Labeled by host Alison Sweeney as the "Tiger Woods" of The Biggest Loser, 24-year-old Tara Costa won more challenges this season than any other contestant. Never once up for elimination through all her weeks on the ranch, the tenacious New Yorker was the clear front-runner leading up to the finale - yet ended up in last place of the three finalists. Despite the loss, the former model feels no disappointment: She still lost 155 pounds, or 52.75 percent of her body weight. Costa spoke to TVGuide.com about coming home from The Biggest Loser, how her competitive spirit keeps her going, and why she'll never go back to being the "fat chick."
TVGuide.com: You were the front-runner all season. Are you disappointed about losing?
Tara Costa: Standing on that scale last night, I knew that I did the best that I could. That's why today, I feel so great. I went to the extent that my body would go; I didn't want to look emaciated and unhealthy just to win a prize. I'm 5'9", I have bigger bones, I have a ton of muscle on me. That's just my genetic build and that's okay.
TVGuide.com: Were you shocked by Helen's transformation?
Costa: I think Helen is definitely extremely skinny. I know that where I am right now is a healthy place for me, and I'll be able to [maintain].
TVGuide.com: How were you able to balance everything upon your return home?
Costa: I have an amazing group of girlfriends and they were always supportive... I know this has to be a forever change for me and I really tried to incorporate my old life and make it into a new one.
TVGuide.com: Can you talk about your relationship with your trainer, Jillian?
Costa: Jillian is someone who has made me think about why I became 294 pounds. I had a very unhappy relationship with food and now it's a matter of realizing that food is fuel. Yes, I still have a sweet tooth and yes, I'm still going to have a pancake once in awhile, but if I have the pancake and I have the pizza, I'm going to have salad too. There is that balance and I'm going to wake up every single morning and choose this lifestyle. Once I get more settled into my own weight and not seeing myself as that "fat chick" anymore, I think the food issues are going to resolve themselves.
TVGuide.com: What was it like coming home?
Costa: Seeing all these people come up to me and tell me how much I've helped them and motivated them, I've never felt that peace... It's an amazing feeling that's indescribable and I love talking about with people because... all I know is everyone deserves to feel the way that I do today. Even though I lost $250,000, I won my life.
TVGuide.com: And you got 10 grand!
Costa: I did get 10 grand and I got some cool prizes [but] most importantly all the things I've learned about myself, that even when I'm down I'm going to push harder, I didn't realize that I was as determined as I was.
TVGuide.com: Have you always been competitive?
Costa: I've been a competitive person but I never realized how much I would push myself. There were times when I didn't think I could go any further, or move anymore, and I remember thinking, "Tara, you only got this chance once, make the best of it," and then I'd get up and I'd do more. So the same thing applies now, but now it's my life. I have one life to live — I don't ever want to be that weight again. So how can I ever go back?