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People Top 5
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- May 25, 2009
- Vol. 71
- No. 20
The Biggest Winner
A 48-Year-Old Mom Beats Out 21 Other Competitors—including Two Teens!—to Become the Biggest Loser's Oldest Champ
STARTING WEIGHT: 257 lbs.
NOW 117 LBS.!
BEFORE 257 LBS.
When it comes to getting in shape, Helen Phillips has a message for all the "moms out there who are middle-aged: It's never too late!" she says. "I thought it was for me, but I was able to take this broken body of mine and change it around." Did she ever: On May 12 Phillips became the oldest contestant to be crowned champion of NBC's reality show The Biggest Loser. Not only did she shed 140 lbs. (more than half her body weight!), but she also dropped 20 sizes, going from a 22 to a 2. "Knowing I can put on a dress and look pretty—it's great to feel like a woman again," Phillips says, adding that she plans to spend some of her $250,000 prize "buying more clothes. I never dreamed I could be this size." That's not the only new reality she's embracing: Although Phillips, a married mother of two, once loathed walking so much she'd drive her two dogs to a park that was barely three blocks from her Sterling Heights, Mich., home, today she's a bona fide gym rat. "I find myself wanting to get up at 4 in the morning to go to the gym!" she says. "I feel such confidence, determination and drive. I have a new peace."
THE OTHER FINALISTS
MIKE MORELLI, 19
At 388 lbs., this premed felt unqualified to be a doctor. "You're not going to be able to preach to patients if you're enormous," he explains. But now down to 181 lbs., Morelli is a certified personal trainer leaning toward a kinesiology major. "Being as active as I plan to be," he says, "I want to figure out how to take care of my body."
NOW 181 LBS.!
BEFORE 388 LBS.
TARA COSTA, 24
The best part about going from 294 lbs. to 139 lbs.? "My legs don't rub together!" says Costa, who maintains her 155-lb. weight loss by running several miles a day. "I would always wear Spanx under my skirts in the summer—but I don't think I have to do that anymore." Another big change ahead: dating. Says Costa: "I hope I can remember how to flirt!"
BEFORE 294 LBS.
NOW 139 LBS.!
Go behind the scenes of NBC's Biggest Loser photo shoot at people.com/biggest-loser
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