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‘Biggest Loser’ hopefuls line up for chance to trim down

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Updated: June 6, 2013 7:19AM

There’s one burning life goal Janise Taylor just can’t figure out: how to drop 200 pounds.

The 332-pound south suburban mom of three stood in a line of more than a thousand hopefuls Saturday morning at a Northwest Side Planet Fitness to get her chance at being a contestant on NBC’s hit show “The Biggest Loser.”

“I went back to school after having a baby as a teenager. I got my degree. I’m getting ready to work on my master’s degree. I’m getting ready to buy a house. And I can’t lose weight,” Taylor, 29, said.

Taylor teaches at a South Side charter school, and says her students look up to celebrities and their appearances.

“As someone who teaches high school math and talking to young girls, what they see in the media is Beyonce, skinny with long hair,” Taylor said. “And then you see me, and as a teenager, when image is everything, who are they going to listen to?”

Chicago is one of 11 cities hosting auditions for the 15th season. Casting agents said they’re seeking people who have at least 80 pounds to lose. And besides the weight loss, there’s also the grand prize of $250,000.

Charles Smith, another hopeful, says being overweight — 550 pounds — has cost him his personal life.

“I’m too embarrassed to really do anything. I can’t go to the movies, restaurants,” said Smith, 31, a truck driver from Indiana. “It’s just not really conducive to any lifestyle. Everybody stares and talks under their breath. I’m just really ready to do something.”

For Emily Gutierrez, being a contestant could save her life. Both her parents died in their 40s of heart-related issues.

“My brother actually made it to 50. He’s 51, but he’s had open-heart surgery and several stents put in,” Gutierrez, 47, said. “I just feel that my life will be diminished or ended at an early age if I don’t make a life-changing event. And this could put you on the road to that life-changing event rapidly.”

Gutierrez is 320 pounds, and hoping to drop more than 150 pounds.

There’s one thing she’s looking forward to doing if she can lose the weight. And her neighbors in the winding line cheered when they heard it: “I’d love to go to Great America and ride the roller coasters!”

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