You’ve said your philosophy is to approach weight loss “from the inside out.” Can you explain that?

What I really try to do is get people in touch with their feelings and their relationships with food. When people approach weight loss as just the physical, they tend to slip. When they approach it as an overall lifestyle change, they get much more success … If you’re looking for a quick fix, rest assured more times than not you’re going to gain the weight back.

Jillian Michaels is about “tough love,” while you’re more about “compassion.” Is that fair? How do you compare the approaches?

Jillian and I do have two different ways for approaching the same beast. I have nothing but love and respect for Jillian. We show how two roads meet at the same place. I think people can respond more to my approach than hers but at the end of the day it comes down to trust. You just have to find out what really works for you.

How does the reality of what we see on TV differ from what people can do in real life to lose weight?

It’s a completely extreme situation on campus. The only way you can lose that kind of weight is if you’re on “The Biggest Loser.” We live in this really crazy extreme situation. Nobody goes to work, everybody’s eating well and working out.

What can people at home (who can’t devote 24 hours a day and don’t have a trainer) take from this?

The show is about inspiration. I get letters every single day about people who thought it was hopeless. Our show really has inspired a nation. It’s different from every other reality show out there and it does do something to ignite a fire. When they see someone who is so obese and making a change, they think, ‘Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I do something?’

What are your fears when you send the players home? How well-equipped are they to survive in the world?

I think you just try to give people all the information they need and you just hope that’s something’s going to stick. What I try to tell them is that, ‘You have all the tools you need to live a healthy lifestyle, now are you going to do it? At the end of the day, doesn’t it feel better?’

How has your approach to fitness changed since you’ve been on the show?

My whole life has changed. Everything about my approach with health and wellness has changed. I was the celebrity trainer getting girls into a size two and getting the guys into a six pack. I found my real purpose: to help millions of Americans who felt lost.

What happens during those weeks when someone works so hard but still doesn’t do well on the scale?

Your body is a real fine-tuned machine. All of a sudden you bombard it with so much pressure and your body just slams the breaks on. You ate everything you did before and you did everything you did before, but your body just needs a breather. It’s heartbreaking to see that.

Do you eat cookies? Ever spend a day when you just hang out on the couch watching TV? Or are you always perfect?

I love my sweets, but I find a way to manage it. I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t have chocolate. I just had one day this past Saturday where I didn’t work out. I relaxed and it made me all the more inspired to work out on Sunday. When you put deprivation in front of someone they’re going to run in the other direction. You tell me I can’t do something and I’m going to want to do that more than ever.