Saturday, October 25, 2008


Well, it’s been a quick four weeks and we’re a third of the way through the twelve week program. That means it’s time for a look at how everyone’s doing.

We started with 53 people who’d signed up for Biggest Loser “5” and we have 47 people still on the books. Of those, 40 people made the weigh-in at the end of week four.

Of the seven who missed the weigh-in, I think a few have called it quits, but the rest are still participating. We’ll find out this week.

That’s actually a pretty good percentage at this point. Typically, we lose about a third in the first month, due to life intruding in various ways. So how is everyone doing?

I told you last week about the ladies. This week the men came roaring back with some great numbers, but two out of the top three losers still were women.

The Biggest Loser in Week Four was Shawn Bowers, our winner back in week one. Shawn lost an amazing 3.0% of his body weight and a total of 8 lbs. That brings him to a total weight loss of 18.8 lbs in the first month.

For his hard work last week, Shawn won a $20 Walmart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. I know how hard he’s been working, because he does his group workouts with me three days a week, and is running on the other days.

Shawn’s situation actually demonstrates something I talk a lot about to the group—the need to eat enough food when you’re trying to lose weight. After having a great first week, things slacked off a little bit for him.

When people have dieted over the years, especially women, they’re often scared to eat, thinking that anything they eat will be put on as fat. Nine out of ten women I work with start out not eating enough—often as little as 1,000 calories a day—or even less!

Guys usually have the other problem, typically being over-eaters, but once in awhile, we’ll need to add calories—especially if they’re very active, like Shawn. The American College of Sports Medicine strongly recommends that women never drop below 1,200 calories and that men get at least 1,800 calories each day.

This is to ensure that they hit their minimums, and give their body enough fuel to keep things going. If we drop below our minimums, our body slows down, thinking that we’re starving, and making it very difficult to burn fat for fuel.

What we’ve found, though, is that active people need even more. Most average women need at least 1,650 calories a day to feel great and still lose weight. Men need around 2,400 calories.

Shawn’s a big boy, standing around 6’4, but was only allowing himself around 2,400 calories, which is usually correct. As active as he was, he needed to bump up the calories to around 2,700 and sure enough, his body responded, letting him burn fat for fuel.

I see it all the time, and it sounds crazy, but it’s true—eat more, and you’ll start losing weight. Now, if you’re an over-eater (most guys), you probably have to back off the calories. But for most women, and a few guys (especially active ones like Shawn), you’ve got to hit your minimum.

Second place was a two-way tie between two ladies: Shirley Fiscus and Erika Hollis. Both lost 2.1% of their body weight and 4.0 lbs. I think this is Shirley’s fourth Biggest Loser, and Erika was the winner back in Week Two. Both ladies are hard workers.

Before we go over the results for the first month, there are a couple more things to talk about. Even though it’s exciting to get those big numbers, and everybody wants them, that’s not going to happen to everyone.

There are a lot of factors that play into how quickly you can lose weight. I keep telling everyone that one pound a week is good, two pounds is great, and three or more pounds is fantastic. That means four pounds in a month is good, but even then, there are other considerations.

Everybody is different, and some people can push themselves harder. Sometimes, we just have to get you stronger first, and then you can turn it up. Plus there’s the issue of eating enough, as we looked at earlier.

Age has a lot to do with it, too, as does your current health when starting a program. The younger and healthier you are, the more you can do. Finally, the closer you are to your ideal weight, the harder it is to lose.

Here’s what I think is important. How do you feel? That’s first and foremost. Do you feel better? If you’re feeling good, you’re doing good, and weight loss will eventually come.

Next, how are your clothes fitting? People are always telling me that they’re losing inches, but it’s not showing up on the scale. That’s O.K. It will.

Then, what’s your body fat doing? If it’s going down, even though your weight isn’t changing much, that’s O.K. too. You’re burning fat, building muscle, and the scale will show it soon.

Finally, what does the scale say? If you lose just a pound a week, in a year, that’s over 50 pounds. That’s enough to change anybody’s life. Stay with it and you’ll get what you want. That said, I’m proud of everyone who’s made it this far.

1. Erika Hollis 8.6% 18.0 lbs
2. Weston Hughes 8.0% 22.9 lbs
3. Logan Graves 7.5% 23.0 lbs
4. Shawn Bowers 6.5% 18.8 lbs
5. Steve Jones 5.7% 12.8 lbs
6. Kelly Lynch 5.6% 10.0 lbs
7. Amanda Posey 5.1% 11.1 lbs
8. John Rigdon 4.9% 10.1 lbs
9. Dan Lynch 4.6% 10.9 lbs
10. Pam Ogle 4.3% 10.0 lbs
11. Shirley Fiscus 4.3% 8.6 lbs
12. Brant Walls 4.3% 11.2 lbs
13. Sue Sheeran 4.3% 9.4 lbs
14. Heidi Walls 4.1% 6.0 lbs
15. Margo Yeargin 4.1% 7.6 lbs
16. Kelli Stidham 4.0% 10.8 lbs
17. Jennifer Bowers 3.9% 8.0 lbs
18. Melissa Bradley 3.8% 8.0 lbs
19. Ellen Newlin 3.7% 7.4 lbs
20. Jean McConkey 3.5% 7.0 lbs
21. Carol Cline 3.4% 7.8 lbs
22. Teri Dennis 2.7% 6.0 lbs
23. Amy Elmore 2.7% 4.4 lbs
24. Megan Gill 2.7% 5.6 lbs
25. Cherise Murphy 2.5% 5.8 lbs
26. Renee Colvin 2.3% 4.4 lbs
27. Kevin Branson 2.2% 5.9 lbs
28. Kelly Reed 2.2% 4.0 lbs
29. Gayle Dailey 2.1% 3.0 lbs
30. Lynn Holloway 2.0% 2.8 lbs
31. Megan Sellers 1.8% 3.5 lbs
32. Stacey Reed 1.5% 2.6 lbs
33. Robert Davis 1.4% 3.8 lbs
34. Darren German 1.4% 4.0 lbs
35. Pam Kelly 1.4% 3.6 lbs
36. Doug Hasler 1.2% 2.8 lbs
37. Theresa Finley 1.0% 2.1 lbs
38. Mary Jo Becher 1.0% 1.8 lbs
39. Lavonna Davis 0.7% 1.2 lbs
40. MaryAnn Heinrich 0.5% 1.2 lbs

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Something’s going on. I’d been suspecting it, but this week it was confirmed. We’re in for something special with this group.

I knew the ladies were doing better than normal, and then last week, three out of the top four losers were women. This week, they swept the top three—with all different women too. Not only that, but eight out of the top ten spots went to women!

This is big news. Typically, it’s harder for gals because guys have a different hormone mix—more testosterone (which builds muscle), which lets them push harder in their workouts, burning more calories. That in turn lets them build more muscle, which repeats the cycle.

Ladies have very little testosterone. Instead, their hormone mix causes them to store fat around the middle, as protection for their ovaries, and other internal parts. These two things usually make it much more difficult for them to lose fat.

I just tell them that they need to work hard and do their best. They must be listening, because the ladies are doing very well.

If you look at total weight loss for the last three weeks, one is in the top three overall, which is usually unheard of. Two guys have lost 17.8 lbs and 17.2 lbs respectively, and then a lady is in third place, losing 14.0 lbs.

Another is tied with a guy for fourth place at 10.8 lbs, followed by another lady with 10.6 lbs. And this is just in the first three weeks. As usual, I’ll show you the entire field next week after they finish their first month in the program.

Unfortunately, this success might be having another effect. Some of the other gals are getting discouraged, because they’re (only) losing around a pound (or two) a week.

This is crazy, and like Barney used to say, “We’ve got to nip it—nip it in the bud.” Not the dinosaur, the other Barney. And he’s right. We’ve got to.

Self talk is very powerful. You are what you think you are. And you’re not what you think you’re not. When you start believing you’re down and out, you stay down and out, because that’s the way you think it’s supposed to be—but it’s not.

Instead, when you start seeing someone else have success, a much better strategy is to start thinking, “why can’t I do that?” Or, “if they can do it, I can do it.” The difference is all in your mind, but it’s a big difference.

For years, I went to Taekwondo training seminars for instructors around the country. These were taught by seniors and masters around the U.S. The goal was to learn how to be an even better instructor, and broaden our skill set, giving us more to teach.

I’d come home teaching like they did. I don’t mean teaching what they taught me. I mean teaching like they did. Somehow, I’d realized that I didn’t need to become a master instructor to teach like one.

All I needed to do is say what they said, demonstrate like they demonstrated, and act like they acted. Of course, many years later, they made me a master instructor in my own right.

The same principle applies in success coaching. We’re told to get around people who are positive, and avoid people who want to pull us down. And to find someone having success like you’d like to have, and emulate them.

You also have to believe that it’s possible for you, too. Not just them, but you. If they can do it, you can do it. We might have to tweak things a little bit to get it working, but they did it—you can do it.

Remember, if you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right—you can’t. So don’t get bitter when someone else is winning.

Ask yourself, how can I start winning too? What else could I be doing that they’re doing? Or, is their something they’re doing that I’m not? Success is often just a breakthrough away.

Finally, we need to learn to be content sometimes. For normal weight loss, one pound a week is good, two pounds a week is great, and three or more pounds a week is fantastic.

If you’re making progress, that’s good. It’s predictable, and you know you’re going to get what you want. Take some comfort in that—even while you’re looking for ways to do better. You’ll be happier.

It’s a biblical concept. Paul said he’d learned how to be content in all things, whether he was abased or abounding. This is a guy who was the foremost apostle to the Gentiles (you and me), who was content to be living in jail, preaching to his jailers.

I’ve learned that God has given me (and you) the ability to strive for all kinds of things, and he always helps me along the way. But some of my biggest blessings have come when I’ve learned to be content, too—and grateful for all the things I used to take for granted.

If it’s a pound, take it. Try for two, but be glad you lost a pound. If it’s zero pounds, how do you feel? Do you feel better? Take it and be happy that now you can do more than you did before.

This week, our Biggest Loser was Melissa Bradley who lost a whopping 2.8% of her body weight, and a total of 5.6 lbs. Melissa has had some serious back issues for years, but she told me something when we got started.

She said there were a lot of things she couldn’t do, but she could walk, and only do a few machines, so she was going to do those things more, to make up for the things she couldn’t do. That’s why she’s winning.

Melissa received a $20 Joe’s Pizza gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Terry stopped by to encourage everyone and told them that if they were trying, they were all winners, and he’s right.

Second place went to Ellen Newlin, who lost 2.7% of her body weight, and a total of 5.2 lbs. Third place went to Margo Yeargin (who’s 50 I might add). Margo lost 2.0% of her body weight, and 3.6 lbs.

Fourth place went to Logan Graves, who lost 1.9% of his body weight, and a total of 5.4 lbs, while firth place went to Weston Hughes, who lost 1.8% of body weight, and 4.8 lbs. Weston and Logan are neck and neck for most pounds lost (17.8 and 17.2 respectively) in the first three weeks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


This week 45 people weighed in—down from the 52 that started. Unfortunately, that’s normal. So, I thought it was time for some straight talk.

After everyone had finished with their first assignment, walk/run a mile and had gathered in the room, I pointed to a large stack of papers on the center table. “Can anyone tell me what those are,” I asked.

There were several guesses about the foot-tall stack, and then someone guessed that they were files of people who had quit. “That’s right,” I said. There were probably 300 membership files sitting there.

So we talked about some of the reasons people had started and stopped over the past few years. Some people had moved away. At least two had passed away.

I told them about Buddy, who used to come in with his oxygen tank. He worked out almost everyday. Even though he was fighting a losing battle, he wanted to do what he could—and did almost to the end.

They learned about my friend Bob, who was dragged in kicking and screaming by his wife. His first words were “I don’t want to be here and I’m not going to do anything!”

I remember saying, “That’s O.K. Just sit here on one of the bikes and watch TV. If you feel like pedaling a little bit, go ahead.” Before long, Bob was riding the bike 30 minutes, and finally, he worked up to coming in twice a day.

Others have left to join the Y. That’s O.K. too. A third of the Biggest Losers this time work out at the Y. The important thing is that they’re doing something.

Some had purchased equipment to use at home, and that’s fine, too—if they’re using it. Unfortunately, most home gym equipment goes unused, and sooner or later gets moved out to the garage, sold in the paper, or even given away.

The real shame is that every one of those people had a goal—a reason for starting. Most of them had reasons for stopping, too. But most of them didn’t get what they wanted.

The hardest thing is starting. Once you’ve done that, the hardest thing is continuing with an exercise program, a healthy diet, or anything else you’re trying to change.

We are creatures of habit, and old habits are hard to break. Experts say it takes 21 days to make something new a habit. We’re 14 days into this thing, and have already lost 7 people.

If experience holds true, before it’s over, we’ll lose close to half of the group for some reason or other. So I asked them, “Which half are you going to be in? The half that quits, or the half that sticks it out and gets what they want?”

You see, life is going to intrude. There will be emergencies, inconveniences, scheduling conflicts, kids getting sick, high gas prices, working late, vacations, and so on. But do you let those things keep you from getting what you want, or do you impose your will on things?

You decide what you’re going to do. I’m so proud of one of our Losers. He’s been a busy executive for years and just never thought he had time to do it, even though he knew he needed to.

He’s hitting it on his lunch hour. I told him to let people know that’s where they can find him if they need him—and not to bring in his phone, either! If it’s that important, they can come get him. And you know what? Things are fine that hour without him. He’s getting it done.

I’ve got one gal who’s getting up at 3:30 AM to get in her early mile. I’ll say. That’s an early mile. You won’t see me in here at that time. But, she works in Indiana, and wanted to get it done. Once she gets to her goal, it’s likely that she’ll back off a little bit and just hit it after work, but for awhile, more power to her.

I finally met the woman I’ve seen running while pushing a double baby carriage, two dogs on leashes running along on each side—and a little one riding a bicycle in front. Now that’s multi-tasking!

She took everyone’s excuses away just by running by. We’ve got her husband involved now. You know he’s going to get plenty of encouragement at home.

Once you’ve started, you’ve got to make the commitment to stay with it, and not let down your guard. Change doesn’t come easy, and the old you will rear up and try to shut things down.

Don’t let it. Stay focused. Have the big picture in mind—you getting smaller. Anything worthwhile never comes easily. There’s always a price to pay, but it’s worth it.

Looking good and feeling good is there for everyone, if you’ll just stay with the program. It doesn’t take nearly as long to take it off as it did to put the weight on.

Still, that’s not fast enough for some people, especially when they see others putting up those big weight-loss numbers on TV, or even here each week. I’ve got to keep reminding them that losing one pound a week is good, two pounds a week is great, and three or more pounds is fantastic.

Even a pound a week will turn into 50 pounds in a year. Most people can double that, if they do everything right. That’s 100 pounds. For most people, they’ll have hit their ideal weight before then.

That brings us to our Biggest Loser this week, Erika Hollis. It’s rare for a woman to put up the higher numbers, because the guys usually have more to lose, and more muscle to help them lose it with. Women also have a different hormone mix that makes it more difficult.

Erika lost an astounding 3.0% of her body weight, for a total of 5.8 pounds. Her two week total is 11.6 pounds lost, putting her in 3rd place for overall weight loss.

She won a $20 Walmart gift card from our sponsor, Terry Elston & State Farm Insurance. Terry is the high school boy’s basketball coach, and is all about helping people achieve their goals!

Second place went to John Rigdon, who lost 2.2% of his body weight and 4.4 pounds. Third place was a tie between two other women woman, Jennifer Bowers and Stacey Reed. Jennifer lost 2.0% of her body weight and 3.9 pounds, and Stacey also lost 2.0% of her body weight, which worked out to 3.4 pounds.

Next week, I’ll give you the skinny on why they’re getting the results they’re getting, and how to put together the perfect meal to keep you eating right, all the time. Right now, it’s time to get to the gym!

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Before we take a look at how Biggest Loser “5” is shaping up, I wanted to tell you about the Honeybee 5K race held last Saturday at Twin Lakes Park.

Named in honor of Shawna M. Morrison, who gave her life serving in Iraq several years ago, the 3.1 mile run couldn’t have been held on a more perfect day. Sunny and cool, it was a great day for people to get some exercise and test themselves, while contributing to a very worthwhile cause.

Lots of people I know had personal bests. Even I had my best time. I’d been trying to break 26 minutes, and finally did it with the help of a couple friends. Not bad, for a 46 year old snail.

I felt pretty good about that, especially after running through some asthma in the first mile and needing to hit a porta-potty for the last 2 miles. It’s funny how the body always keeps a certain time for things (I could use a later start time, thank you), and running always shakes things up a bit.

Hats off to the YMCA for organizing a great event—the t-shirts were awesome, and I heard they had to order more, after seeing all the registrations. Next year, I’ll bet it will be even bigger. Nice job, everyone that participated! I think Shawna would have been proud.

Now on to Biggest Loser “5.” After getting 52 registrants, we had 48 make it through the first week to the first weigh-in. I don’t know where the others were, or if they’re continuing. We’ll have to see.

I always tell everyone that there will be two groups: one that finishes and one that doesn’t, and ask them which group they’ll in? Starting a massive weight loss campaign is hard. It’s inconvenient and messy, and life intrudes.

Circumstances will always conspire against you (recall the asthma attack & porta-potty issue during my 5K, or my knee during the long run last week). It’s what you do then, that really determines how successful you’ll be. Do you keep trying, or do you let set backs control you?

We also talked about how the results on the TV show aren’t very realistic. No one here gets to live on a ranch without the hassles of work and taking care of the kids. As far as I know, no one has a chef either, and I know no one’s working out for hours a day!

We’re shooting for a mile walk each morning (20 minutes), and a more rigorous, dedicated workout each afternoon or evening. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they’re hitting the weight machine circuit, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, they’re hitting the cardio room for 30-45 minutes.

This week was about getting everyone moving, and we certainly did that during the Friday night workout. Earlier groups have called the room “Tom’s House of Pain.” That might be a little extreme, but basically descriptive.

Everyone did 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats, broken up in sets of 10. I told them that while it may seem pretty tough then, in 12 weeks, they’ll be wondering why it was such a big deal. Tough workouts today will be easy ones tomorrow.

Then they did several sets of walking lunges (forward & backwards), monkey runs (on hands & feet), and some stretching. The whole workout is designed to have them doing more and more each week.

As they do things they didn’t think they could do, it gives them confidence. It also makes them stronger. That’s another good reason for everyone to try a 5K walk/run at some point.

The other major goal this week was to get them thinking about their minimum. Regular readers will recognize this term “minimum.” Actually their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), I came up with the term “minimum” to help people understand this is the minimum number of calories your body needs everyday to thrive and survive.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (the established authority on exercise and diet standards), women should never go below 1,200 calories a day, and men should never get under 1,800 calories. This is because most women have a minimum somewhere around 1,250-1,350.

Petite women might be closer to 1,200 and taller, bigger-boned women might be closer to 1,400. This means you need to hit that first, just to provide the body the energy it needs to get through the day.

To feel really good, especially when working out, you need to add another few hundred calories. Stay below your minimum, and your body will think you’re starving, making it very difficult, if not impossible to burn fat for fuel.

This is the number one problem with women trying to lose weight. I already talked with several women who had been eating 800-900 calories a day. One took it up to 1,400 calories and lost 5 pounds this week. 9 out of 10 women don’t eat enough.

1,500 to 1,650 calories a day seems to be just about right for women to feel great while losing weight. For guys, it’s somewhere around 2,250-2,400 calories. It’s usually flipped for guys, though. 9 out of 10 guys tend to overeat, so while the gals need to eat more, we need portion control.

If you’re following along at home, the group is supposed to do 2 circuits on the weight machines. This is not a set followed by a rest, and then another set. Instead, they’re supposed to do a set of each machine, in a row without stopping, and then do it again.

The main goal is to keep their heart rate up, helping them burn more calories. They’re also supposed to turn it up in the cardio room too. Remember, if you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. You’ve got to work hard to drive those calories off.

This week’s winner was Shawn Bowers, who lost an amazing 3.9% of his body weight, for a total of 10.8 lbs. I might also add, that he was one of the ones I was very proud of at the 5K run. Shawn’s a big man, and he ran the 3.1 miles in just over 30 minutes—with all those hills!

Shawn won a Joe’s Pizza gift certificate from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Terry has graciously come aboard as our sponsor and will be standing with us all the way through to the end with a $250 prize for the winner, $150 prize for 2nd place, and a $100 prize for the 3rd place finisher in 12 weeks.

We’ll have Shawn’s picture in the paper sometime this week. Stay tuned for more results from Biggest Loser “5” next week!