By Kim Dunbar
Jessica Limpert, a 26-year-old traveling nurse, is currently kicking butt on Season 12 of NBC’s “Biggest Loser.” Limpert started her journey at 254 pounds and is now happy, healthy and ~ at the time of this interview ~ training for the final BL challenge: running a marathon. She took a break from her sweat sessions to talk about how life’s changed since living on the BL Ranch.
KD: You lost 15 pounds in the first week. What was it like stepping on that scale?
JL: It was pretty crazy. I don’t share my weight with anybody … and I had to go up there in this tiny sports bra ~ but at the Ranch it was very comfortable, we all came from the same place. It’s my starting place. If I don’t do that then I’ll never remember where I came from.
KD: Why did you try out for the show?
JL: I actually tried out for Season 11 but they did partners so I didn’t get picked. When they called me back [for season 12] … I had already started with my own weight loss journey for myself. I wanted it so badly. You know you’ll lose weight on the show, but it was a great experience to learn the nutrition and the building blocks to help me be successful. I put myself first for the first time and that was because of the “Biggest Loser.”
KD: What was your “a-ha moment” when you realized you needed to get healthy?
JL: I traveled to Haiti after the earthquake and I’ve gone to Ecuador with Global Smile twice. When I was in Haiti I realized, ‘Jessica, you are the biggest person here.’ No one called me out on it but I didn’t want to be that girl. What if one day I didn’t fit in an airplane seat anymore? I didn’t want my weight to be the cause for me not doing what I love.
KD: Have you flown since?
JL: We had to fly home from training and I am happy to say there was lots of seatbelt left.
KD: Other than physically, how have you changed?
JL: I am a happier person. My confidence has changed. I don’t feel like I need to hide in an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants … I feel good.
KD: What was the most important lesson you learned?
JL: You have to put yourself first. For 26 years I forgot about myself here and there, but you have to be ready to do that for the show. Going forward I have to figure out what’s going to work for me to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.
KD: What’s it like now being back in the “real world”?
JL: You have to plan, that’s the biggest thing. I have to do my grocery shopping and my cooking ahead of time, bagging it up in case I have a grab-and-go situation … You have to [set aside] 1-2 hours a day for yourself [to work out] … I don’t want to go back to where I came from. It was OK that I saw myself on TV with my big stomach hanging out because I don’t want to go back there.
KD: What keeps you motivated?
JL: I have a goal. I was never there for the $250,000. I was always there for myself. I am happy and healthy and have a competitiveness inside me now that keeps me going.
KD: How do you curb cravings?
JL: It’s about finding an alternative … Mushrooms are my go-to snack now. I’m also a late-night eater, which was one of my problems, so when I get hungry, instead of going for cookies or pretzels I cook up some mushrooms or slice some sweet potatoes into fries.
KD: Do you count calories?
JL: Yes, but you have to watch your sodium, that’s huge. I found out while I was on the show that I love salt. You also have to keep your sugars low. Water is probably the biggest thing … to fill up your belly … [“BL” trainer] Bob Harper will say that real life is about having a treat here and there. My problem, and the other 14 people on the show, was that we had too many little bites. It’s not about depriving yourself; it’s about eating in moderation.
KD: What is your workout like?
JL: I have three trainers. A running coach I work with three times a week, another helps me with things from the show like working with the ropes and the tires, and a trainer in the gym. I try to get in three hours a day … The more weight you lose the harder it is to lose weight, so keeping the heart rate up and tricking the body is key.
KD: How do you convince yourself to work out?
JL: I have a new frame of mind … I want to be a fit and healthy person ~ this focus keeps me going.
KD: How do you plan to stick to your diet with the holidays approaching?
JL: It’s all about healthy eating … I plan to bring my own treats and teach others how I eat.
KD: Do you have any fitness tips for readers?
JL: In the morning lie on the floor in your living room and do 50 crunches and … five sets of 15-30 planks. You’ll work your core, arms and whole body … It will jumpstart your day and get your metabolism going. And don’t forget to eat breakfast!
KD: I read that you wanted to lose weight to start crossing things off your bucket list. Have you been able to do that yet?
JL: I’ve been staying in hiding so I haven’t done too much but the airplane was huge and I’ve run a few races. Usually running from first to second base was enough for me. I recently did a race that ended at Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team) and we were sitting in the stands after. I was able to sit comfortably ~ I never felt comfortable in one of those seats before. I’m also going rock climbing in a couple of weeks which I’m excited about.
JL: This was the best experience of my life and I wouldn’t change anything for a minute. Don’t wait for your call back from the show, start your own fitness journey now. You never know what will happen tomorrow.
Watch Jessica’s journey on the “Biggest Loser” Tuesdays on NBC, 8 p.m. EST.
Jessica’s Baked Apples
With the holiday season fast approaching, Limpert isn’t worried about how she’ll stick to her diet and still enjoy herself. Her solution: “I plan to bring my own treats and teach others how I eat.” She shared the details of one of her new favorite low-cal recipes ~ baked apples. “I used to make this for everyone on the Ranch,” she added. To get the taste of apple pie but none of the fat and calories, follow the simple steps below.
1. Cut one apple in half and cut out the core
2. Fill center with cinnamon and Truvia (natural sweetener)
3. Bake apples in oven on 350- 400 degrees for about 15 minutes
4. When brown, remove from oven and top with ¼ cup frozen mixture of Greek yogurt and Truvia (sweetened to taste)