QUESTions with Amanda Arlauskas

Amanda Arlauskas was the third finalist for season eight of The Biggest Loser. She voted by America during the previous season to participate and quickly became known as “America’s Choice.” While on the show, Amanda lost 87 pounds and continues her Quest to this day.
Learn more about her amazing transformation below in this weeks QUESTions With, and expect to see more of Amanda here on the Quest blog! Learn more about Amanda on her website.
What was your catalyst to change?
All my life I was overweight and dreamed of living a life where my weight didn’t hinder my every move. I grew up a very social girl, but I often had a fake smile on my face. At 18 years old, I reached my all time heaviest weight of 270 lbs. My senior prom was quickly approaching, and after struggling to find a dress that would fit me, I finally walked out of a plus size store with a size 22/24 dress in my hands. It looked like something my grandmother should have been wearing. I was humiliated, insecure, and dateless. I decided against going to the prom, and instead cried my eyes out that night while my friends had the time of their lives. It was at that point that I was sick of allowing my weight to control me so much. I knew I needed a change badly. Just a short time later is when I heard about the casting for The Biggest Loser.
How was being on National TV during your transformation helpful or hurtful?
Being on national television definitely helped my transformation. At first I was absolutely humiliated to get in a sports bra and tight spandex shorts in front of America, but it was just that that motivated me. I promised myself that if I allowed the viewers to see me in that outfit, I’d never look that way again. Having cameras on me constantly was also a great motivation because you knew at all times that eyes were on you, so you wanted people to see how hard you were really working.
You were able to continue transforming after the Biggest Loser ended. How’d you do it? 
The first 6-12 months after the show I struggled badly trying to keep the weight off. I had trouble finding a healthy balance. I was finally enjoying life as a healthier, skinnier girl, and with that came a lot of fun social outings that included eating and drinking. Before I knew it, I had gained almost 40 lbs back. From my finale weight of 163 lbs, I was back up to 202 lbs. I totally freaked out and immediately started back with my trainer and eating correctly. Within a few short months, I was able to re-lose the weight. For almost 2 years now, I have maintained right at about 161 lbs and feel great. I have finally learned a healthy balance that allows me to work out and eat clean most of the time, but still enjoy some of my old favorites in moderation.
What was the most important thing you learned on the show? 
The most important thing I learned was that “abs are made in the kitchen.” Although working out is definitely an important part of weight loss and maintenance, eating a healthy, balanced diet can keep you from putting on extra weight. Lastly – calories in, calories out. Something I remind myself of often.

What have you done to continue your Quest?
Since being on The Biggest Loser in 2009, I have traveled the country sharing my story with others at numerous different schools, universities, hospitals, and health and wellness events. It has allowed me to reach thousands of people and inspire them to chase whatever dreams they might have. I never in a million years believed I was ever going to lose the weight, and at 18 years old, had accepted the fact that I’d forever be obese. It wasn’t until I realized my own self worth until I said enough was enough. Helping others means the absolute world to me, and if I can inspire just one person at each of my events, then I have done my job.
What are the secrets to lasting change?
Self worth and truly loving yourself. Once you do that, nothing can stop you from achieving whatever it is you want. I was sick of living such an unhappy, unhealthy life. Once I had enough, I was ready to change for the better forever.
What nutritional information have you learned that most people don’t know?
I think one of the most important things I learned was counting calories and portion control. When we first started measuring everything, and counting every relentless calorie that entered our bodies, I was shocked to learn what the actual portion sizes really were. So often we think we know what’s going in our mouths, but fail to realize that if it’s not measured, more than likely we are eating A LOT more than what we are supposed to be eating. I always recommend to someone who is looking to lose weight or just become healthier, to buy a calorie counter, food scale, and measuring cups/spoons, and really become aware of EVERY calorie they are consuming. That’s when you really notice how much we typically overeat.
What training information have you learned that most people don’t know?

I think that a lot of people, especially women, think it’s all cardio, cardio, cardio. But, I’ve learned that strength training boosts your metabolism and actually helps you burn more fat at rest. So while cardio is important, strength training is just as important.

What is the hardest thing about keeping a consistent diet? 
The hardest thing for me to do is to stop eating when I think I still feel hungry. I often have to remind myself that I’m probably not still hungry, but just finishing my food because it’s on my plate. When I think I’m doing this, I try to stop eating for a few minutes and wait it out. I’ll drink some water, and if in a little while I am truly still hungry, I’ll have just a little more. But when you suffer with a food addiction like I still do, it’s really hard to stop sometimes.
What is a quote that you live by?
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” by Napoleon Hill is one of my favorites. It really speaks for itself.
Who is your inspiration?
My older sister was my inspiration when I started my weight loss journey. A few years before I started, I watched her lose 80+ lbs on her own by changing the way she ate and working out daily. I was 4 years younger than her and didn’t have the same drive she did at the time. But watching her make that amazing transformation really inspired me. To this day she remains my inspiration because she has kept all of her weight off and you’d never know by looking at her that she was ever obese. She’s amazing.
What do you struggle with the most?
The balance maintaining a healthy lifestyle in social atmospheres. A lot of times my way of socializing with family and friends is either out for a bite to eat, or grabbing a few drinks in the evening. It’s tough because I know what I should and shouldn’t be consuming, and sometimes it’s hard to be the only one that’s not digging in to the wings and beer when I’m out. But that’s when it takes self control. I know I can have that kind of stuff on occasion, but not as often as most of my friends.
What book are you currently reading? Or what book had the most profound impact on you?
I’m just about to start to reading Bob Harper’s new book, “Skinny Rules.” Bob trained me on The Biggest Loser, and I personally think he is one of the most intelligent trainers out there. I’m looking forward to digging into his new book!
What does your typical diet consist of?
Honestly, it’s different every single day. I’m always changing things up because I get bored very easily. But because I eat no seafood, and limited red meat, I’m always preparing chicken in different ways. I also love just about every vegetable there is. But don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my pizza, burger, and glass of wine here and there!
What is your fitness routine?
I am a total spin junkie! It is my absolute favorite fitness class to take. I also work with a trainer on occasion, and will do different strength training circuits.
What’s your goal for the rest of 2012?
My goal every day is to better myself in some way. I want to continue to get better myself, that way I can reach more people and inspire others at the same time. Life is just too short to live it any other way.