Chicago Mother, Son Vie for Biggest Loser Title

Join Pound for Pound Challenge to Help Hungry

Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 PM CDT
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Chicago mom-and-son duo Michael and Maria share their story of why they wanted to be on

Chicago mom-and-son duo Michael and Maria share their story of why they wanted to be on "The Biggest Loser."

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Chicago Mom, Son Join Biggest Loser

Chicago mother-and-son duo Maria and Michael join the contestants on the ninth season of "The Biggest Loser."
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After only one week on the Biggest Loser campus, Chicago's mother and son team lost a combined 47 pounds, keeping them in the competition.

Thirty-year-old Michael Ventrella is a big guy. He stands 6 feet, 3 inches, but he tips the scale at 526 pounds. 

"I was never even thinking, in my worst nightmares, that I would be this big," he said through tears before the competition started.

During weigh-in at the end of Monday's premier episode, Michael was down an amazing 34 pounds.

Maria Ventrella, at just 5 feet, 4 inches tall, is pint-sized compared to her son, but says her weight problem is partly due to taking care of her late husband and elderly mother.

She shed 13 pounds of the 281 she was carrying during the first week.

Both are proud to be 100 percent Italian-American, but that means that most of the food they cook and eat is not the healthiest.

Maria said she taught her son to love food and blames herself for his weight issues.

Together, they're on a tandem journey to reclaim their lives.

"Every single season, I'm saying that we have the largest contestants we've had, and this season is no different," said show trainer Bob Harper.

The Ventrellas are up against 10 other teams of two in an competition to see who can lose the most weight.  The winner of the 19-week competition wins $250,000 and the "Biggest Loser" title.

NBC.com: The Biggest Loser: Maria

NBC.com: The Biggest Loser: Michael

This year, The Biggest Loser is teaming up with food banks across the country in the "Pound for Pound Challenge."  For every pound of weight loss people pledge, a pound of groceries will go to food banks to help the hungry.  You can join the challenge, too!  Click here to go to the Pound for Pound Challenge Web site, and sign up!


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