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.