As part of our favorite reality TV show, this mother and daughter team found a way to lose weight and keep it off.
Weight before 239
Vitals Amy Cremen, 27,Royal Oak,MI
Occupation Cosmetology student
Weight after 10 weeks 173
Lesson learned “Food is your fuel. You need it to power your body and keep your metabolism going. I find the best way to do that is to eat small amounts four to six times a day.”
Secret weapon “Having my mom there to support me every step of the way. And when things got really hard, I was glad that sugar-free Jell-O pudding and fat-free Cool Whip were always there for me too!”
Amy Cremen grew up in a family that ate rich, fatty meals together–and continually failed to lose weight. “My mom, my friends, and I had ‘Monday Diets,’” Cremen says. “We’d start a new one after a weekend of bingeing, and by Friday we’d be off it.” Cremen graduated from high school weighing 195 pounds, and she vowed never to reach 200. She broke her promise just months later. Thanks to more short-lived diets, Cremen’s weight yo-yoed until 2006, when her busy schedule sent her to the drive-thru for three meals a day. In nine months, she put on 40 pounds. “I gained so much so fast, I outgrew everything in my closet practically overnight,” she says. Unable to stand for long periods without pain and swelling in her feet, she says, “I just wanted to stay in my apartment alone. I was embarrassed, and I was exhausted.”
In March 2008, Cremen’s mother, Shellay, went to an open call for The Biggest Loser inSterling Heights,Michigan. When she flashed a family photo, the casting directors invited her to a second audition–on the condition that she bring her daughter. Cremen ran through every excuse she could think of before relenting. “My mom thought that doing the show together would bring us closer. Losing weight was something we always tried to do together, but this time we wanted to keep it off!”
In May the Cremens learned that they’d be one of nine teams on the show’s seventh season. “I knew if I couldn’t do it for TV, I’d never do it at all,” Cremen says. She and Shellay were flown to King Gillette Ranch, nearBeverly Hills, where they were secluded for the summer during taping. They threw themselves into the competition, working out for six to eight hours a day under the supervision of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. “Our first day in the gym was a shock,” Cremen recalls. “I couldn’t even hold myself up for a 10-second wall squat.” During that brutal first week, Cremen felt like quitting. “But I remembered that I was there for a reason, so I continued to give it my all,” she says. Before long, she could tolerate the workouts and was amazed when she started looking forward to them. “Now I feel a sense of accomplishment every time I finish one,” she says.
With her favorite vices–Oreos, Mountain Dew, and fast food–forbidden at the ranch, Cremen learned to count calories (she was limited to about 1,200 a day, says Cheryl Forberg, R.D., the show’s nutritionist) and to cook healthy meals. “One of my favorites is lean ground turkey, brown rice, and salsa. It’s easy, and one cup has only about 200 calories,” Cremen says. “I’ve learned that there is life outside of fast food.”
Since returning home, Cremen has been working out for two to four hours per day, including one hour of cardio. “Spinning is by far my favorite exercise,” she says. She and Shellay, who lost more than 27 pounds, also work out three times a week with their personal trainer.
For Cremen, victory is in her ability to enjoy life. “I try to focus on positive things now,” she says. “I don’t need food to make me happy. I spend more time with my friends and family doing healthy things.”
Eat strategically. “Have your biggest meal before you work out so you have energy to exercise–and the rest of the day to burn the calories.”
Be goal-oriented. “Concentrating on the result you’re after will make an hour of pain at the gym totally worth it.”
Experiment. “I add chopped apples and cinnamon to fat-free organic Greek yogurt–it tastes awesome.”