Bobby Saleem, a 28-year-old attorney from Chicago, is the latest out contestant on NBC’s long-running series “The Biggest Loser.” He finished as Season 15’s 2nd runner-up, having lost 188 pounds or 52.51 percent of his 358-pound starting weight. I caught up with Bobby when he was in Miami to participate in the Diabetes Research Institute’s annual walk/run event on March 8.
A year ago, I spoke with Season 14’s Jackson Carter who was the first out gay contestant on “The Biggest Loser” (http://bit.ly/1iFRi1G). Your story is different in many ways. How did you become a contestant?
Before doing the show, I had joined a gym. On the day I joined, I received an email from them about an open casting call for Season 15. I decided to try out. During the interview, they asked me why I had gained so much weight. At that moment, I heard myself respond that my problem was that I needed to come out. I needed to drop all my bad emotional baggage.
What kind of support do you get while you are working through your issues at the ranch? [During the filming of the show, contestants are confined to “The Ranch” to see who can lose the most weight.]
In addition to the trainers and doctors, we have psychological counselors. One trainer in particular, Bob Harper, helped me come to terms with my issues. He came out publically on the show in the process of helping me. In terms of sexuality and weight, the first step for me was gaining self-acceptance and self-confidence. You have to first realize who you are as a person. Then, you have to accept that.
Tell me about life at the ranch. You said that pizza and ice cream are your weaknesses. Can you get those things at the ranch if you really crave them?
No, but I suppose you could jump the fence and sneak out for them! Maybe it was the California sun but I did not have much craving for those things while I was at the ranch.
Do you believe that food is an addiction you never lose?
I definitely think that I am a recovering food addict, and that is why it was so important for me to resolve my issues. There are times when I struggle with food, but for me it’s about moderation. I kind of eat what I want, but not every day. I am very aware of and wary of the fact that the lifestyle of an attorney is sedentary. I am often at my desk for long hours. The key for me is to keep to a regular work-out schedule.
What did you learn by being on “The Biggest Loser”?
I am completely happy I did the show. It was probably the hardest experience of my life. I learned so much about myself. Before “The Biggest Loser,” I had given up on myself. I figured I’d be a functionally overweight person for the rest of my life. I was amazed at how much I wanted to fight for myself.
Has being on the show and losing all the weight brought you romance?
I had relationships before the show but nothing much has changed in that area. I’m only a month out of the show, so I am just trying to get my normalcy back. I’m probably not ready for romance yet.
When you are ready, I have some single friends I’d like to introduce you to.
Well, you have my number….