'Shay' Sorrells: I didn't deserve special 'The Biggest Loser' treatment
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/12/2009
Shauntina "Shay" Sorrells feels she didn't deserve any special considerations as a The Biggest Loser contestant despite Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels' assertion to the contrary during Tuesday night's episode.
"I never felt that my journey was more important than anyone ever. It's not. Everyone's journey is just as important -- just different -- and some people may need more time, some people may not, whatever, but everyone's journey is important and everyone deserves to be there and that's why we were there," Sorrells told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
"So to hear Bob and Jill say what they said and that they were really fighting for me to stay there, it was huge."
Sorrells, a 30-year-old social worker from Newport Beach, CA who started the eighth season as the show's heaviest contestant ever, was then eliminated from The Biggest Loser by her fellow contestants after falling below the yellow line on the season's ninth episode.
"My whole metaphor is that Jill comes in and she digs, digs, digs until she rips the roots out and then Bob comes and plants new flowers. And so I feel like they were just digging and Jill knew that I was pretty bare -- like I was raw, open, wounded and like that I needed time to build back up. And the ranch is the safest place for that," explained Sorrells.
"That's why I think they were fighting for me to stay there which I thought was amazing... It just wasn't in the numbers that night and there's nothing you can say about that and I came home and I've been doing some work on my emotional stuff on my own."
At the weigh-in that preceded her elimination, Sorrells became the fastest female contestant in The Biggest Loserhistory to lose 100 lbs. -- having done so in nine weeks and breaking the previous record held by seventh-season contestant Kristin Steede, who shed 100 lbs. in 12 weeks.
"Breaking a record was the most phenomenal moment. I mean, I had already broken a record by being the heaviest person on campus and I was like, 'Great, that's not a record I want to keep holding,'" she said.
"But breaking this record meant so much because I had watch Kristin do it the season before and I was so inspired by Kristin and I thought she was such an amazing person and amazing fighter and a champion."
Unfortunately for Sorrells, her euphoria quickly vanished when it became clear that -- despite losing 17 lbs. during the week -- she could still fall below the yellow line.
"I knew that everyone in that gym had worked just as hard as I did, and so reality being it's a numbers game and it's a percentage game. Some of them worked as hard as I did, but I knew that it wasn't going to keep me there at the top of the scoreboard," she explained.
"As I watched my name drop down, I explained over to Jill during the weigh in and I was like, '17 is not enough.' And she was like, 'Stop it, shut up, don't talk doubt.' And I was like, 'Jill, I'm telling you now, I love you, thank you for everything you did, I'm going home.' I knew it at that moment."
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Despite falling below the yellow line, Sorrells still had a chance to stay if the five remaining contestants above it decided to keep her and instead oust Amanda Arlauskas.
With each of them having two votes apiece at the subsequent elimination ceremony, Rudy Pauls cast the deciding vote to boot Sorrells.
"I wasn't surprised by Rudy's vote. I wasn't surprised by anyone's vote. I told everyone all the time; you do what's right for you," she told reporters.
"I knew from Day 1 that Rudy was a game player. I knew that. He was open about it and I think when I hit 100 pounds in nine weeks, it shocked everyone -- probably more than it shocked myself and my trainers -- but I think it shocked the whole room that I actually could do it; like there was a possibility."
In addition, Sorrells believes the fact she was only below the yellow line was because Allen Smith won a one-pound weight advantage during a previous challenge also put some fear into the other contestants.
"I think the fact that Allen was almost [below the yellow line] had he not had that pound advantage and realizing that I could have beaten him, I think put a little bit of a fear in their heart that wasn't there before because before I wasn't a threat and it wasn't a big deal," she explained.
Sorrells added that even if the argument she had with Pauls earlier in the episode during a reward challenge played a role in his vote, it ended up being for the best.
"If it did change his vote, which I don't think it did, it's the best thing that can happen. All of the emotional growth that I have gone through and all the things that I had done in learning to trust people again and learning to love people again was not ruined that night. I walked away with it," she told reporters.
"Had I stayed there and that continued to happen, I don't know if I would have been able to keep everything. And I'm much happier being at home, having all of my integrity and knowing that every decision I made there, I was honest and I was open and I was real with people, I can take that and I can live with it. So I'm happy with the outcome in the end."
While she's "happy" with the outcome, Sorrells said it was "scary" to leave The Biggest Loser ranch.
"It's a scary thing to leave the ranch because at home you've never been successful and at the ranch you've been super successful. So no matter what week it is, it's always scary to leave the ranch. Whether it's Week 1 or you're a finalist and you leave Week 12 I think you're still scared," she said. "I don't know if you ever feel prepared."
Sorrells said she has lost an additional 54 lbs. since returning home from filming, but added that it's been "extremely difficult."
"On the ranch I lost 100 pounds in nine weeks. It's taken me three times as long to lose 54 pounds at home," she said.
"I'm working two jobs. I have my family, my kids. I'm back to normal life. But 54 pounds for the average American in that amount of time is still incredible and I have to think about those things and success in that way."
Sorrells said realizing that "the ranch is not reality" helped her overcome her fears.
"When you come home it's real life, and I'm living real life and still doing it and I'm fitting in my workouts and I've just changed my lifestyle," she said. "We've just made different choices in the way we live our life, and I think that plays out in the numbers."
The "we" Sorrells was referencing was her family, as she told reporters her husband has lost 45 lbs. in recent weeks and is also "making lifestyle changes."
"It's definitely become a family affair and it's something we love to do and we enjoy and we're teaching the kids about it and we're making it an active, healthy lifestyle just all around," she explained.
"We invite friends over for dinner and we cook healthy meals and everything is just about that lifestyle now and not just I was on the show... This is life from here on out. So really supportive, really amazing."