Saturday, January 31, 2009


It was another good week for retention for Biggest Loser “6.” The way it works is if someone misses two Friday night’s in a row, we drop them from the rolls. So far, we’ve lost only one!

In six Biggest Losers, this is by far the best start ever. We’re really trying to get people to understand the power of committing to a thing and sticking to it. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easily—you have to work for it. It’s the same when losing the fat. You’ve got to eat right and exercise smart.

The workout was tougher this time. After walking for 10-15 minutes as a warm-up, they did five rounds of “grappling” where two people grab each other and try to push and move them around for a minute. After each round, they dropped down and did a minute of partner setups.

Then they were introduced to Burpee’s—a wicked exercise where you drop down, do a push-up, hop back up, and jump up with your toes off the ground. It’s a very demanding exercise because you’re using your entire body.

They did 5 sets of 5 Burpees. By the end of the 12-weeks, they’ll be able to do all 25 Burpees in a row (but it will still be tough). Finally, they walked another 5 minutes as a cool-down.

Their assignment for next week on the machines is to do 2 paired machines back to back, without stopping. For example, doing the Bench Press (pushing) and Seated Row (pulling) back to back, repeating 2 or 3 times before moving on to the next pair.

These are called super-sets, and will really raise the intensity of their workouts. They’ll do this for a week before we introduce free weights at the end of week four.

On the food side of things, by now, most of the participants are aware of their “minimum.” This is the minimum number of calories to live, called basal metabolic rate (BMR). I’ve found that “minimum” seems to help people understand it’s an amount never to go below.

When I meet them, nine out of ten women don’t hit it, and perhaps half of the guys. Some are still having trouble hitting their minimum. Until they do, it will be very difficult to lose weight. At that point, most weight loss is either muscle or water.

When you don’t hit your minimum, somehow, your body thinks it needs to preserve fat. Once you hit it, though, your body will “relax,” and allow you to start using fat for fuel.

For most women, it’s usually between 1,300 and 1,400 calories, and never below 1,200. For guys, it’s usually around 1,800 calories. To feel better and have plenty of energy, most women need to be around 1,650, and guys need to be around 2,400.

Once we got them thinking about the amount of food they needed to eat, we talked about the quality of food. To operate at our best, we need to be eating three healthy meals, and 2-3 healthy snacks.

Every meal should have a source of Protein, Starch, and Fruits or Greens. We tend to eat too little Protein, too much Starch, and almost no Fruits and Greens!

Sources of Protein include low fat dairy products like skim or 2% milk, low fat yogurt, or low fat cottage cheese. Other sources include fish, poultry (chicken and turkey), lean cuts of beef and pork, nuts, and some beans. You can also eat soy products and protein shakes.

The purpose of protein is building muscle and bone. Make sure you get a full serving of protein at every meal, and try to get at least a half serving of protein in every snack.

Starches are way misunderstood. Entire diets tell you to avoid these like the plague. One problem though. Starches are your best source of long-lasting energy.

Because they’re a complex carbohydrate, starches take your body longer to break down, giving you a long-lasting source of fuel, which is their main purpose.

Quality starches include whole wheat or multi-grain breads and cereals, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, some beans, corn, long grain wild rice, and whole wheat pastas.

In this country, we way over-do starches, but make sure to get one at every meal for long-lasting energy. It will fuel your workouts and the rest of your day, too.

Fruits & Greens
These are pretty simple to figure out. We don’t eat near enough of these, and as a result, miss out on lots of vitamins and minerals, which is their main purpose. They also provide us quick energy, and lots of fiber.

In case you haven’t seen them for awhile, you can find them in the produce section. Spend some time there and fill up your cart—you’ll feel better in just a day or two.

Snacks should be a combination of carbs and protein. The carbs will give you the fuel you need to get through your workouts and to your next meal. The protein will continue helping you build healthy muscle and bone.

A good plan is to shop that way. Ask yourself what your protein will be, what the starch will be, and what fruits or greens you’re going to have with it. Start eating this way, and you’ll feel better within just a couple days.

Finally, we talked a little bit about fats. If you’re eating the way I described, then you just need to eat low-fat foods, avoid foods cooked in vegetable oils, going with stir-fry and olive oil instead. Everyone should also take Omega-3 fish oil capsules every day.

This week’s winner was once again Bill Lewis, who lost another 3.0% of his body weight and 6.8 lbs. Bill won a Wal-Mart gift certificate provided by our friends at Terry Elston’s State Farm Insurance. In just three weeks, Bill has lost 27.8 lbs.

Second place went to Shawn Bowers with an impressive 2.7% of his body weight and 7.5 lbs, and third place went to Ken McConkey who lost 2.3% of his body weight and 7.7 lbs.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


56 people made the weigh-in Friday night. We had four people missing—at least two couldn’t be there, but are still active. That’s pretty good for week two.

As you know, half the people always seem to find a reason to stop any type of diet or exercise program. So we’ve been spending a lot of time talking about how to keep going, even when things get tough.

The first and most important thing is to just get started. You can think about it, talk about it, but if you don’t actually start, nothing happens. You’ve got to actually do it. Just get started.

Once you’ve done that, the next most important thing is to keep getting started—each and every day. Things are going to come up. Life is going to intrude and knock you back. It’s tough. That’s why you need to keep getting started—again, and then again.

Do that enough times, and pretty soon you’ve got a habit going. Experts say it takes at least 21 times to make a habit. What we tend to forget is that if we stop going 21 times in a row, it’s now a habit to not go.

If you want to get what you want, you need to keep getting started. Make it a habit to get in the gym. When you don’t feel like it, just get started. When one part of your body aches, just get started again and go in and work around it. Do what you can. Keep getting started.

When you absolutely can’t get to the gym, work out at home. Go for a walk or for a jog. If the weather is too cold, do jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups and body squats in your living room. Do sets of 10 or 20 and see how many rounds you can do.

Get out that old Richard Simmons tape. Actually use that equipment you’ve got down in your basement. Do something. Keep moving. Keep getting started.

When something happens to throw your eating off track, fix it and move on. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t use it as an excuse to just throw all that progress under the bus. Keep getting started with that too.

You know the old saying “slow and steady wins the race.” The turtle kept getting started, one plodding step at a time. It might not have been as fast as the rabbit, but the rabbit got burned out and quit altogether.

I like to do things a little faster sometimes—to get a better workout, and burn more calories—but I’m all over the steady part. It means that you keep moving forward. Keep working toward the goal. Staying focused on what you really want. Having a plan, and working the plan.

They used to say about Texas Rangers: “There’s no stopping a man who knows he’s in the right, and keeps on a-coming.” That’s what we need. That type of commitment. That sense of purpose and destiny in the things we do.

Attach that type of energy and emotion to your program, and you’ll get what you want. Have that working for you, and you’ll keep getting started.

This week, at least 56 out of 60 people kept getting started, and we turned it up in the Friday night workout too. Last week, they did 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups and 10 body squats—for a total of 50 each.

This time around, they did 60 each, but in a different way. The first thing was that instead of sitting waiting for things to get started, I had them get up and start walking or jogging around the room. This will be a staple from now on. There will be no more sitting. They’ll be moving.

Then they did 20 pushups, 20 sit-ups and walking lunges up and down the room. The second time, they did 20 more pushups and sit-ups and walking lunges backward.

Finally, they did their last 20 pushups, sit-ups, and then hopped around the perimeter of the room—probably 40 hops—great exercise!

After that, we did 3 rounds of sumo-wrestling—pushing each other to try to get them off balance. That’s harder than you think! Finally, they “ran the dots” and ended with stretching.

The goal is to keep giving them more and more ideas and things to work into their daily routines. Next week, we’ll turn it up again—but they’ll be ready for it.

The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made—it will respond to the work by getting leaner and stronger, and ready for the next time. That’s perfect, because we’re going to keep getting started.

The winner of Week Two was Bill Lewis, again. Last week he lost 13 pounds. This week, he lost 3.1% of his body weight and 7.4 lbs. Bill won a $20 Wal-Mart gift certificate from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Terry and State Farm also provided pedometers to all the participants. I’m hoping to tell you how many miles everyone is covering before we finish Biggest Loser “6.”

Bill also won a $20 gift card from our local Subway who just came on board as a weekly sponsor, too. My wife and I always have a “Subway night,” and it’s always a good choice for a quick, healthy meal.

Second place went to Dawn Hopper, who lost 2.3% of her body weight and 4.8 lbs. Third place went to Peter Petrowsky, who lost 2.0% of his body weight and 4.4 lbs. Peter (age 66) and Bill (age 68) are going a long way to prove that anyone can do this.

No picture this week—we’ve got to remember to have a camera—but we’ll get one next week for you. I’ll also tell you about the food part of things. Until then, just get started—again. And keep getting started.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Last year I turned 46. It was quite a surprise because for some reason, I’d spent the entire previous year thinking I was already 46. So I was thinking I was turning 47 until someone set me straight.

It was kind of like having a reverse birthday. I got to be 46 all over again (only this time it was for real). Some people do it on purpose. I wish I were that smart.

It was a tough year in some other ways, because things really tightened up in the economy. Fortunately, we’d already been tightening up in our budget.

The year before, we’d finally decided to quit buying things we couldn’t afford. If we couldn’t pay for it, we couldn’t afford it, so we wouldn’t get it. We’d quit spending, and by the end of last year, finally paid the last of them off, along with the Explorer, and a small business loan.

It wasn’t easy. We’d had to make some tough decisions, putting things off until the timing was better. I slashed payroll and started moping floors and cleaning toilets again.

As it turns out, that’s pretty good for the soul. Keeps you humble. It’s hard to feel like a big shot, when you have to go clean up after someone took a big… um, you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, we started with the smallest bill, and one by one, worked our way through them, getting rid of all those minimum payments. That made even more room in the budget, and finally we were taking big hunks out of the bigger bills.

It took a lot of hard work, but we stayed focused on the goal—to be debt free. We’re not there yet, but things are a lot better. Now it takes about half the money to make budget than it used to take. It’s a lot more fun when you don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul all the time.

Anyone can do it, too. Just pick up Dave Ramsey’s book “The Total Money Makeover” and start following his baby steps. It will change your life.

I think handling your finances correctly is a lot like getting in shape. Some people are carrying too much fat on their bodies. I was carrying too much fat in our finances—in the form of credit card debts, car payments, and business debt.

Just like being too heavy can cause new problems like diabetes and heart disease, excessive debt put such strain on our finances that we got further and further behind. It almost became terminal.

Clearly, a radical procedure was necessary, so we had what Dave calls a plasectomy—cutting up the cards and mailing them all back. We also had to seriously change our buying habits. If we didn’t need it, we didn’t get it. If we needed it, but didn’t have the cash, we still didn’t get it.

Sometimes we almost feel entitled to things. If we want it, we get it, even if we don’t have the money. It’s the American way. But that’s what’s thrown our country into the recent mortgage crisis. I think it’s why a lot of us our fat, too.

Now, we’re much more cautious about buying “stuff” we don’t really need. My wife and I rediscovered the library. Did you know you can actually check out and read books there that you don’t have to buy?

I also discovered the Goodwill store—my wife was already their best customer. Right now, everything I have on (except my tennis shoes) came from there, including my socks and underwear. Don’t worry, the underwear was brand new—and still in the bag.

We stopped having trash picked up out at the house, and every other day or so, I bring trash in town to my dumpster. Why have two, when we didn’t fill up either one? It saved almost $400 a year.

If you want to call me, you’ll have to call my cell, because we’re saving about $900 a year after dropping our land line phone. I started selling the extra firewood I cut in my spare time and worked weekends as a police officer.

It’s kind of like someone who needs to lose a hundred pounds to be healthy and has lost the first 50. It took a lot of changes. They had to start making better choices about eating right and exercising every day.

Now, they’re feeling better and have a lot more breathing room. They’re not there yet, but they’re well on their way. Now they know how to do it so it’s just a matter of time before they lose the other 50. Same with us.

Some people put the weight back on. I don’t ever want to get back into debt like that. To keep that from happening, I’m going to continue to work the plan. If we want it, we’ll save for it.

We’re going to run lean and mean, because fat is fat, wherever you find it. In my case, it was sloppy, excessive debt. We’ve had to work pretty hard to run that extra weight off. How about you? Is there any fat in your life you need to work off?

Sixty other people thought so as they weighed in for Biggest Loser “6” at the end of Week One. Over half of them lost more than 1% of their body weight, which is an amazing start. The average weight loss was 3.38 pounds!

First place went to the returning Bill Lewis, 68, who lost a crazy 5.6% of his body weight and 13.6 pounds. He’s pretty motivated, because after doing Biggest Loser “3” and “4” with us, he took a hiatus and had quite a set-back.

In his words, he “stopped working out and ate what he wanted.” Now he’s back to fix that, and is off to a very good start. I think he’d tell you that he’s a good example of both what to do, and what not to do. I’m pretty sure that this time, he’ll make it permanent.

Bill won a $20 Wal-Mart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Terry and State Farm also gave all the participants special pedometers to help them with their workouts!

Second place went to Gary Goodman, 66, who lost 3.7% of his body weight and 7.8 pounds. Third place went to the ever-present Ericka Hollis, 36, who’s looking great, and lost another 3.6% of her body weight and 6.0 pounds.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We just started Biggest Loser “6” with 58 people. It’s not too late to jump in if you catch me right away. If you’re a regular reader, you know we usually end up with half the people that we started with. I’m hoping to change that this time.

There are quite a few repeat “Losers” doing it again for one reason or another. So many that we’re calling this one Biggest Loser “6” All Stars. I know they’ll stick, because they’ve done it before. Now they’ll get even better results.

Some want to keep making progress, and know they need the structure and support. Others have put some weight back on and want to get things back on track. That’s not unusual. It’s so common, there’s a name for it: “The Yo-Yo Syndrome.”

Usually, it’s because they either go back to eating the way they used to, or they’ve quit working out. Sometimes, it’s both. That can be a disaster. It has to become a lifestyle change if you’re going to be successful in the long run.

Here are some tips that can help you accomplish your goals this New Year. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it will help get you started. Next week, I’ll give you the roster and results from week one.

1. What Do You Want? Be specific. Most people don’t just leave for vacation without knowing the destination. You’ve got to know where you’re going. It’s O.K. if this isn’t too precise—we can hone in on the details late. What do you really want?

2. Why Do You Want It? It’s important to have reasons why, because it’s going to be pretty easy to come up with reasons why not to when things start getting difficult. Your “got to” has to be bigger than your “want to.” If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way to do it.

3. How Bad Do You Want It? This is important too. If it’s low priority, it’s likely to get bumped when life starts intruding. You’ve got to really want to do it. Here’s where I think people miss it. They want it, but not bad enough to put up with the pain and inconvenience. They don’t stick, because they don’t want it bad enough.

4. Give It Priority. What’s the most important thing that you want to do or change? Let’s focus on that one. Always keep it in the back of your mind that this is the one thing that you want to make sure you finish. You have to finish it.

5. Find Out How. Figure out what you’re going to have to do, and how to do it. Get help. If it’s losing 50 pounds, how quickly do you want to do it? Do you have the time to devote 12-24 weeks to it, twice a day? Or are you comfortable with slowing it down and using the whole year to get there? Are you willing to work that hard?

6. Get With Like-Minded People. There’s safety in numbers. Have a support system. Most people push harder in my group workouts then they do on their own. It’s motivating to see other people all focused on the same goal.

7. Tell People. It helps you stay accountable. If you tell someone, you’re more likely to follow through because they’re going to be watching you. That’s another reason people often do better in groups.

8. Just Get Started. At some point, the talk has to stop, and you’ve got to take action. You can want to do it for a long time, but it doesn’t happen until you actually do it. After you’ve done the research and figured out a good plan, do something about it. Sign up. Show up. Buy some workout shoes.

9. Start Easy. Start easy but keep turning it up. Every day, do a little bit more to get you closer to your goal. Write down what you do—it will encourage you when you look back. And if you have a day or two where nothing’s written down, you’ll realize you need to get back into the game.

10. Stay focused. Don’t let anything get you off track. Remember, this was the one thing that you not only wanted to do, but felt you had to do. Stay the course. When life intrudes, deal with it, and then find a way to keep moving forward. Keep thinking about the end result, which is you getting what you want.

11. It’s O.K. when you make a mistake. Heck, I make at least one every day. If you ask my wife, it might be more. Cut yourself some slack. Forgive yourself. It’s tough enough, without beating yourself up all the time.

12. Get Back Up. Everybody gets knocked down. Winners find a way to get back up. If you have an injury, work around it. If your schedule suddenly changes, figure out how to get it done anyway. If you have a couple bad days, get back with the program.

13. Remind Yourself Why. Keep the big picture in mind. Why are you really doing this? Here’s where the rubber meets the road. When it gets tough, and it will, if you have a bigger “have to” then your reasons are for quitting, you’ll be able to stick it out, and get what you want.

14. Keep Your Commitments. Even to yourself. If you say you’re going to do it, do it. Stay consistent in your efforts. Keep at it.

15. Encourage Others. I’ve found that when I help others reach their goals, I reach mine. A team of horses can pull a much heavier load than just one.

16. Finish What You Started. This is such a huge problem in today’s fast food, get it now, culture. We want it now, and when we don’t get it, we tend to quit and move on to the next thing. Refuse to be a quitter. If you let yourself down that way, everyone else suffers too. Like that great philosopher-comedian says: “Git er done.”

17. Give Thanks. No one does anything in a vacuum. Other people help. Some encourage—some motivate. Thank them. Thank God.

18. Enjoy It. This one’s a little hard for me. I’m so goal-oriented and focused on the end result. Then I get depressed when it’s over because there isn’t something to do anymore. I need to learn to enjoy the journey. I also need to learn to enjoy the destination more.

19. Keep It Going. Come up with a plan to keep the progress you’ve made. In military terms, you want to keep the ground you’ve fought for. Don’t be a yo-yo.

20. Set New Goals. There’s always more to do, and it helps you stay young.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


I was getting a workout on the treadmill last week. While I like running outside, it’s more convenient—and much more comfortable running inside this time of year.

As a pretty new runner with just three years under my belt, I’ve just not been able to muster up the dogged determination that you see in some runners. You know, the ones with all the cold weather gear, dogged determination, and really fast times.

But that’s O.K. I’m fine with it. Besides, I have a few treadmills, so I might as well use them! So you probably won’t see me out on the road until March when the weather breaks.

It does get a little boring when I do the long runs on the weekend, but that’s where the TV comes in handy. On the shorter runs during the week, it’s not bad at all. Especially when doing interval training which keeps your attention.

So there I was, silently stalking through the tall wet grass, intently listening for any sound of the dangerous predator—my senses heightened, for it could strike at any moment…whoops, that’s another story.

So there I was, walking and warming up with my training partner, as we getting ready to do some speed intervals. On the other side, one of my clients was getting on a treadmill too.

She stepped up, hit the button and started jogging. I looked at her and said, “Wow.” She said “not bad for a sixty-five year old.” She was right. I was impressed. I think Josh was too.

This is a woman who had difficulty walking a quarter mile not too many months ago. Now she’s running. Sure, it wasn’t all that fast, but it was fast for her and she was running.

She took away all our excuses. Her goal is to be able to jog all the way around the quarter mile track displayed on the treadmill. I did suggest she walk a bit to get warmed up before running—to help avoid injuries.

I’ve noticed that there are really two groups of people—and I admit I’m generalizing. The first group is people that seem to be able to get and stay fit. I think they’ve simply decided that they’re going to be healthier, so they just do what it takes and get there.

It might not be easy for them, especially early on, but they do it anyway. They might have to lose some weight. Perhaps they already have. They’ve fought through the aches and pains and are seeing results.

They’ve made a decision to stick with it and you can set your clock by them working out. They are so consistent that you just know they’re going to get what they want.

Often, they’ve been able to cut medicines in half or eliminate them. They’re doing better and things are getting much easier—even doing normal, everyday activities.

The other group has it harder. They’ve waited so long that now, it’s really hard. Sometimes, their bodies won’t even allow them to exercise, due to serious illness.

They have to take more medications, some of which cause more problems. It becomes a worsening cycle that traps them in their own bodies, with a life of pain and frustration.

Meanwhile, the others just keep rolling on. Which group do you think enjoys their life more? Which has a better quality of life? Which doesn’t?

The sad thing is that it is so doable. And getting trapped is so avoidable—especially if you do something about it—sooner, rather than later. And you know what? Even if it’s later, it’s usually not too late.

Most people can do something, even if it’s just coming up and riding the bike. Bob was in his late 70’s, and his wife “dragged him up here” to see if I could do anything with him. He had pretty serious health problems, and his body hurt all the time due to serious arthritis.

Bob’s first day at the gym was one of silent rebellion—I could see it all over his face and body. He told me “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to exercise, and you’re not gonna make me.”

I said “that’s O.K. Why don’t you just sit here on this exercise bike and watch TV. If you feel like pedaling, that’s fine, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” I left for awhile and when I came back, Bob was pedaling slowly.

He worked up to riding 30 minutes, not once, but twice a day, and lifted some weights too. He took great pride in being my oldest customer and I remember him well. Though we lost him to a serious illness a few years later, I believe he improved the quality of his life while he was here.

Another year has come and gone. A new one’s almost here. What will you do with it? What’s it going to be? Which group will you be in? The group that’s feeling better or the group that’s not?

One thing that might help is Biggest Loser “6” which starts Friday, January 2nd at 6:30 pm.
We have 24 people so far, and you need to be registered by Friday at 1:00 pm. The cost is $50 to participate and you should have a gym membership somewhere. Terry Elston Insurance will be providing the weekly prizes again, and the grand prize this time is a one year fitness membership!

Think of what you could accomplish in 2009. Whether you join Biggest Loser “6’ or not, do something. Get started. It’s not too late. Make it happen. Happy New Year!