Friday, February 22, 2008


Well here we are, halfway through the 12 weeks. We’ve lost a few more people this week. Some are probably too busy, and others are hurt in some way or another. Others are finding it hard to stick with the program.

The bottom line is that change is difficult. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable—painful even. For some people, it’s just not worth it.

Say you’ve been given a special anniversary present—a week away on your own small island somewhere in the Pacific. White sandy beaches, beautiful palm trees. There’s no one around except you, your spouse, and a servant that takes care of your every need. You’ll have incredible meals, sunsets—just the perfect getaway.

The problem is getting there. You’ve got to catch a four hour flight to Miami, with a 12-hour layover before catching a smaller jet and 8 hour flight to Guam. Then it’s another 12-hour layover before you take a puddle jumper to another larger island.

After another 12-hour layover, you finally get in a boat and ride on a choppy sea for 4 hours before getting to the island. It’s taken you more than two days to get there and you’re exhausted. You also had to pay for the flights. Is it worth it? How many people would say forget it—it’s too much trouble?

Let’s say you were coming home from Iraq after serving there for a year. Sure, the flights would be free, but it’s still a hassle. No question it’s worth it, though? You couldn’t wait to go.

It’s all about your perspective. You have to want the destination badly enough to put up with the hassles along the way. And when you can learn to enjoy the journey, it gets even better.

We’ve got about 45 people left out of the original 57 who started six weeks ago. For the remaining contestants, it’s becoming as much about the journey as it is the destination, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.

This week we had our guest nutritionist back for another session. Camilla Whitkanack, MS RD, from Terre Haute Regional spoke to the group about how to make better choices when looking at calories in their meals and snacks.

She had some powerful visual aids that helped her make the point that “some foods marketed as “diet” foods may actually be poor choices because of unhealthy additives and/or being overly processed.”

Camilla went on to compare an actual 1 oz baggy of baked potato chips (120 calories) with a 1 oz baggy of regular potato chips (150 calories). The 30 calories savings “is hardly enough to bother with.”

She also pointed out that the potato chips had just three ingredients: potatoes, salt, and oil. In contrast, the baked chips had around 15 ingredients, most of which are chemical compounds that are hard to pronounce, and had to determine exactly what they are!

She goes on to say, “It certainly doesn’t justify eating more baked chips than regular chips, especially considering that the baked chips are higher in sodium and loaded with additives to artificially enhance flavor and texture.”

Another great example Camilla gave was with a popular name brand protein bar marketed as a diet bar as a “meal-on-the-go.” “It weighs a measly 2 ounces and provides 220 calories.” Not very filling.

She continues, “First of all, 220 calories should be considered a snack, not a meal. Even when you’re trying to lose weight, a balanced meal should provide 400-500 calories to provide enough energy to get through your day, provide fuel for exercise, and allow you to burn fat instead of muscle.” That’s exactly why I wanted them to hear what she had to say.

Camilla said that the bars might work fine in a pinch, but that there were far better choices, as she held up a baggie with a cup of strawberries and blueberries, an 8 oz cup of light yogurt, and yet another baggie with Kashi granola—grand total, 220 calories!

In one hand she had the diet bar—in the other, all that fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. Which one do you think would fill you up more? Which would have more vitamins and minerals? And which would have a bunch of ingredients you couldn’t pronounce—which to me can’t be as good?

It was a pretty powerful demonstration that you “have to look beyond the numbers when trying to make life-long improvements in your eating habits.” Camilla ended with “Lean more towards whole foods or food with minimal processing such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals, balanced with lean sources of protein and lowfat or nonfat dairy.”

This week we had two $20 Walmart gift cards provided by Dimond Brothers Insurance for the top two losers. First place went to our oldest contestant, Bill Lewis, who lost the largest percentage of body weight (-1.97%) and a weight loss of 5.0 lbs. Bill is 67, and has lost an amazing 27.2 pounds in just six weeks! Bill said his secret is working out twice a day. He’s also pretty careful about what he’s eating.

Second place went to Jane Graham, who lost the 2nd largest percentage of body weight (-1.65%), and a weight loss of 2.6 lbs. This is pretty impressive since Jane’s one of the smallest people here. Whenever I see her, though, she’s busting it pretty hard, whether it’s on the treadmill, in the weight room, or in kickboxing class.

I also gave them a group training session on the cardio equipment, where they learned how to do high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. After a warmup, they learned how to evaluate their effort on a scale from 1 (Couch Potato) to 10 (Have to Quit).

Couch Potato Very Easy Light Work Moderate Tougher Very Hard Have to Quit!

The secret to HIIT workouts is to get a good warmup by starting at a 5 or a 6. After about 5 minutes, crank the intensity up to a 7 by increasing the speed or grade (hills) on the treadmill, or the speed or resistance on the elliptical or bike.

After another few minutes, crank it up to what feels like an 8 for a minute. Then back it down to a 6 or 7 for a minute to recover. Take it back up to an 8 for another minute before lowering it to what feels like a 7. After a few of those intervals, crank it up to what feels like a 9 for a minute before going back down to a 6 or 7 to recover.

Do a couple of those intervals! If you really want to drive a stack through it’s heart and call it dead, do your last interval for twice as long (2 minutes)! Or, shoot for a 10 and see if you can make it for a full minute.

If you don’t have much time, doing HIIT for 20 minutes will burn more calories than regular cardio for twice as long. Plus, it has a much longer after burn—giving you a calorie burning bonus over the next couple hours. Give it a try. Make sure you get have a recovery day in between HIIT workouts—you’ll need them. See you next week!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


If people make it into the second month of a fitness program, I’ve found that they’ll usually be successful. But getting past that first month can be a problem for some people. This week, I’ve had several of the 57 let me know they were stopping, and there are several others who haven’t been coming, so I figure they’re done too.

There are lots of reasons why. The best reason I heard is that one of the gals was pregnant, and couldn’t continue to workout at that pace. I totally agree with that. She’ll still be exercising for another few months, but not at the frenzied pace these guys are doing.

Remember, you can lose weight slowly if you like. There is nothing wrong with that, and I recommend it. It might even be more permanent. Simply start walking everyday, and increase your speed and distance over time, and you’ll see results.

Start watching your portions and eating more fruits and vegetables, and you’ll see even better results. Most people want quicker changes though, especially when they see those huge transformations on TV.

Some of the other reasons were pretty good, too. Sometimes your body isn’t ready for such a dynamic and total change, and running and jumping. That’s O.K. Just start easy and do what you can. Work up to it, but do something.

The real concerns I have are for the people that start and stop altogether. Something clicks and they want to do it, but then they somehow lose momentum. Life starts to intrude. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Here’s what you have to do.

You have to be deliberate about things. Each day you deliberately choose to do certain things and to not do other things. In this case, you have to deliberately set aside time each day to get in your workout—for best results, twice a day. Walk a mile in the morning and then get your workout in that night.

But if you let each day determine whether you’ll get your workout in, you’ll never really get started. Things will come up. You’ll miss one workout, then another. Finally you’re missing more than you get. Then you surrender. You have to be deliberate about it.

You have to be deliberate about what you eat, too. Each day, on purpose, with a plan, you’re eating better. I mean come on; those Twinkies don’t just jump in your mouth. Fruits and Greens aren’t going to jump off the shelf into your shopping cart! You have to be deliberate about it.

Next, and it’s a subtle difference, you have to be consistent. Doing things the same way each day gives you power. You do it today because you have to. You do it the same way tomorrow because you have to. It gives you momentum, and then you start to see changes.

People often complain they’re not getting the results they’d like. When I ask them “have you been getting in all your workouts?” “Both workouts?” “Well, no. Not both of them, but I did really well Tuesday.” “Are you hitting your minimum—getting enough calories in?” “Uhm… yeah, most days, but yesterday, I was really busy and missed breakfast and lunch too.”

This is not being consistent. Consistent means you do the same things every day. Here, in town, when you travel. Whether you’re at home or eating out. You have a plan and you stick with it.

Finally, sometimes it just takes time. Some medicines can make it harder for you to lose weight. That’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is. Roll with it. Keep trying and get over the fact that it’s going to take you longer. That’s no reason to quit. You can still get what you want if you’ll just stick it out. I call it “winning through stamina.” You just outlast em.

You also keep changing the program—building intensity—using your body in different ways. That’s why I taught them another workout routine this week. Here’s the second routine they’ll be doing.

Make sure you know how to do each movement correctly. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (gals) and 10-12 reps (guys). If you are doing some jogging or running now, you can omit the Calve Raises.

1. Walking Lunge (with or w/o weights—Hips, Buns & Thighs
2. DB Pec Fly’s on the Exercise Ball—Chest & Shoulders
3. DB Dead lift (with slightly bent knees)—Hips, Buns & Thighs
4. DB Pullovers—Upper Back & Biceps
5. Calve Raises (on a step with or without DB)--Calves
6. DB Shoulder Press—Shoulders & Triceps
7. Standing DB Curls (together)--Biceps
8. DB Tricep Kickbacks—Triceps
9. Ab Crunches (knees bent, feet flat on floor)
10. Ab Crunches (legs straight and pointed up in the air)
11. Ab Crunches (knee bent, other leg crossed, both sides)
12. Leg Raises (on back with shoulders up, alternate raising straight legs 12” off floor)

This week’s winner was Cheryl Redmon. You may recall last week she won 1st place for the ladies. This week she led both the gals and the guys with a percentage weight loss of -2.10%, and 4.4 lbs lost, with 19.4 lbs lost to date. She won $20 cash from Dimond Brothers Insurance.

I think her husband Chris was just a little frustrated, as he’s lost the most weight so far (-29.4 lbs), and the most weight this week (-6.0 lbs). He realized that he could lose the most weight, but still lose the contest and he wasn’t happy. I mean he’s been running on the treadmill—just busting it, and it shows. Six pounds is awesome.

I explained it’s based on size. It’s harder for someone 200 lbs to lose 4.5 lbs than it is for someone 300 lbs to lose 6.0 lbs. That’s why percentage of weight loss levels the playing field. Now, it’s “game on!” And Cody’s right in the thick of things too (-5.2 lbs this week, and -23.2 lbs overall).

This one family has lost 72 lbs in 5 weeks! Any way you slice it, they’re all going to be big winners, even if they’re not the biggest loser.

Think about it. What if other families started competing to see who could lose the most weight? Maybe they take a vacation to that person’s favorite destination. Or that person gets the new thing they’ve been wanting and the others have to pay for it. What if your house could lose…?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Well it’s been a month already and January’s come and gone. We’ve had this group working out four weeks and they’ve done some pretty amazing things.

Many of them are jogging on the treadmills now, and they sure are working harder in the Friday night group workouts. A lot of the things that they found difficult early on are getting easier, so I have to turn it up on them, and that’s a good thing.

This week, we had a special guest from Terre Haute Regional Hospital. Camilla Whitkanack, MS RD came and talked to them about nutrition. It was great. She confirmed the fact that the women needed to make sure they ate enough—which is always a problem.

Remember, I told you 9 out of 10 women aren’t eating enough? Her recommendation was that women never go below 1,500 calories and that men get at least 1,800 calories daily. Camilla gave them a great checklist of the things that go wrong on starvation diets, and another handout on the basics of eating a well-balanced diet.

Then we went in the “house of pain” and hit it pretty hard. The contestants jogged 6 laps in one direction and 6 in the other. It was only supposed to be 5, but they forgot to count and ended up doing one more!

Then it was three rounds of 20 body squats, 20 pushups, and 20 crunches. Sixty total. It was tough, but I reminded them they had trouble doing them in sets of 10, just 3 weeks ago.

After the rounds, it was 12 more laps, jogging 6 in each direction. They never quit moving for almost 25 minutes. It was great. The main point I wanted them to get was that if this was their toughest workout, they weren’t hitting it hard enough during the week.

Then we went into the free weight room and I taught them what I call Level Two training. Remember, Level One is your basic strength circuit on the machines—which are guided, with cables, levers, and total body support.

On Level Two, you use dumbbells (DB) instead of machines. You get no advantage from leverage. Instead, you’re doing all the work. The dumbbells aren’t guided—you have to guide them, which means you’re using more stabilizer muscles. Finally, there are no pads for front or back support, so your core has to work harder too.

As they’ll see, replacing machines with dumbbells will result in more muscles being used, driving up the number of calories burned—helping them get what they want—to burn more fat!

Basically, each machine was replaced with an equivalent free weight exercise with dumbbells. The weights were quite a bit lighter than what they’d done on the machines, since it’s harder.

Here’s the first routine they’ll be starting with. Make sure you know how to do each movement correctly. Find a trainer, read a book, or go online. It’s important for safety, but also so you’ll get the most out of the workout.

Perform 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions (gals) and 10-12 reps (guys). Do each movement very slowly and with complete control. If you don’t know how to do the movements, find someone who does. Start with a lighter weight at first. Once you know you can control it, then you can increase the weights a bit.

1. Body Squat (with or without DB on shoulders)—Hips, Buns & Thighs
2. DB Chest Press on the Exercise Ball—Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
3. DB Dead lift (with slightly bent knees)—Hips, Buns & Thighs
4. DB Single Arm Rows—Upper Back & Biceps
5. Calve Raises (on a step with or without DB)--Calves
6. DB Lateral Raises--Shoulders
7. DB Single Arm Curls (one at a time)--Biceps
8. DB Overhead Press—Triceps
9. AB Crunches on the Exercise Ball
10. Side Twists with a Medicine Ball

The trick is to use the right weight—not too low a weight, but not too high either. Women will want to use a weight that is challenging but doable. All too often, women will use tiny dumbbells in the exercises and that’s just not enough resistance.

Normally, gals will need #5, #8, #10, #12, #15 and #20 dumbbells. Guys need to make sure they’re lifting enough too. They’ll usually start out with #10, #15, #20, #25, #30 and #35 dumbbells.

Don’t be afraid to increase the weights. If it’s easy to get your reps in, it’s time to increase the weights. It’s the resistance that causes the changes. Just like life.

We never change things when it’s going well and everything’s easy. It’s the bumps and valleys—the tough times—that cause us to reflect and make the most changes. The same thing happens with your body.

To add intensity to the workout, avoid stopping and resting between sets. Run right through it in a circuit and then hit it again, then again.

Another strategy is to do supersets. Do #1 and #2 back to back, alternating the Squat and Chest Press. I call this active rest. This way, one muscle group is resting while another is working—and you’re never stopping. You’ll burn way more calories this way.

Yet another strategy is to hit your core in between sets by doing AB Crunches on the ball or Side Twists in between sets of the other exercises. This is also a good way to go. Change it up. Don’t get locked into the same exact thing every time. It’s good for your body and it’s good for your mind.

We discovered that last week’s winner had actually missed the previous weigh-in due to a sickness. As a result Jasmine Camp moved up from #2 to #1 for last week, and got the prize, and she’d been busting it too.

This week we had two winners. For the gals, Cheryl Redmon lost the largest percentage of body weight (-1.32%) and -2.8 lbs. She was followed by Shirley Fiscus (-1.29%) and -2.6 lbs in second place, and Janet Tyler (-1.25%) and -2.4 lbs in third place.

Cheryl won a $20 Subway gift card from Dimond Brothers Insurance. Her husband Chris was slightly miffed, cause he keeps coming in second, but is losing a ton of weight! More on that later.

For the guys, the winner was Cody Redmon (again putting the screws to his dad Chris) who lost the largest percentage of body weight (-1.74%) and -5.6 lbs. He also received a $20 Subway gift card from Dimond Brothers Insurance. At that point, his dad said they would both be sharing!

Chris Redmon ended up in 2nd place with a percentage loss of -1.50% and weight loss of -4.6 lbs. In third place for the guys, Sean Pruiett lost -1.43% and -4.4 lbs.

Since it’s the end of the first month, I thought it would be interesting to look at total numbers, and they’re pretty impressive. Of the contestants that weighed in Friday, I’ve listed the top 28 (just about half the group).

Each has lost almost four pounds in four weeks. Remember, losing a pound a week is great (and normal). Two pounds a week is outstanding. Anything over three pounds a week is amazing! Keep in mind that the final winner will be determined by total percentage of weight loss—not pounds.

Name % lbs
1. Joe Stidham 8.34 19.4
2. Bill Lewis 7.33 20.2
3. Chris Redmon 7.13 23.4
4. Cheryl Redmon 6.69 15.0
5. Donnie Bartos 6.41 13.0
6. Tony Haupt 6.03 15.8
7. Tiffany Gann 5.68 12.4
8. Cody Redmon 5.39 18.0
9. Mike Slaven 4.97 13.6
10. Sherree Hutchings 4.84 9.0
11. Penny Spinner 4.84 7.5
12. Janet Tyler 4.24 8.4
13. Becky Slaven 4.23 6.8
14. Carla Sinclair 4.06 7.2
15. Jasmine Camp 4.04 9.4
16. Stacey Reed 3.82 8.4
17. Dawn Hopper 3.67 6.6
18. Jane Graham 3.44 5.6
19. James Motley 3.33 6.6
20. Robert Sanders 3.09 8.6
21. Sean Pruiett 3.01 9.4
22. Rita Haupt 2.91 4.8
23. Shirley Fiscus 2.45 5.0
24. Penny Ogle 2.24 5.0
25. Angel Lumpp 2.04 3.2
26. Pam Kelly 2.01 5.6
27. Dawn Stewart 1.90 4.0
28. Pam Waller 1.73 4.6

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Here we are at the end of Week 3, and it’s hard to believe we’re already almost a month into this thing—wow this is a big group (57). It’s sure made the Friday night workouts interesting.

I’ve noticed a couple things. This is a pretty motivated group. The weight loss numbers are better than they’ve ever been. They’re handling the workouts pretty well, and most are starting to make changes in their eating habits. Still, the group seems to be dividing into three smaller groups in terms of weight loss:
1. “overachievers” (losing 3 or more lbs a week)
2. normal (losing the normal 1-2 lbs a week)
3. struggling a little bit.

It’s easy to explain the overachievers. They are simply doing more—pushing themselves twice a day, and turning it up each week. They’re also really doing well with their eating.
The normal group is also easy to explain. It’s very typical to see people lose 1-2 lbs a week once they start exercising and eating right.

It’s the third group that’s a little perplexing, especially since some of them are getting it right with the two workouts each day and their diet. But most of them, when I ask if they’ve been getting both workouts in, have told me they’ve missed some. A few have been pretty sick and haven’t been able to do much at all.

Many of them still aren’t hitting their minimum calories either. That’s a killer. It’ll do it every time. Hopefully, they’ll start eating a little more, so their metabolisms will improve, allowing them to start burning fat for fuel.

If you’re not getting the results you want, you need to ask a couple questions. Are the results doable—is it reasonable? In this case, yes, because plenty of other people are getting it done.
Are there things you aren’t doing that the others are? We’ve already covered that. Some are missing some workouts. Some aren’t hitting their minimum.

Is there anything else you can be doing to try to get the weight loss going? Here’s where we are with this group. For some, especially those that have already been active, the key is becoming even more active.

Look at it this way. If you can already do it, does your body have any reason to change? Does it even need to change? Nope. It can already do it. It’s the overload principle you have to utilize. Ask more of it than you can do comfortably, and it will respond by making it easier. That causes changes in your body. That will cause you to burn fat.

This means if you’ve already been walking, start jogging. If you’ve already been jogging, start running. If you’ve already been running, start sprinting. Have you ever seen a fat sprinter? Ever?

If you’ve been hitting the weights, hit it harder. Don’t rest. Never take a break. Do stuff in between sets to keep your heart rate up. Find ways to up the intensity level. Lift more weight. Do it more times. Use free weights instead of machines (this is what the group will be doing next week). Get the idea?

Then of course, there’s the eating. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’re struggling to lose weight, you have to make sure you’re hitting your minimum. Sometimes you have to eat more to lose weight.

You might also have to be stricter with your diet than the others. Some people need to be a little more careful with carbs. Or salt. Never salt your foods, and avoid anything with over 400-500 mg of sodium. Never miss breakfast either. In the end, though, it really comes down to activity level and raising your intensity level. Keep trying, and it will eventually work for you.

This week, our top three losers were all women! You see? If they can do it—you can do it too. First place went to an unsuspecting Jane Graham, who’d lost 4.2 lbs and a whopping 2.59% of her body weight. Jane had been flying under the radar, and was totally surprised. She won a $30 Krogers gift card from Dimond Brothers Insurance.

Second place went to Jasmine Camp, who lost 5.6 lbs and 2.44% of her body weight. Third place went again to Tiffany Gann, a repeat from last week. Tiffany lost another 4.6 lbs and 2.18% of body weight.

Honorable mention goes to Chris Redman who lost 6.0 lbs and 1.91% of body weight. You’ll recall Chris had that great week with his whole family back in week one.

Next week I’ll give you the 1st month results and talk to you about using free weights. Until then, I’ll see you in the gym!