The 10 Best “Biggest Loser” Makeovers — And If They Stuck
Yahoo Health – By: Jenna Birch
It’s been 10 years and 15 seasons of dramatic weight-loss stories on The Biggest Loser, a show that gives men and women a timeout from their daily lives to focus exclusively on dropping weight, getting fit and transforming their worldviews.
In honor of a decade on the air, The Today Show put together a video detailing the 10 best makeovers in the show’s history. You can watch NBC’s winning moments (and emotional finale reveals) above.
Although the contestants are competing for a cash prize and the biggest weight-loss number at the show’s conclusion, the real victory is in taking control of their health.
Some of the Losers have kept the weight off, like Mark Kruger, who Today included in its best-makeovers round-up. He’s reportedly in the best shape of his life, according to a segment on Oprah: Where Are They Now? Season 5 champ Ali Vincent also sustained her big drop. She went from 234 pounds to 122 pounds, and has stayed pretty steady since.
Another big phenomenon, though, especially among Today’s picks for the best makeovers ever, is a small regain. After the show, many contestants seem to stabilize at a slightly higher number than their finale weights. The scale creeps up — by 5, 10, 15 pounds or so — and then holds there.
According to a Today report, such was the case for season 5’s Tara Costa who reportedly gained back 20 pounds, and season 11’s Olivia Ward, who gained back 10.
Season 14 winner Danni Allen’s weight has held steady at roughly 20 pounds more than her lowest weight of 137 pounds.
Outside Today’s top 10 makeovers ever, season 14 winner Danni Allen also saw a jump — even though she is still dedicated to healthy living, as a certified yoga instructor with her own studio. After starting the show at 258 pounds, she dropped down to 137 pounds to grab her season’s top prize, before gaining a little weight back. She now weighs 155 pounds, according to People. She was planning to do a 36K up a Costa Rican mountain last month.
Keri Gans, MS, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, says many people work toward a low target that isn’t their most realistic size. “Some people try to get to a weight that their body can’t sustain,” she tells Yahoo Health. “If you make so many changes at once, you may lose weight, but it’s hard to maintain that weight.”
Stabilizing at a little bit higher weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re eating well and working out — and even if an at-home BMI calculation says you’re above normal. That all depends on an individual’s frame size, and isn’t an exact science.
Lisa Cooper, RD, a prevention and wellness dietitian at Orlando Health, says BMI isn’t always the best measure of overall health, and it is not uncommon to see a small to moderate regain after a huge weight loss. “We see this a lot after bariatric surgery,” she tells Yahoo Health. “However, we still consider a regain like this a success story, because they’ve lost a large amount of weight to begin with.” (Check with your doc if you’re unsure about what constitutes a healthy weight for your body.)
On the flip side of the coin, sometimes a super-quick slimdown can mean a recipe for gaining all the weight back, especially when contestants resume everyday life. Medical professionals no longer monitor their every bite and trainers don’t conduct their exercise sessions for hours each day.
Season one champ Ryan Benson has found it difficult to maintain his weight loss.
According to a Today follow-up, rejoining the real world led to issues for season 1 champ Ryan Benson, who gained almost 100 pounds back after going from 330 pounds down to 208 pounds during filming. The is one reason the show has received criticism from the general public and healthcare professionals. Many claim the major drop in weight is unsustainable long-term.
This is also the fate you want to avoid. Gans says regaining can happen when a fast weight loss does not allow time for a mindset makeover. “This is why it’s most important to be gradual with weight loss, so those new routines can take hold,” she explains, noting one to two pounds per week is the recommended average. “The easy part is the weight loss, surprisingly. The hard part is keeping it off, where changes have to become habits.”
Gans and Cooper say those that have the most success after weight loss tend to have similarities.
Here’s how they stick to their diets and maintain long-term:
They set realistic goals.
Successful maintenance means not clamoring to get to (and sustain) the lowest weight possible. People who stay on the wagon keep their goals realistic. Cooper often asks patients what they weighed in their 20s. “This is usually a reasonable, manageable goal, where people looked and felt their best,” she says.
They eat actual meals.
Gans says she’s seen the most maintenance success in men and women who eat three meals a day, and an afternoon snack of roughly 200 calories — think a KIND bar, a piece of fruit with a single-serving cheese, or popcorn and almonds. “And we focus on the dinner plate,” she says. “A quarter should be a high-fiber carb like barley, couscous or a baked potato; a quarter should be protein like eggs, skinless chicken, beans or tofu; and half should be veggies.
They don’t count calories (but they’re aware of them).
Gans says that, while her successful clients usually don’t monitor every calorie in every bite they eat throughout the day, they’re aware of how many calories are in various foods and have a sense of when they’re overdoing it. “They’ll think, ‘Oh, this shake is 300 calories, so that’s probably too much for a snack,” she explains. “Or they’ll see their lunch is 600 calories, and know they should really be around 450.” This is all about making choices — like opting for egg whites instead of whole eggs in your omelet if you must have the feta cheese. …