POSTED ON AUGUST 11, 2010:
Losing Makes a Winner
Local Biggest Loser champ still knows how to roll with the kicks and punches
Still Big at Heart. Danny Cahill once weighed as much as 450 pounds, but after winning Biggest Loser with trainer Jillian Michaels by his side, he’s slimmed down and turned up his motivation. Shown Sean Algair, Cynthia Velez-Davis, Danny Cahill, Daris George and Amanda Arlanskas.
It is humbling to admit you are wrong. Like many red-blooded Americans, I'd like to think I have things figured out. But when you are wrong, you have to 'fess up.
I was conned into watching The Biggest Loser: Families a couple of years ago. Perhaps it was a down season, but I saw no redeeming qualities in the show. Cheating, backstabbing and nastiness superseded any heartwarming stories the show dished up.
That was it. I was out. However, America still loves the reality series.
A year ago, tens of millions of households watched as Broken Arrow's Danny Cahill won The Biggest Losers: Second Chances edition.
Friends and family members kept touting the season. Everyone felt attached to Cahill. Not just Tulsans, even out-of-town relatives fell for the guy and his story.
What am I missing? I had to find out.
Last week, we trekked out to Nienhuis Park in Broken Arrow. Cahill along with former fellow Biggest Loser contestants Sean Algaier, Daris George and Amanda Arlauskas were present for a Chick-fil-A sponsored Guinness World Record sweet tea event.
Cahill and the gang were setting up shop. A festive atmosphere surrounded as they propped a tent in 105-degree heat.
"I was born and raised in Midwest City, and I moved to Tulsa, the Broken Arrow area, in 2001 for a surveying job," Cahill said. The desk job contributed to his rapid weight gain. To steal a line from Office Space, people are not meant to sit at a desk all day.
His weight ballooned upwards of 450 pounds at one point. "When I found out I was going to be on the Biggest Loser, I felt like I had been thrown a life line," he said. "I was sinking in an ocean and had been thrown a life jacket."
During our conversation, he was pulled away several times for photo-ops and signature requests. He relished the opportunity to mingle with fans.
"There was a time when Curtis Stone came to Broken Arrow and cooked with us in our kitchen," Cahill said. "We went out to eat in a restaurant. People were coming up and interrupting his meal. He would be fork-to-mouth and somebody would interrupt him for an autograph."
It was a lesson he never forgot. Stone justifiably could have declined the request while dining; however, he explained how lucky he was to Cahill. The harder you work, the more luck finds you.
Like many people who struggle with their weight, Cahill went through the ups and downs. Gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight ... it was a vicious cycle.
Finally, during his season, things came together in an "ah-ha" moment.
"One night, we went down to the beach," he said. "We dug a hole in the sand. We had to pull out a treasure chest. That night, I didn't quit. I got my treasure chest out. I wouldn't quit. It looked like I wasn't making any progress because the sand was coming in and filling the hole. I dug, but I didn't quit."
He wore a "Lose Your Quit" T-shirt on a day when Julie Chin was likely smiling and pointing out a 115-heat index on a green screen.
His life went from sitting in a room, managing six survey crews, being terribly overweight and not wanting to get up from a chair to running two marathons, traveling all over the country and being able to share his story with America.
Instead of insipid desk work, he's sharing motivational tips with inspired fans. He'll travel to Ohio, Michigan and Los Angeles in the next three weeks.
The Tulsa Drillers capitalized on his stardom. Cahill is also a musician. He belted out the national anthem for the home team in one of this season's games.
Eight or nine pounds might not seem like a lot of weight to most, but to Cahill, those pounds cannot be shed fast enough. He underwent a surgical procedure eight weeks ago and has been unable to exercise during that stretch.
I laughed when he fretted over the additional eight or nine pounds he's carrying. In my mind, worrying about such a small number seemed silly for a guy who once lost 239 pounds to win a show.
"It starts with eight or nine and builds to 30 then 50 and into 100," he said.
Many previous contestants left the show only to regain the weight. Cahill seems to grasp the importance of how his health not only affects him but others who now use him for motivation.
"I've inspired and motivated millions of people in the country, and if I were to gain this weight back, I would be their stumbling block then," Cahill said. "That's not even an option for me."
He realizes it is a complete lifestyle change. On the show, he could lean on the lovely, feisty mega-motivator Jillian Michaels for support. Now, it is up to him. His mind controls his body and everything he puts into it.
Groups would be wise to contact Cahill. During our conversation, he made me forget the scalding heat. Imagine what he could do for your gathering.
Since this is supposed to be a sports column, we delved into college football. He's torn on his allegiance. He loves the Sooners but won a state title under Mike Gundy at Midwest City.
"I like Mike Gundy," he said. "But I'm a Sooners fan."
Also, losing weight has not improved his golf game. In fact, it has hurt it.
He used to score in the 80's but now struggles to break 100.
"I need to figure it out. My hands aren't fat. My grips changed. Everything has changed," he said with a laugh.
What he has figured out is happiness. A healthy lifestyle along with a job that does not seem like work has done wonders for him.
Check him out at TheDannyCahill.com as well as Facebook and Twitter.
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