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An interview with Cheryl Forberg, RD

Watching contestants on NBCs The Biggest Loser slim down can be motivating to anyone who wants to lose weight and get healthier. Although The Biggest Loser contestants enjoy the advantage of constant professional supervision, people at home can also succeed at weight loss by following the same basic diet and fitness principles. Cheryl Forberg, RD, a dietitian with The Biggest Loser, shares the secrets of how she has helped contestants lose weight -- and keep it off -- since the show began in 2004.

What motivates most people to stop making excuses and make the commitment to lose weight?

There are multiple factors that can trigger a person to finally make the necessary changes to lose weight. It could be a trip to the doctor and a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Parents who cannot participate in family life (because of weight or health issues) are motivated by their desire to be able to join their kids. Other motivators are negative experiences, such as trying to squeeze into an airline or movie theater seat, buying extra large-sized clothing, or no longer being able to wear their wedding ring. The psychological impact of feeling inferior because of size or any of the stigmas associated with overweight people can be powerful motivators to get down to a healthier weight.

What are some of the habits that caused the contestants to become overweight?

No two people are alike, but in general, before coming to The Biggest Loser ranch, contestants skipped meals, ate large portions, drank too many liquid calories, ate too much white stuff (sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, bread), and did not get enough exercise or eat enough fruits and vegetables. Most people didn’t have a diet plan, ate on the run, standing up, in their cars, or at their desks. Most importantly, they prioritized everything over their own health, and food was more important than the number on the scale.

Can someone at home expect to see results similar to the contestants on the show?

Yes, they can be successful, but not in the same way as the contestants on the show. It is a reality show, but it is not reality for most people to have a trainer, incredible equipment, fabulous food, cooking experts, and the luxury of weight loss as your full-time job.

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