You Can Be a 'Biggest Loser,' Too
Experts and contestants from 'The Biggest Loser' TV show offer weight-loss advice.
By Colette Bouchez
Reviewed by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
From almost the very first day the contestants gathered, it was clear the The Biggest Loser was destined to be a hit TV show.
In this popular NBC reality series, two teams of overweight contestants compete to transform not only their bodies, but their lives. One lucky "loser" -- the contestant who makes the biggest strides toward that transformation -- comes away with $250,000.
"It is a life-altering experience," says Kim Lyons, personal trainer and fitness advisor for The Biggest Loser's Red Team. "Changing your body changes the way you feel about yourself and even how you feel about life itself. It takes work, but in the end all the contestants realized that it is so worth it."
But what if you don't have all America cheering you on, and don't have a quarter of a million dollars as motivation? How do you go about making those major life changes?
"It all comes down to making the decision that 'thin is definitely better,'" says chef Devin Alexander, author of The Biggest Loser Cookbook.
Once you commit to wanting to lose the weight and believe that you can, then the rest is a "piece of cake," says Alexander, whose cooking show, Healthy Decadence, is shown on the Discovery Channel.
That's true even when it comes to lusting after a real-life piece of cake, she says.
"Well, you can't lose weight eating cake all the time, but I think the biggest lesson many of the contestants discovered was that you don't have to eat boring, bland, tasteless food in order to lose weight," says Alexander, who battled her own weight problems for over two decades.
If you can just get over the idea that diet food is bad food, you're halfway there, she says.
Something else the contestants learned: You don't need drill-sergeant-level workouts to drop those pounds.
"The food was great, so we made the exercise fun. And each group of contestants was also continually surprised to discover that exercise doesn't have be miserable, or take place in a gym wearing sweat clothes," says Lyons.
As long as you're moving, she says, you're exercising some part of your body. And the more you do it, the easier it gets.
10 More Tips From The Biggest Loser
To help keep you moving toward your weight loss goals, Lyons, Alexander and several of the "Biggest Losers" offer these additional tips and tricks:
1. "Eat often -- snack often," says Alexander. While this may seem contrary to traditional dieting advice, the chef says that as long as you keep an eye on calories and portions, eating often will stave off hunger attacks that ultimately sabotage your diet. "When you're starving, you grab whatever is available -- and that's the quickest way to get off your eating plan," says Alexander.
2. "Eat your carbs in the morning," says Biggest Loser contestant Brian Starkey. "It gets your day off to an energetic start." Lyons adds that carbs are quickly burned with activity, so eating them may help motivate you for that morning walk or bike ride.
3. "Post a picture of yourself on the refrigerator -- at your worst," says Biggest Loser contestant Dana Desilvio. "The next time you're thinking of grabbing something you shouldn't from the fridge, you'll be reminded of what you don't want to look like!"
4. "Instead of watching the clock during workouts, listen to music," to make the time go faster, says Erik Chopin, The Biggest Loser's season-three winner. Lyons reminds us that everyday activities, like bike riding, tossing a Frisbee, or walking your dog, count as physical activity, too.
5. "When eating out, always ask for a 'to-go' box -- at the start of your meal," says Biggest Loser contestant Bobby Moore. Then, when your food arrives, immediately put half of it in the box, he suggests. This way, you'll not only get used to eating smaller portions, but you'll have a snack for later.
6. Learn to cook healthfully. "Cooking healthy doesn't have to be hard -- or take more time," says Alexander. While many "Biggest Loser" contestants said they thought cooking healthy would be complicated or time-consuming, Alexander says, most found that cooking healthy is actually easier, less expensive, and faster.
7. "Never overlook the power of seasoning," says Alexander. One way she made even the blandest diet foods grab the contestants' attention was by using low-sodium seasonings. "People never realize what a major difference spices can make on even simple dishes like grilled chicken or salmon," she says