When SunShine Hampton signed up to be on "The Biggest Loser" with her dad, O'Neal, her goal was to lose weight. What the Richfield woman didn't expect was that she would find someone special as the pounds were coming off.
Not only did SunShine, 24, drop the weight — she went from 275 pounds to 161 pounds, and her dad O'Neal went from 389 to 230 pounds — she also fell for fellow contestant Koli Palu. And while it was revealed on the show that Palu's teammate and cousin Sam Poueu was part of a "Biggest Loser" romance with contestant Stephanie Anderson, SunShine and Palu decided to keep their budding relationship under wraps until now.
On Thursday, in between local appearances that included a stop at General Mills and the Mall of America, SunShine — with some good-natured prodding from her dad — admitted she's been in a relationship with Palu since just after Christmas.
"He's a very good man," said SunShine, 24, who confessed at the beginning of the show that she had never had a boyfriend. "I knew the way he saw things was the same way I saw things. I could really relate to him on that level and we both had the same determination and goals. I just felt really good about it."
After losing 215 pounds, Palu snagged the "at home winner" $100,000 prize on Tuesday's "Biggest Loser" finale.
Currently, SunShine is in Minnesota, while Palu resides in California. But during the time between being eliminated from the show and this week's
finale, they were busy training together in Las Vegas.
"We haven't done the long-distance thing yet, but we're willing to support each other through it," said Sunshine. There'll be a lot of phone calls, I guess."
Her dad's thoughts on his daughter's new boyfriend?
"I'm taking the protective role," says O'Neal, who lost enough weight on the show that he can now have a much needed knee surgery he wasn't able to undergo at nearly 400 pounds. "I just want to make sure it's exactly what it is. On the ranch is one thing, but they've been off the ranch for quite awhile. I think they have strong feelings for each other, we'll just have to see. It's just a dating thing."
In an effort to maintain their current weight loss, SunShine and O'Neal have personal trainers. In a post-"Biggest Loser" world, SunShine said her days will now consist of about two hours of exercise, and her caloric intake will be between 1,200 and 1,300 calories. O'Neal plans to do two to three hours of exercise and eat from 1,800 to 1,900 calories daily.
Here are some tips on losing weight from the Hamptons:
1. Surround yourself with a good support system.
2. Hang in there. If you have a bad day, recover from it and move on. "Don't let it throw you into a downward spiral," SunShine says.
3. Take away something that you really like. "It's a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain," O'Neal says.
4. Slowly modify your lifestyle. "Just go at a little bit at a time," O'Neal says.
5. Focus on nutrition. "I think that's more important than the exercise," O'Neal says.