Danni Allen of Wheeling tearfully reunited with her proud family in the suburbs for two weeks and continued to lose weight on Monday's episode of "The Biggest Loser," an NBC weight-loss program.
Allen, a graduate of Mundelein High School, looked like a beauty queen, according to Tim Gunn, the fashion consultant who helped her choose youthful but sophisticated clothing like gold skinny jeans.
Fans watched Danni and her father, Tom, eat salads in Allen's Wheeling apartment and discuss his serious episode when he had fluid on his heart about a year ago.
Danni Allen said it was important to "have the hard conversations with each other and not sugarcoat it any more."
The embarrassment over confronting people about how unhealthy their weight can be gets in the way of fighting America's obesity epidemic, she said.
Tom Allen also followed his daughter's lead through a strenuous public workout.
"One of the hardest things about keeping yourself fit is time," said Allen, who returned to her two jobs for the two weeks away from "The Biggest Loser" ranch in California.
The cameras followed her to her position as an advertising coordinator for Camping World and Good Sam in Lincolnshire and when she went to tend bar at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire.
All five contestants lost enough weight during the two weeks at home to stay on the show and hear about the complicated system that will winnow their numbers to three finalists for the live March 18 show.
On the March 11 show, the two who lose the most weight will be guaranteed a spot in the finals. The one who loses the least will be eliminated. Fans who watch on television will vote between the two in the middle, but the contestants who are on the line will not learn which of them is still in the running until the finale.
Danni was within 1 percentage point of the leader after the weigh-in televised Monday. She weighed 174 pounds, down from 258 when she started.
When Allen came out on a stage in the suburbs to greet family and friends, her mother, Zrinka, cried, and said, "I'm amazed at the strength that my daughter has. How comfortable she is in her skin."
At the same event her father commented on the sparkle in her eye.
Danni Allen said her family saw past her physical change.
"They saw the transformation; the person I've become," said the 26-year-old.