Ali remembers so well when the host of the show said those remarkable words. "Ali you did it! You're the first female Biggest Loser! And, I was like, oh, I've wanted this for so long!"
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That was in 2008. Confetti fell from the ceiling and it filled the theater. Everyone cheered and cried. Ali hugged her mom who was a fellow contestant on the show. It was pure ecstasy for Ali. But the road there was long and very tough.
Ali weighed 234 pounds, an all time high for her, when she started the show. "I was committing slow suicide", she says. "I was miserable. I wanted my life back."
In the course of the show, Ali lost 112 pounds. Today, she is slim, fit and buff. She's back to being the athlete that she was before she gained weight. So we asked Ali, how do you handle the holidays?
"Just the little teeny changes that you make can make a world of difference in the long run." Ali says. "You can still have your favorite things, you just have to do it in proportion."
Proportion. As in knowing the difference between a slab of pumpkin pie and a sliver. Because that's the secret to Ali's success in keeping the weight off. She does the math. She knows how many calories she can handle without gaining weight. She tries to stay below the line. If she goes over, she works it off.
"Maybe I’m gonna push myself a little more in the gym the next day," she says. And, also, she works out before those big holiday family dinners. Ali is extremely disciplined, and honest with herself.
"I would say that most people do not count their calories or are even conscious of the calories," she says. Today, she urges people to give it a try. Try to keep track of what you eat.
"The only way to to do that is to stay conscious and know at any given moment what you're putting in your body," she says.
Ever since the show, Ali has worn a device on her arm, like an arm band, called a "Body Bug". It keeps track of calories burned. The computer program that comes with it keeps track of calories consumed. It helps Ali do the math. But, you can do the same thing with a pencil and paper.
Ali goes into a lot more about the math, the exercise and the emotions, in her new book called "Believe It, Be It." The name comes from one of Ali's favorite turns of phrase. "I once said Mom, believe it, be it. I’m gonna be the first female Biggest Loser."
In her book Ali tells people that their dreams can come true. It's not impossible. And, she tries to help people harness the same determination and discipline that worked for her.