They both had a problem and set out to fix it. But they never expected to fall in love too.
- Posted on Sep 14, 2009
What’s more inspiring than losing a total of 259 pounds in front of the world? Falling in love along the way.
That’s what happened to Damien Gurganious and Nicole Brewer of New York. The engaged couple applied for Season 7 of the NBC weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser after Damien proposed.
They had met at their local YMCA in Brooklyn, New York in 2006, both just beginning their weight-loss journey on their own. “We both showed up for a senior water aerobics class one day and everyone else was much older than us,” says Damien. “So we started talking.”
Having a common weight problem—and the motivation to fix it—they became fast friends… and soon after, much more. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love and start planning their future together. But their weight was a constant struggle, even with the support of each other, and Nicole was determined to avoid wearing a plus-size wedding gown.
But that wasn’t the only reason she wanted to sign up for the show. After her mom, who suffered from diabetes and heart disease, suddenly passed away, Nicole knew she needed to change her habits. “My mom’s health was a big motivating factor,” she says. “Having Damien by my side through that loss was important,” she says. “I knew he’d be there during the next challenge—losing the weight for good.”
A short time later, after a little prodding on her part, the couple was standing in line in Rockefeller Plaza to audition for The Biggest Loser with 500 others hoping to be picked. Luckily, the producers liked them and at their heaviest—Damien, 381 pounds and Nicole, 269 pounds—they set off to change their lives while millions watched, hoping to inspire others to make a change too.
“The show wasn’t just about weight loss for us. It was a learning process about our relationship too,” says Nicole. “We learned a lot about how to support each other… how to be there and how to give each other space.”
Although they were voted off the show early on, it gave them the tools and information they needed to continue their journey at home. After all, they had a wedding coming up and they wanted to be the healthiest they could be—especially knowing they would start a family in the near future.
“Being in love is a spiritual thing for us,” says Damien. “You want to be with this person for the rest of your life.” A long, healthy life surrounded by family, friends and faith—faith that helped them through the toughest of times and will guide them in the future.
Nicole and Damien got married in New York in late August 2009. Other Season 7 favorites like Siona and Filipe Fa, Carla Triplett and Jerry and Estella Hayes helped them celebrate.