Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Conversation with Tara Costa - Biggest Loser to Ironman

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking with Tara Costa.  Tara was a contestant on NBC's show "The Biggest Loser" which is about teaching people that exercise and eating right is part of daily life and an active choice.  The contestants go to a ranch in southern California to work with trainers, doctors and dietitians where they work very hard to achieve amazing levels of transformation.  It just shows you (the audience) what can happen with help from trainers and smart food choices.  Tara lost 155 lbs. going from 294 lbs. to 139 lbs. in 18 weeks.

Even experienced Ironman racers and trainers can learn from the show.  I DVR the show and watch it on the bike trainer or treadmill at my house.  For myself, I really connect with some of the people on the show.  I think there are similarities in all people and seeing this play out on a reality show is interesting.  The best part is that these folks are learning to move and eat again.  To believe in themselves.  Trust the process and change their lifestyle forever.

In the end, folks on these shows need to sustain what they learned in their day to day life.  Just like anyone who is overweight, you have to diverse yourself from the old ways and pathology of what got you to that weight.  If you want a lifestyle change then you have to change your lifestyle.  You cannot "train to eat" which is what I hear so much today.  You need to start small and change what you can.  Right here.  Right now.  Reprioritize your life and put yourself on top of your important list.  I often tell my clients that in an airplane if the cabin loses pressure they must secure their oxygen mask first and then help their children.  Same goes for diet and exercise.  You first.  World second.  If you die because you are obese, your children will still be here.  Better make sure you aren't obese then right?  Same goes for other medical issues.  Get them fixed.  It's only 30 minutes four to six times a week.  You can do that.  Even if you have to get up early before everyone else to make sure it happens.  By taking care of yourself you will make yourself available for a longer time.

CB (Coach Bob): Hi Tara.  Thank you for talking today.  How do you manage your diet these days?

TC (Tara Costa): Hour to hour.  Day to day.  I plan just for today.  The key is to keep me focused on the important things I need to do.  I also keep certain foods away from me.  Frozen yogurt, Oreo cookies... sweets in general.  If I want it, I make myself DRIVE to get those things.

CB: Then it becomes a conscious decision to eat those things.

TC: Right!  I'm an unconscious eater.  I make sure I'm eating with a knife and fork versus eating with my hands.  This means I must sit down and prepare my food and portions (and calories). No grabbing of food.   What happens is I eat a bunch and I don't remember how many I had.  I don't eat anything out of cellophane bags.  If it is in a bag, there is a strong chance that it is bad food.  I always have an apple in my purse.

CB: How has Ironman training been?

TC: You know, the hardest thing is eating enough with these long workouts.  I'm not used to eating that much.  A six hour bike ride has a lot of calories in it.  I'm not used to eating that much.  Last week I was hit by a car on a training ride.  Minor accident, but it required a trip to the chiropractor and a couple of adjustments.  Other than that, I've been knocking down the longer sessions.

CB: Are you excited about Kona?

TC: Kona is a blessing.  It has led me to a new lifestyle.  I've met so many kind people and a tremendous diversity of people.  I'm really excited.

CB: What would you tell people to do eating-wise if they are in a social situation (party or going out)?

TC: I like a good beer from time to time, but I haven't drank at all since starting to train for Kona.  If I go out now, it might be club soda with orange and some cranberry.  Maybe a splash of vodka.  I am going to have a beer after Kona for sure.

CB: What do you tell yourself when you get in a rut?

TC: This too shall pass.  I go back to reading notes about what I want to achieve.  My goals.  Another is, 'When a door closes, open a window.  When all the doors and windows are closed, break a window.'  I reorganize myself.  It usually starts with cleaning.  Clear my surroundings.  Clear the mind.  Put pen to paper and write - what would make me feel better?  Then go do it.

From Tara's website...  what a difference she made in her health.
When you get into the proper eating and exercise patterns the body becomes more efficient.  Like putting good fuel into a Maserati.

CB: What are you doing today?

TC: I'm working as a weight loss coach for obese people.  What I see most is the "reward appetite" people everywhere.  People who say, "I burned 1,500 calories doing a 10k so now I'm going to eat whatever I want."  It doesn't work that way.

I save 1/4 to 1/3rd of what I eat for what I want.  For example, if I burned 1,000 calories at an event, I might eat 250 calories of a treat ONE TIME.

CB: Is there anything else you'd like people to know about?

TC: Yes, I'm doing a raffle with my Inspire Change Foundation, which will run until September 23, 2011, it is raising money to support Kicks 4 Kids, a program aimed at providing active footwear to children grades K-8 who otherwise would not be able to afford them. The mission of the Kicks 4 Kids program is to get kids back on their feet and active from an early age! In addition to supplying kids with new kicks, every child will be given a playbook that parents and children can utilize to make sure they get in their 60 minutes of activity per day. The Kicks 4 Kids program will officially launch in Kona, HI this fall when I race in the Ford Ironman World Championship.  Here is the link:

CB: Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for talking to the athletes and readers of Kokua Multisports.  You have a lot of great information that you shared with us today.  I wish you the very best in Kona.  Remember... no drafting.  I hear the marshals are really mean.  (laughs)

TC: Thanks talking to me about Kona.  I'll do my best.

CB: Hope your finish photo looks better than this...  my fist pump finish was after this was snapped.  Then again... I didn't even recognize my catchers (Tammy and Jill - my friends and training partners for three years prior to this race... or my brother, who was with them.)  I noticed Mike about 20 minutes later.

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