Thursday, July 24, 2008


I love seeing people working out. Just the other day, I came in the gym and heard this sound… “pound, pound, pound, pound.” I walked into the cardio room and there was Chris Redmon blazing away on the treadmill.

You might remember Chris from Biggest Loser “3.” He was the biggest loser without getting to be the biggest loser. He lost 56.5 lbs (more than anyone else in the group, and a gym record for 12 weeks), but a slightly lower percentage of body weight than the winner (Joe Stidham) and runner up (Bill Lewis) that time.

Even though Chris and his wife Cheryl didn’t participate in Biggest Loser “4”, they were always here working out—you could set your watch by them. Somehow, they were able to maintain their commitment and focus, after the contest was over.

So here he was, pounding away on the treadmill, going faster than I’d ever seen him go, with his wife running next to him. When I looked at the display, he was going 7.0 mph. Now speed is a relative thing. Some go slower, some go faster, but for Chris, that was really impressive, considering that he’d only really started running during his contest, just 24 weeks ago.

What I always recommend is that you start out by walking. Then, when you feel ready, you jog a minute and then walk two minutes, repeating for as long as you can. As you get stronger, you can do more and more running intervals.

Usually, the running speed is right around 5.0 mph on the treadmill. If you’re outside, that is a 12 minute pace for the mile (if you ran the whole thing without stopping at 5.0 mph).

Sometimes, someone will be more comfortable jogging a little slower, but somewhere around 4.5 mph is probably the slowest you’ll run. Any slower, and you can walk that fast. Once in a while, someone will start running a little faster than 5.0 mph, but that’s a good average beginning running pace.

Then, the goal is to improve your 1 mile walk/run time. If you walked the whole thing at a very comfortable pace (3.0 mph), it takes 20 minutes to complete a mile. In our groups, we often had people starting with 20 minute miles at the beginning, and taking 3, 4 and even 5 minutes off their time in just 12 weeks.

If you do it in 15 minutes, you know you’re running some and walking some. As you get closer and closer to 12 minutes, you’ll be running more and more. Once you can do the mile in 12 minutes or less, you’re pretty much running the whole way.

Chris told me that he’d gotten down to around 11 minutes, which was fantastic, and now, here he is, turning it up some more, running 7.0 mph. He said the furthest he’d ever run was a mile (since that’s what we’d been doing in the group).

Now, he needs to set a new goal. I told him that one day a week, he needs to try to go further each time. Next time, add a quarter mile (one lap on the track). Try to run it all, but if you have to walk, that’s O.K. Whatever it takes to get there. This is called distance running.

Then, next week, add another quarter mile. Now you’re up to a mile and a half. Same thing. Whatever it takes to get there. Each week, keep adding a quarter mile. Pretty soon, you’re running 2 miles, and a month later, running 3 miles, which is basically a 5K.

The fitness benefits from the extra miles are pretty simple to understand. Do more work and you burn more calories. Run further and it will help you keep on track with your weight loss goal.

One day a week, you should work on your speed, like Chris was doing by doing a speed run. Say a week from today, Chris should try running at 7.1 mph, if only for a little while. Then rest up, and hit it again, working at that new speed. The following week, he can try 7.2 mph.

People are always surprised when I work with them on this. They can always go further and faster than they thought they could. That’s the ticket. You’ve got to build the intensity. Running faster is harder, and when you up the intensity, you burn more calories.

Finally, one day a week, you should do what’s called a tempo run. Pick a pace between your speed run (fastest) and distance run (slowest) and try to go for say 20 or 30 minutes at that tempo.

For example, say Chris would drop down to 5.7 mph for his distance run of two miles. He also can go 7.0 mph for shorter distances (say quarter mile repeats). He should pick something like 6.0, and try to do most of his 20-30 minute run at around that pace.

Each of these three basic types of runs will help you burn more calories, because they do different things for your body. They also make things more interesting, because each workout has a specific goal in mind.

Finally, the next thing is to set a goal for doing a 5K sometime. I recommend the Honeybee festival this fall. It’s far enough away that anyone can prepare for it. Remember, it’s not how fast you go.

You can walk the entire thing if you need to. Or jog a minute, and walk two minutes the entire way. It’s entirely up to you, and how much you want to push yourself.

The important things are to set a goal, which gives you motivation and something to look forward to. Then keep working toward the goal, which helps you stay on track with your weight loss. Finally, when you accomplish the goal, you’ll feel pretty good about yourself and what you did.

I can tell you this. Last year at the Louis & Clark Marathon, there were over 4,000 of us lined up before the event. Guys, gals, young, and old. Some were experienced. Others, like me, were there for their first time.

Most were there to run a half marathon (13.1 miles); about one fourth were there to try the whole marathon (26.2 miles). Quite a few were there to walk either the half or full marathon. The one thing I noticed, though, was that no one was obese. It was unusual to have that many people together, and no one was really overweight.

Sure, there were some people who were “in progress” with their weight loss, while others were at their ideal lean weight, but no one was what I would consider “over-fat.” Do that much work to get ready, and you get in shape.

So, here’s where you start. Hit the weights 3 days a week, and walk/run the other 3 days. On your running days make one day (after a rest day) a speed run where you work on speed. Make one day a tempo run, where you try to run a certain distance, or for a certain amount of time at a certain speed. Finally, one day a week, do a longer, slower distance run.

In a couple hours, I’m gonna go out for my distance run. I do it on the weekends since I have a little more time. This week it’s 15 miles, which is going to be pretty tough, since it’s sunny and hot out today (Sunday). If I want to be able to do the whole 26 miles in September, though, I’ve got to get used to running distances.

Sure, I’m a little extreme about this, but I’ve set a goal, and that means I’ll practice, and that means I’ll keep in shape. Plus, I’ll wear a lot of sunblock and a hat, and come back and soak my head every 2.5 miles when I get a drink. I’m not kidding. It will help me cool down.

Now you don’t necessarily have to get that crazy about it. There are things even I won’t do. Did you know there are people that run across the desert? I’ve got a friend that does 50 mile races!

There’s something for everyone, though. It’s self paced and you decide how far you take it. Start slow and see how it feels. You might decide you like it.

One thing’s sure. You’ll take off the weight. Oh, and Chris? He grinned and told me he was up to 90 lbs. In just 6 months. Now that’s cool. 10 more to go. I know he’ll do it. He’s running now!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I’ve spent a lot of time these last few years talking about some of the people I’ve worked with. Since the latest contest is over, I thought you might like to learn a little more about me, and why I do what I do.

For those of you that don’t know my story, I grew up as a severe asthmatic, back before they really had medicines that would help. Not allowed to do any physical activities, I had to sit on the sidelines in gym class (back then, we had P.E. every day).

The other kids gave me quite a hard time about it, but what they didn’t realize is that I would have given anything to be out there with them.

I spent most of my time reading and practicing music, but wanted to do things, play sports, and wasn’t able to. I was a pretty skinny kid, and my parents didn’t give me much junk food, since it was thought to contribute to asthma attacks.

Still, I was pretty lucky, because now-a-days, such inactivity is a sure recipe for obesity (more on that another time). If I’d had access to all the fast foods and junk foods that kids have today, I’d have been in trouble.

After graduating from high school and moving down to Vincennes, IN to go to school, I was hit by a train on October 2nd, 1980. Ironically, the thing that almost did me in wasn’t the train, but a massive asthma attack at the time, and I went into respiratory arrest and quit breathing.

God was surely looking out for me that day. Instead of dragging me down the tracks, the train simply knocked my car off to the side. At the same time, an ambulance also just happened to be returning from a call!

If I’d been knocked to the other side, I’d of been blocked by the train, and they wouldn’t have been able to get to me quickly. As it was, they got there right away, knocked out the back glass and got me out to start rescue breathing.

I have a faint memory of going down a bright hallway. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t heaven—just the hospital corridor. A few hours later, I woke up on a respirator. The nurse asked me if I knew what had happened, but I didn’t remember anything. She told me I’d been hit by a train and I was lucky to be alive.

When I went to see the car a week later (remember the old Datsun B-210?), my knees got weak. It was twisted up in a ball, and I couldn’t see how anyone could have made it out alive. I only had a couple scratches.

I knew I had to have been spared for a reason, cause people don’t survive things like that. How many people have you ever heard of that got hit by a train and lived?

I continued college, and started training in martial arts and working out, to get stronger. I got so interested in it, that I became a martial arts instructor and eventually got a master’s degree in physical education, specializing in exercise physiology and sport biomechanics.

I still had a lot of problems with asthma attacks, especially during workouts, and spent quite a few stays in the hospital—several near fatal. Later, the medicines got much better, and I could finally do more and more.

I never outgrew the asthma, but a couple years ago, they finally came out with Advair and Singular, medicines that let me train as hard as I want, with no symptoms at all! I’ve got to stay on the meds though. If I stop, all the symptoms come back, big-time.

That’s when I started running, and was able to start competing in some pretty rigorous jui-jitsu competitions. I’ve run 3 marathons, and am training to do one September 13th. I’m also doing some pretty crazy workouts at the gym and am even working on some basic gymnastics—great for your core.

Looking back, I’m pretty sure this is helping me make up in some way for those early years. The running has also made it much easier to help maintain my weight—especially as I’ve gotten older.

Even though there were a couple occasions when I almost died, when I look back, I’m grateful for all the experiences. It’s led me do everything I’m doing now, and has made me want to help everyone get moving and eating right, because I know what it’s done for me.

Anytime I get to run or do one of our crazy workouts, I’m grateful for the opportunity, because I couldn’t always do it. Now that I can, I’m going to take full advantage.

Research shows that inactive kids are at great risk for obesity, and once a child is obese, odds are that they’ll continue to be obese as adults. The good news is that most kids don’t have any physical reasons why they can’t get moving.

If we can get them up off the couch and off the computer, they can stay healthy and avoid the growing trend of youth obesity. Then they won’t have to spend a lifetime making up for it.

I’m the lucky one. I want to work out. It’s not work for me. Many people don’t see it that way though. Once they get started and lose some weight, it can change. When they look and feel better, and feel better about themselves, just like I did, they’ll find a new life in front of them. That’s why I do what I do.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Well that was it. Another 12 weeks gone—just like that. I’m always amazed how fast things go. One thing is certain though, time always passes. The only question is what will you have you done with it?

This was another great group of Biggest Losers. We started with 68 and ended with 31 making the final weigh-in, a little less than half the group which is about normal. I always tell them when we start: “Half of you won’t finish for one reason or other—which half are you going to be in?”

A lot of different things came up to take them out of the game: jobs, illnesses, vacations, summertime, lack of interest, too hard, not what they expected, ____________ (fill in the blank).

The ones that bother me the most are those that I simply never heard from. They just stopped coming. I always wonder if they’ll find a way to get what they want. Life always intrudes, and it’s what you do when that happens that makes all the difference.

Keep in mind, that I don’t feel that this is the only way. It’s just the way to lose the most weight in the shortest amount of time. It’s perfectly fine to take it a little slower and do it gradually. In fact, more than half of the remaining contestants ended up leaning in that direction.

Even if they just lose a pound a week, they can still get what they want. So it takes a year, or even a year and a half? Time is going to pass anyway. How long did it take to put the weight on?

One of the biggest challenges facing the group is figuring out what to do next. They’ve been used to being pushed by me and each other. We kept raising the intensity, and kept setting goals along the way.

Now what they need to do is set a new goal—right away. They need to figure out a new plan, and start working it, right now. Otherwise, things can easily slip back in the other direction.

We had several examples of how that can happen, with people going on vacation and gaining 8 & 10 pounds in just a week or two. Imagine if you “permanently” go on vacation. I once had a member lose 80 pounds and then put it back on—plus a few pounds!

It’s a lifestyle of making better choices that will stand the test of time. That’s one of the things our resident nutrition expert Camilla Whitkanack, MS RD talked about in our final meeting. She has a great presentation of good versus bad choices that’s always an eye-opener, and like with our last group, I believe it made quite an impact this time, too.

Of the 31 people who made the final weigh-in, most of them were able to do the final one-mile walk/run test to see how it compared with 12 weeks ago. The average improvement was around 3 minutes, with several completing the mile 4 minutes faster and one even took 6 minutes off her time!

The weekly winner was also our final winner, Josh Rigdon, who'd been feeling the heat from Bill Lewis, our 2nd place finisher. Josh turned it up in the last week, working out 3 times a day, and worked out 4 times on two different days.

All that calorie burning had the desired effect with Josh losing 4.5% of his body weight and a crazy 10.2 lbs in the final week. That brought his total up to a contest winning loss of 21.2% of body weight and a new Biggest Loser record of 57.6 lbs in 12 weeks. He won a $20 Kroger gift certificate from Dimond Brothers Insurance for being the weekly Biggest Loser, and the $500 grand prize for taking the top spot overall.

Josh had also taken some heat because he’s young and pretty athletic but he’s worked his butt off (literally). For the first time ever (and probably last time too), we’re including before and after photos so you can see for yourself.

Bill was pretty impressive too, losing 18.1% of his body weight and another 40.6 lbs, all at the young age of 67. That pretty much shot down the “lost it because you were young” theory. It also brought Bill’s total weight loss up to over 93 lbs in 24 weeks!

3rd place overall went to Judy Rush, who’s been pushing hard the entire time even though she has a bum knee. Judy lost 13.0% of her body weight and a total of 24.8 lbs making her the top lady this time around.

Here’s how the overall winner Josh fit into our Biggest Loser Hall of Fame:
1. Josh Rigdon lost 57.6 lbs in Biggest Loser “4” this summer.
2. Chris Redmon lost 56.5 lbs in Biggest Loser “3” last spring.
3. Bill Lewis lost 52.5 lbs in Biggest Loser “3.”
4. Joe Stidham lost 49.5 lbs in Biggest Loser “3.”
5. Steve Johnson, Jr. lost 44.0 lbs in Biggest Loser “1” last fall.

And finally, here are the total numbers for the 31 people who completed Biggest Loser “4” for the last 12 weeks. Contestants are listed in order of percent of weight loss and then total pounds lost.

Most of those who lost the least still reported a loss in inches and clothing sizes even if the scale wasn’t as kind. I think the numbers are going to start going their way soon though, especially given their great effort in the last few workouts and the final one mile run. It’s been an honor to work with all of them.

Name, %, lbs:
1. Josh Rigdon 21.2 57.6
2. Bill Lewis 18.1 40.6
3. Judy Rush 13.0 24.8
4. Steve Jones 11.8 29.8
5. Kelly Reed 11.6 23.0
6. Tracy Rush 10.6 25.4
7. Shawn Bowers 9.9 30.4
8. Mike Elledge 9.7 29.4
9. Darren German 9.3 28.0
10. Stacey Reed 8.8 17.0
11. Janet Tyler 8.7 15.2
12. Jeannie Kaufman 8.4 13.6
13. Kellie Gates 7.6 16.8
14. Jerryca Leeman 7.4 17.2
15. Theresa Finley 5.8 13.0
16. Pam Kelly 5.7 15.4
17. Laura Whitaker 5.5 16.2
18. Lisa Eskew 5.4 9.8
19. Rhonda Shaw 5.4 9.0
20. Kelli Stidham 5.2 14.0
21. John Kaufman 4.7 10.0
22. Sheri Hackett 4.5 10.0
23. Lynn Anderson 4.1 8.0
24. Bridgett Trover 3.6 6.6
25. Kathy Rhoads 3.5 6.2
26. Jasmine Camp 3.5 7.6
27. Shirley Fiscus 3.4 6.6
28. Tina Cooper 3.3 6.0
29. Karen Kerrick 3.0 4.5
30. Mandy Neal 2.6 5.8
31. Dawn Stewart 0.0 0.0