Monday, December 28, 2009


What have you done with your time this past year? Have you accomplished all that you wanted? Did you do everything that you’d planned to do? How about your body? Did you get into shape, or out of shape?

Some remarkable things have happened here over the last year. Several people ran full marathons (26.2 miles) for the first time. Several more ran their first half marathon (13.1 miles). We took a group to Allerton Park for a 5.5 mile trail run through the woods.

A whole bunch of people went to several different 5 K runs (3.1 miles), and quite a few participated in the C.A.M.A. Park to Park bike rally and the Mill Creek Duathlon (2 mile run, 20 mile bike ride, 2 mile run). I also know of at least two others that did triathlons.

Lots of people started working out this last year, getting their cardio in and hitting the weights, whether it was with the machines, or with free-weights. Unfortunately, not everyone kept up with their workouts—but more on that later.

We put four more Biggest Loser programs in the books. A year ago this January, Biggest Loser “6” started with 58 people. The winner was Bill Lewis, who lost 62.0 lbs at the age of 68. Second place went to Randy Weir, 54, who lost 35 lbs. Gary Goodman, 62, lost 31.5 lbs for third place. Brian Bradley, 42, took fourth by losing 30.9 lbs at the age of 42, and John Sanchez, 41, came in fifth losing 31.4 lbs.

39 people started Biggest Loser “7” in the spring. The winner was Vince Porter, age 39, who lost 51.4 lbs. Second place went to Brittany Cline, age 24, who lost 27.2 lbs. Third place went to John Crow, 41, who lost 36.4 lbs.

Last summer, 24 people started Biggest Loser “8.” Tammi Hewitt, 42, won with 28.2 lbs. Shawn Bowers, 36, won 2nd place, losing 37.9 lbs. Vicki Riggen, 59, won 3rd place, losing 11.0 lbs.

After starting with 28 people, Biggest Loser “9” ended last week with a clean sweep by the women: Michelle Nugent, 30, won with 33.0 lbs. 2nd place went to Karen Brown, 50, who lost 42.8 lbs, becoming the highest losing lady here ever, in just 12 weeks. Nita Comstock, 53, lost 17.6 lbs, ending in 3rd place.

As you can see, they came in all shapes and sizes, and all ages too, and it wasn’t just the guys winning—the women won too. What you don’t often hear about is that really, everyone that finished, won.

My goal with Biggest Losers isn’t just helping people lose weight, although that’s what they do. My real goal is to turn couch potatoes into people that make fitness a lifestyle. They’ve learned how to work out and manage their eating and as a result, they look and feel better.

Not everyone makes it, because life intrudes. But when it does, something else suffers. Usually it’s their health, primarily because they start gaining their weight back. But it’s much easier to maintain your weight than it is to lose it in the first place.

Still, not everyone gets there. In every case, we finished with about half the people we started with. This held true, not just in the Biggest Losers, but also in the gym. It’s a real shame when someone quits because it’s really unlikely that they’ll get what they want.

What makes me sad, is when someone has finally decided they really need to do it, gotten up the courage to start, but then just can’t keep it going. They let little things like soreness, small injuries, and tight schedules keep them from going all the way.

It takes about a year to completely turn things around, but sometimes you just have to be patient. You need to be disciplined and keep working toward your goal. Plus, if you do something long enough, it will become a habit. That’s how you get what you want.

So what are you going to do this year? If you’re already in shape, how are you going to stay there? Quite a few of us are already thinking about the Illini marathon or half marathon on May 1st, or the Indy Mini, the week after.

Setting a goal like that is guaranteed to keep you training—and that keeps you thin. Now I know those goals might not be for everyone, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you set your own goals.

I have a friend who lost 100 lbs and then got lazy and gained 85 of them back. He’s been in the gym for the last two weeks and lost 10 lbs each week. He’s not doing Biggest Loser, because he already knows what to do. But he’s committed to losing the weight again, and this time, he’s determined to keep the weight off.

Another gal I’ve been helping has also just gotten started. She lost over 6.0 lbs the first week, and around 3.0 lbs the second. She’s pretty excited about what the next year has in store for her. She’s also committed to joining our next Biggest Loser group because she wants the extra help and accountability.

To make it even easier for people, we’re going to do two community wide Biggest Losers—one on Friday nights, and another on Saturday mornings. They’ll run concurrently and people will need to pick the one they weigh-in for. In a pinch, they can use the other one as an alternative, in case they have to miss.

We might even have some healthy competition between the two groups, which just might help them lose even more weight. Registration is underway, and the cost is $50 for the 12 week program. We start Friday, January 8th, or Saturday, January 9th. You don’t need to be a member to participate, but you should have a membership somewhere, or at least have enough stuff at home that you can get your workouts in.

So, whether you join Biggest Loser “10” or “11,” the gym, YMCA, Curves, or some other program, or you’re just planning to try it at home, I want to encourage you to get started doing something. Next week we’ll talk about setting goals and getting what you want. For now, I want to leave you with a couple questions.

What are you going to do this next year? Remember, the year is going to fly by, no matter what you do, so you might as well do something with it. This can be the year you get your body back! Will 2010 bring a new you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This week marked the 12th and final week of Biggest Loser “9.” It was a pretty small group this time, and we started with 28, while 11 made the final weigh-in. Two didn’t make it to the weigh-in that I think are still involved, so that leaves us with 13 out of the original 28, so we lost just over half the people.

On the first day, I told them the same thing I tell every group: “Before this is over, half of you are going to quit. Which group are you going to be in? The half that quits or the half that sticks it out?” No one ever starts, thinking they’re going to be a quitter, but things happen, life intrudes, and it becomes easy to slip away.

If fitness hasn’t become a habit, a daily lifestyle, then it’s easy to slip back into the old ways of doing something. That’s why it’s critical to try to stick it out for at least 12 weeks. After that, if you’re still going, you’ve probably turned the corner and made it a lifestyle change.

That’s why once you start toward a goal the most important thing you can do afterward is simply choosing to continue. Or put another way, not stopping. Every day, you make a decision to keep going. That’s what will make the difference between making just another New Year’s resolution and getting a new life.

At the start of the twelve weeks, everyone walked or ran a mile for time, did pushups for a minute, and also did sit-ups for a minute. At the final workout, we had them do all three tests again. While not everyone had the chance to take the post-test, those that did showed nice improvements in all three areas.

For the twelve and final week, our winner was Cindy Irish, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs. Jennifer Bowers came in second, losing 1.6% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs. Third place was a tie between Rob Irish and Michelle Nugent who both lost 1.4% of their body weight. Rob lost 2.4 lbs and Michelle lost 1.8 lbs.

Since Rob wasn’t present at the final weigh-in, Michelle received the $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. At the start of the twelve weeks, State Farm provided pedometers to all the participants, and Terry Elston provided Walmart gift cards as prizes each week to all the weekly winners. Thanks Terry!

For Biggest Loser “9,” Michelle Nugent was the overall winner, losing 20.1% of her body weight and 33.0 lbs. Her original goal was to lose 35-40 lbs, and she got very close to it. Now she’s just seven lbs away from her original goal. Then she’ll need to slip into maintenance mode.

Significant weight loss means working out every day, some days twice a day. Once you’re where you want to be, it’s easier to maintain it. You just need to dial in your calories and can drop back to working out four to five days a week. If you feel you’re slipping backward, you can always adjust your calories a little, and add in a workout.

Michelle was also the only one to lose weight every week. Some weeks it was more than others, but that showed a very consistent approach. Some weeks she won, but in the weeks she didn’t, she was still up there in 3rd, 4th or 5th place. That accounts for her final result of losing 33.0 lbs.

Second place overall went to Karen Brown, who lost 15.4% of her body weight and an amazing 42.8 lbs. This gave her the distinction of being our first woman to lose more than 40 lbs in 12 weeks, and also the most weight overall. Previously, Erica Hollis had the record, losing 37.0 lbs in BL “5.” Karen has just raised the bar substantially. But she’s not done yet.

Karen is planning on continuing her routine in the next Biggest Loser and has set a new goal. That’s important. Now she knows what to do, and working with another group will help keep her motivated and accountable. I think it will also let her be an inspiration to others.

Third place overall went to Nita Comstock, who lost 11.1% of her body weight and 17.6 lbs. Nita learned that she likes running, and took 4 minutes off her 1 mile walk/run time. Fourth place overall went to Rob Irish, who lost 10.5% of his body weight and 19.4 lbs. Fifth place went to Tammi Hewitt, who won the last Biggest Loser. This time, she lost 7.4 % of her body weight and another 10.4 lbs.

Sixth place went to Renea Mullins, who lost 7.3% of her body weight and 20.4 lbs. She also took about 4 minutes off her 1 mile walk/run. Seventh place was a tie between Cindy Irish and Cathy Kemper, who both lost 5.3% of their body weight. Cindy lost 9.2 lbs and Cathy lost 10.0 lbs. Vicki Riggen ended with 6.2 lbs, and Jennifer Bowers finished with 5.8 lbs.

Our holiday strategy is pretty simple. Don’t gain any weight! If you watch what you eat and get most of your workouts in, it’s pretty easy to maintain your weight, even with all the extra temptations around. Just enjoy things in moderation. Remember, Vicki lost weight in BL “8” on a cruise ship!

Once the holidays are over, we’ll get back in the swing of things with Biggest Loser “10” and “11.” Yep, we’re going to try to run two different ones at the same time. One group will meet on Friday nights from 6:30-7:30, and the other will meet Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:00.

We might even have them compete against each other! You need to come in and reserve your space. The cost is still just $50 to participate, and you don’t have to be a member here, although you really need to be a member somewhere so you can get your workouts in. You’ve got to be working out.

Don’t miss this chance to make 2010 the year you get your body back! The year will come and go before you know it. Have a Merry Christmas and I’ll see you next week!

Monday, December 14, 2009


This week the group did a kickboxing workout. I like to throw one of those in near the end, so each group can give it a try. You recall they walked/ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago, so a kickboxing workout gave them a taste of something different yet again.

The way I run my kickboxing classes is a little different. As a martial arts instructor, I’m interested in giving them some very practical, real world skills, should they ever need to use them.

As a result, even though I’m a fitness guy, I’ve never been interested in teaching a fitness kickboxing class, where the moves look almost like dance. I figure they can do aerobics.

If we’re going to be doing some kickboxing, we’re going to be hitting things, like targets and the heavy bag. We’re going to be doing drills where they learn how to duck and slip punches, and fire back strong counters. It will be high intensity, and because of that, it will also turn out to be awesome exercise.

The first step was to teach them how to make a proper fist, and then how to hold their hands and arms up in front of them. They also learned how to cover their head with their hands and arms, when someone’s trying to hit them with pads. Done properly, it’s a pretty good shield.

After that, they learned the jab and right cross, doing partner drills on the target pads. Then they learned how to bob and weave, following the two punches. Finally, they put it all together. At that point, their coordination was challenged a bit, but after a few minutes, things smoothed out pretty well.

Then, we added the knee strike. A devastating blow (especially to a guy), it follows the jab and right cross. Done in a sequence, it’s very hard to defend. By then, the group was looking pretty sharp, and putting a lot of power into their techniques.

Finally, they went to the heavy bags and learned how to do an angle kick, based on the martial art of Muay Thai—an extremely effective form of kickboxing. Also used by law enforcement to take down resisting offenders, the kick targets the outside of the thigh, about six inches about the knee.

The targeted area is called the common peroneal, and once an assailant has been struck there, it’s very difficult to stand, much less walk or run after their intended victim. That gives the defender time to get away.

The whole combination goes as follows: Left Jab, Right Cross, Right Knee Strike (s), and finally, after reloading your leg, a Right Low Kick to the leg. Done quickly, the sequence is very reliable, and almost impossible to stop.

After just 45 minutes of practice, the group not only was looking sharp, but they were also sweating, laughing, and having fun. As an added bonus, the concepts were something they can take with them and use, if the need should ever arise.

That’s why I like teaching a straight kickboxing class at least once a week (Monday nights), and also work it in to our regular group training classes on Friday nights. Kickboxing empowers the participant. Plus the rigorous workout can burn as many as 500-750 calories an hour, depending on how hard you’re working.

Finally, the sheer fun of hitting things like handheld targets and the heavy bag, are a great release from stress and the worries of the day. Doing drills with a partner develops timing and a sense of distance, as well as coordination.

While they didn’t wear gloves in this workout, in the regular class, they’re required to get some real boxing gloves. Not only do they soften the blow, should someone get hit by mistake, instead of the targets they were holding (almost never happens), but they also protect the wearers hands and wrists from the impact on the bags.

All in all, the group really seemed to enjoy the workout. As predicted, they also had a good time hitting things—everyone does!

This week’s winner was Karen Brown, who proved that sometimes, results lag behind the workouts. A little disappointed last week, after doing a last chance 10 mile walk/run workout, this week the numbers came in big time. She lost 2.7% of her body weight, and a whopping 6.6 lbs!

That tells you that sometimes, you just need to cut yourself some slack. Do the work, and it will all work out in the end. Karen got a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all of her hard work this and last week, including two more 7 mile walk/run sessions. Karen is now down exactly 40.0 lbs in just eleven weeks—right up there with the top gals from previous BL sessions.

Second place went to Michelle Nugent, who lost 1.9% of her body weight, and 2.6 lbs. She was also a little frustrated having to miss a few workouts, and with slight midweek gains, two weeks in a row.

Each time, though, just like with Karen, it worked out because she stayed focused and followed through the rest of the week. Michelle is now down 31.2 lbs and is quickly closing in on her goal weight.

Third place was a tie between Nita Comstock and Renea Mullins, who both lost 1.4% of their body weight. Nita lost 2.0 lbs and Renea lost 3.6 lbs. Nita’s been in the top three pretty much the whole session, and it looks like Renea has fallen in love with kickboxing!

Don’t forget about Biggest Loser “10 and 11” both of which will run concurrently—one on Friday nights, and the other on Saturday mornings, provided we get enough people. They’ll start on January 8th and 9th and we’ll help you get your New Year resolutions started off right!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This week we did some interesting things. Thirteen of us from the center went over and participated in a 5K race, Sunday afternoon at Deming Park in Terre Haute, IN.

It was the first 5K race (3.1 miles) for one of the members, and she did fine. Most everyone else had an improved time over the last 5K they ran 2 weeks ago in Marshall, IL.

The weather was quite cold while standing around before and after the race, but just about perfect while running. In fact, we might have done a little better due to the cold weather. Much like an engine, you need to stay cool to avoid breaking down.

Sweating cools the body by bringing the heat out through the pores in the form of water which then evaporates. In cooler weather, you’ll still sweat, but it helps the process along, so you can typically push a little harder.

Outside of seeing everyone have a good race, the coolest thing was seeing the little kids do the half mile race. I mean there were four and five year olds running, along with their parents to keep them on track.

Talk about creating a lifestyle of fitness. These kids will grow up thinking that being in shape is normal, and running will help keep them that way. I’d like to find a way to bring a kids fitness event like that here to Paris sometime—perhaps in the spring.

On Saturday, during the Biggest Loser workout, the group learned how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Out of the original 28 people, about half are left, and eight made the workout. Those eight learned how to put more intensity into their workouts.

First they learned about Borg’s scale of “Perceived Exertion.” Basically you rank how tough the workload feels, on a scale of 1 to 10:

Perceived Exertion:
0 This is like doing nothing.
1 This is almost like doing nothing.
2 This still feels pretty light.
3 This finally feels like light exercise.
4 This feels like moderate exercise—no big deal.
5 This is getting a little harder but still pretty easy.
6 This is getting harder but still pretty doable.
7 This is harder and I’m breathing harder, too.
8 This feels very hard and talking is tough.
9 This is extremely hard—I can’t talk!
10 This is MAXIMAL—I have to stop!!!

They started with a fairly easy warm-up for a few minutes on either the treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent exercise bike. Then they did a minute at what felt like a “7” and then backed off for a minute to what felt like a “5” or a “6.” Then they took it up to an “8” before backing off again.

After another interval at what felt like an “8” and a minute of rest, they finally got up to what felt like a “9.” This is the big one. By then, I heard them breathing hard, and you could see them leaning in to the equipment to keep the pace.

Some wanted to quit before the minute was up, but the key is to last it out—it’s usually just a few seconds more. Once they got to the end of the minute, they backed it off to what felt like a “5” or a “6” to recover. Then they rotated machines and did the same thing again. After hitting a “9” on the new equipment, they rotated again, and did another series of intervals.

I hope they’ll implement HIIT workouts into their routines at least once a week. Not only will they burn more calories during their workouts, but HIIT workouts will give them a much longer after-burn as your body recovers over the next few hours.

The 5K was a different type of workout. More like a tempo run, the goal is to see how fast you can get through it. Most people pick a pace like say a 10 minute mile pace, and try to get through the 3.1 miles in just over 30 minutes. As your fitness level improves, you try to get down to 9 minute miles, or 8 minute miles, or even faster.

Once a week, you can even try to go either longer or further than usual. Karen did this again this week. Remember last week when she learned she could walk/jog 7 miles? This week she stayed on the treadmill for 10 miles!

In a perfect training scenario, it would be great to do all three types of workouts. You could do a tempo run one day, high intensity intervals the next time, and then on the weekend, you could go for distance.

One other thing to consider about weigh-ins, especially as you get 10 weeks into a weight loss routine, is that sometimes you hit a wall. Things slow down, even if you’ve been busting it big-time. Once in awhile, despite your best efforts, you just won’t lose any weight.

I usually don’t worry about those times, because the body is kind of quirky that way. Usually, it will just show up the following week. Of course, there are things to consider, too, like “time of the month,” whether you’ve eaten, or not, drank a 16 oz water, gone to the bathroom or not, and so on.

Sometimes the scale takes a little while to catch up, so I never look at any one weigh-in as all important. It’s the trend that matters, and that takes two in a row, or even better, three or more. Then you can tell what’s going on.

This week’s winner was Rob Irish, who lost 1.6% of his body weight and 2.6 lbs. Rob had to miss the workout, so the $15 prize, a gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance went to Cathy Kemper in 2nd place, who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.6 lbs. Third place went to Michelle Nugent, who lost 0.8 lbs.

It’s time to start thinking about Biggest Loser “10” which is coming up before you know it. Something I’m considering is running two groups at the same time: one on Friday nights from 6:30-7:30, and a separate one on Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:00 like we do now. If there’s enough interest in the Friday night, we’ll add it.

The cost will be the same: $50.00 for the 12 weeks and you don’t have to be a member here, but you should probably have a fitness membership somewhere, like at the Y or Curves, or at least have some decent home equipment. We’ll start the weekend of January 8th & 9th to make the most of your New Year’s Resolutions. Get ready!

Monday, November 30, 2009


This week we’re coming off a big accomplishment—the 5 K run/walk that 11 of the Biggest Losers participated in. Several more weren’t able to attend the race, but made it up on their own. The most important reason people need to try a 5 K is to learn that you can.

Once you know you can do it, things change quite a bit. You become empowered to do more things, train harder in your workouts, and perhaps try other new things.

But you can learn these lessons in the gym on your own, too. Take Karen for instance. She joined Biggest Loser because she knew someone who’d died at the same age. It was a real eye opener. She also wanted to be around to see her kids and grand kids.

After eight weeks, she’d been very consistent, walking a total of 4 miles a day. She’d also been trying to get more time in on the elliptical, but it was tough. I told her to just add a minute a day—just a minute. Then, in a few weeks, she’d be up to 30 minutes.

So she started pushing herself to add a minute or two, and then pushed some more. All of a sudden she found she was able to do a half hour. Then she did it again a couple days later.

Next we talked about her time spent walking and jogging. She’d said she wasn’t really able to jog more than 50 steps before having to stop. I suggested she try jogging a minute, and then walking two, repeating the process until she covered a whole mile. Then she could hit the elliptical, and then come back and finish walking.

Well, Karen got the mile in, and was surprised. She found that after 9 weeks of training, she was a lot stronger than she thought. She was able to do the jogging intervals for the entire mile, and then did the 30 minutes on the elliptical, although it was much tougher that way. Then she went back and walked 2 miles.

If that had been it, I would have been plenty proud of her. But that evening, she came back again. She said she wanted to make up for missing a workout on Thanksgiving Day. I told her that with everything she’d done that morning, it would be fine if she simply walked.

The next thing I hear is Karen beating feet on the treadmill—running! She did a mile full of intervals. Then she hit two miles, and then three. At that point, I left to go to the store for a few minutes. When I came back, I’d expected her to be gone.

Instead, she was still in there on the treadmill doing running intervals! By now, she was up to five miles and working toward six. Before it was over, she’d logged seven miles, with the jog a little, walk a little more approach! It was an amazing thing, especially since she’d logged three miles that morning. That’s a 10 mile day!

One of the things I like about training people, especially in Biggest Loser is that they learn things, like how to workout, and use the equipment. They also learn how to change up their routines to keep them interesting and effective.

What I like even more is that they learn things about themselves. In this case, Karen had no idea that she could jog more, until she tried doing the intervals. She ended up with a 10 mile day, and now she really knows she can push herself harder.

It showed on the scale too. Even with missing a couple workouts, Thanksgiving dinner, and Texas Roadhouse, she ended up losing 3.8 pounds for the week. That brought her to 33.4 pounds lost, in just 9 weeks, and you can bet she’ll be turning it up during the last 3 weeks.

We worked on a couple new ways to throw the weights around, too. Having spent a month doing Level I training (machines), and a month on Level II training (replace machines with dumbbell exercises), I showed them two new Level III routines.

What makes these exercises harder is that they combine two or three separate exercises into one full body exercise. Since you’re using more muscles at the same time, it becomes more demanding, and also engages your core more.

The first one was Thrusters, a combination Body Squat and Shoulder Press. First, you squat, holding a pair of dumbbells on your shoulders. Then as you come back up, you thrust the dumbbells over head to a locked out position. It’s a great exercise that works your lower body and pushing muscles well.

Since Thrusters use so much large muscle mass, the exercise demands more oxygen, and burn more calories, too. I also taught them how to use a lowered bar, regular bar and chairs to do assisted pull-ups which work the pulling muscles. When done together with Thrusters and some abdominal exercises, they make a complete workout. Try 4-5 sets.

The other routine they learned was the Walking Lunge-Curl-Press. Holding a pair of dumbbells, take a big walking step into a lunge position with both knees bent. While maintaining that position, curl both DB, and then rotate and press them straight overhead. Then, lower them, and uncurl them back down to your side. Finally, take another big walking step into a lunge position on the other side and repeat.

Walking Lunge-Curl-Presses work the whole body and you’ll know it right away. Do 4-5 sets of 12-15 steps, followed by some crunches or other core exercises. Both this workout and the other one are quick and dirty, and you can complete them in as little as 15 minutes after a quick warm-up. Give them a try.

This week’s winner was once again Michelle Nugent, who lost 4.4 lbs and 3.1% of her body weight. Down 27.8 lbs now, and with a strong lead for highest overall percentage of weight loss, she won a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Karen Brown, who I talked about earlier. Karen lost 1.5% of her body weight and 3.8 lbs and is in the lead for most pounds lost overall, with 33.4 lbs. Third place went to Nita Comstock, who lost 1.0% of her body weight and 1.2 lbs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This week, the group’s challenge was to go walk/run the 5 K “Turkey Trot” over in Marshall, IL. Eleven participants from BL showed up and at least one other did it later in the day on a treadmill. We also had a nice contingent from the gym make the trip over.

After we finished the 5 K, a couple people stopped me and asked how to go about losing some unwanted pounds around the middle. Later in the day, someone asked me what was better– counting calories, or points?

My answer is pretty much the same in both cases. In a lot of ways, it doesn’t really matter which program or plan you follow, it just matters that you’re following one. And perhaps more importantly, you need to be consistent in your approach.

That’s why having a goal like an upcoming 5 K race is so important. You know you have to do it, so you set up a training program so you’ll do better. There are a lot of different ways to train for the race, but in the end, it just matters that you’re consistent.

Show up for enough training, and you’ll improve your 5 K performance. You’ll also get in better shape as a result, and it’s likely that you’ll lose those unwanted pounds along the way.

It’s the same thing when looking at your diet. Whether you’re counting your calories to make sure you’re on target every day, or looking at points, what matters is that you’re doing something.

If you want to lose weight and you’re guessing about your food, know this. Guessing makes you fat. There’s plenty of research that shows people who track what they eat lose more weight than people that don’t track it.

What’s important then is that you track your eating. How you track it isn’t nearly as important. And once you start tracking it, like always, you need to be consistent to get results.

Keep a daily diary or calorie log. Keep track of your points. You might use an online service—there are plenty of them out there, many of which are free.

In your workouts, the most important thing is not what you do. You don’t have to subject yourself to my killer boot camp workout to get what you want. What matters is that you do something, and you do it often. Changing it up will help keep results coming, but it’s the day to day work that really matters.

It’s showing up when your workout partner doesn’t. It means scheduling your workouts, with a high enough priority that they don’t get bumped when other things come up. I’ve known plenty of people who intended on getting to the gym, but… and then 2 months have gone by.

Plenty of people lose the weight, but then put it right back on because they can’t be disciplined enough to keep at it. Someone said “so I really need to exercise for the rest of my life, right?” Yes. Absolutely.

At the end of week eight, we’re two thirds of the way through the program and it’s easy to see who’s been consistent in their approach. It’s been a pretty small group (compared to a previous high of 68). I’m anticipating that BL 10, which starts right after Christmas, will be quite a bit bigger.

This time around we started with just 28 people. At the end of week eight, only 13 made the weigh-in out of the 21 people that are left. That means that 25% of the people have quit, and another 25% aren’t being consistent in their approach.

But of the people that made this week’s weigh-in, all of them have lost weight. Sure, some have lost more than others, but the fact remains that everyone who is showing up has lost some weight.

At this stage of the game, it’s the most important factor. Over the next four weeks, I’ll keep changing up the workouts and adding intensity, but it’s all about showing up. As I told them at the start, “half of you are going to quit for one reason or another—which half are you going to be in.” We’ve got four weeks left to see whether that will be true.

The winner this week was Michelle Nugent, who lost 2.4% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. She’d had a slight gain at midweek, and I’d told her not to worry about it. She’d been very consistent in getting in her workouts, especially training for the 5 K. Michelle won a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance and has lost 23.4 lbs in 8 weeks.

Second place went to Nita Comstock, who also turned it up this week in preparation for the 5K. She lost 1.6% of her body weight and 2.3 lbs. So far Nita’s lost 15.0 lbs. Third place went to Cathy Kemper, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs.Fourth place went to Karen Brown, who lost 1.0% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs. So far, she’s down 29.6 lbs, the most in the group. Fifth place went to Janet Tyler, who lost about .08% of her body weight, and 1.4 lbs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


This week the group learned a different workout with the dumbbells. They’ve been doing the first workout for the last two weeks, so it was time to shake things up by changing the routine.

If you recall, the main benefit of using dumbbells is that they activate your core and stabilizer muscles much more than with machines. What we’re trying to accomplish this time, is to switch up the exercises to keep the body changing too.

When you do a routine for awhile it becomes, well… routine. Unfortunately, your body gets used to it, so it doesn’t have to work as hard to get the same job done. This is why people can walk or run for years and actually get fatter while doing it.

If you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. That’s why as soon as it starts getting easier you need to switch it up a little bit. It presents a new challenge to your muscles, and it’s also fresh and interesting for your mind.

We have a couple that does a lot of riding on their bike. They ride everywhere. They’ve even ridden across Indiana, but couldn’t lose the weight. But when they started cross-training in other areas, including weight lifting, they started losing weight again.

Don’t underestimate the power of lifting weights. I’m a big believer in getting out there and pounding the pavement, but weight training helps you accomplish some other things.

If the routine is done quickly enough (without rest in between), you can burn just as many calories as you would running—more than if you’re just walking.

When you tone up and add some muscle to your body, you also increase your metabolism. Muscle uses more energy even just hanging around than fat does. So adding more muscle makes you a fat burner all the time—not just when you’re lifting weights.

As you work out with weights, they’ll respond by getting stronger. It’s called the overload principle. Push your muscles a little bit today, and the next time you try that exercise, it will be a little bit easier. And the more toned up you are, the easier everything gets. Not just lifting weights—but everything you do. You’ll feel better.

Finally, there’s the impact it has on your overall appearance. Hitting the weights will ultimately result in you having the toned, shapely body you’ve been looking for. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also feel better about the way you look.

So all that works together to help you keep moving closer to your goals. If you’re getting your cardio in, and using some sense in your eating, you’ll get there sooner or later. Here’s the routine I taught them.

Do each set of exercises back to back without rest, three times before moving on to the next set. Each exercise should be done with a weight that lets you get 12-15 repetitions. If you don’t know how to do them, make sure you get with a qualified trainer or partner that can show you how to safely perform the exercises.

Level II DB Workout #2
1. Pec Fly on Exercise Ball (2) #10, 12, or 15 DB’s
2. Bent Knee Dead-Lifts (2) #12, 15, or 20 DB’s

3. Pullovers on Ball (1) #15 or 20 DB
4. Walking Lunges (1) #10 or #12 DB

5. Bicep Curl and Shoulder Press (2) #10, 12, 15, or 20 DB’s
6. Tricep Kick-Backs (1) #5 or 8 DB
7. Simple Crunch
8. Crunch with legs up in air
9. Crunch with one leg crossed
10. Crunch with other leg crossed
11. Leg lifts/flutter kicks

Done right, with little or no rest between exercises or sets, this workout should take you about 30 minutes. If you’re sweating and breathing harder, you’ve done a good job. If you can do it easily 12-15 times, you probably need to increase the weight.

This week’s winner was Rob Irish, who lost 2.6% of his body weight and 4.4 lbs. Rob is down 18.2 lbs now, and received a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. I’ll bet all that bike riding will be easier now.

Second place went to Renea Mullins, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 5.8 lbs. She’s now down 18.4 lbs overall. Third place went to Tammi Hewitt, who lost 1.9% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs.

Don’t forget about the 5 K walk/run race in Marshall, IL next Saturday. It’s mandatory for our Biggest Losers, but also a good challenge for everyone. If you need more information or a registration form, stop by sometime this week. See you there!

Friday, November 13, 2009


This week we turned it up again with a special routine I like to do half-way through the program. First, they had to run/walk from the center to the football field (1/2 mile). Once they got there, they were given their challenge.

They had to run/walk a lap (1/4 mile) and then do 25 pushups, 25 body squats and 25 sit-ups—four rounds, for a total of 1 mile and 100 pushups, squats and sit-ups. After they finished, they returned to the center (another ½ mile).

This routine combines strength training and cardio, works the entire body, and also uses interval training to keep the intensity high. Just like everything else, you get out what you put into it.

If you jog the quarters, it’s more difficult than walking. If you run them faster, it’s even tougher. So everyone can challenge themselves, simply by trying to complete the workout faster.

I really like workouts like this, because you’re working on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardio-respiratory endurance—all at the same time. It’s also great for weight loss because you’re using your whole body and burning lots of calories.

But the main reason I like the workout, is that it teaches people what they’re really capable of. People can always do more than they think they can do. When they finish the first round, they’re usually thinking “I’ve got to do 3 more of these?” As they dig in and keep plugging, they get another, then another, until finally they get it done.

It creates a real feeling of accomplishment—something I’m always trying to create in my workouts. But what I really hope is that they start thinking that if they could do this thing (that they thought they couldn’t do), what else could they do if they’re just willing to try?

And that’s a powerful thing to start thinking. “What if I tried ______?” Hopefully, they’ll decide to try some other things too. It could be a 5 K, a half marathon, or something different like rock climbing at the indoor rock climbing facility over by Bloomington.

It can be something unrelated to fitness, too. Like going back and getting a G.E.D. or deciding to take some classes toward a college degree. It could be looking at a career change or new hobby that always interested you.

It can also be a decision to stop doing something, like to finally quit smoking. Or to quit doing other things that are destructive. It might be making a change in a relationship that’s long overdue. Or it could be finally standing up to that person that puts you down. It could be asking for a raise.

Only you know what you want, or need. As you learn how to get in shape by disciplining your body and your desires, you’ll often discover you have the power to make other changes too. That’s what I’m really hoping to accomplish.

This week we had a two-way tie for 1st place. Rob Irish and Michelle Nugent both lost 1.6% of their body weight. Rob lost 2.8 lbs and Michelle lost 2.4 lbs. Rob wasn’t present at the weigh-in and workout, so Michelle received the $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Michelle’s also in the overall lead so far, having lost 10.6% of her bodyweight and a total of 17.4 lbs. You can see why, if you watch her in the gym. Take the night before the weigh-in, for example. Her son had to be at the center for a Taekwondo pizza party & movie night.

Since she was going to be there anyway, she figured she’d get a last chance workout, and asked me what to do. I told her to run 3 miles. She asked what to do after that, since she was going to be there awhile, so I told her, to when she got done, do it again.

By the time the movie ended, she’d been on the treadmill for just over an hour and a half, had gone 7.3 miles, and has a picture to prove it. She didn’t run the whole thing, but who cares? She went 7 miles! That’s huge, and it’s why she’s not.

It’s just like Karen Brown, who’s lost 8.8% of her body weight and 24.6 lbs, for 2nd place overall so far. She turned it up last week by doing 4 miles a day, often at a grade. The BL workout was tough too, but she did it, even jogging some around the track.

Rob Irish is in 3rd place overall, having lost 7.5% of his body weight and 13.8 lbs. I know he rides his tandem bike with his wife all the time, but he’s turned it up by coming to the gym more.
Nita Comstock is in 4th place, having lost 7.1% of her body weight and 11.2 lbs. She’s been doing more on the elliptical every week.

Renea Mullins is in 5th place, losing 4.5% of her body weight and 12.6 lbs. Sue Sheeran is in 6th place overall, with a weight loss of 4.4% of body weight and 9.8 lbs.

In 7th place is Tammi Hewitt, who’s lost 4.0% and 5.6 lbs. 8th place goes to Thomasena Collins, with a weight loss of 3.9% and 7.5 lbs.

9th place goes to Hilary Chaney, with a weight loss of 3.8% and 7.8 lbs. Heather Brown finishes off the top ten with a weight loss of 3.1% and 7.0 lbs.

Five others have lost between 3.0 and 5.2 lbs, and two others have lost between 1.5 and 2.0 lbs. Two others have slightly gained, and 5 others missed the weigh-in.

Next week, we’ll continue to get them ready for a 5 K which will be on Saturday, November 21st in Marshall, sponsored by the Marshall Elementary Booster Club. The cost is $15 in advance or $20 the day of the event.

It’s mandatory for all our BL participants, but everyone is invited to participate. For more information, stop by for an entry form, or check in at 8 am in the gym at North School that morning.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


This week the group made a dramatic shift in their training. Up to now, they’ve been using the weight machines, doing what I call Level I training. Now they’ll be using free weights, like dumbbells, exercise balls and other things.

The importance of this shift to free weights can’t be understated. Machines tend to isolate a muscle very well, but there are a lot of other muscles that aren’t needed. When you do a similar exercise with dumbbells, other muscles are needed to assist in the movement and stabilize your body, working your core more.

Getting all those other muscles involved drives up the intensity of the workout. It’s very obvious to a person who’s been on the machines. Once they pick up the dumbbells (DB), they’re always amazed how much more they’re doing. They’re usually breathing harder and sweating more, which are two good indicators that they’re burning more calories.

Here’s the full body routine that they did, with the typical weights the women used. Some women used a little less, and guys would use a little more. Get with a trainer or someone who knows how to do the exercises correctly.


Do 12-15 reps each exercise:
1. DB Press on Ball 15# DB both arms -- hits Chest, Shoulders, Triceps,
2. Body Squats 8-10# DB both arms -- hits Legs, Hips, Lower Back
Do 3x

3. Single Arm Row 15# DB -- hits Upper Back
4. Deadlift 15# both arms -- hits Legs, Hips, Lower Back
Do 3x

5. Lateral Raises 5-8# both arms -- hits Shoulders
6. Single Arm Curls 12-15# both arms -- hits Biceps, Forearms
7. Tricep Press 15# -- hits Triceps
Do 3x

8. AB Crunches on Ball hits Abs
9. Side Twists with Ball hits Abs, Obliques
Do 3x

They did the routine after run/walking a mile. Once they started the routine, they never stopped moving. They did the first two exercises back-to-back three times, and then the next two. Then they did the next three exercises, finishing with abs. While each exercise focused on a specific muscle groups, in every case, they had to use their core muscles to stabilize their position.

It took about a half hour to get through the workout, and then they walked/ran another mile. Remember, in three weeks, they have to do a 5 K walk/run (3.1 miles), so they need to be getting ready for that too.

This week’s winner was Tammi Hewitt, who lost 3.3% of her body weight and 4.6 lbs. If you’ll recall, Tammi won the last BL. She received a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

2nd Place was a tie between Nita Comstock and Michelle Nugent, who both lost 2.2% of their body weight and 3.4 lbs. Nita’s been turning it up by doing long stretches on the elliptical machine—up to 45 minutes!

Michelle’s turned it up by doing some high intensity interval training during her runs, as well as kickboxing and even Brazilian JiuJitsu. She’s also pulled into the overall lead, losing 15.0 lbs and 9.1% of her body weight in 5 weeks!

Next week, we’ll be halfway through the 12 week program, and we’ll look at retention, and total weight loss for everyone. Right now, it’s time for my workout. See you in the gym!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


If you recall, we started out trying to get everyone moving. Then we turned up the intensity of the workouts, and the participants started a daily calorie log. The goal was to make sure they were getting over their minimum calories.

Women should get at least 1,200 calories, but 1,500-1,650 would be better, especially with all the activity they were doing. Men should get at least 1,800 calories, but 2,200-2,400 would probably be better for them, too.

Last week we talked about how to eat right—meaning balanced meals. They learned that every meal should include a source of Protein, Starch (complex carbs), and Fruits & Greens.

Proteins are for building muscle & bone, and sources include low fat dairy products like Milk, Yogurt, and Cottage Cheese. Most people don’t get nearly enough protein. A very active person needs a minimum of a half a gram for each pound of body weight and that’s conservative.

Make sure you get a generous serving of protein at every meal. If you’re active, you might even add protein shakes or protein bars just to make sure you’re getting enough.

Starches are complex carbohydrates that take the body longer to break down, so they make good long lasting fuels. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals which will help your body feel and work better. The problem in our country is that we way overdo starches.

Go to a potluck. Someone brings chicken & noodles. That’s one starch. Someone else brings mashed potatoes. That’s two. What about corn. That’s three. Don’t forget about the other potato dish. Four. Then there’s baked beans. That makes five. And what about the desserts, like pies, cakes, cookies, and others?

We really just need one starch per meal. If you do a buffet, you’ll have to make sure you take only a little bit of each, or the rest of it will be stored as fat. Quality sources of starch include anything whole grain or whole wheat, like breads and cereals, rice, pasta, corn, regular and sweet potatoes, and some beans. You just need to have one serving per meal.

Fruits & Greens are pretty self-explanatory. Fruits and greens are simple sugars that give you quick energy, some fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals. Fruits go great with breakfast, as snacks, or even as part of a healthy desert. Greens include all the vegetables, and tend to go better with lunch and supper.

Most people don’t get enough fruits and greens, so if you’ll start eating more, you’ll have more quick energy and just plain feel better. They’re extremely low in calories, especially greens which are higher in fiber, so they’re almost free foods when it comes to your diet. Note: diabetics need to be much more careful with their sugar and should consult their physician.

So when you eat a meal, you want to set up your plate so you have a serving of protein, starch, and some fruits & greens. Once you start thinking that way, you’ll really be on top of things.

Don’t worry so much about the fats, especially if you’re doing low fat dairy, trimming excess fats from meats and poultry, and taking an Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplement.

Think of your plate divided into three sections with a serving of protein for building muscle and bone, a starch for long lasting energy, and finally some fruits or greens for quick energy and lots of vitamins and minerals. You can even shop that way. Build your meals at the grocery store before you bring them home. Plan them out.

Sample Meals for 1650 Calorie Days:
Here are some normal, healthy, balanced meal ideas. Try to identify each source of Protein, Starch, and Fruits & Greens. See how they’re balanced? Guys will need to add a little bit to your portions to take it to around 500 calories. If you’re a petite woman who needs less, make your portion sizes a little smaller. Shoot for 3 meals and 2-3 healthy snacks.

Sample 400 Calorie Breakfasts:
½ to ¾ cup whole grain Cereal, 8 oz Skim or Soy Milk, and a Medium Banana.
1 piece of whole wheat or multi-grain Bread w/butter and honey, a small low fat Yogurt, and some fresh Fruit.
2 eggs, 1 piece of whole wheat Toast w/butter, ½ cup fresh fruit.
1 serving of Oatmeal, 8 oz Skim or Soy Milk, and some fresh fruit.

Sample 400 Calorie Lunches:
1 cup whole wheat Spaghetti & Meatballs and ½ cup Green Beans.
6” Chicken Teriyaki Sub loaded with veggies on Honey Oat bread.
Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad w/fat free dressing.
½ broiled Chicken Breast, ½ cup frozen Bean Medley, 1 piece whole wheat Bread w/butter.

Sample 400 Calorie Suppers:
3 oz baked Chicken, ½ cup Baked Beans, Mixed Salad w/fat free dressing.
3 oz Meatloaf, ½ baked Sweet Potato, ½ cup fresh Green Beans.
1 cup grilled Chicken and whole wheat Pasta, Mixed Salad w/fat free dressing.
3 oz fresh or frozen Fish, ½ cup long grain wild Rice, frozen garden Bean Medley
3 oz smoked Pork Chop, ½ baked Potato w/butter, Mixed Salad w fat free dressing.

Sample 150 Calorie Snacks:
Small low fat Yogurt and ½ cup Red Seedless Grapes, or Banana or other fruit.
Meal Replacement Shakes
½ small box of Raisins and ¼ cup of Cashew Pieces.
½ cup low fat Cottage Cheese and ½ cup Fruit.
Several pieces of real (not processed) Cheese & several whole wheat Crackers .
Protein Bar
½ cup fat free Frozen Yogurt and ½ cup fresh Strawberries.
Yellow Delicious Apple and 1 tbsp Peanut Butter.

Our winner for Week Four was Thomasena Collins, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. She said she walked more, ate right, and replaced pop with water, and won a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all her hard work.

Second place went to Vicki Riggen, who lost 2.0% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs. Third place went to Nita Comstock, who lost 1.9% of her body weight and 3.0 lbs. Next week I’ll tell you about our Park-to Park challenge, and how they’re turning it up in their workouts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


My cutie-pie had a fitness test in school last week. The third graders in her gym class had to do a 1 mile walk/run (with as much running as possible). Over the summer she’d been on the treadmill and had walked as much as 2 miles, but she’d never actually run a whole mile.

I could tell that Bailey was a little nervous about it, so we did what you should do in situations like that. The weekend before the test, we went out and practiced it. First, we walked a quarter mile to get warmed up. Then we started jogging. Right away I knew what the problem was. She took off like a little filly right out of the gate. Nice speed, but tough to sustain over the long haul.

So we worked on starting out easy and picking a slower, more comfortable jogging pace that she could sustain. We got about a half-mile when she started getting a little tired, but she hung in there for another quarter mile before we needed to stop for just a minute or so. Then she crunched out the last quarter mile.

We also talked about how to breathe properly while running. Most people wait until they are out of breath before even thinking about it. A better plan is to practice your breathing while you’re still fresh, early in the run. Time it with your steps: In-two-three, Out-two-three. As the run gets harder and breathing increases, it might end up like: In-two, Out-two.

She had a really good start and I was pretty encouraged. By learning how to start slower and pace herself she was able to keep going a lot longer than she thought. Then when it got tougher, she was able to keep the oxygen coming in with better breathing. With a little more work, she’d be able to do it.

The next day we did it again, and this time she got three quarters before she started feeling like stopping. With a little encouragement from her papaw, an easy pace, and by focusing on her breathing, she was able to hang on and keep jogging for the last quarter mile. She did it!

She acted nonchalant about it, but I know she was pretty happy about it, and I thought it would be a big confidence builder for her when she went to school. Last Thursday she told me that they had the test and not only did she finish in 14:20, but she was 10th in her class!

Now she may never be a distance runner in cross country as she seems to be built more for speed and power. She’s pretty fast over the short haul, and man is this girl strong! You should see her swing at a softball. What’s important is that she learned a couple things.

First, was simply that she could do it. That’s a huge thing for kids to learn. Once you learn you can do something, no matter how tough it was, it builds your confidence to try other things. Second, she saw that practicing a thing makes the end result better. Finally, she was getting some excellent exercise. That could lead to a lifetime of better health.

One good example is a boy in our Martial Arts program. His dad’s a teacher and avid bicyclist and triathlete, so Lance decided to try a couple of children’s fun runs. He’s completed a mini-triathlon and a couple 5 K’s too. At just seven years old, he’s already posted a time of just over 31 minutes for a 5 K. I know lots of adults who would have a hard time doing that.

Coming from a household that gives a high priority to fitness, he’ll be set up pretty well for the future. Especially with some success in some activities now, he’ll likely do some of them his entire life. That will keep him fit.

Studies show that if kids are obese into their teens, it is very unlikely that they’ll ever know anything but obesity. Put another way, they’ll always struggle with their weight. The odds are very much against them.

But if you have your kids doing tumbling, gymnastics, martial arts, soccer, tee-ball, football, baseball, running, in other words, staying active, it can make a real difference. As much as I appreciate what the teacher had the kids do at school, at best it’s three times a week. That’s not enough.

Just like adults, kids need to be active every day. Along with watching what they eat, being careful not to eat too much, and avoiding junk food, they need to focus on being more active. They need to be out there burning calories and getting moving. As cool as Wii fit is, they need to be out there doing the real thing. They need to be playing “Me fit.”

Research is showing that it may have more benefits than just in their bodies. A recent article by Bruce Barcott in the November 2009 issue of “Bicycling” magazine showed that regular, intense bouts of exercise can help keep kids more focused during the day.

It turns out that the old strategy of sending the kids out to burn off some energy has some validity. In a study done back in 1978, a researcher named W. Mark Shipman, M.D. had a group of kids at the San Diego Center for Children do some running for up to 45 minutes, 4 days a week.

Back then, Ritalin was a new drug and his kids at the center were among the first in the country to use it to treat ADHD, and ADD. What they found was that the kids who were running were able to receive lowered drug doses. The exercise was providing a drug-like benefit.

Two other studies in the 80’s found similar results. Unfortunately, our cultural dependence on medicines and need for quick-fixes has made Ritalin and other drugs a huge billion dollar industry. But no one profits when the kids are just out there exercising—except the kids.

In the article, the author interviewed several cyclists who’ve been able to keep their ADHD under control with bicycling. And in another study, kids were found to have “enhanced academic performance, decreased irritability and increased focus.” Some were even able to get off their meds.

According to ADHD experts, “Cycling, swimming, and running are tops. At the bottom are soccer, hockey and baseball.” Individual sports with continuous movement seem to be better than team sports that would involve a lot of standing around, if ADHD is an issue.

The trick is picking a sport that has a solid cardio workout along with tasks that require the brain to make decisions, use focus, and other things like balance and timing. Staying in the pack while riding would be a good example. Performing the intricate tasks demanded in gymnastics or Taekwondo would be other good examples.

Some of our Biggest Losers had no problem focusing this past week. First place went to Michelle Nugent, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs. She received a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. With her win this week, she moved into the overall lead, losing a total of 10.6 lbs and 6.5% of her body weight in just three weeks.

Second place went to Tammi Hewitt, who lost 1.6% of her body weight and 2.2 lbs. Third place went to Karen Brown, who lost 1.5% of her body weight and another 4.0 lbs. Karen is in second place overall, having lost 17.6 lbs and a close 6.3% of her body weight!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Our goal in Week One was to get everyone moving. To that end, they were supposed to walk a mile every morning. At a very comfortable walking pace, it should take just 20 minutes or less, so it wouldn’t take up too much time before starting their day.

Then, later in the day, they were supposed to get in their “real” workout. Those alternated between using the strength machine circuit on M, W, F and hitting the cardio equipment on T, TH, and SA.

The point to using the weight machines was so they could start building muscular strength and endurance. Being stronger will everything easier—in and out of the gym. More muscle will also increase their metabolism which will help them burn more fat.

On the cardio equipment, the goal is to get their heart rate up and keep it up for 20-30 minutes. With a warm-up and cool-down, that means their workouts will last around 40-45 minutes.

Their first Biggest Loser workout consisted of walking/running a mile, and then 50 Pushups, 50 Sit-ups, and 50 Body Squats. After everyone got back from the mile, they did 10 Pushups, 10 Sit-ups, and 10 Body Squats. They then repeated the sequence for a total of 5 sets, back-to-back, without taking a break. While it was pretty tough, it will seem pretty tame later, after we keep adding to it for twelve weeks.

I gave them a calorie log so they can start thinking about how much they’re eating. While quality is important, the first step is to make sure they’re not eating too much or too little. Nine out of ten women don’t eat enough; guys usually are over-eaters.

So, we’ll prove it. Each day they’ll write down everything they ate along with their calories for each thing. Usually they can find the calories/serving on the box, can, or bag somewhere. If they can’t find it, they can go online.

There are lots of websites that will give you the calories for all kinds of foods. Some sites are free, others want to charge you. One free site we use a lot is They will try to make you a subscriber, but you don’t have to do that to use the free stuff.

Once you start writing things down, two things happen. First, you’ll become accountable. Second, you’ll quickly learn what your food values are. Most people don’t have that much variety and need to learn around 20 things. Once you know them you know them.

For example, an egg is around 78 calories. An apple, orange or pear is around 64 calories. A normal slice of whole grain bread is around 100 calories. A cup of quality whole grain cereal is around 150-180 calories, depending on the brand.

Knowing these things, you can quickly figure out that a good breakfast for a woman would be around 400 calories: 150 calories for a packet of oatmeal, 120 calories for a glass of 2% milk, and around 130 calories for a large banana. You might eat that breakfast a lot, so it will be easy to figure out. If you had that breakfast, you just write down “oatmeal, milk and a banana: 400 calories.”

If you were paying close attention to last week’s Biggest Loser TV show, they said that the women needed to make sure they got their 1,200 calories in. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, women should never go below 1,200 calories a day, and guys should get at least 1,800 calories. That’s where that came from.

But that’s a pretty severe and restrictive diet. Some can handle it, but we suggest women should shoot for around 1,500-1,650 calories a day. That breaks down into three 400 calorie meals and two or three 150 calorie snacks.

It’s a little more food which will make them feel better. They’ll have more energy to get through your day, and still lose lots of weight because with exercise, they’ll be burning around 2,000-2,500 calories. The difference will be made up by using fat for fuel.

Usually, if the ladies weren’t eating enough, my first goal is to just get them to hit their minimum, or twelve or thirteen hundred calories. Then, if they can, work up to 1,500-1,650.
For guys, even though they can get by on as little as 1,800 calories, they usually feel better eating 2,000-2,400 calories a day. It’s still pretty low compared to what guys usually take in.

After you get a handle on how much you’re eating, you can start looking at the quality of your foods and how they’ll help you feel and perform better. The thing is to understand what functions each type of food perform—what they’re for. I’ll talk about that more next week.

Of the 28 people that started and finished week one, 17 lost a pound or more, including Pam Arrasmith who said: “That’s 4 sticks of butter!” You know, she’s right, and that’s a great way of looking at it.

10 out of 28 lost two pounds or more, and 7 out of 28, or 25% lost three or more pounds. Remember, a pound a week is good (and 4 sticks of butter), two pounds is great, and anything over three pounds is fantastic.

The winner of Biggest Loser “9” Week One was Michelle Nugent, who lost 3.4% of her body weight and 5.6 lbs. Michelle said she quit drinking pop and started taking bottled water with her to work. She also started working out harder than ever, and wonders what she could have lost if she’d done even more. She won a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Karen Brown, who lost 3.2% of her body weight and an amazing 8.8 lbs. The big change for Karen was increasing her activity level, working out twice a day. She made sure she walked a mile each day on her lunch hour, and then came back to the gym later for her “real” workout.

Third place went to Vicki Hefner, who lost 2.4% of her body weight and a total of 4.4 lbs. In fourth place, Heidi Walls lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.0 lbs. Fifth place was a tie between Hilary Chaney, and Jessica Hopper, both losing 1.7% of their body weight. Hilary lost 3.6 lbs, and Jess lost 2.2 lbs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Well, the TV show Biggest Loser is a couple weeks into the new season, and we just started our own Biggest Loser “9” here in the community. It’s a smaller group again but I’m not quite sure why. I’m pretty sure it’s not because everyone’s thin now.

Last fall, we started with 67 people and the winner lost 57 lbs in 12 weeks. This year we’re starting with 23. So we’ve still got room if you want to get involved. You’ll need to get registered before this weekend. The group will meet again next Saturday morning at 10:00am and you’ll want to get there a little early to weigh-in.

About a third of the participants are members of the YMCA, while the rest have memberships. Some have been members for awhile, and some got a short term membership for the 12 week contest. I think one will be working out at a gym at their workplace.

After a quick introduction and overview of what the 12 weeks will be about, we got right into the action. It turns out that it’s exactly a mile from our front door, down Wood St. to High St/5 Points, back up to Court, and back up Court behind the building to our back door.

The goal was to cover the mile as quickly as possible, whether walking, jogging, or a combination of both. Most people can cover a mile in 20 minutes, which would be a very comfortable walking pace. A slow jog would get you there in right around 12 minutes, which would be a 5 mph pace. An average runner would do it in 10 minutes, which is a 6 mph pace.

In this group, only two were able to do the mile in less than that, posting 9:15 and 9:30 times. Two other gals did it in right around 11:30, but the majority needed at least 13:30-13:45 to get it done. Still, that means they were jogging quite a bit, and taking walk breaks when needed, which is just fine.

Finally, there was another group that had to walk the whole thing, as they were new to exercise, but that was O.K. too. It doesn’t really matter how fast they were, because it was a starting point. All that mattered was that they did their best.

In 12 weeks, they’ll be amazed at how much they improve. It’s normal to see 2 to 3 minutes come off their 1 mile time and we’ve seen as much as 6 and 7 minute improvements! To accomplish this, I told them to try to shave 15 seconds off their 1 mile time each week. That’s a very reasonable goal, especially with people just getting started.

After everyone was back, we hit the mat room. Some people call it the “house of pain.” That’s just cold. Anyway, the first thing was to do a minute of pushups. To count, they had to go all the way down until their chest hit the floor, and then all the way back up. If they wanted to do them on their knees, that was fine. All but one did.

A minute doesn’t sound like much, but most people struggle with pushups right out of the gate. After 30 seconds, they’re usually about done, and it’s tough getting more out of them, but they kept trying. In 12 weeks, some will do a third more, and some will even double the number of pushups they can do.

Then it was on to a minute of sit-ups. While we do all kinds of crunches and other abdominal (abs) exercises, for this test, they had to cross their arms in front of them with knees bent and someone holding their feet. Then they had to come up and touch their elbows to their knees. If they didn’t touch they couldn’t count them.

Once in awhile, someone will not be able to do a single sit-up, but everyone got at least a few. In 12 weeks, their numbers will double and perhaps even triple. Taken together, the three tests provide a pretty good measure of starting fitness, and something we can compare to when we do the tests again at the end of Biggest Loser “9.” More importantly, they serve as a good wake-up call that let’s people know where they really are.

As they lose some weight, everything will get easier. They’ll also get stronger and have more confidence. That’ll let them push harder when they’re working out, burning more calories, and losing even more weight, which creates a cycle of success.

At first, they’ll have to kind of fight their own bodies to get things going. Later, their bodies will become allies in the process, working with them to take more weight off.

Another important thing we went over was to not think they were going to get the same results as the TV show. On TV, they live on a ranch, isolated from most temptations, with a kitchen filled with good food choices, a full service gym at their disposal (although our 24 hour gym kind of helps out there), no job, no kids, no distractions, and they often work out 6-8 hours a day.

Here, they have jobs, kids, lots of temptations, junk food at home, and at best, they’re going to work out twice a day, for perhaps 1 ½ hours, total. They won’t get the same results. So they need to get over it.

If they can lose a pound a week, that’s good. Two pounds a week would be great. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine says for healthy weight loss, you need to lose 1-2 pounds a week. Perfect. Three or more pounds would be fantastic. If they can come to terms with that, they’ll be just fine—and still have great results.

Finally, we talked about what it takes to be successful. Without fail, half the group will quit, for one reason or another. I asked them to spend some time thinking about that. No one wants to stand up and say, “Yes, I’m going to be a quitter.”

Everything thinks they’re going to make it. But when push comes to shove, life starts intruding, and Murphy comes knocking, that’s when you need to be tough. They need to make the decision now, on what they’re going to do when things don’t go their way.

I left them with the instructions to focus on getting moving this week. Walk a mile every morning, or at noon, to get their body working. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons or evenings, they’ll do a strength machine circuit after a quick 10 minute cardio warm-up. They should pick a weight that they can do comfortably 12-15 times. The workouts should take 30-45 minutes, total.

On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, they’ll focus on doing longer cardio workouts. Each workout should last a minimum of 30 minutes, and 45 minutes would be even better. This way, they’re always doing at least a mile every day in the morning, and alternating between cardio and muscle workouts later in the day.

Next week, we’ll start talking about food. They’ll learn exactly how much they should be eating, which should hold some surprises for them, especially the women. We’ll also step up the workouts, and they’ll have their first training session with me. I’ll tell you all about it next week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


This week marked the end of Biggest Loser “8.” Our smallest group since BL “1, we started with just 24 participants. To put that in perspective, last fall we had 67 people signed up for BL “4”. Of the 24 that started this time around, 9 made the final weigh-in with another 8 people still involved that had to miss for one reason or another.

Last summer, we didn’t even do a Biggest Loser because of all the different things going on, but I wanted to give people a chance to participate even if they couldn’t make all the weigh-ins. That way they could still get some information and start making progress.

Even though it was a pretty small group this time around, especially at the end, there were some really nice accomplishments. Heather had a serious problem with asthma and I was pretty concerned during her 1st 1 mile walk/run (18:43). In just 12 weeks, she took 2 minutes off her time (16:47).

Even though she only lost 7.6 pounds overall, she learned not only how to exercise, but also that she can do it—which is powerful. Now she can push harder and do more, which bodes well for her next 12 weeks.

The average improvement in the 1 mile walk/run was around 1 ½ minutes, over the 12 weeks. Shawn Bowers, on his 5th Biggest Loser, posted a starting 1 mile run at 9:12, but finished with an amazing 7:15 mile during the post-test!

Everyone improved dramatically in the pushups, often doing 50% more in a minute than they did 12 weeks earlier. Sit-ups improved as well, with most people doing around 30% more than they did on the pre-test.

Quite a few said that they also started understanding how to eat right, and several had given up drinking pop. While everyone had trouble once in awhile, they found they could stick with a sensible diet: more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, low fat dairy, leaner cuts of meats, more chicken and fish, all in the right amounts for them. They also avoided most of the junk foods, most of the time.

Our winner for Week Twelve was John Crow who lost 3.4% of his body weight and 3.6 pounds. He won a $20 gift card for all his hard work from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. John lost the most body fat during the twelve weeks, posting a drop from 29.8% to 21.5%, which represents around 30 pounds lost. Since his weight went down just 8.6 lbs, this means he’s put on an amazing amount of muscle!

For the final results, Vicki Riggen took third place overall. A grammar school principal from Chrisman, Vicki told me the weekly meetings and workouts really helped her learn what to do during the week. This contributed to her losing 7.3% of her body weight and 11.0 lbs over the 12 weeks, despite having a vacation cruise, dental surgery, and knee surgery!

Shawn Bowers, who finished in second place overall, has found out how important it was to “do the work.” In the end it comes down to calories burned, and he found lots of ways to burn them. When work made it hard for him to hit the gym sometimes, he was able to keep up with his running and use hard yard work to help him lost 12.9% of his body weight and a total of 37.9 lbs. He’s now only 15 pounds away from his long term goal of losing 100 lbs.

Tammi Hewitt was our overall winner for Biggest Loser “8” and the first ever female to win the whole thing! She walked several miles every day to lose 16.5% of her body weight and a total of 28.2 lbs. Her goal is to lose another 12 pounds to get to her ideal weight, and she’s already signed up for Biggest Loser “9” which starts this Saturday.

As I mentioned earlier, last fall we had 67 people signed up for BL “4.” I don’t know how many we’ll have this time around, but I’m expecting a pretty nice sized group for Biggest Loser “9.” The first meeting will start at 9:30 am, Saturday 26th, right after the Honeybee 5K.

Everyone will do the initial weigh-in, and then the 1 mile walk/run, minute of pushups, and minute of sit-ups to get an idea of their starting fitness. Then I’ll hand out their BL information, tell them what to do in their first week, and cut them loose at around 10:30 am so they can watch or walk in the parade which starts at 11:00. The following Saturday, we’ll meet at our normal time (10:00) for their first weekly weigh-in and workout.

If you’d like to be part of this community-wide group and participate in Biggest Loser “9” you need to get registered by Friday, September 25th. The cost is $50 and you don’t have to be a member at Tom’s Fitness, although you should probably be a member somewhere.

Half of the participants will be members here, but half are always members elsewhere, like at the YMCA, Curves, the gym in Marshall, or at work. A few even do their workouts at home. That’s O.K. too—you just need to have a place and stuff, so you can get your workouts in.

Why not make this fall your time to watch the weight fall off, and change your life at the same time. By Christmas, you might have to give yourself a nice, new wardrobe! I’ll see you in Biggest Loser “9!”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Last weekend was “Blues at the Crossroads” in Terre Haute and they scheduled a half-marathon run early Saturday morning as part of the festival. While I’m not a good runner by any means, I like doing a race in the spring and then again in the fall. That gives me a goal, and also helps keep me training. That helps keep me in shape.

After a pretty dismal performance (2:25) in the last one at Sarah Bush Lincoln last spring, I wanted to do better this time. Part of it could be blamed on the extreme wind that day, but the bottom line was I was a lousy runner and needed to train more.

I’d always been a little cautious of running too much, because of all the other workouts I’ve got going on, so I didn’t want to over train. I’d also run into knee problems during the long runs at the end of a training cycle, right before a race.

Still, I’d read about how runners (real ones) often run every day, 5, 6, even 10 miles! That always amazed me and I wondered if I could do it, too. Maybe if I increased my mileage and running days, I could build a better base. That might make me strong enough to avoid the runner’s knee issue, but also take some time off my long runs.

So, in June, I started running 3 miles each day—even on the days I did strength training. Before long, I went a little farther on the running only days, going 4 and 5 miles. Then, I upped it to 4 miles on the strength training days, too.

It wasn’t too long and I was running twice the mileage. I also started feeling a little like Forrest Gump—“I just felt like running.” My neighbor Brad started calling me the ghost who haunted Horace Brocton road.

I finished June with just over 100 miles and I was wondering if I could do 120. Here’s where the obsessive-compulsive part of my personality kicks in. Even though there were some hot days, I passed 120 miles with a little less than a week to go in July. So I pushed hard and ended up with 140 miles—averaging 35 miles a week and feeling like a real runner (some days).

With 6 weeks to go before the Terre Haute half-marathon, I started thinking that maybe I could stretch it to 40 miles a week. That was pretty tough. There were a lot of days I didn’t feel like running, but I wanted to do better in Terre Haute. My theory was an old one: no pain, no gain. Build a better base. Actually be prepared.

Then, occasionally, there would be a run when I just went out there and—ran. It felt great. The whole run was effortless. If I was running 4 miles, I could keep going faster each mile and charge the last one. I’d always considered myself a wanna-be runner, at best a jogger trying to go the distance. But on days like that, I felt like a real runner.

By the end of August, I was pretty tired, and on the last day, hit 160 miles in the 10 mile long run two weeks out from the half-marathon. Even though I was pretty happy to hit the goal, I also knew that I’d probably never run quite that many miles in a month. 40 miles a week is probably just right for some people, but probably a little too much for me.

During a two week taper, where I took a few running days off and decreased the mileage, I felt pretty good. If ever there was a time to do better, this was it. The week before the race, I ran even less, and took two days off everything before the event.

It was nice having the race in Terre Haute, even if we did have to get up pretty early to get over there. As usual, my son Chris was with me, and I’d talked him into taking off and running his own race this time. He ran the last one with me, and I could tell he was like a race horse with a jockey that wouldn’t let him go—especially with my lousy time running into the wind.

We got there in time to park at the ending point and took the bus downtown to where the start would be. I was amazed at how many runners there were. It was a calm, crisp morning, and 291 of us stood around listening to some Blues while we waited for the start.

As they said go, Chris told me “see ya” and took off. I wouldn’t see him again for a couple hours. I felt pretty good, and tried to not get sucked into running faster than I should—it was going to be a long 13.1 miles and I didn’t want to get burned out early.

Within a few minutes, I heard someone saying, “Hi Tom.” I looked over and it was Dan Lynch. We talked a bit and he told me he ran the Indy Mini in about 2 hours. I told him that was fantastic and that I was just hoping to finish in 2:10, which would be averaging ten minute miles. He said he’d be doing that, so I hooked up with him. Right around then, another friend, Ken Hall, blew by us both.

Dan and I ran the next 8 or so miles together, not saying much, but he’ll never know how much he helped me. It was ironic. He was in one of my first Biggest Loser groups two years ago, and then did it again a year ago. The first time, he was there for himself, to get back into a routine. The second time, he was there to help out a friend.

Now, he was not only running a half-marathon, but he was running it faster than I ever dreamed of running. I kept thinking if I just stayed with him, I’d run it faster than ever and get my best finish.

He pulled a little ahead of me at mile 4, when I walked for a moment to eat my runners goo, which is a simple sugar packet that tastes a little bit like thick honey. As I splashed it down with some water and got going, I could still see him just in front of me. Finally, about a mile later, I caught him again.

At mile 8, when I did my next goo, he pulled ahead of me for good. Try as I might, I just couldn’t catch him, although I was always able to see him up in front of me. At mile 10, a group of guys passed me and I overheard one say to the others that it was 1:31. That was a pretty great time for me, and I knew I just needed to hang on for my best finish ever.

So there we were, Dan running up ahead like a little machine. I’m back a little bit, trying to maintain. It was almost as if he was pulling me along. Then the hills came. It’s not very nice putting the hills at the end of a race. That’s when my hips and legs really started getting tired. It’s funny—it’s never about breathing for me. I’ve always got plenty of wind. It’s the muscles that just don’t want to do it anymore. And they didn’t.

But Dan was still running, and so then was I. We got to mile eleven, and then twelve. I had a brief moment where I thought I might be able to catch him in the last mile, but my old familiar right knee started acting up a bit, and I needed to walk a few seconds to give it a brief. Once we turned off the road, into the grassy area for the last quarter mile, it felt a lot better.

Up ahead, I could see the clock. It said 2:04 something, and I knew it was going to be a personal best. I crossed at 2:05:12, and 150th overall (out of 291 runners). As I finished, I realized that thanks to Dan, and all those extra miles, I’d just taken 10 minutes off my best time ever, and a whopping 25 minutes off the fiasco last spring.

Dan was there waiting, having finished over a minute ahead of me at 2:03:43, and 143rd over all. I didn’t have words at the time to thank him (although I’ve got plenty of them now). Chris was there too, having finished in 85th place at 1:49:17. He’s such a stud. Ken Hall congratulated me as well, and told me that he was trying to catch Chris, but couldn’t quite do it, ending in 88th place and 1:49:30. He’s also a stud.

If you want to know what the fastest time was, it was 1:16:44 for the guy who won the race. The fastest gal finished in 1:29:26. You see, there are different levels for everything, and everyone has a goal. Even the guy who won likely looks up to world class runners, who do it in just over an hour. I used to be near the end of the pack, but now I’ve fought my way up to being squarely in the middle.

I figure I’ll never ever be able to match times like those of Ken or my son, but I am thinking that maybe next spring, with enough training miles in, and someone like Dan to follow, maybe I can do it in 2:00. I can’t wait.

The winner for week eleven in Biggest Loser “8” was Cathy Kemper, who lost 1.3 % of her body weight and 2.4 lbs. Cathy received the $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all her hard work. Second place went to Shawn Bowers, who lost about a little less than 1.0% of his body weight and 2.0 lbs.

Join us for Biggest Loser “9” which starts Saturday 26th at 10:00 am. You’ll need to get registered by Friday so we can hit the ground running, so to speak. You’ll get 12 weeks of challenging workouts, and lots of help getting your diet squared away. Last year at this time, we had 68 people in BL “4”, so get signed up now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


When writing this column, I usually come to my laptop with a pretty good idea of what I want to write about. Sometimes it’s a continuation of a topic from the week before. Sometimes it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

There are times, though, when I have no idea what to write about. That can be pretty tough, especially with a weekly deadline. Thank God it doesn’t happen too often. But when it does, even the act of writing often brings an idea or two (seems to be working).

It works when writing songs, too. You can’t just lie around waiting for inspiration to strike. You’ve got to go digging for it. Play your instrument. Listening to the sounds and paying attention to what’s going through your mind.

Whether it’s with this column, or in my music, I’ve usually been struck by something someone has said, done, or something that’s happened. Sometimes it’s me, but usually it’s about other people. The best songs and stories are about people and the things they go through. Those are things we can relate to.

In the end, it’s always because something seemed important enough to dwell on for awhile, that I end up writing about it. I can’t let it go. I want to make sense of it.

Once in a while I have to find inspiration for a workout. Usually, I’m pumped and ready to go. I’m lucky that way—I really like to do it. For some people, it’s the absolute last thing they want to do. Tough finding inspiration if you’re that person.

Now there are lots of chores to do around here—cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping the floors—that I’m not really inspired to do. It’s never ending. It would be nice to use a Steven Covey approach and “think with the end in mind.” Just visualize those sparkling urinals, squeaky clean floors, and happy customers, and I’m all over it, right?

That approach works pretty good when planning and building a business, but it just doesn’t motivate me to stick my hand into a toilet. Nothing really does. You’ve just got to do it. Thank God for plungers. I mean really. You wouldn’t believe what some people will do. And guys are pretty much pigs compared to the gals. I never have to plunge the ladies toilets.

At moments like that, the only way to find inspiration and motivation is to simply just get started. That’s what I do. Just get started. You put it off until you can’t put it off anymore, and then you hold your nose (figuratively speaking) and just get started.

An interesting thing happens. Once you’ve actually started and gotten past all the reasons you didn’t want to do it, it takes on a life of its own. You start feeling good about the fact that you’re actually doing it.

Then you start liking the results. In the bathroom, for example, it is nice seeing the mirrors clean, and the counters shining. The toilets sparkle and the floor looks good. It smells good. There’s a certain pride in a job done well, or even just a job done.

It’s the same thing with a certain workout we do in our groups. Some of the tougher workouts have names, like “Cindy” and “Angie.” I think it’s based on how the hurricanes have names, and how these workouts make you feel like a hurricane just blew through.

This one’s a great CrossFit workout (for more info go to called “Fran.” Like I mentioned before, I’m usually pretty motivated, but this gives me great pause. It’s 21 thrusters (95# front squat with a shoulder press), 21 pull-ups, 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, and then 9 thrusters, 9 pull-ups, non-stop, as fast as you can do it. I’m fine with the pull-ups, but the thrusters just take it out of me. It’s going to be hard, I know it, and pretty much dread it.

It doesn’t matter how good it’s going to be for me, and how it’s going to build power and explosiveness. It doesn’t matter how it prepares you for a fight, so you have the stamina to not only engage the aggressor, but keep going, full bore, until you have control over the situation.

With this one, I have to treat it like I treat the toilets. Just jump in (figuratively speaking). Just get started. Once I start, I’m fine. It’s tough, but I’m O.K. Then later, there’s a real sense of accomplishment, because I did something I knew was going to be hard, but I did it anyway.

Marathoners and those who do triathlons understand this. They know there’s going to be pain, but they thrive on it. They push through it to get the finish. For them, the test is everything. They want to know they’ve been measured, and aren’t found wanting. I think even in our simple workouts, we can find that same feeling. In life even.

I’ll forever be in awe of the soldiers that have served our country under live fire. Watch “Band of Brothers” sometime and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s WWII, Kosovo, or nowadays, Afghanistan and Iraq, these people knew what they were getting into and still faced it anyway.

Or the police and firefighters that went up the stairs of the Twin Towers. It’s not the instinctive thing to do—run toward the problem—but they did it. Even if it was their job, it was still heroic. It was so inspiring that I had to write a song about it. I sing it in my head when I’m running, especially when the miles get tough. I know you can’t hear the melody, but maybe someday I’ll get to sing it for you.

“IT TAKES A HERO” ©Tom Dolan 2009

Remember pictures of the airplanes; police and firefighters everywhere
They went runnin’ up the staircase; then we couldn’t find them anywhere
And I know they had their orders, but all the weight was on their shoulders

Sometimes it takes a hero, to do the things that must be done
And the hero keeps on going, when the rest of us would want to run, away
It takes a hero

They were driving down the highway; it’s not as easy as it used to be
Now the desert makes its own rules; instead of bullets, it’s I.E.D.’s
And I know they had their orders, but all the weight was on their shoulders


A hero isn’t always what it seems to be, it could be you, it even could be me
But a hero doesn’t really always want to be, there

He was stumbling up the pathway; the pain of everything was pressing down
Cause he knew a cross was waiting; and the truth was he’d done nothing wrong
But he knew someday we’d need him, so he chose to buy our freedom


First place for Week Ten of Biggest Loser “8” was a tie between Brittany Cline and Tammy Hewitt, who both lost 1.1% of their body weight, and 1.6 lbs. Since Tammy has more weekly wins, Brittany got the $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. She’s lost 16.4 lbs in the ten weeks, and Tammy has lost 27.0 lbs. Now that’s inspiring.

Maybe you can find your inspiration by signing up for Biggest Loser “9” before Friday, September 25th. BL “9” starts Saturday, September 26th at 10:00.

Monday, August 31, 2009


Over the years, I’ve seen lots of people come and go in my classes and at the gym. If you look at who’s lasted a year, the number is easily cut in half. Go back two years and it’s probably cut in half again. Go back three or more years, and it’s probably down to 5%.

Even in our Biggest Loser classes, the attrition rate is always around 50% and that’s just in 12 weeks! So it’s pretty rare to see someone working out on a regular basis for more than a year or so.

Things always seem to come up and get in the way. Life intrudes. When that happens, if fitness isn’t a priority and really, really important to them, it’s usually the first thing to go.

But when people come back, if they do, they often say they just kind of quit working out. Many that lost weight have gained much of it back. It’s so common it’s called the yo-yo syndrome.
People really go after it for a few weeks or months, lose a little weight, and then get tired and stop the process. Then they put the weight back on, perhaps even more than before.

This is because your body really wants to get back to that comfortable state of having all that extra fuel. When you lose weight, you’ve used the fat from the fat cell for energy (fuel), but the fat cell is still there, empty, waiting for you to screw up.

Eat more than you burn one day, and you’ll fill that fat cell right back up. If you do it on a regular basis, pretty soon you’ll be right back where you were. This is why eating right and exercising smart needs to become a lifestyle—something you do the rest of your life.

It takes commitment. It takes staying power. These are the things that ultimately determine how successful you’ll be. If you really want to know the steps to success in weight loss, firming up, getting out of debt, building a business, or really anything, here they are:

1. Know what you want to do.
2. Know that you need to do it.
3. Make a decision to do it.
4. Want it badly enough to be willing to make changes.
5. Copy someone else’s success.
6. Just get started.
7. Don’t stop doing it until you get what you want.

A lot of people can get through the first few steps, and some even give it a try. Unfortunately, few follow through all the way to the end, but that’s where their dreams can come true.

Here’s an example of some guys and gals that have stuck with something for a year or more. You can see it in their performance in our “boot camp” workouts. Most guys struggle with one pull-up at the start and some of these gals are doing 5-10 of them—in a row! They’re doing real pushups, often 50 or 100 of them!

They’ve burned fat, toned up and gotten very strong. They look good and feel great. Everything they do is easier now. They used to slug through the workout, just trying to survive. Now they charge through it, to see how well they can do. They believe in themselves and look forward to new challenges.

It’s the same thing with running. When you get started, you plod along, trying to get through it. But later, you can do more. You’re running form has improved and you’re stronger. You can run faster and farther. It becomes fun.

It’s also why if you’re pretty active, you can kind of eat what you want, if it’s in moderation. You’ll simply burn it. No storage. It’s just fuel. I like that, especially on cookie days.

On days where I have a long run, I eat Chinese after. A milk shake (real ice cream and milk) goes down just right, too. I’ll just burn it. It’s free food. Of course this only works if you’re really active and also at your “ideal” weight—that is, the weight you want to stay at.

If you’re not quite there, you have to be a little more disciplined about it. You have to be more meticulous about getting all your workouts, too. It’s much easier to maintain your weight than it is to lose weight.

When you’re trying to take it off, you’re actually fighting your body. It wants to stay the same. You have to impose your will over it and say, “No, we’re doing this.” It doesn’t want to work out. You have to say, “Yes, we’re doing this.” It takes staying power.

The winner of Week Nine for Biggest Loser “8” was Tammy Hewitt, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs, but couldn’t be present at the weigh-in. Tammy’s lost a total of 25.4 lbs in nine weeks.

Shawn Bowers lost 1.9% of his body weight and 5.0 lbs for second place, and won a $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. He said he has less than 20 lbs to go to reach his overall goal of 100 lbs. Now that’s staying power. Heather Brown lost 1.5% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs for third place.

Last fall, we had over 60 people in Biggest Loser “4.” Our next community Biggest Loser “9” will start with a bang on Saturday, September 26th at 10:00 am, back at the center, right after the Honeybee run.

You’ll need to be registered before then to save your place. It’s still just $50 and you don’t have to be a member to participate, but you probably should be a member somewhere. That way you can get the help you need plus have all the stuff you need to do it. What kind of staying power do you think you can come up with?