Rob Mason

There's more to tell about the NBC show "The Biggest Loser" than the holiday eating pointers I shared last week. The real story is about the 12 individuals who have bared themselves to the world and made phenomenal progress towards a fitter life.

The four remaining competitors are Maurice, Gary, Ryan, and Kelly (no last names are used on the show). They've survived those somewhat lame weekly votes to cast off one.

The eight that left were tracked after leaving and their successes were reported. Dana, the first one eliminated, started out at 175 pounds. After 18 weeks, the time frame used for all eight of the departed, she had lost 25 pounds and was still working out.

Lizzeth, the second gone, was the lightweight of the bunch, a mere 167. She'd lost 18 pounds, but she'd gained a winning attitude.

"My advice to overweight people in America is to stick to it," she said. "Don't give up.

"Even if you fell once, try again. Even if you fell dozens of times, try again."

The third eliminated player was Aaron. He started at 261 and had lost a whopping 71, the most lost by anyone at the 18-week report in.

Matt was fourth out, starting at 310 and losing 68.

Dave, fifth off, lost 65 of his 250 pounds. And it really changed his life.

"This whole experience has given me a great opportunity to show America that a guy my age (not given, but looked to be about 45), who came from a ridiculously hazardous lifestyle of drinking, smoking, partying, ridiculous eating and staying up late -- really, close to killing myself -- that you can do it," he said. "I'm here, I'm living proof.

"It's not just for looking good and losing weight. I'm a better person."

The other Kelly was sixth person out, starting at 223 and losing 63. Andrea was seventh, weighing 261 in the beginning and losing 51 pounds.

The last to go, just before the holidays, was Lisa. She was a basket case through much of the show, a self-proclaimed "drama queen." She lost 61 of her 236 pounds.

One of the most telling weeks, four of the women sat in a room and talked about how they felt. I don't remember which one said it, but it reminded me of when I started running and found out I could run three miles.

"It's not losing the weight that really matters," she said. "It's learning that you can."

They all went through really tough workouts. They were at it four hours every day and making vast changes in their eating habits.

Maurice, the largest of the remaining contestants, started at 436 pounds. At last report he'd dropped about 50 pounds, but it wasn't without pain.

"After a workout, it kind of feels like I was in a car accident," he said. "Everything hurts."

All of them agreed that they couldn't have done it without the trainers driving them. On the next-to-last show, tonight at 8 p.m., the contestants will be giving the trainers a workout.

My hat is tipped to all of them. They've really transformed themselves, and it's been inspirational to watch.

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