8 Weight Loss Tips From a Winner of “The Biggest Loser”

Dani Allen, the former star of The Biggest Loser, shares her top tips to help people get in shape.

Danni Allen loves a good analogy.

“If you’re driving down the highway and blow a tire, are you going to keep driving until you blow all four? Or do you fix the problem and continue on your journey and ride that spare for a little bit?”

In this case, the reality star and motivational speaker likens blowing all four tires to eating an entire bag of chips simply because you’ve already indulged in a few handfuls. And that brings us to our first tip from the Season 14 winner of TV’s The Biggest Loser.

1. Don’t dwell
“[You] made a little mistake. Close that bag [of chips] and do something positive that will help you feel better and move forward.”

Allen knows a thing or two about shedding weight, having lost 121 pounds to win the Biggest Loser title back in 2013. “[The show’s personal trainer] Jillian Michaels scares half the weight off you, and you work off the other half,” she says with a laugh. “But she really showed me how each individual machine can do so many more things than just start and stop.”

Four years later, Allen has maintained her weight and works as brand partner for Planet Fitness,one of the gyms at which the show is set. During her recent visit to Toronto for the opening of the city’s latest location, Allen chatted with Zoomer while overlooking rows and rows of cardio and strength-training machines. She pointed out that, in an effort to make the space more user-friendly, all equipment features QR codes you can scan with your smartphone for video tutorials.

2. Avoid “fitness ADD” by adding variety
“Try new things every time. A treadmill doesn’t have to be just a treadmill. It can be a mountain. It can be sprints. And that’s where the trainer comes in.”

Group sessions with a trainer are included with a Planet Fitness membership, as is an introductory one-on-one assessment and follow-up. In addition, staff is always available for questions and assistance, Allen notes.

“We try to create an environment that is not intimidating,” she explains. “When you get into your late 30s or 40s and beyond, surprisingly, you can get a little insecure because you’re getting older and maybe age is not on your side sometimes. One of the best things you can do to make yourself feel better is to work out.”

3. Consider counselling
“Talk about some of the emotions that you have going on. I found out I was a food addict. Food made me feel better. If I ate it, I felt good. And if I felt worse afterward, I’d eat more to feel better.”

Before kicking off a diet and exercise routine, Allen often recommends starting with therapy sessions to get to the root of the issue.

4. Five ingredients or less
“If the box or the bag [of food] has more [than five ingredients], don’t eat it. It means there are too many things going on in there and I should just have an apple and peanut butter [instead].”

5. The 80:20 rule
“Now, that’s 80 per cent of the time. Twenty per cent of the time – live life. If you’re at a friend’s birthday, maybe don’t have a huge slice of cake – but have a [smaller] slice of cake and enjoy it. Don’t regret it. I think when you regret choices, then you just have this downward spiral.”

She admits that getting started can be overwhelming, so keep it simple and small. Eventually you’ll find the balance in eating healthy 80 per cent of the time and leaving a little space for indulgence.

6. One thing at a time
“[If you] you pick one thing and you can successfully do it and feel great and empowered, then you’re ready to make the next change.”

And what about staying motivated?

7. Commend and reward
“Finally did a real pushup? Those things that feel really good – celebrate them!”

However, “try not to celebrate with food,” she adds, with a chuckle. “Get a pedicure or something.”

8. Phone a friend
“I also think it helps finding someone that can join you for your journey.”

That support system can keep you honest – and motivated!