Thursday, March 21, 2013

'Biggest Loser' champ Danni Allen says Chicago marathon in the running

In a show built around dramatic transformations, Allen's was particularly stunning. When filming began in the fall, she was at her all-time heaviest: 258 pounds. By the time she took the stage in Hollywood to step on the "Biggest Loser"
scale one last time, a beaming, tearful Allen was almost half that weight at 137 pounds.

"She worked harder than everyone the entire season," her proud coach Jillian Michaels said during the finale, where Allen sent jaws dropping to the floor when she walked out in a red Halston Heritage dress.

"My theme song was 'This Girl Is on Fire' and that was my fire dress," said Allen, who tried on at least 100 outfits before hitting pay dirt with the one-shoulder frock. "I felt like I was on fire that night."

Her boss at Lincolnshire's Viper Alley, where she's been a part-time bartender for about a year, couldn't believe what he saw while watching the finale with close to 100 others at a viewing party at the suburban club.

"She was like a supermodel," said general manager Jon Larson, who wouldn't be surprised if Allen's days of slinging cocktails are over. "If I won $250,000 I wouldn't bartend Friday nights either."

The architecture major's full-time job is advertising account coordinator for Camping World in Lincolnshire -- for now.

"I'm not sure if I'll continue," she said. "I do have a little extra cash under my belt. It's given me the opportunity to think beyond the desk. I've been given that gift of time to really evaluate my life and find new things for me to try."

Allen may not know how she's going to spend all of her winnings, but she knows how she wants to spend her time: training for this year's Chicago marathon.

"That's going to be my first fitness goal after 'Biggest Loser,'" said the former Mundelein High School varsity athlete, who was on the soccer team and went on to play water polo at Clemson University in South Carolina. More recently, you could find her running, swimming and taking spin classes at Lifetime Fitness in Vernon Hills, where she first started working out during a December break in filming.

"We were the only ones in the gym on Christmas Day," fitness instructor Kim Moody said. "She was the perfect client from Day 1. She just has a sense of fire and energy."

Allen, who's making a shadow box to showcase her old jeans (size 20) and her new ones (size 4), worked especially hard to stay in shape after filming wrapped in mid-January.

"One of my biggest fears was putting the weight back on," Allen said. She turned her Wheeling apartment into a "safe zone," purging it of ice cream, potato chips and "stuff I knew I couldn't resist if I had a weak moment."

While she won't deprive herself of a daily nibble of dark chocolate, she's eating more Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and other healthful foods in reasonable portions -- something she struggled with in the past. Her healthy habits even have trickled down to her father, whose cardiovascular health scare last year inspired her to try out for the show.

Shortly before winning the $250,000 grand prize, Allen renewed the lease on her Wheeling apartment for a year.

After that, it might be time for more change.

"I'm thinking warmer climates," she said. "The cold is a lot more difficult to bear without 100 pounds of insulation on you."


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