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Skinny-Dipping: He's Losing It!

September 8, 2005 By:
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Weighing in on "The Biggest Loser" is New Jersey contestant Dr. Jeff Levine.
Do the scales of justice tip away from obesity these days? Is fat chance the prospect of the overweight overcoming social pressures and prejudices against them?

And just how many calories are in a month of sundaes?

These and other questions may - or may not - be answered by "The Biggest Loser," NBC's reality series that will go another round beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. But one thing's for sure; the champ who champs less on food and more on self-esteem will come out the biggest winner on "The Biggest Loser."

Attaboy, Atkins? No, explain serious series trainers Bob Harper - whose clientele includes the svelte Gwyneth Paltrow and the big-eared Ben Stiller - and Jillian Michaels, a black belt with a Borscht Belt sense of humor. There's no magic menu for the munchies, just workouts and smart eating.

And that's why the series has worked out for viewers, who welcome the at-first overweight contestants to their living rooms - possibly hiding the refrigerator - and wind up admiring them for their ability to drop pounds and not be dropouts.

White men don't jump? Neither does anybody of any color when the force of gravity forces them to be earthbound. Supersize them? Supershrink them!

"What Bob and I are all about is the middle ground," no fad diets, says Michaels.

"Is it easy? No!" hoots Harper, "It has to be a conscious decision."

Everyday, every way, so … b-o-r-i-n-g.

Well, says Michaels, that's just the point: "The fact that it's ongoing is a solution; we mitigate against fad diets."

Win Some, Lose Some …
And some fad diets have pounded themselves into the pavement. With news of the Atkins company filing for bankruptcy, some diets may be proving not to be the bread and butter of big losers.

"It's all about lifestyle change," says Harper.

But go figure (and it is a better figure many of the contestants sport at game's end) that a doctor - a Jewish doctor! - would ask to weigh in on the topic on national TV - which is exactly the case with Dr. Jeff Levine of Hillsborough, N.J., one of the chosen "losers" who hopes to find the Rx by eliminating his X-large size.

Maybe, after all is said and done - and eaten - it's a little harder for Levine and his landsmen; isn't Jewish food the schmaltz - if not the spice - of life? Weren't the Catskills created from an exploding mountain of cholesterol?

Don't look to ethnic and traditional foods to keep you traditionally fit, says Harper.

"Culture does play into it," concedes the trainer, who may have not gotten a geshrei from gefilte fish as a kid, but knows his grits. "I grew up in the South, and it was all about fried food. I learned healthier habits the older that I got."

Yeah. Easy for him. He never had to tell a Bubba "Goenig!" with the grivines.

No matter the ethnicity, no matter the race, it all comes down to the balance of power - and the power of a balanced diet. Pound for pound, "It's calories in, calories out," says Michaels.

Sure, but has she ever tried the chopped chicken-liver diet?

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