The Morelli family from South Lyon, Mich., stepped into the spotlight when dad Ron, 56, and his eldest son Mike, 20, were cast in Season 7 of NBC's The Biggest Loser. Their book, Fat Family, Fit Family: How We Beat Obesity and You Can Too (Plume, $10.09), hit bookstores recently. Ron Morelli answered a few questions about the journey.
You and Mike were on The Biggest Loser. Your wife Becky, 46, and younger son Max, 19, also lost weight. Can you tell us how much weight each of you has lost?
I got on Biggest Loser at 430 pounds and then ended up at 238. I'm actually at about 242 right now. Michael started at 388, he lost 181 on the show and is probably about 30 pounds heavier than that now. The one who's doing the best of all of us is Max. He was 16 and too young to be on the show. He weighed 425 pounds. He's lost a couple hundred pounds and he now looks phenomenal. My wife at her heaviest was a little over 260 pounds and she's about 130 now.
How has your daily routine changed?
One thing that we do that is unconventional, we never eat together unless it is a special occasion. We all eat different stuff. We all prepare it ourselves, and we make sure we eat what we like. When we were on the show, everybody was on a different calorie count. Max and Becky have picked up the same thing.
What do you still struggle with?
It is still a struggle every day. Fifty years of habit is hard to break. Every time I get in the car the first thing I think in my mind is, where am I going to stop to get something to eat? The difference now is I don't stop, where before I would. You know every time a commercial comes on TV, I open the refrigerator door. But the difference is now there is only healthy food in our house.
What did The Biggest Loser do for you?
It showed me I could do it. I've had my teeth wired shut. I've had gastric bypass surgery. I was a guinea pig for the Optifast program at Sinai Hospital back in the '70s. Weight Watchers, TOPS. You name it, I've done it. I was always looking for the quick fix and didn't really learn anything. (On the show), I broke through the 300-pound barrier. That was a big barrier for me for years and years. I'm lighter now than I was at 13 years old.
How did the book come about?
Somebody asked us if we'd write a book as a family, and we said if it's not a diet book, it is not an exercise book, not a cookbook or a recipe book. It is just a book about our struggle with weight as children for myself and my wife and all through life, and what finally changed to make us lose weight and how we lost it.