Life of pie
The Biggest Loser’s Hayley Lewis lifts the lid on families’ bad eating habits, writes Colin Vickery
ONE of the most confronting images TV viewers will see this year comes early in the first episode of The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation.
We’re accustomed to hearing stories about contestants’ terrible diets — pies, sausage rolls, cakes and chips. But there’s no denying the emotion provoked by the sight of contestant Jess O’Malley sitting down with a jumbo tub of vanilla ice cream. The 21-year-old pours chocolate on top – and consumes the lot in one sitting.
Think a Magnum, multiply it by about 50, and you would get somewhere near the total calorie count of Jess’s idea of dessert.
That single scene rams home the impact that family eating habits have on obesity.
Jess’s favourite foods include pork crackling as well as ice cream. Her 42-year-old dad, Sam, is way overweight too. He craves fast food.
Jess and Sam are one of seven family teams on this year’s The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation.
Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons are all at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. This is life and death. ‘‘ I want the viewers at home to know this show isn’t going to be a happy joyride,’’ host Hayley Lewis says.
‘‘ It has definitely been the most emotional Biggest Loser series that I have been a part of. We have had some very tense days of filming where the trainers and I have had to remove ourselves from situations. Most of the contestants had a very bad relationship with the parent or the child that they came on the show with.’’
Twenty-year-old contestant Kirsten lashes out at her mum Janet, 52, for her bad weight issues. Hopefully this show can help viewers at home that are dealing with the same kinds of things.’’
Lewis knows what she is talking about. She has endured her own weight battles — and won.
At 15, Lewis was the toast of the nation after winning five gold medals and a bronze at the 1990 Auckland Common- eating habits. The pair share a fondness for chocolate bars, chips and tacos.
‘‘ In a lot of families weight issues cause a lot of tension and stress because a parent being overweight is setting a bad example for their kids,’’ Lewis says.
‘‘ We’ve got quite a few parents who have admitted to being obese themselves but making their kids go and get gym memberships.
‘‘ They offer their kids incentives to lose weight but then they’ll be sitting in front of the TV eating a packet of chips and having a beer. Often too, parents don’t know how to speak to their kids about
A parent being overweight is setting a bad example for their kids
wealth Games. Two years later she collected silver and bronze at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Lewis stacked on nearly 20kg between those two events. Things got so bad she was embarrassed to put on a swim suit.
Her weight ballooned 25kg with her first child, Jacob, as she binged on lollies and cakes.
‘‘ When I started to put on weight it was closely monitored by my parents and my coaches,’’ Lewis says. ‘‘ I know the stress and strain that put me under as a teenager and a girl in her young twenties.
‘‘ I was always the one on the swim team that had the weight problems. I desperately just wanted to be a normal person but having that pressure to win every time I got in the pool was something that was very hard for a teenager to face. I guess the only way I dealt with it was through food. I look back now and I feel so sorry for that girl.
‘‘ I had a lot of comments from people that would meet me and say, ‘ gee, you’re a lot fatter than I thought’.
‘‘ I would not go back to those days if you paid me all the money in the world.’’
Lewis broke the cycle when a leading weight loss chain contacted her after the birth of Jacob.
‘‘ That was a big wake up call,’’ Lewis says. ‘‘ As the weight came off, I vowed that I would never put it back on again. I definitely (still) have to work on my weight and watch what I eat. My goal is to do at least 10,000 steps (exercise) every day.
‘‘ I try to steer away from carbs because I love everything you’ll see in a bakery window. Once I have a cupcake or a croissant, I just spiral out of control.’’
Weighty issues: host Hayley Lewis and (below) The Biggest Loser trainers Shannan Ponton, Michelle Bridges and Steve Willis.
The Biggest Loser: The Next Generation, Channel 10, Sunday, 6.45pm