When Thomas “T.C.” Pool comes to work at Research Mannikins in Lebanon, his colleagues hide the cookies.
Pool, the purchasing manager, thanks them. This year, he’s determined not to let any holiday goodies go to waist.
The 31-year-old Albany resident makes his television debut at 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, on season 14 of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” and he’s working hard to keep going with his weight-loss journey.
As per contract rules, Pool can’t talk about how much of his 376 pounds are now behind him, or whether he was eliminated before the awarding of the show’s $250,000 cash prize.
But he’s happy to tell his supporters that he loved the experience and he’s doing great.
“Some family members have joined the journey with me,” he said. “It gives me extra motivation to make sure I stay focused on my goals.”
In the past, the fall and winter holiday seasons were an excuse to relax, eat and procrastinate, Pool said.
Not any more. Pool does circuit training as part of each day, along with playing basketball and putting in a long session on the treadmill.
“I try to do three workouts a day, and push really hard each time,” he said.
Born in Salem, Pool grew up in Albany and graduated in 2000 from South Albany High School. He’d been an active kid, but as a teen, he dealt with recurring bouts of depression and low self-esteem by turning to fast food.
Now married and the father of three children, ages 2, 3 and 6, Pool has been a fan of “The Biggest Loser” since its third season. Over the years, he became convinced he could be a part of it.
“One of the things that always got me was the finale, makeover week, when they reveal how much weight they lost,” he said. “I wanted this feeling of accomplishment and self-confidence.”
Pool tried out for season 10, coming to the casting call in Portland and recording a video.
He didn’t get chosen, but he kept coming back. Every season, he’d get a little closer.
When he finally got the call confirming his participation in season 14, he said, “I teared up a little bit. I said, ‘Thank you so much, this is great. I’m going to California!’ I was excited.”
Pool can’t talk about show specifics, in terms of which of the physical or temptation challenges were hardest for him. “You watch the show and you’ll see,” he promised.
As a fan, he said, he was used to seeing contestants struggle. He thought he knew what to expect and figured whatever happened, he’d just push through.
That turned out to be tougher than he expected. “You just don’t realize,” he said, “it’s way harder than it looks.”
Season 9 contestant Koli Palu and hometown favorite Patrick Ferrari from season 12 have both been great inspirations, Pool said. He said he hopes to be that inspiration for others.
“The biggest tip I have is, you need to figure out deep down what your true goal is. Really resolve what it is and latch onto it like a bulldog.”
There will always be reasons to let go, he added. “You have to always resolve, ‘This is my goal, this temptation isn’t worth it.’”