The 46-year-old Mitchell, a former NFL and University of Utah quarterback, was one of two contestants eliminated during Thursday's episode when he lost the final Comeback Canyon weigh-in to Howard "Woody" Carter, a car salesman and former Arena League football player from Las Vegas.
Mitchell, a business owner and resident of Mapleton, Utah County, entered the 16th season of the reality weight-loss show at 366 pounds. As of his last episode, he had slimmed down to 240, a difference of 126 pounds. Mitchell was eliminated when he only lost 2 pounds compared to Carter, who lost 6 pounds.
Former softball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist Lori Harrigan-Mack was also eliminated from the competition.
Mitchell and Harrigan-Mack participated in a media conference call Friday where Mitchell answered various questions about his experience on the show and his new lease on life.
Mitchell said his biggest challenge was agreeing to go on NBC's show in the first place. The idea of putting himself out in the public eye in a vulnerable state was not appealing at all, but it ultimately helped him open up emotionally and discover the root of why he gained weight.
"That was a huge obstacle for me to overcome," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said his faith as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a difference in his health journey.
"A lot of things I found on the ranch were definitely helped by what I believe," Mitchell said. "A lot of what I believe was reinforced by my experience there."
One highlight for Mitchell was an episode where former NFL players Donald Driver, Michael Irvin and Willie McGinest came on the show. Mitchell said he connected with Irvin and the support meant a lot to him.
"I was so concerned that people would look at me and say, 'What a loser. He didn’t take care of himself.' That was not the reaction I have gotten at all," Mitchell said. "People have been so supportive that I was willing and had the courage to come do this. That’s been the overriding theme I’ve received from many of my former peers and friends, even contemporaries I didn’t know very well."
When asked what message he might share with current or former NFL players, Mitchell spoke of his personal struggles and said a pro athlete's mentality was to be perfect and never show weakness. Humility should play a role in maintaining one's health, he said.
"You got to eat a little humble pie, which has very little calories in it by the way," said Mitchell, who admitted he used to eat a breakfast of 1,500 calories alone. "You have to be willing to admit, 'I can't do this by myself; I’m not invincible.' It’s a real issue that is going to ultimately impact my life in a significant way."
At the beginning of the show, Mitchell thought true health was all about physical health, but he quickly learned he needed a more balanced approach.
"I had really shut myself down emotionally and I was missing out on so much, whether it was my relationship with my wife and kids or simple, beautiful joys in life," he said. "By opening up emotionally, you can see and appreciate all these things. I enjoy exercise, healthy food and it’s because I was willing to admit I had a problem."
Since returning home, Mitchell has looked for new opportunities to exercise. For example, after dropping off his truck at an auto-repair shop, he ran the seven miles back to his house, something he never would have considered doing before.
"It hasn’t been hard for me to exercise because I don’t look at it as exercise anymore," he said. "I’ve turned it into an enjoyable thing."
Mitchell also learned tricks for making healthy food taste better. For example, he likes to flavor his egg white omelet with turkey bacon or mushrooms and homemade salsa.2 comments on this story
"I've learned to kind of trick myself into enjoying food. It's because I've changed in my mind how I view it," he said. "I'm going to die if I gain weight. I know that, and I am at a point where I have to be serious and deal with it every day."
Mitchell said the key to a healthier life lies in a person's motivation and formulating a plan. He's grateful for family and friends who have supported him during this life-changing period of his life.
"The Biggest Loser: Glory Days" will air its finale Jan. 29 on NBC. Mitchell is eligible for the $100,000 at-home prize for the eliminated contestants.
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