Friday, February 15, 2008

'Biggest Loser' 4 At-Home Winner Jim Germanakos Says Brother Bill Never Auditioned

Jim Germanakos was the at-home $100,000 winner of "The Biggest Loser" 4

I've got yet another interview with one of the contestants from "The Biggest Loser" 4 today and it's with the $100.000 at-home winner Jim Germanakos! He's the twin brother of Bill Germanakos who was the grand prize winner of $250,000 on the show and has quite a bit to share about how "The Biggest Loser" experience changed his life for the better.

You'll find out some pretty interesting information in Jim's interview today, including how HE was the one who actually got his brother Bill on the show, the betrayal he felt when he was voted off instead of Isabeau, and how his perspective on life has changed more than he could have ever imagined. Jim's a thought-provoking, introspective kinda guy and I am pleased to share my interview with him for you today!

If you missed any of my previous interviews with the contestants from Season 4, then please visit my "Biggest Loser" links page to access them.

1. As one-half of the first brothers to ever appear together on NBC-TV's hit reality weight loss show "The Biggest Loser" in Season 4, Jim Germanokos was often referred to as "the other twin" since his brother Bill made it all the way to the final four contestants. But Jim made a statement to his brother and the eliminated players when he lost an astounding 51.52% of his starting weight of 361 pounds--a total of 186 pounds--to win the at-home consolation prize of $100,000.

We have Jim with us here today at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog and I'm happy he chose to answer a few questions about his experiences that changed his life forever in 2007. So, tell me Jim, how does it feel to be the REAL "Biggest Loser" shedding more pounds percentage-wise than your brother Bill (who lost 164 pounds--an incredible 49.10% of his starting weight)? Do you remind him of the fact you lost more weight than him often?

I remind Bill all the time that although he has the title of "The Biggest Loser" that I not only managed to lose more weight AND percentage than him, but that I also managed to do it mostly at home (I lost 132 pounds while at home) and not with Jillian on The Biggest Loser ranch like him. It's the competition-thing between us. But I must say I am very proud of him, and he of me. But there always has to be some level of competition between us, or we wouldn't be US!

I want to remind everybody also that I immediately returned to work upon returning home. I am a Police Officer and work 12-hour tours. I also continued to function as a Boy Scout Leader, spending a week at Summer Camp with my son, and as a volunteer fireman until just recently. I also continued my regular role as a father and a homeowner. I cut the grass, cleaned the pool, helped the kids with their homework, and drove the kids around as needed. My wife Valerie was very supportive and took care of many of these tasks on a daily basis, which made it possible for me to put my time in at the gym.

2. Obviously you have to be very pleased with your success and I'm sure you feel somewhat vindicated by your performance in the grand finale. When you and Bill along with what would eventually become the other four members of The Black Team were rejected by the other two teams at the beginning of the season and then you were given an opportunity to work with a world-class trainer like Jillian Michaels, what impact did that have on your motivation and desire to be successful? Do you think things would have turned out differently had it not been for that extra incentive to prove you belonged than if you were one of the first ones chosen?

I definitely appreciated the time I spent with Jillian. She is a great trainer, and has nothing left to prove. I do wish I could have spent a little more time with her though! I personally don't think that my results would've changed had I been selected by a different team early in the game. For me it's all about motivation and dedication as well as the whole competition aspect. Bill and I are super competitive at everything we do. First we try to beat each other and then we try to beat everyone else. I think my results would have been the same. My brother and I were former college athletes and have had much experience with strict workout regimens. I think it definitely worked to our advantage on The Biggest Loser.

3. Of course, having your twin brother Bill on the show with you didn't hurt for moral support and it was quite obvious you two are very close buddies. Tell us what you guys did to get noticed by the casting agency for "The Biggest Loser" and share why you think they decided to choose BOTH of you--an extreme rarity in the realm of reality television. Did you feel there was a target on the backs of both you and Bill in the early going by the other contestants to split you up because of your close relationship? How did you feel when you were sent home earlier than you expected?

Bill never auditioned for the show. I got noticed by myself after Bill refused to go to the audition. I submitted tapes and photos and was invited to on-camera follow-ups and eventually made the statement to the casting company "Did I ever tell you guys I had a twin brother?" That's the way Bill got involved. All he did was shake the guys hand and get on a plane. LOL!

Yes, there was definitely a target on our backs due to the "alliance" factor. This became even more evident after seeing the episode when Jerry and Big Phil were talking about how to pick their teams and Phil makes the comment that "he will not pick a twin because we have two votes and will never vote against each other." This was obviously most evident when I was eliminated first from our team, even though I had lost the most weight.

Julie and Jez had agreed with Bill and I to vote off Isabeau because we agreed that she had the best opportunity to attain her fitness goals at home. This, we agreed, was due to her young age and lack of outside responsibilities at home. This obviously backfired on me when they "took me out" at their first opportunity. They called me the "biggest threat" and now everyone knows that they were correct in sending me home.

4. I know you didn't get to work with her as long as Bill and the other members of The Black Team did, but tell us your impression of Jillian. Did she strike the fear of God within you the first time she started training you? How did her workout methodology change you from the obese man you were into the healthy and fit man you are today?

Jillian was fantastic. She was everything I expected and more. I value every minute that I spent with Jillian not only because of the great trainer she is, but because of the sensitive and caring person she is. She is hard-core to the max in the gym and that's absolutely what got me started so quickly with my weight loss. The lessons she taught me regarding workout regimen, diet, and organics etc. are priceless, but I appreciate having gotten to know the person even more. I consider her like a little sister and will keep her in my heart as part of my family forever.

Did I have the fear of God while working out with her? Not at all. I'm 41 years old and have been through a lot in my life. When I say that I'm going to give you 100%, then you'll get my 100%. I gave it all I had and therefore never had to butt heads with Jillian. She did make me realize that I had an extra 10% that I never knew I had, and for this, I will always be thankful. That's what people who want to be successful in their fitness goals have to realize--you must train harder and longer than you previously thought WAS possible and this is the gift that Jillian gave me. I love that woman! She is just awesome--and she's also pretty darned cute!

5. I wouldn't disagree with you about that! So, obviously, leaving the Biggest Loser Ranch early was a disappointment, but you didn't seem to allow that to discourage you from doing your best to keep working hard and doing what you had to do to get healthy and trim. Talk about what you did at home once you were voted off the show to stay inspired and pumped up through the grand finale. How did you find the strength and energy to do it this time when those things were absent in previous attempts?

When I got home, the game was definitely on! I was most afraid of Bill getting eliminated, and us having to compete for the same prize. At this point, it was definitely me versus Bill. The way it turned out was the best case scenario because we didn't end up competing for the same prize. That would've been absolutely murder if we had. We may have come back weighing 92 pounds a piece!

The whole idea was making those changes in the routine that got me obese in the first place like wasting hours and hours in front of the TV and computer. I didn't waste any time. I worked a lot of "-tions" into my daily routine; education, motivation, dedication, inspiration, and perspiration. What came out of it was success. My father always said "The only way to get it done, is to get it started!" I did...and I won.

6. When Bill came home from the show, you instantly had a system of support in place to keep each other accountable and motivated as you guys undoubtedly worked out together and watched your diet. How important do you think that was to the eventual success both of you experienced becoming the at-home winner and the grand prize winner? Do you believe it gave you an unfair advantage over the other contestants who were left to do it all alone?

I definitely think that we had an advantage, but is it true? I don't know. Bill and I supported each other, sure, but did we support each other any more than a husband, wife, or boyfriend could have? Again, I don't know. Yes, we worked out together occasionally, maybe twice a week. Did that give us an advantage over another contestant working out with their partner? Maybe.

All I know is that we did it. We put the time necessary in and got results just like anybody else can if they put their time in. I do enjoy seeing the "results not typical" asterisk next to our picture when they promote our weight loss success. I always wanted to be that person named "Results not typical!" LOL!

7. Although exercise, including cardiovascular and resistance training, plays an important role in the weight loss success promoted by "The Biggest Loser," a lot of people tend to ignore the vital role of a proper diet in managing their weight and health. What does your diet look like now compared with what it was one year ago? Is there anything you used to eat like crazy that you wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole now?

My diet is not completely different. It's most important to learn to be accountable for everything you take in. Weight loss is merely math--calories in versus calories out. The most important part of my regimen was my food journal. I stuck to a strict 2000 calories a day regimen and kept track of everything that I ate. If I walked past the kids and stole a handful of grapes off their plate, then I counted them and eventually added them to my food journal. You'd be surprised how many calories you are really eating if you kept very close track.

I enjoyed pizza every Monday as part of my high calorie day. I would eat 50% more calories on Mondays and this would "reset" my metabolism. I haven't eaten many sweets like ice cream or cake because those are just wasted calories. When you're counting calories, it's surprising how fast the number goes up when you're not being careful. From the time that I got home on my birthday in June and for the five months thereafter, I was training on my own. However, for the last 5 1/2 weeks I was lucky enough to get introduced to an awesome trainer named Anthony Badalamenti, who is a former National Champion Bodybuilder and gym owner. He put me on a bodybuilder-style diet which I did until the finale. I consider Anthony a great friend and couldn't have gotten the results I did without him.

8. Four years ago, I lost 180 pounds and it radically changed my life in so many ways that I didn't even realize at the time. My confidence in myself skyrocketed, my personality blossomed, and I felt in such control of my life for the first time ever. Sometimes it feels like you're in a dream after losing such a life-altering amount of weight and you wonder if it is even real or not. Do you have such thoughts swimming around in your head like this or have you accepted and embraced that the new and improved Jim Germanokos is the real deal? What do your wife and kids think about these amazing changes that have happened to you and how has your relationship with them changed?

Congratulations on your life-changing transformation, Jimmy. I'm truly inspired by you and your success. After all, you were not on a nationally-televised reality show with a huge cash prize at the end of the journey. It is a true testament to the person you are that you were able to attain that much weight loss on your own. I'm truly impressed by your accomplishment.

That being said, here's the answer to your question. Everything has changed, and yet not much has changed. Weird, right? Here's the deal and tell me if this sounds familiar. I am now the person that I thought I was before, but only now do I realize how I was short-changing my family. I thought I was being an active dad and now I AM an active dad. I thought I was being a good role model, and now I AM a good role model. I thought I was being a good husband, and now I am working hard to be the best husband possible.

Everything has changed, because now anything is possible. ANYTHING! I plan on really enjoying the things I took for granted before, like spending time with the family enjoying the outdoors. I will also spend the rest of my life letting my beautiful wife know how much I appreciate all the sacrifices she made for me during my time away being on the show.

9. As both a police officer and a volunteer firefighter, you know the occupational hazards associated with carrying around extra pounds while fighting criminals or a house ablaze. What effect has your weight loss experience had on your fellow comrades at work and have you offered to help those with weight and health issues find what you did? Do you feel any sense of calling to help people lose weight and get healthy now that you yourself have done it?

I have been told numerous times by my fellow police officers that they are also inspired to lose weight due to my success on the show. Prior to the show, as I've said on interviews in the past, my biggest concern when I was obese was that I would possibly find myself in a situation where my being out of shape would put one of my partners in jeopardy. Let's say I was working with a thin partner, and we took chase after a bad guy. If I couldn't keep up, and the other officer actually caught the bad guy, then this officer would not have the backup that may be necessary to control the situation.

Heaven forbid this officer got hurt or worse. Then I wouldn't be able to forgive myself. And this bothered me a lot. Now I'm the officer who catches the bad guy! It's funny, but I find myself tightening my shoelaces much more nowadays! Many of the Officers that I work with are in fine shape, but some are not, and many of them have asked me to try to help them with their nutrition. I love the idea of being able to "Pay it Forward" as much as I can.

10. We appreciated having you here today to answer a few questions about your experience on "The Biggest Loser" this past season, Jim. As your favorite singer Frank Sinatra would say, you've "got the world on a string" so "come fly with me" as I do it "my way." LOL! Is there anything else you'd like to share with anyone reading this who thinks their weight and health situation is impossible to turn around?

A couple of quotes that I live by: "The only way to get it done, is to get it started!" and "NOTHING tastes as good as looking good feels!"

I want everybody out there to remember to put yourself first when it comes to your health and fitness. Be selfish. Do it for yourself first. Once you attain your fitness goals, then everybody around you will reap the benefits. So are you really doing it for yourself? Be phenomenal...and finish what you start! Now go out there and get started!

THANKS so much for sharing your sensational story with us today, Jim! I'm proud to have interviewed both you and your brother Bill and wish you nothing but continued success on this journey you have only just begun. Keep up with what's happening with the Germanakos brothers by visiting their web site at

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