SAPULPA, Okla. — David Jones, a Sapulpa police officer, went into “The Biggest Loser” weighing 307 pounds and wearing rose-colored glasses.
There was something he forgot about the NBC reality show even though he had been a fan for years, he said in a recent phone interview.
“I think I should have gone on Netflix and re-watched a lot of the past seasons because I just didn’t remember how difficult it was,” said Jones, who was home from the show for the holidays. “There is a lot of excitement about this. It’s an adventure. I was looking forward to doing it and forgot how really difficult it looked on television.”
Jones said he knew he had to make a change for the sake of his health, his family and his career.
He had been skinny growing up, he explained, an avid athlete who attended Tulsa Junior College and Oklahoma Baptist University.
It was after he quit participating in sports that he started putting on weight. Weight that continued to mount after he stopped smoking. He tried dieting but would lose and then regain the same 50 to 60 pounds.
Health was an ongoing issue - he suffered from asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea. But it was one day on the job that convinced him it was time to make life changes. He couldn’t keep up during a foot pursuit of a suspect.
Three weeks later, “The Biggest Loser” show had a casting call in Dallas.
“I’m a big fan of the show since season one,” said Jones, a father of seven, one with special needs, and the grandfather of two. “I was sitting on the couch telling my wife if I had a chance to go on that show that it would do a lot of things to help me. I realized I had to do something, and then the casting call went out, and I considered that my call.”
Jones traveled to Texas for the audition, got a call back the same day and, three months later, was on the “Ranch” - a sprawling property in Calabasas, Calif., with a state-of-the-art gym facility and three hard-driving trainers. Production began in late September and should be completed in mid-January.
The live season finale airs in March when one person will be named “The Biggest Loser” and the recipient of a $250,000 prize.
Like any competitive event, there is gamesmanship when there is a prize at stake. The “Biggest Loser” contestants compete as teams until near the end. But playing the game isn’t what’s important, said Jones.
“I really anticipated that the gamesmanship would come into play, and I knew I somehow would have to mentally strategize to win the grand prize,” he said. “But, after the first week, the money was no longer the goal. The goal is surviving every week physically, mentally and emotionally to get to the next week and the goal of losing as much weight as possible and getting healthy in mind, body and mental health.
“Winning the money went on the back burner.”
Jones hasn’t had any problem following the directions of the trainers because he is used to following orders from superior officers, he said. The show has already taught him to keep tabs on everything he eats and how much he works out.
So far so good, he said. He is off two of his hypertension medications and he works out every day but Sunday. He has changed his diet and learned ways to better prepare the foods he loves.
“Olive oil is my friend,” he said, laughing. “I will never be a fan of asparagus or artichokes or Brussels sprouts, but there are still a lot of foods I enjoy eating. I do a lot of baking instead of frying. No deep-frying, and I have adjusted my caloric intake. You would be surprised how many calories you don’t take in by preparing food the right way.”
One of the best results of being on the show has been the reaction of his family when he returned for the holidays, he said.
“When they came over to the house and walked through the door and saw the new me that was worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears that fell on the gym floor. That was fantastic.”
And, as a part of the communities of Sapulpa and Kiefer, Jones is seeing his work paying off for others.
“Usually when police officers show up, bad things have happened,” he said.
“Today, when I show up at church or at a meeting and people see the change in me, I see smiles and surprised looks and everybody is happy. So, for me, that’s just another inspiration to work harder, don’t give up and work for both yourself and for the community.”
“... Today I feel fantastic. I haven’t felt this good physically and emotionally in 30 years, and even 30 years ago I was in darn good health.”