CBN.com Pete Thomas associated exercise with pain and called food his friend. After years of overeating, he had packed on the weight and ballooned to more than 400 pounds. In January 2005, Pete won a spot on the second season of NBC’s hit series The Biggest Loser. He and the other contestants lived on a ranch for three months, complete with their own personal trainer. After years of fad dieting, Pete finally learned how to lose weight safely. Now he shares his amazing story around the country and encourages people to find the real solution for permanent weight loss.
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, this slim, trim guy that’s on the set with us, Pete Thomas from NBC’s Biggest Loser, Pete, great to have you with us. Thank you for being here.
PETE THOMAS: Thank you. Thank you having me.
KRISTI WATTS: Thank you so much. Well, listen, before we even start, Pat, I actually want to show a demonstration here. These are a pair of your pants.
PAT: Good heavens! You could put two or three of you in that.
KRISTI: Look, I think we both could fit in here.
PETE: Yes, I think so.
KRISTI: These are size 56. And this is when you weighed 400 pounds. How did you get to that weight?
PETE: Well, the main thing was that I grew up in poor circumstances. I grew up in foster care, in and out of foster care. My mother actually struggled from mental illness. And as it relates to the weight, I was never taught the proper tenets of good exercise and nutrition. So, during my college years, I worked out a lot, played basketball a lot. But once I got married, I gave up those workout habits to spend more time on the marriage, and the weight began to slowly creep on, as it does for most people. I gained 10 pounds a year, and that’s how most people gain weight, real slow. So, over a process of 14 years, I gained 140 pounds. And it really breaks down to overeating by 100 calories a day. If you overeat 100 calories a day, you gain 10 pounds a year. And so that 100 calories turns out to be an extra pop. Two tablespoons of mayonnaise is 100 calories, an extra slice of cheese above what your body needs. You just pile the weight on very slowly, and that’s exactly how it happened for me.
PAT: It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it, to stand there with your belly hanging in front of a national audience? What got you into that show?
PETE: Well, we were believing that the Lord would bring us something that would change our poor habits. We had tried different diets over the years, and those things worked for a period of time, but then they fell off. I was just believing, ‘Lord, You’ve got to show us a way.’ And my wife and I were fans of season one, so we went on, we applied for season two, and got on. We really believe it was an answer from the Lord for us to learn permanent solutions to weight loss, and that’s exactly what happened.
PAT: What did they teach you on the program? They set you aside in a special ranch with a trainer. I mean, when a guy’s that heavy, it almost frightens you to think you’re doing all that weightlifting and all that exercise. What did you do? What regimen did they have you on?
PETE: Well, our regimen was really set up by a trainer, Jillian Michaels, which you guys are having on the show. She was just awesome, and her background in physical therapy allowed her to whip us around at 400-plus pounds. We worked-out four hours a day of intense working out. We had a very lean diet. We did not under-eat, which is one of the tenets of good, solid weight loss. A body’s like an engine; you’ve got to fuel it correctly. But the main thing for burning that weight off was the workout. We worked out four hours a day.
PAT: Four hours is cruel, especially when you’re out of shape.
PETE: Absolutely, it is.
KRISTI: And not just four hours, but you didn’t have television, a telephone.
PETE: Yes, that’s right.
PAT: Well, that’s good for you.
KRISTI: You had no contact with your family.
PETE: Completely focused.
PAT: Well, what did you do for four hours?
PETE: Well, first thing in the morning, we were required to do an hour of intense cardio, so we had to keep our heart rate above a certain number of beats per minute. And in the afternoon, Jillian would come in, and she’d work us out an hour doing the resistance training and another hour doing the cardio. Then in the evening, we’d do another hour of cardio. In between, all you had time to do was get something to eat and rest because you were sore all the time.
PAT: Oh, I bet you. Well, let me ask you—this cardio. You’re on a treadmill or you’re skipping rope or what are you doing?
PETE: We didn’t do too much running or skipping rope when we first started out because we were so big. We didn’t want to excessively wear out our joints, so we would start out on the elliptical machine. We’d start out walking on the treadmill. And, of course, your body adjusts within any period of time to any exercise. So we would change the incline, raise the incline to keep our heart rate up. At the very beginning, we would even ride the recumbent bike or the regular bike. But it was just an intense hour. You just couldn’t be on there slacking or lagging, because Jillian would get you.
KRISTI: I know your body literally transformed so much that you truly became half the person that you were. So you were on the ranch for several months. When you finally did see your wife, what did she say?
PETE: She was blown away. She didn’t recognize me. The great thing was, I didn’t recognize her, either. She had lost 30 pounds while I was away. She lost 70 pounds during the whole period of time. But she was just blown away. She couldn’t believe it because I’d lost while I was on the ranch. I was on the ranch for 62 days and lost 83 pounds while I was there and then lost another 102 pounds at home.
PAT: How are you keeping it off now? You’ve actually lost more weight since the program has been over.
PETE: Yes, absolutely. I lost 102 pounds after I left the ranch. The basic thing is the correct nutrition. I’m eating lean foods—not under eating, which is important—but eating lean foods. For instance, knowing the calorie content of food is so important. A regular four-ounce patty of ground beef is 300 calories. If you had lean ground beef, 94 percent lean, that same four ounces is only 150 calories. So these are the things that we learned, and we’re just applying them to our daily lives, my wife and I. And we’re also teaching this thing, so that helps you be accountable as well.
PAT: You said something about breakfast, too.
PETE: Yes. Well, for instance, for breakfast, whereas before I’d have a couple of eggs and a couple of sausages—an egg itself is 70 calories—now I’ll replace that with Egg Beaters, which is 35 calories. A regular slice of turkey is 80 calories. I’ll replace that with a slice of turkey bacon, which is 20. So you still have the volume, but you have less caloric content.
PAT: But you don’t skip breakfast.
PETE: Don’t skip breakfast. It’s very important. You’ve got to get the motor running. I equate my body to an engine, and you’ve got to get that engine started first thing in the morning.
KRISTI: Statistics say that over a period of time, people tend to gain that weight back. So what are you going to do to make sure those pounds don’t come back?
PETE: Continue what I’m doing. Continue the excellent nutrition, continue the exercise. My wife and I are both runners at this time. And we’re just to going to continue. And then we’re teaching it to others. We’ve got a Web site, winningman.com, that we use to get the word out. So it helps to have a group of people hold you accountable as well.
KRISTI: Absolutely. I do have one last question for you. Because you did gain a significant amount of weight at 400 pounds, what about that person who is sitting there, and they weigh that amount or they’re pretty heavy, and they’re so discouraged, they don’t even know where to start. What can you say to them?
PETE: As I mentioned, we set up a Web site, winningman.com. You can go there and get information. The first thing, though, is just keep hope alive. You’ve got to have faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. You’ve got to have hope that you can do it, you can overcome. After that, you’ve got to get a level of knowledge and education. The Bible talks about ‘My people perishing for a lack of knowledge.’ You’ve got to get knowledge and education about what you’re doing. And you can do it. You can overcome it.
KRISTI: You’re a perfect example of that.
PAT: I’m impressed. I really am.
KRISTI: Thank you so much.
PAT: God bless you, my brother. Thank you.
PETE: God bless you.
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