Once Mo got booted, most Biggest Loser fans were rooting for Gary Deckman to claim the $250,000 top prize. But it wasn't meant to be for the 40-year-old Brooklyn dad, who lost to Ryan Benson by one measly little point. (FYI, the winner's victory was determined by a combo of weight loss and body-fat loss percentages.) Here, Deckman — who lost 71 lbs., slimming himself down to 156 — tells TV Guide Online why, in his case, losing is everything.
TV Guide Online: Were you upset that you lost the game?
Gary Deckman: I was disappointed. But I was happy with the weight that I lost, and winning would have been the icing on the cake.
TVGO: A photo from your youth revealed you were quite the skinny hottie! What happened?
Gary: I was 18 in that picture. I had been smoking cigarettes since I was a kid, and by the time I was 21, I quit smoking. Within a year or two after I quit, I gained 25 pounds. [I] just never took it off and then, slowly but surely, every year I'd put on another five or ten. I got into a lifestyle rut of just eating whatever I wanted and never exercising and then, 20 years later, there I am.
TVGO: As the oldest contestant, was Loser more challenging for you than the others?
Gary: It was harder for me. I didn't have the physical strength. Well, I did, but not like that of a 22-year-old. I only had my mental strength and what it really meant for me to do this.
TVGO: Did you surprise yourself?
Gary: I definitely surprised myself. I never really thought I could push myself to the point that I did day in and day out. There were plenty of times that I wanted to pack it in and I got mental support from the people around me. As you keep pushing yourself, you find out what you are really made of and it is good.
TVGO: You also kicked your asthma!
Gary: Well, the thing with the asthma is that it is partly diet- and exercise-related, but living up in the clean air of the mountains in Malibu definitely helped. When I got back home, I live in [New York City] and there are environmental issues that play into asthma as well. So it came back a little bit, but nowhere near where it was before.
TVGO: Was it hard for you to vote out your pal Mo?
Gary: I don't really feel that I voted Mo off.
TVGO: Oh, really? You wrote his name down. How is that not voting him off?
Gary: Even though I put his name down on the paper, the votes were going to be a tie. I knew that Ryan was not going to vote for Kelly. Therefore, me placing my vote for Mo was more so he didn't go out on a tie situation, so he went out as the lowest-percentage person instead.
TVGO: What did you think of Ryan and Kelly after three months off the ranch?
Gary: I was thinking, "Wow, they look fantastic!" I was happy for them, and I am sure they were for me because we accomplished getting healthy.
TVGO: So you didn't view their skinnier bodies as a threat?
Gary: It was a little competitive, of course. We've been playing this game for so long, so it had a competition feel, but I was just happy to see these people who I'd spent so much time with lose all this weight and be healthy and happy. I got along pretty well with everyone.