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TV's 'Biggest Loser' contestants talk fitness at Bettendorf Middle School
Amy Hildreth, from the TV show "The Biggest Loser," laughs at a before photo of herself during a fitness assembly at Bettendorf Middle School on Friday. (Larry Fisher/Quad-City Times

Marty Wolff never will forget the first time he felt really bad about being a very big boy.

He had fallen into a mud puddle on the school playground in sixth grade. He got up, and a well-known bully pointed a finger at him and said, “Why don’t you go home and take a shower, you fat pig.”

He pretended it didn’t bother him. “I was really hurt, even though at the time I said, ‘Whatever.’ ”

Amy Hildreth remembers her “a-ha” moment as well. She was lounging on the couch in her size 22 jeans, eating pizza and watching “The Biggest Loser” on television. She thought the contestants were “lucky” for getting help with the battle of the bulge.

As it turns out, luck was on their sides. Both ended up as contestants on the third season of the hit NBC reality show. Even though they didn’t win the contest, they lost a combined 250 pounds — and they won each other’s hearts. The Omaha, Neb., couple will marry next month.

Their story delighted students at Bettendorf Middle School who got to meet the slimmed-down duo during school assemblies Friday.

The school used a physical education grant to pay Wolff and Hildreth $550 to speak

to the children as part of Fitness Unites with Nutrition, or FUN Week. Students

also had healthy fact announcements,  contests like naming the bones in the body, healthy snacks and family fitness nights.

“This is the time during the year we promote health to our students,” co-principal Linda Goff said. “There is definitely a need for schools to inform students about the benefits of a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle of good nutrition and exercise.”

Wolff told the children he was born into an obese family to begin with, and the situation worsened when his dad died. His mother had to work and rear the children, and that meant eating on the go. “I think I developed a fast-food addiction,” he said. Before “The Biggest Loser,” he tipped the scale at 365 pounds.

One student in the audience asked Wolff whether he has been to McDonald’s since losing all the weight, and he admitted he has. The students erupted in cheers and applause, but Wolff stressed that he only eats fast food once every three months now.

Eating for convenience is no excuse for eating poorly, Hildreth added. “Every drive-through has a healthy choice, like a salad.”

Hildreth and Wolff said they tried to act as though their weight didn’t bother them when they were younger. When Wolff turned 16, he put license plates on his car that read “I AM FAT.”

“People used to pull up alongside of me to see if I was really fat,” he said. “I’d hold up my Burger King sandwich and say, ‘Hey, hi, yes, I’m fat.’ ”

Several students asked what it was like being on a television show. The couple explained that cameras were in every room of the house — except the bathroom — and producers would watch their every move from a control room.

“If I walked up to Amy and whispered, ‘Hey, I think you’re cute,’ they would call me in for an interview and say, ‘So, you think Amy’s cute,’” Wolff said. “I’d say, ‘No, I never said that,’ and they would say, ‘Yeah, we heard you say that.’ ”

The show taught the couple how to exercise, cook healthy meals and believe in themselves, they said. That’s how they have managed to keep the weight off even after the show.

“Knowing we were able to achieve our goals really totally changed who we were,” Hildreth said.

“You don’t know what you’re capable of doing until you try things,” Wolff added.

Courtney Carr, a seventh-grader at the school, said she enjoyed the assembly. “It was really motivating.”

David Heitz can be contacted at (563) 383-2202 or dheitz@qctimes.com. Comment on this story at qctimes.com.

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