Former ‘Biggest Loser’ contestants visit SHU

Two former contestants from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” spoke at an event on Wednesday sponsored by Leaders in Healthcare, which focused on obesity and the importance of physical health.

Jen and Jay Jacobs, a father-daughter team which participated in the 11th season of the reality weight-loss show, were the keynote speakers at the event.

The discussion was geared towards students studying to be a part of the medical field and fans of the show.

Leaders in Healthcare is a student-led organization which promotes collaboration between all health science students in an effort to improve healthcare systems, according to Heather Heil, who is a member of the group.

According to Heil, obesity is a major issue for this generation.

“So many times weight is still a taboo subject to be talked about in the doctor’s office as well as around the dinner table,” Heil said.

The event began with the pair describing their experience on the show. Together they lost a combined 295 pounds while on the ranch.

Jen Jacobs lost 114 pounds while on the show, and Jay Jacobs lost 181 pounds. Jay Jacobs had previously had a top weight of 430 pounds, and his daughter a top weight of 293 pounds.

However, Jay was almost not allowed to participate in the show due to a heart arrhythmia, but after careful assessment he was permitted to proceed under supervision, he said.

The team did not win the Biggest Loser Challenge, but since returning home, they have continued to work hard to lose weight. This September, the Jacobs’ participated in a Super Spartan race, an 8-mile long obstacle course riddled with trails, mud and physical and mental challenges, Jay Jacobs said.

“It’s 95 percent mental and five percent physical,” Jen Jacobs said. “Your brain is the force behind everything you do.”

Jen and Jay Jacobs also described their secrets for staying in shape after shedding the weight.

The Jacobs’ “secrets to success,” as they were described in their presentation, were taken from their experiences on the ranch, such as watching the quality of calories they intake instead of the quantity, and rigorous exercise.

Jen and Jay Jacobs said that their biggest secret is accountability.

“One thing we learned is being truthful and holding yourself accountable in anything you do,” Jen Jacobs said.

The Jacobs’ also described their new weight loss initiative, focused toward people like them, who have had trouble losing weight. The idea is called “Smart Phone Fit,” Jay Jacobs said, and centers on using technology to help motivate you to lose weight.

According to Jay Jacobs, a smart phone can be used to record pictures and nutritional facts of the things you eat, as well as sharing your daily exercise routine with friends. The Jacobs’ have created a website based on their weight loss initiative called, and are in the process of publishing a fitness book on the subject, the Jacobs’ said.

The event ended with a panel discussion featuring Jen and Jay Jacobs, Angelo Gingerelli, who is a strength and conditioning coach here at Seton Hall and Mona Sendrak, a physician’s assistant and professor in Seton Hall’s Physician’s Assistant Program.

The panel answered questions from the audience related to weight loss and described healthy options for college students.

According to Sendrak, college students can watch their weigh by keeping track of what the eat in a food journal, as well as taking advantage of Seton Hall’s salad bar and fruit options.

Ethan Arnowitz can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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