Local ‘Biggest Loser’ contestants set sights on upcoming NYC marathon
- Last Updated: 4:04 AM, October 13, 2011
- Posted: 10:57 PM, October 11, 2011
Early one evening, Jay Jacobs’ legs spin on a stationary bike in an exercise room of a sports club as sweat drips down his cheeks.
Next to him is his modelesque daughter, Jennifer, a blond-haired beauty in Spandex pants that show off toned legs as she leads the class.
“You should feel resistance,” she shouts with a smile. The curious watch the pair, and for good reason.
A little over a year ago, West Orange, N.J., resident Jacobs, 54, weighed 435 pounds. He was so heavy that the pressure on his legs left them with a tingly asleep feeling. It hurt getting in and out of a car.
“I couldn’t walk more than a hundred feet before my knees hurt,” he recalls. He and his wife, Kim, would order Chinese food night after night, and follow it with milk and cookies. Jay estimates he ate about 6,000 calories a day.
Their daughter Jen, 28, of Long Branch, N.J., who is a partner with her parents in their marketing firm, was a yo-yo dieter, gaining and losing 75 pounds over and over again. Due to this never-give-up attitude, however, she captured the attention of “The Biggest Loser” producers, beating over 250,000 other hopefuls, and landing a spot with Jay for Season 11 which aired this spring.
Jay shed 181 pounds and finished as the top male, while Jen, at almost 300 pounds, lost 114. Now, they are training for another race — the upcoming New York City Marathon on November 6 — while raising money for the American Cancer Society.
“A year ago, the marathon seemed like an insurmountable task,” Jen says. “It’s an amazing thing, incredibly empowering.”
As are this duo. The start of their new lives began the first night at the Biggest Loser Ranch in Calabasas, Calif., on September 29, 2010, with a 5-kilometer run at 1 a.m. Both finished the race. “Ninety-nine percent of it is mental, one percent is physical,” says Jay, a chatty, upbeat man who has a penchant for Starbucks.
“I was with Jillian [Michaels, trainer] and she had me doing sprints on the StairMaster. She was doing everything she could to exhaust my body to fall off the StairMaster. I wouldn’t quit. I fell off a couple times because my legs gave out, but there is a difference between physical exhaustion and giving up. ”
On the ranch, in addition to exercising six to eight hours a day, Jen and Jay were given calorie limits by the show’s doctor, Robert Huizenga.
Once off the show, Jen and Jay, determined to continue their “Biggest Loser” lifestyle, began weighing themselves once a week and posting the results on Facebook to remain accountable. They each became certified Spin instructors, and, of course, committed to finishing the marathon.
“I never imagined I would be doing this marathon so soon, let alone with my father,” says Jen, who can be spotted with Jay along the course in their green “Biggest Loser” t-shirts. “My dream was to run the marathon. I always wanted to do it, but I never knew how to do it with my weight problem.
“I am so grateful it’s sooner than later. And I never thought in a million years my dad would do it. In the past, he’d make the excuse — I am not fast enough, young enough — but he took up running when he came home. It’s so awesome we’re doing it.”
Still, each have gained some weight since the May 24, 2011 finale, when Jay weighed in at 219 (he is 225 now) and Jen at 164 (she weighs 196). “I’m not too happy about it,” Jen admits.
Jen is not worried about her dad running 26.2 miles in just a few weeks. “It is an amazing thing he’s done. It goes to show you it’s never too late, you’re never too old, [and] you’re never too far gone to turn your life around.”
Now in its 12th season, NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” has helped 212 contestants lose an average of 100 pounds and some 22,500 pounds total since the show’s start in 2004.
Joining Jen and Jay in the NYC marathon are at least four other Biggest Losers, including Staten Island’s Frado Dinten.
After their time on the ranch, there is ongoing support available for contestants, yet not all former Biggest Losers, are up for running marathons. Long Islander Erik Chopin was the Season 3 winner with a weight loss of 214 pounds in 2006. However, the deli owner regained weight, eventually reaching 368 pounds, near the weight he began with. Since then, Chopin has reportedly lost over 100 of the regained pounds.
To register for Season 14, log on to biggestloser.com.