Shaping Up

Weight Loss Tips from ‘The Biggest Loser’

"The Biggest Loser" contestant Tanya Winfield shares 10 weight loss tips.
Credit: Thinkstockc

The Biggest Loser contestant and Chicago native Tanya Winfield shares 10 tips to help you lose weight in the New Year.

1. Thinking of a Master Plan: Don’t try to find time for your workouts, PLAN time for your workouts. Plan your workouts with the same daily planner tools used for scheduling important meetings and appointments. I take it a step further and add an alarm on my phone. I respond with the same sense of urgency and commitment with my workout times that I do with my board meetings.

2. Don’t Forget The 3 Ps: My Biggest Loser trainer, Dolvett Quince, taught me “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail” and he is absolutely correct. Plan, Prepare, and Pack your meals ahead of time to make healthy food choices. Making spontaneous and last minute food decisions almost always led to poor meal choices, usually a direct result of a stressful and emotional state. Emotions and food don’t mix!

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

3. It’s a Family Affair: Help your entire family understand and embrace the importance of living a healthy lifestyle in a fun manner. Plan fun family activities that will require physical participation, at least three times per week such as bike riding, family walks, skating, and you can even have a “nostalgic moment” and play a fun game of tag, hide and seek, or even get your boogie on in a Soul Train line.

4. No Gym, No Excuse: Don’t have access to a gym? Sure you do, a gym can be ANYWHERE you are. There are many effective exercises you can do without equipment. One of my favorite routines is to complete a circuit of squats, lunges, pushups, crunches, and jumping jacks. I would start with a set of 10 each, and then decrease down to a set of 9, then a set of 8, etc., until I’m down to 1 of each. Purchase a jump rope, or even better, buy a hula hoop and have fun.

4. Kick Your Stress in the Butt: Learn to use exercise as a stress reliever and a form of therapy versus medicating with food. In the past, I used food as therapy and allowed it to self soothe and comfort me under any signs of stress. Now, when I’m stressed, I hit the gym, run a 5K, or I release all worries during an intense kick boxing class. There’s nothing like imagining your stress in front of you, while you’re kicking and punching it with all of your might.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

6. Join Me: Find a good support system to help you stay motivated, but to also hold you accountable. Let’s face it, you are ultimately responsible for your fitness, but every now and then it helps to know you are not in it alone. When I came home from the Biggest Loser ranch, one of the first things I did was communicate my goals to my closest friends and made them promise me to be nosey and “get all up in my business.” LOL! Ultimately, this will help them hold me accountable for the goals I set. We also schedule exercise “play dates” and are responsible for coming up with different types of exercises like hot yoga, belly dancing, Pilates, and Barre workouts. We also implemented a “cancellation rule,” if one person cancels no matter the reason, we all do a makeup session together.

7. Pump Up the Jam: Create a music playlist that motivates you to work longer and harder. I often times work out to fast beats and up tempo music to increase the intensity of my workouts. I also add some of my favorite songs toward the end of my playlist to keep me motivated to continue. My playlist is my clock, I don’t end until I hear My Jam!!

8. On a Roll: A foam roller is one of the best things I have ever been introduced to. This inexpensive, yet effective piece of equipment helps to loosen sore muscles and release tension. After a long workout, I spend 10-20 minutes using the foam roller on areas with the most pain and tension such as my legs, back, thighs, and butt. Foam rollers can also be used as strength training tools for toning. There are several foam roller workouts online that you can use to build your own foam roller routine.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

9. Drink Up: We all know that water is essential to good health. Naturally, we lose water throughout the day when we use the restroom and even when we breathe, but we lose a lot of water when we sweat. If we do not replace the water in our body, it leads to dehydration, so drink up! I start and end my day drinking water with a focus during the day to drink enough to keep me hydrated. I also make sure I drink water before, during, and after my workouts. When I need a little variety, I add lemons, limes, and sometimes cucumbers and mint leaves for a special treat.

10. Hold on to Your “Why”: One of the best things Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels taught me was to “figure out my Why?” because the “Why” is what will keep me focused and motivated to accomplish my goals. Why do I want to be healthy? Why do I want to lose weight? I immediately think about adding years to my life to enjoy my children, my family, and my friends. But not just the quantity of years in my life, but the quality of life in my years. My “Why” is for the rest of my life to be the best of my life. Figure out your “why” and hold on to it.

About Tanya Winfield


Tanya Winfield tried out for the show hoping to drastically change her lifestyle and reverse the effects of poor eating habits and a sedentary life. Currently 41 years old and 262 pounds, Tanya is excited about the journey to get healthy. “The rest of my life will be the best of my life,” she says. She looks forward to keeping up with her active toddler, and being confident enough to date and hopefully remarry someday.

The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/7 central on NBC.