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The Deans (Sheila, Mike and their six kids) were a typical family in Omaha-until they overcame a lifetime of weight problems and lost a total of 500 pounds in one year. It began when Tony, the family's oldest son, was inspired by the camaraderie he witnessed on TV's weight-loss show The Biggest Loser. After doing some online research he had family members calculate their basal metabolic rate (BMR), an estimate of how many calories an individual needs to function for one day. The BMR formula for women: [655 + (4.3 x current weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches)] - (4.7 x age). The Deans then limited their daily calorie intake to 500 below their BMR numbers in order to drop about one pound per week. Tony required them to log everything they ate, meet for weekly weigh-ins, exercise every day and report to one another when they were tempted to binge. The family also encouraged 100 others in Omaha to lose more than 1,400 pounds in five weeks. Their success caught the eye of Good Morning America and then Harmony Books, which published The F.A.S.T. Diet (Families Always Succeed Together), written by Tony.
What's on the menu: Strive to eat meals made of 60% carbs, 20% protein and 20% fat. The plan focuses less on what to eat and more on how much to eat. You can occasionally spend lots of calories indulging in a burger or a slice of cheesecake, as long as you eat low-cal foods the rest of the day.
Potential pitfall: Since calorie counting is essential, unknowns like a piece of Aunt Peggy's birthday cake or some restaurant meals may be out of the question.
Dig in: Join if you have family members, friends or co-workers who are willing to meet once a week. "Any number of teammates will do," says Tony.