11/20/2011 at 04:00 PM EST
How does Bonnie Griffin feel about her nine-week run on The Biggest Loser
"I was able to fool them all when they thought I was going to leave the first week," she told reporters during a recent conference call. "I became the cat with nine lives."
Requesting to be voted off of the show on last week's episode was a "spur of the moment" impulse, says Griffin, 63, who made her decision when fellow contestant Becky Comet "went under the yellow line with me. I'm so happy I gave Becky a chance to keep going."
Working first with trainer Anna Kournikova – who will leave The Biggest Loser
next season – then switching to trainer Dolvett Quince's team gave Griffin the extra boost she needed.
"Dolvett worked around my knee issue more than Anna did," recalls the Picayune, Miss., native who went from 254 lbs. to 213 lbs. while on the show. "He put me on a spin bike instead of the treadmill and had a lot of inspirational comments even after we finished working out."
When she returned home, it was all about finding new ways to get inspired to schedule gym workouts. "I didn't have the convenience of walking out of my dorm to the gym like I did in California," she says, adding that managing her food plan was also a tough task.
"I made sandwiches with lettuce and tomato, a lot of grains, and fish, chicken breast or non-processed turkey," she says.
But she doesn't beat herself up for not being perfect. And with the holidays coming, Griffin says she’ll allow herself a few indulgent moments. "I'll eat bites of things in moderation, but I feel so good that going back to the old Bonnie is something I never want to do."
The perks of being new
Bonnie? A trip to Disney World where she "won't have to rent a wheelchair" to get around and being able to get down on the floor to play with her 2-year-old granddaughter.
"Dolvett made me do those bear crawls on the floor," she explains. "Now I can get down and up without a problem."