Peoria's Biggest Loser: exercising, eating and earning

By Anna Yee

February 21, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- It's the halfway point of Peoria's Biggest Loser competition.

Green Team's Becky Mansfield is pushing through the battle, while battling an obstacle of her own.

"I was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago," said Mansfield, "and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get my weight down to the point where I can manage my diabetes without medication."

Contestants are only required to do two training sessions a week.

Mansfield triples that number, but exercise is only half the battle.

Competitors like Mansfield are learning to balance everything on their plate, literally.

This year, health is becoming a hot topic through cooking classes, like this one at Hy-Vee.

"Stay at home and eat, because we go out to eat, we're at parties all the time, and by eating at home and enjoying our food, we can really cut out some of the calories," said Golda Ewalt, a registered Dietitian at OSF St. Francis.

Ewalt said add fiber, fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet if you want to keep the bulk off your body and money in your wallet.

"It might take a little knowledge and some work," said Ewalt, "but eating healthy does not mean it will cost more."

That got us thinking... how much does eating in really pay off?

We compared what about $20 could buy at a grocery store to some fast food restaurant.

On average, for four people, you can get 4 hamburgers, 2 small fries, 2 caesar salads and 4 small cokes (pre-tax).

That's more than 2200 calories for one meal, without dessert.

Good old Andrew Jackson can buy us this much Hy-Vee brand food: low sodium turkey, a loaf of whole wheat bread, vegetables, pre-packaged salad, light juice, whole grain chips and even dessert, sugar-free pudding.

That's at least one meal for a family of four, all under 2,000 calories.

The difference? Well, you do the math.

All these lessons add up for Mansfield, who says getting to where she is now is worth the work.

"Doing all of those things, the nutrition plus the exercise," said Mansfield, "and having somebody supervise, that is just priceless."

And since diabetes runs in her family, Mansfield said being able to set a healthy example for her kids is the biggest pay off of all.

And remember, you can follow NBC's Biggest Loser contenders Tuesday nights at 7.

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