Kim Lyons realizes that it often takes the proverbial carrot-on-a-stick approach to entice the typical couch potato to get fit.
But the "carrot" -- whether it's a hefty cash prize, a new wardrobe or even a free gym membership -- soon becomes secondary to the infinite benefits of good health, notes the fitness model and former Biggest Loser trainer.
"What I like so much about the reward aspect is it's enough to intrigue people and get them started," Lyons, 38, tells Sun Media in a phone interview from her home in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Lyons, wife of German bodybuilder Gunter Schlierkamp and mother to their 19-month-old son Jake, saw that transition first-hand on The Biggest Loser.
Contestants on NBC's popular weight-loss reality TV show battle for a rather large carrot -- a grand prize of $250,000.
"It was very clear for me on The Biggest Loser that most of the people were all about the money until about halfway through and then they really switched to, 'I'm doing this to save my life,'" recalls Lyons, who was on the show for seasons 3 and 4 in 2006 and 2007.
Of course, dangling rewards to coax wannabes into starting a fitness program isn't a new concept.
Bill Phillips, former owner of U.S. supplement manufacturer EAS, helped pioneer the current trend in grand style back in 1996, when he launched a physical transformation contest now known as the Body-for-Life challenge. Prizes vary from year to year. But in 2005, the Body-for-Life champion took home $1 million.
Now that's a big carrot.
Countless contests, both big and small, have abounded ever since.
But this year, the concept has seemingly exploded.
There's even a new app -- GymPact -- that pays users to go to the gym (verified by a GPS-enabled iPhone) and fines them a minimum of $5 a week for skipping workouts.
Lyons, meanwhile, has teamed up with The Fast Track to Fat Loss Challenge to offer a mighty big carrot -- her Maserati sports car, $10,000 cash and a week-long Mexican vacation.
For full contest details and to enter online, go to: http://www.fasttracktofatloss.com/network/user_contest.php
Lyons, who also recently launched her own nutrition bar, offers a few important pieces of advice -- for contest entrants or otherwise.
First, don't get narrow-minded when it comes to your diet.
"The biggest problem I see when it comes to nutrition is people really focus on one thing," she explains. "They focus on a fad diet that is low-sugar, low-fat, low-carb or low-calorie. But they never focus on the holistic approach of really analyzing all those things."
In other words, there's no "ultimate evil," and moderation is key.
"It's important for people just to get back to eating natural foods and eating them in proper portion sizes," she adds.
Second, keep in mind that a little exercise is better than nothing.
"People really fall into the all-or-nothing mentality and they think, 'Oh, I can't do what I used to do, so I'm not going to do anything,'" she notes. "It's important to realize even if you only have 10 minutes a day, at least that's going to add up to 60 minutes of exercise every week."
And finally, cut the excuses.
"I struggle with the same issues that other moms do. Life is really busy," she says. "But the bottom line is you've got to prioritize your health because if you don't have that, you have nothing."
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