May 26th, 2011
03:03 PM ET
Olivia Ward didn't know what to expect when she stepped foot on "The Biggest Loser" ranch last year.
"I thought I would do some working out, get some information and lose weight," Ward said. "I didn't realize it would be that difficult. Six to eight hours of exercise every day. It was like 'Groundhog Day.'"
The 35-year-old opera singer overcame those difficulties to win the 11th season of the NBC show. Ward, who began the show weighing 261 pounds, lost nearly half her starting weight, finishing at 132 pounds.
Ward finished just ahead of her sister, Hannah Curlee, who lost 120 pounds. Ward admitted that there was plenty of sibling rivalry between the two.
"It was always one of those things where I'm never going to let Hannah win and vice versa," Ward noted. "We're able to rejoice and celebrate with each other despite the rivalry."
The New Yorker hopes to capitalize on her weight loss success in the opera world, planning to train her voice ahead of auditions this fall. A bike tour of Italy with her husband is also in the cards, and Ward didn't close the door on spreading the word of good health with her sister.
"There's definitely going to be some speaking engagements down the line. People want to be encouraged and want to hear our story. I'd like to do some public speaking and pay it forward."
Making the transition from the "Biggest Loser" world may prove a bit difficult for Ward, but she's confident that she'll be able to maintain her goal weight and healthy lifestyle.
"Weight loss happens in the mind first. For me, overcoming the scale and the obstacles that kept me from losing weight allowed me to be faithful to diet and exercise. It's good old-fashioned mind over matter."
So what does it take to be a "Biggest Loser" competitor? Ward says just being yourself will do it.
"It sounds like a cliché, but it's true. Don't imagine what you think the show wants to see," she advises. " Just be yourself, and hope the show likes it."
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