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'Biggest Losers' share big victories

By Jo Piazza, Special to CNN
The new season of "The Biggest Loser" begins Tuesday.
The new season of "The Biggest Loser" begins Tuesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New season of the NBC hit weight loss competition "The Biggest Loser" debuts Tuesday.
  • Former competitors share their stories and tell how they continue to live healthily
  • Ali Vincent wrote book: "Believe It, Be It: How Being the Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life"
  • Bill Germanakos: Show "saved my life "; Helen Phillips: "I've never been happier"

(CNN) -- The next cycle of the NBC hit weight loss competition "The Biggest Loser" debuts Tuesday with the show's third couples edition.

As trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper get ready to take on what is being hyped as the show's biggest season, CNN revisited past winners Bill Germanakos (season four), Ali Vincent (season five) and Helen Phillips (season seven) to follow up on their lives since their big wins.

Not surprisingly, they're all working to share their gift of health with others who struggle with weight issues.

But what exactly are they doing now? Have they kept the weight off? And have their lives really changed for the better? Here are their stories:

Bill Germanakos competed against his twin brother, Jim, on the fourth season of the show in 2007. Bill's mantra on the show was: "To become half the man, so that he could be twice the man." He literally almost reached that goal. Germanakos, who started the competition at 334 pounds, dropped 164 pounds, for a 49 percent weight loss and a weight of 170 pounds.

CNN: What do you weigh now?

Germanakos: Today, I stand at approximately 210 pounds, which is the weight that I arrived at about two months after winning the competition and a weight that my physician and I feel is a healthy, comfortable and (most importantly) sustainable weight for me. This is the weight that I have maintained for approximately two years now, which simply means that "The Biggest Loser" helped me to accomplish and maintain a weight loss of approximately 125 pounds.

To see before-and-after shots of previous winners, click here.

CNN: What are you doing now?

Bill Germanakos started season four at 334 pounds. He dropped 164 pounds, weighing 170 at season's end.
Bill Germanakos started season four at 334 pounds. He dropped 164 pounds, weighing 170 at season's end.

Germanakos: I am thrilled to report that the show not only saved my life by giving me the education that I really needed about diet, exercise and living a healthy lifestyle, but it also afforded me the opportunity to entirely change my career. I have now developed a full-time career as a motivational speaker. I "pay it forward" by educating people all over the country about healthy living.

My goal is to find others who have grown to feel hopeless and helpless, the way that I had, and simply offer them help, in the form of an education, and hope, in showing them that anything is possible if you ask for help, and then set your mind to making the necessary changes.

My brother Jim and I have also created our own company called Weight Loss Twins LLC. Finally, I am happy to report that I also now work in the corporate wellness arena, as the national spokesman and wellness ambassador for Quest Diagnostics, a large health and well-care company.

CNN: Has it been challenging to keep the weight off?

Germanakos: Many people ask me if it has been difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but I am quick to assure them that, given the unbelievable amount of resources made available to its contestants by "The Biggest Loser," I have done so without too much trouble. "The Biggest Loser" show changed my life, and I will forever be grateful.

A former nationally ranked synchronized swimmer and professional hair stylist, Ali Vincent was the first female winner on the series. Vincent was joined by her mom, Bette Sue Burkland, on the show when she made her transformation from 234 pounds to 122 pounds.

CNN: What do you weigh now?

Vincent: I live my life at 125 pounds.

CNN: Are you continuing to lose weight?

To me, there are no negatives here. I get to travel the country talking to people, which I love.
--Ali Vincent, first female winner on the series

Vincent: I do not continue to lose weight, as I don't need to. I work out with a trainer, sign up for road races and triathlons to always have a goal to work towards, and I find new and fun ways to work out to keep it exciting, including hiking, striding, dancing, swimming and as many different group exercise classes as I can.

CNN: How has your life changed?

Vincent: How hasn't it changed? I have more energy, I travel the country talking with large and small groups about reclaiming their lives and living the lives they love to live. I wrote a book called "Believe It, Be It: How Being the Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life." I work with "The Biggest Loser" online club through blogging and interviewing current contestants. I became a spokesperson for Designer Whey Protein, and I host regularly on QVC.

I've partnered with several different nonprofits to create awareness and funding for health and wellness. I'm in the process of starting the "Believe It Be It" foundation to empower our youth to create a difference in their own lives and their communities.

CNN: Have there been any drawbacks?

Vincent: As far as negatives, I can't come up with any, unless you consider people asking my waiter in a restaurant what I ordered, or looking in my grocery cart, or following me around the gym a negative. To me, there are no negatives here. I get to travel the country talking to people, which I love.

CNN: So what's the best part of life post-show?

Vincent: Everything in my life has changed. I changed my career, my relationships have depth because of my great relationship with myself, and I'm living my life to the fullest to make the difference I always dreamed of.

Helen Phillips lost 140 pounds on season seven, starting out at 257 pounds and weighing in at 117 in the finale on May 12, 2009. The 48-year-old went from a size 22 to a size 2, beating out a field of much younger competitors.

CNN: What do you weigh today?

My life has changed because I seem to have one now. ... Now I wake up in the morning eager to start my day.
--Helen Phillips, who lost 140 pounds on season seven
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Phillips: Today I am proud to say that I weigh 132 pounds, and I am looking and feeling fantastic.

CNN: Are you still dieting?

Phillips: I no longer have to lose weight. I maintain my weight by continuing to work out and eat very healthy. I go to the gym at least four to five times a week and ride my bike, roller-skate, take dance class and love to spin. I live in Michigan, so the snow will be flying soon, so I'm looking forward to snowshoeing and skiing this winter. I'm even thinking about playing ice hockey! I, of course, will run another marathon or three.

CNN: How has your life changed since you were on the show?

Phillips: My life has changed because I seem to have one now. Before "The Biggest Loser," I was a very depressed, very withdrawn, a terrible yo-yo dieter. Now I wake up in the morning eager to start my day. I feel proud of myself and what I accomplished. I changed my life in the middle of it, age means nothing to me anymore, I've never been happier and now am eager to help others reach their weight loss goals.

CNN: What are you doing now?

Phillips: I realize, now that I've been home for awhile, that I have this huge responsibility to help as many people as I can. I am mainly working with families to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle while still working.

Raising a family and living a busy life does not mean you must sacrifice yours or your family's health. So I do a lot of motivational speaking and am working with the schools on nutrition and health. I never thought I could ever become a motivational speaker. The great thing about it is that I'm making a difference. And that's what counts.