The Biggest Loser has had its share of inspirational success stories, but this cycle aims for a whole new level of drama. This season is all about "second chances": Abbey, who lost her husband and children in a tragedy, and Daniel, the former heaviest contestant in Biggest Loser history, returning to finish the journey he began, are among this season's contestants. Alison Sweeney, soap star and host of the reality weight-loss series, shared her thoughts about Season 8 with TVGuide.com and explained why health and fitness have become so important in her own life.
TVGuide.com: This season's theme is "second chances." What sets it apart from the past seven seasons?
Alison Sweeney: Each season is a different experience [because] it's all based on the contestants. We're saying "second chances" because it's just that — the Biggest Loser campus is a second chance at life and health for them. And [former contestant] Daniel is back. He's getting a second chance to finish what he started last season.
TVGuide.com: What was it like having a repeat contender on?
Sweeney: It was certainly different... [Daniel] already knows the drill, what life is like on the ranch. He found himself answering a lot of questions from the other contestants. But I don't think it gave him as big advantage as it seemed.
TVGuide.com: Last season there were some definite fan favorites. Does anyone stand out to you this season?
Sweeney: It's hard to tell who America will fall in love with. Abbey is sure to win people's hearts right from Day 1. I think Danny [and] Rebecca have personalities that will leap out to the audience too... but who knows?
TVGuide.com: Abbey's story is incredibly emotional. How has she inspired you?
Sweeney: Getting to know Abbey has been an amazing experience. She is truly such a strong person, and listening to her share her story, to see her open herself up to us, made us fall in love with her! She's so willing to be open, to be cheerful [and] to be positive, in the face of all she's been through in her life. It's impossible not to be inspired by that.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think Biggest Loser, in its eighth season, continues to be so successful?
Sweeney: People love knowing that Tuesday nights our show will motivate them, as well as entertain. I think audiences continue to love seeing people overcome obstacles, seeing them succeed encourages everyone to believe anything is possible. It's a good show — what's not to love?!
TVGuide.com: You've taken a pretty active role in the health and fitness community outside of Biggest Loser. What makes you so passionate about it?
Sweeney: Because I struggled with my own weight as a teenager, obesity issues strike a chord with me. And since joining The Biggest Loser, I've seen so many success stories. Jerry from Season 6 is a perfect example. At the finale, Dr. H. told him he won 25 years of his life back! It is possible to regain control of your weight, and it's so scary to see how many people in this country are playing Russian roulette with their health — especially kids. Now with two children of my own, it's impossible for me not to be passionate about encouraging people to get healthy, and to help their children be healthy.
TVGuide.com: I've followed your tweets. Will you be tweeting about the episodes as they air?
Sweeney: Absolutely! I love watching Biggest Loser with people, and hearing their responses as they unfold. I tweet about Days sometimes, so I've gotten the hang of it. I even have tons of behind-the-scenes photos I took as we were shooting the season. I will be posting photo stories of each episode, follow me to get the link!
Season 8 of The Biggest Loser premieres on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 8/7c on NBC.