Oct. 30, 2013 at 10:40 AM ET
It was tough to watch Tanya Winfield's struggles on "The Biggest Loser" Tuesday. After sharing heartbreaking stories of the abuse and trauma she suffered in her youth, she stepped on the scale to learn she didn't lose a single pound this week — despite all of her hard work.
But in the end, it's what she gained that really mattered.
Tanya came to the ranch because she felt guilty over the 125 pounds she put on while pregnant with her youngest child. That daughter was born weighing in 11 pounds, 6 ounces, and doctors have warned Tanya that her little girl will "always be high risk for obesity, childhood obesity and childhood diabetes."
But when Tanya sat down for a heart-to-heart with trainer Dolvett Quince, she revealed that the real story behind her weight problem went straight back to the self-esteem-crushing behavior of her own mother.
"My mother was heavily addicted to drugs, and she was very physical," Tanya explained through tears. "She had me when she was 15. And (when) I was growing into myself, there was always this need from her to mess with my face, hit me in my face, hit me in my mouth, hit me in my nose. If someone complimented me, she would hit me in the face. And that's basically how I had to live my life."
The neglect and abuse from her mother was compounded by apathetic family members.
"I'm pissed at my entire family because I told them about the abuse. They knew what was going on, but nobody would save me," she shared.
Dolvett told her that she would have to be the one to save herself now, and in order to do that, she needed to let go and forgive first.
He told her to write a letter to her family and another to her now-deceased mom, each explaining how she felt and how she plans to move on. But Tanya decided to write a third letter — to herself.
"(I forgive) myself for the reason I'm in the situation that I'm in right now," she said.
And while she didn't shed any pounds on the scale this week, Tanya's just fine with that — thanks in part to the trainer save used by Dolvett and in part because of what she gained.
"I've shed some emotional baggage that's going to carry me through the rest of my life," she cheered.