Biggest Loser contestants give tips, recipes on shedding weight

Published: Tuesday, June 21 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad by Deni Hill, of Bountiful, Utah, who also competed on NBC's "Biggest Loser."

Valerie Phillips, Provided by Deni Hill

Summer is here, and it's time to shape up. Denise "Deni" Hill of Bountiful, Justin Pope of Logan and Sarah Nitta of Las Vegas are proof that it's never too late to get fit.

Hill, a 59-year-old mother of eight, won $100,000 on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" reality series last month by losing the highest percentage of weight among the show's previously eliminated contestants.

Hill went from 256 pounds at the beginning of the competition to 131 at the season finale. She lost 125 pounds, or 48.83 percent of her body weight.

And Justin Pope, a 39-year-old bail bondsman, bounty hunter and gym owner, was the runner-up to Hill, losing out by just a couple of pounds. He went from 365 pounds to 192, a total loss of 173 pounds.

Pope isn't a sore loser, though. "If I was going to lose to someone, that was definitely the person I would want to lose it to," Pope said in a telephone interview.

"And my ideal would have been if we had tied," said Hill, who kept up a steady 3-pounds-per-week weight loss after being eliminated from the show.

Hill's daughter and partner on the show, Sarah Nitta, wowed viewers of the show's finale with her 106-pound weight loss. Nitta, a 27-year-old a college admissions counselor, moved from Utah to Las Vegas last year.

Most people can't be on a reality series where the focus is on working out all day and your diet is carefully monitored. But Hill, Pope and Nitta are incorporating what they learned into their regular lives now that the show has ended.

Pope, known on the show for "calling out" any slackers, now teaches "Callout" classes of about 60 people. He was teaching at Rulon's Elite Training Center, which he owned with partner Rulon Gardner. But, Pope said, last week he signed papers selling his share of the gym to Gardner. "So I'm, looking for another place," Pope said.

He's cut back his personal workout time to two hours a day, as he's working full-time as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter, and he is also preparing to coach his 11-year-old son's football team.

"It's changed my life 100 percent," he said. "The negative side is that it's a long time away from home and a lot of change you go through without your family." He noted that he was away from home nearly six months. "You come home and you not only look different, but in every way I am a different person."

Nitta developed a love of hiking.

"I love it! I love backpacking and fun things like that that keep me super active and challenge me without needing to be stuck on the treadmill," she said. "When I do really intense things like backpacking, then I am able to eat with a little more freedom because my body is burning so much more. I make much healthier choices now and am very aware of what I am putting into my body. I know understand that food equals energy now, and that is awesome!"

To maintain her new body, Hill has bumped up her calorie count to 1,600 per day and continues to exercise two hours a day. That's about half of the time she was putting in before the finale.

Deni's tips

1. Fit in some movement at work. "If you have a desk job, see if you can use a large exercise ball to sit on instead of a chair," said Denise "Deni" Hill.

While sitting on a ball, your body has to continually work to balance it, which strengthens your abdominal muscles and improves your balance.

"And climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator!" Hill adds.

2. Run or walk first thing in the morning, before breakfast. "This gets your metabolism going," Hill said.

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