It has been a year since our colleague Hannah Curlee finished her outstanding participation in the 11th season of NBC’s reality show The Biggest Loser. Her positive energy, dedication and charisma, have allowed her to become an inspiration for people around the country.
Hannah took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share with us her journey for the past 12 months.
What has been your biggest challenge since you left the ranch, in terms of lifestyle adaptation and consistency?
I am so excited about my anniversary year of keeping the weight off! Maintaining my weight on the road has been a challenge, but I have succeeded, which is what I am most proud of. I travel 90% of the time so advanced planning when it comes to food is the most important thing. I request a mini fridge for every stay so I can limit eating out and eat the same foods from home. I always make sure there is a local gym that I contact in advance or make sure the hotel has a fitness facility. I always travel with my exercise bands and a jump rope so there is no excuse if I get to my hotel room late and the gym is closed! After all, Biggest Loser is about no excuses and I can’t make my travel schedule one! It was very hard at first, so I reached out to Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper who also travel quite a bit and we made a plan. Traveling and maintaining a healthy weight CAN be done.
Describe your job with H2U, and how has your weight loss experience influenced your job performance?
I am the Director of Health Engagement and wear many hats with H2U. I write for our newsletter and contribute to the magazine. I also travel to HCA facilities and promote health and wellness. I visit H2U programs across the country, as well as companies that are looking to start a wellness program and along with H2U sales associates introduce them to our program. I promote H2U to local and national media and represent H2U at many community and corporate events.
My weight loss has definitely influenced my performance. Many people come to these events because they watch Biggest Loser and want to see if I have kept the weight off. Once they walk in and see me, they get so excited! I talk about health and wellness, but most of all hope and the ability to overcome obstacles. There is always something for everyone, even if you are not trying to lose weight. It is about total wellness which is your mind and body and living your best life, that’s what H2U has helped me to do.
It’s been a year since you left the ranch, would you feel comfortable saying that anybody can do this, even if they don’t have the opportunity you had in the Biggest Loser?
100%. This takes time and will power but I know that if I can do this ANYONE can. I know I lost weight in an extreme way, which is not for everyone, but I have maintained my weight without the ranch and with a crazy busy schedule. Small steps add up to big changes. Like taking the stairs or cutting out soda, to name a few.
How is a normal day in the life of Hannah Curlee?
Well, it is different everyday so let’s start with the past 24 hours. I flew into Alexandria, LA from Los Angeles, where I had been for the BL season 13 finale last night. Checked into my hotel at midnight, woke up at 5:30 am for my 2 hour morning workout. At 7:30 am I grabbed coffee and headed to the local Kroger to pick up my groceries for the next day, and went back to the hotel for my Kroger breakfast. At 9 am I had an H2U conference call for my next event. 10:30-11:30 am media interview for HCA Florida hospitals and at noon the American Heart Association Go Red for Women luncheon with Rapides Medical Center. I am the keynote speaker today with an audience of around 300. 1:30-3:30 Autographs and Pictures. 4:00-5:00 pm Cardio workout at the local gym in Alexandria. 6:30 pm dinner with the American Heart Association/ Rapides Medical Center Silent Auction Winners. By 9:30 pm I am arriving back at the hotel to finish my H2U newsletter article for the month of June as well as 238 new emails from lunch to now. 11 pm into bed as I have a 6 am f light to Gainesville, FL for another HCA hospital event. That is actually a light day as some days I visit multiple hospitals and speak multiple times! I meet so many great people and HCA employees who want to get healthy, that makes it all worth it.
If you had to do a recap of your life for the past 12 months, what would you say?
It has been a total whirlwind. Taking a new and exciting job with H2U within my HCA family, a company that has helped me maintain my weight and supported me through it all; going back to NBC’s Biggest Loser to show the new contestants that you can keep it off; seeing a 30 foot picture of myself in the BL gym that shows every Tuesday night; covers of magazines, TV appearances, traveling the country and talking about total wellness. It is a true underdog/Cinderella story, although I am still waiting on my prince. If there is even time to meet him!
What is your message for those who are struggling to accomplish their weight loss goals?
Remember not to think of weight loss as this negative chain around your neck. Think of it as something positive that can ONLY help you in so many ways. Realize you are worth the hard work and change, and it will show. It takes time to change your body but one second to change your mind. Positive thinking is a huge player in weight loss. The less stressed your mind, the more your body responds. Celebrate your success without food. There are many other ways to celebrate your successes than going out to eat. Remember, you don’t have to climb the mountain in a day; that is impossible! Take this one day at a time, one meal at a time and one workout at a time. Find support in your own backyard. Your co-workers, family and friends can help you by making healthy choices with you, but you have to ask them for help. After all, the more help you have the more success you will have.
Despite the long hours, busy schedule and multiple appearances, Hannah always has a smile on her face and a word of encouragement to offer. She keeps being an inspiration, not just for those looking to reach their weight loss goals, but for anyone who has had the opportunity to meet her, or listen to any of her motivational speeches.
Note: this interview originally appeared in our internal corporate newsletter C360