Friday, November 28, 2008


Week nine is in the books, leaving us with three weeks to go in the 12-week contest. So far, Weston has lost the most weight at 45.3 lbs, followed by Logan at 38.8 lbs, and Erika at 30.6 lbs. If we look at percentage of weight loss, Erika is slightly ahead of Logan.

We also have a couple new records going on. Weston has a chance to move ahead of Josh’s 57.6 lb record from Biggest Loser “4.” So far, he’s been losing 5 lbs a week and if he stays on track, he could top 60 lbs.

Erika has also moved just in front of our former leading lady, Shirley who lost 30.4 lbs in “Biggest Loser “2.” Unless she has a couple really bad weeks, she’ll continue to set new records. She also has a chance to win the whole thing if Weston slips up. It will be interesting to watch.

You might start thinking about getting involved in Biggest Loser “6” which begins on Friday, January 2nd. Don’t wait to make the resolution. Sign up now and ensure your spot. Its $50 to participate and you don’t have to be a member.

We had 21 people participate in the Friday night workout. This week, it was all about showing them how to increase the intensity of the weight routine by using compound movements like thrusters, where you take a squat and a dumbbell shoulder press and combine them into one movement.

Holding the dumbbells in your hands up at your shoulders, execute a correct squat, sitting backward until your buns touch a ball placed behind you. As you use your hips and legs to drive yourself back upward, you also extend the weights with your arms overhead. Be careful to keep your upper body as straight as possible, keeping your back arched and looking upward.

If you’ll recall, Level I training on the machines provides basic strength and a foundation. Level II training replaces the machines with dumbbells, and using more stabilizer muscles.

Compound movements like thrusters are what I call Level III training, because they use much more energy—try them, you’ll see. You’ll also work your core muscles more, because you have to transfer the power from your lower body to your upper body.

The group did some other Level III exercises during the workout. In fact, everything they did was a compound movement. They also never stopped moving, once they started—another principle of Level III training.

They did walking lunges and DB curls, where holding dumbbells, you take a long step forward so that your front knee is over your toes, and your back knee is bent, and your back foot is heel up. This is a very unstable position (which is the whole idea), and at that time, you curl and un-curl the two dumbbells. Then you take another step, curl, and so on.

Holding pushup position on the exercise ball was a “big hit” with the group. Pushup position is tough enough, but with your lower legs or feet on a stability ball, it’s quite a challenge. Your upper body and legs are fatiguing, trying to hold you up, and your core is screaming while you try to maintain the position.

Some more difficult variations included bringing knees to chest, and then the mother of all core exercises—pikes on the ball. In this one, you keep your legs straight, lifting your buns in the air, until you are holding your upper body at a 90 degree bend, almost straight up and down.

In between these compound movements, the group also did side twists with the medicine ball, and wood choppers, where you bring the ball from the floor in a squatted position, overhead, while twisting to one side, back down, and then up again to the other side. With a heavy enough ball, this can be quite a bit of work.

All these exercises have one thing in common: they work several parts of the body, and your core. The goal is to replace the single exercises with compound movements for the next three weeks, keeping the intensity high.

This week’s winner was Gayle Dailey again. Having recently had a birthday, this feisty 60 year old is our oldest competitor, but you wouldn’t know it, watching her work out. Gayle lost 2.2% of her body weight and a total of 3.0 lbs. She won a $20 Joes gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Weston Hughes, who lost 2.1% of his body weight and 5.1 lbs. Third place was a tie between Erika Hollis and Kelli Stidham who both lost 1.6% of their body weight and 2.8 lbs and 4.0 lbs respectively.

The best personal story for the week came from Shawn, who was out hunting that morning with his dad. For those of you who don’t following hunting, Friday was the first day of shotgun season and even though he didn’t make it into the gym, he got his workout in several ways.

Shawn told me climbing trees and putting up stands used to be much harder. That morning, he got a nice buck and had to drag it up out of a ravine. He said that last year at this time, he probably couldn’t have done it. Now, 70 lbs lighter, it was still hard work, but he was able to do it. This eating right and working out stuff works!

Next week they’ll do a different Level III workout and I’ll tell you about it. We’ll also get into some of the other issues that make weight loss difficult sometimes, and a politically incorrect (biblical) approach to dealing with them. Right now, I’ve got to go split up the rest of my wood pile. Good thing I’ve been working out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Well we just finished the second month in our 12 week contest, so it’s time for another look at how everyone is doing. If you recall, we started with 53 people but only 40 people weighed in at the end of week four. This week, 30 people made the weigh-in.

I’d like to say the drop in numbers is unusual, but unfortunately, it’s not. At the beginning, I told them that half of them wouldn’t finish for one reason or another. Then I ask them which half they’ll be in.

In spite of our best intentions, life always intrudes. Something always comes up. Sickness slows you down. Bills you didn’t expect. Injuries you didn’t want. Even our own nature rises up, trying to get things back to the way they were. We’ve met the enemy and he is us.

We’re creatures of habit and comfort. We take the easy out when we have a choice. We like things a certain way, and don’t like to rock the boat.

Our bodies work this way, too. They resist extreme changes in either direction, always pulling us back to the center. Think about all the times you’ve lost weight, but then just put it right back on.

We like to keep it easy in our heads as well. Once in awhile, we’ll get disgusted enough to try to change, but then we find ourselves slipping back into our old ways. Why? It’s more comfortable that way, even if it’s not what we really want.

Isaac Newton figured this out. If something is standing still, it will keep standing still unless acted upon by an outside force. It’s called inertia. Even a moving object has inertia and will continue in a certain direction unless acted on by something else.

We need to find a way to overcome our own inertia. If we can figure out how to get things going, we could develop a new inertia that will lead to real and lasting change.

Of course, there will be a whole other set of problems to deal with, because life will intrude. Circumstances will conspire against you. It will be all too easy to slip back into the old ways.

In the end, it comes down to what you really want. You’ll do what’s important to you. If eating right and getting in shape really matter, you’ll do what it takes. You’ll find a way.

We have quite a few people with impressive numbers, but you know who really impresses me? It’s the ones who’ve stuck with it for eight weeks, in spite of the results.

These people have overcome not only the usual obstacles, but the biggest one of all—slow results, while being surrounded by bigger losers. If that describes you, I’m here to tell you that your perseverance will be the determining factor in you getting what you want.

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

If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you can’t. Either way, you’ll be right. You might as well be right and thin.

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

Finally, we need to learn to be content sometimes, especially during plateaus. 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. That means in eight weeks, we’d like to see at least eight pounds.

If you’re making progress, that’s good, even if it’s only one pound a week, or a half a pound. 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 was from 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 this week, 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.

Having said that, our winner in week eight was Erika Hollis, who lost 2.7% of her body weight and 4.8 lbs. Erika won a $20 Walmart gift card courtesy of Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

With four weeks to go, she’s also in the running to win the one of the grand prizes, also provided by Terry and State Farm. Here’s the current breakdown:
% loss Lbs
1. Weston Hughes 14.0 40.2
2. Erika Hollis 13.4 27.8
3. Logan Graves 11.5 35.4
4. Kelly Lynch 7.7 13.6
5. Dan Lynch 7.2 16.9
6. Carol Cline 7.0 15.8
7. Melissa Bradley 6.7 14.0
8. Shawn Bowers 6.6 19.0
9. Sue Sheeran 6.6 14.4
10. Steve Jones 6.5 14.6
11. Jean McConkey 6.4 12.8
12. Amanda Posey 6.4 13.8
13. Brant Walls 5.8 15.2
14. John Rigdon 5.8 11.9
15. Teri Dennis 5.7 12.4
16. Heidi Walls 5.4 8.0
17. Ellen Newlin 5.3 10.6
18. Pam Ogle 4.3 10.0
19. Gayle Dailey 4.3 6.2
20. Jennifer Bowers 4.1 8.4
21. Megan Sellers 3.8 7.5
22. Shirley Fiscus 3.3 6.6
23. Kelli Stidham 3.1 8.4
24. Kevin Branson 2.7 7.3
25. Amy Elmore 2.5 4.2
26. Kelly Reed 1.7 3.2
27. Pam Kelly 1.4 3.6
28. Darren German 1.3 3.6
29. MaryAnn Heinrich 0.8 1.8
30. Stacey Reed 0.0 0.0

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last week I gave you two free weight routines that I called Level Two workouts. If you’ll recall, the main benefit with free weights is that all your stabilizer and core muscles are much more involved than when using machines (Level One). It also burns more calories.

So we want to keep increasing the work and help them burn more calories. This is possible, because after seven weeks, they’re getting stronger. The goal is to be as lean as we can be—as strong as we can be.

This week we asked the group to turn it up again. They had three weeks to get familiar with the other two routines, so now they’re ready to combine the two into one larger routine. Here are the exercises, and all you need are dumbbells (DB) and an exercise ball.

Chest, Shoulders & Triceps (Pushing Exercises):
· Chest Press on Ball
· Pec Fly’s on Ball
· Shoulder Press
· Overhead Tricep Press
· Tricep Kickbacks

Back & Biceps (Pulling Exercises):
· Pullovers on Ball
· Single Arm Rows
· Bicep Curls (together)
· Bicep Curls (one arm at a time)

Legs, Hips & Back (Lower Body Exercises):
· Body Squat
· Walking Lunge
· Bent Knee Deadlift

Abs & Core:
· Crunches on Ball
· Side Twists with Ball
· Crunches (bent knee, legs straight, crossing to either side, leg lifts)

It’s not just what exercises you do, though. How you lift makes a difference, too. The main concepts in our Level Three workouts are:

1. Do a comfortable 10-15 minute cardio warmup.
2. Exercise your entire body (Pushing, Pulling, Lower and Core) three days a week, typically Mon, Wed & Fri.
3. Once you start the workout, never take a break—keep moving.
4. Alternate between Pushing, Pulling, Lower and Core exercises to give one muscle group a rest, while working another.
5. Drink plenty of water before and during your workout.
6. Keep things interesting, by changing your routine often.

Here’s an example of how this routine could go. On Monday, after a 10 minute cardio workout, you start by doing a set of DB Chest Presses on the exercise ball. As soon as you’re done, do a set of Body Squats, alternating back and forth two or three times before getting a quick drink.

Then, you do a set of DB Pullovers on the exercise ball, alternating with Walking Lunges, for two or three more sets before taking another quick drink break. Next, do a set of DB Shoulder Presses, followed immediately by a set of DB Biceps Curls and a set of Triceps Overhead Presses. Alternate back and forth three times.

Finally, finish up with three sets of Ab Crunches and Side Twists back to back. See how it works? Next time, you might choose some different exercises, or do them in a different combination. It’s all about keeping the intensity high during the workout.

During the Friday night workout, I also showed them how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio workouts. They started with a 5 minute warmup on either the bike, elliptical, or treadmill. On an “intensity scale” of 1-10, it should have felt like about a “5” or a “6.”

Then they increased the intensity by going faster, going uphill, or raising the resistance level to what felt like a “7.” After exactly a minute, they took it back down to around a “6.” After another minute to recover at that level, they took it up to what felt like an “8.” Then they took it back down to a “7.” They repeated that several times.

Finally, they did a couple one minute intervals at what felt like a “9.” This was tough, but it was only for a minute, followed by a minute at an easy pace. After 20 minutes, they took it down and coasted for a few minutes to cool off. Try it—it works.

With HIIT in your routine on cardio days, you’ll burn more calories in less time. You’ll also improve your ability to use and deliver oxygen quicker. It also gives you something to think about, which helps you pass the time.

Our winner this week was Heidi Walls, who lost 2.3% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs. Heidi is one of the smaller gals, and has to work extra hard to lose weight. The smaller you get, the harder it is. Heidi won a $20 Joe’s gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Melissa Bradley, who lost 2.0% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. Melissa has impressed me because she’s had serious problems with her lower back that have kept her from working out before. This time she told me that there were some things she could do and some things she couldn’t, so she’d just do the things she could do twice as much!

Finally, third place was a two way tie between Margo Yeargin and Ellen Newlin, who both lost 1.7% of their body weight. Margo lost 3.0 lbs and Ellen lost 3.2 lbs, making the top four spots a clean sweep for women!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Well we’ve made to the half-way point of the twelve weeks. We started with 53, but only 33 made the weigh-in on Friday. It was Halloween, and I know some of them had to go trick-or-treating. Even fewer people made the workout—just 10 people. Yikes!

Of course, the workouts keep getting tougher. The whole goal is to teach them how to continually raise the intensity of their workouts—and that’s what we’re doing.

In week five, we introduced our Level Two training with free weights into their routine. Free weights are better than machines because machines guide the work, give you a leverage advantage, and provide support for the body.

Those sound like good things, but here are the benefits you get by using dumbbells (DB), barbells, and exercise balls:

1. There is nothing to guide the weights—you have to do all the work.
2. There is no leverage advantage—again, you’re doing all the work.
3. There are no supports, so your core muscles are much more active.
4. All the additional stabilizer muscles work harder to balance the weights.

This means that you’ll be using more and different muscles, especially your core, to lift the free weights than you would on machines. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be lifting more weight.

Let’s say you’re a lady that can lift 60 pounds on the bench press machine. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to press two 30 lb dumbbells. Typically, we cut the weight in half (one for each arm), and then cut it in half again because you have to balance it now.

Then, we make it even tougher by having you do the movement on an exercise ball. The instability of it forces you to use your core muscles even more. This means you’ll be burning more calories too.

So, it would be reasonable to expect to be able to bench press two 15 lb dumbbells starting out. We might even drop down to 12 lb dumbbells, until you get a sense of how to do the movement, and how to control the weights.

At some point, you’d bump it up to 15’s, and then even 20’s. Don’t be afraid to try a heavier weight once you understand how to do the motions. We’ve had lots of women amazed when we show them they can lift 25 lb, 30 lb, 35 lb, and even 40 lb dumbbells (after lots of training)!

This doesn’t mean that you’ll get big like a body-builder, either, so don’t worry about it. My goal personally, and for most of our clients, is to get as lean as possible, as strong as possible.

It’s not easy to get big, especially women, because most people won’t train hard enough, long enough, and eat anywhere near enough to put on that kind of muscle. And women don’t have enough of the human growth hormone, testosterone, either. What you will do, is get lean and strong, tone up, and feel amazing.

It doesn’t even take that long. Most of our advanced workouts last 20 minutes, or 30 minutes at most. Some are even quicker. We did a killer routine last Friday that took around 18-20 minutes.

A few finished in around 15 minutes, and a couple young studs knocked it out in just over eleven minutes! Of course, they were totally trashed afterward. I even had a personal best that day (13:15). Not bad for a papaw! Anyway, here are two of the beginning Level II workouts to get you started:

1. Body Squat—Hips, Legs
2. DB Bench Press on Exercise Ball—Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
3. DB Deadlift (slightly bent legs)—Hips, Legs
4. Single Arm DB Rows—Upper Back, Biceps
5. DB Lateral Raises—Shoulders
6. DB Bicep Curls (alternating)—Biceps, Forearms
7. DB Tricep Overhead Press—Triceps, Shoulders
8. Ab Crunches on Exercise Ball
9. Side to Side Twists holding a weight or heavy ball.

1. Walking Lunges (with bent knee)—Hips, Legs
2. DB Pec Flys on Exercise Ball—Chest, Shoulders
3. DB Deadlift—Hips, Legs
4. DB Pullovers on Exercise Ball—Chest, Upper Back, Shoulder, Triceps
5. DB Shoulder Press—Shoulders, Triceps
6. DB Bicep Curls (together)—Biceps, Forearms
7. DB Triceps Kickbacks—Triceps
8. AB Routine #1-5: Ab Crunches—Knees Bent, Legs Straight, Crossing (both sides), and Leg Flutter Kicks

Do the workouts three days a week, in place of the machines. Start with Workout #1. When you’re familiar with it, switch to Workout #2. Then start alternating then each time you lift weights. Next week, I’ll tell you how to make these workouts even better.

Our winner this week was Weston Hughes, who lost 2.1% of his bodyweight and a total of 5.3 pounds of fat. Weston received a $20 Walmart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Don’t forget that Terry and State Farm are sponsoring the grand prizes the group is competing for: $250 for 1st place, $150 for 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place. Right now, Weston is in first place overall, having lost 11.3% of his body weight, and a total of 32.4 pounds—in just six weeks!
2nd place for the week went to Jean McConkey, who lost 2.0% of her body weight and 3.8 lbs, and 3rd place went to Carol Cline, who lost 1.6% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


We lost a few more this week. I guess things happen, but it’s still disappointing. Just like at the center. I’ll see people get started, but then something happens, and they just fade away.

Why is it so hard to overcome the inertia of the things we’ve done in life? Sometimes it seems like I’m just another barking dog in some strange Pavlovian world—I see the stimulus and just mindlessly respond—even though I know better.

Try to kick a habit. You know what I mean. Take for instance, smoking. For years, when things get a little tense at work or at home, you’ve just stepped outside for a quick one. You might not even know why you’re doing it all the time—you just do it.

Some of us eat to feel better. I’ve done it. You get a little bored, or perhaps are a little depressed about something, so you hit the refrigerator or pantry, just for something small—that can easily turn into something big. At least when you’re eating, you’re doing something.

A scarier habit on the rise involves the internet, and images that used to be a little harder to come by. Once only available in that “dirty” corner of the store (and you didn’t dare walk over there), now you get daily email invitations.

And if you respond, you’ll start to head down a slippery slope of addiction that can end marriages and create such disfunction that can you take years to overcome. There’s danger there.

Finally, there are the things that lead to more obvious social difficulties that can directly hurt other people—even jail-time. As a part-time police officer, I still get amazed at the things that some people do, even when they know better. And they keep doing it.

I think ultimately, everything’s related. We’re all the same, although some of our “habits” are more obvious, or more public than others. We all have things we struggle with. We all face demons of our past. But why do some people seem to be able to overcome them, and finally move on—and others don’t?

One of the first steps is to realize that often, we like doing the things we shouldn’t. It’s comfortable; it’s fun, perhaps even exciting. We like it—especially at the time.

We like smoking, eating, looking at internet porn, drinking, hanging out with those friends, stealing, thinking those thoughts, etc… (fill in the blank). And we’re going to do what we want to do—what we like, until the pain of doing it outweighs the benefit we get from it.

When we get so fat that we don’t like the way we feel anymore, then we might start making some changes. But if the “pain” of making the changes is too high (exercise, eating better), then we might just waver when confronted with the temptation again.

We need something more to help us get through the tough times, or every time they ring the bell, we’ll salivate, just like Pavlov’s dogs, and jump right into the old way of doing things.

Personally, I believe it takes more than just a strong will to get this done. I think it takes prayer and God’s help to overcome years of conditioning, and years of wrong desires. Even then, recovery can take a long time.

It can be a real battle. But it’s worth it. That’s when all things become new. That’s what I want. And what I’ve learned is that one of the ways God helps is by bringing you what you need, when you need it, if you ask.

There are lots of people who are more than willing to give you a hand. They’ve been there and done that. Listen to them.

There are also lots of great books out there, written by people who know. Use them. Keep trying to learn more. Figure out what’s going on.

Learn from your mistakes, and pick up and move on. Find and follow a plan that you’ve seen is working. Use others as an example of how you can get things together.

Then, once you start down that road, don’t quit. If you’ve finally had an epiphany, realized what you’d been doing to yourself, and actually took action to try to turn it around, what a shame if you then just throw it all away.

Look for and find a new nature that will allow you to overcome these things and become a new you. The old one’s not working anyway. Why not just put it away?

You can clean a pig, but if you leave it alone for awhile, pretty soon you’ll find it back in a puddle somewhere. It can’t change what it is. It’s a pig.

But we’ve got the ability to get a new nature. To become more than what we are. We just have to be willing to work at it a little bit. And realize that God does the giving on that one.

Things can change. I’m living proof, and I see it all the time in others. But you have to admit that they need changing. Then you have to want them to change. And you have to want that more then you want the things you’re doing.

I talked to a friend the other day. He hangs with people that get in trouble, drinking and drugs and the like. He knows better. He used to do that himself.

But they’re his friends, and he kind of likes that. So he’s got one foot inside the pig pen. Even though he’s got one foot outside, part of him is still getting dirty.

Another guy I met in the police academy had a drinking problem. He liked going out and partying, but he was also a cop. Having a few drinks is one thing, but getting blasted, belligerent and out of control is quite another.

After a stern warning and disciplinary measures (and the offer of help with the drinking problem he said he didn’t have), he found himself under arrest again, this time for felony charges. The department fired him, he was booted out of the academy, and his career was over.

We’ve got to take things seriously, because things have serious consequences. Don’t let those old “habits” control you. You deserve better than that. That’s why I love working with these guys in the Biggest Loser. They’re getting it done.

It’s kind of like the Paris Tigers football team. They’re getting it done, too. The years have been pretty tough on them. But this year, after a few early losses, things started coming together. With all their hard work, they got some momentum and started playing up to their true potential.

That led to excitement, which led to confidence. Then they had a setback. But they found a way to overcome it and came out growling on Saturday, making them the first Paris team ever to make the playoffs. It wasn’t an easy game, early on, but they stuck to their guns, and then things broke wide open. It can happen that way.

This week’s winner was a sleeper—Gayle Dailey, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.0 lbs. She’d been flying under the radar, but at age 59, Gayle’s our oldest (by a year), and is proving that you can do what you really want to do.

I know she’s tough, because she took kickboxing classes from me a couple years ago. And we work really hard and hit things in that class! Gayle won a $20 Joe’s Pizza gift certificate from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all her hard work.

We had a tie for 2nd place between Weston Hughes and Erika Hollis, both of whom lost 1.6% of their body weight. For Erika, it was 3.0 lbs, and for Weston, it was 4.2 lbs.

Next week, I’ll tell you about how the Biggest Losers are using free weights to burn even more calories, and make even more changes in their body—and their life. What kind of changes do you need to make?