Indiana, PA - Indiana County

'Biggest loser' shares tips for shedding pounds

by on March 21, 2014 10:50 AM

Success in weight loss comes down to three principles: manage your mouth, multiply your muscle and master your mind.

They’re the guidelines laid out by former “Biggest Loser” contestant Pete Thomas to a full house of attendees at the Rustic Lodge in White Township on Thursday.

The event coincided with Indiana Regional Medical Center’s Institute for Healthy Living’s “Lose a Ton” program, which is encouraging Indiana County residents to lose a combined 2,000 pounds with the help of the institute.

“It’s more than just diet, it’s more than just exercise,” said Nancy Smith, Institute for Healthy Living director. “It’s diet and exercise together.”

[PHOTO: Pete Thomas, who won $100,000 for losing the highest percentage of weight (185 pounds, 46.1 percent), spoke Thursday at the Rustic Lodge. (Teri Enciso/Gazette photo)]

Thomas appeared on the popular reality show during its second season in 2005.

When he first arrived, he tipped the scales at 401 pounds. After being voted off, he dedicated himself to continue his weight loss. Thomas was later invited back to participate in a segment that would reward $100,000 to the voted-off cast member who lost the most weight while off the show. Thomas proved he had stuck to his regimen when the scales showed he had dropped an impressive 185 pounds, bringing his weight to 216.

He now tours the U.S., bringing his message of positivity and weight loss techniques to those who seek to lose pounds and change their lifestyle. His 2012 book, “Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever,” accompanies him.

Thomas explained how he grew up in a poor family that moved around the country, about “12 or 13 cities by the time I was 12 or 13 years old.” As a child, he developed poor eating habits that followed him into adulthood simply because he had not been taught differently. He learned to overeat when food was available.

“That’s how many people gain weight because they develop habits or they didn’t learn good habits when they were young,” he said.

After trying different popular weight loss programs, he was invited to participate on “The Biggest Loser.”

“I lost 83 pounds in 62 days, had a great, great experience,” Thomas said, “but then the real work began.”

It was easy to keep the weight off when the cameras were on, he explained, but keeping it off once the show was over was the challenge. That’s when he developed his three principles.

Managing your mouth comes with education, according to Thomas. Food is fuel, and too much fuel is never a good thing. Thomas likened it to filling a car’s gas tank. When the tank reaches full, the fuel stops.

He realized by making a few changes to the types of food he was eating, or “modification, not starvation,” he could get the same amount of food but cut the calories. He advocated tactics such as using turkey bacon instead of regular bacon or 95 percent lean beef instead of regular beef. The portions remain the same, but the calories are reduced.

When multiplying your muscle, Thomas explained it’s important to personalize a workout that will last — what he called a “forever workout.”

During a question-and-answer segment, he explained that his workout typically consists of 80 percent cardio and 20 percent resistance. While cardio is great for the weight loss, he said, resistance shouldn’t be neglected. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, and building muscle to replace the fat will help reduce the risk of developing loose skin where the fat used to be.

Finally, mastering your mind is as simple as setting realistic goals.

Weight loss should be a measurable goal, according to Thomas. Whether that is losing a certain number of pounds, building up to a certain distance while running, or working toward a lower blood pressure, all goals should be able to be tracked. Collaboration is important as well, he said. Working with a team helps with motivation.

Those involved with the event responded positively to Thomas’ presentation.

“Pete is extremely dynamic, probably one of the most dynamic speakers I’ve ever heard,” said Dr. Patrick Carone, medical director for the Center for Weight Loss at IRMC. “We had a great turnout and I think we’ll get some good refers to the center and get folks motivated to make a change in their life and get healthy.”

Carone said he handles the medical pathway to weight loss through IRMC. Individuals looking to start a program can receive a consultation through him in which he can give information on basic wellness concepts as well as screen people through pre-exercise stress testing. These individuals are then referred to the Institute for Healthy Living to further their program.

Smith runs the institute through the S&T Wellness Center, inside Indiana Total Therapy along Shelly Drive in White Township. She explained after a $20 initiation fee, the program costs $35 per month.

“Some insurances do have a fitness benefit,” she said. “Most do not. So, if you do have a fitness benefit, then we work with that.”

The center offers programs every month and is a medically based fitness facility that Smith described as “somewhere between having a normal gym and a personal trainer.” Everyone who joins has a program designed for their needs, and a trainer explains how every machine works. Two people are always there to make sure the equipment is being used properly and at the right level of resistance.

Thomas said he felt the presentation went well.

“I love the energy,” he said. “We had a packed house here tonight, and just to see that many people come out, and really on a topic that’s about them.”

He explained that after leaving “The Biggest Loser” he went back to his full-time job of real estate investing. After keeping the weight off for three or four years, he was approached by schools to teach his system of weight loss to adults.

“I thought it would be a weekend seminar,” he said, “maybe four hours. By the time I pulled together all the stuff I had learned, I had 15 hours of material.”

He now travels a few times a month, giving his message of motivation.

“It’s been a great opportunity to share with others the life-changing message.”

Thomas’ book, “Lose It Fast, Lose It Forever,” is available at the Book Nook along Philadelphia Street in Indiana.

Jeremy Hartley is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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