When Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh walks around, he’s often seen with a dark cloud floating above his head.
For anyone struggling to lose weight, getting rid of that cloud is essential, at least from where Danni Allen sits.
Allen, the Season 14 winner of the TV hit The Biggest Loser, was in London recently as Planet Fitness launched its latest location at 1299 Oxford St. East — a first for the Forest City, but one of some 1,200 gyms across North America.
“Whenever you have a weight-loss goal, it’s like that damn cloud following you. If you can get rid of whatever numbers you have instilled in your brain, your supposed-to-be-numbers, get rid of that and try to win the day,” Allen said. “You won’t make all good choices, but try to make more good than bad.”
Allen, a Chicago native, was in London to help open the 20,000-sq.-ft. facility, the first of what could be three in the Forest City by the end of the year.
As someone who had been overweight for years, she’s still somewhat shocked by the world she finds herself in today.
In fact, Allen still carries around her driver’s permit from when she was 15 — one that lists her weight at 225 lbs. — to remind herself of how far she’s come.
Through her experience on the show, working out essentially eight hours a day, she was able to lose those 125 lbs.
Or, put another way, Allen jokes she was able to essentially lose Jillian Michaels (an original trainer on The Biggest Loser), both figuratively and literally.
“I had just accepted my weight. I thought that was what I was supposed to be,” Allen said. “Jillian helped open my eyes to what I could be, to stop living with what I was supposed to be and live with what I could be.”
Steve Venet said that’s essentially what Planet Fitness is all about.
A Planet Fitness regional operations director, Venet was excited for the London launch because it meant a sort of homecoming for a man born in the Forest City at the old Victoria Hospital.
The family moved out of London, but he still has several relatives living in the city.
It’s a community he believes the message of Planet Fitness speaks to.
“We are going for 90 percent of the population, the recreational, someone who wouldn’t necessarily go to a mainstream club,” Venet said. “We can be so proud, we’re going to reach people who are maybe down on their luck, maybe have young families, maybe have a disability, some mobility issue or whatever, everybody is welcome. We will work with them and do our best to get them back into the community. “
Despite sometimes feeling “weird” about being a celebrity face, she’s learned to embrace everything it has brought her.
Most importantly, she feels “very honoured” people feel so open to tell her their stories.
Those stories, in turn, are something she is grateful for each and every time she hears one.
Sharing her experience is something she is eager to do.
Allen has also become quite accomplished at finding the balance in her life.
After all, she is from Chicago.
“I would say my biggest vice is probably deep-dish pizza. I can’t splurge too much because they are so many calories,” she said. “I’ll eat maybe two or three cups of broccoli, or some sort of vegetable, then I go for the pizza. I know one slice will be plenty. And I don’t mean it’s one little square; it’s big.”