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Expert Q&A: Tips from 'The Biggest Loser'

An interview with Cheryl Forberg, RD

continued...

Our goal is to educate them on healthy cooking techniques and weighing and measuring normal portions, and to provide them a full refrigerator of healthy foods they use to prepare their own meals. We have a library of delicious recipes, and bring in guest chefs to share their healthy cooking techniques. For the most part, because their days are so full, cooking is simple. So a typical meal may be a grilled chicken breast, salad, veggies, and a whole grain.

Part of the process is to help the cast learn how to prepare meals so they can continue to do so when they leave the show, because many of them have never cooked and relied on eating out, and on packaged and convenience foods.

What is your secret to helping cast members keep up their new healthy lifestyles when they leave the show?

Generally, if they are still in the weight loss phase, their diet plan does not change much until they reach their weight goals. They also have my contact information if they have questions or need my help.

Most of the contestants continue working out hard and following the diet plan because they all come back for the finale, and that competitive spirit helps them stay focused on eating healthy and exercising. For continued success, we advise them to change the environment that led them to being overweight and surround themselves with people who are supportive.

How does competition help people lose weight?

Whether it is on our show or with your friends at work, contests establish timeframes to help people stay focused on their goal of improving health and losing weight. That sets up the framework that becomes reinforced when the numbers on the scale go down and they start to see positive changes. It gives people happiness, confidence, and a feeling of satisfaction that working together with like-minded people can help you achieve your personal goals.

What kinds of exercise are recommended for people at home?

First, check with your doctor before you start exercising.

Just moving more is a great way to start, and then push yourself out of your comfort zone to be more physically activity. Walking the dog is a good start but it doesn’t constitute a workout. Set up an evaluation with a fitness trainer to establish a basic routine that works all your muscle groups and includes aerobic activity and strength training. Strive to incorporate a workout into your daily routine on most days.

How do contestants keep the weight off after the spotlight is gone?

Long after the finale and lots of lost weight, contestants stay in touch with each other and continue to share a wonderful support system. The support they receive from their communities, peers, family and friends is critical to their continued success. Several contestants flew to San Francisco to compete in a marathon together. They have Facebook groups, and many go on to be motivational speakers to share their success stories. All of these things help them stay focused on their personal commitment to eating healthy and exercising.

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