Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shaping Our Ends

When NBC rolled out the first season of The Biggest Loser, Barry said it was the stupidest reality show concept he’d ever heard of, and we didn’t watch it for several years.  Then we decided we needed to lose weight ourselves.

Last November, we completely revamped our eating habits.  We spent several weeks researching the changes we should make.  We visited online nutrition sites, checked out books on healthy eating from the library, and even bought a couple of low-fat, low-salt cookbooks.  One of the books we consulted was Biggest Loser Simple Swaps: 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle by Cheryl Forberg, the Biggest Loser dietician.  It’s a great little book, full of creative substitutions, delicious recipes, and advice from the program’s staff and former contestants.  We liked it so well that we started to watch the show.

By now Barry has lost over 50 pounds and I’ve lost 25, and we’re still watching The Biggest Loser every Tuesday night.  Seeing the contestants’ struggles with their obesity keeps us motivated.  Those people didn’t gain their excess weight overnight; it crept up on them a pound at a time.  If we’re not vigilant, the weight we’ve lost could sneak back the same way.  It was hard enough to lose it the first time; we certainly don’t want to have to go through the whole process again.

Here are a few of the other resources we count on to keep us on track:

This is the website for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.  Its most important link is to, which explains the food groups in a healthy diet and contains a calculator to help you determine how much of each food group you should be eating every day.

This site, by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), offers several brochures on healthy living, including the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were jointly developed by HHS and the USDA.  The dietary guidelines are published every five years; the 2010 guidelines are currently under development. 

This is the section of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH’s) website devoted to Weight Loss and Dieting.  See especially the article on portion sizes and the Weight Loss and Control Organizations Resource List.

Web MD’s Healthy Eating and Diet Center.  “Diets A-Z” describes and assesses popular diets.

Eating for Life: Boost Immunity, Prevent Disease, Celebrate Good Food.  Better Homes and Gardens.  The title of this book says it all: Interesting recipes with nutritional statistics and information on the diseases they may fight.  Ethnic and vegetarian recipes included.
image of cartoon potato with glasses and a stack of books

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.   David Kessler.  The story of Americans’ food addiction by the former head of the FDA.  A real wake-up call.  If this book doesn’t convince you that excess fat, sugar and salt are bad for you, nothing ever will.

Cook This, Not That!  David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding.  How to lighten up home-cooked meals.  The same authors have published a series of Eat This, Not That! books for guidance when eating in restaurants.  See also their website (

So, it’s Tuesday night, and we’re cheering on the latest group of Losers.  Kudos to them for taking charge of their weight, their health, and their lives.  Next year if the show holds public casting calls again in Phoenix, we intend to show up and root for the prospective contestants in person.

“As for food, half of my friends have dug their graves with their teeth.” ~Chauncey M. Depew

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