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!