A former ‘Biggest Loser’ contestant lost more than 150 pounds and kept it off without giving up her favorite foods

A former 'Biggest Loser' contestant lost more than 150 pounds and kept it off without giving up her favorite foods
  • Megan Hoffman lost more than 150 pounds and maintained it with simple healthy habits.
  • She said she learned to stop using food as a coping strategy but still makes room to enjoy treats.
  • Hoffman said she loves strength training, walks often, and tries new things to keep workouts fun.

When Megan Hoffman auditioned for “The Biggest Loser” in 2019, it was her third try at going on the NBC hit reality show about weight loss.

But it felt “totally different,” she told Business Insider. This time around, she wasn’t trying to prove anything. For one thing, she had started working as a model, partly because of a break-up. More importantly, she had found a new confidence and sense of self-worth that wasn’t tied to a relationship or specific number on the scale.

Losing weight wasn’t in conflict with the body positivity she had felt while modeling and it wasn’t about trying to get fit — the Southern California resident was an avid exerciser.

“Going to the gym wasn’t new for me. Losing weight was more about being tired of modifying my life. I was living in a body that didn’t serve me,” she said.

Hoffman credited that mindset and determination with helping her lose more than 80 pounds on the show, which aired in 2020, and for winning the “At Home” prize for losing the most weight after she was eliminated from the competition.

But the real challenge wasn’t losing the weight, it was keeping it off long-term. During pandemic lockdowns, she fell in love with spin classes, went on to lose an additional more than 60 pounds, and became a CycleBar instructor.

“The maintenance stage is the absolute hardest,” she said. “Because you’ve worked so hard and your whole identity is around weight loss, there’s a feeling of ‘So who am I now?'”

Now 39, Hoffman said she doesn’t follow a strict diet or workout routine. On the contrary, she’s kept the weight off over the years by focusing on her emotional well-being and building a consistent, healthy relationship with food and movement

She avoided extreme dieting or exercise

Research suggests many, even a majority, of weight loss attempts are unsuccessful not because people don’t shed pounds, but because the scale slowly ticks up again over the months or years after as old habits return.

“The Biggest Loser” in particular has been controversial for allegedly using severe, short-term restrictions for quick results. A 2016 study found some contestants faced serious consequences down the road, including a significantly slower metabolism.

Hoffman said that wasn’t her experience on the show (which did some rebranding for the 2020 season, emphasizing a new focus on lifestyle changes over just numbers on the scale).

“There’s a misconception that we starved ourselves,” she said. “But there’s no one plan for everyone. What makes the difference is that you’re surrounded by people who believe you can do it.”

Hoffman said her approach to food is all about moderation, enjoying the bread, cake, and other sweet and salty snacks she loves, especially around holidays and special occasions. She also emphasizes nutritious whole foods, instead of processed foods, in her daily eating habits, and makes sure to get enough protein.

“The majority of my time now, I’m eating to fuel my body rather than to feed my emotions,” she said. “It’s about consistent behavior around food. No food is bad.”

She said a good therapist was key to working through her feelings about food

Hoffman said “The Biggest Loser” had a therapist on staff who helped offer insight into her emotional connection to food, and they stayed in touch after the show.

“I love counseling, I think every human being should be in counseling,” Hoffman said. “I love to talk about what I’m going through because we all have blind spots.”

She said the sessions helped her unpack how she was using food as a coping strategy, sometimes without realizing it. The habit started with her family home, where she learned to link food to big feelings, whether it was snacking while sad or eating to celebrate a happy occasion.

Hoffman said being aware of when she was reaching for a treat to manage an emotion has helped her build a healthier relationship with food, and better connect to her true feelings.

“I still gravitate toward things that give me comfort, but I’m aware of that now. I allow myself to sit in that uncomfortable place,” she said.

She loves lifting weights and keeps her workouts interesting

Hoffman said she’s a big fan of strength training to help her stay motivated to work out.

“There’s nothing better than being in a workout and feeling strong. It’ll keep you coming back,” she said.

However, she added that she’s been in more of a cycling mood recently, and doesn’t force exercise if she isn’t feeling it.

“I love weight lifting, I love lifting heavy, but mentally, I’ve had a hard time even thinking about it lately, even though I know I should,” Hoffman said. “I don’t want to have to think about what workout I’m going to do.”

Instead, she’s been training with TRX, a set of straps that offer a variety of body weight options.

A healthy relationship with exercise is about listening to your body, trying new things, and finding ways to move, whether that’s signing up for your first strength training class, or just walking more in your daily routine.

“Try it, even if you don’t think you’ll like it. You never know what’s going to feel good,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider