‘Biggest Loser’ Champ Olivia Ward: ‘There Was An Athlete Inside of Me’

by | May 26, 2011 at 7:35 AM | Interviews, The Biggest Loser

Biggest Loser winner Olivia Ward (NBC)

Biggest Loser winner Olivia Ward (NBC)

On Tuesday night’s “Biggest Loser” live finale, the confetti rained on opera singer Olivia Ward as she barely beat out her younger sister, Hannah Curlee, for the title and the $250K grand prize.

Handling her new-found fame like a seasoned pro, the 35-year-old New Yorker took some time out with reporters on Wednesday to tells us what her big win means to her, the unexpected personal lesson she learned while at the ranch, and how she feels about next season’s new trainer, Anna Kournikova.

What does it mean for you to be the Biggest Loser?
What it means to me in a nutshell is the fact that if I put a goal or a vision before me then I can attain those goals. I used to put these goals there and think, ‘Well, I’ll probably not get it anyway, so I won’t put 100% into it and I won’t be disappointed.’ Now I’ve realized that you should give it 150% because if you maybe come up short, you won’t die, and you’ll probably learn something on the journey along the way. I want to do a sprint triathlon in September and that’s a huge undertaking for me because I’ve never done anything like that. I’m ready to try things like that, put these goals in front of me, give 150% and see where life takes me.

Watch Olivia Win “The Biggest Loser”:

As much as you and Hannah love each other, was there any healthy sibling rivalry?
Most definitely! It was always one of those things where we came in together, but at the same time it was like, she’s never going to let me win anything, and I’d never just let her win anything! It’s always good healthy sibling rivalry! What’s really special about our relationship is that we are able to rejoice and celebrate with one another. There were times when she would win things, and I wouldn’t. We would take the time to really rejoice with that person and then the other person would say, ‘You’re going to have to kick my butt this week so I can do good on the scale next week!’

Lots of people have been wondering if you’re going to share any of your prize money with her.
You know, it’s funny. I’ve heard a lot of people say that, and we don’t have any formal arrangements, but you know, I share pretty much everything with Hannah my whole life as far as clothes, we’d go on vacations together. So, I definitely will be sharing all my blessings with Hannah, and I know that she wouldn’t object to going on a vacation or something together on my dime.

How did you feel about your husband losing weight at home while you were going through your own journey at the ranch?
That is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for me. I have a husband who knew I was on such a huge journey and instead of just standing around and waiting for me to come home and impart this information to him, he knew that it would work for his own journey to make those changes. He went online and sought help from people around him, and Bob Harper’s blog was a huge thing for him. Bob tweets throughout the day what he eats so for a long time whatever Bob was eating, he would eat, which I think is hysterical! I love the fact he made it his own journey, and it wasn’t about me. It became about him, and I think you can’t lose weight for other people; it has to be for you and for the long term. He finished his first half marathon and will be attempting the New York Marathon in November. I’m so excited for him, and it’s completely changed the dynamic of our marriage in a good way, and to know I come home to such a strong support system makes me feel so great and really alleviates a lot of anxiety I had about getting my feet back into my real life.

Okay, common question, but we still want to know: What’s the most important lesson you learned while being on the ranch?
One of the most important things I learned is that weight loss happens in the mind first, and I have to give credit where credit is due—I learned it from Bob Harper. For me, overcoming it in my mind and knowing that if I can overcome the scale and overcome the obstacles that have kept me stumbling in the weight loss area of my life for so long…The eating and exercise part and what happens to your body, that’s just science, your body will respond, but it’s the losing the weight and really overcoming these issues in the mind that is so important. I guess it’s good old fashioned mind over matter.

What did you learn about yourself through this experience that you never would’ve anticipated?
Definitely that there was an athlete inside of me. I played basketball and volleyball all through high school, but it’s something that was fun for me, it wasn’t like it was with Hannah. That was her passion and what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. I learned that my body had this inner athlete that wanted to come out, run, spin, and do all of these physical challenges and do well at them, which has been the most exciting thing. I never looked at myself as an athlete, I always looked at myself as the artsy singer girl so it just made me realize that everybody has in some realm an inner athlete, and it’s there and wants to come out and play. I’m the most proud of that and I feel like that will also help me continue with my weight loss maintenance and staying healthy because I want to get out there and be active.

Do you feel like you’re a better opera singer now that you’ve lost so much weight?
Oh, absolutely. I’ve just been so amazed at being a singer and being an opera singer. I think people underestimate it. I mean, these people are athletes.

Even the people that are overweight, you are definitely kind of at a disadvantage in the fact that your core and your abdomen is not as strong, and it’s definitely true that my breath control has gotten so much better because I’ve learned how to run and control my breath through running.

How do you feel about Anna Kournikova replacing Jillian Michaels? Considering the world knows her as a tennis star and not a personal trainer*, do you think she’ll lack credibility on the show?
*[Note: An NBC publicist confirmed that Kournikova is a certified trainer.]
You know, I don’t think there will be any lack of credibility as far as a trainer goes. I think she has a challenge, but you know, obviously being a professional athlete, she faces challenges head on. So, I think that’s most important. I’m sure she probably also learned a thing or two watching [new trainers Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova] this season overcome being new kids on the block and what it entails to help very obese people lose weight.

I think it’s going to make for an interesting show, and I can’t wait to watch and see. I know she was on a couple seasons back, so I’m just dying to see how she does. I’m also really excited to see Bob kind of out on his own this season. I think it’s going to be a really great season to watch.

Do you have any idea on how you’re going to spend the money?
I definitely want to go on a bike tour in Italy with my husband in the fall. That’s the only thing we have planned. We’ll probably save it for a while until we really decide what we want to do. We’ve always taken vacations that surround laying on the beach somewhere—those are great vacations, don’t get me wrong, but with both of our new healthy lifestyles we are trying to incorporate that into our lives. I want to bike a little throughout the day, go from town to town and then eat some pasta at night – you don’t feel too bad because you biked about 30 or 40 miles!

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