It’s hard not to root for the contestants who appear on The Biggest Loser. Not only do they share their personal stories of what led them to sign up for the show, but every week we get to see their inspirational weight-loss journeys. This was never more apparent than with Mike Murburg, who was eliminated from Comeback Canyon this week.
I spoke with Mike during a conference call with reporters, where he talked about his knee injury, if he regrets telling his teammates to vote him out, the poem he read about to Bob Harper, how his son saved his life and what his life is like now that he is back home.
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Mike’s Knee Injury
During his time on The Biggest Loser, Mike had been suffering through a knee injury; his meniscus started to tear when he was walking up and down the coliseum steps the first day on the show. “I think the third trip up the steps, I felt the meniscus starting to tear.”
Chandra Maple explained last week how difficult the first challenge was, when the contestants had to take the giant balls up the sand dune. For mike, the difficulty was extreme as well because his meniscus continued to tear as he was heading to the top of the hill.
During the challenge, “I knew I had to pace myself and take my time, which is what I did. I essentially talked to my son in my head and he came back with, Take your time, dad, slow and steady.”
Later in the week, his meniscus popped. “I was in medical for a day and a half, and I came back for the weigh-in. And they took me out of the competition for the following week, and then they put me in on the bicycle competition. And then I tore the rest of my knee up on the bicycle competition.” He went on to say, “I couldn’t even walk anymore. … It was rehab all over again.”
Does Mike Regret Telling His Teammates to Vote Him Out?
By the time the moment of truth came and his team had to vote somebody out in episode 4, Mike asked his team to vote him off. That may seem like an unthinkable thing to ask, considering what these contestants have come on the show to do.
But when I asked him if he regrets telling his teammates to vote him off the ranch, he said simply, “I don’t regret it at all. … It was the right thing to do.” Because of how much his knee injury was affecting him, he had a difficult time contributing on a competitive level, which he felt would hurt his team’s chances going forward.
“If I left, they’d have a better shot” to further themselves in the competition, Mike went on to say. “I’ve watched what my teammates did with the opportunities that I gave them, and they’ve all taken the ball and run with it.”
So to him, the decision was a “no-brainer” because by that point, he had already lost his grief weight. So he realized he needed to look at the bigger picture, and he was choosing his life over the competition. His teammates “still needed to be there,” he added.
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“The Lesser Man” Poem
Mike was no doubt an inspiration to everyone during his time on The Biggest Loser, not only to us the viewers, but also to the trainers and the contestants themselves. (After Mike was eliminated from Comeback Canyon, his competitor, Matt, said exactly that.)
It didn’t seem like you could like him even more, but then he ended up reading a poem to Bob Harper. It was quite an emotional and powerful moment on the show. How did this all come about?
At one point while on the ranch, Mike was given an assignment to write a poem to his daughter, so he did, and that poem was called “Daughters.” His trainer, Dolvett Quince, asked him who he is fighting in his journey to lose weight and become a healthier person. He answered that he was fighting “the lesser man within.” This led to him writing the poem “The Lesser Man.”
Mike told us that you have to admit your shortcomings and come to grips with what is pulling you down — and then be able to move on from it. Through writing the poem, he found what was wrong: “Food is just a symptom of a deeper problem,” he said. Take notice of that deeper problem and go for it — that was, to him, what the point of the poem was all about.
Then and Now
Mike joined The Biggest Loser because of his son, who died at a Special Forces training in 2008; his son made him promise that he would lose weight.
Upon starting life on the ranch, he could barely do the cardio test right from the start, he was an insulin-dependent diabetic and he had sleep apnea, among other issues.
But that’s all changed now. His blood sugar levels are down, he doesn’t have high blood pressure and he is no longer diabetic. So his son “really did save my life,” Mike realized.
Now that he’s back home, where he says “My life is really great,” he’s got a fixed workout routine. He gets up at around 5:30am and heads to the pool. “I think nothing of getting up at 5:30am anymore.” He might hit the gym after work. And then after dinner, he’ll meet up with a friend to work out. Mike has also set up some exercise equipment at work, where he is an attorney, so that everybody is able to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Biggest Loser airs Thursdays at 8pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)