A Peek Into the Biggest Loser's Refrigerator
Ali Vincent answers the door dressed in snug-fitting grey jeans, an off-the-shoulder grey sweater and knee-high boots. Her health and fitness are clearly apparent. Her arms are toned, her skin is flawless, her hair shines. Vincent’s bright smile is genuine and her eyes dance with enthusiasm when she talks about how incredible her life has become since her experience on The Biggest Loser.
From nationally and internationally ranked swimmer in her youth to obese and depressed in her adulthood. That’s how Vincent, the first female winner of The Biggest Loser TV show, describes her life before she became a contestant on the show. She started her life as an active, fit young woman who allowed the ups and downs of life to get in the way of taking care of herself.
The pounds started piling on after she gave up swimming and didn’t replace the activity with another one. Vincent’s weight crept up slowly, five pounds here, 10 pounds there. With each pound, she reevaluated her appearance not acknowledging to herself that she was getting fatter.
“Losing five pounds is doable,” she told herself. But she never got around to losing the five pounds. Five became 10 and by the time she was 32 years old, Ali Vincent weighed 234 pounds. If losing five or 10 pounds seemed doable, losing 100 pounds seemed impossible.
When Vincent was chosen for The Biggest Loser, she knew this was her chance to turn her life around. From the first episode, Ali and her mother, Bette-Sue, the dynamic family duo on Season 5 of The Biggest Loser, were my favorites. I admired Bette-Sue’s quirkiness and style. And I knew from the start that Vincent was a fighter who had the determination and focus to be the winner. An early fan favorite, Vincent showed the viewers an unprecedented spunk and resolve throughout the rigorous weeks on the show.
She went on the show to lose weight-actually, she went on to win, she told me. From the day Vincent was chosen as a contestant her goal was to win, and winning meant losing a lot of weight- over 100 pounds. What she won was much more than a new figure (and some cash), though. She also got a new life. The show not only changed her looks but it changed her future. She’s now a national spokesperson, an author (Believe It, Be It), a motivational speaker and much more.
The kitchen in Vincent’s central Phoenix condo is petite but serviceable, especially for someone who spends a lot of her time traveling. Vincent travels around the country to promote her new book and to raise money for the Believe It, Be It Foundation, whose goal is to get kids into being physically active to help prevent childhood obesity. Because Vincent has just returned from a trip and will be leaving again soon, her refrigerator isn’t packed with food. But one thing she learned while on The Biggest Loser is to keep her kitchen stocked with healthy options.
“I keep the crap out of the kitchen,” Vincent says. The first thing she shows me is a plastic container filled with one of her favorite dinners: turkey chili with squash. She then reaches into her refrigerator and pulls out a bowl of hard-cooked eggs.
“I always have these in here for quick snacks. And hummus.
I eat a lot of hummus with raw vegetables for dipping.” Vincent now eats when she’s hungry. She used to eat when she was sad or happy or bored. She’s come to think of food as fuel and not as something to soothe her soul. Of course, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables in Vincent’s kitchen: Apples and oranges in the fridge and a pineapple on the counter. Vincent takes out a butternut squash from the vegetable drawer. “This is one of my favorites. I use squash in a lot of my cooking.”
When Vincent weighed 234 pounds (her starting weight on The Biggest Loser), she rarely cooked and her refrigerator held only leftovers from fast-food restaurants. Her one “homecooked” dish from the past was a can of corn, drained and cooked in one stick of butter! Now she tries to cook at home as often as she can and she’s pretty much ditched the canned corn. Vincent admits that she’s “not a huge recipe person.” She doesn’t cook from recipes. She has learned how to modify ingredients to replicate the flavors she likes without all the calories she used to consume. Vincent now appreciates food for how it really tastes, without too much fussing. She prefers Mexican and Italian flavors and her repertoire of meals reflects that.
Vincent knows the brands that work for her so she tends to stick to the same stores so she can get in and out fast. The door of her fridge is stocked with fat-free salad dressings. She shops the Town and Country and downtown farmers’ markets for fresh produce when she’s in town.
This is not a foodie’s dream kitchen. Vincent’s main cooking equipment includes a three-tiered steamer, a stovetop grill, a blender and the microwave. She loves the steamer because she can cook a whole meal in it all at one time. She makes smoothies in the blender, grills fish and lean meats on the grill and cooks vegetables in the microwave. I asked Vincent what she would recommend to singles who don’t really like to cook but want to eat healthier meals. Vincent says she makes time for cooking now because she knows how important it is to be able to control what goes into her food. But she also knows that cooking for one isn’t always a lot of fun, so she suggests people try a meal delivery service that specializes in healthy food.
Ali Vincent is truly a success story not because she’s svelte or because she won a contest. She’s a happier, healthier person whose goal is to pass it on.