Losing pounds, gaining happinessO’Neal Hampton remembers the nights he used to spend lounging on the couch at his Richfield, Minn., home with a bag of potato chips by his side and “The Biggest Loser” playing on the television in front of him.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
O’Neal Hampton remembers the nights he used to spend lounging on the couch at his Richfield, Minn., home with a bag of potato chips by his side and “The Biggest Loser” playing on the television in front of him.
Little did he know at the time, he would eventually become a contestant on the show alongside his daughter, SunShine Hampton.
The two were featured on the ninth season of the popular NBC reality television series, which aired from January to May in 2010. Two years later and 285 collective pounds lighter, they’re anxious to share their success stories with others who have struggled to lose weight.
Most recently, the Hamptons spoke to a crowd of women over the weekend during this year’s Girlfriends Expo & Getaway at Treasure Island Resort & Casino.
O’Neal stressed that he and his daughter don’t judge people with unhealthy lifestyles — not even five years ago they were in the same position — and instead offer tips and encouragement to people who may be interested in losing weight and improving their health.
“The quickest way to get out of a hole that you’ve dug for yourself is to stop digging,” he said.
It took several hundred pounds of weight gain before O’Neal was able to understand that fact. He said when he weighed 250 pounds he thought he’d never get to 300. Then, when he reached 300 pounds he never thought he’d see 350. O’Neal eventually found himself tipping the scales at 420 pounds, and he knew that food wasn’t completely to blame.
“Four-hundred twenty pounds is a byproduct of something else going wrong in your life,” O’Neal said, mentioning things like relationships and jobs.
When he finally realized it was time to start making positive changes in his life, O’Neal became a contestant on “The Biggest Loser” with then-24-year-old SunShine. Her weight loss journey began at 275 pounds, a number she wasn’t proud to see.
“It was my ultimate low when I stood on that scale,” SunShine said about her first weigh-in on the show. “That was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
Still, she’s glad she did because the strict exercise routine and limited diet the Hamptons stuck to during filming has influenced their lifestyles long after leaving the “Biggest Loser” ranch house.
In addition to daily trips to the gym for hourlong workouts or more, O’Neal and SunShine fill their diets with protein and vegetables, and control their portion sizes to maintain healthy lifestyles.
“Lean and green is what they say on the ranch,” SunShine said, adding that she and her dad do a lot of their own cooking so they know exactly what’s going into their bodies.
But that’s not to say the pair has completely eliminated junk food like their favorite desserts. The two simply tack on extra exercise to make up for additional calories consumed.
“Temptation is just as common as a cold,” O’Neal said. “When I don’t eat healthy food I pay for it the next day in the gym — and I pay hard.”
Exercise and nutrition are primary factors in getting on the path to a healthy lifestyle, but overall, both Sunshine and O’Neal agreed it’s the support from each other that has gotten them as far as they are.
“We all need someone who will fight with us through thick and thin no matter the situation,” O’Neal said.
SunShine’s tips for getting healthier
Through her journey toward losing 114 pounds, SunShine Hampton has learned what it takes to achieve successful weight loss. Here’s her advice to others who want to shed some pounds:
• Take small steps. Go slowly in the beginning and work your way into it. Celebrate your small victories.
If you go a whole day without drinking a soda, you’ll feel good about yourself. Hold onto that good feeling, and set another goal right away.
Those are stepping stones. Little by little, you’ll make bigger goals.
• Expensive equipment isn’t needed. You can walk around swinging two soup cans above your head, and you can turn almost anything into a resistance band. Just remember to challenge your body. Don’t get stuck in the same routine.
• It’s OK to have a bad day. If you get on the treadmill for one minute, then leave the gym and stop for ice cream on your way home, don’t feel horrible. It’s OK. Bad days will happen, but they’ll also go away.
• Cheat meals are OK once a week. You can’t deprive yourself of the things you love forever or you’ll wind up binging on them. One meal, once a week, won’t derail your goals. Just get back into your routine the next day.
• Prepare your meals at home. By cooking at home, you know what you’re putting in your body. If you eat out, you can’t be scared to be picky. Order salad with dressing on the side and grilled meats. Also remember to stay hydrated and drink half of your weight in ounces of water daily. If you weigh 100 pounds, you need to drink 50 ounces of water.