‘Biggest Loser’ still a winner
Broken Arrow resident Danny Cahill lost 239 pounds to win season eight of “The Biggest Loser.” He teaches his fitness program, Simply Lose It Bootcamp, at Fitness Together Downtown.
For Danny Cahill, the fight is never over.
In 2009, the Broken Arrow resident dropped a precipitous 239 pounds in 210 days as the season eight winner of reality TV’s “The Biggest Loser.”
In a sense, Cahill’s hard work and dedication left him less than half the man he used to be; his weight plummeted from 430 to 191 pounds. However, it also connected him to mankind in a meaningful way.
“Everybody in life has a dream,” Cahill said recently while relaxing in a Tulsa café. “Some people are living theirs, some aren’t. If you aren’t, you need to find out why you aren’t living your dream.”
Anyone who met Cahill in high school would have a hard time imagining him overweight. But he says his struggle to maintain a healthy weight began at age 7 and “yo-yo’d” up and down.
In 2011, at a food addiction recovery center, he learned he flipped from compulsive overeater/food addict in early childhood to a borderline anorexic. At 5 feet 11 inches, he weighed as little as 152 pounds at one point as a teenager in Midwest City.
Cahill, now 45, says his thin frame didn’t stop him from playing offensive lineman on his high school football team. However, his true love was music.
“I thought I was going to be a rock star,” he recalls.
Cahill continues to live that dream, writing and recording music, but he also obtained his license as a land surveyor in 1997. Simultaneously he began canvassing local fast food restaurants at practically every opportunity.
He says it wasn’t uncommon for him to knock down 10 pieces of pizza at lunch. He found that an afternoon at the office was better while munching on a whole sleeve of crackers and maybe enjoying some candy, as well. He knew a delicious dinner was waiting for him when he got home, but he says that wouldn’t stop him from buying a burrito on the way home.
Cahill attempted to lose weight several times, but the results were short-lived. At 430 pounds he wore size 6X shirts. He says only a few Tulsa-area stores stocked clothes that large. He recalls there was one other man with whom he would compete to scoop up such gear.
“Sorry, the other guy got it,” Cahill remembers being told by store personnel.
Cahill never met the gentleman he battled for 6X clothing. Perhaps he was among the millions watching five years ago as Cahill became the winner of “The Biggest Loser.”
After a doctor told Cahill he wouldn’t live to age 50 if he didn’t make some changes, Cahill set his sights on winning the 2009 edition of the weight-loss reality show.
Emotional as he recalls how the contestants on the show “were fighting for our lives together,” Cahill speaks fondly of the program that made him somewhat famous. But with his success came pressure.
Being an inspiration to others carries a price. Any significant backslide could disappoint a lot of people.
Cahill says he put on 75 pounds after his father died in 2011. He managed to slam on the brakes by telling himself, “Stop, we’re not going to do that again.”
In mid-August 2014, he said he weighed 250 pounds. That’s certainly better than his pre-“Biggest Loser” high-water mark of 430 pounds, but it isn’t where he wants to be. His goal is 230 pounds.
Interestingly, Cahill is flexible with his food choices. I was relieved when he wanted to meet over coffee for our interview instead of lunch. I imagined him enjoying a few celery sticks and criticizing whatever tasty dish I ordered.
As it turned out, he might have been willing to crush a burger or two with me. It was like meeting a recovering alcoholic who enjoys the occasional beer.
“I’m a meat eater,” says Cahill, though he only allows himself red meat about 20 days of the year. His protein choices are typically chicken, turkey and fish. He also steers clear of processed foods.
Of course, a big part of Cahill’s life is exercise. He leads exercise groups and “boot camps” in the Tulsa area. He also is a motivational speaker who has shared his message in at least 40 states and at least seven countries.
He has gotten to know Tulsa International Airport well, but Cahill says he has no plans to move. The married father of two has grown to love it here.
He has thought about running for political office in the future but has no concrete plans to do so. He says he can picture himself as a pastor in 10 years and is training under Orlando Juarez at The Bridge in Bixby, where Cahill leads the church’s Connect Group.
“Everybody’s got stuff they are working through,” Cahill says. “I want to help people work through their stuff.”