77°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

‘Biggest Loser’ can offer inspiration to dieters

The Biggest Loser,” the hit reality television show about weight loss, recently launched its fourth season on NBC by introducing 18 new — and very obese — contestants ready to shed pounds and perhaps win $250,000.

If you’ve never watched the show, it’s worth a look. Just prepare for moments — the weigh-ins, for example, which sometimes border on public humiliation — that may make you cringe.

Like all reality shows, “The Biggest Loser” seems unscripted, but that doesn’t mean it’s unplanned. This is prime-time entertainment, so there are open casting calls for contestants in more than a dozen cities, including Las Vegas. About 300,000 people applied to be on the show this season alone, says executive producer David Broome.

Contestants must pass a rigorous physical exam — not easy to do when you weigh 200, 300 or even 400 pounds. “We’ve had some people who broke my heart because we couldn’t get them to pass the medical exam,” Broome says. “It was most sad because they looked upon us as their last-ditch effort.”

To keep the show moving, the producers plan creative story lines and edit carefully to build suspense and drama.

Take that enormous scale featured on each show. “It’s just a prop,” Broome says.

To be sure, contestants stand on it for “weigh-ins,” but the numbers flashed on the plasma screen come from measurements taken before the show is taped. Those weigh-ins are videotaped for the Federal Communications Commission, which monitors all broadcast contests to assure there is no fraud. Contestants learn their weight during the broadcast.

Knowing the score ahead of time enables the producers “to script the drama about when people are weighed (on air),” Broome says, thus adding more suspense.

Get past these entertainment elements, however, and there are some inspiring stories and worthwhile lessons in “The Biggest Loser.”

Last season, Erik Chopin, 37, a deli owner from West Islip, N.Y., proved that it doesn’t take surgery to reverse morbid obesity. At 407 pounds, Chopin was weeks away from having weight loss surgery when the show began. He lost 124 pounds over four months and then, like other finalists, he went home to shed more weight, losing 90 pounds during another four months. His total loss — 214 pounds — earned him the $250,000 prize.

Chopin also reversed his Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea and brought his high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides to healthy levels.

His secret? Nothing exotic. Men on the show consume 1,700 to 2,000 calories daily; women, about 1,100 to 1,500. They keep food records to share with their trainers and with physician Robert Huizenga, the show’s medical consultant, who monitors them regularly.

Another lesson: Don’t skip meals. “We found if we deprived ourselves too much that we didn’t have as good results,” Chopin says. “It was better to eat smaller meals than not at all.”

This old-fashioned approach to weight loss is one of the show’s key messages. “We are trying to talk about lifestyle changes,” Broome says. “We are trying to change people from the inside out.”

Then there are the workouts. Like other contestants, Kelly Minner, 31, a teacher from Bethlehem, Pa., and finalist on season one, was shocked by doing four to six hours of exercise daily. “That was our job,” says Minner, who lost 79 pounds on the show and has now lost 102 pounds.

Poppi Kramer, 35, a 5-foot-2 actress and comedian from New Jersey, weighed 232 pounds when her manager urged her to audition for last season’s show. “I was not even interested,” says Kramer, who had shed 50 pounds on the Atkins diet then regained that weight plus 70 pounds more. “The mortification! I didn’t need it.”

But then Kramer says she realized that “there are not a lot of roles for someone with a lot of rolls.”

She went on the show, but as a new twist was sent home to lose weight by herself. Huizenga and a registered dietitian monitored her. “Anybody can go to a fat camp, where they are secluded, and lose weight,” Kramer says. “It’s like rehab for overweight people. But how many people fall off the wagon when they get back home?”

So Kramer ate 1,100 calories a day — about 20 percent of what she had been consuming — and spent at least four hours a day working out. She also set aside time to walk to appointments rather than taking taxis.

Eight months after becoming a contestant, Kramer had lost 125 pounds and earned a spot on “The Biggest Loser” reunion show. “It will be a year in December since I lost the weight,” she says, “but it will be a big deal when it becomes five years.”

Join Sally Squires online from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays at www.leanplateclub.com, where you also can subscribe to the free Lean Plate Club weekly e-mail newsletter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Berkus and Brent create spring line for Living Spaces

Celebrity interior design couple Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent are back with another collection for Living Spaces. From French antique-inspired carved feet to geometric marble accents, the line has a range of pieces suitable for the minimalist to the statement-maker.

Myriad products make bathroom remodel fun

Bathroom products have changed in the past 20 to 30 years. So if you’re looking to remodel your old bathroom, shop around for the perfect flooring, cabinets, shower surround, bathtub, sinks, fixture and lighting.

Stay away from heirloom varieties of asparagus

Asparagus usually grows well here, but there are some differences among the varieties. Stay away from heirloom varieties such as Mary Washington because they don’t produce enough spears in any climate.