For PhiXavier "Phi" Holmes, her time on The Biggest Loser meant the start of a total transformation that began internally and has her feeling like a whole new woman. Losing a total of 12 lbs. during her two weeks on the show before being sent home, the Washington D.C. school counselor told PopCulture.com that her life since competing on the USA show's revival has began looking bright after she was able to come to terms with emotional trauma from early on in her life.
Holmes first knew she needed to make a change when at 36, she realized she was taking the same medications as her grandparents, who are in their 80s. Beginning her Biggest Loser journey at 357 lbs., Holmes quickly realized that much of her emotional eating she had done over the years was tied to the grief and guilt she had internalized for decades after the traumatic death of her father when she was a little girl.
"[The Biggest Loser] was definitely a healing and a release," she told PopCulture, adding of the emotional breakdown over her father's death she had with coach Erica Lugo while on the treadmill week one, "It was my first time saying anything."
While Holmes had previous sought help to process her emotions in therapy, she learned she had "only scratched the surface" of what was lying dormant within her.
"It was the release that I needed, because I had internalized the grief within me," she admitted, saying the episode airing was also the first time her family truly knew what she was dealing with all of these years. "For my family, it was a connecting moment. It was, 'Yes, this makes sense.'"
Learning to be vulnerable with the help of the Biggest Loser team has been the start of a powerful emotional and physical change.
"Being on Biggest Loser and the revamp of the season ... this is why I love it, because it focuses on the whole person," Holmes said. "Since then, I've learned not only to be vulnerable but also to ask for help."
Since returning home, Holmes has continued her wellness journey "charting non-scale victories," like being able to express herself through art and dance, a passion she says her weight kept her from in the past.
"I watch my body transform as I'm losing the weight, but I'm watching how my body is feeling," she explained, noting that she no longer has to wear knee braces and can walk the stairs at work faster and with less effort.
"My body can now do things without the pain that I had before," she told PopCulture. "I've started to experience the life in my head I always wanted and in my heart I always dreamed."
The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on USA Network.
Photo credit: Richie Knapp/USA Network