Big Tips from a “Big Loser”

Bernie Salazar is a MAJOR LOSER! Hs is probably one of the BIGGEST LOSERS I know… and that’s why anyone with ears should listen to what he has to say about achieving lasting health and wellness.

You see, Bernie used to have sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes. Then he shed 130# on the reality show The Biggest Loser (season 5) and now he runs marathons. While he may not win them (don’t worry Bernie, I don’t win either), he still fiercely competes with the only opponent that matters – himself.

Bernie Salazar on Chicago Athlete's March Magazine

Bernie Salazar on Chicago Athlete's March Magazine

I had the pleasure of spending a few days in D.C. doing some advocacy work with Bernie. We were on the Hill representing ourselves as guests of Mizuno asking Congress to increase funds for the Carol M. White physical education program (PEP) so that more grants can be awarded. The truth is the government suggests at least 1 hr a day of exercise, yet, only 8% of schools actually comply with that by offering daily phys ed. It’s a real problem. We hope to be part of the solution. That’s why we took two days of our time to share our personal stories and expertise.

Team Mizuno Never Settles - Phys Ed for Kids Today!
Team Mizuno Never Settles – Phys Ed for Kids Today!
Bernie with some GWU students.

Bernie with some GWU students.

Besides bringing “PEP” to the Hill, Bernie made a huge splash on the campus of George Washington University, where I teach sports nutrition. He spoke about his journey from “couch potato” to “marathoner”.  You can learn a lot from his life experiences and what he thinks is really important to realize a life of wellness.

Here are some of the highlights from his talk:

1. You’ll know when it’s time to change. Bernie talked about the various family, friends, doctors, and yes, even dietitians, who failed at trying to help him lose weight. He knew the little tricks to pretend like he was making changes when he really wasn’t. He described his “rock bottom” moment when he had a cupcake named after him at a famous Chicago bakery – “Bernie’s Boston Cream Cupcake”. He joked that he was probably invited to the wedding because he helped pay for it.

2. You can’t do it alone. You need to rely on family and friends for support. Bernie said it is hard to make so many lifestyle changes and the people you love can help provide motivation. On “campus”, you workout 8 hours a day so something has to drive you. My tip to add to that is TELL PEOPLE what you are trying to do. Verbalize your goals and ask for support.

3. Believe that you deserve the benefits of the new lifestyle. Bottom line, most people sabotage themselves because they can’t imagine they deserve a healthy lifestyle. They have kept up with old habits for so long that they really can’t see anything changing.

4. Set goals. Bernie strongly believes that you need to constantly set goals for yourself. This is what got him into marathoning. He thought, “if I commit to a marathon I will benefit from all that training and get a new sense of accomplishment.” He’s completed one marathon and one half marathon and has a list of races planned for 2009.

5. Ask others to join you. (I love this last one…) Bernie truly believes that health is not yours until you can give it to someone else. You should ask people to workout with you, run a race with you, and join you on your journey toward wellness.

When asked about his current “workout regimen”, Bernie says he just plays more. He means it too. Of course he works out, but he focuses on fun first. He doesn’t do a workout he dreads. He’d rather check out the outdoor scenery or the latest exercise gadget. He also said his nutrition secret is just portion control. He focuses on food as fuel to give him energy, not a drug to make him numb. So he gives priority to fresh, delicious foods. This works for him because he is in “maintenance mode” for his weight.

Look for more Bernie soon. He should be on an upcoming episode of The Biggest Loser this season. You can view his video blogs on

I have say it is so cool being a nutrition expert. Every day is different for me. I’ve had some very interesting opportunities. From this blog, to my recent baseball interview, to working with Bernie and Mizuno on policy, to my recent media training at American University… I think there are so many opportunities to use your voice and be heard. With the economy and health care on people’s minds, growing chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes, shrinking physical activity, crappy school lunches, and something called “going green” there is so much in our lives that involve nutrition. I plan to take 2009 to a whole new level with social media (I got a new HD flip cam) and mainstream media (I want to be on TV and radio). I’ve already written some print articles for a D.C. running magazine and I hope to take that to national pubs. Of course, there’s the private practice too.  Bottom line is being an RD rocks and I love that I get to share some of my experiences with you!

Happy RD day!

In health,


Check out some other cool posts from dietitians – in honor of RD Day – March 11th – Everyone wins with nutrition!

Beyond Prenatals – Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Annette Colby – No More Diets! A Registered Dietitian Shares 9 Secrets to Real and Lasting Weight Loss
Ashley Colpaart – Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Diana Dyer – There and Back Again: Celebration of National Dietitian Day 2009
Marjorie Geiser – RD Showcase for National Registered Dietitian Day – What we do
Cheryl Harris – Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Marilyn Jess – National Registered Dietitian Day–RD Blogfest
Julie Lanford – Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Renata Mangrum – What I’m doing as I grow up…
Liz Marr – Fruits and Veggies for Registered Dietian Day: Two Poems
Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen – Family Nutrition … It’s our “Beat”
Jill Nussinow – The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through
Wendy Jo Petersen – March 11 is our day to shine!
Diane Preves – Registered Dietitians and the White House Forum on Health Reform
Andy Sarjahani – Dr. Seuss Tribute continued: Green Eggs and Ham and a Sustainable Food System
Anthony Sepe – RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
Kathy Shattler – RD Showcase for Nutri-Care Consultation
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County – Nutrition Know How – Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey – Dietitians–Can’t Do PCOS Without Them!
Monika Woolsey – In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro – My life as a Registered Dietitian

19 thoughts on “Big Tips from a “Big Loser”

  1. Pingback: Family Nutrition … it’s our “Beat” | Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen

  2. Pingback: Dr. Seuss Tribute continued: Green Eggs and Ham and a Sustainable Food System « Farms and Fields Project at Virginia Tech

  3. Dear Rebecca,

    What a great article! Thank you. I especially loved the reminders that, “You’ll know when it’s time to change. Bernie talked about the various family, friends, doctors, and yes, even dietitians, who failed at trying to help him lose weight. He knew the little tricks to pretend like he was making changes when he really wasn’t.”

    I remember when I was trying to write my first book, Your Highest Potential. It was hurdle after hurdle, and beyond impossible to describe. I would write for a few days, weeks or months, then hit a brick wall. Each time, I would have to overcome a new obstacle or inner objection. This went on for five years. At the end of that time, my book had become this mammoth unwieldy document. After five arduous years, the project had become to heavy to carry – both literally and physically!

    I had to face myself and honestly ask myself if I truly wanted to keep “working” on this project, actually finish the project, or throw it out. I weighed all the options carefully and made a new decision to finish it. Giving ourselves the experience of success is also a decision that must be made.

    Thank you again for sharing such an inspirational blog! Happy National Registered Dietitian’s Day!!

    With joy,
    Annette Colby, PhD, RD

  4. So much accomplished for someone barely out of the RD starting gate…so happy you opted to showcase it and inspire others through RD Blogfest.🙂


  5. Thanks everyone for stopping by so far! I am so glad you enjoyed the post!

    I think storytelling is powerful.

    Annette – I love hearing your story about your book. I aspire to write one and I have heard the horrors. I think those things that push us to our limit are the things that are really worth struggling for!

    Thanks to Renata and Monika for hosting a BlogFest for dietitians! We should do more!

  6. Pingback: A Perfect Fit: Me, an RD! « Gluten Free Goodness

  7. those are some pretty incredilbe tips! They include a great variety of mental, physical, nutritional, and social support that is soooo important. Thanks for the info!

  8. Rebecca, I should also add on the ‘social support’ side that post we did awhile back on ‘sponsoring yourself’ (in beta from health 2.0) re: fitness, diets, races and wellness of any kind:
    It’s called 3+ network (incorporating the aspects of track/log and community building plus rewards/incentives) Pretty cool.
    Remember? YOU were in the race! Photo here:

  9. Rebecca,

    Thanks for sharing your story about Bernie. I met him in the exhibit hall at ADA FNCE and appreciate his energy level; it’s very motivating. And the advice about play – I was reminded of just that when I jumped on my mountain bike Monday – first ride of the season!

    Happy RD Day!


  10. Pingback: » Big tips from a “big loser”

  11. Rebecca, I’m a bit behind, but wanted to say this is a GREAT story! Wonderful inspiration for those who don’t believe they can change the condition of their weight. Bernie provides hope, and I thank you for including this story.

    Yea, as Monika said, great job for such a newbie! You are on fire, girl!


  12. Pingback: My life as a Registered Dietitian

  13. Pingback: Sports Drinks Tax to Fight Obesity? « Balanced Health and Nutrition Rebecca Scritchfield’s Blog

  14. Pingback: Tune In to Biggest Loser and Look for Bernie « Balanced Health and Nutrition Rebecca Scritchfield’s Blog

  15. Pingback: Check Out Some of My Favorite RD Blogs on RD Day! | Edible Nutrition

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