The Biggest Loser winner Margie Cummins has overcome bullying, self-doubt and surgery to come out on top, writes Laura Brodnik

In 2012 Brisbane’s Margie Cummins shed 73.2 kilos and won $220,000 and the title of The Biggest Loser. Margie shares her story.

Q: Tell us about life after The Biggest Loser?

A: Life was a real roller coaster after the show. People followed me everywhere I went and took photos of me. I had to take charge of my own health and life away from the cameras.

Q: The weight loss in the house seemed amazing. How was it achieved?

A: After the fourth week in The Biggest Loser house they had us on 600 calories a day and in my opinion that’s just not enough. I’ve had people come up to me crying because they can’t lose the amount of weight in a week that we did in the house. That’s when I point out to them that reality shows are not reality. We had twelve days to lose the weight between weigh-ins.

Q: Have you always struggled with your weight or only as an adult?

A: When I was a teenager I played a lot of sports: rugby union and rugby league for Queensland, State representative for athletics and swimming and did outrigging and touch football. I come from a very sporty family but I went off the rails with my health and that’s what lead to my weight gain.

Q: How do you like to maintain your health?

A: I’m a big fan of counting calories and knowing what’s on your plate. I try to stick to 1200 calories a day but sometimes I’ll slip and eat a burger when I’m at the pub with friends. Then I decide to start fresh and eat healthy the next day. I’ve become a personal trainer and I run boot camps in Brisbane and across Australia.

Q: Now that you are a personal trainer, what’s the best part of running the boot camps?

A: Seeing people come out of their comfort zones and feel good about themselves; knowing they can stand in front of the mirror and like the person who is there.

Q: Has it been hard to maintain your weight?

A: After the show I put on about 15 kilos and of course there are a lot of armchair critics out there who like to point that out, but I’d lost a lot of weight very quickly in an unhealthy way. I needed to figure out what worked for me.

Q: You have had to deal with the public; what was your experience?

A: After The Biggest Loser I suffered a lot at the hands of bullies and online trolls. I would get hundreds of messages from people threatening me, threatening to kill my pets and burn down my house. It was just after my final weigh in and I’d won the show, I should have been celebrating but instead I was in the backyard wanting to blow my head off.

Q: How did you handle the trolls?

A: I called the network producers and explained what was happening but they didn’t help, after two seconds they hung up on me. Things have gotten better but it has taken a long time. My advice is to block out the negativity and focus on your own health. If people in your life are bringing you down tell them they can’t be in your life at the moment. If online bullies are targeting you step away from them. Get off Facebook if you have to. Do what’s best for you.

Q: Your life is so busy… what’s on the agenda?

A: I’ve launched an e-book, Rock Bottom-A Guide on Losing to WIN, which is a detailed assessment of my eating plan for the first four weeks in The Biggest Loser house and what got me in the right mindset to lose weight and regain my self-belief. I’m in training for the GPC National Powerlifting Championships and I’m hoping to represent Australia in the sport. I went through gall-bladder surgery at the end of January but now I’m back into training and looking ahead. I’ve got more boot camps planned, one coming up in Ballina. It’s as much about the socialising and finding like-minded people to support you as it is about getting healthy.

Margie’s e-book is available on her website.