BY SHAMIRA McCRAY (Morning News)
The top six contestants in Florence’s Biggest Loser competition said the majority of their weight loss was determined by what they ate.
“Kitty, the nutritionist, said 75 to 80 percent of weight loss is what you put in your mouth. Twenty to 25 percent is your exercise, but the basic rule is if you eat less, exercise more, the weight is coming off,” said contestant Gloria James. “That’s science. Anything you put in that trap, write it down.
James said anyone who is trying to lose weight or become healthier should stay away from foods with sodium, and anything they can’t pronounce. Contestant Anthony Sitton said anyone trying to lose weight should stay away from flashing neon lights.
“Fast food is killing America. Walmart is killing America,” Sitton said. “If you want to get healthy, grow your own vegetables, buy your meat from a local farmer. It’s going to be better for you.”
Sitton said that 50 years ago there wasn’t a weight problem in the United States because more people were gardeners and grew their own food. Sitton said home-grown food is healthier, and gardeners even get a workout from taking care of the garden.
“I was born and raised on a farm, and we raised all our vegetables and all of our meat and played sports all our life,” said contestant Monk Jordan. “And the reason we played sports is to get out of the field. It’s totally different. Now it’s convenience.”
Contestants admit that it has always been more convenient for them to stop and pick up fast food. Now they aim to prepare healthy dishes.
“Even now, if I don’t prepare, and I don’t pack my lunch or if I don’t have something ready, I’m going to make a bad decision,” said contestant Denise Ellis.
Ellis said she tracks everything she eats.
“I know down to the calorie everything that goes in my body,” she said. “Some people don’t do that, but for me, I have to.”
Sitton’s wife, Windy, is also in the biggest loser competition, and he said portion sizes have been the biggest change for the two of them. He said his wife prepares big salads for them which are empty of calories. They are able to eat as much lettuce as they want because it will only make them feel more full.
“But I find myself eating less,” Sitton said. “Portion control and what’s on your plate is a lot of it.”
Barbara Cherry said by changing eating habits, she learned she actually likes spinach, a vegetable that is not so popular.
“I’ve had to really change my eating habits altogether because I was a snack eater,” Cherry said. “I really didn’t eat meals; I just ate a lot of junk. I love chocolate and I love chips, and I ate a lot of that. And I just really had to change my mindset altogether.”
Sitton said the pantry at his house has had a dramatic change. The first thing to go was his candy drawer. Now, he enjoys eating more wholesome foods than processed food sold in stores.
“If you’re going to lose weight and maintain it, you’ve got to burn off more than you take in,” Jordan said. “That’s the bottom line.”