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Secrets from The Biggest Loser

WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

By Joanna Powell
Good Housekeeping Magazine Logo
Weight-loss woes? You're not alone. Four of The Biggest Loser contestants share their diet difficulties.

Recently, a mysterious bag of Doritos has been appearing on contestants' beds at The Biggest Loser ranch in Calabasas, CA. No one's been fingered yet, and perhaps more remarkable, no one's opened it, either. Or maybe that's not so surprising: This season — the seventh for the hit NBC weight-loss competition — has been a nail-biter, as the original 22 contestants have been fighting to out-lose one another in week after week of tense weigh-ins. They've been put through punishing workouts and special challenges. But all agree that their biggest test will come when they return home and face the temptations of their everyday lives. Here, four of the contestants talk about the diet difficulty that has most tripped them up in the past. And to help them, our experts, including the Good Housekeeping Research Institute's nutrition and food directors, offer smart solutions that anyone can use to become a successful loser.

Tara Costa
Age: 24
Hometown: New York City
Starting weight: 294 lbs.
Lost so far: 105 pounds

Her fellow contestants see this former plus-size model as the biggest threat — she's been consistently among the top losers — which may be why they give Tara such a hard time. For a challenge that required pulling a two-ton car down the straightaway at California's Fontana speedway, the others wanted to make it even more difficult for her. "They added an extra 257 pounds to my car," Tara reports. Her trainer, Jillian Michaels, also tries to break her down, she says, to help her get to the bottom of her overeating. "I lost a career in modeling because I ate too much, and there was no one to blame but myself," she says. While some viewers are betting on her to win the $250,000 prize, Tara is focused on what comes next. "Now I want to reclaim my life."

Next: See Tara's transformation

 Hearst Biggest Loser

At-Home Challenge: Nighttime snacking. "I took food to bed with me," Tara says. "A pint of Ben & Jerry's or a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies and a glass of milk...I looked forward to it."

GH Strategies: A new routine — eating only in the kitchen, for example — will help Tara break that unhealthy practice, says GHRI Nutrition Director Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D. Then the trick is to replace the high-cal habit with a diet-friendly one. "As long as Tara's eating a satisfying diet and isn't starving at night, the new practice will start to feel routine quickly, in as little as two weeks," says Cassetty, who suggests that instead of cuddling up with a pint of ice cream (easily 1,000 calories) before she heads to bed, Tara might sip a 100-calorie cocoa nightcap, like the Heavenly Hot Chocolate from GHRI Food Director Susan Westmoreland.

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