When Ali Vincent won The Biggest Loser in 2008, she was the thinnest she’d ever be. However, after maintaining a healthy weight for seven years, Ali says, she gained weight rapidly over a 12-month period.
The weight gain didn’t come out of nowhere. Ali says she suffered a personal trauma in 2015 that she believes triggered her recent weight gain. She kept her story a secret until now.
“I haven’t talked about it because I don’t know—it’s not something you just talk about,” Ali tells Oprah: Where Are They Now?
“I was getting a massage, and I fell asleep, which I often do in massages, you know? And I felt so safe in this place. I had no guards up, and I woke up to…I woke up to someone feeling my vagina,” Ali says as she begins to cry. “I was just like in shock, and like, ‘What is going on? What’s happening?’ And then I just jumped up and I just ran out, just hid.”
When she reported the attack to management, she didn’t receive a compassionate response. “I was sitting there like in a ball, and I was just like shaking, and I was just—I don’t know how to explain it, but I just was so afraid. I was scared,” Ali says. “The manager came and was like, ‘It’s not like he raped you.’ And he was right.”
The event led Ali down a dark path. At first, she was able to distract herself by planning her wedding and staying busy. However, when she was idle, she started thinking about the assault again. “I didn’t want to deal with what was coming up for me,” Ali says. “I did so much to fill my time, and then when my wedding was over, I just kind of got into this cycle of mindless eating and drinking.”
Ultimately, Ali refuses to give power to the demons. “I don’t share the story of me being assaulted because it’s an excuse or something I’m dwelling on. It’s something that I’m working through, and it doesn’t have to be the end of my story. For far too long, by not wanting to deal with it, I just let it unconsciously, subconsciously, affect me and take too much power, and it doesn’t get power.”
During her lowest period, Ali says Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercial came on in the middle of the night. It marked a turning point.
“I decided that I was going to do something about it, and so I joined Weight Watchers online. I weighed myself, and I was the exact same weight I weighed when I went on Biggest Loser. I was 234 pounds, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Like, that’s just crazy on so many levels.”
She’s already losing weight. “I am no longer 234 pounds, even today, like at all! I’m hitting these little markers of success, and with each successful moment, I feel empowered, and I feel like I’m getting my strength back.”