'The Biggest Loser': Winner Olivia Ward 'had no earthly idea' how difficult it would be

the-biggest-loser-winner-olivia-ward-int-1.jpg
Olivia Ward arrived at "The Biggest Loser" ranch with her sister and teammate, Hannah Curlee, at 261 pounds and she left at a svelte 132 pounds and with the Season 11 win. 

The opera singer from New York City spoke to reporters on Wednesday (May 25) and said she had no idea what she was in for.

"I think that my expectations when I went to the ranch was, 'OK, I'm going to go in, I'm going to do some working out, I'm going to get some information, and I'm going to lose weight,'" Ward, 35, says. "I had no earthly idea it was going to be as difficult as it was. I think I really underestimated the physical aspect of how difficult it was."

Nevertheless, she excelled in the show and went on to break several firsts for the series. Along with Hannah, they were the first sisters to reach the finals together. Add in finalist Irene Alvarado and you've got the first time in series history where three women reached the 100-pound weight loss mark and the series' first all-female final three.

While she admits she learned a lot about herself while on the show, Hannah says the biggest thing she found out about herself was that she was actually athletic.

"I was so amazed at how my body transformed," she says. "How I all of a sudden had this inner athlete that really wanted to come out, that wanted to run, that wanted to spin, that wanted to do all these physical challenges and do well at them... I never looked at myself as the athlete. I always looked at myself as the artsy singer girl. So, it made me realize that everyone has an inner athlete that wants to come out and wants to play."

Make no doubt about it, Olivia's inner athlete got a good amount of "play" while on the ranch. She says that not only did the competitors have to endure daily early morning workouts and challenges, they had to keep going once the trainers went home and the cameras shut off.

"A lot of that work is being on your own and me making the choice," she says. "Like, 'OK, am I going to really work hard and hit my caloric burn today? Or am I just going to rely on just the filmed workouts and things like that. That's really up to you."

the-biggest-loser-winner-olivia-ward-int-2.jpg
"I think that was a good setup for life," she continues. "Because as much as I would like to bring Bob [Harper] and Jillian [Michaels] with me, I don't have them in my real life. And I know that learning that there is only going to pay off for me at home."

Yet once at home, Olivia had a secret weapon. Her husband had been losing "Biggest Loser-like" weight on his own while she was away. She says that made it a lot easier for her to stay on program.

"I'm just so excited for him," she says. "It has completely changed the dynamic of our marriage in a good way. And to know that I come home to such a great support system makes me feel so great and really alleviated some of the anxiety that I had about putting my feet back into my life."

Another driving factor for Olivia is her opera career where she says that not only did her weight affect the roles she landed, but her fear of failure did, as well. She was able to overcome both those obstacles on the ranch.

"A lot of that was knowing that because of my weight, I was going to be held back for some of these roles I wanted to do anyway," she explains. "So, therefore I just wouldn't put myself out there. So now, not only am I so excited by the huge arena available to me as far as roles go, I'm excited to fall on my face a little bit, because I know I'm going to be OK."

So, what's next for Olivia? She says that figuring out how to transition her exercise and diet plan from weight loss mode to weight maintenance mode is at the top of her list. She also wants to hit the road with her sister and do some public speaking in order to encourage others and teach them what they've learned.

"It doesn't do anyone any good to hold all this precious knowledge in your hand and put it in your pocket," she says. "What good does that do for everybody else?"

What do you think of Olivia's winning transformation?
Photo/Video credit: NBC