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Biggest Loser couple share their tips at wellness expo
Paul Braum, with Northeast Georgia Heart Center, performs a carotid ultrasound screening on Bud Eavenson on Wednesday at the HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo. - photo by Tom Reed

Amy and Phil Parham know just how difficult it can be to lead a healthy life while trying to balance work and family commitments.

In the midst of dealing with their failing mortgage business, a home in foreclosure and discovering that their youngest son was autistic, the Parhams watched their weight steadily increase.

"I became severely depressed and in order to comfort myself, I would sit in front of the TV at night and eat, eat and eat," Amy Parham said during a health expo at the Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville.

"I was almost like an alcoholic, but with food and Phil was my enabler."

Instead of continuing to feel bad about their situation, the couple decided to audition for season 6 of the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser." With the help of the show’s fitness and nutrition experts, the couple lost a combined 256 pounds during the seven-month season.

The Greenville, S.C., couple was on hand Wednesday to discuss their weight-loss victories during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s 3rd Annual HealthSmart Interactive Health and Wellness Expo.

"(Being on the show) taught me so many life lessons; you really can do anything in life that you want to do," said Phil Parham. "Outside of the physical changes that happened, what really happened was that we learned (healthy living) strategies."

Since the conclusion of the show, the couple has been using their experiences to inspire other people to make healthy changes in their own lives.

"I’d heard some of the weight-loss tips that they shared before, but I never really paid attention to them," said Greta Smallwood, an Oakwood resident who attended the event.

"But hearing them from people who have actually lost a lot of weight by following those guidelines has motivated me to try them."

Among other things, the couple encouraged attendees to do things like eating five or six small meals a day, increasing physical activity and drinking more water.

"If you take your weight, and divide it by half, that’s how many ounces of water you should be drinking each day," say Phil Parham.

In addition to getting advice from the Parhams, attendees also were able to take advantage of various activities, including seasonal flu shots and free blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and vision screenings.

"I don’t get to the doctor like I should, so I like to take advantage of these screenings when they’re available," said James Boggs, a Flowery Branch resident. "I know it’s not a substitute, but it helps me fill in the gaps. It’s also nice because you can learn about other health issues."