Saturday, December 27, 2008


Last week we finished Biggest Loser “5” but the thing I didn’t tell you was the average weight loss for all the participants. Of course the top three had crazy weight loss. Weston lost 57.2 lbs, Erika lost 37.0 lbs, and Logan lost 43.7 lbs.

While we continue to see people losing this much, it’s really the exception rather than the rule. Just like in life, there are always a few people that take it to a different level.

Don’t get me wrong, the others were working pretty hard, too. Just not at their level. First of all, Weston, Erika and Logan were pretty young, and in pretty good shape, so they could push themselves harder. I was told that Weston even did three workouts a day a couple of times.

Once you start feeling better, you can start doing more. Then your workouts can be more intense and you can burn more calories, losing more weight. Now everything gets a little easier, letting you push even harder, burning even more calories and losing even more weight.

I call it the “cycle of success.” Your body starts working for you instead of against you. At first, some people can’t do much. So you won’t lose much weight but you will start feeling better and getting stronger. Then your weight loss can increase.

Another factor is the effect certain medicines have on the body. Medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, depression, or conditions requiring steroids often have an adverse effect on metabolism—causing weight gain and making it much harder to lose weight.

Even so, it’s still possible to get the job done. It just might be harder for you than for others. When the tough times come, motivation counts for a lot. You’ve got to really want to do this.

In fact, it’s got to be more than that. It’s got to be a “have-to” if you’re really going to be successful. Like a salmon swimming up stream, you don’t have any choice in the matter. You’ve just “got” to do it.

If you have that kind of drive, you’ll be able to push yourself more. You’ll also stick when it counts. The person that sticks will always do more than the one who starts and stops all the time.

It’s tough losing weight. A pound of fat is 3,500 calories. You have to work really hard to burn that off so some people feel like it’s just too much work so they quit trying. What a shame, because almost everyone can burn 3,500 calories in a week—a little at a time.

There was a pair of ladies in their 50’s that made tremendous gains during the program. They even ended up jogging for a couple minutes at a time. They also participated in some really tough workouts there at the end.

Both will tell you that they never dreamed that they could work that hard. But each week they got a little stronger, lost a little more weight, and could do a little bit more. By the end, they were running short distances on the treadmill. They’ve also signed up for the next Biggest Loser. I think they have this thing figured out.

Two other gals told me that jogging was hurting their knees too much, but there at the end, they figured out that they could do the elliptical without pain. In those last two weeks, their weight loss really jumped up.

Another had serious back trouble for years and had to limit the exercises she did. Her strategy was doing more of the things she could do. It worked for her.

After you’ve made the decision to start, and made the daily decision to stick with it, there’s still one more thing. You have to have a realistic goal.

A poll of the 21 participants at the end showed that most wanted to lose 20 lbs, and a few wanted to lose 25 or more. In Biggest Loser “6” we’ll ask everyone up front what their goal is.

Something I keep saying, and just like getting women to hit their “minimum” calories, it’s hard to get people to believe me. Losing a pound a week is good. Two pounds a week is great, and three or more is fantastic.

That means that a 12 week program should net you 12 pounds, if everything goes right. 24 pounds in 12 weeks would be great. Anything more than that would be fantastic. We had 3 people in the “fantastic” category.

The total average weight loss for the 21 was 18 ¼ lbs. If you throw out the top three results, the average for the other 18 people that made the final weigh-in was 13.6 lbs.

This means the average was pretty good. For some people, the weight loss was better than good—it was almost great. For those three, it was outstanding. Keep in mind that all of them wanted to lose more.

In the end, it comes down to realizing you have a problem and then deciding to do something about it. Then you have to get started, set a realistic short-term goal, and work toward that goal.

You have to be dedicated, persistent, and pick your way through the minefields that appear along the way—and they will. At the end of that time period, evaluate how things went.

Then set a new short-term goal designed to get you to the bigger, long-term goal. There’s not a single person I’ve ever met that couldn’t get where they wanted, if they were willing to do what it took for just one year.

Think of it. A year of hard work, but you’re feeling better each day. You’re losing more weight each month, and looking better too. Six months have gone by and now you’re feeling great. You’ve got a spring in your step, and you’re well on your way.

After nine months, people don’t recognize you. They tell you that you look sick, because of all the weight you’ve lost (that’s pretty ironic). Your jogging—maybe even running a 5K. You’re lifting more weight, and have muscles showing up all over.

Your metabolism is humming along, making you a fat burner even standing still. You’ve had to buy new clothes—several times. After a year, you’ve completely transformed yourself. You’re a new, healthy person physically and mentally, too. It’s completely doable.

Biggest Loser “6” starts Friday, January 2nd. We’ve already got 10 people signed up, and you have to be registered before the end of the year—we’ll be too busy that night to mess with that.

It costs $50 to participate and you don’t have to be a member at my gym, although you should be a member somewhere, because you’re going to be working out all the time, right?

2008 has come and gone, and 2009 will go quickly too. A year will pass whatever you do. So what will you accomplish this next year? You can accomplish big things too—a little at a time. Let’s do this together.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


This week we have the final results from Biggest Loser “5.” Before we get to that, I want to finish a conversation we started a couple weeks ago.

Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t, even though we know better. Think about all those things we do that we shouldn’t. We also have a hard time doing what we know we need to do.

We talked about being honest when we have a problem, inside of hiding and making excuses. That’s the first step to true recovery. The next step is to go get some help. Sometimes it needs to be spiritual help.

I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve asked God for help. It might take some time, and sometimes the answer isn’t always what I thought it would be—but he’s never let me down.
Once you’ve got that going for you, things get a lot easier. This brings me to the last thing I talked about with the group on Friday night.

The Apostle Paul told the Romans we need to be transformed by the “renewing of our minds.” What it means is that we can change, if we can change our thought process.

Most battles start in our minds. Think about something long enough and you’ll do it, even when you know better. You’ll simply talk yourself into it.

One of Solomon’s proverbs says “as we think, so we are.” This works both ways—whether we’re thinking about things that can hurt us, or things that can help us.

Paul also told the Philippians to quit thinking about bad things and to start thinking about good things. He called them things that were “true and honorable” or “excellent and worthy of praise.”

We have to reprogram our thinking. Instead of thinking negative thoughts, start thinking about something more positive. Instead of thinking about what’s tempting you, start thinking about how it would be to be free.

This works. Some time ago, I was outside running while trying to come to terms with a tough spot I was in that involved trusting God’s provision.

The enemy wanted me to believe God was letting me fail, and was showing me all the bad things that were going to happen. But I was reminded of this verse from Psalms: “My God is a very present help in trouble.”

While I ran, I also started saying this one from Philippians: “My God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory.” After a couple miles, it was like a cloud had lifted.

I had more faith. Things were going to be alright. Because I’d studied those verses a little, and put them in my mind, they were there for me when I needed them.

I know it sounds simplistic, but it works. If you’re struggling with something, you need to see what God has to say about it. Then, start thinking that way. Think those thoughts.

Let’s get to the results. We started with 53 people, but just 21 finished. Another 8 to 10 people were still active but missed the weigh-in. So we helped at least 30 people that I know of. That’s the way I’m going to think about it.

Our winner for Week 12 was Steve Jones, who just completed his second Biggest Loser. Steve lost 2.1% of his body weight and 4.4 lbs and won a $20 Walmart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Our overall winner was Weston Hughes, who lost another 3.6 lbs this week for a grand total of 19.9% of his body weight and an amazing 57.2 lbs in just 12 weeks. Weston won the $250 grand prize provided by Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance!

2nd place went to Erika Hollis, who finished with a total weight loss of 17.8% of her body weight and an outstanding 37.0 lbs—the most ever lost by a woman in our five Biggest Loser contests. Erika pushed herself like crazy, and won $150 from Terry Elston for all her hard work.

3rd place went to Logan Graves (I call him Horton), who finished with a total weight loss of 14.2% of his body weight, and 43.7 lbs. At 17, Logan was the youngest participant we’ve ever had, and won $100 for his college fund from Terry Elston. His performance here was as great as it was on the stage last spring.

Remember that even though these three set the bar pretty high, there’s a healthy way of looking at this for the rest of them. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, healthy weight loss is between 1-2 lbs a week.

I preach that one pound a week is good, two pounds a week is great, and three pounds or more is fantastic. I’m proud of everyone who participated, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all winners.

Keep that in mind while you’re also thinking about getting involved in Biggest Loser “6” which starts January 2nd. You have to sign up before the end of the year, but why not demonstrate your commitment to change and sign up now. Think about it.

1. Weston Hughes 19.9 % 57.2 lbs
2. Erika Hollis 17.8 % 37.0 lbs
3. Logan Graves 14.2 % 43.7 lbs
4. Carol Cline 10.2 % 23.2 lbs
5. Gayle Dailey 9.3 % 13.4 lbs
6. Margo Yeargin 8.7 % 16.2 lbs
7. Dan Lynch 8.5% 20.1 lbs
8. Kelly Lynch 8.4 % 15.0 lbs
9. Jean McConkey 8.3 % 16.6 lbs
10. Steve Jones 7.6 % 16.9 lbs
11. Teri Dennis 7.3 % 16.1 lbs
12. Sue Sheeran 6.7 % 14.8 lbs
13. John Rigdon 6.5 % 13.3 lbs
14. Shawn Bowers 5.8 % 16.7 lbs
15. Melissa Bradley 5.5 % 11.6 lbs
16. Brant Walls 5.5 % 14.2 lbs
17. Renee Colvin 5.5 % 10.6 lbs
18. Heidi Walls 4.8 % 7.0 lbs
19. Shirley Fiscus 3.4 % 6.8 lbs
20. Pam Ogle 3.1 % 7.2 lbs
21. Pam Kelly 2.2 % 5.6 lbs

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Last week we talked about how life-long struggles and how early childhood “cookies for comfort” still affect me today. There are often deep reasons why we do the things we do. This week I want to go back even further. Let’s go back to the Garden.

Remember in the beginning when Adam and Eve stood naked and unashamed? They used to walk with God in the cool of the evening. After the fall, when they chose sin and pride over obedience, what did they do?

“At that moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they strung fig leaves together around their hips to cover themselves.” Genesis 3:7.

They’d been told not to eat the fruit of the tree or they’d surely die. It couldn’t have been a physical death or they’d have died right then.

It had to be a different type of death, a spiritual one. And the consequences still plague us today. “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Proverbs 16:25.

That evening, when God came to walk with them, they became afraid and hid in the trees. “The Lord God called to Adam, “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” Genesis 3:8-10.

We hide things instinctively. What’s a child do when caught with something? It’s in our nature, since the day when Adam fell. All of us are born into sin, and we’re still hiding today.

And what happens when we get caught? Like Adam, we make excuses. “Yes,” Adam admitted, “but it was the woman you gave me who brought me the fruit, and I ate it.” Genesis 3:12.

When God asked Eve “How could you do such a thing?” she did the same. “The serpent tricked me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” Genesis 3:13.

Both did it. Both were guilty. And just like them, we’re still making excuses for things we’ve done, or things we’re doing. Like how we’re eating or take care of ourselves.

But can we really hide from God? Does he not know what’s going on? “People may think they are doing what is right, but the Lord examines the heart.” Proverbs 21:2.

He not only knows, but loves us anyway, in spite of our sin. Even in the garden, he was planning to get us back.

We’ve got to quit hiding. And we’ve got to quit making excuses. It’s time to take responsibility for the things we’re doing.

If you’ve let your appetites run out of control, you may be facing the consequences of those decisions right now. It could be as simple as having a sugar addiction that’s led to obesity. Or it might be a lack of discipline and overeating that’s holding you back.

Maybe you still smoke, or need a drink or two every night to relax. Maybe you’re getting up every night, wolfing down everything in sight, and can’t seem to stop.

Other destructive behaviors can include sexual addictions like Internet porn, or sleeping around. All are ways of being unfaithful to yourself, your spouse, and to God.

Those addictions may seem out of place here, but the root cause is the same. We’re trying to fill needs that we have, but we’re taking the easy way out.

Eating right takes a little work and discipline, but it’s easier to eat fast foods. Doing some healthy exercise every day takes commitment, but it’s easier to make excuses.

A healthy, fulfilling sexual relationship with your spouse takes commitment and work, but it’s easier to go for quick satisfaction, without a real relationship.

No courage or commitment is required with a computer monitor. You don’t have to woo it or live a life of loving sacrifice for it. All you have to do is look at it. It’s a sad epidemic these days, and it’s taking the easy way out.

Just like with getting right with God, we need to admit that things are wrong. Then, we have to want to change, to truly want to turn away from these things. Then and only then, can God can give us the power we need to make changes.

But we don’t do it. We don’t even get close to the power we need. We don’t study long enough to learn how to do it. We try and fail and finally just quit trying. Sound familiar? Think diets and failed exercise programs.

I mean, come on, some of the things we do? We’re so deceived that we’ll ask a blessing on food we know we shouldn’t be eating.

Every day we make choices that are an offense to God, even in our thoughts. And in those moments when we’re being honest, we know it too.

In Romans, we’re told to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Do we live like that? Like our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think so. So why do we do it? Why can’t we live right? Paul told the Colossians “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world?”

He went on to say, “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline, but they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires.”

No wonder diets usually fail. No wonder so many people give up after starting a fitness program. No wonder we fall at the slightest temptation. The usual rules have no effect!

We’ve been using the wrong weapons, in the wrong places. We’ve been trying to fight this battle the wrong way. Next week, I’ll tell you about a different way to fight the battle.

Our biggest loser this week was Weston Hughes, who got back on track by losing 2.3% of his body weight and 5.4 lbs. Weston has lost a total of 53.6 lbs so far, and won a $20 gift card to Joe’s Pizza from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Shawn Bowers, also back on track, losing 2.0% of his body weight and 5.4 lbs. Third place went to Gayle Dailey, who lost 1.8 % of her body weight and 2.4 lbs. In fourth place was Carol Cline, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 3.6 lbs, and fifth place went to Erika Hollis, consistent as always, losing 1.4% of her body weight and 2.4 lbs.

Don’t forget to get signed up for Biggest Loser “6” right now. It costs $50 to participate, and will help you get 2009 going right. Next week we’ll have the final results for Biggest Loser “5” so stay tuned!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


This week we showed a “lucky 7” people how to turn it up again. They were the ones who made the Friday night workout. Basically, we took their Level III workouts (compound exercises that use more than just one part of the body), and combined them with abs and cardio intervals for a really intense workout.

Each exercise takes about a minute, so you’ve got a minute of the primary exercise, a minute of abs, and then 2 minutes cardio. That’s four minutes total per round. We did three exercises, two times each, for a total of six rounds. That’s 24 minutes of work, not counting the time it takes to move from one room to the other and get on the treadmill.

When the weather’s nice, we’ll just step out the back door and run around the block which is just about ¼ mile. Since it’s too cold now, everyone alternates so while some were running, others were doing the work in the back. Of course if you’re on your own, it’s pretty easy going back and forth. Here’s a description of how to perform the exercises.

· THRUSTERS: Holding dumbbells (DB) on shoulders, perform a correct squat, sitting backward until your bottom touches an exercise ball or bench; then using your hips and legs, keeping your back arched, straighten back up and thrust both DB up until your arms are straight overhead. Lower the DB to shoulders and repeat.

· WALKING LUNGE, CURL, PRESS: While letting two DB hang down at your sides, take a walking lunging step forward until your front knee is over your toes on your front foot; your back knee should be quite bent but not touching the floor and you should be balancing on the ball of your foot. While staying in that unstable position, curl both DB up together and then rotate them, while pressing them overhead. Lower them, uncurl them, and then take another walking lunging step forward and repeat.

· DEADLIFT, CURL, PRESS: With knees slightly bent, reach down and pick up two DB that were placed at your feet. After straightening up, curl them together, and then rotate and press them both overhead. Lower them, uncurl them, and touch them back to the floor. Repeat.

· AB ROUTINE #1-6: 1) Crunches with knees bent 2) Crunches with legs straight up in air 3) Crunches with one leg bent and other crossed; come up and touch elbow to knee 4) Same thing on opposite side 5) Straight Leg Lifts (raise legs up and down about 12 inches, as fast as possible 6) Pilates Crunches (bring knees to chest, then lower upper body and legs, repeat).

· CARDIO: Ideally, this would be jogging or running on the treadmill at a not quite comfortable pace slightly faster than your regular running pace for 400 meters or ¼ mile (one lap around the football field). Once you get in shape, that will take somewhere between 1:45 and 2:30. For an extra challenge, we also like to increase the pace of the 400 each time. To introduce the concept, we just had them do 2 minutes of cardio. People with knee issues used the elliptical or the exercise bike.

1. Thrusters, AB Routine #1, 2 minutes cardio
2. Thrusters, AB Routine #2, 2 minutes cardio
3. Walking Lunge, Curl, Press, AB Routine #3, 2 minutes cardio
4. Walking Lunge, Curl, Press, AB Routine #4, 2 minutes cardio
5. Deadlift, Curl, Press, AB Routine #5, 2 minutes cardio
6. Standing Deadlift, Curl, Press, AB Routine #6, 2 minutes cardio

We also started talking about some sensitive issues. Eating right and exercising smart will change your life, but you can be out of balance in other ways. In fact, those other areas might be hurting you more than you know.

Let's just lay it all out. If you really want to turn this thing around, sometimes you've got to go a little deeper. What happens when working hard is not enough? Once in awhile, losing weight is easy. Usually it's not, same as with any other problems we face.

We want to, we've tried to, but somehow things never seem to change. What's going on? The things we want to do, we can't seem to do. The things we don't want to do, somehow, we keep doing them.

The Apostle Paul said the same thing in the Bible, in the book of Romans: “I don't understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15. Sound familiar?

What we have to do, is look at why we do what we do. Our problems aren't always physical—many times they have deeper roots; sometimes even spiritual ones. Right now I just know some hearts and minds are clanging shut, but if we want real hope, maybe we need to go back and take a look.

My earliest memory is at the age of four as we were moving from Chicago into our new house in Angola, Indiana. I’m sitting at the top of the steps, eating what appear to be Oreo’s (although I’m not sure they were that brand).

Moves are pretty noteworthy for kids, and I seem to remember being given cookies so I’d sit up there out of the way, while they brought stuff in. Not a terrible experience, but is it any wonder I find comfort in crunchy cookies, especially Oreo’s—forty years later?

It’s not bad for me to eat cookies, as long as I’m not eating too many. I’ll just burn them off. But a good strategy is to not have any in the house. Failing that, it’s better if they’re my wife’s special oatmeal, raisin, walnut, whole-wheat, super-duper snacker cookies.

Still, there are those times when the Oreo’s are there and they’re hard to resist. It’s good to know that maybe it’s not all just me. Perhaps there’s something else going on. Maybe we need to go back even further. We’ll look at this next week.

Of the 17 people that weighed in (which I chalk up to the holiday weekend), our biggest loser was a two way tie between Weston Hughes and Teri Dennis, who both lost 1.2% of their body weight and 2.9 lbs and 2.4 lbs respectively.

Teri received a $20 Walmart gift card from our friends at Terry Elston State Farm Insurance. Second place went to went to Erika Hollis, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs.