Abby Rike knows tragedy. Three years prior to her Biggest Loser journey, the high school teacher lost her husband, 5-year-old daughter, and 2-week-old son in a car accident. Rike, who has now lost a total of 82 pounds, went to the ranch determined to live life again. She was eliminated midway through the season when she nominated herself as the sacrificial member of the Black team to go home. The 32-year-old fan favorite told TVGuide.com why she feels she made the right choice, how unexpected her media attention has been and which former contestant has become her at-home support system.
TVGuide.com: Why did you volunteer yourself to go home?
Abby Rike: It had been an incredibly emotional week, and at the end, [Amanda] was on the cusp, something was going on with Daniel, and Shay, quite frankly, I'd take a bullet for. I went on the show to get a life back and I felt like I was getting it. It was never about a game for me, it was never about prize money — the prize for me was life. So at that moment, I felt that I was really blessed and it was just what needed to be done. It was the right choice for me.
TVGuide.com: How did you feel about being put on Jillian's team and separated from Allen?
Rike: As soon as Tracey won the golden ticket, I had a sneaking suspicion that she would not be selecting Jillian as her trainer. I felt like in a lot of ways I was supposed to be on Jillian's team. After the interactions that she and I had, I would've picked her anyway. It was one of those things that I don't know the spirit in which it was done to split us, but it worked out the way it was supposed to.
TVGuide.com: What's been your biggest challenge upon returning home?
Rike: It took me a couple of weeks to figure out how to assimilate what I've learned into my life. When I first got home, it was finding how you maintain a balance because the fact is, if you trade one addiction for another, then you just have another addiction. I didn't want that at all and so it took me a few weeks to figure out how to work out, eat right and maintain friendships because that was important for me.
TVGuide.com: I read that you were inspired by former contestant (and TVGuide.com reality villain) Vicky Vilcan to go on the show. Can you tell me more about that?
Rike: I moved back to Houma, Louisiana, which is where Vicky is from. I was a member of a gym prior to Biggest Loser — I obviously did not frequent it very often. On the one day that I did go, I happened to see her and Brady. Being a big fan, I walked over, introduced myself and found out I had actually taught Brady's sister 10 years before. We became friends on MySpace, [where] Vicky wrote a blog ... and [said] there's going to be an open casting call if you're interested. I emailed her, so she sent me this packet with all this information and included a VIP pass, so I didn't have to stand in line. So honestly, that was our dealings. However, since coming back from the ranch, she and I have worked out whenever I'm in Louisiana and she is a delightful and wonderful person.
TVGuide.com: Did you know she was known as the villain of her season?
Rike: I thought she was very straightforward [on Biggest Loser] and I can deal with that. She's not a flowery, huggy, hearts-and-flowers kind of person, but I'll tell you this: If I call her at 2 in the morning, she'd come pick me up if I needed her to. She's solid and she's been a great support system since I've been home.
TVGuide.com: Were you prepared at all for the media attention?
Rike: No, I just sit back and kind of giggle. Everyone has been so kind and it's so out of the ordinary for what my life has always been, but it's been fantastic, completely unexpected, but so much fun.