Saturday, February 28, 2009


Five people missed the weigh-in this week. Out of the original 60 people, it looks like 56 are still hanging in there. And that’s good because we’re coming down to crunch time.

There’s something about the one and two month barriers. It’s a psychological barrier, but it’s real and almost a tangible thing. That’s why we try to get people to commit mentally to a 12 week program.

Three months is long enough to see significant results AND create new habits that are likely to last. Anything less and I get a little nervous. But even six months or a year doesn’t guarantee long term success.

I know a couple people who’ve lost quite a bit of weight. For some reason, they lost focus and quit working out. They also stopped watching what they ate. Quicker then you’d expect, they put most of the weight back on. Now they’re working hard to lose it all over again.

We’re creatures of habit. Under pressure, we’ll default to what we’ve done the most. Even though we lose the fat, our bodies still have those empty fat cells, just waiting to fill them up again.

Eating right and exercising smart has to become a life-style—something you think about and do daily. If you can do that, you can keep it off forever. But you have to be serious about it and consistent in your approach.

One group that’s serious about it is the guys from the Fire Department. If you see the truck outside, don’t get concerned (unless they’re in full turn-out gear with axes in their hands). What’s going on is that they’ve made fitness a priority for the department.

That makes sense. Think about it. When they’re fighting a fire, they’re wearing gear that weighs around 100 lbs. If they’re going inside, they’re also on an oxygen bottle. Under high stress and exertion, respiration goes way up, and it doesn’t take long to go through their supply. That means they’ll have to turn around, leave and get another one.

If they’re in shape, though, they can last longer on the same amount of oxygen which might just save someone’s life someday. They’ll be able to stay in there longer and keep looking for us. And once they find us, they’ve got to be strong enough to pick us up and get us out—after they’ve already been exerting themselves—under high stress conditions!

Something else I didn’t know was that the majority of firefighters die from heart attacks—during or just after a fire. But if they’re in the gym working on their cardio, they’ll have stronger hearts, and hopefully be able to prevent that from happening to them—after they’ve saved you and me.

Some of the guys are even working out with me and my Level IV groups. That’s some tough training, but it will get them in the best shape of their lives. The goal is to be as lean as we can be, as strong as we can be, and be able to keep going when others would have to stop or slow down.

The workouts were originally designed for mixed martial art (MMA) fighters that have to go full bore for three five-minute rounds. Then cops figured out it prepared them for when they have to go all out in a foot pursuit or to gain control of a goofball resisting arrest, or worse, trying to attack them. I train this way for both of those reasons.

We already talked about the benefits to firefighters, but normal Joes (and Janes) benefit from these workouts too. They get lean and mean, feel great, and everything else becomes easier. If you’re new and just starting out, you simply modify the workout by using lighter weights, less intensity, and taking more rest breaks.

After a 10 minute cardio warm-up, the full body workouts take about 20-30 minutes, three days a week. They’re always different, so you never know what to expect. This keeps it interesting, plus the body responds very well when you keep changing the workouts.

It’s also nice to workout with a group doing the same thing. Everyone’s suffering together, and you all tend to get more out of it. This concept is so important we talked about it with the Biggest Losers, too. Having a buddy helps both of you push yourselves harder.

That brings us to this week’s Biggest Loser. Erika Hollis was back on her game with a weight loss of 4.1% and 6.6 lbs. She’d gained a little weight last week but fixed the problem this week, losing everything she’d put on, plus a little more to boot. Erika won a $20 Wal-Mart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance, and also a 30 minute massage from Bridgett’s Therapeutic Massage.

Second place went to DeeAnn Green, who lost 3.0% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. Third place went to Bill Lewis, who lost 2.3% of his body weight and another 4.8 lbs. Next week, we’ll have the two-month rundown and I’ll post everyone’s weight loss after eight weeks.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Well we’ve made it halfway through the twelve weeks. Although eight people missed the weigh-in on Friday night, I know at least five of them are still with us.

One guy called it in and said “don’t count me out.” Another’s working hard on the high school play. I think two are out of town, and one gal was sick. That makes three I’m not sure about. So far, 59 out of the original 60 have stuck with it. We’ll see next week.

We’ve talked a lot about the different distractions that can sidetrack you when you’re trying to make lifestyle changes like this. In the end, it’s your ability to work around things that will make you successful.

Trips are going to come up, so you need to find a way to work out while you’re on the road. My first choice is always to find a local fitness center. You might have to pay a day rate (usually around $10) but sometimes you can get a free visit.

I like fitness centers, because they’ll have all the stuff I’ll need. If one’s not available, I’ll try the hotel—often they’ll have a small workout room. Usually, it’s just a treadmill and bike, but once in awhile they’ll have some weights, too.

If neither is available, I fall back on my “hotel” workout. I’ll do a set of pushups, body squats, and then sit-ups. Then I’ll take off down the hallway, out the exit door, up the steps, back through that hallway, out that exit door, and down the steps to the original floor.

If I’m feeling especially froggy, I’ll do a couple flights. Sometimes, I’ll be at an Inn where the stairs are on the outside of the building. Then, I’ll run around the top floor, go down the steps, do the next floor, and so on.

Once I’ve made a circuit or two, I’ll go back in the room and do another set of pushups, body squats, and sit-ups and then head back out down the hallway. It doesn’t take too many circuits to get a pretty good workout and 20-30 minutes in. Not bad for being on the road.

A couple years ago, I was with my wife down in Branson, MO for a TV appearance on a small syndicated show. They had me there when my book “Bodies-in-Balance: How to Eat Right and Exercise Smart” first came out.

Branson is very hilly, and they put us in this hotel that was closed for the season. I think they rolled the sidewalks up too. It was a little weird being the only people at the hotel. It was kind of like that Steven King movie where they were at that resort that was closed for the winter. I was half expecting to see “Jack” come through the door with an axe.

Well the hotel was at the upper end of this one monster hill with some other hotels (all closed) at the other end. There was this big half mile dip in the road between them. It was so steep you could feel your ears pop when you drove down it.

So I decided I’d run down the hill and up the other side to those other hotels and then run back. I’m always up for challenges, and was curious to see how many times I could do it.

The first one wasn’t so bad. I was able to keep running, but had to slow way down to make it up the other end. Coming back, it was the same thing. I barely made it back up to our hotel, and by then, I’d only run a little more than a mile.

Being a little dense, I wondered if I could do it again. Of course, going down the hill was pretty easy, but you kind of had to slow yourself down so you wouldn’t pick up too much speed. That’s harder than you’d think, and you really feel it in your legs.

This time I had to walk the last couple hundred feet to get to the top of the hill. By then my legs felt like I’d, well, trudged up a huge hill, and I was pretty winded.

Going back was brutal. I’d way underestimated the effects of running up and down hills that big. That time I made it about halfway back up (about ¼ of a mile) and had to walk the rest of the way.

Normally I’d run 2 miles in 20 minutes or less, but that day, it took me almost a half hour to do the two laps there and back. I got my workout in, but boy were my legs shot!

Closer to home, in the Friday night workout, they learned their second free weight routine. It switches up some of the exercises and they’ll be using it for the next two weeks.

I showed them how to mix the two sets of each exercise with the Ab Routine and core exercises to keep the intensity up. Later, we’ll combine the two workouts. For now, here’s their Free Weight Workout #2:

1. Walking Lunges – Legs, Hips and Core
2. Pec Flys on the Ball – Chest and Arms
3. Bent Leg Deadlifts – Legs, Hips and lower back (this was in workout #1)
4. Pullovers on the Ball – Upper Back, Chest and Arms
5. Shoulder Press – Shoulders and Triceps
6. Bicep Curls – Biceps and Forearms
7. Tricep Kickbacks -- Triceps
8. Ab Routine #1-5: Crunches with Knees Bent; with Legs up in the air; crossing over to one side; crossing to the other side; and Leg Lifts.

Our winner this week was Michele Everetts, who lost 2.3% of her body weight and an amazing 5.0 lbs. She won a $20 Wal-Mart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Michele also won a well-deserved certificate for a massage from Bridgett’s Therapeutic Massage.

Second place went to Gary Goodman who lost 1.9% of his body weight and 3.7 lbs. Third place went to a surprised Katy Kennedy, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Week Five has come and gone and I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop. We started with 60 people and still have 59 people participating.

The usual dropout rate bothered me so much that I made a big deal about it in Week One. We covered all the things that come up, like getting sick, injured, other conflicts, and even disappointment due to failed expectations.

I’ve found that if people make it through week eight, they’ll stick to the end. So we’ve got two to three more critical weeks. If they can focus on the big picture and their long term goals, I think we’re in for a very strong finish.

Focusing on your goals instead of your distractions is always a good strategy. Things are always going to come up. Life will always intrude, no matter what you’re trying to do.

When it does, you’ve got to sit back, and take a deep breath. If you just hang in there, the distractions are going to come and go. The important thing is to remember where you’re going.

It’s like the wagon train that rolled through town back in the frontier days. Everyone would get all excited, and the dogs would yip and yap and run around trying to nip at the wheels. Sooner or later, the dogs would get tired of yapping. You can’t let the little things distract you.

I experience that even now, with real dogs when I’m out running. They defend their territory and make lots of noise, but if you keep on going, sooner or later, they get tired and turn back.

There are several participants that have been sick in the last couple of weeks, but they’ve taken pains to let me know they’re still in the game. This is exactly the attitude that will make them successful.

We have a gal that was also in Biggest Loser “2.” We’d just gotten started when she fell down seriously injuring her wrist. She said that in the emergency room, she was more upset about not being able to workout then the actual injury.

It took her a year to recuperate, and she still doesn’t have full function in her wrist. So instead of doing pushups, she does more body squats. That’s a woman who’s going to get what she wants.

It’s that kind of inner drive I’m talking about. You need to cultivate it and learn how to use it. Figure out what you want and make a decision that nothing’s going to keep you from getting it.

Come up with important reasons why you need to do it. Those reasons have to be strong enough to outweigh the pain you’re going to experience along the way.

If it’s to drop 40 pounds, then you have to make up your mind that that’s what you’re going to do. One way or another you’re going to do it. It’s coming off. Even if it takes a year. Even if you have to slow down for one of life’s distractions, you’re going to do it.

If you get knocked down, you get right back up. You might be a little wiser, a little smarter for the experience, but you get back up. This is the stuff that success is made of.

I tell people the reason they made me a “Master” of martial arts a couple years ago was not because I was the best student or instructor (although I’m no slouch either). It’s because I never quit. I just outlasted everyone. Twenty seven years later, I’m still doing it. Do something long enough and you’ll go a long way.

Sometimes I’ll overhear people talking about someone working out at the gym… “she’s so thin.” Well yeah. She’s walked two miles a day for years, plus weights three times a week. What do you expect?

If you’ve been waiting to get in gear this year, you better quit waiting and make a decision to get going. A twelve of your new year is already gone. Before you know it, it’ll be summer. Then Christmas, and another year will pass you by.

Don’t let this happen to you. Make a decision and take some action. And then take a lesson from our latest group of Biggest Losers, and keep at it.

Our winner this week was Shawn Bowers, who stepped it up big-time to lose 3.0% of his body weight and a crazy 8.1 lbs, knocking Bill out of the top spot. He’d said that someone needed to step up and do it. That someone was him!

Shawn’s preparing for a mini-marathon and ran 8 miles last weekend. He won a $20 Wal-Mart gift card from our friends at Terry Elston State Farm Insurance and also a 30 minute massage from Bridgett’s Therapeutic Massage.

Second place went to Tim Meyers, who finally found his stride this week, losing 2.1% of his body weight and 5.3 lbs. Third place went to Bill Lewis, who still lost 2.0% of his body weight and a respectable 4.4 lbs.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Well we’ve finished the first month and retention is still at an all time high. Out of the original sixty who started, we were down only one last week. Out of the remaining 59 participants, 54 made the Friday night weigh-in.

Of the five who were missing, two gals were home sick, one guy was working and the other was away at All State for a singing performance. Only one was in question. That means we’re still at 58 or 59 people.

The workout was tough but they were ready for it after a month of training. Promising not to have them do any Burpees, I still found a way to make it tougher. They did 50 Jumping Jacks, followed by a minute of Mountain-Climbers. Then they did both again, and then again. After that, it was Hops, Monkey drills, and Partner drills up and down the floor.

Then they learned a bunch of abs exercises: Crunches with knees bent; Crunches with legs straight up in the air; Crunches crossing to one side and then the other; Leg Raises; the Plank; the Plank from side to side; and finally, the Banana-man Superman combo.

Finally, we finished with 25 body squats. The workout lasted exactly 30 minutes, and a good time was had by all. The goal was to teach them new things they could throw into their regular routines to spice things up.

It also showed them how to workout if they ever had to be away from the gym, traveling for example. Stuff like that is easy to do in a hotel room if you can’t find a fitness center.

I also taught them how to make the transition to free weights. Machines guide the motion, and give leverage advantages. Free weights force you to perform the movements without guidance, activating more stabilizer muscles. They also work your core more.

They learned the first basic free weight routine which does movements previously done on machines with dumbbells and an exercise ball instead. The whole point is to shake things up so their bodies keep responding.

1. Body Squat—replaces the Leg Press and Leg Extension Machines
2. Chest Press on Ball—replaces the Bench Press Machine
3. Dead Lift—replaces the Leg Press, Leg Curl, and Lower Back Machines
4. Single Arm Row—replaces the Seated Row Machine
5. Shoulder Press—replaces the Shoulder Press Machine
6. Overhead Press—replaces the Triceps Machine
7. Single Arm Curl—replaces the Biceps Machine
8. Ab Crunches on Ball—replaces the Ab Machine
9. Ball Twist—a new one that works the oblique muscles (sides)

The routine should be done from start to finish, without stopping. As with the machines, they should do 12-15 repetitions on each exercise. If they couldn’t do that many reps, they should use a slightly lighter weight. If 15 reps were too easy, next time they should go up to the next weight.

The first time, one rotation of each exercise is fine. After that, they should do the routine twice, working up to three times. The goal is to keep moving and never stop. The exercises are arranged in an order to let you do that.

I call it “active-rest.” While one muscle group is resting, the other is working. This keeps you moving, burning more calories in the process. They’ll do this routine for two weeks and then learn another. After that, they’ll start combining the two.

Our week one winner was once again Bill Lewis, for a clean sweep for the first four weeks. He lost 2.9% of his body weight and another 6.4 lbs, for a total of 34.2 lbs in a month.

He joked that we should just take several pictures so we could keep using them every time he wins. I told him I want to see the differences from picture to picture. The others said they were going to start sending him donuts.

Bill had finished in second place in a couple Biggest Losers last year, losing almost 100 lbs. Then he took some time off and skipped a couple. Somewhere along the way he got off track and in his own words, “didn’t exercise and ate what I wanted,” putting over sixty pounds back on.

Our bodies are interesting this way. We can lose the fat, but don’t ever lose the fat cell. The fat is just removed, kind of “shrink wrapping” it down. It’s still there waiting, though, and if you start over eating, or even just quit working out, your body will quickly put it back on.

So for Bill, it’s bitter sweet. He’s losing the weight big-time, but he’s having to do it all again. This means that when you make changes, you need to make them for life. Eating right and exercising smart is a life-long habit.

Bill received a $20 Wal-Mart gift card from Terry Elston and our friends at State Farm Insurance. He also received a $20 gift card from our local Subway store.

Second place went to Judy Rush, who lost 2.5% of her body weight and 3.8 lbs. Third place went to a delighted Penny Ogle, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. She actually tied with Dale Anderson, who also lost 1.7% and 4.0 lbs.

Our goal is to lose at least a pound a week, which is good. Two pounds a week is great, and three or more is awesome. Don’t forget that even if you haven’t lost much, you still need to ask yourself how you feel, and how are your clothes fitting.

Those things often precede more substantial weight loss. Often times, weight change lags behind. Personally, I think the biggest accomplishment sometimes is sticking with it even when you don’t have the results you want.

Too often, people quit due to discouragement. That’s like being a mile from your destination and deciding to turn around and go back, because the trip took too long.

Stick with it, and sooner or later, you’ll get what you want. Here are the results from the first month for everyone that made the weigh-in.

Name Age % lbs
1. Bill Lewis 68 13.3 34.2
2. Gary Goodman 62 7.3 16.1
3. Chad Cline 33 6.9 15.8
4. John Sanchez 41 6.7 16.5
5. Roger Hopper 49 6.3 13.8
6. Randy Weir 53 5.9 14.0
7. Dawn Hopper 37 5.8 12.4
8. Judy Rush 52 5.6 8.8
9. Ken McConkey 35 5.4 19.0
10. Erin Hutchison 29 5.2 10.6
11. Michele Everetts 34 5.0 12.0
12. Brian Bradley 42 5.0 12.0
13. Brenda Lilley 64 5.0 9.2
14. Erika Hollis 36 4.6 8.0
15. Tony Peel 49 4.4 13.0
16. Shawn Bowers 35 4.2 12.4
17. Christiana Jones 20 4.0 11.0
18. Shirley Fiscus 50 4.0 8.0
19. Carol Cline 30 3.8 7.8
20. Gracie Petrowsky 57 3.6 6.2
21. Heidi Walls 39 3.5 5.0
22. Chris Redman 48 3.5 9.2
23. Peter Petrowsky 66 3.4 7.6
24. Katy Kennedy 22 3.4 7.2
25. Echo Johnson 22 3.4 7.2
26. Melissa Bradley 30 3.3 6.8
27. Dale Anderson 57 3.3 8.2
28. Tracy Rush 38 3.2 7.4
29. Penny Ogle 55 3.2 7.5
30. William Jones 40 3.1 12.8
31. Dawn Jones 42 2.9 6.8
32. Eve Givens 48 2.9 6.6
33. Bridgett Trover 50 2.7 4.4
34. Janet Tyler 50 2.7 4.4
35. Haley Sanders 27 2.7 6.6
36. Renee Colvin 50 2.4 4.6
37. Cheryl Redman 53 2.4 4.6
38. Jessica Fiscus 22 2.3 4.6
39. Margo Yeargin 50 2.2 3.6
40. Beth Robertson 37 2.0 3.4
41. Penny Duzan 48 2.0 3.6
42. Angela Griffin 42 1.9 4.0
43. Pam Waller 42 1.8 4.8
44. Kathy Kennedy 50 1.7 2.2
45. Kim Arbuckle 39 1.6 2.6
46. Teri Dennis 57 1.5 3.0
47. Sue Sheerhan 45 1.4 3.0
48. George Griffin 47 1.4 3.0
49. Jennifer Bowers 35 1.3 2.6
50. DeeAnn Green 40 1.2 1.6
51. Chad Robertson 36 .06 1.4
52. Pam Kelly 40 .00 0.0
53. Casey Redman 23 -.06 -1.4
54. Tim Meyers 40 -.07 -1.9