Win Big at Diabetes

Biggest Loser contestant Jerry Hayes shares how he lost and kept off 160 pounds.

Katie Alberts
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A few years before he appeared as the oldest contestant on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Jerry Hayes sought the help of a nutritionist. “I weighed more than 350 pounds, had type 2 diabetes and gout, was on two medications and was testing my blood sugar three times a day,” recalls Jerry, now 66. He tried to stick with the eating plan he was given but quickly faltered. “Instead of measuring out my food, I estimated my portions, and instead of having healthy snacks at the ready, I grabbed whatever seemed healthy. Now I believe the key to a healthy diet is nailing the details, which I learned at The Biggest Loser ranch.”

5 tips for a healthy weight
Today, almost three years after winning the $100,000 prize for losing the most weight off campus, Jerry still measures almost everything he eats. That discipline, coupled with regular exercise, has helped him maintain a weight of 193 pounds. “Even better, I’ve been medicine-free for three years. My doctors say I’ve added 20 years to my life!”

Here, he shares his favorite strategies:  

  • Give your taste buds time to change: “It’s not going to happen overnight, but eventually you’ll start liking things you didn’t like before—and processed foods will start tasting strange.”
  • Think of food as fuel: “Ask yourself, ‘Is this going to give me energy?’ or, ‘Is this going to help me reach my goals?’”
  • Know your numbers: When Jerry arrived at the ranch, his A1C (which measures blood glucose) was above 7%. “That’s the danger zone. Now my A1C is 5%, which is perfectly healthy.”
  • Combine consistency with variation: “I pretty much eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch,” admits Jerry, “but I look forward to trying out different dishes and combinations at dinner. It keeps my eating under control without succumbing to boredom.”
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth—naturally: “Carrots and peppers have tons of sugar. I snack on frozen cherries, which are as tasty as candy.”
June 2012