Friends and relatives cheer the glamorous, slimmer Danni Allen in Monday night's episode of "The Biggest Loser," but she's even more thrilled at the changes she's made inside.
"I think my favorite part is showing to my friends and family the new, stronger person I have become," the 26-year-old Wheeling resident said. "I show it on the outside, but it's a balance of inside and out. I was never known as pretty. I was the athletic one who would power through. For the first time in my life, I have felt really beautiful."
Allen is one of five remaining contestants on the NBC weight-loss reality show. All five receive a makeover on Monday night's show, which airs at 7 p.m., then take their new look and the cameras to their hometowns.
While Danni currently lives in Wheeling, she is a graduate of Mundelein High School and film crews were spotted there a few months ago. Allen said she could not reveal which towns are in the spotlight.
While contestants are sworn to secrecy, a site called tvgrapevine.com features Danni's homecoming at the end of an eight-minute clip that starts with interviews of the design gurus.
In the interview, fashion consultant and "Project Runway" star Tim Gunn said the look he wanted for the youthful Allen was "something a little more fun, a little more sportwear-oriented, and something that makes her eyes sparkle."
The network gave a picture of the post-makeover Allen to Us magazine, and she posted a link on Twitter.
We see Allen in skinny jeans with a gold boa print from Bisou Bisou, a ruched or gathered black top and high heels.
Her wavy hair is shorter, and Allen said she loves the cut by Ken Paves.
"I like that they made me a little bit of a (baddie)," said Allen. "They call me Jill Junior (after Jillian Michaels, a trainer on the show). It's great to be compared to my mentor."
While the competition began in September, it did not start airing until January. The finale will be aired live on March 18.
"I think my favorite part of the whole experience is I finally believe in myself again," Allen said "And I know it's OK to dream. I was always the practical one, doing one thing after another, step by step. My parents said I could be anybody I wanted to be, but I never believed it. This gave me confidence in myself and who I am as a person."
Allen, a graduate of Clemson University and an advertising coordinator in Lincolnshire, weighed 258 pounds when she started the contest with 14 others. She lost 74 pounds to put her at 184 during the last televised weigh-in.
Allen said she practices better nutrition, exercise and emotional health at home, too.
"If I can do it, you can do it."