updated 02/13/2014 AT 3:15 PM ET
•originally published 02/14/2014 AT 1:35 PM ET
As a contestant on The Biggest Loser, Rachel Frederickson bared her 260-lb. body in nothing but a sports bra and shorts, shared her heartache about a bad breakup and fought her way through dozens of grueling workouts.
Still, nothing could have prepared the 24-year-old voice-over actress for the tidal wave of criticism and scrutiny that has engulfed her since revealing her 155-lb. weight loss on the reality show s Feb. 4 finale.
Dressed for the mild Los Angeles winter in skinny jeans, knee-high boots and a zip-up sweater just three days after the big reveal, the new champ – nursing a glass of orange juice during the 90-minute interview – is mostly upbeat, using Biggest Loser-speak to address her new size 0-2 body.
“I am proud of my journey and excited for this new life,” she says.
But she grows quiet when asked about the shock that registered on the faces of trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper at the moment of her reveal, admitting that the overall response to her transformation has been “overwhelming. It’s been quite a whirlwind.”