After shedding 129 pounds on the 11th season of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” winner Olivia Ward still works every day to keep the weight off. With the success of the show behind her, Ward now manages MyFitspiration.com, a website devoted to fitness and fashion, and runs a YouTube channel encouraging actively healthy lifestyles. In her spare time, Ward is an instructor at NYC’s SoulCycle. Ward chatted with amNewYork about how she continues to stay motivated and in shape.
What were some weight-loss challenges you faced before the show? Before “Biggest Loser” I was desperately jumping from diet to diet, hoping that something would stick. I would put all my energy and hope in the “plan” and never address the bigger picture. ... At “The Biggest Loser,” I not only addressed the outside of my body, but I was able to tap into the years of poor choices and figure out what drove me to those decisions. In relation to my physical body, the BodyMedia armband was completely eye-opening. I spent so many years at the gym thinking I was making big strides and feeling so disappointed when the scale wouldn’t move. As I began to lose the weight ... with the BodyMedia armband I always knew exactly how hard I was working, or not working.
Why did you decide to join “The Biggest Loser?” I was approaching my 35th birthday. For some reason it felt like a big birthday. I realized I could possibly be halfway through my life. I asked the questions, “Was this as good as it was going to get for me?” “Was I truly happy?” The answers to both of those questions was a resounding no. I wanted more and decided to go find it no matter what it took. I explored many options, even bariatric surgery. When “The Biggest Loser” came knocking on my door I knew in that moment it was the answer I had been looking for.
What were some of the more difficult challenges you faced while you were on the show? I think the biggest challenge on the show was the amount of time we spent working out. To go from never getting off the couch unless the house was on fire to working out eight to 10 hours a day was a huge struggle. The main upswing to all that working out was always knowing how efficient I was.
How do you stay motivated to keep the weight off two years later? I tend to follow the “When much is given much is required” rule of thumb. I know how fortunate I am to have been given this experience and I don’t take that lightly. I also learned at the ranch that instead of looking for that “magical” thing called motivation sometimes it’s easier to dumb it down to a simple decision. There are many mornings I don’t want to get up, but I know I will never regret the decision to get up and get to a workout. So, as much as you don’t want to you do it ... Find what you love and stick to it.
Do you ever let yourself indulge? Have there been times when you fell off the wagon? I absolutely indulge and to be honest I think it is really important to do so. You have to live your life and balance is key. If you tell yourself you are never allowed to have this or that you will find yourself in your closet eating five pizzas. Instead, when I want pizza I plan it in my week. I’ll have one to two pieces with a salad and be done ... I try to have one indulgent meal a month. I plan for it, that way I’m working toward my reward ... I’ll pick a new restaurant and invite friends and enjoy. It’s all about making food positive ... and not something I feel guilty about after.
What are some tips you have for people wanting to get in shape? I would say stick to whole foods and drink lots of water. Remember crash dieting never works ... The weight didn’t come on overnight, so don’t put pressure on yourself to get it all off overnight. Maybe week one you just pack a healthy lunch. Every week you add in a new healthy change. Remember, small changes yield big results.