The Biggest Loser winner Olivia Ward explains how she lost 129lbs

The Biggest Loser winner Olivia Ward explains how she lost 129lbs

Seven hours of exercise on a 1200 calorie diet: How I lost weight Biggest Loser-style (but without the TV cameras)

3:55 PM on 27th May 2011

For anyone who has battled with their weight, and tried every fad diet going, watching The Biggest Loser has been a beacon of light on what can be possible.

Earlier this week, New York opera singer Olivia Ward was crowned The Biggest Loser of Season 11, having dropped a whopping 129lbs.

She transformed herself from an obese 261lbs to a svelte 132lbs, taking home a $250,000 prize on Tuesday night”s live show.

Slimmed down: New York opera singer Olivia Wilde was last night crowned Season 11Slimmed down: New York opera singer Olivia Wilde was last night crowned Season 11

Slimmed down: New York opera singer Olivia Wilde was last night crowned Season 11″s Biggest Loser having lost 129lbs from a starting weight of 261lbs

But the astounding results are not just limited to the lucky few who make it on to the TV show – they are also available to those brave enough to check into the one of the Biggest Loser Resorts.

I decided to take up the challenge and checked into Fitness Ridge in Malibu.

Those that stay at the California property and its sister resort in Utah, must be willing to work out for seven hours or more a day and stick to a daily diet of 1200 calories.

It is the same programme followed on the television show, and anyone who wants to lose serious inches can do so away from the glare of the reality show cameras.

The Malibu resort is the group”s newest outpost, having only opened its doors last September. It is nestled in the scenic Santa Monica Mountains and is the perfect setting to embark on what for many will be the most strenuous few days of their lives.

Most people spend at least a week being put through their paces by world-class fitness trainers, nutritionists and friendly support staff.

Mountain: Daily guided hikes provided most of the calorie burn for the day

Gruelling routine: Guests at the Biggest Loser resorts are expected to to two-and-a-half hour hikes daily as part of their seven hours” exercise

Others will dedicate up to three months at a time to focus on making a lifestyle change and increasing their fitness levels.

I wanted to push myself to limits I never had, give it my all to see if I too could get the same results I had watched contestants achieve time and time again on the show.

The resort focuses on four main aspects – nutrition, fitness, education and relaxation, and the incredible staff are supportive of each of these steps every inch of the way.

I stayed in a brand newlog-style cabin and was given an itinerary when I arrived to let me know where I needed to be at every moment of the day.

On the first day, there was a private weigh-in where body fat percentages and measurements were taken. I”m not ashamed to saythat several expletives flew out my mouth as numbers were read out.

But it is good to know that the only way is down and hopefully it would be the last time I am ever that weight.

Quaint: The log cabins at the Malibu ranch are nestled in the Santa Monica mountains surrounded by wildlife

Picturesque: The log cabins at the Malibu Biggest Loser ranch are nestled in the Santa Monica mountains surrounded by wildlife

Comfortable: Private rooms at the Malibu resort cost up to $2,900 a month include accommodation, food and training sessions

Comfortable: A stay at the Malibu resort costs around $2,900 for a four-week stint, including a room, food and training sessions

A typical day begins at 6am with a stretch class. It is a welcome start to the morning to alleviate some of the stiffness. This is followed by breakfast.

At 8am, we are told which guided two-and-a-half-hour hike we will be embarking on that morning.

A TYPICAL DAY AT THE BIGGEST LOSER RESORT

6.00am – Stretch class

8.00am – Guided hike (2 1/2hrs)

11.15am – Kick boxing

12.30pm – Lunch

1.15pm – Nutrition Lecture

2.30pm – Circuit training

3.30pm – Cardio Intervals

4.30pm – Water aerobics

5.30pm – Dinner

6.15pm – Nutrition Lecture

After the first hike we are placed in groups for the remainder of the week according to our fitness levels – I am relieved to be placed in an intermediate group, and not to be with the eager beavers who can confidently stride up the side of a hill.

On return from the hike, there is a very short break, literally enough time to change from my hiking shoes to my workout shoes, before the next exercise instalment begins. This can be anything from water aerobics to kick boxing.

Lunch is a very welcome break at 12.30pm and the delicious fare was received with relief that rabbit food would not be served each day.

After lunch each day came lectures ranging in subjectfrom nutrition and emotional eating tips to cooking demonstrations.

But there”s no rest for the wicked and afternoons at the ranch are challenging with THREE back-to-back 50-minute exercise classes.

Activities ranged from circuit training and cardio intervals to total body and coreworkouts to continue the day”s intense fat burning.

Lunch option: Teriyaki chicken with brown rice for under 400 caloriesChoices: Vegetarian options are available and any allergies are catered for by the highly skilled Chef

Hearty fare: Lunch options include Teriyaki chicken with brown rice at under 400 calories (left). Tasty vegetarian options are also available (right)

1200 calories a day: A menu is placed on a black board every day in the dining hall with the calorie breakdown for each meal

Calorie-counting: A menu is placed on a black board every day in the dining hall with the calorie breakdown for each meal

At 5.30pm dinner is served. It is a social experience as guests from all walks of life and countries around the world congregate for a hearty – and well-deserved – meal.

A blackboard with the day”s meals is published in the dining hall each day, including the calorie count for breakfast, lunch, dinner – and dessert! All food for the day comes to a surprisingly low total of around 1200 calories.

Another lecture at 6.15pm rounds out the day where subjects discussed include intuitive eating, how best to “spend” your calories and how to budget your calories against exercise expenditure – a particularly interesting and informative class.

The gym is open until 10pm but the only thing many of the guests, including me, are up for at the end of the day is a relaxing soak in the hot tub and an early night.

Sea breeze: Beach hikes are more challenging than it looks but it gets the fat burning

Fat-burning: Beach hikes are more challenging than they look!

Determined: Me and my hiking group - I made lifelong friends during my week

Determined: Dionne with her hiking group, who have become lifelong friends

One of the things that the resort drums home is accountability, and it is for that reason name tags are kept at the entrance of each classroom so that a member of staff can discreetly take a roll call of who was present.

They say it is to check that we are where we need to be so that if someone is missing they can be checked on to see if they are alright. But it is also to ensure that we are not sunbathing or in our room watching television when we should be working out.

John Yohman who is a 20-year-veteran in the fitness industry and moved from the original Biggest Loser Resort in Utah to head up the fitness regimen in Malibu isa mixture of trainer/psychotherapist and has a way of motivating and encouraging while still making workouts fun.

Also part of the fitness team is Sam Pou”eu who was one of the more memorable cast members from Season 9 when he appeared on the show with his cousin Koli Palu.

Not only did he lose a staggering 142lbs on the show but he gained a fiance in the shape of his castmateStephanie Anderson who also dropped 96lbs.

Sam is an example of how the show and losing weight can transform someone”s life. He went from being a 396lbs club bouncer to having a new career in the fitness industry and finding the love of his life.

He says the top four things that anyone wanting to lose weight should do as a starting doing is: “See your doctor, start moving daily even if initially for just a few minutes and build from there, find exercise that you enjoy doing and reduce your food portions.”

Focused: Resort guest Ovi Almasan, 24, has lost a staggering 125lbs since the beginning of the yearFocused: Resort guest Ovi Almasan, 24, has lost a staggering 125lbs since the beginning of the year

Focused: Resort guest Ovi Almasan, 24, has lost 125lbs since the start of the year

Inspiration: Ovi said he was motivated by previous contestants on the Biggest Loser television show like Season 9

Inspiration: Ovi said he was motivated by previous contestants on the Biggest Loser, like Season 9″s Sam Pou”eu (left) who is now a trainer

One of the many people that Sam has motivated is 24-year-old Ovi Almasan. The construction company executive from Ontario, Canada tipped the scales at 400lbs at the start of the year.

Determinednot to have to buy two plane seats to travel to the Resort, the determined young man set out to follow the Biggest Loser principles at home before finally making
the trip to the Malibu Resort in April.

“Ihave definitely been inspired by all of the contestants, especially theones that were closer to my age like Sam, Daris George or Adam Hurtadoi,” Almasan shared.

“I see myself in them a little bit, andthe things they were going through mentally, emotionally and physicallyand I saw that if they could do it, I might be able to as well.

“I”ve lost 125lbs since January 2 – and counting,” he added proudly.

Motivators: Pictures of former contestants adorn the walls of the gym for inspirationMotivators: Pictures of former contestants adorn the walls of the gym for inspiration

Motivators: Pictures of former contestants adorn the walls of the gym

The cost of a stay at the Malibu resort is not that pricey considering what is included. Once payment is made covering food, accommodation and all the classes and hikes.

Accommodation in a log cabin is $2,695 or$10,000 for four weeks which reduces the weekly amount. For those staying off-site in their own accommodation, the price comes down to $1,995 a week.

I found the dedication of the staff amazing, with everyone treating their position more like a vocation than just a job.

I was pushed harder than I had ever been before, but the rewards were great. Most guests lose anywhere between three and seven pounds a week although some have lost even more during their stay.

I lost six pounds with another three dropping off the week I returned home, so for that, the long hikes and hours of exercise were more than worth it.

For more information on The Biggest Loser Resort click here.