Olivia Ward talks about her 'The Biggest Loser: Couples' victory
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/25/2011
Olivia Ward walked away as The Biggest Loser's $250,000 winner during during Tuesday night's live finale broadcast of the NBC reality weight-loss competition's eleventh edition.
The 35-year-old New York opera singer and plastic surgery office manager began the competition at 261 pounds and weighed-in at 132 pounds during the finale -- giving her a 129-pound weight-loss and 49.42% weight-loss percentage that ranked her just ahead of her sister Hannah Curlee, who finished as the competition's runner-up.
While she actually weighed-in four pounds lighter than Olivia at 128 pounds during the finale, Hannah also began The Biggest Loser at only 248 pounds, leaving her with a 48.39% weight-loss percentage that put the 32-year-old human resources representative from Nashville, TN a few pounds shy of claiming The Biggest Loser title for herself.
During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Reality TV World asked Olivia whether the sisters had actually managed to keep their weight-loss progress a secret from each other given their close relationship and what she thinks about Tuesday night's announcement that former professional tennis player Anna Kournikova will be replacing departing The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels on the show's next season.
Reality TV World: Being sisters, I'm sure you talk constantly with Hannah, so did you already know you had a higher weight-loss percentage than her before you two weighed-in last night or had you two been really competitive and attempted to keep that from each other?
Olivia Ward: It's so funny, because we obviously share everything together, but we were very competitive as far as that stuff, especially towards the end. When we were first training when we left the ranch, we were kind of open, and then it got to the end and it started getting a little competitive. We both decided, "You know what? Let's let it be what it's going to be. Let's continue to work hard."
So we would talk everyday and tell each other what we were doing for workouts, but we didn't talk about [the numbers]. So, we -- I -- had a feeling and she felt the same way, that it was going to be a photo finish, which it ended up being, but we had no idea exactly which way it was going to go.
Reality TV World: What are your thoughts on the announcement that Anna Kournikova is going to be replacing Jillian Michaels next season? While she's a professional athlete, she doesn't seem to have any experience [working] as a personal trainer, nevermind working with very obese clients [and their unique issues]. So do you think she'll lack any credibility as a trainer?
Olivia Ward: You know, I don't think there will be any lack of credibility as far as a trainer goes. I mean, I think any time -- I mean, you come into a situation, especially something like The Biggest Loser up against -- now she's going to be up against [The Biggest Loser veteran trainer] Bob Harper, who let me tell you, is a force to be reckoned with.
I think she has a challenge, but you know, obviously being a professional athlete, she faces challenges head on. So, I think that's most important. I'm sure she probably also learned a thing or two watching [new trainers Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova] this season overcome being new kids on the block and what it entails to help very obese people lose weight.
I think it's going to make for an interesting show, and I mean -- I for one -- I can't wait to watch and see. I know she was on a couple seasons back, was on a couple episodes, so I'm just dying to see how she does. I'm also really excited to see Bob kind of out on his own this season. I think it's going to be a really great season to watch.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: While Kournikova made no mention of it when she detailed her background and accomplishments during her introduction on The Biggest Loser's eleventh-season finale on Tuesday night, she is "a certified trainer as well as an athlete," according to an NBC publicist.]
Reality TV World: How do you think you would have responded if Anna had been your trainer? Because it seems like a big part of the show is also getting contestants past whatever psychological issues that they might have, and it also seemed like given the weight-loss struggles she had in her own past, that's something where Jillian could really relate to with the contestants. Do you think that might be an issue?
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Olivia Ward: You know, I don't necessarily think that's going to be an issue, especially if -- I'm quite sure by agreeing to be on the show, she knows that's going to be a huge component.
I think that one thing I will say about The Biggest Loser that I did learn, is that they always put people on the show who are willing to go there as far as the emotional -- there were many times where I was like, "Why can't we just have people on this show that will just leave me alone and let me get on a treadmill?" (laughs)
But, no. That is a huge component of it. And so, I'm quite sure she's probably armed and ready to really go there with these people. So, I mean, I'm so fortunate that I got to work with Bob and Jillian. I got the dream team, I have to say, you know?
Working with both of them together was just priceless. So, I think she'll do really well, and I know that nobody that goes on the show leaves without the help that they need. So I think regardless, who they put on there -- I'm quite sure -- they're all going to get all the emotional support that they need.
Also during the call, Olivia told reporters how her weight loss has impacted her opera skills, what she plans to do with her prize money, whether she plans to share any of her winnings with Hannah, if she plans to maintain her current weight, and what she plans to do next.
Has your weight loss had any impact on your vocal ability or your opera performance skills?
Olivia Ward: Oh, absolutely. I've just been so amazed at being a singer and being an opera singer. I think people underestimate it. I mean, these people are athletes.
Even the people that are overweight, you are definitely kind of at a disadvantage in the fact that your core and your abdomen is not as strong, and it's definitely true that my breath control has gotten so much better because I've learned how to run and control my breath through running.
These kinds of things, I was amazed at how these things overlap between the two, and I use to put them in such separate boxes. So, I'm definitely a better singer because I'm a healthier person, and I'm so excited to really get back into training, singing, and really kind of test out all the new things that my voice can do now.
How important was it for your husband to also be on the same weight-loss journey back home?
Olivia Ward: I think that is one of the most important pieces of that puzzle for me, is that I had a husband that knew I was on such a huge journey, and instead of just staying around and waiting for me to come home and kind of relay this information to him, he knew that is was important for his own journey to make those changes.
He went and got online and sought help from people around him. He got on Bob's blog, which was a huge thing for him. Bob tweets throughout the day what he eats, so for a long time, whatever Bob was eating.
Are you going to share any of your prize money with your sister Hannah?
Olivia Ward: You know, it's funny. I've heard a lot of people say that and we don't have any formal arrangements, but you know, I share pretty much everything with Hannah my whole life as far as clothes, we'd go on vacations together -- so, I definitely will be sharing all my blessings with Hannah -- and I know that, I'm sure, she wouldn't object to going on a vacation or something together on my dime.
What are your plans for the near future as the current Biggest Loser?
Olivia Ward: Absolutely, it's funny. I definitely think Team Purple will be making a victory lap, I think. I will say I'm so excited to have won, to have the title, and that is so very exciting. But I think Hannah and I are so great together, and our story is so unique, and we have such an interesting point of view, that I think people want to be encouraged and they want to hear about our journey.
So, I think we will definitely get out there and do some public speaking and meet people and encourage people who want to be encouraged or want to learn what we've learned. The Biggest Loser is definitely about paying it forward. It doesn't do anybody any good to hold all this precious knowledge in your hand and put it in my pocket.
What good does that do for everybody else? So, I'm so excited to get out there and especially now, Bob, he's got all kinds of things coming up, so I have to go out and support him. The Biggest Loser [Season] 12 is coming up on the heels of Season 11, so we're really, really ready to get out there and do a little victory lap and get out there and meet people.
Do you plan on maintaining the weight that you are at now?
Olivia Ward: Absolutely. That's something that I think is definitely at the very top -- actually first -- on my priority list, because I have been training for a finale. I've been on The Biggest Loser, on the show training with Bob and Jillian, and for four to six hours a day, that's not something realistically that I would be able to keep up for the rest of my life.
So, I'm so interested to get into the realm of what is going to be my routine, and I'm an avid indoor spinner. I love that, and I have a place here in New York... where I love to spin at. I'll definitely do five to six classes a week probably there and do some running on the side.
So, I'm hoping -- my goal is to do 90 minutes, five to six days a week in the morning, just like everybody else, and get it done and still watch what I put in my mouth to make sure I'm keeping everything in check so that I can maintain this -- so that it can be something that is maintainable.
Did you know while you were on the ranch that Jillian was leaving and what was it like working with her and Bob?
Olivia Ward: It wasn't until a little bit into the season that we knew for sure. It was actually about the time that they announced it in public that it was her last season. It was bittersweet for us, you know, because obviously a lot of us had watched the show since the beginning and she's such a big part of that.
But I will say that I'm thankful because not that she doesn't give 110% percent every season, but she gave 150% percent this season. She was there every, obviously all the on-days, and she was even there on anytime we had off-days. She would take us to yoga, she would take us to the beach -- to her house -- to do workouts.
On the beach, she would take us hiking... Bob is not as loud and dramatic as Jillian, but he took us to spin class every single Saturday, and then would take us hiking, and we'd come back on Sunday. Bob and Jillian are obviously celebrities and busy people, but they give 150% percent to the show.
I think for me, that was the most surprising -- I don't know what I expected -- but they both were there day in and day out and really and truly invested in us. I know that that will be something, that for me, I will definitely keep those relationships for the rest of my life. I'm so thankful for that... They are amazing, truly.
What do you plan on doing with your prize money and does that entail leaving your apartment in Astoria [in Queens] that you've been living in?
Olivia Ward: That's so funny. It's funny, because somebody asked me that, and I was like, "Well, I haven't really lived in my apartment in Astoria yet, really, because my husband moved actually over here while I was at the show," so I'm probably going to hang out here for a little while.
But I think we, for the most part, I definitely want to go on a bike tour in Italy with my husband in the fall, and that's kind of the only thing we have planned as for the money. We'll probably save it for awhile before we really decide what we want to do with the money. But I definitely want to do that.
We always have taken vacations that have like surrounded laying on the beach somewhere -- those are great vacations, don't get me wrong -- but with both of our new healthy lifestyle that we're trying to incorporate into our lives and our marriage, I think that's something that we really want to do.
So, bike a little throughout the day, going from town to town, and then when you eat the pasta at night, you don't feel so bad. You biked about 30 or 40 miles, so I'm really excited to do that, and I think that'll be really fun.