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!