Daniel Wright's second appearance on "The Biggest Loser" may have been more emotional than the first.
The Willow Spring man (he's just 20) was the heaviest contestant in the show's history, weighing 454 pounds. At that first finale weigh-in, he was down 142 pounds to 312.
When he was eliminated this week, Daniel had lost another 56 pounds on the show, but better, he gained a lot of insight. During the second chances season, he struggled to lose weight, partly he says, because he wasn't sure he deserved a second chance.
"I was struggling internally," he says. "I was dealing with whether I should be there. By week 8 or 9 I figured out I shouldn't think that way."
In particular, Daniel figured out that while he was dealing with the mechanics of weight loss -- diet and exercise -- he hadn't tackled the issues behind his weight gain. Returning to the show helped him face his problem with binge eating.
"I'd known I was struggling before the show and I had sought help. That was the first time I stopped gaining weight," he says. "But when I got on the show I told myself I was doing OK. During the second season, I had to learn to have enough trust to analyze myself."
Binge eating is just about feeling a lack of control. "It can be a response to anything in life. It's a coping mechanism. I find I have some environmental triggers. I can go to some rooms in my mother's house and feel it." Oddly, energy bars, any food in bar form, he says, are also a trigger.
Because Daniel's so focused on dealing with his personal issues, winning the $100,000 for biggest weight loss percentage off the ranch, isn't a focus. "I realize I'm never going to be a champion of weight loss," he says. "Listen, Erik Chopin was on the show and he lost more than 200 pounds, but he never dealt with his issues and he went back up. I don't want to lose weight now and then lose in life later."
Daniel aims to be a youth pastor and his weight loss journey, he says, has also affected his faith walk. "There are parts of Christianity that tend to have a bit of self-deprecation or a kind of self-loathing.
"We have to know that if God gave his Son for us, we have value and worth. There's love and acceptance there. I learned I can love myself. I love God best when I love myself."
On the physical level, Daniel says he works out about three hours a day, two hours of cardio and an hour of strength training. And recently he ran in Raleigh's City of Oak half marathon.
"We started 16 minutes late," he says, laughing. "And then we got lost. So we ended up running 15 and a half miles. Our watch time was 2:50, but our official time was over 3 hours."
He's working part-time and living life, he says. And he has a girlfriend that he says he might introduce on the Biggest Loser finale. "I'm not sure, I'm keeping it under wraps."
OK, but at that half marathon, one of his running partners was fellow Biggest Loser contestant Rebecca Meyer. Is she the lady in his life?
"I can't say," Daniel says.