Losing pounds & gaining happiness
O'Neal Hampton remembers the nights he used to spend lounging on the couch at his Richfield, Minn., home with a bag of potato chips by his side and "The Biggest Loser" playing on the television in front of him.
Little did he know at the time, he would eventually become a contestant on the show alongside his daughter, SunShine Hampton.
The pair was featured on the ninth season of the popular NBC reality television series, which aired from January to May in 2010.
Two years later and 285 collective pounds lighter, they're anxious to share their success stories with others who have struggled to lose weight. They do so by traveling throughout the country speaking to crowds of people who may be in the same boat they once were.
During one of their most recent public discussions, O'Neal stressed that he and his daughter don't judge people with unhealthy lifestyles -- not even five years ago they were in the same position -- and instead offered tips and encouragement to people who may be interested in losing weight and improving their health.
"The quickest way to get out of a hole that you've dug for yourself is to stop digging," he said.
It took several hundred pounds of weight gain before O'Neal was able to understand that fact. He said when he weighed 250 pounds he thought he'd never get to 300. Then, when he reached 300 pounds he never thought he'd see 350. O'Neal eventually found himself tipping the scales at 420 pounds, and he knew that food wasn't completely to blame.
"Four-hundred twenty pounds is a byproduct of something else going wrong in your life," O'Neal said, mentioning things like relationships and jobs.
When he finally realized it was time to start making positive changes in his life, O'Neal became a contestant on "The Biggest Loser" with then-24-year-old SunShine. Her weight loss journey began at 275 pounds, a number she wasn't proud to see.
"It was my ultimate low when I stood on that scale," SunShine said about her first weigh-in on the show. "That was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do."
Still, she's glad she did because the strict exercise routine and limited diet the Hamptons stuck to during filming has influenced their lifestyles long after leaving the "Biggest Loser" ranch house.
In addition to daily trips to the gym for hour-long workouts or more, O'Neal and SunShine fill their diets with protein and vegetables, and control their portion sizes to maintain healthy lifestyles.
"Lean and green is what they say on the ranch," SunShine said, adding that she and her dad do a lot of their own cooking so they know exactly what's going into their bodies.
But that's not to say the pair has completely eliminated junk food like their favorite desserts. The two simply tack on extra exercise to make up for additional calories consumed.
"Temptation is just as common as a cold," O'Neal said. "When I don't eat healthy food I pay for it the next day in the gym -- and I pay hard."
Exercise and nutrition are primary factors in getting on the path to a healthy lifestyle, but overall, both Sunshine and O'Neal agreed it's the support from each other that has gotten them as far as they are.
"We all need someone who will fight with us through thick and thin no matter the situation," O'Neal said.