September 21, 2014

Elyria
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Area natives proud to be ‘losers’

Father and daughter are competing on NBC weight-loss reality show

Few people want to be known as losers.

But North Ridgeville native Lynn Westphal, 60, and his 31-year-old daughter Jenni, an Elyria native now living in Lakewood, have battled with their weight for years. Now they not only want to be known as losers, they are hoping to become the next biggest losers.

That’s why for a time this fall they lived as reality television stars in southern California. Tuesday, viewers will get to see what that was like when season five of NBC’s weight-loss series “The Biggest Loser” premieres with the Westphals as competitors.

For the first time, “The Biggest Loser” is shaking things up by pitting teams of two against each other rather than individuals. Lynn and Jenni will be battling, pound for pound, for more than just mere pennies. They are competing for a $250,000 grand prize.

Now back in Northeast Ohio, they are mum about whether they pulled that off — blame it on those pesky confidentiality contracts that prevent them from spilling the beans. They do say it was an experience that they will never forget.

“It sure makes life easier to walk around 20, 30, or 40 pounds lighter,” Lynn said. “I’ve tried every diet in the book, but no one taught me how and why I eat. I learned that and so much more working with (fitness trainer) Bob (Harper) at the ranch.”

The show was about doing the work the old-fashioned way and changing long-held lifestyle beliefs, Jenni said.

“When you are aware of just how many calories you really eat, it makes you take notice,” she said. “Before I was eating like three times what I’m eating now. The words ‘low fat’ were never, ever, ever in our vocabulary.”

Lynn can now admit that there was once a time when he would toss out anything his wife, Marge, bought with those two taboo words.

But Jenni, spurred by the overall coolness of the show and by this season’s team competition component, convinced her dad that signing up for the show was a good idea.

But even that was not without a lot of work. The journey to California started this summer at an open casting in Cleveland, where the Westphals remember standing in line for six hours just to get a  30-second audition. A callback a few days later led to a home video and a weeklong trip to Los Angeles. When the call came, Jennie and Lynn said they had just spent the day throwing down at Bob Evans for breakfast and Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner.

“We call that our last supper,” Lynn said. “We haven’t eaten like that since.”

So what are they eating now?

Lynn’s preferred meal of roast beef and mashed potatoes with lots of gravy is a thing of the past. For breakfast, only an Eggbeaters omelet with fresh vegetables and diet cheese graces his plate. Jenni hasn’t seen the inside of her favorite fast food restaurant, Burger King, in weeks. Instead, she snacks on frozen flavored Cool Whip for dessert.

“We love food, but we now love it in a whole different way,” Jenni said.

Contact Lisa Roberson

at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.