Jeff, easier?
Francelina Morillo: I think what's so great about working out with Jeff is that we just balance each other out. I think he has the nutrition down pat and I am an exercise junky. So I'm at the gym... pushing him hard and pushing myself hard.
And it's just so much easier when you have the support of somebody else that knows exactly what you're going through -- that sometimes you are a little bit hungry, you are tired, but that other person is there to tell you no we have to keep going. You know, the finale is really close and we just want to look our best.
Being at home is very different from being on the ranch. But I think it's better because I've learned to deal with outside temptations. I've learned that I can do this for the rest of my life and that I can keep the weight off -- which is my ultimate goal.
You said just before your weigh-in that you wanted Jeff to stay over you. But was there any part of you that was disappointed that you would be going home?
Francelina Morillo: I mean of course, you know, I was like, "Oh no, I'm going home," but at the same time, I knew that I had gathered the tools in there that I needed to survive in the real world and I didn't want to take that from anybody else.
So I think that some of the people that stayed after me, you know, they needed to work on a few things and I was ready to face the real world. And that week, I did everything I could. I went out of my way. I ran so many miles. I mean, I did everything right and only lost two pounds. And it's just, you know, with weight loss, you never know. And I wasn't as disappointed because I knew that I had given it my all.
The other contestants really seemed to view you as like a motivational figure. They always seemed to say that you pushed them to work hard. Was that something you intentionally did or did it just kind of happen?
Francelina Morillo: I think I didn't do it intentionally. It just happened. I think sometimes, you know, I was sort of the biggest girl there and I was always running or I was always moving. And then they would see me and they would start running because they were like, "Well if she's running, then I should be running."
And we ended up pushing each other like that and it was, I mean, we had a very, very tight bond. And I think it hurt me more to have to leave them than for me just to go and not be "the biggest loser." It hurt me to leave these people because I really feel like they're family to me.
You did seem like one of the more positive contestants on the ranch this season. Were there any moments that you wanted to quit or did you have any particularly tough moments?
Francelina Morillo: Prior to the ranch, I had lost 100 pounds and most of it I lost out of anger and being negative with myself. And I promised myself that if I got on this show, it would all be positive and I was positive from Day 1. I gave it my all from Day 1. I never quit. I never put up a fight and that's just me.
The new me is positive, is outgoing, is always smiling and wants the best for me and I learned that the best way to do that is to just, you know, surround yourself with positive energy, positive people and that's who I am and that's what I radiate from now on.
Could you talk a little bit about the people who were sometimes unwilling or defiant throughout their journeys on the show? You've seen them upfront, close and personal. What else has happened that viewers haven't seen?
Francelina Morillo: You know, I think that everybody's experience on the ranch is different. Not everybody responds positively to negative reinforcement, to somebody being in your face.
You know, sometimes you're trying to run on the treadmill and if somebody's in your face, you can't even concentrate on breathing. So I think that different training style worked for different people and sometimes that's what you see.
Also, you know, you have 15 people with different personalities and they're all stuck in one place together exercising, you know, super stressed and all these plump people want to eat and can't eat.
So sometimes they're going to, you know, personalities are going to clash. But overall everybody is awesome. And sometimes it sucks to see the episodes and how some people are portrayed. But, you know, this is real life. This what happens sometimes.
You just mentioned eating and I was wondering how your diet has changed from the first time you lost weight on your own to how you've been losing weight through The Biggest Loser plan?
Francelina Morillo: Oh it has changed drastically. See I was a compulsive binger, so I was eating a lot of healthy stuff but I was binging on everything that was healthy. And now I'm all about portion size and how if you have too much of a good thing, it's also bad.
And now, I just feel my body and I'm not thinking so much about, "Oh this tastes good. Let me just have a ton of it." You know, it's different. So my relationship with food and the fact that I was dealing with my anxiety about certain things with food and, you know, now I workout instead and everything has changed. So I've come a long way.
What are your favorite foods now?
Francelina Morillo: Honestly, I am a meat eater. I love, you know, chicken, making salads, fruits with some peanut butter. I just, I enjoy tons of different things. Oh I made kale chips the other day. Although I will say they weren't too good.
I think that most of the time we hear like, "Oh I was binging on junk food and stuff like that." But you mentioned healthy food. I was hoping you could discuss a little bit more about like what you were or weren't binging on.
Francelina Morillo: Oh definitely. You know, I think that like I said before, too much of a good thing could be bad. You know, I was eating a ton of fruits, not sticking to portion size.
I was like, "Well it's a fruit. It's not bad, so I can have seven apples a day or I could have, you know, seven bowls of oatmeal..." You know, all day long I'd be eating oatmeal. "Well I'm hungry so I can have as much of it as I want. It's healthy."
And that was one of my problems and I think that nutrition is, you know, more than half the equation when it comes to weight loss or that's something that you really need to focus on.
And I was hoping you could speak specifically about what it was like to be able to share this experience with Jeff both having lost your fathers at the same time in your life. Was there something in hearing him talk about his experience or vice versa that helped you grow and move past that you hadn't realized you hadn't dealt with yet?
Francelina Morillo: Definitely. You know, listening to him and the way that he dealt with his college experience, with his mom, how he related to his friends, it just reminded me of me. And when I would see him, you know, make strides, push himself, open up to people, talk to [Jillian Michaels] -- it gave me hope for myself.
I'm like, "Wow, look how far Jeff has come -- then I can myself," you know? And it's such a unique experience just to watch somebody and it's like looking in the mirror when I look at him.
Could you just give us an update or kind of a summary of your progress into moving towards medical school or is that really kind of holding off until after the finale?
Francelina Morillo: Right now, I'm focusing mostly on finale. But I had everything in order post-finale so that I can move forward with medical school. I am 100% percent sure that this time around, you know, I have all the confidence in the world to make it.
Can you talk a little bit about what I'm sure is a friendly competition for, you know, reaching towards that at-home prize?
Francelina Morillo: Oh definitely. I mean I didn't leave it at the ranch. You know, I'm working super hard here. You know, I love working out. I love the gym and I am a beast in the gym. And I've been working so hard, so I think it's going to be interesting to see, you know, all the transformations and to see how far we've come.
Can you tell us what your daily workouts are like? What are you doing?
Francelina Morillo: I am a fan of the stairmill. It's the only machine that doesn't let me slack off, so I get on it at least two hours a day. I also run and I workout with a trainer daily.