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Last September, when a then 257-lb. Helen Phillips first set foot on The Biggest Loser’s Malibu ranch, she couldn’t imagine staying more than one week.

“I didn’t think I’d survive,” the 5-foot-6-inch retired retail manager from Sterling Heights, Mich., tells OK!. “I never walked. I’d be out of breath doing laundry.”

But Helen confronted each new challenge, shedding 140 pounds in nine months (she now weighs 117) and ultimately snagging the NBC reality series’ $250,000 grand prize.

“I wake up with a purpose now,” explains Helen, who, at 47, is also the oldest winner in the show’s seven-season history. “I love my body.”

Since completing the contest, the mother of two (she initially partnered with daughter Shanon Thomas, 29, who was kicked off on the seventh week) has been advised by doctors to regain up to 15 pounds — she’s currently considered underweight!

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