The last time Happiness spoke with "The Biggest Loser's" Tracey Yukich, a Raleigh native, the show had not begun airing yet, and she sounded upbeat, strong and confident.
So as we got ready for this chat it occurred to us that, back then, she may not have known how she was going to come across on TV. And we were right.
"I had no idea," says Tracey. "When I was sitting with my kids watching the show, I didn't know what was coming."
What came was a the role of villain. Indeed if you watched or hit the Internet, folks were calling Tracey called "dumb," "crazy," and most often "crazy eyes."
Of course, that's not how Tracey sees herself. "I came across like I didn't care, but I have a love for life and others," she says. "If you remember, I never talked bad about anybody. It was a stressful situation. I always tried to be positive. That was the hardest thing to do."
Tracey became the villian during the show's "would you rather" day, when the contestants had a choice of a two-pound advantage or working with their trainers. While everyone chose the trainers, Tracey took the pounds. Next, when there was the opportunity to get control of the game by eating the most cupcakes, Tracey outdid Dudley's Antoine Dove by eating 4.
But the greatest anger toward her came after the temptation challenge when Tracey spun the wheel and won the chance to assign the members of the blue and black team and choose their trainers. Liz was especially angry, vowing to show Tracey a nice face even as she steadfastly worked to oust her from the show.
Seeing Liz's comments actually weren't a surprise; Liz, Tracey says, told Tracey about the comments before they aired. They've since made up. "I talk a couple times a day to Liz and Mo."
"What you didn't see was the conversation I had with Liz. I took her by the shoulders and said 'You came here alone. I want you by my side, you can do this. You have to stop depending on Danny."
She's gotten some validation for her decisions. Recently, Tracey says, Danny's wife told her she was glad that Tracey split up Danny and Liz because it pushed Danny to another level. "Danny realized the same thing," Tracey says.
Coincidentally, the last major villain on "The Biggest Loser" was also from Raleigh: Heba Salama. Tracey says she watched that cycle. "I didn't judge her at all. She came to play the game and she was taking care of her husband. I said, 'go for it girl.' "
In the end, Tracey says that during the show she did something that as a wife and mother of 4 she hadn't done in a long time: Take care of herself.
"I got a bracelet from a fan that I wear everyday. It says 'live the life you love.' That's what I try to do. I put one foot in front of the other and I fought to stay [at the ranch]. I truly said and did everything to stay as long as I could.
"At the end, during my exit interview, Alison asked if I had any regrets and I said I did, and at the time I did have regrets. But later I thought 'Tracey, why? I had the opportunity of a lifetime, why would I have regrets?'"
As for the future and her chance at the $100,000 for losing the most percentage weight, Tracey says the money isn't her focus. She's on a healthy path to losing weight.
"I have a goal weight and I will not stop until I get there, whether I reach it by the show's end or not. I'm gunning for it."