Friday, December 21, 2007


This week’s winner was Tony Peel. It’s not the first time for Tony, and he’s had some very good weeks. If he can figure out how to keep those good weeks coming, he’ll definitely keep the weight coming off. Right now, he’s in 3rd place overall.

It’s been an interesting race, with eleven different winners over the past eleven weeks (we had a couple ties). Since we’re coming down to the end, I thought I’d let you know how everyone’s doing overall.

With one week to go, Steve has a pretty strong lead for the $500 prize. He’s down 36.2 lbs, and is likely to hit 40 lbs by the end of next week. He had another milestone this week, being the first person to lose 100 lbs in just over a year. It’s been fun to be a part of.

Steve is followed by Shirley (27.8), Karl (26.6), Tony (25.6), and Marvin (22.0). Others have had significant losses as well: Carol (19.0), Roger (18.8), Dawn H. (18.4), and Dawn S. (17.6).
Remember, despite what you see or hear on TV, anything over a pound a week is great. Most people can do a pound a week, if they start eating right and exercising smart.

Workout twice a day, and that jumps to 2 pounds a week. Really watch what you eat and you can sometimes lose more. Steve’s a good example of this, averaging over 3 pounds a week.

Of the 21 people that started, and 19 that remain, 9 have lost over 15 pounds and two others have a shot at it by the end of next week. That’s pretty good, if you ask me.

While the other competitors haven’t lost as much, they’re still feeling pretty good about things. One of the women told me that while she hasn’t lost much weight, she’s really noticing a difference in how her clothes are fitting, she feels so much better, and is doing things she never thought she could do. That’s what it’s all about.

I’m contemplating doing another Biggest Loser contest (Winter Biggest Loser) right away and wonder if people would be interested. This time, I was thinking about opening it up to anyone who wanted to join, regardless of the amount of weight they needed to lose, or where they want to work out.

Like last time, they’d come together for a killer workout with us on Friday nights along with the weigh-in. We’d also have the same entry fee ($25.00) and the same prize ($500.00).
The only differences would be that more people could participate but they could work out wherever they have a membership, whether it’s our place, the Y, Curves, a gym out of town, at work, or even at home. I wouldn’t be limiting it to the first 20 people. Who knows? Maybe we can have 40 or 50 people hitting it this time?

I also wouldn’t write about it in the paper this time (until the end), so if that was stopping you, this might be your chance. What do you think? What do you have to lose?

Thursday, December 13, 2007


This week’s winner was Janice Watson, who lost 3.2 lbs. Only Myla posted a bigger loss, but it was over the last two weeks due to illness. Janice told me she wanted to lose weight “to feel healthier” and “look better.” She also wants to be able to keep up with her children.

According to Janice, her life will change for the better because she’ll “feel better about herself” knowing that she “stuck it out.” And that’s the real trick, isn’t it? Sticking it out.

Our Biggest Losers have completed 10 weeks and have just two weeks left in the contest. We’ve done pretty well—out of 21 that started, we still have 19 going pretty strong. Just the fact that they started impresses me. You know how hard it is to get started, especially an exercise program, or changing eating habits.

Once they do start, most people will do well for awhile, but then, something changes. Life intrudes. Old habits are revisited. Conflicts arise. People just start getting tired of making the effort; tired of getting up earlier to exercise, and denying themselves things they like.

Here’s where the danger lies. If their goal isn’t important enough to them, they’ll revert back to what they’ve done the most—and the way things used to be.

I was just talking with one of our members who lost 80 pounds last year. Then he quit trying. He told me he just got lazy. Basically, he quit exercising, went back to his old eating habits, and put most of the weight back on.

Losing weight and staying trim has to be a way of life. You have to eat right every day. And since we eat every day, we need to be active every day. Not just so I can make a living, but so you can feel better. So you can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and all those other things that can happen to you.

This is self defense at its most basic level. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll start to fall apart. But if you keep exercising, you’ll have more energy and start trimming down again. And if you keep eating better you’ll feel better. Your body will even work better. But it’s an ongoing process. You still have to do it.

It’s O.K. to miss a workout now and then, or eat some cookies or chips once in awhile. Once in awhile I’ll even have a pop (the horror), some brownies, or even a chocolate milk shake. I know that if I’m working out that day, I’ll just burn it for fuel during the day.

That’s the real bonus at the end of this journey. Once you’re where you need to be, you get to eat what you want, because you’ll just burn it, as long as you eat it in moderation. And because you’re working out, you’ll feel so much better and be able to do so much more.

Our contestants are coming up on a decision. In two weeks, do they stop and go back to their old ways, or do they press on until they reach their goal? Do they keep what gains they’ve made, or do they get into that age old yo-yo cycle that traps so many people?

I’m hoping they choose to keep pressing on. The rewards of trimming down are priceless. Just watch the Biggest Loser next Tuesday night on TV, and then the finale the following week. Regardless who wins the cash prize, they’ll all be winners. Their lives are transformed. How about yours?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


This week’s winner was Steve Johnson, and I’m sure he’d say “Finally!” As you know, Steve won last year’s contest by losing 44 lbs. Then he took off another 20 pounds over the past 8 months. His goal this time was to use the contest to take off another 40 pounds.

The first seven weeks, this time around, he’d always had good results, but never quite enough to win. Even so, his numbers were always good enough to keep him on top for total weight loss. Then, last week, the holidays caught up with him and he put on a couple pounds.

You’d of thought his favorite dog had died. For the next few days he was moping around, trying to figure out what happened. Finally, he realized he’d had a few days off from a fairly physical job, and he had the Thanksgiving meal still with him during the last weigh-in.

He redoubled his efforts in the gym, got back to his eating plan, and it paid off this week, to the tune of 7.8 pounds. He’s not the only one who turned it up.

Tony was second this week with a loss of 5.4 pounds. Remember, he’d had a bad week a couple weeks ago, and realized he wasn’t hitting it hard enough in the gym. Now he’s doing more, and it shows.

You see what it takes? All of us have bad weeks. We’re all going to fall down at some point. But what do you do when it doesn’t go your way? That’s when the rubber meets the road. Do you get back up and hit it harder, like Steve and Tony? Or do you just figure that’s the way it is, and the way it’s always going to be?

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s wise to back off a little bit. But there are times when you just need to step up and see what you’re made of. And you know what? It’s not the destination that you’ll remember—although it’s pretty nice when you get there. It’s the journey along the way that you’ll remember.

It’s the people you did it with, and the hard times—especially the hard times. It’s the times you wanted to quit, but didn’t, and how you felt proud of yourself, maybe for the first time. When’s the last time you felt that way?

My son got married some years ago, but it’s not the wedding that we still talk about. It was the trip out west, and all the things that went wrong. Like the train that got cancelled in Chicago. The rental car that was way too small. My daughter’s baby crying all the way. The relief when it was finally over. But we were together.

Now we look back and can laugh about it. I think that most of these Biggest Losers will look back on these 12 weeks and realize that their lives have changed. They embarked on a new journey. What are you going to be able to look back on? What memories are you making?

Monday, December 03, 2007


So how did you do last week? When you’re facing holiday meals like Thanksgiving or Christmas, it’s often a victory just to hold your ground and not gain weight.

On the Biggest Loser TV show, they said that the average American will gain seven pounds between now and the new year. All it takes is to eat a little more, and be a little less active. Do it a couple days in a row, and you’re in trouble.

In our case, only a few contestants gained weight; the majority lost weight—some quite a bit. Angie Archibald lost 5.4 pounds, but she’d been sick for over a week, and missed the last weigh-in, so that reflects two weeks of weight loss.

Tony Peel and Brian Blair were the Biggest Losers this week, tied at 4.2 lbs lost. This was Tony’s second week at the top, and he says he’s learned something about workout intensity.

Last week, he’d gained a couple pounds, because he hadn’t been working as hard, and missed several workouts. After last week’s Friday night workout, he realized how much harder he could be working (I push them all pretty hard), and stepped it up.

Brian was also pleased that he’d lost weight over the holidays. His family went for a walk on Thanksgiving, and he’s tried to be as active as possible, even with a busy schedule.

It comes down to pushing yourself. Some people know they can’t do it, so they hire a personal trainer like me to help them keep the intensity high. They tell me they’d never do it on their own, so I do it for them. That’s O.K.

Others could push themselves harder, but don’t really think about it—they don’t realize they could be doing more. Here’s a good way to know if you’re not pushing hard enough.

Every workout should have moments when it’s difficult to carry on a conversation without having to stop and catch your breath. This applies to both cardio days and weight training days.

If you have to stop and catch your breath, you’re in oxygen debt—where your body is trying to get enough oxygen back in to meet the demands of the exercise. Try to have several peak moments where you raise the workout enough to feel this way.

You should also be perspiring freely. Sweat is a sign that your body has heated up due to the demands of the exercise, and it is removing the heat in water, through the pores in your skin so it can be evaporated off. Sweat is a good thing.

When lifting weights, you should be using a weight that isn’t easy—that you could keep on lifting forever. You should be using weights that get difficult around 10-12 reps (guys) and 12-15 reps (gals). My goal is that it’s so difficult, that you actually fail on the last rep—meaning you couldn’t fully raise it, curl it, squat it, or whatever.

If you achieve muscle failure, that means the work load was higher, causing you to burn more calories, build more muscle, speeding up your metabolism, and helping you to reach your goals. It all works together.

To that end, I gave them another killer workout Friday night. We again combined weights with the kickboxing, but this time we did three sets of each weight lifting exercise.

Finally, I taught them several new exercises. They’re going to spend the last four weeks in Level Three... Instead of doing single motion exercises like a squat, a curl, or a shoulder press, now they’re going to start combining the exercises. A good example is the Walking Lunge—Curl—Press.

Basically, they’ll do the Lunge that they’re used to, but instead of just lunges, they’ll maintain that position, and do a Biceps Curl with dumbbells in each arm, and also a Shoulder Press. Then, they’ll lower the dumbbells from the press, lower them in the Curl and take another step, and so on.

Since you’re trying to supply oxygen to so many muscles at once, the routine actually becomes a cardio workout, too. And by throwing several other exercises in a circuit with the compound movements, the intensity of the workout goes way up.

I call it “Active-Rest.” While one muscle group is resting for a moment, you’re hitting another, and so on. That way you’re keeping the intensity of the workout high, burning more calories, even in as little as 15, 20, or 25 minutes.

These workouts will give you that tighter, firm (ripped up) body you’ve been looking for. They also help bring out that inner athlete—everything else you do will get better.

They’re not for beginners, though. Remember, the contestants spent the first month building a base with the machines, and the second month learning various free weight exercises and strengthening their core. Now, they’re ready for Level 3.

The compound exercises they’ll be building their routines around are the Clean, Jerk & Press; the Walking Lunge—Curl—Press; Thrusters (Squat & DB Shoulder Press); Box Step Up—Curls; Dumbbell Cleans; EZ Bar Deadlift—Curl—Presses; Jumping Squats, Jumping Pullups; Push—Presses, Jumping Lunge Presses; and Jumping Lunges with Dumbbell Cleans!

While it sounds a little intimidating, anyone can do it, with a little guidance. You just learn the movements first, and then add a light weight, adding more when you get comfortable. Next week, I’ll tell you how they did!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


This week our winner was Susan Hooper, who lost 7.6 lbs. This was an important week for her, because she’d been having problems getting her diet dialed in. For the last three or four weeks, she’d been worried she was eating too much, so she kept eating a little less each week.

Unfortunately, although she’d eat less, she’d gain weight. This happened three weeks in a row. I kept encouraging her to try to hit her minimum calories (eat more), but it seemed like an awful lot of food for her. Then, last week, she decided to go ahead and try it. After all, she’d been eating less and gaining.

The result was pretty stunning: 7.6 pounds. I’m hoping that it wasn’t water weight or muscle, but she swears that she was eating more this week. We’ll see next week. If she does have it dialed in, and is hitting her minimum, her metabolism should start speeding up and allow her to start burning fat for fuel. That’s what we want.

Susan had previously lost 30 lbs in another Biggest Loser contest just prior to starting this one. That’s exactly what people need to do, too. Hit it hard for 12 weeks, and then set a new goal. Hit it hard another 12 weeks and then another 12 weeks until you get what you want.

Susan was followed by Gene Rigdon and Carol Laughton, both of whom lost 4.4 lbs, and Karl Degenhardt, who lost 4.2 lbs. We’ll see how next week goes.

As I spoke about last week, it’s one thing to have a great week once. It’s quite another thing to have good results (1 ½ to 2 lbs off) every week! Like I told them, it’s next week’s results that will really tell me what’s going on—if it was water weight, muscle loss, or if it was really fat loss.

I’m also still seeing some of the gals not eating enough. That’s a killer every time. You’ve got to hit your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)—I call it your minimum—or your metabolism will think you’re starving, and slow down making it very hard to burn fat for fuel. Somehow your body thinks you need to hold on to that fat.

Hitting your minimum will satisfy your body’s basic energy needs, so it will release its death grip on your metabolism, and you’ll start losing weight. Have I said this before? You’ve got to hit your minimum! It sounds crazy, but sometimes, you have to eat more to lose weight.

This isn’t a license to go nuts the next time you get in the buffet line. It just means you have to eat enough to satisfy all your minimal energy needs so your body is working correctly. Then you can start burning fat.

On the workout side of things, we combined the kickboxing workout I’ve been teaching them on Fridays with their weight routine. They also combined the two different Free Weight routines to make one bigger routine.

About everyone said it was the toughest workout yet. And that’s the key—boosting the intensity a little bit. Using more muscles burns more calories and jacks up your metabolism.

Next week they’re about to embark into new territory for the final month. I’m start showing them my Level 3 and Level 4 workouts, but more on that later. Until then, what are you waiting for? Get out there and burn some calories!

Monday, November 19, 2007


With six weeks in the books so far, we’ve reached the halfway point of the contest. This week we had a two way tie between Myla Savant and Roger Hopper, both of whom lost 4.4 lbs! They were followed by Dawn Hopper and Steve Johnson, also tied at 3.0 lbs.

Myla had been looking for a good week and this was it. Previously, she’d told me she wanted to lose weight to feel better and keep up with her kids. She also wants to get off high blood pressure medication.

Roger said that he was tired of being overweight and wanted to change. He figured he’d stick out the program this time, because he was going through with his wife, and she wouldn’t let him quit! He’s also happy that his other activities are getting better, now that he’s dropped weight and gotten stronger.

This week, I want to talk about a couple trends I’ve noticed. There seem to be two groups emerging. The first group is made up of contestants that have lost weight each week, while the other is made up of people that seem to lose a little, and then gain a little (known in health circles as the yo-yo syndrome).

For example, all but one of the guys have lost the most weight at least once so far. But when you compare their total weight loss to Steve, they’re still quite a bit behind. Even though he hasn’t won a single week, this time, he’s been the most consistent, always losing at least two or three pounds, and often times, more than that.

Only Roger has been able to post consistent losses next to Steve’s. For the ladies, only Shirley has been able to post consistent losses for all six weeks, plus a couple more weeks during which she’d lost weight before the contest!

So, I asked them to talk to the others and tell them why they thought they were having more consistent results. What they were doing differently, that might help the others. While Steve wasn’t present at the Friday night workout, due to another engagement, I can tell you what his secret is.

He’s always here, pushing himself harder and harder. He’s running more, and trying to be very consistent in his diet throughout the week. He told me he has a few bumps on the weekend, but even then, he’s keeping the calories within check, although he might eat a few things he knows he shouldn’t.

Roger told the group that he and his wife are very careful to make sure he’s eating enough. The demands of his job have often caused him to miss meals, or eat junk food in a hurry. Now, he’s eating much better, and amazed at how much food he can eat, because he’s eating the right things. He and Dawn are also pushing themselves more, exercising longer, and running more.

Shirley said she was eating much more fruits and vegetables than she ever used to. She’s found a way to season them other ways besides just using butter, to keep the calories down. Shirley’s also been increasing her activity level. She told us she thought she was working pretty hard before the contest, but had no idea—now she’s really able to turn it up in the gym. She also said she almost never misses a workout (out of two a day), and if she does, she still got the other one in that day.

Each of them have got it dialed in—and that’s what I wanted the rest of the group to understand. It comes down to figuring out how much food you need, and then eating the right things in the right amount for you: fruits and greens; whole grains; low fat dairy, and lean cuts of meat, fish and poultry; and avoiding pop and junk foods.

It also comes down to increasing your activity with a walk (or run) every morning, and another session later in the day, which they’ve been doing with the free weights, and cardio sessions. Do these things, day in and day out, and you’ll lose weight every week, just like clockwork. Do them haphazardly, and you’ll lose a little here and there. Eat too little (or too much), and you can even gain weight, creating the yo-yo effect.

When people say they don’t have enough time to exercise, in the end, it really means that exercise isn’t a priority. Some of these guys are getting up at 4:30 in the morning to get their walk in before they have to leave for work. It all comes down to what you want. Do you want to lose weight, or just talk about it?

Each week, I’m showing them how to raise the intensity—this week we did a kickboxing workout. Most of them told me it was the toughest workout yet. Just wait. We have six weeks to go. I’ve a lot of tricks up my sleeve. Most of my personal training clients are ready to leave after just 25-30 minutes of well planned, intense, whole body exercise.

Finally, I showed them the second workout for Level Two. Later, we’ll alternate it with the other workout (Workout #1) I showed you before, and finally, we’ll combine the two for a super workout. For now, here’s the new workout.


WALKING LUNGES with or w/o DB (Legs, Hips, Core)
PEC FLY on the Ball or Bench (Chest, Shoulders, Arms, Core)
DEADLIFT w DB, slightly bent legs (Legs, Hips, Core
DB PULLOVERS on ball (Chest, Upper Back, Triceps, Core)
ARNOLD SHOULDER PRESS (Shoulders, Triceps, Core)
STANDING BICEP CURL both arms together (Biceps, Core)
#1: Regular Crunches
#2: Crunches with legs raised, feet crossed
#3: Crunches to sides with one knee bent, and other leg crossed
#4: Opposite Side
#5: Leg Raises (Upper body slightly curled off floor, quickly raising and returning legs just off the floor)

The first day, do one or two sets to become familiar with the routine. Be sure you get with someone that can show you the proper technique. After that, go for three sets of 10-12 reps (guys) or 12-15 reps (gals) three times a week.

For added intensity, do the Lunges and Pec Flys back to back without stopping. Then, do the Deadlifts and Pullovers back to back. Hit the Calf Raises, and then do the Arnold Press, Standing Bicep Curl and Tricep Kickbacks, back to back.

Finally, finish up with the Ab Routine, doing as many as you can of each exercise. With intensity, and without stopping, you can do this workout in a half hour. Be sure to drink plenty of water during your workout. Don’t forget to have a rest day between workouts, too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


This week’s winner was Jack Akins with a weight loss of 3.6 lbs, followed by Dana Stites, who lost 3.0 lbs. At age 57, Jack’s our oldest contestant, and he wants to be in better health for his family.

He works in health care and told me “I see people come with bad health from letting themselves go. I need to do something now for me.” As this week’s Biggest Loser, Jack received a nice tote bag provided by Paris Community Hospital.

The contestants stepped it up this past week by adding different activities like replacing their weight training on the machines with free weights, and doing their Friday night workout roller skating, courtesy of Twin Lakes Roller Rink. Skating is a great cardio activity and lots of fun too!

Quite a few commented how they’ve felt a difference with the dumbbells. Remember, free weights cause you to use more accessory muscles to stabilize the weights, and also work your core more.

They’ll continue to feel the difference as they get stronger and can do a few more reps, and up their weights. It’s extremely empowering. As your body and core get stronger, everything you do gets easier. Their metabolisms will speed up too.

In fact, building muscle is the secret weapon in burning fat. If you ever looked at a fat cell, you’d see a blood supply and not much else. Look at a muscle cell under a microscope and you’ll see lots of things; it looks like a little engine—and that’s exactly what it is.

More muscle means you need more energy to operate. Where do you think that additional energy comes from? You guessed it—fat. Put on some muscle and you’ll become a fat burner even when you’re just standing around. Of course, you get stronger too, which lets you push harder the next time, creating a cycle of success.”

There’s also the feeling you get after a good hard workout—it’s better than any drug out there, and it won’t get you arrested. You’ve heard of the “runner’s high.” It actually exists, and not just from running. Endorphins are released in the bloodstream that actually make you feel good.

Finally, there’s the good feeling you have about yourself, because you know you just did something that’s going to help you reach your goal. It all works together to help you get what you want.

I’m very impressed with this group. It’s been five weeks and no one has quit. Last year at this time, we’d lost almost half the group for one reason or another. This time, everyone has stuck, and that brings me to my last point.

The first step is simply starting. Everyone wants to change, but few people ever set out on the journey—and how can you get to your destination if you don’t even start?

All of these people have started, but they’ve also done something else that is just as important—they’ve been deliberate about it. They found a plan and deliberately, each and every day, make decisions to follow that plan, and that’s where they’ll find success.

Most of them lose weight each week, even if it’s only half a pound. Some are losing two pounds consistently. Sure, there are the few bumps now and again, but generally, they’re all headed in the right direction. All it’s going to take now is time.

If they’ll just keep doing what they’re doing, they’ll get what they want. And it takes a deliberate action sometimes. There are lots of land mines just waiting to blast ‘em. Life conspires to make it tough and it’s the focused, deliberate people that make it through.

They’re also consistent in their approach. It’s stupid to keep doing something you know isn’t working, but it’s really smart to keep going, once you figure out something that is.

These guys (and gals) are pretty consistent about getting their workouts in. They’re consistent in raising the intensity periodically (my job). They’re also consistent (mostly) in making better food choices throughout the day, and through the week—and that’s what it takes.

Once they have success, all they have to do is repeat it. Just do it again for another day; for another week. Just do it again. So why not get started? Find a good plan. Be deliberate about it—get focused. Learn how to be consistent in your approach, and you’ll get what you want. It’s working for them. It will work for you too.

Friday, November 02, 2007


This week’s winner, for the second time, was Karl Degenhart with a loss of 4.4 lbs, followed closely by Marvin Hooper (3.8 lbs). In third place, Carol Laughton also posted a nice loss (3.0 lbs), followed by Steve Johnson (2.6 lbs).

Karl has been working hard both here and at home. He told me his daughter has been helping coach him—she’ll get on her bike while he’s walking & jogging and he has to keep up with her.

That’s awesome. Not only is she helping him achieve his goal, but she’s staying active too! If only more families got involved like that, we’d see much less obesity in our kids today.

A few people put on a little weight, which was kind of discouraging for them. The problem is that you have to learn what the right amount of food is for you. Until you get it dialed in, you’ll have those ups and downs.

When we see a nice loss one week, and then a gain the next, it was almost always water weight and possibly muscle loss, due to not eating enough. Then, once you eat a little more, you put it right back on. This is the classic “yo-yo” syndrome.

One woman told me she ate less (on purpose), yet she put on a pound. It’s hard for women to understand that sometimes they need to eat more to lose weight, especially once they start working out.

Remember, if you don’t hit your minimum, or BMR (basal metabolic rate), your metabolism slows down. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that no woman ever go below 1200 calories a day. Males should never go below 1,800 calories.

Those are the bare minimums though. Most women are successful with a diet of around 1,500-1,650 calories. Guys usually do fine when they stay right around 2,400 calories.

So, while half of the group has the diet dialed in pretty well, the other half still needs to tweak it a little bit. Of course, they need to focus on lots of fruits and greens, whole grains (no white bread, buns, etc…), low fat dairy, fish, poultry, and avoiding pop and junk food.

For the most part, I believe they’re doing that. Once you’re eating the right things, it’s a matter of eating enough of the right things. You can eat a lot of food, if it’s the good stuff.

On the workout side of things, we turned it up again for next week, introducing our Level Two training with free weights to everyone. The machines are nice, and a good way to get started, but free weights have certain other benefits.

First of all, the machines guide and support you. When lifting free weights, you are the one guiding the weights, bringing in all your stabilizer muscles and your core. This makes you work harder, ultimately burning more calories!

Everyone will be doing the first workout three days a week. Guys will work up to three sets of 10 repetitions (men) and the ladies will work up to three sets of 12-15 reps.

Here’s the first workout, in case you’d like to try it yourself. Each exercise covers a major muscle group. If you do all ten basic exercises, you’ll hit the entire body, in just 20-30 minutes.

Wall Squat (with a ball), or Bench Squat (legs, hips, core)
DB Chest Press on a Ball or Bench (chest, shoulders, triceps, core)
DB Deadlift (knees slightly bent) (legs, hips, low back)
Single Arm DB Row (upper back, biceps, core)
Calf Raises (on a step) (calves)
DB Lateral Raises (shoulders)
Overhead DB Tricep Press (triceps, shoulders, core)
Alternating DB Bicep Curl (biceps, core)
Ab Crunches on the ball (core)
Side Twists with a ball (core)

The first time, do just one set of each exercise. The second time, repeat each exercise twice. Finally, try to do three sets of each exercise.

With free weights, you’ll be lifting less weight than you did on the machines, since you have to balance the weights yourself. Make sure you have a trainer or other knowledgeable person show you how to do everything correctly, with good form.

Do everything very slowly, and with great control. If you can’t control the weight, choose a lower weight. Everything can be performed with dumbbells (DB), and a ball or a bench. Most guys starting out will need 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 lb dumbbells. Ladies will usually use 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15 lb dumbbells. Good luck!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


It was an interesting week for the contestants this time. At the end of the first week, the group had lost a combined total of over 60 lbs. After week two, they lost a combined total of a little more than 40 lbs. This week, the group lost only 13 lbs.

There could be several reasons for this, but not that they’re not working hard enough. I’m extremely impressed with this group and they’re willingness to let me push them. They’re all doing two-a-day workouts most days, and everyone has been very good about this.

So what happened? First of all, some of the early weight loss was water weight and muscle—it almost always is. Their bodies have stabilized now, and adjusted to different eating habits, and now, all the weight loss should be fat—which is what you want.

Another thing is that as they get stronger, the workouts get easier, so they’ll be burning fewer calories, unless they continue to add resistance to the weights, and keep changing their workouts up.

Finally, it’s time for them to really tweak their diets (remember, the best diet is actually no diet), adjusting their calories up or down a little bit. Some still aren’t eating enough, but some others might need to take slightly smaller portions then they have been.

In a few cases, some people gained weight. Sometimes it was muscle, because the body fat went down. Other times, it wasn’t quite as clear, and those are the ones that might need to back off the eating just a little bit.

Quite a few others, though, lost a half a pound, a pound, or even two pounds, and their body fat went down as well. That’s perfect. If they can just keep doing that, week after week, they’ll get what they want, and it will be predictable.

The winner this time was Dawn Hopper, who lost 3.4 pounds, followed by her husband Roger, and Jack Akins, both of whom lost 2.0 lbs. Dawn told me that she started the program because she was “tired of being so tired.” She wants more strength and energy so she can do more “sporty, outdoor things” with her family, and also to lower her risk of heart disease which runs in her family.

If she keeps this up, she will. Like I said, it can be predictable. Be active, and eat less than you burn (as long as you hit your minimum), and you’ll lose fat. It’s amazing how quickly people feel better, even if they haven’t yet lost a lot of weight.

Some of the women haven’t lost a lot yet, but their “pants are falling down” and they’re “getting in clothes they couldn’t get in for years.” When I ask everyone how they feel, they all report they feel better. The proof’s in the pudding, too (maybe that wasn’t the best metaphor to use), because in the Friday workout, I turned it up again.

They ran further and did some newer exercises that would have killed them in the first week. They were groaning, but everyone did everything! I was just amazed at their determination. This group is going to go far.

I gave them another assignment in the weight room this week. They’re going to do a single set of each exercise, called a drop set.

Here’s how it works: Start with a weight so heavy you can hardly lift it. Slowly try to lift it. When you can’t move it, slowly put it down, and lower the weight by 10 lbs and try again. After squeezing out a couple more reps, drop the weight again, and again, until you’ve done it 15-20 times and can’t do any more. Then move on to the next machine.

This will turn up the intensity, causing more changes in their bodies, and burn tons of calories. It will also prepare them for the move from the machines to free weights, which will happen after another week. I expect that if they also pay close attention to their eating this week, we’ll see even better results next week when they get back on the scale.

This leads me to a challenge for you. These people are all getting it done. Where most people won’t even start, they’ve not only started, but continued for 3 weeks. Last year, we lost almost half of them in the first month! These guys and gals are learning how to be consistent, and that’s how they’ll win in the end.

A lot of people “want to” lose weight and change their lives, but never seem to get started. But when you find a “have to” reason—when you “have to” do it, you’ll find a way to get it done. Each of these contestants believe they “have to” do it, and so here they are.

It’s not always convenient for them. It’s definitely not always easy, but they’re doing it, and you can too. Look, twelve weeks is going to pass us all by, whatever we do. Why not spend the time finding something priceless? Your health!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


It was another good week for the contestants in this year’s “Biggest Loser 2” here in Paris. They gave it their all, especially in the Friday night “Fun House” workout, including a little jog around the block. Many of them had never run that far before. I checked later—it was exactly 0.2 mi. Next week, we’ll go the longer way around!

When we got back, we stretched, and went right into our boot camp: 75 jumping jacks; pushups, situps, partner squats, crabwalks, and the dreaded “suicides” which I call “running the dots” (twice).

I was extremely proud of them—everyone kept trying, even when they felt like quitting. For most of them, this was more then they ever dreamed they could do, and just wait. What was hard today will be easy in a few weeks!

Before the workout, last week’s biggest loser, Tony Peel, received a $25 Kroger gift certificate from First Baptist Church of Paris. At this time, quite a few people at FBC are thinking about weight loss, led by their pastor, Jon Lobos, who’s lost around 70 pounds. For more information, go to .

We also awarded this week’s biggest loser, Karl Degenhardt, with another $25 Kroger gift certificate from FBC of Paris. Karl posted a 4.8 lb loss, followed closely by Steve Johnson (4.6 lbs), Shirley Fiscus (4.4 lbs), and Roger Hopper (4.2 lbs).

Karl told me he was here was to “get back in shape, be more active, and find the motivation and drive (he) seemed to have lost over the years.”

As I told you before, the focus in the first week was to get everyone moving, and I think we accomplished that goal. The focus this week was to get them thinking about how much they were eating.

When they turned in their calorie logs (if you don’t write it down, you’re just guessing, and guessing makes you fat), it was pretty clear that many of the women, and a few of the guys weren’t eating enough. Anticipating this, we gave everyone a personal assessment, based on their lean body weight, height, and age that told them their minimum, and also a suggested daily calorie goal.

Over the years, we’ve found that 9 out of 10 women don’t hit their minimum, and it was no different this time. If you don’t hit your minimum, your body will slow it’s metabolism down, making it really hard to burn fat.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the most respected governing body for exercise and nutrition, women should never eat less than 1,200 calories, and men should always eat at least 1,800 calories.

Over the next week, everyone will focus on trying to hit their minimum, and I’ll think we’ll see even better results, especially in the women. They’re also going to add some intensity to their strength workouts by doing opposing exercises like the bench press and seated row machines back-to-back. First one then the other, back to back, three times. Then, they’ll switch to the next two machines, and so on.

For those of you trying this on your own, these supersets are a great way to add intensity to your exercise routine. By eliminating the break, you’ll raise the amount of calories burned during the workout. I call this active rest—while one muscle group is recovering, you’re working the other muscle group.

The focus will also turn to the quality of what they eat. Many of the contestants are already eating better after just two weeks, and have said how much more energy they now have. Several who lost weight actually ate more food, but lost weight. More on this next week—stay tuned!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Biggest Loser 2 (Week One)

It was an exciting first week for our “Biggest Loser 2” competitors. The main priority was to get them all moving, and move they did—twice a day, morning and evening.

We asked everyone to at least walk a mile every morning. This takes just 20 minutes for most people. If they wanted to do more, they could. The purpose of this was to get their metabolism going, and start them burning more calories throughout the day.

They also used the 13 station strength circuit three evenings a week (Mon, Wed, Fri), and did a more rigorous cardio workout on the other evenings (Tue, Thur, Sat). The differences were pretty amazing, even after just one week.

After the weigh-in, we had our first boot camp workout (ask any of them—this one’s a killer). The purpose of that is to burn a bunch of calories (keeping them moving), and to teach them they’re capable of doing much more than they ever imagined.

The mistake people make is getting settled into a routine and never change it up. If your body can already do it, though, there’s no reason for it to change. If you want to lose a lot of weight, you need to keep it changing.

Next week, they’ll do the same strength circuit, but instead of normal repetitions, they’ll be doing very slow ones (5 count up, 5 count down). This makes it more difficult, and will work their muscles more.

More muscle means a faster metabolism. Muscle needs a lot more energy to operate than fat does. If you look at a muscle cell under a microscope, you’ll see all kinds of things—it’s like a little engine. Fat cells have a simple blood supply (to get the fat in and out). Muscle is what moves you around. Fat basically just goes along for the ride.

So, if we can get more muscle on these contestants, it will make them much more efficient fat burners, not to mention all the calories burned along the way. Remember, a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. If the contestants can burn 500 calories a day through exercise, in a week’s time they’ll burn off a pound of fat!

Now that we have them moving, next week the goal is to get them thinking about what they eat. They’ll have to fill out a homework assignment about why they want to lose weight, and also start a daily calorie log.

The bottom line (which really affects our bottom), is if you don’t know exactly how much you’re eating, you’re really guessing, and guessing makes you fat. You’ll guess high and eat too much (getting fat), or guess low and eat too little, causing your metabolism to slow down (ironically, this too can make you fat).

The only way to really know is to write everything down for a couple days to see. Once you understand how much you’re really eating, and how much you should be eating, you’ll be able to start controlling your portions—and that’s how you really lose weight.

Then of course, it comes down to the quality of what you’re eating, but I’ll talk more about that next time. Right now, let’s meet the people who stood out this week.

Tony Peel was the Biggest Loser, losing a whopping 8.4 lbs. Tony’s a correctional officer up in Danville and he went a long way to correcting his own problems. 8.4 pounds is amazing, and he served notice that he’s going to be a serious contender for the $500 prize.

Tony’s 8.4 pounds, however, were followed closely by Steve Johnson (7.6 lbs) and Marvin Hooper (7.0 lbs). The gals weren’t to be denied, though, because Shirley Fiscus lost 6.5 lbs, followed by Dawn Stewart (6.0 lbs), Susan Hooper (5.6 lbs) and Deanna Mason (4.2 lbs).

We’ll see how they do next week. Early weight loss is often water weight and muscle. As weight comes off, we hope to see a corresponding reduction in measured body fat.

A good example is last year’s winner and this week’s runner up, Steve Johnson. While he lost 7.6 pounds, he also lowered his body fat from 36.4% to 33.1%, which indicates that all of his weight loss came from fat. The next few weeks should tell the tale for the others.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Biggest Loser 2" -- First Weigh In

Wow, did I ever underestimate the interest in doing a “Biggest Loser 2” this year! The phone started ringing the day after the last article was printed, and within a week and a half we had all twenty participants.

This year they’re competing for $500 (they each put up $25), plus an extra $100 put up by last year’s winner, Steve Johnson. If you remember, Steve lost 44 lbs last year, another 20 lbs since, and wants to take off 40 more. If someone else wins it this time, and beats his 44 pounds from last time, they get the extra $100.

Like last year, we’ll have weekly winners based on the most pounds lost. If the pounds lost are equal, we’ll look at the % of body fat lost. We’ll weigh in each Friday and publish the results early the next week. I’m also looking for some sponsors to donate the weekly prizes (we’ll give you a mention in the article).

Here are the participants: Angie Archibald, Brian Blair, Carol Laughton, Gene Rigdon, Cindy Irish, Dana Stites, Dawn Hopper, Dawn Stewart, Deanna Mason, Jack Akins, Janice Watson, Karl Degenhardt, Marvin Hooper, Myla Savant, Roger Hopper, Shirley Fiscus, Steve Johnson, Susan Hooper, Theresa Campbell, Tony Peel, and Windy Hoult.

Last Friday was the initial weigh-in, and we started with a basic fitness assessment: a one mile walk/run for time, one minute pushups, and one minute sit-ups. The one mile test went pretty well, but there were lots of groans and moans during the pushups and sit-ups.

In a couple cases, some people couldn’t do any sit-ups. That will change. In twelve weeks, they’ll all be shocked at how much they’ll have improved in each area.

This week we’ll get them started doing Level I cardio (walking outside or on the treadmill, using the elliptical, and the exercise bike), and Level I resistance training (a 13 station strength circuit) in the evenings.

They’ll also be doing an extra cardio workout in the morning or on their lunch hour to get their metabolism moving and put them in calorie deficit early. That way, all the calories they eburn during their evening workout will contribute to fat burning.

Next week we’ll talk about why building muscle helps you burn fat. We’ll also talk a little bit about eating right. You might be surprised about a few things. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 01, 2007


Last week marked the return of “The Biggest Loser” to TV for their fourth season. The first show featured winners and runners-up from the first three seasons to answer the question many of us have wondered: “Have they kept the weight off?”

For the most part, they had. While some had put back on twenty or even forty pounds, it was a drop in the bucket compared to the hundred or more pounds they’d lost. So yes, I guess they were still successful.

Only a few were in the fighting trim like they were when they finished the show, and I guess that’s to be expected. The show is a competition (for money), and people probably work a little harder for money (more on that later).

All of them said that their lives had been changed for the better. They were much more active now. They were able to do things with their kids, enjoy life more, and couldn’t ever see going back.

The amazing thing was that many of them were now working with others as personal trainers and life coaches. They not only got their bodies back, they got a new life, and a chance to help others too. Two got married—to each other, and now have a baby. Two more got engaged on the show. Truly lives where changed. Not bad for T.V.

This week we’ll see the actual first show of season four, and a whole new cast of characters with something to prove, and a lot of weight to lose. I can’t wait to watch. The human drama is compelling, and they’re all going to be working extremely hard to undo something that’s been years in the making—them.

Of course, like we talked about last year, it’s extremely hard for average people to get the same results in the same amount of time. They’ve lots of advantages that we don’t have: full-time personal trainers on an isolated ranch, working out hours each day; no job to work around (at least while they’re on the ranch); a strict diet prepared for them; and perhaps most motivating, the chance to win a lot of money—how much was it?

Still, it’s going to be interesting, and like last year, I want to help another group of people get it done right here in our community. You’ll still have to go to work and take care of your kids, but I’ll give you all the knowledge you need and help push you a little bit (O.K., a lot). You’ll have to learn how to manage your own food too (but I’ll help you learn what to do). You won’t have the ranch, but you will have every thing you need to get it done.

So, do you have what it takes? Do you want to change your life—forever? Are you ready to really do this? You’ll have to be willing to lay it on the line. To take all your excuses away, we’re going to do it at no charge, just like last year with our first Biggest Loser.

Twelve weeks of help, coaching, group classes, the works—free. All you have to do is be willing to work at it. You will need to be willing to put up $25 bucks as a prize for the winner this time. I figure if we find ten people that want to change their life, $25 is pretty cheap, and we’ll put it in a bank account for the winner.

If we find ten, the winner will take away $250. If we find twenty people that want to change their life, the winner will take away $500. That’ll give you a good start on your new wardrobe. If you quit, though, it’s too bad—the $25 stays in the kitty for the winner.

Oh, and you have to be willing to let me write about it. That’s right, I’m going to write about it again. I’ll write about you. Tell your story. How you’re doing. What you’re doing.

It’ll inspire a lot of people, and maybe you too. Of the three contests we ran last year, people did SO much better in the first group when I wrote about it. It kept them motivated. It kept them working. It was quite an amazing group that taught me just as much as I ever taught them.

One other thing. You might remember our winner from Biggest Loser 1: Steve Johnson, who lost 40 pounds in the twelve weeks. A year later, he’s lost another 20 pounds, and is down a total of 60 pounds from where he started.

Steve wants another crack at it. He wants to take off another 40 pounds. I guess he figures he’ll work harder if you’re working too. He wants it bad enough to put up an extra hundred bucks to the winner, if they beat him this time and beat his original 40 pounds.

So there you have it. If you didn’t make the show, this your chance, right here, right now. What are you going to do about it? To qualify, you have to be seriously overweight, and seriously want to change your life forever. Let’s do this thing together. Let me know.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Turning The Corner

The long hot summer’s coming to a close, and like clockwork, I’ve seen quite a few people back in the gym, picking up where they left off at the start of the summer. Much of their time has been spent taking care of kids, driving back and forth to practices and attending games.

Now that the kids are back in school, they’ve got time to get back at it. Several told me they just couldn’t take it anymore, and had to make a change. Some said “it was just time.”

One said that his heart would race just going up the stairs and he was tired of feeling that way. With a family history of heart disease and diabetes, he felt he couldn’t wait any longer. It was this, or a heart attack. He’s probably right.

Others found the weight they lost last spring. They weren’t really looking for it but it showed up anyway. Now they’re back to deal with it. I love the intensity on their faces when they talk about it. I love the fact they show up, even more.

One woman was here 5 days this week. That’s the ticket. That’s going to get it done. And that guy that was sick and tired of being sick and tired? I think I saw him 7 or 8 times this week. Doing what I suggested. And he feels better too. He said it was the first time in a long time that he felt good.

I think part of it is that it feels good knowing you’re doing something good. It’s kind of like giving at church or to someone who happens to need a little help. When you can do it, it just feels good. It’s great motivation and can help you turn the corner.

Someone else I love has turned a corner, too. After losing her mother last spring, she’s been kind of swimming in a fog. Feeling like not doing anything; not even wanting to be around people.

She’d been a 24-7 caregiver for her mom for 10 years in our home. It was understandable, amazing really. It takes time to deal with any loss like that, much less when someone is that close for all those years.

Her garden had overgrown and was way out of control. Her daily walking regimen was gone. For six months, life was about hanging on, for a season, trying to make sense of things. She told me she was also dealing with the shame of knowing things were out of control, and not doing anything about it.

But the season finally turned, as they all will, if we’ll let them. She got disgusted with the garden and last week spent four mega-days weeding, pushing wheelbarrows, re-mulching, and doing other gardening things. Even the cats were keeping their heads down. Now she’s on the warpath with weeds anywhere else on the property.

And then she asked if I minded if she got up early and started walking. Like I’m going to say no? Of course it’s fine, and no, it won’t bother me. I’m ecstatic. I’m getting my wife back. And more importantly, she’s getting herself back. Finding what I’m coming to call “a new normal.”

That’s what we all need to do. Get ourselves back. Get our bodies back. Find a new way of dealing with things. I keep thinking about that Zig Ziglar statement, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” And how it’s insanity to keep doing the same thing expecting a different result (Albert Einstein).

Something’s got to change to make it better. Maybe it’s giving something up. Or getting back up. Picking up where you left off, or trying something new. What do you need to do this season? Is it your time yet? Why not find out? Just…start something. Start. Just…start.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The 300 Workout (part 2)

Last time, I told you about the latest thing to come along in exercise and fitness: “The 300 Workout.” If you’ll recall, after four months of training and filming, the actors and stuntmen from the movie “300” participated in a fitness test made especially for them:

· 25 Pullups
· 50 Deadlifts (135 lbs)
· 50 Pushups
· 50 Box Jumps (24”)
· 50 Floor Wipers (while holding the 135 lb bar)
· 50 Dumbbell Cleans & Presses with a 35 lb DB (25 on each side)
· 25 Pullups

The idea was to do as many reps of each exercise as they could, in a row, without stopping. So, my son and I decided to try it too. Since we’d already been hitting it pretty hard, we figured we could handle it if we adjusted a couple of the weights down a little bit. Plus, we figured we’d try it a couple weeks in a more relaxed fashion before doing it against the clock.

First of all, 25 pullups is extremely difficult. We’d worked up to where we can do around 20 or so. Then a quick break to change grips, and we finally squeezed out the last few reps.

For the deadlift, we really cut the weight down, because this is 50 reps! We started with just 85 pounds, increasing it 5 pounds every week. On the dumbbell clean and presses, we started with a 20 pound dumbbell—15 pounds less than they did in the fitness test—also increasing it 5 pounds each week.

We did it first thing on Monday mornings, in place of our usual workout. The first three weeks were tough, but doable, especially since we weren’t really going against the clock yet.

We also ramped up our other workouts to include more exercises like 50 tractor tire flips, 50 jumping pull-ups (you’ve got to try these to believe it), 50 jumping squats (bar only), and so on. Basically, we’d set up 6 or 7 different stations in a circuit and rotate through them.

Last Monday, Chris and I, and another training partner decided to do the 300 workout for time. Since we were going against the clock, we did it one at a time so we could really push through it, and provide some motivation for each other (we were going to need it).

The 25 pullups went pretty well. Chris got 24 and then one more with a quick change in grip. By this week, we were deadlifting 95 pounds—not much if you’re doing sets of 10—but quite a lot when you’re trying to knock out 50 in a row without stopping. This was pretty tough, but he made it through with a couple short breaks to change his grips. As expected, he knocked out the 50 pushups and then started on the box jumps.

By this time, it had become a cardio workout too, and he was really breathing hard, and slowing down. We kept him motivated, though, and he got through all 50 and went on to the floor wipers. At this point, you’re really glad to be done with the jumping.

When he got done, he was really getting tired, but it was time to start the 50 dumbell clean and presses. This week, we were up to 30 pounds, only 5 pounds off from the weight they used in the actual test. It took a couple breaks throughout, but he made it.

Finally, he went on to finish with the pullups. Earlier in the workout, it only took him 2 quick sets to get his 25 reps, but here it took him quite a bit longer after all he’d been through. Still, he made it through, and we stopped the clock at 18:58.

This was really a great performance, and right around the times posted by the main actor in the movie “300” and the trainer who came up with the test! Then it was my turn. Wow. All I can say is that you’ve got to do it to see how intense this really is.

I got the 25 pullups in short order. The 50 deadlifts, and 50 pushups too. Then came the 50 box jumps. It was ridiculous! By the time I ground out 25 of them, I was puffing like Thomas the Train Engine, and needing motivation big-time. Still, I kept going (slowing down with each jump), and got through them. I remember wondering if it was possible for my heart to actually explode.

The 50 floor wipers weren’t too bad, since I got to do them lying down. I picked up quite a bit of time here, and on the 50 dumbbell clean and presses too, since I was able to do them straight through.

The last 25 pullups were insane. Where before I got 22, and 3, this time I got seven! I had to do the rest of them in quick sets of 2, and it was pretty extreme. By the time I inched out my last one, they stopped the clock at 16:59 and I just sat down for a few minutes.

Honestly, I’ve never felt anything like this, and I make it my business to try goofy things, all the time: 50 tire flips, 800 yard (half mile) repeats for speed, 2 marathons, and all the other crazy things we’ve done.

Like I said last time, this routine is only for people who are already quite physically fit. If you’re not quite ready for the full workout, you can modify it by lowering the amount of weight, or lowering the number of repetitions, or even changing some of the exercises.

For now, we’re going to keep doing the routine on Mondays for another two months. I wonder if it’s possible to break 15 minutes? You never know!

Friday, August 03, 2007

The 300 Workout

I had another interesting experience this week. My son and I have been working out together for a year and a half, and we’re always looking for the latest ideas. If there’s a way to challenge ourselves in the weight room, on the mat, or out on the road, we’ve probably tried it.

He’d recently seen the movie “300” with his wife and was telling me about the workout routine the actors used to prepare for the film. Since they were portraying Spartan warriors defending Greece against an overwhelming Persian force, they had to look and act the part.

Featured in a recent issue of Men’s Health Magazine, the “300 Workout” was a specialized fitness test created by the actor’s fitness trainer. A difficult routine by any standards, it assesses overall muscular endurance and conditioning—critical things needed in any good Spartan warrior!

When I train clients, I take them through 4 levels of workouts. Level I is pretty basic, with low intensity cardio, and circuit training on a series of weight machines. It’s a good way to get someone started, and build up some basic muscle tone and endurance.

Within 3 or 4 weeks, I like to move them into the Level II workout with free weights replacing the machines. The body uses more stabilizer muscles to control the weights, and it also provides a great workout for what we call your core—your abdominals, obliques (sides), and the muscles that make up your lower back. We also pick up the pace of the cardio.

By the end of week eight, it’s time for Level III. It’s important to always keep switching things up so the body never really gets used to the workout stimulus. This is what keeps you improving. If you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. That’s why you always want to mix it up, and challenge yourself.

On Level III, we’re doing even more core exercises, and starting to add exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time, like doing a barbell clean, jerk and press motion. Or squats with shoulder press. Or deadlifts or walking lunges with a curl and press. These compound movements are more difficult, and require more muscles to fire to help keep you balanced.

Another principle is to put as many movements on an exercise ball as possible to make them even more unstable. This causes you to have to use even more core muscles to keep things stable while you’re doing the exercise. This burns more calories, and whips you into shape in a hurry.

On the cardio side of things, Level III also means high intensity interval training, where after a good warmup, you alternate rest breaks with intervals where you push yourself really hard.

By the end of 12 weeks, people are usually ready for Level IV workouts. The bulk of these exercises come from the Level III routines, but there’s no break, and in between sets, you’re doing a bunch of other different core exercises like planks, side planks, ball crunches, ball knee-ins, ball pikes, and woodchoppers! The workouts are pretty tough, because you never stop moving, and you’re burning a ton of calories.

At this point, the cardio is more intense, too. By now, many people are jogging, even if they’ve never ran before. They’ve often lost 20-30 pounds, and are feeling great. It’s amazing how good you can feel when you don’t have to move as much weight around.

By now, to provide new challenges, we’re doing a lot of different body weight exercises. I’m also doing goofy things like rope pulls, tire flips, and encouraging them to run a 5 K race, or do a bike rally. If they’re in Taekwondo, or Jui Jitsu, I’m encouraging them to try a competition, or work toward a next higher rank.

Here’s where the 300 rep Spartan workout from the movie comes in. After four months of training and the actual filming, their coach came up with a new fitness test for them. So, we decided to give it a try, too. To go along with the movies theme, it’s 7 exercises in a row, without stopping, if you can, for a total of 300 reps.

· 25 Pullups
· 50 Deadlifts (135 pounds)
· 50 Pushups
· 50 Box Jumps (24”)
· 50 Floor Wipers (while holding the 135 pound bar)
· 50 Dumbbell Cleans & Presses with a 35” DB (25 on each side)
· 25 Pullups

The idea is to do as many reps of each exercise as you can, in a row, without stopping. If you have to take a break, try to hit it again as soon as possible, because you’re also working against the clock.

BE CAREFUL, this routine is really only for people who are already quite physically fit. If you’re not quite ready for the full workout, you should modify it in several ways: by lowering the amount of weight, or lowering the number of repetitions. You can also use other similar body weight exercises instead.

For more information, and even videos on how to perform the exercises, go to Then, search for the “300 Workout.” Next time, I’ll tell you how we did!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time Passes Either Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about fitness for the past few years. Trying to understand why some people can do it and others can’t. Some keep at it until they cross the finish line, and others never seem to get out of the starting blocks.

Sure, for some, it’s easy. They were fit when they were younger, stayed active, and never really got out of shape. But these are the exceptions. For most of us, if we were active, somewhere along the line, things changed, and we quit moving.

Like the high school athletes that didn’t get a scholarship, and so they quit playing in college. Then they got a job, got married with children, and had even less time on their hands.

And even collegiate athletes aren’t immune. Once they stop competing, and start their lives, they’re much less active, but usually keep eating like they did when they were competing.
Time has a funny way of catching up with us. It seems to take so long getting there, but when we look back, it’s all a blur, and it went way faster than we thought.

It’s no wonder we’re caught off guard. Our metabolisms slow down; we lose muscle tone, and all the while, we’re getting fatter, without really changing our weight. Then we get so busy, that when we finally stop to take inventory, we’re like…where did that come from?

Then we have the people like my pastor Jon, who finally got tired of being tired. In less than a year, in his 50’s, he’s lost over 65 pounds. Here’s how. He started watching he eats, and started walking and riding his bike, and coming up to the gym and lifting some weights. That’s it! That’s his secret. He watches what he eats, and gets regular exercise.

The irony is that when people he hasn’t seen for awhile run into him now, they wonder if he’s sick. If he’s sick! We’ve got it all messed up. It’s backwards. When people run into us and we’re overweight, they should be wondering why we’re sick that way! Not when we’re thin.

Sure, we’re all designed to be a little different. For some, it’s pretzel thin (called an ectomorph). Others will tend to be more muscular (mesomorph), and still others will tend to be bigger boned, and can be on the rounder side, a little more soft and fleshy (endomorph).

Whatever your body type, you can still be close to your ideal lean weight. Anything over that means your body has to work much harder than it needs to, just to get around. No wonder people feel sick and run down all the time, and have back and knee problems. It’s all that extra weight they have to carry around.

Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more obese people with motorized carts that help them get around the store. It’s nice that they can get out and about now, but it might just make the problem worse for them. By eliminating walking altogether, they could be consigning themselves to a life in that chair. A life without movement.

Now, I’m not accusing overweight people. Certainly, some of them have had some serious physical problems. But I know several chronically obese people that have had enormous health complications because they’re obese. Just last week, I watched a special that showed one morbidly obese individual who loved to eat, and wouldn’t stop.

And in most cases, they don’t have to stay that way. It’s almost never too late. I’ve seen people lose 80 and 100 pounds, over the course of a year. Many people have lost 50-60 pounds, and even more have lost 30-40 pounds. The rest of their lives can be completely different.

It doesn’t mean it’s easy. Of course not. You’ve got to take your hand off the fork and step away from the table. Make a decision to quit eating the junk—you know what’s good for you and what’s not. Quit eating the things that aren’t.

Start eating things that are good for you, like fruits and greens, and whole grains. Knock off the pop, and start drinking more water. You’ve also got to sweat, and even hurt a little, to take the weight off.

Finally, you’ve got to quit blaming other people, and quit blaming your circumstances. You’re not too busy. Remember when I wrote about the woman who jogs, pushing a baby carriage with twins, with two dogs tied to leashes running on each side? I saw her again earlier this week. She’s removed all your excuses. If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way.

Sometimes when people lose 50-60 pounds, I’ll have them go back and pick up a couple dumbbells that equal the weight they lost. Or put a couple weight plates in a backpack and then put it on, and walk around for a little while.

It’s always the same. They’re amazed at how heavy the weights feel, and can’t wait to put them down! But so many others are still walking around with that weight, because it’s still a part of them—they can’t put it down.

You have an ideal weight. You were designed to be that way. You were made to move, and to enjoy movement. It’s possible to get there.

For some of you, it will take a little longer. Some of you can do it in 3 or 6 months. It might take some effort, and giving a few things up, but think about what you could gain. Are you ready?

Time isn’t very forgiving, and another year will pass, whether you do it or not. The question is, how do you want to look and feel when you’re looking back?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What Kind of Trip Are You Taking?

I had a great experience this past weekend. It was the 2nd Annual C.A.M.A. Bike Road Rally, and my first time to be part of a big bicycle event like that (C.A.M.A. stands for Coalition Against Meth Abuse). Ever since watching the Tour De France last year, I’d been itching to be part of a pelaton.

My son-in-law T.J. and I had been preparing a little bit: a 26 mile ride to Brocton and back, and then a 45 mile ride home from Fox Ridge State Park the weekend before the rally. I’d also been riding back and forth to work occasionally, doing what I call “Time Trials.” It makes me feel like the riders I see on TV. Of course, their time trials are going 30 mph for an hour! Still, the fast 8 mile sprints helped a lot to build my strength.

It’s amazing how much wind makes a difference. My best time with the wind behind me is 19:10 for the 8 mile “time trial,” about a 24 mph average. On a bad day into the wind (usually the trip in), it can take as much as 35-38 minutes, nearly twice as long!

The C.A.M.A. rally was a 40 mile trip from Twin Lakes in Paris, to Mill Creek over and ending at Lincoln Trail State Park on the other side Marshall, IL. Just like with the St. Louis Marathon my son and I ran this Spring, I was really surprised to see how many people were there participating.

There were quite a few accomplished bikers in their 50’s and 60’s, and a bunch of teens, and everything in between. For some, this was their distance ride ever. For others, like my friend Doug, who took off and never looked back, finishing first, it was a pretty easy ride.

I was really impressed with one rider from Marshall named Don. He actually rode over (on the bike) before the rally, and then rode the rally, too. Oh, and he gave blood the day before! What impressed me most, though, were the new riders—the ones who’d never done anything like that before.

Some of the new riders just did the first 20 mile leg to Mill Creek. Others went ahead and tackled the tougher second 20 mile leg from Mill Creek to Lincoln Trail. In each case, they were challenging themselves, and growing as a result.

And that’s the main point this week. It’s not the destination that really counts in the end. It’s the journey. Sure, it’s nice to get to Lincoln Trail, but what’s nicer is to know that you had what it takes to make the trip. You also get to enjoy some great scenery along the way. Kind of like life.

What kind of trip are you taking? Is it the same old thing, going down the same old road? A sage told me once that “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” So what are you getting? Maybe it’s time to try something new!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Follow The Plan

So I’ve been thinking, why do some people seem to get what they want, and others don’t? Why do some seem to get all the breaks, and others don’t? I mean, is it just luck? Good genes?

Or is there something else going on. Could there be a behavioral component to success? Is it possible that some people just do certain things that make them more likely to succeed?

This might not seem related to fitness, but stay with me. One book called “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, looks at hundreds of self-made millionaires. Stanley and Danko’s study showed clearly that most of the millionaires did very specific things along the way.

They never spent more than they earned. They always saved. They kept things longer. They tended to live in the same house all their life. They drove their cars longer and usually never bought a brand new one. Instead, they’d buy one that was a year or two old.

They tended to stay married to the same partner. They were very conservative in their approach to investing, and very disciplined about putting money away. They were committed to it.

Remember, these are self-made millionaires. They started with nothing, and worked their way up. They made their money doing different things, but each had the same things in common.

Now let’s look at fitness. Have you ever seen a fat sprinter? Not for long, right? What about runners? There were thousands lined up for the St. Louis Marathon this year; all different types, but fat? None.

What’s it take to run a marathon? To make it, most people need to train 3-4 times a week. Your first running day (Tuesday) is speed work; running 400 or 800 yards at a pretty fast speed. Walk for 2 minutes, and then run another quarter or half mile. Start with 4-6 repeats and work up to 10-16 times if you’re doing 400’s. Start with 2-3 repeats and work up to 5 or 6 if you’re doing 800’s.

Your second running day (Thursday) is a tempo run; several miles at just under your race pace, keeping strict time. On Saturday or Sunday, do a long run. Start at 5-7 miles, and work up to 24 miles. Try to stay at a comfortable yet brisk pace the whole time. A lot of runners use distances like this: 7 miles, 9, 11, 13, 8, 15, 17, 10, 19, 21, 10, 23, 14, 24, 10, 8, Race Weekend.

You can also do a light recovery run, about 3-4 miles at a relaxed pace, and have a couple cross-training days where you do other things, like weight training. You also need a couple rest days.

To be successful, you need the discipline to do this for 3-4 months. Much less, and you probably won’t make it.

Another consideration is to start small and work your way up. I’ve been running about a year and a half now. At first, I had to run a little bit, and walk a little bit. Then I got up to a mile, then two, and then three. Now I rarely run less than three miles.

Unfortunately, I’m not yet on the millionaire list, but I have run two marathons now. The first time, I didn’t follow the plan, and didn’t make it running all the way. This time, I took an hour and a half off my time with no injuries, and worked out the next day!

So, to become a “Millionaire Next Door,” we need to be disciplined. Quit spending more than we earn, quit trying to impress people, and start putting a little away. A little turns into a lot, and if we’ll do a little now, we just might be worth a million bucks someday.

It’s the same thing with your health. If you’ll just get out and exercise 3-4 times a week, who knows? You might never run a marathon, but you could if you want to. And even if you never do, I bet you won’t be fat.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Journey

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine sometime ago. Now he’s a big guy, but he’s still carrying at least 80 pounds more than he needs.

Of course, this raises his risk of developing onset Diabetes (Type II), and heart disease significantly. It also makes his life much harder than it needs to be.

For years now, I’ve talked about him doing the things he needs to do to take that weight off. For years, he’s come up with reasons not to. Now, it’s cost him another promotion in rank, for the 3rd time.

Basically, his argument is that as a salesman, he’s on the road a lot, and he’s very active in church. When he’s home, he needs to focus on things there. So, he really doesn’t have time to do what it takes to get it done.

I’m all about being active in church, and spending time with family. I even understand the difficulties presented with being on the road. As a singer/songwriter (one of my other hats), I travel quite a bit too.

Frankly, I was stymied. I’d already made all the arguments. When I travel, I visit the Y or a gym where I’m going. If the hotel has a fitness center, I use that. If I’m in the boonies, I go out for a run and do pushups, situps and squats in my room.

If he can drop the weight, he’ll have more energy and ability to do more at home and church. We can do so much more, when we feel better. If he reduces his risk of diabetes and heart disease, he’s really serving his family.

This weekend, I was re-reading a book called “Wild at Heart” (John Eldredge) for the fourth time. Basically, men are made with a warrior’s heart, most alive when discovering new lands, slaying dragons, and fighting for the hearts of fair maidens.

And maidens? They are most alive when they know there is a true love; one that pursues them, willing to do battle for their very heart. Both are made in the image of God, and both display his character.

If you doubt this, as Eldredge points out, note the feelings that well up deep inside us when watching movies like Braveheart, or the Patriot, where a man must overcome great odds, fighting for right, and is found capable. That’s what we want.

And if you’re a lady, how do you feel when you see the extent to which someone will fight for her heart; to do whatever it takes to win not just the battle, but her.

It may not be politically correct these days, but I believe both of these desires live deep within all of us. If we’ll have the courage to stop and think about it, we’ll finally learn who we really are, and who we’re supposed to be.

Life is like a journey, a marvelous adventure, unfolding like pages of a novel before us, and we all have our own pages to write as parts of the bigger story. You are the co-author of your own chapter, too, and what’s written on those pages is largely up to you.

Like most journeys, though, you can only take so much with you. Sometimes you have to just get on board and go where it takes you. You’re old baggage doesn’t fit where you’re going. It’s going to take new clothing, new ideas.

I finally realized that there was something deeper keeping my friend from addressing what would be obvious to anyone else. Like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, he’s lost his heart, and doesn’t know how to find it.

Sometimes, it takes more than we possess. There are times when all our resources still aren’t enough to get the job done. When all we can do is pray and keep going.

But once we strike out across our own desert; once we join battle, it’s when we finally feel fully alive. It’s an exciting journey, finding your heart. Have you found yours?

Friday, May 18, 2007

You've Got to MOVE It!

Is there anyone that can say with absolute certainty that they couldn’t feel any better? I doubt it, but if so, I want to meet them.

It is possible, though, for someone to be able to say they feel “great.” By the grace of God, I’m one of them.

Go through a few years of chronic “status asthmaticus” and you’ll appreciate how it feels to draw a breath without it feeling like your sucking air through a coffee straw.

Get over a few days of the nasty flu that was going around. Compared to that, you’ll feel great!

Talk to someone who lost 80 pounds and they’ll tell you they feel great. Like the Bible says, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down…” (Hebrews 12:1). For them, life is so much easier now, than before.

As you can see, feeling great is a relative thing. No, not your extended family coming over to visit… that’s a different kind of relative thing—that may or may not make you feel great. (In my case, it makes me feel great!)

It’s how you feel when you start to feel you’re not a loser anymore. Or it’s how you feel after you become a loser, and 15 pounds lighter, notice a little spring in your step.

It’s how you feel when you look down and see your toes for the first time in 20 years. It’s how you feel when you realize that going up the stairs didn’t gas you like it used to, just a short time ago.

It’s a feeling of satisfaction that you’re doing the right thing. It’s a sense of purpose that you’re being a better steward of your body.

It’s the warm fuzzy feeling when you catch your spouse giving you the “look” that you haven’t seen for a long time, and all you did is take your shirt off!

I’ve probably way overdone it on metaphors, but you get the idea, right? Feeling great is within reach for everyone. All it takes is a little time, a little work (o.k. maybe a lot of work), and a desire to feel better.

The first step is to figure out what you want. What’s your goal? More energy? Lose 20 pounds? More, perhaps? Figure it out.

Then, get a plan together. It’s going to take action. Start moving your body. That’s it. Just start moving. Join the Y. Join Curves, join a gym. Buy a treadmill. Walk a mile first thing every morning.

I love what they’re doing at a local grade school with their walking program. A bunch of kids have committed to walking at least a mile a day after school. Teachers too!

Start lifting some weights. Put some muscle back on that body. Everything gets easier with a little more muscle. You’ve got more strength to do the things you want to do.

Studies show that people in their 80’s can improve muscle strength and endurance after just 6 weeks of working out! How much more so, for you, if you’re only in your 30’s or 40’s, 50’s, or even 60’s?

Pick a sport. Try it. If you don’t like it, pick something else. Enjoy the process. You don’t have to be Nadia to enjoy learning gymnastics. Or fight in a cage to enjoy learning Jui Jitsu. Trust me. I’m doing both, and it’s a wild ride!

You want to feel better? Or better yet, feel great? Start moving. Like the song says, “You’ve got to move it move it. You’ve got to move it, move it. You’ve got to move it move it. You’ve got to…MOVE IT!”

Saturday, May 05, 2007

What's Up With Us?

Why do we keep doing things the same way, even when they’re not working? Why do we keep doing things we know will harm us, like smoking, excessive drinking, and overeating?

Why do we start another exercise program, thinking, “this time we’ll keep doing it,” only to let other things pull us away, after just a few weeks?

Why do we buy an Ab Lounge™, Bow Flex™, Skiers, Treadmills, Exercise Balls, and then let them sit there collecting dust in the corner?

Why do we say we’re going to make changes, and even make attempts at it, but then give up, again? What’s up with us, anyway?

In his seminars, success coach Anthony Robbins talks about how people sometimes sabotage success. Afraid of the consequences if things do change, we’ll do things to insure that things don’t change.

I think that sometimes, that’s true. I also think that sometimes, we just get lazy and comfortable in our ways. We take the easy road.

The bible gives us another perspective: “No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. When I want to do well, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway… Oh, what a miserable person I am!” (Romans 8:18-24).

Ever felt that way? Me too. And come on. We know right from wrong. We know when we should be doing something, and when we shouldn’t be doing that other thing.

It’s time to step up and make some changes. To start doing the right things. Look at it this way. A change is gonna come, one way or another. Ultimately, everybody ends up six feet under. So how do you want to go?

Time is going to pass, whatever you do. Ten years, twenty years, thirty years; whatever time you have left. How will you spend them?

Personally, I’d like to be productive till the end. Studies show that people in their eighties can improve muscle tone and strength, after just six weeks of training!

I’d like to have them telling me to slow down, worried that I might hurt myself. Maybe go skiing with my grand children.

I’d like to be like Moses, or Aaron in the Old Testament. God told them that it was time, and he was going to “gather them” to their people.” That’s how I’d like to go. Not in a bed somewhere, unable to do even the basic things to take care of myself.

Sure, bad things happen to good people, and accidents and disease can strike anyone. But it’s also clear that there are many things we can do to reduce the risks.

Certain foods help fight cancer. Other foods reduce the risk of heart disease. And everyone knows they need to exercise. Next week, I’m going to start a list of things you can do to turn things around. If you do them, you’ll start feeling better. You might even look better, too? Interested? See you then.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taekwondo for Exercise...and More!

As a senior Taekwondo Master and instructor of many years, part of my responsibility is to attend regional and national tournaments and help out with the judging. This weekend, we took a group of kids and adults to a tournament about an hour away.

One of the benefits since becoming a Master last year, is that now I don’t have to judge all day. After judging the Black Belts first thing in the morning, I was free to walk around and watch our students. This was great, because I could see how they’re doing, and help them figure out a plan for their training afterward.

It also gave me time to reflect on several things. First of all, the fact that there were over 600 Taekwondo competitors is amazing. Sure, more than half were kids—there were 22 Orange Belt Tiny Tigers in my grandchildren’s ring alone, before they split them up.

That was amazing. Here they were, at the age of 3, 4 and 5, and they were out there doing something good for both their body and their mind.

Not only did they have to do their moves (physical), but they had to get up in front of the parents and all the other kids too (mental). I bet they’ll be pretty healthy and be pretty confident too, as they grow up.

There were hundreds of kids all brought together to compete in their art of Taekwondo, which means “kicking, punching way.” An oriental art, originally from Korea, Taekwondo has become extremely popular in the United States of the last several decades.

Known for its dynamic kicking techniques, and strong blocks and strikes, Taekwondo is also known for helping kids and adults improve their life skills, like courtesy and self-discipline.
It was pretty evident that it’s working, as all the kids and adults waited patiently for their chance to compete. Then, they handled themselves with courtesy and respect during their competition.

With my new freedom, I was able to observe our adults in competition in several different rings as well. It’s always fascinated me on how people deal with pressure. That’s one of the main reasons I’ve loved competing over the years.

They say the number one fear in adults is public speaking. Imagine getting up in front of a group and doing a physical demonstration all by yourself! Or point sparring with someone, with just two minutes to get more points than they do.

In all the adult rings, whether they were colored belts or black belts, I didn’t see anyone seriously overweight. Sure, some were in better shape than others, but usually, they were all pretty fit. Again, I think these people have a good chance to stay healthy.

For them, it was Taekwondo. There are plenty of other activities, though. What are you doing? Better get started with something!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Time Flies

I never cease to be amazed at how fast time flies. One moment you’re worried about teenagers; the next you’re holding grandchildren. It's been a half a year since I've posted to my own blog!

It’s stunning how quickly things can change. Blink twice and your whole life can be different. I mean, look back. Did you ever think things would turn out this way? Did you expect to be where you are right now?

When we’re going through the fire, it seems to take forever. With a little effort and a lot of faith, a year or two later, things can be completely different. So can you.

We need to start thinking about the big picture. That doesn’t mean we don’t do the little things we should do every day. It just means that we might take a wider view of things.

Start seeing things how they can be, instead of just looking in the mirror. The bible says “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”

Sure it’s important to see things as they are. Otherwise it’s called denial. But what you’re seeing or might be feeling doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know. It’s not that it isn’t real. It’s just that there might be something even more real.

Last year, I took up running with my son, and we’ve been training for another marathon this coming April 15th. We do speed work on Tuesdays, a 30 minute recovery run on Thursdays, and the dreaded distance run on Saturdays. This weekend it was 15 miles!

Even though I’ve done it before, there were a bunch of times Saturday, when I was thinking, how do you go from 15 miles to 26? I wanted to just slow down and quit running.

But that’s why you train. It’s what gets you to the next level. We did 7 miles one weekend, then 9 miles the next, Then 11 miles, 13, and last Saturday, 15 miles. Next weekend, it’s 17 miles, and so on.

Of course it’s really hard today, but if I just follow the program and don’t have any injuries, God willing, in a couple months I’ll be ready. My endurance will be greater, and I’ll be ready.

I probably won’t ever be a running machine like my son, but if I’m faithful and keep at it, I’ll be better than I am now. I’ve got to keep the big picture in mind.

Another strategy is to break things up into smaller chunks. If it’s too big to even think about, do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest. Just do the next important thing.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, and you’ve tried and failed, don’t think about losing 80 pounds. Think about your next workout. Get to the gym.

Think about making better food choices the next time you sit down to eat. Break it up into what you do tomorrow, or next week.

Around 10 ½ miles, I just couldn’t see doing 15, so I started focusing on finishing that mile. Then I started number 12, and just thought about getting through that one. It was tough, but it worked.

I had a nice surprise when I got to mile 13. After all that pain and trouble, it turns out my time was 2 ½ minutes faster than the last half marathon last November. I was actually doing better!

Well now. That helped. The last 2 miles were much easier. I guess I was so close to the goal now, that if I did 13, what’s another 2 miles? You get that close, you know you can go the distance.

I did another mile and got to number 14. Only one left. Ten more minutes. Sure it hurt, but it didn’t hurt any more. I remember thinking…you know, 17 won’t be that bad.What’s your big picture? What do you see in your head when you dare to dream a little bit?