On Blacks and Fat: Pete Thomas

Forget the phrase "big-boned" and focus on daily fuel goals, says the Biggest Loser winner.

NBC/Getty Images

And this is a tip on how to change the culture even within our own families: The next time I went, it was the same thing, and I turned to leave. I said, “If you don’t have anything I can eat, there’s no reason for me to be here.” The next time, they said, “We’ve got diet pop, we’ve got salad with low-calorie dressing, we’ve got some baked chicken instead of just fried.” So that’s one way I was able to start changing the environment right in my own community.

TR: When it comes to African Americans and obesity, what is the biggest myth or misunderstanding?

PT: There are a couple of things in the African-American community. One is, “I’m big-boned.” No, you’re not big-boned; your bone structure is the same as everyone else’s. You’re not big-boned; you just have a whole lot of padding that you put on there.

The other thing we tend to do is to say, “I’m not fat, I’m healthy.” And what we don’t realize is that type of healthy is what you want chickens that are fed a whole bunch of steroids to be. Nice, big, fat and plump. You’re ready for the slaughter! That’s a problem.

And the fact is, people who age well are smaller sized. You don’t see anyone 80 years old who is 400 pounds. There are no obese people in nursing homes.

TR: If you could make just one suggestion for people to implement in their daily lives with respect to weight and health, what would it be?

PT: The one tip every day, which is one of the things I have in the book, is that you need to come to understand your personal daily fuel goal. That’s the number or amount of calories your body needs per day. Once you have an understanding of that, you understand from there that any extra fuel you get, your body stores.