As a contestant on The Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson bared her 260-lb. body in nothing but a sports bra and shorts, shared her heartache about a bad breakup and fought her way through dozens of grueling workouts.
Still, nothing could have prepared the 24-year-old voice-over actress for the tidal wave of criticism and scrutiny that has engulfed her since revealing her 155-lb. weight loss on the reality show’s Feb. 4 finale.
A week before the Biggest Loser finale, Rachel Frederickson admits she was working out upwards of six hours a day and eating 1,600 calories with no inkling of the whirlwind of controversy that would surround her dramatic weight-loss reveal.
"I got my butt in the gym because, I said, 'This is the last week. You better be working out,' " the voiceover actress, 24, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview three days after the Feb. 4 finale. "So I didn't take any jobs and I worked out an extra couple hours."
But now $250,000 richer, Frederickson is ready to put the critical comments about her 105-lb. figure behind her and adjust to life after the ranch.
When Rachel Frederickson revealed her new, size 0-2 figure on the Feb. 4 finale of NBC's The Biggest Loser, she thought she would wow friends, family and viewers – and maybe win the title of Biggest Loser.
She did win, but the 24-year-old voice actress also ignited a firestorm of controversy about her dramatically slimmed-down figure, down to 105 lbs. from her starting weight of 260 lbs. (At 5'4", her height-weight ratio puts her BMI at 18, below the threshold doctors consider normal.)
Sitting down with PEOPLE in Los Angeles, just days after she made headlines for her striking transformation, Frederickson says she maintained a 1,600-calorie daily diet, working out six hours a day in the three months before the finale.
In the wake of The Biggest Loser's controversial finale last Tuesday, on which winner Rachel Frederickson revealed she had lost a whopping 155 lbs. – including 45 lbs. in the past three months alone – questions have been raised about the NBC show's approach to weight loss.
PEOPLE asked experts in health, fitness and public relations to weigh in on how The Biggest Loser can be improved for future contestants.
As the public continues to debate whether The Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson had gone too far by dropping from 260 to 105 lbs., past winners of the NBC reality weight-loss competition shared their thoughts on the shocking reveal with PEOPLE.
"She did what she had to do," says season 10 winner Patrick House, who once tipped the scales at 424 lbs. and currently weighs 220.
"Rachel's transformation was like any Biggest Loser contestant," says the 6'2" House. "She had to do the best that she possibly could, and at the end of the day, there's a carrot dangling that's a quarter of a million dollars up for grabs."
The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper admits he was shocked when he saw Rachel Frederickson walk out during Tuesday's finale and show off her exceedingly thin frame.
"I was stunned. That would be the word. I mean, we've never had a contestant come in at 105 lbs.," Harper says in an interview airing next Thursday on the Rachael Ray Show.
Frederickson, 24, started the show at 260 lbs. When she left as a finalist three months ago to work on losing weight at home, she weighed 150 lbs., and later lost 45 more.
When Rachel Frederickson left The Biggest Loser Ranch three months ago, she had the same goal shared by all of the show's contestants: to continue shedding weight.
But after returning to the show 45 lbs. lighter than she left it – for a total weight loss of 155 lbs. – the spotlight is now focused on whether Frederickson, 24, may have resorted to extreme measures to lose the additional weight in advance of the show's Tuesday finale.
Currently a size 0/2 and 105 lbs., Frederickson herself briefly addressed the controversy in a conference call on Wednesday.
The Biggest Loser winner Rachel Frederickson's dramatic weight loss swiftly fired up concern over her health and well-being, and whether her 155-lb. plunge may have gone too far.
Now, the man who was instrumental in helping her shed her weight – trainer Dolvett Quince – is weighing in on the controversy.
"Last night's Biggest Loser Finale has sparked a huge reaction and I do not want the day to end without addressing it," Quince wrote in a Facebook message posted Wednesday night.
At The Biggest Loser finale, Rachel Frederickson stood proudly on the scale to show off her 155 lb.-weight loss.
But rather than be a cause for celebration, Frederickson, 24, and her transformation has sparked concern that the 5'4" contestant may have taken her weight loss too far.
Frederickson started the show at 260 lbs. and, as a finalist, left the ranch weighing 150 lbs. to work on losing weight at home on her own. By the finale about three months later she had shed another 45 lbs. and weighed in at 105 lbs. to a size 0/2.
"I just love myself and I am embracing it," Frederickson told PEOPLE on Tuesday night, seemingly unaware of the concern over her appearance.