Big 'Loser' returns to Top of Utah

Sarah Nitta lost 106 pounds during the competition.
Story by Amy K. Stewart
(Amy K. Stewart)
Mon, Feb 13, 2012
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She may have lost in one aspect, but it has been a major gain in other areas of her life.

Sarah Nitta, who is originally from Bountiful, lost 106 pounds on the reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” during its 11th season, which aired in 2011.

Nitta, 28, now lives in St. George and works at The Biggest Loser resort in Ivins.

She will speak about preventive health and tell her story of weight loss at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the Roy City Recreation Department. The event is free to the public.

Nitta’s speech is in conjunction with Life Line Screening, which does preventive health screenings. Attendees can enter a sweepstakes to win a free week at a Biggest Loser Resort of their choice. Participants can also have a Life Line health screening for a fee ranging from $60 to $149.

Nitta said she grew up watching her mother eat to make herself feel better when she was unhappy, and Nitta picked up on her mom’s habit of emotional eating “to make the yucky feelings go away.” Later, in college, Nitta experienced a bad breakup and gained “a ton of weight.”

While serving a mission in Texas for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she started running and began to enjoy working out and losing weight. After returning home, her workouts were squashed when she was in a car accident and crushed her pelvis.

Doctors told her she might not walk again. “While I was in recovery, I couldn’t eat very much, so I started to lose a lot of weight,” she said.

She met her husband through a mutual friend when she was still in a wheelchair. After marrying and having a miscarriage, Nitta started eating even more. She had lost so much muscle from her accident that she wasn’t able to burn off the calories.

Her weight was preventing her from being healthy and from getting pregnant again.

Mother/daughter duo

In March 2010, Nitta went to a casting call in Salt Lake City for “The Biggest Loser” and then to more preliminaries in Los Angeles. The show pits teams of two against other teams in rigorous weight-loss battles as they exercise and eat healthfully under the supervision of trainers and dietitians. She and her mother, Deni Hill, 60, of Bountiful were a team.

“I wanted to give up every day, but I didn’t,” Nitta said. “Instead, I lost 106 pounds and my life is completely different now.”

Nitta is 5-foot-3 and weighed 180 pounds in high school. She started the show at 261 pounds and finished at 155 pounds.

Nitta didn’t win the show’s $250,000 prize, but her mother won the $100,000 prize for those “eliminated contestants” who compete from home.

Hill lost 125 pounds, going from 256 to 131 pounds. She is 5-foot-5 1/2. “My kids have never seen me this thin,” she said. “My life is completely changed because of the weight loss. I even got up on a wakeboard last year.”

Before the weight loss, Hill was experiencing obesity-related problems including prediabetes, heart disease, depression, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. “All these things are gone,” she said, adding now she has a trainer and enjoys yoga.

Hill used her prize money to start her own weight-loss business called “Sponsor Me Slim” in Centerville. Participants get sponsors to fund a hungry child in a Third World country. The more weight the participant loses, the more funding goes to starving children.

“This helps them be more accountable in taking the weight off,” Hill said. “They are accountable to the sponsors as well as to the children in need.”

Big benefits

Nitta said the biggest benefit of her weight loss is that she can do things now that she never did before, such as hiking and rock climbing.

Also, she feels more confident. “Your weight affects everything,” she said. “The weight loss allowed me to truly believe in myself.”

Her favorite diet food is a smoothie made with Greek yogurt, vanilla almond milk and frozen strawberries. Her craving food used to be any sweets, but mainly soft and gooey chocolate chip cookies.

Nitta was on the show for three months and unable to speak to her husband the entire time — which she says was difficult. The workouts on the show “were so far out of my comfort zone,” she added.

They exercised eight hours a day and made their own healthy meals. “It was really intense,” she said.

Her husband, Jason Nitta, said he is ecstatic about his wife’s weight loss. “When Sarah was overweight, she had a lot of insecurities and, although we had a wonderful relationship, there was definitely some tension. As the weight started to come off, she got more and more confident, which translated into a much better relationship. Plus, she looks even more gorgeous!” he said.

No shortcuts

Nitta and Hill have their own secrets to successful weight loss: Don’t go hungry and keep healthful snacks nearby. But both agree there are no healthy shortcuts.

Nitta said, “There is no easy way. You just have to get started — and not only stay motivated but dedicated.”

Added Hill: “There is no secret to weight loss. It’s about calories and fat. But it’s also about changing your perception of food. There are no quick fixes. You need to figure out the reason why you are overeating. You have to make that change.”



WHO: Sarah Nitta, of ‘The Biggest Loser’

WHEN: 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Roy City Recreation Department, 2626 W. 5525 South, Roy



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