BLADENBORO — Lauren Clark knew the help she needed to fight a growing weight problem could be found through NBC’s reality television show “The Biggest Loser.” But three attempts to get chosen as a participant were unsuccessful, and left her wondering if that help would ever be available.
“I just figured it wasn’t in God’s plan for me,” she said recently.
But in mid-2015, everything changed when, along with her mother Vicki, Lauren was chosen for “The Biggest Loser’s” 17th season titled “Temptation Nation.”
Vicki was eliminated from the show after week seven, leaving Lauren to continue the weight-loss battle. On Monday, three weeks later, Lauren was sent home by the remaining five contestants after a 3-2 vote — ending her on-show participation, but not her chances to win the at-home prize of $100,000.
While on the show, which was filmed at the famed King Gillette Ranch in California, Lauren dropped 55 pounds and made it to the coveted “Makeover Week” in week 10.
Other than the chance to work with Hollywood fashion icon Tim Gunn and hair stylist to the stars Ken Paves, the transformed Lauren was also able to spend time with her son Caleb and father John for the first time in 10 weeks.
“I needed to see my son and know that he was doing OK,” she said. “I didn’t even acknowledge my daddy, God bless him.”
Caleb, 8, who was dapper in his white shirt and colorful bow-tie, was wide-eyed when he saw his mother for the first time in more than two months.
“You look different. You look skinny,” he told her. “I’m proud of you.”
Those words — whether it’s the three, six or 10 — are what Lauren points to as her most rewarding time on the show.
“That just meant so much to me,” she said. “People don’t realize how long of a day that was for us, and we all knew our families were out there somewhere waiting to see us. We had fun with the makeovers, but it was after 9 p.m. before we got to film the family part.”
If there was a toughest part for Lauren, she said it was when her mom was eliminated from the show.
“Things went downhill a lot, because me and momma are so alike and I’m used to being near her,” she said. “It was rough.”
Lauren added that Makeover Week was pretty bitter-sweet for her because of her mom.
“Momma is a big Tim Gunn fan and really wanted to make it to Makeover Week,” she said. “So even though I enjoyed it, I was sad she couldn’t share it with me.”
Looking back on her 10-week experience with “The Biggest Loser,” Lauren said her biggest challenge during the show was getting out of her own way.
“I had to learn to get out of my own head,” she said. “And I still struggle with negative thoughts.
“Plus, the scale has never been my friend, and I told my trainer, Jen, early on that I didn’t want young girls to think the scale is the most important thing,” she added. “For me, I always wanted to portray a strong, confident woman no matter what the scale says.”
And speaking about being on Team Jen …
“I honestly think God blessed me with Jen,” Lauren said. “She saw something in me that I couldn’t see. Jen is a world class trainer and she believes in me.”
Now that she is home, Lauren said she know she won’t win the at-home challenge part of the show, but that’s not a big concern.
“I’ve probably lost some inches, but not a ton of weight,” she said. “I’m just happy to be able to eat again and make my own choices. There wasn’t anything at the ranch that would cause anyone to gain weight.”
“The Biggest Loser” finale will be aired on Monday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. on NBC.
“I’m looking forward to the finale, for the most part,” Lauren said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.”
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.