Roberto Hernandez is a physical education teacher at a high school in Illinois, but for many years he felt like a hypocrite because he was more than 150 pounds overweight.
“I was telling them not to eat bad food, not to drink soda, not eat sweets, but then I would go to the fast food restaurant on my way home, get four or five meals and eat them at home,” he told Fox News Latino in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “I was not leading by example.”
However, he will soon return to Morton High School about 160 pounds lighter and the winner of season 17 of NBC's “The Biggest Loser.”
“I’m excited. I still have the adrenaline rush going through me,” he told FNL on Tuesday, a day after being crowned champion of the long-running reality show.
Hernandez, 36, who grew up in a Mexican-American household in Chicago, started the show at 348 pounds and shed 160 pounds – 45.98 percent of his body weight – with the help of trainer Jennifer Widerstrom. He was also joined on the show by his twin brother, Luis.
“From the very beginning, we were excited to going out together [to the Biggest Loser Ranch] and showing that we are hard-working men,” said Hernandez, who added that the two auditioned for the show about three years ago, but they didn't make the cut because it was a singles season.
However, with a pairs season this time, the brothers reapplied and made it. Luis was eliminated during the Feb. 1 episode, but he came back Monday night to win the show’s $100,000 at-home prize.
“I was backstage when they announced he won, and I was so happy and running around and hugging everyone. I hugged the security guards,” Hernandez said of his brother’s win.
Being on “Biggest Loser” was a life-changing experience for Hernandez on a number of levels. However he found it was isolating to be away from his family and friends for such a long period of time.
“The hardest part – obviously apart from the workouts – was being away from my kids and wife. I’m a family guy, and my little boy Jacob took it hard,” he said.
Now that the show is done, Hernandez says he wants to motivate his students to eat healthily and work out more.
Additionally, he wants to motivate the Hispanic community around the country to eat healthier – though he would never ask his mother to change her pozole (a Mexican chicken or pork soup made with hominy).
“I am Mexican-American, and the Hispanic population is very important to me,” Hernandez said, acknowledging that many recipes in Latin cooking aren't the healthiest. “So grill the carne asada, or instead of carne asada have grilled chicken."
"Have a salad before the main course – that’s helped me at home,” he added. “If you have a salad before the main meal, then you won’t eat it all, and you still get the temptation – but not all of it.”
Ultimately Hernandez just wants to motivate people to get off their couches and start moving.
“Once you take the first step, the second one will follow. One day you will be walking then the next day jogging and soon it will be a marathon,” he said. “It will take time, but you have to start and take it one day at a time.”