Pacifica competitor hopes to be biggest winner on "Biggest Loser" 

The competition is unusually stiff on this season's "The Biggest Loser: Glory Days." Ex-jocks such as NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell, two-time Super Bowl champion Damien Woody and Olympic gold-medal softball player Lori Harrigan-Mack are joining the cutthroat weight-loss challenge.

But Jackie Pierson of Pacifica, who's also competing on the season that starts Thursday at 8 p.m. on KNTV (Ch. 11), says she's not an underdog. "It doesn't matter what level you're at -- when you're an athlete, you're an athlete," she says. She knows a lot about being an athlete. The native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, played baseball, soccer, rugby and volleyball in high school. The 5-foot-10 athlete's first love was basketball; by senior year she had led her team to a major championship and caught the attention of college coaches. Hopes for a college career were crushed by an ankle injury that put her on the sidelines.

"I was watching people I was better than," she remembers.

Eating also became a problem.

"Growing up in poverty, I was a kid who didn't always know where her next meal was," Pierson says, adding that she turned to food for comfort.

She married and had two kids as her weight ballooned to 291 pounds.

"I had surgery that was related to my weight," the 36-year-old says. "That was a big wake-up call."

A big fan of "The Biggest Loser," she decided to try out.

"It takes a lot of courage to stand on a scale in a bra in front of the whole country," she laughs, speaking about the weekly weigh-ins that decide who gets to stay and who gets kicked out.

Now she's exercising with trainers Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom (longtime trainer Jillian Michaels left last season) and eating right.

Pierson, who belongs to the Ojibway tribe, is hoping to apply what she learns at her work, the Native American Health Center in San Francisco.

"I see the changes that could be made in our community," she said, noting high rates of diabetes. Most of all, she hopes to inspire her girls, now 6 and 2.

" I want them to know, 'Mommy did this because she wants a healthy life and wants to be around,'?" she says.


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About The Author

Giselle Velazquez

Giselle Velazquez was born and raised in the shadow of San Francisco's Diamond Heights and now lives in the shadow of South San Francisco's Sign Hill. She has written for publications such as The S.F. Examiner, Ventura County Star, and the S.F. Bay Guardian.
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