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'The Biggest Loser' winner Dannielle "Danni" Allen: I'm still battling some food demons


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/21/2013 

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, click here. Below are some additional details from Danni's call. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for more.

So during the show you lost an amazing amount of weight. How differently do you feel from when you first began the show?

Danni Allen: Oh, my gosh. I feel different in every which way possible, but it's not -- you know, I think the obvious part is the physical. It's the mental change that I've been able to you know, completely just change myself and change who I am and going to be.

My head is in such a good place right now, and that's what I needed and I think that's kind of what my secret weapon was -- is once I got my head on straight, everything else just came, and then I was just able to rock it on that stage last night, and it was the best feeling ever.

And what do you think is the most important thing you learned from being on the show?

Danni Allen: You know, I think the most important thing I learned is that you really do have to get your head on straight but you have to do it for yourself. At the end of the day, you can only have yourself, and once you get that in your head that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or you don't have to help everyone else, you have to help yourself before you can help anyone else, and that was the biggest thing I learned.

Now can you take us through some of the changes that you see in yourself, not just on the outside? They're very obvious, but inside as well, the confidence levels.

Danni Allen: Definitely. Like you said, I think you know, the physical transformation is -- it's just right in front of you. There's no question that I was physically able to transform, but the best part -- as I was speaking about earlier -- is just mentally.

It's amazing the new person that I've become, and that is something [Jillian Michaels] actually focused on right from the beginning. She asked the hard questions, the, "Why are you fat? Why are you the way you are?"

She asked those questions that no one would ever ask me before, because she knew I didn't ask them myself and I hid them in a corner. So being able to confront those hard questions and those demons, and let them out and expose them, gave me the tools to fight them. Some of them have been cured. Some of them I'm going to fight for the rest of my life, but at least now, I know I have the tools to keep that going.

Yes, and you're aware.

Danni Allen: Yes, exactly, awareness is the best gift that I got.

What are your plans now, and your plans for your winnings?

Danni Allen: My plans now, first of all, I am just enjoying the moment. That's the one thing my mom made me promise is that I would enjoy this moment, so I'm going to do it. But I also did set some goals beyond The Biggest Loser, because I knew I needed something else to look forward to afterwards, and my goal was to run my first marathon this year.

So I am trying to sign up for the Chicago Marathon in 2013, in October, and that's going to be my first fitness goal to reach outside The Biggest Loser. As far as this money goes, I had made no plans for it because I thought it would be too taboo. I'm like, "Do not plan for money that you do not have."

So one thing that the finalists did say, all of us said, you know, Jeff and I were just like, "Look, we're guaranteed finalists. You and I, we know we're going to both work hard," but we promised each other that we would reward the other one with a vacation, and we're going to go on a vacation and reward each other to make sure that you know, we still did this together.

And to be, you know, the winner by one pound, I'm happy to keep my word and take Jeff. I'll probably take [Francelina Morillo] too, since those two are pretty inseparable, and I'll just be the third wheel. And you know, everyone's talking about how I'm single and hot now, so maybe I'll find my man on this vacation too.

What about your career? Do you think this is going to affect your two jobs at all?

Danni Allen: You know what? I think it might. Right now, they've been so incredibly supportive of just giving me some time to process and see what comes my way and see what -- you know, I'm finding so many new things that I enjoy that I'm exciting about.

I'm looking for the discovery process and finding, you know, "Which way do I want to go? Do I want to go fitness? Do I want to go nutrition? Do I want" -- I know I want to pay it forward. That's definitely one goal, so I'm going to just kind of use this discovery mode and dream mode that I'm in and kind of embrace it for a little while.

Well, congratulations. You looked fabulous.

Danni Allen: Thank you so much. I feel fabulous.

I know when we saw you go home for the first time during the season, you talked with your dad about his health. Can you talk a little bit about how your experience on The Biggest Loser has affected your family and how you hope it will continue to?

Danni Allen: Oh my gosh. My experience with The Biggest Loser has affected my entire family, friends, and community. You know, my dad is doing so well. He has gotten a gym in his neighborhood. He's doing as much as he can. He's asking me questions about nutrition.

He never did that before, you know? He's really on the bandwagon to start his healthy life as well, and I mean, if you saw him in the audience, he's looking great. He's happy, and that's the best part about this.

And my mom is totally kicking butt. She's taken on boxing and pilates and she's just going to turn 50 this year and I think she looks better than she has ever looked. And then my sister finishing out her senior year, she called me like, "I lost three pounds this week."

And she keeps going and you know, finishing up a degree is amazing, let alone trying to get healthy while doing it. Those are three of the people that are just completely affecting my life, and you know, I'm affecting them as well.

A lot of people wonder how are the contestants going to keep up this weight-loss after the competition? And obviously you know, you get to almost like a fighting weight and so there's a slight uptick. But how are you going to make sure that you monitor and maintain your great results?

Danni Allen: Honestly, one of my biggest fears is putting the weight back on, because I knew as hard as it was to take it off, it would be that in reverse. It's easy to put it back on, so it was a big fear.

So the first thing I did was make sure I set up some goals beyond The Biggest Loser. And I knew with how much I loved running, I really wanted to run a marathon this year, and so I put another goal in for 2013, and that was to run the Chicago Marathon and I'm going to do it.

You know, I'm trying to get signed up right now and in, but I want to run the Chicago Marathon, and I know the training for that is going to keep me moving, keep me running. And I love my trainer.

It's girl-chat time. We jump on our treadmill or we go outside, run eight miles, and we get through an entire like, weeks of, you know, what the dirty little secrets that we heard at the gym were. And it's just a fun experience to do every day and get out there and run.

Can you talk about winning by just that one-pound difference? Boy, that just seemed like such a tiny margin. What did you think when you heard that?

Danni Allen: You know what? In my head, I didn't even realize that it was only one pound. It was that I won, you know? At the end of the day, it was -- yes, it was so close but it was the fact that I did it. Because in my eyes, I didn't think I was going to do it only because I was up against some big boys.

You know, the numbers weren't really in my favor, but just like this whole season, nothing was in my favor. And I think even though it was just by one pound, I'm like, "I still did it." And I think that's the best thing that -- the best message anyone can get, that all odds can be against you -- all the time -- but there's still a chance. And that's when I said, "Why not me?" And it just felt like this was mine to have.

When I talked to Jillian last night, she said that you two very much used a visualization technique that you saw yourself being victorious. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Danni Allen: Yes. Jillian told me, "You can't have it if you can't see it," so it was like we had to make sure to remember, "Feel what it would be like standing up there, feel the confetti falling on your face, visualize it," because when you can really see it and you can see all aspects around it, that's when you can truly achieve it -- because you see the whole goal right in front of you, and it just kept me motivated every single day.

I know that you're an advertising account coordinator and bartender. Do you think it's possible that you might totally switch careers now? I mean, have you been back at work at all since filming stopped in January at either of the two jobs?

Danni Allen: Yes, I did go back to work over the break, not the break, but the time between the live finale. [Bartending] was something I'm not sure if I will continue. I do have a little extra cash under my belt, so maybe I'll use it for the time being, you know, get some more time in at the gym when I can.

But I do think that this has opened up so many doors for me, and it's given me the opportunity to think beyond, you know, the debt. There's so much more out there, and with this, I've been given that gift of time to kind of really evaluate my life and find new things for me to try and new things to do.

And I definitely think I'm going to utilize and take advantage of this time and find out what I really want to be and who I am in this new body and this new mind and my new soul.

Are you still living in Wheeling?

Danni Allen: I am currently still living in Wheeling, yes.

Any plans to change that, buy a house or something somewhere else or move downtown?

Danni Allen: I don't know. Unfortunately, I had to make a quick decision before the finale and I did have to resign, so I do have one more year in my apartment. So I have some time to figure this out, and we'll see. It's definitely -- I don't know. I'm thinking warmer climate though, because the cold's a lot more difficult to bear without 100 pounds of insulation on you. So it's definitely running through my mind right now.

In terms of maintenance for you going home, you touched a little bit on what you would do fitness-wise, but what things have you learned about nutrition that you'll apply moving forward?

Danni Allen: I think one of the best things I learned about nutrition was I still have my vices. I still have a lot of the addictive qualities. They haven't gone away, so one of the first things I did before I left was made sure my apartment was a safe zone.

I got rid of all things that were, you know, considered bad for me or stuff that I knew I could binge on -- stuff that I knew I couldn't resist if I got -- had a weak moment. And so that way, if I have those weak moments, I just don't have the option there, and I can't go to the freezer for that ice cream or I can't go to the pantry for the chips. They're not there.

And I think that was one of the best things, but then I also learned about making a well-balanced diet. It's not about deprivation. It's about a new lifestyle and balancing everything and having good carbs and you know, fruits and everything, just balancing your nutrition. I think that's the best thing I learned.

How close did you feel to this season's message of fighting childhood obesity, and especially moving forward if you want kids yourself someday?

Danni Allen: The message of childhood obesity I think is actually one of the reasons I was chosen for this process, was because I said in one of my very first interviews, "I think the problem is the lack of knowledge in the children today and it's just getting worse and worse."

And I knew it was an epidemic, and I'm so glad I got to be a part of this process of making America aware that if we're going to change something, let's change it with our kids now.

Because I know I don't want to bring up children in an unhealthy environment and I want to know knowledge myself. So if we start learning the knowledge now, we can only pass that on to our children, and I think it's a great message that this show is sending.

I know a lot of contestants that I've talked to in the past who have won The Biggest Loser said that they're going to work on building muscle. But since you put on that impressive 19 pounds of muscle, I was wondering, what will your post-finale food and workout habits be? How is it going to change?

Danni Allen: You know what? I say, "Why mess with success," right? I really think I'm going to keep things going. I do think I'm going to get a little more experimental. I definitely once hit that point of... "I want to make sure I just don't put on any more muscle."

I can try and work on that later if I need it, but I think the best part was, is that 19 pounds of muscle I think gave me a little bit of an advantage where then I was just able to like shred through the last of the fat I had -- which exposed that muscle onstage. I was so excited to show off my arms.

And right now, I'm just excited to keep building and keep toning. I really want to tone up everything that I've worked for, just so you know, I feel like it's that perfect display of hard work. And when I can flex my arms and really feel it and see it, it's like you get that, "Heck yes!" feeling.

Your arms were shown off to great advantage in that dress that you wore last night. Do you know who designed it and what went into the choosing of the dress?

Danni Allen: Yes, that was a Halston Heritage dress, and when we found it, I put it on and I knew. I'm like -- my theme song was "This Girl Is On Fire" and that was my fire dress.

And I tried on hundreds of dresses before that with some friends and family, and once we put that on, it was like a drop -- it was like, you know, those fashion shows you see on TV where your friends hold up numbers. It was like 10s across the board when I put that dress on, so it was that perfect, "this girl is on fire" dress. And I felt like I was on fire that night.

Above are some additional details from Danni's Tuesday conference call with reporters. To read what she had to say to Reality TV World specifically, click here. Check back with us on Friday for more.



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