Local contestants learn healthier habits on ‘Loser’
By NATASHA WASINSKI For Sun-Times Media January 20, 2014 4:48PM
The Biggest Loser - Season 15
Updated: February 22, 2014 6:05AM
Busting poor family eating habits is the strategy to becoming “The Biggest Loser” for two contestants with local ties.
At 29, Chicago attorney Bobby Saleem is enjoying nutritious, home-cooked meals on a regular basis, which wasn’t the norm growing up. As a kid he filled up on junk foods while his working parents were away.
“I never learned portion control and I ate until I was very full,” Saleem explains.
The line got drawn the day his pants ripped right before he had to appear in court. At 358 pounds, Saleem turned to NBC’s weight-loss show for help.
He’s now one of seven contestants fighting for a spot in the Feb. 4 finale. Also in the running is Tanya Winfield of Plainfield, who has started a healthy soul food catering company.
Overweight for most of her life, Winfield, 41, developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Since appearing on “The Biggest Loser,” the mother of three has made healthy eating and exercise priorities in her household.
“I’m learning to be a different type of mother and have a healthier type of living,” she says.
Winfield hopes leading by example will help reduce the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes in her youngest daughter, who was born weighing 11 pounds, 6 ounces. She and the now 3-year-old take Zumba together. And whenever mom jogs on the treadmill, her toddler is nearby doing push-ups.
Winfield also embraces the challenge of adjusting her cooking style. Instead of using pasta in lasagna, she now cooks with zucchini. She also mixes bananas into pancake batter, and substitutes cauliflower for noodles in macaroni and cheese.
“I learned a new way of eating without jeopardizing the taste, but the quality is just as good,” Winfield says.
Saleem has also taken a liking to once foreign greens like Brussels spouts and asparagus. “Kale is a big one that I’ve gotten enamored with as well,” he notes.
With the reality show’s “biggest loser” to be determined, the Chicago area contestants are already winning their personal weight-loss battles.
Winfield weighed 262 pounds and wore dress size 22 when the season premiered three months ago. Since then, the scale numbers have dipped below 200. In Tuesday’s episode, Winfield slips into size 10 clothing.
“I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognize myself,” she recalls. “It reminded me that I like being a diva.”
Along with shedding 100 pounds, Saleem let go of emotional baggage when he told his parents he is gay.
“Now I’m ready to treat myself the way I feel about myself,” he says. “That means a healthy lifestyle moving forward, because I really do deserve the best.”