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Published:May 25th, 2011 16:03 EST

Olivia Ward Wins The Biggest Loser $250,000 Prize

By Paulette Cohn

The Biggest Loser`s Olivia Ward walked off with the $250,000 grand prize at Tuesday night`s finale, shedding 129 pounds, or 49.43 percent of her starting body weight, to weigh in at 132 pounds.


Olivia was up against her sister Hannah Curlee, who lost 128 pounds, down from 248 -- and a 48.39 percent difference; and Irene Alvarado, who had lost the most weight on the ranch, but ended up in third place with a 116-pound loss, down from 255 pounds, which was a 45.49 percent


Now, the 35-year-old winner from New York City shares her excitement about starting a brand new life and what she learned that she feels will make sure she never goes back!

"I think one of the most important things I learned and I may have said it last night is weight loss happens in the mind first," says Olivia, who credits trainer Bob Harper with teaching her that lesson. "Your body will respond... It is old fashioned mind over matter."

The hardest part for the opera singer was not the diet, but the physical aspects of it " and not just the Bob and Jillian Michaels workouts, but the idea of having to exercise every day.

"Me making me the choice to hit my burn today," she says. "I think that is a good setup for life. As much as I would like to bring Bob and Jillian home with me, I can`t."

While Olivia was on the ranch, her husband Ben Ward began his own weight-loss journey, resulting in a113-pound loss of his own.

"Instead of standing around and waiting for me to come home, he knew it was important for his own journey to get  [started], she says. So he got on the treadmill and online. "Bob tweets throughout the day what he is eating and that is what he ate."

Olivia says their combined weight loss has completely changed the dynamic of her marriage but in a good way. "It alleviates some of the anxiety I had about putting my feet back into my real life," she says.

And while it is too soon for her to have auditioned for any new opera roles that require a skinny Minnie, she is looking forward to the day.

"For a long time, I was afraid to put myself out there because I would be disappointed," she admits. "I would be held back from these roles that I wanted. I am excited at the huge arena of opportunities [now open to me]. I am excited to fall on my face a little bit. I will get up and brush myself off."