Most weight-loss plans focus on what goes into your stomach, but JD Roth, one of the creators of “The Biggest Loser,” says it all starts with your head.
“Your mind doesn’t really want a piece of chocolate cake,” Roth told TODAY. “You’ve just trained it over the years… that the only time you can be happy is when you have the chocolate cake.”
In the new series, “The Big Fat Truth,” Roth works with overweight participants for 90 days to help them lose weight for good. The first episode features six former contestants from NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” who collectively lost more than 630 pounds and then regained all the weight, plus added even more. (NBC is part of NBC Universal, the parent company of TODAY.)
Last year, The New York Times reported an analysis of some of the contestants revealed it’s hard for people to lose weight and keep it off because they are “working against their own biology,” with the body determined to get you back to your original weight by slowing down your metabolism and ramping up your hunger. But Roth believes the article was one-sided because it didn’t take into account the emotional issues of some of the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” and didn’t include those who lost the weight and kept it off.
Roth freely admits he’s not a scientist, doctor or nutritionist, but he believes his experience producing weight-loss and “transformation TV” has given him insight into what really works when it comes to slimming down permanently.
Here are four components of his philosophy:
1. You’re really carrying the weight in your head and your body is the outcome of that.
“In my opinion, what people perceive as hunger pain is actually emotional pain. If you can get to the core of what that emotional pain is, the body will follow… your body is no match for the power of your mind,” Roth said.
Roth believes your subconscious rules most of your life and if it thinks the only thing that can make you happy is chocolate cake, you’ll spend every millisecond of every day trying to find the next slice.
Once you’ve made that connection, it’s your job to break the pattern, he noted. When you’re fulfilled and happy on the inside, your body will no longer need that chocolate cake.
2. Start breaking the emotional loop with simple things.
The best way to lose weight is to clean your bedroom, Roth advises.
“People look at me like I’m nuts,” he said. “But you have to start off with really simple things to regain control of your life.”
The idea is that if you wake up in a cluttered bedroom and the first thing you see is chaos, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Roth has been in bedrooms of people who are 200 or 300 pounds overweight and found they all look alike: Piled up mail, baskets full of laundry, a Big Gulp in the corner, unopened candy and food. “It’s a micro chasm of what’s going on in their mind,” he said.
Roth recommends emptying out your bedroom completely, except for a bed, a set of drawers and a chair to sit on.
“Now, when your eyes open up, the first thing you see is calm. That’s the first step in convincing your subconscious that you don’t need the chocolate cake, that you have things under control,” he noted.
3. Eat a whole food, plant-based diet
It’s the best way to live a healthy life and prevent disease, Roth says, calling it “foodicine” versus medicine.
That means focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and skipping meat, dairy and sugar. Roth, who follows this lifestyle himself, said it’s a pleasant surprise for the participants in his show.
“A lot of the people I work with are volume eaters, they’re used to eating a gigantic amount of food,” he noted. “So the beauty of being on a whole food plant-based lifestyle is I’m just replacing a large volume of food that’s calorically dense but not nutritionally dense, with a giant volume of food that is not calorically dense but nutritionally dense.”
Dinner, for example, might include lentil soup, a side of steamed asparagus, and a bowl of quinoa with veggies. Try this lifestyle in a small way, he advised. Eat one meal a day that’s plant-based and ask yourself: How do you feel?
4. Make exercise a part of your life
Roth works out seven days a week and calls himself a big believer in fitness.
“It’s the greatest anti-depressant on the planet. You can take a pill for something or you can put on a pair of shoes and go for a walk,” he said.
But he doesn’t think people should be obsessed with exercise or work out for hours on end. Just move every single day — whether that’s taking stairs at work or going for a walk, he advised.
"The Big Fat Truth" premieres June 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Z Living. For more info, visit zliving.com.