Kae Whang lost nearly 100 pounds, but gained so much more!
In the past couple of weeks, we've heard from quite a few contestants from Season 4 of "The Biggest Loser" including the $250,000 winner Bill Germanakos, Isabeau Miller, Lezlye Donahue, Jerry Lisenby, and Jez Luckett. For the millions of people who LOVE this show (myself included!), it's been a neat experience getting to hear how much this simple little television show has quite literally changed the lives of these real people for the better and I'm so pleased to be able to share these interviews with you.
Next up we have the incredible story of Kae Whang who did some rather remarkable things during her time on "The Biggest Loser" ranch. As you can see from those stunning before and after photos at the top of this post, this is one incredibly changed woman. But those outward changes don't even begin to tell the whole story as you will quickly find out in my chat with Kae today. She's been RADICALLY changed internally where so much of the obesity battle tends to take place in our lives.
Listen as Kae is both edifying and instructive about what ANYONE can do to become a BIG WINNER at weight loss and in life. Kae's a monster that's been let out of her cage and nothing's gonna stop her now! ENJOY!
1. Have I got a special surprise interview guest to share with you today who earned the respect and adoration of millions of fans for her consistency during Season 4 of the NBC television weight loss reality series "The Biggest Loser." It's Kae Whang and what an amazing woman she is! She was considered one of the biggest threats at The Biggest Loser campus in Season 4 because her weight loss was always around 6-8 pounds week in and week out despite the fact that she began the show as one of the lighter contestants at 225 (only Julie weighed less than Kae).
In fact, Kae, you went on to lose more weight as a percentage while still on the show than any other contestant in the history of "The Biggest Loser." What was it like setting the pace for the rest of the contestants and do you feel you did anything different from the rest of them to produce such consistency?
Thank you so much! To answer your question, I think everyone is different and has a different style on what works best for them. My style was just to be visualized on my goal, focused on what I’m doing now to get to that goal, and knowing wholeheartedly that I will get there.
I learned A LOT from Bob Harper. He taught me to make things simple by just doing it. It’s either YES or NO, that’s it! The gray area will make you over-think things so you start making excuses by doubting yourself and then they just overwhelm you. That just takes too much time and while you were thinking about it, you could have just done it or not and then moved on. Discipline (dedication to one’s self and others) is something that I thank my parents and the United States Army for.
2. By the time you reached the grand finale in December 2007, you had lost a total of 97 pounds--an incredible 43.11% of your starting weight! WOW!!! You look absolutely stunning now in your petite body and I know your "hubsters" as you call the love of your life is just so very proud of you. Are you amazed by how different you look and feel now or do you sometimes still feel "fat?"
I know after I lost 180 pounds in 2004, it took me a long time to wrap my head around the fact that I've changed. Even now, I catch myself thinking negative thoughts about my body and it's a difficult thing to overcome. How are you handling being the new Kae?
Congrats on the weight loss, Jimmy! That is AMAZING!
Yes, my hubster is so adorable about how proud he is of me. I love how he is so excited about our new life and lifestyle! I have to admit that when I first went home from the campus, I would do double takes with my reflection in the mirror. Hahaha, I know that sounds funny, but it took me a LONG time to embrace and own all the accomplishments I have done. When the old Kae thoughts come up, I stop and tell myself that I worked TOO HARD to get to where I am to regret it now. I must live by my new mottos and stick to them! The new Kae is here to stay!
3. Anyone watching "The Biggest Loser" in Season 4 saw you as a sincere and sensitive woman who deals with adversity and conflict in a transparent, emotional way. That quiet nature you possess was one of the reasons people held such deep respect and admiration for you. Everyone knew Kae was gonna do her job without complaining or whining. Has your personality changed in any way since your exposure on national television and enormous weight loss success? Do you feel more confident now than at any other point in your life?
Thank you so much for that! That was very sweet!
I would say that my personality has strengthened. I am able to stand firm in my decisions and be confident in pursuing things I use to only wish about. I’ve learned not to regret and not ask myself “what if?” Things always happen for a reason and you make the best of it.
We have control (even in times when you feel like you are helpless) of our lives and how we react to things. You can be a victim all your life and be miserable or you can take life in your own hands, learn from it, enjoy the journey, and move on.
I am honored and so flattered for people to be so kindhearted and open to me. I am much more confident now. Don’t get me wrong, I was VERY proud to be able to help save the rainforest in Peru, serve in the US Army with International Pilots, and collect evidence for the United Nations, but this chapter in my life is much different. One that has changed my life forever!
4. Bob Harper was "the man" for the Blue Team and you and he seemed to form quite a dynamic relationship to help you come out of your shell so to speak. His caring attitude and willingness to cater his training techniques to your individual needs seemed to work remarkably well for you. Talk about Bob the person as well as Bob the professional trainer to tell us what you admire the most about both the man and the mentor.
I love Bob, because it wasn’t just about the surface (the body) to him. It was about everything: mental, spiritual, emotional, and then psychological. He guided us through this journey of self-discovery where we got to learn so much about ourselves: what made us tick, what made us become obese, to overcome our fears, to welcome each challenge, to truly respect/love ourselves, to be the best that we can give with love, and finally, to do it, and not wish for it. I was fortunate to be with Bob, because he meant business in the gym, but outside the gym he was your friend who cared about you.
5. One key element of Bob's training that I was impressed with and you seemed to fully embrace was the meditation aspect. Taking time to gather your thoughts, focus on the positive, and release all the stress and worries of the world is something we could all use a lot more of in our daily lives. What benefits did you reap from adding this often overlooked technique to your diet and fitness routine and how is it working for you now back in the real world?
It’s amazing how POWERFUL the mind is and what better tool than your mind to help you get to your goals? If you can focus 100% on your goals without the white noise of the negativity and self-doubting thoughts, then you can achieve ANYTHING! That is where meditation is helpful because it helps you calm the stress that’s on your mind, refocus on your goals, learn to respect and love yourself, bring greater awareness, and to live more positive and happier.
And all you have to do is BREATHE. Sometimes, we are so busy with all the worries of life, we tend to hold on to all the stress--even holding onto our breath. Meditation has helped me to disrupt this destructive behavior and to stop to breathe so that I can refocus on the goal and the abundance of rewards that will come once I achieve it and knowing that I WILL achieve it because I’ve given it my best.
6. The week you fell below the yellow line and you only lost a few pounds had to be disappointing. But weight loss fluctuations happen sometimes even when you do everything perfectly right. It's just a part of the process of shedding the pounds and getting healthy. In fact, I went 10 weeks in a row right smack dab in the middle of my weight loss efforts where I could have thrown in the towel and given up. But I stuck with it.
Of course, for you it was an inopportune time for that to happen since you were playing the game. Did that experience teach you anything? Did it motivate you that much more to keep doing what you were doing? Do you think the format of "The Biggest Loser" creates an unfair scenario for the contestants whose bodies begin shifting weight sooner than others?
When I fell below the yellow line, my first reaction was to beat myself up for not trying harder. But then I had to remind myself that there was no point in beating myself for the past. I had given my best even though it wasn’t as great as everyone else’s. Yet it was still mine and I had to own it.
I told myself that things happen for a reason and to make the best out of the situation. I could complain and whine about it, but what’s the point? Why not learn from the situation and move forward. The competitive side of me did help me to work harder at home and it has brought me the most amazing people to help me in this journey!
To answer your last question, I think we underestimate ourselves and others. The timing may be different for everyone, but the results at the end is what’s important. And we have to admit that everyone did such a GREAT job at the end, and there are some that even surprised me!
7. Have you had a chance to go back to Korea to surprise your grandmother with your new thin body yet? I bet she'll be so amazed at what a difference you have made! Do you think your obesity had more to do with the influence of American culture on your life or did the Korean cuisine also help pack on the pounds?
I have not been to Korea yet, but we are heading there this year! I can’t wait!
I think that you can be obese in any culture, but it’s just the way you live your life. I believe Korean food is overall healthy (except for some of the high sodium foods), but for me I didn’t just eat Korean food.
Unfortunately, I ate much BIGGER portions of all types of food, I didn’t make my health a priority, and I didn’t have the knowledge that I know now. But you could say that many Koreans in Korea are more likely to be more health-conscious and tend to walk everywhere similar to many other countries.
8. Running has become such a part of who you are now that it's a far cry from where you were just one year ago. This thing you used to "hate with a passion" is now something you can't live without. Share with my readers who also "hate" exercise of any kind how they can grow to love it as much as they currently enjoy a big slice of hot fudge cake!
Here is how I’ve learned to LOVE running.
FIRST, welcome it.
If you tell yourself you hate it, then you’ve conditioned yourself to hate it. Remind yourself why you are doing it in the first place. Why be miserable with things you hate? Find something that you enjoy! Make is pleasant! If you are cursing at the run, then you are going to hate it forever. But once you focus on the positives, then you will find yourself at a 5k in no time!
I have to give credit to my fellow Blue Team contestant Jerry Lisenby for teaching me to run on the treadmill. He taught me to start slow and gradually build from it. When I first began, I started around 2.0 for about 3 minutes and I was out of breath! Then Bob taught us to remember how that felt. I didn’t want to run at 225 pounds again because it didn’t feel right.
Slowly, I started to work my way up to run for 5 minutes and so on. Over time, I started gaining my endurance because speed can come later. Once I could run for a mile, I decided to challenge myself to run faster. It’s a process where you have to focus on your breathing, your posture, and your efforts. You will be surprised how EVERYTHING has a technique, especially to avoid injury, you really need to do it properly!
So, I have learned that you should warm up your muscles with walking for about 3-10 minutes. Then you start jogging at a comfortable pace, making sure that you are running from your core rather than your feet (you will notice when you starting hearing your feet pound into the ground). I know that sounds odd, but you will see how much lighter your run is, hence, making you run longer.
Focus on your breathing. Make your breath steady and consistent. If you find yourself huffing and puffing you are just exerting too much energy, making you “freak out”, and it will cause a negative effect with running. Then look at your body and arms. Is your body nice and tall? Are your arms loose and below your heart? If you are swinging your arms in a tight position, you are just exerting even more energy. Make the run nice and light.
It’s a time to let go of your stress, do something GREAT for your body (which you can start seeing results quickly), and the best part is once you get your second wind, your endorphins start kicking in and you get that “runners high” that people talk about! It’s such a incredible feeling, especially, when you’ve accomplished your first race or getting ready to challenge yourself for the next one! The running community is so welcoming, friendly, and helpful! How can you not love it?!
Again, it’s all about the mind (that is what I concentrate on in my motivational lectures). If you tell yourself you love it, then you love it (same with the opposite). So, why not choose to love it and be happy?! That’s how I look at it. But again, find something that you enjoy doing or are willing to try doing! Who knew I loved climbing, kayaking, or even boxing?!?! And once you find something you love, learn about it and the techniques to help you do it more efficiently and properly. This will help your performance and motivation to keep going to improve your self and timing!
9. You have such a heart for a variety of charities and organizations that help children and battered women as evidenced on your fabulous web site KaeWhang.com. How do you plan on using your 15 minutes of fame from "The Biggest Loser" to help those groups? What's the next chapter in this journey called life for Kae Whang?
I would just like to spread the word that there are organizations out there and that you are NOT alone. It's important to get the message out that everyone has the RIGHT to feel good about themselves and to be empowered with life instead of feeling like a victim all your life. Even I was a victim, but I decided to turn that around and make myself stronger.
It only takes a decision to DO something about it. We should help keep great organizations like ChildHelp, RAINN, and Out of the Darkness with donations and/or volunteering. Being involved with organizations like these makes you feel good because you are helping others. It’s such a win-win situation, and makes you appreciate life so much more!
10. It's been a pleasure and an honor having you here today, Kae, and I know my readers have enjoyed hearing from you as you shared so openly from your heart and mind about the experiences you had while on "The Biggest Loser" in Season 4. We're cheering for you to keep up the fantastic work on your weight management and encourage you to NEVER ever give up! Is there anything that you would like to tell my readers who struggle with knowing what to do about their obesity? Can you share a little hope with them before you go?
On my MySpace page, I put up my mottos, which are: Make it simple! It can be VERY overwhelming that you have to lose 30 to 100 pounds and thinking that you have to do SO much exercise and eat boring food. STOP!
Take it ONE day at a time, or even ONE moment at a time. Think about what you want to do TODAY. What is going on NOW? And the simple part is that all you have to say is, YES or NO. Will I make myself feel good and workout? YES or NO? Is that piece of food worth eating? YES or NO? If I eat it, will I work it off in the gym? YES or NO? Am I going to live my life with fullness? YES or NO? Am I happy? YES or NO?
MAKE A CHOICE and OWN IT (never regretting your decisions). Choose one or the other, do NOT go to the gray area where you start thinking too much (like I said before) and let all that negative noise will play with your mind and take up too much valuable time.
FORGIVE yourself and LET GO of the past. The more you embrace life and enjoy this journey, the more motivated you are to keep going. That is what I’ve learned--to be positive and get back on your feet if you fallen.
FOCUS on your goal, and why you are doing it. Remind yourself that YOU ARE WORTH IT, and that you DESERVE the BEST! You must love and respect yourself to live life to the fullest. Like attracts like, so if you are feeling great, great things will be attracted to you (and the same with the opposite).
YOU CHOOSE how your life is, by choosing how you are going to react to it. Don’t be a victim. It takes you no where and it only takes up valuable time. No more excuses. Just do it. And passionately know that it will come true! Be active. AND LOVE LIFE!
THANK YOU for those incredibly motivating and inspiring comments, Kae. You are a changed woman and it is quite obvious to everyone who has read your interview with me today that you'll never be the same again. For fans of "The Biggest Loser" who watched you, though, we're not surprised. CONGRATULATIONS!!! Be sure to visit KaeWhang.com to stay up-to-date with what Kae is up to. You can contact Kae anytime by writing to her through her MySpace page (RealSpunKae--get it, real spunky! LOL!).
Next up in my "Biggest Loser" 4 interview series will be the $100,000 at-home winner Jim Germanakos. I'll be running my interview with Jim on Friday. :)