On Oct. 8, NBC’s hit show “The Biggest Loser” returns featuring 15 new contestants including Montrose resident Fernanda Abarca. This season’s theme is “Second Chances” and will follow the contestants’ journeys towards losing weight and getting healthy. The show has world-class trainers including Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper and Dolvett Quince who aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to help the contestants get back in shape.
“I have always been a big fan of the show,” Abarca said about being successfully cast. “I thought to myself, ‘This is insane!’”
Abarca is a 3D animation artist who worked for Dreamworks Animation for seven years. She is a cake sugar artist who has a local business, “Fernanda Abarca Cakes,” located in Montrose. She was born in Brazil before moving to Washington, DC with her family. She stayed very athletic while growing up by playing field hockey and soccer. She attended the Maryland Institute College of Art studying illustration. She received computer training via a bachelor’s degree in Computer Animation from Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida.
It was during her college years that she began gaining weight. Moving across country was a tough adjustment and her studies would lead to long days and nights remaining seated in front of a computer screen. With all of that and because of poor diet, within six months she had gained 70 pounds. Now at the age of 32 she weighs 250 pounds and has high cholesterol.
Every year many people resolve to lose weight and get healthy but rarely do they wish for their journey to be captured on national television.
“I got to a point where I said enough is enough,” she said. “I have been hiding. This is a good way to stop doing that.”
Abarca has a husband whom she met in high school and two children, a 4-year old son and a 6-year old daughter. She said that she wants to lose weight for her family and for herself. Hopefully when she returns home she can use the skills she learns on “The Biggest Loser” to stay healthy long after the show ends and “live life to the fullest.”
Abarca knew to expect an intense experience on the show having watched it for years. When asked whether the show was more fun or challenging she replied, “Mostly challenging. It’s about learning a different lifestyle. Every day was a different challenge.”
The show was filmed at the Biggest Loser Ranch in Calabasas, about 17 miles from Montrose. The new season will also have its first celebrity contestant, “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard. All contestants will be competing for the $250,000 grand prize. Also, starting in season 15, all of the trainers have the new “trainer save” power that enables them to save a contestant from being eliminated.
Season 15 premieres on Oct. 8 at 8/7c on NBC. For more information including contestant bios and video previews visit www.nbs.com/the-biggest-loser.