We all watched Vinny “Big Vinny” Hickerson during his time on the Biggest Loser. Throughout his journey on the show, we exalted in his highs, reeled in his lows, and, when that final weigh-in came, rejoiced in his victory! Most of us lost touch with him after that final episode, and so the question becomes, where is Vinny now, and has he managed to do what most can’t: continue in his healthy lifestyle? The answer is yes, and he is doing better than ever! In an exclusive interview with Vincent “Big Vinny” Hickerson, he explains how he came to be a participant on Biggest Loser, how the show helped him, how he has maintained his healthy schedule while on the road, and how his own salvation has inspired others. (He even raved about Trailor Choir and one of their new singles!) In order to rejoice where he is now in his life, Vinny explained to me that we had to go back to where his realization that his weight was a life-threatening problem began.
“A big part of my story that I tell is that I believed in myself and thought I was worth whatever I wanted, and so at 450 lbs I went to a town that had never had a guy of my size get a record deal or do anything successful there, and I was able to get a record deal. I was able to go all over with the biggest tour in country music at the time and open for legends like ZZ Top, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw—all these people—so you know, I did all of that before biggest loser”
Vinny and his band “Trailer Choir” were in the midst of success, making a name for themselves in country music, when Vinny received the terrifying news that, due to his weight, he had acquired an infection in his leg. At 27 years old and 453 lbs., the infection could have led to the loss of his leg. It was at this point that Vinny decided it was time to change his lifestyle.
The decision was a heartbreaking one, as the band had to decline a record deal due to Vinny’s absence, but he knew that becoming healthy and saving his life was more important. Despite putting his music career on hold and focusing on his health by way of Biggest Loser, new doors opened and 3 and a half years later, living a healthy life and continuing his undying passion for music, Vinny and the band received a new record deal that has skyrocketed their careers.
When asked if Biggest Loser saved his life, Vinny stated with absolute certainty that he saved his life, as the motivation came from within, but that Biggest Loser gave him all of the tools he needed to succeed in saving his life. Biggest Loser was a mighty force in getting Vinny away from those hospital doors and back on stage, performing the music he loves. Due to this, he explains is disappointment over the people who speak badly of the show
“It kind of hurts me when people throw a shade on Biggest Loser and say bad things about it. I don’t know their experiences. Maybe they did have some bad things happen and this and that, but I was on the same show, I was never offered drugs, I was never over-pushed. I mean, I pushed myself! You have a choice every day to do whatever you want to do. Even when the cameras are on, no one can make you physically workout. I promise you when I weighed 450 lbs. there wasn’t an army of guys that were going to make me walk on the treadmill.”
He chuckles, imaging the prospect. The conversation quickly becomes serious, though, as his innovative side kicks in.
“I think it needs to be called something besides ‘life after loser’. I think it needs to be called ‘life after losing.’ I think there should be a program that we can all be in together, because there are so many personal trainers and so many great people in this … There should be a basic program that we put together that people could come and get into after they’ve lost so much weight, because I think that the biggest problem is that people set their weight goal for one thing—they’ve got to get down to 160 lbs. or 180 lbs. or whatever their goals are—they set it for that and then they get to it and then they celebrate.”
Rightly so, too! Accomplishing your goals is most certainly something to celebrate, and there’s nothing wrong with a little party. However, Vinny claims that it is in the midst of this celebration that people begin to regress, putting back on ten to twenty lbs without concern. That few extra lbs. becomes 50 lbs. and 100 lbs. again. He claims that creating a program to help people maintain after they’ve reached their weight goals could be essential to stopping this regression. With this being said, I inquired as to how Vinny maintained his weight after the show, and what has helped him to remain in shape.
Labrada Nutrition and the team that helped him create a schedule and a style of workout that fit both his schedule and his body type immediately came into the conversation. Vinny became excited and passionate talking about the company and the people who gave him the knowledge he needed to continue his success.
“They take your body type into account, you know? That was one of the big things, being with Ryan and working when they were at Labrada and learning my body type and how I needed to eat for my body type, and how I needed to eat for the goals I had set in front of me, because I didn’t know any of that. I just knew eat lean and green, lower my carbs—what you learn by reading on the internet. What you don’t realize is that everything is different for every person… I got my routine from the Labrada team. From Ryan Workman, Odyssey Reed, and Lee Brook, and I’ve tied in with a team here in Nashville called Humanes Training, and he’s writing a blog with my workout plans and diet plans.”
Thanks to Labrada, Vinny learned to pre-plan his meals and workouts for the entire week. With his busy schedule, due to his music career, Vinny claims the pre-planning actually opens up time for him to enjoy the fans he meets and the cities he visits, because he already knows what he is going to eat and when he is going to the gym. Vinny also uses this free time to inspire those around him, because, let’s face it, Vinny’s story is definitely one to inspire.
His main concern is body image, joking about how difficult it was being an overweight child (until football season, of course!). Vinny discusses the heavy emphasis our society places on image, admitting to his own body dysmorphia. What is so amazing about Vinny is that he truly expresses love and joy at all times, including when he is having doubts about himself.
“People have to realize that everybody struggles with something, and no matter what, it’s hard to be happy all of the time. I’m a happy person. I’ve always been excited about life and I’m proud of a lot of the things I’ve accomplished and this and that, but sometimes I still look in the mirror and I still see a 450 lb. guy looking back at me. [The thing is] … you can’t look at yourself how you are right now and hate yourself and expect that you are going to stick to something that you want to try and change, because if you don’t love yourself like you are right now, you’re not going to believe that you’re worth it. So I try to tell people all the time that, the person who you are right now has to put in the work to become the product of what you are going to do. So you have to believe in yourself enough, and love yourself enough, to go out there and get that.”
Great, heartfelt advice, Vinny! Something we dearly need is to love ourselves and believe that we are worthy and capable of anything. Oh, and guess what? This advice has worked! After seeing his success and lifestyle change, both Vinny’s step mom and brother changed their own living habits, losing an exceptional amount of weight themselves by eating right for their body and coming up with a workout routine that works for them.
In the midst of speaking about how he himself inspires those around him, Vinny once again speaks of the amazing help he received from Labrada Nutrition, and the way he has changed due to the people and the products.
“I think that, when you tie into Labrada and you see the people that are here and the way that they’re handling , and obviously hearing Lee’s story and reading his book, uh all that, it’s so much more than just supplements. It’s a mindset that comes with the Labrada name … It’s the ingenuity of Labrada as a whole, not just the supplements, but the community as a whole that has helped me learn so much and given me so much education on how I should eat and how I should use the supplements correctly because if you just sit there and pump a bunch of supplements all day and you don’t do anything else with it, then you’re not going to change.”
So, how is Trailor Choir doing now? The answer is fantastic. When asked about his music career, Vinny lit up with a contagious joy, enthusing about being in Nashville and expressing his love for his fans. He was especially excited about the bands new hit single, “Ice Cold Summer,” which is sprinting up the music charts, currently ranking in the sixties and expected to rise to the top forties within the next month. Vinny raved about the song.
“It’s like putting fun into your MP3 player or IPod or CD player, or whatever you play music through. It’s just fun… I want to create some positivity and some love and some kindness in this world”
He certainly has brought love and kindness into the world, inspiring family, friends, and the groups of children he makes time out of his schedule to speak to about bullying. As our time was winding to an end, I asked Vinny if there was anything he would like to say to the team that included them in their family after Biggest Loser, leaving the floor open to him. It was an offer he avidly took.
“Thank you to everybody that has helped me along my way and my journey. It’s the rest of my life—it’s my lifestyle. Thank you for helping me create the proper mindset and for letting me be a part of this family. I know that Labrada and its products are pretty much known for bodybuilding, but I’d like for everybody to read and to know that there are so many great products and so many things in here that are not just for bodybuilders. They’re for people who want to lead a healthy life.”
I believe that we can all say thank you to Vinny as well, for being an inspiration to anyone struggling with weight and body-image, as well as for making some great music we can add to our summer play list! I know “Ice Cold Summer” is already rocking and rolling on mine!
To get your copy of “ICE COLD SUMMER” by Trailer Choir, click HERE
About the Author
Taylor Shepeard is a second semester senior at Avila University. She is majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she spends her time hiking with her rescue dog and listening to great music.