It was an emotional moment for Jim DiBattista as the 47-year-old youth football coach from Philadelphia was crowned The Biggest Loser Tuesday after dropping 144 lbs. from his initial weigh-in of 385 lbs. Opening up to PopCulture.com about his $100,000 win the next day, DiBattista recalled the "incredibly overwhelming" moment he was reunited with his family after months away at the Biggest Loser campus.
"I felt like my family made so many sacrifices for me," he explained of the moment's emotional impact, thanking his wife for running the household solo while he was away. "It was amazing to come home and show some positive results and show it was worth it."
Since the finale's filming in December, DiBattista has lost another 11 lbs., which he attributes to getting into a healthy routine of exercise and meal prep on a "smaller scale" than what he had experienced on the Biggest Loser campus.
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"My biggest challenge is the same challenge that every middle-aged man and woman running the house has — time," he explained. "My goal was to win, so I needed to make sure I had a plan in place I could replicate at home."
Eating nutritiously and varying his workouts between things like CrossFit and running, DiBattista has also embraced using meditation to control his anxiety. Since undertaking this lifestyle change, the Philadelphia native has not only reversed his type 2 diabetes, lowered his dangerously high blood pressure and cured his sleep apnea, he's embraced a gentler attitude towards himself.
"The most important thing for me to try and get across to people is you have to give yourself some grace," he added. "You have to love the person you are right now enough to make a change. Don't beat yourself up if you mess up. ...Do your best tomorrow, have a good day."
Although you wouldn't have guessed it at the start of their time together on The Biggest Loser, DiBattista also revealed he and coach Erica Lugo have become "lifelong friends" after their time working together. Despite being 14 years older than the Erica Fit Love trainer, DiBattista joked he feels like their dynamic is that of a mother and son.
"It's a really weird dynamic in the sense that I have so much pride in who I am showing off to her," he told PopCulture. "It's like, 'Look what you did!'"
Going into the competition, DiBattista always had expectations that he would be taking home the grand prize, admitting, "I'm that kind of person, I'm not going to start something I don't think I can finish or win." But even he couldn't have guessed what the end of his journey would be like.
"To say my expectations were exceeded would be an understatement," he said. "More good has come out of this than I ever thought could."
Photo credit: Richie Knapp/USA Network