'The Biggest Loser: Temptation Nation' champion Roberto Hernandez talks adversity and victory
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/23/2016
The Biggest Loser: Temptation Nation crowned Roberto Hernandez its winner during Monday night's live finale broadcast of the reality weight-loss competition on NBC.
Roberto, a 36-year-old physical/health/driver's education teacher from Burbank, IL, began the competition at 348 pounds and weighed-in at only 188 pounds during the finale -- giving him a 160-pound weight-loss and 45.98% total weight-loss percentage that won him the show's $250,000 grand prize.
Stephen Kmet, 43, finished Season 17 as the runner-up. He currently weighs 176 pounds and posted a 43.04% weight-loss percentage. Colby Wright, 31, came in third place after losing a total of 122 pounds. Colby decided to take a $50,000 temptation in exchange for a three-pound disadvantage on the scale. But even if Colby decided against taking the money, he still would've lost.
Roberto talked to Reality TV World on Tuesday about his victory and The Biggest Loser experience. Below is what he had to say.
Reality TV World: How confident were you that you were going to win last night? And keeping that in mind, how close were you to hitting the buzzer for the $50,000 temptation? I would think you weren't sure you'd beat Stephen with a three-pound disadvantage since you didn't go for the money.
Roberto Hernandez: You know what? I was confident all season. Colby, myself and [my brother Luis Hernandez] from the very beginning decided to tell each other we were going to root each other on and have each other's backs. So in a way, we kind of started an alliance. We were each other's friends and we would always say that we were just the Top 3 contenders there.
And so, from the very beginning, we all thought we were going to be the finalists -- the three finalists -- and unfortunately, the only difference there was that Luis was out and Stephen was in. Not to take away from Stephen; He worked his butt off. He was a hard-working man, and he pushed me in the last month-and-a-half to work really hard and to make sure that I lose the weight.
Reality TV World: Any regrets then about not pushing the button for $50k? Do you wish you had taken the temptation? Because not to rub it in, but even with the three-pound disadvantage, you still would've beaten Stephen by about a 2% weight-loss percentage.
Roberto Hernandez: Not pushing the button, was I nervous? Of course. You know, we were always within a couple of pounds from each other -- a couple of percentage points away at the ranch. So I knew that three pounds could definitely affect me. I wish I knew the results now; I definitely would've pressed [the button] and gotten $300,000, but you know, I didn't want to be greedy!
It's a sin to be greedy and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to continue on in the process that I started on, and that was to lose weight. Not pushing the button, you know, of course that was tough. But here we are! I ended up winning and I didn't need to push that button.
Reality TV World: You admitted once you got home from The Biggest Loser ranch, you sat down on the couch, which was exactly what you promised yourself you wouldn't do. Before your son Jacob gave you the peptalk to be strong and work hard again, how serious was the situation? Were you close to giving up and potentially putting weight back on, or was it just momentary laziness -- a little funk you got into?
Roberto Hernandez: Well, at that point, I was away from home for about 15 weeks, and I just kind of wanted a moment for myself to relax. I was thinking a week would've been okay, but this happened right away. It was maybe the third or fourth day of me being home, and Jacob wasn't liking what he was seeing.
And thank God he gave me that little toy [shark] because he gave me the motivation to keep going. He said I promised. He said, "Daddy, you promised that you wouldn't do this!" And here we are. I got off that couch and started the wheel rolling!
Reality TV World: I want to get a feel for what the process was like for you in the days leading up to the finale. You clearly had to push yourself harder than ever for that, so how often were you working out and what rules did you abide by? What was your daily routine like heading into the final weigh-in?
Roberto Hernandez: The weeks leading up to the show, the finale, were really tough. You wake up at four in the morning and you go to the gym. I found that cycling at the gym was really helpful, and then you have to go to work! I was teaching, so I would go to work and then maybe run three miles.
And if I could, Luis and I were sharing one treadmill, so he would do a half-hour on the elliptical and then I would do a three-mile run. And we would switch it up. I'd do the treadmill and he'd go run the mile. After work, we'd also go to boxing or Planet Fitness on the weekends as well. I got in as much working out as I could. I was working out between four to five hours a day.
Reality TV World: Wow, that's great. I was going to ask you more about your dynamic with Luis during the prep-period for the finale. Were you two competitive with each other at all and viewed it as more of an individual game, or did you continue to work as a team and partners in crime?
Roberto Hernandez: Yeah, yeah. Definitely. We were "Team Hernandez" from Day 1 to yesterday and for the rest of our lives. As soon as he got eliminated, it was really hard on me, as you saw on the show. Just before he left, we looked at each other's eyes and told each other, "I'm going to get the grand prize, and you [Luis] start working towards the at-home prize." And that's what he did!
As soon as I got home, he started feeling a little lazy and God works in mysterious ways. Just like it motivated me when he left, I got back in town and I was his motivation to get back to work. And once we worked together, we were unstoppable. We worked out together; We did everything together. And that led to our amazing victory yesterday.
Reality TV World: What was your biggest takeaway this season from your trainer Jen Widerstrom? Is there one piece of advice that really stuck with you or something along those lines?
Roberto Hernandez: On the very first episode, she was telling me to push it harder. [Producers] wanted us to keep working harder. And I remember hearing her say that, "These people are working really hard. It's about them. It's about their journey. It's not about seeing how far they go. Today, we're going to see their sweat." And she stood up for us!
She was like a big sister even though she's younger than me. She's like a big sister -- someone that cared about you. You don't have to get in someone's face to motivate them. Just by being kind and being strong and leading by example, she showed how strong we were going to be.
She kind of became a family member and we cared about her a lot. That's why our Black Team became really strong. It was because of her. I think it was her motivational speaking to us, and her support, we loved. She helped us become a family much faster.