Morrow: Attitude boosted Ashley Johnston

Ashley Johnston.

Photo by Trae Patton, Trae Patton/NBC

Ashley Johnston.

PASADENA, CALIF. - "Biggest Loser" host Allison Sweeney believes Knoxville contestant Ashley Johnston still has a long journey ahead of her in losing weight and being healthy.

"Ashley has a long way to go on her journey. She has a longer way to go than other women," said Sweeney.

Though on the show she lost more than 150 pounds - and probably more by the time the live season finale airs (8 tonight, WBIR, Channel 10) - Johnston started off at a high point. She began on the show weighing 374 pounds.

Johnston is a finalist in the season finale, vying for $250,000 against fellow contestant Michael Ventrella as well as either Koli Palu or Daris George. Sweeney sees a similarity between Johnston and Ventrella.

"Both Ashley and Michael share a bond in that they both had a lot (of weight) to lose," Sweeney said.

Once she returned to Knoxville, Johnston worked out daily. Those who've seen her say she looks very slim. She's been spotted at local watering holes with water - not fattening alcohol - in her hand.

"Ashley always came at this (show) with a great attitude," Sweeney said. "I admire her for that."

While Johnston was able to battle the temptations of a sweet tooth and processed foods while on "The Biggest Loser" ranch for six months, she couldn't resist the allure of her favorite daytime soap, "Days Of Our Lives."

When Johnston and her mother, Sherry Johnston (who was also a contestant on "Loser" this season), first met Sweeney, they didn't start talking to her about weight loss tips.

No, they wanted to know about what was going to happen next on Sweeney's other gig, playing Sami Brady on "Days."

"They're big fans," Sweeney said. "So they were asking about ('Days' character) Rafe. Ashley wanted to know if (actor Galen Gering) was as dreamy as he is on the show."

Since "Loser" contestants aren't allowed to watch television during their time on the ranch, Sweeney was able to sneak DVDs of "Days" to the Johnstons.

"They are sweet," Sweeney said of the Johnstons. "They were (emotionally) healthy in so many ways, especially when they talked about why they came on to the show. They were both very determined, and it took them a long way."

Terry Morrow may be reached at morrowt@knoxville.com or 865-342-6445.

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