ATLANTA — After reaching 329 pounds, season four "Extreme Weight Loss" contestant Brandi Mallory realized she had to make a change.
Growing up in Georgia, participating in beauty pageants, Brandi was her parents' pride and joy. They shared a love for each other and many times, that love was shown through food.
“My mom taught me, even when cooking, cook with love,” Brandi said. “That's how she showed love to her husband and kids.”
Slowly but surely, Brandi began to gain weight. She said there was no specific event that triggered the weight gain. She just liked to eat.
“I just was just sneak eating. I just wanted more. It was good,” she said.
Pageant judges eventually noticed the weight gain and didn’t hold back in letting her know it. Brandi went from winning pageants to receiving participatory trophies.
She said she was an investment to her parents and said her mother would spend thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was causing her to gain weight. But it all became too much for Brandi. She told her mother she couldn’t take it anymore and the pageants stopped.
As years progressed, so did the weight. Brandi said she realized she was her worst enemy and decided she had had enough.
“At the end of the day, I want to live a long, full and healthy life. So I said, ‘Let me just try,’” Brandi said.
During her "Extreme Weight Loss" episode, Brandi seemed to be in it for the long haul. She even competed and completed a Half Ironman Triathlon. Brandi said it was her Sunday fun-day’s, where she was allowed to eat whatever she wanted, that helped her get through all those years of unhealthy living.
“I mentally told myself, ‘If I can get through the week eating this bland food, I have my Sundays to look forward to. If I can go extra hard in the workouts, I have my day of rest to look forward to. That’s what held my integrity out the week, to not sneak,’” Brandi said.
But her "Extreme Weight Loss" coach, Chris Powell, didn’t seem to believe she was keeping her integrity. Brandi wasn’t reaching her goals on her weigh-ins so Chris hired a private investigator that seemed to point out that Brandi was lying about her diet.
When asked about the accusations that she was cheating, Brandi said, “At the end of the day, it's television. So, what can you do? Every viewer has a choice to believe whether someone came out of their home for four days straight or not. I know what I was doing.”
Believe what you want, Brandi successfully lost 151 pounds.
Brandi reached her final weigh-in weight goal, so the show will complete a surgery to remove excess skin from her arm. She says the skin has since produced new problems for her, but she tries to stay positive.
“It plays a mental battle in my head with trying to be happy with where I’m at and excited about how far I've come, yet, frustrated that it's still here,” Brandi said. “At the end of the day, I try to focus on the fact that I’ve come so far and I still have a long way to go.”
Since the show, Brandi says her new journey has involved her getting more skin removal surgeries on her own. She's started her own gofundme Website to help in getting the $40,000 skin removal surgery.
Now 151 pounds lighter and still counting, Brandi said she just wants to inspire people.
“I just want to share with anybody that I come into contact with, (that) you can do so much more than your mind allows you to do,” Brandi said. “It’s all about your will power and drive.”