Every week, a contestant from The Biggest Loser is eliminated after receiving a second chance at Comeback Canyon. This past week, it was time to say goodbye to Chandra Maple.
I spoke with her during a conference call with reporters, where she talked about being from a bloodline of champions, the most difficult challenge she took part in when on the show, the difference between living on the ranch and living at Comeback Canyon, and how The Biggest Loser has changed her life.
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A Family of Champions
Family is extremely important to Chandra. And that was never more apparent than at Comeback Canyon. Bob Harper had his two-member team finish this sentence: “I am…” He was reinforcing positivity. Chandra and Mike were finishing the sentence with responses like “Warrior” and “Young.”
Chandra felt that was a significant time for her on The Biggest Loser because in that moment, she was actually believing what she was saying. “I have to be a warrior,” she said.
But it was another response by Chandra that triggered an emotional reaction. She said, “I am a Maple.” Bob wanted her to elaborate because he wasn’t sure what she was getting at. She went on to say, “Our bloodline is full of champions.”
Every contestant this season, as we all know, is a former athlete. For Chandra, she comes from a family full of athletes, on both her mom and dad’s side. They have done everything from track to volleyball, and her father even was a boxer. “Name a sport, they did it,” she said.
As a child, Chandra was put into ballet classes but hated it. However, once a basketball was put into her hands, she ended up having the opposite reaction: she loved it.
At 15, she had a knee injury and was told she wouldn’t be able to play sports again. This was heartbreaking for her, of course. Fortunately, her family “never made me feel like I was worthless.” She was actually more tough on herself than her family ever was.
Which Challenge was the Most Difficult?
Every week, we see the contestants compete in various challenges that can be grueling to go through. I asked her which one was the most difficult, and she said it was the beach volleyball challenge in the first episode, where the contestants had to take giant balls up a sand dune and pick their trainer.
Eventually, only three remained: Zina, Vanessa and Chandra — and there was only one spot left. Zina was so close to finishing, but was unable to, leaving an opening for Chandra to make a comeback.
Watching it on TV, I (and I’m sure everyone else) could tell that it was grueling. But Chandra said that “The TV does not do that hill justice. That sand dune was awful. … I felt like I was trying to sprint up that hill, and my legs were going and my feet were going, and I was going nowhere.”
Life on the Ranch and at Comeback Canyon
Chandra found life on the ranch to be much different than being at Comeback Canyon. On the ranch, she was surrounded by others and had that big support team helping each other out. She was working out up to eight hours a day.
But Comeback Canyon was “a complete change of pace,” she explained. “The motivation factor is more intense at Comeback Canyon.” Aside from there being only one other contestant there with her, the workout was different. The method that Bob used was needing to burn a certain amount of calories. So however many hours that ended up being, that’s what the contestants did. Chandra ended up working out for about six hours a day as a result.
How Has The Biggest Loser Impacted Chandra’s Life?
From watching the show every week and being able to speak with the contestants on these conference calls, we get to find out what they’ve had to overcome. What is holding them back from making the necessary changes in their life? And it seems like for a lot of these former athletes, there’s a mental block, as Emmy Lou Munoz mentioned last week.
For Chandra, she had to overcome “being afraid to succeed.” The Biggest Loser allowed her to feel “like I could succeed, and [to not be] afraid of failing anymore.” After the first day of working out on the ranch, she realized that things needed to change, and her connection to food needed to change.
The show has impacted her life “in more ways than I can explain.” It’s given her a second chance. She said that diabetes won’t run in her family now, and she feels like a worthy person. “I feel like I have something to offer the world.”
Looking to the future, she wants “to help others change their lives,” to be that anchor, that influence. In fact, she’s already doing that, since she’s a college basketball coach. And having lost 54 pounds (she started on the show at 341 pounds and is down to 287 pounds, as of the Where Are They Now? video at the end of Thursday’s episode), she’s able to be more active on the court when coaching.
The Biggest Loser airs Thursdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)