Kelly Rizzo became the latest recruit to voluntarily withdraw from Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test season 2. Kelly walked away from the show during a brutal boat-carrying challenge as she battled immense knee and back pain.
In an exclusive interview with HollywoodLife, the host and Bob Saget’s widow revealed she signed on to the show for a number of reasons. She’s always had an “incredible appreciation” for the military and a fascination with the movie G.I. Jane. “Everyone was telling me how strong I was or how strong I am and that was something I just kind of wanted to put to the test,” she said.
However, during a challenge in the October 16 episode, Kelly reached her “breaking point.” As she carried a heavy boat with fellow recruits, Kelly hit her limit and decided to voluntarily withdraw from the show. Read our Q&A below about Kelly’s Special Forces journey and what’s next for her.
Do you have any regrets about leaving when you did?
Kelly Rizzo: Yes and no. I made a promise to myself and to my family that I was not going to just quit. I wasn’t going to quit just because things got uncomfortable or just because something seemed scary or out of fear. I only would quit if I was injured, or if I physically reached my breaking point and my body just gave out. That’s truly what happened. Looking back, there’s part of me that’s like, oh, could I have maybe found one more ounce of strength that could have gotten me a little further? Because if I had made it through that challenge, through this horrific boat carry that was the worst thing anyone had ever been through.
If I could have made it through that, I would have really done great at some of those other challenges because those were really up my alley. Like, the fighting. I really wanted to fight. I really wanted to get submerged in the helicopter or underwater. I wanted to do all those things, which is weird. Those were the things I was looking forward to because I had seen season 1. So I was like, if I could have just gotten through that, but at the time also, it wasn’t just about me. I knew I was holding my team back. Tyler Cameron was so wonderful. He was saying, ‘Kelly, just get in the boat. We’ll carry you.’ I’m like, ‘That’s not right. That’s not fair.’ I don’t want to be actual deadweight to my team. I also bowed out because I knew it was best for the team because it wasn’t fair to keep holding them back.
You mentioned that your back was in pain on the show. Were you injured at all?
Kelly Rizzo: It started out with my knees. My knees were in incredible pain. They were swollen. I could barely walk. The fact that the most physically grueling challenge of literally anyone’s life followed that… I almost wanted to leave because my knees were hurting so bad, and my back was killing me. I was concerned and that’s the reason why I almost wanted to quit that morning, but then the doc gave me a bunch of anti-inflammatories to at least help with the pain. I was scared that I was doing lasting damage. I’m like, is this worth it if I really mess up my knees and I’m going to need surgery or something? That’s how bad it was. And then of course, they’re like, now carry this 1000-pound boat up a mountain in the river with an Olympian and two huge strong men. And then me with my 44-year-old back. It was just very grueling, and I didn’t have a long-term injury thankfully. But it did take me at least a full week to even be able to walk normally.
What did you learn about yourself while competing on the show?
Kelly Rizzo: I learned that I was able to push myself further than I thought. Before, if anything ever got uncomfortable, I would quit, even in a workout. I would always give up when things just got a little uncomfortable. Things got very uncomfortable the first hour we were there, and I still pushed through. Obviously looking back, if I could do it again, I would go back in a heartbeat. I wish I was able to push through that boat carry challenge. I would have loved to have made it farther because I really wanted to be there. But at the same time, I’m like, I know I gave it my all and worked my butt off.
How do you think Bob would have felt about how far you made it?
Kelly Rizzo: Literally today I had this realization that I know he would have been proud of me for doing it. He would have thought I was crazy because it’s something in a million years he never would have done. He would have been like, ‘Nope, sorry. Never will I sleep on a cot like that in a room full of people. No way.’ I know that the DS were kind of getting in my ear saying Bob’s looking down on you. In that moment, it did give me a little extra motivation to really keep going because I didn’t want to let him down. But now looking back I’m like, if Bob were really talking to me, he would have been like, ‘Get the hell out of there. Get back to the hotel. Get a massage, order a martini and a steak, and just relax. What are you doing to yourself? You don’t need to do this.’ He would have been the first one telling me to leave. I mean, yes, he would have been proud, but he also would have been like, ‘Why are you torturing yourself?’
Grief ebbs and flows over time. I know the past two years have been difficult in many ways with Bob’s death. How do you feel about where you’re at in your grieving journey now?
Kelly Rizzo: I’m in a really good place because I was able to get to a place pretty early on. I had such incredible support around me from Bob’s girls, Bob’s friends, and family. My family was just incredible. I felt so held and supported since day one. And then I would say I just got to a place of ultimate gratitude so quickly of just being so grateful for the time I had with him instead of being sad that I didn’t have more time. I mean, yes, I’m sad I didn’t have more time, but I didn’t have that regret or guilt or life isn’t fair mentality because I was able to just feel so much gratitude for having him in my life as long as he was there and being there for him for as long as I was. It brought me to a place of peace with it pretty early on. So yes, of course, it’s sad and I miss him, but I’m at peace with it.
Do you think Special Forces helped you sort of in this whole process in any way? Just the experience of it all?
Kelly Rizzo: It really did get me out of my comfort zone. We’re put in this world with these people who are strangers, but then they come out of it like dear friends. We had to rely on each other because it’s not a competition show. You’re only competing against yourself, so you really do learn to lean on these other people who all have been through something intense and tragic or upsetting in their lives. Look at Savannah Chrisley and what she’s had to go through, or Bode Miller and his daughter. We’ve all had these moments of sharing these difficult times in our lives, and you realize that you’re not alone. You’re not the only person to have gone through something like this, and here you are with all these people who are strangers, but then you bond over being there in the first place, and then you bond over these shared experiences. It was a really special experience that I’m so grateful that I got to have.
You have a new podcast launching soon called Comfort Food with Kelly Rizzo. What was the inspiration behind this new podcast?
Kelly Rizzo: I’m really excited about it. It started out with me thinking that maybe I should have these conversations about grief because people really don’t talk about it much. It’s still a taboo topic. People think it’s too upsetting. They don’t want to go there, even though it’s something we all are going to experience at some point in our lives. But then I was like, okay, it doesn’t need to just be about somebody who’s lost a loved one. It could be just about any difficult experience like maybe somebody went through a divorce, or they had some other difficult experience in their life that we can talk through, that I know is going to be a helpful conversation for the public to hear. But also let’s have these difficult conversations, but add some levity, add some laughter.
My husband was a legendary comedian. A lot of his friends are comedians, and I’m going to have a lot of them on the podcast. That’s how you get through hard times by not having these heavy topics necessarily be so heavy. How can we introduce a little laughter, levity, and talk about life, love, and laughter while eating my guests’ favorite comfort foods? Whatever their favorite comfort food is I’m going to have that there for them ready to go while we have this conversation, so it kind of brings them back maybe to childhood or to a happy place so they can feel more comfortable talking about something that might have been really difficult in their life.