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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • 'Biggest Loser' star brings encouragement to East Peoria

  • Danni Allen, the season 14 winner of NBC's “The Biggest Loser” had this message to share with those she met at Planet Fitness in East Peoria the night of Feb. 26: “If I can do it, anyone can.”
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  • Danni Allen, the season 14 winner of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” had this message to share with those she met at Planet Fitness in East Peoria the night of Feb. 26: “If I can do it, anyone can.”
    Allen, 27, of Mundelein, a town in Illinois, south of Wisconsin, said she got on the show when a friend talked her into going to an open audition in Lombard.
    “It was actually my friend’s idea. She was the one who really wanted to go. She’s a huge fan of the show. I had seen a couple of episodes here and there, but I was really going to support her, but I also knew myself that I needed to change,” Allen said.
    After a long wait in line, Allen said she was asked questions such as “What do you think the problem is with America being 60 percent obese? Why do you want to lose the weight?”
    “They are firing questions at you. You really have about five minutes to get in and get out,” she said.
    After the audition, Allen got a phone call that changed her life. Those conducting the audition told Allen she was selected for the show; however, her friend did not make it.
    “She told me it wasn’t the right time and place for her but she ended up losing about 70 pounds on her own,” Allen said.
    Allen lost 121 pounds during the show, but it’s not the amount of pounds lost that makes one a winner, it’s the percentage of body mass lost. Allen’s starting weight was 258 pounds and her final weight was 137 pounds.
    As the winner, Allen got $250,000 and the title “Biggest Loser.”
    “But that’s just on the surface,” she said. “In all honesty, I won my life back. I won the opportunity to get up in the morning with lots of energy to tell people that if I can do it, anyone can.”
    Allen said she was stunned that she won the contest.
    “All the doctors said I didn’t have enough weight to lose and I was up against big boys and only four female winners have won the show in the past 14 seasons,” Allen said.
    Being on the show changed Allen’s life. She opened her own yoga studio in Evanston and ran her first marathon.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I tell people I went Forest Gump on them and ran across the nation and ran several 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and my full marathon was in Chicago,” Allen said.
    As part of her contract from being on the show, she has to make appearances. She has visited about 40 Planet Fitness gyms, a sponsor of “The 
    Biggest Loser,” to meet and speak with people.
    “I tell them about my struggle,” she said.
    A steady stream of people stood in line to meet Allen at the East Peoria. One of them was Jazzmine Wage of Pekin.
    “I watch the show with my dad,” Wage said, adding that her family is thinking about joining Planet Fitness.
    The biggest challenge for Allen, she said, was not the physical aspect of losing weight, it was the mental part of it.
    “If it was about eating right and working out, we’d all do it. It’s about what’s going on behind the scenes, what’s going on in your head, what’s keeping you from making those right choices?”
    Allen said the reasons some people do not make healthy choices are varied.
    “There is no ‘we’ in it. It is ‘I’ honestly. We all have our reasons. My reason isn’t going to be your reason or someone else’s reason. I think it’s figuring out what’s going on inside you. I do think in essence we do tend to be people pleasers. We have that disease to please and worry about everyone else before we worry about ourselves,” Allen said.
    Another tip Allen provided is to make physical fitness fun. She works out about five days a week, 45 minutes to an hour each time.
    “I find a way to make it fun. It’s doing yoga, which I absolutely love or going out on a run with some friends. It’s making it an activity versus a work out,” she said.
    Allen has also made appearances on season 15 of “The Biggest Loser,” which she said just finished filming.
    Allen said she appreciates being told that being on “The Biggest Loser” must require some bravery.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I was at a point in my life where I just didn’t know what else to do and I was desperate for anything,” she said. “I was grateful for every opportunity the show gave me.”
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