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?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


So what do you do when things don’t go your way? If you’re like anything like me, you might throw a tantrum. It might not be a big one, probably no one can see it, but inside, it’s definitely a tantrum.

Once in awhile, it’s visible, and my wife tells me it looks pretty silly. I once knew a guy who was about 350 lbs and when he threw a tantrum, he actually jumped up and down on both feet. Now that worked (for awhile) when we were two, but at 32?

If you look at the 5 steps we talked about last week (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), the tantrum would fall into the anger category. But it really doesn’t change anything. You can be as mad as you want about it, but when you get done, the problem is still going to be there.

There are a couple of things we can do, to help make things a little better. First of all, give yourself permission to be angry. At the very least, it’ll keep you from feeling guilty about it—and that’s something.

It might even be healthier to express the anger a little bit rather than holding it in. Experts believe that many health issues are affected by our mood and disposition.

At times like that, I can get perspective by thinking about a couple things. The first is how good I really have it, compared to others that might not have it quite so good. Most of us live pretty well compared to the vast majority of the rest of the world.

Even on a bad day, we’ve got it pretty good. We have plenty of food, clean, comfortable clothes and shelter, and jobs where we make pretty good money. We have lots of extras that many people can’t even comprehend. If you just think about it, we’re pretty fortunate, really.

I got shingles earlier this year. Prior to developing it, I didn’t know what it was. It’s basically the chicken pox virus coming back out through the body and man is it painful. But even so, I remember feeling lucky that it was just on my back—some people get it on their face and can even lose an eye—I saw the pictures.

The pain would come out of nowhere. I’d be doing alright and then it was as if I got stabbed by a knife—even as the scabs were going away. It wasn’t fun, but I’ve known people that have pain like this all day, every day, for their entire life. Serious burn victims can feel like that all over their body for a year! It gave me some perspective. Compared to them, I had it pretty good.

There is an old Christian song that goes “count your blessings, name them one by one.” If I’m thinking about all the neat things God has helped me with in just the last year or two, the current problem starts to seem a little smaller and much more manageable. Plus, I’ll start to see that if those other problems have been solved, then God will help me through this one too.

It’s easy when it’s easy. The real test of character is what you do when things don’t go your way. Stop for a moment and say, “O.K., now what do we do?” If you’re fortunate, you’ll already have a “Plan B.”

A family was leveraged to the hilt with two car loans, a bunch of credit card and other consumer debt and then found out that the husband just lost his job. Now they were in real trouble. What do they do now, especially in a down economy?

But a different family had previously sold the expensive cars they couldn’t afford and got cheaper ones that they owned outright. They cut up the credit cards and quit using them, and finally paid them off. They’d also saved up 3-6 months expenses in an emergency fund. Now they won’t be overwhelmed with the added financial pressures because they have a “Plan B.”

This is biblical too. Jesus talked about building your house on a strong foundation, so when the winds come, your house will still be left standing. But if you build on shifting sand, when the winds come, you’re in trouble. I think he’s talking about faith here, but it applies to practical things, too.

Finally, even if you didn’t have a “Plan B,” thinking about possible solutions, or things you can do, help give you a pretty good perspective. Then taking action, even a simple one, can make you feel better, because at least you’re doing something. When things start to seem out of control, go do something that you can control.

I’ve heard in industry, when they’ve run into an unexpected problem, they brainstorm and try to find a “work-a-round.” N.A.S.A. had to do this with Apollo 13, when they had an energy problem on the space capsule that was days away from home. What type of “work-a-round” or “Plan B” might make sense in your situation?

And remember, for most things, “This too shall pass.” It even applies to working out and feeling better. The Biggest Losers went out to the track and had to walk or run a ¼ mile (one lap) and then do 25 pushups, 25 body squats and 25 sit-ups. Then they did it again for a total of 4 laps (one mile) and 100 pushups, squats and sit-ups.

It was a pretty tough routine—try it and see. A couple of them did it 3 months ago in the last Biggest Loser. You should have seen them this time around. Where before they had to walk most of it, this time, they jogged the whole thing, pushing pretty hard!

Now they know how to push themselves so they need to get that feeling in each of their workouts so they can continue to progress. A useful device is to tell yourself that it’s only for a little while longer.

When I’m out running longer distances, I’ll focus on getting through the next mile. “Just 10 more minutes, I can do that.” Then, I’ll do it again. I like to set up workouts like that for my groups, too. “Just run another lap and do that stuff again. Don’t worry about the rest of it.” Just get started and often times the rest takes care of itself.

Things aren’t always going to go your way. Life intrudes. Things happen. But if you look for perspective and try to figure out a “Plan B,” you’ll find a way to make it through. Climbing the mountain is pretty hard—otherwise it wouldn’t be a mountain. Once you get up there though, the view is unbeatable.

The winner of Week Eight in Biggest Loser “8” was once again Tammy Hewitt, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and another 3.2 lbs. She’s down 22.2 lbs overall and won another $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Cathy Kemper, who lost 1.2% of her body weight and 2.4 lbs. She was tied by Vicki Riggen, who also 1.2% of her body weight and 1.7 lbs. If you’ve been wanting to make some changes the way they are, Biggest Loser “9” will be starting in just four weeks. Now that’s a pretty good “Plan B.”

Monday, August 17, 2009


This week I want to talk about two kinds of giving up. The first type of giving up or surrendering is actually healthy for us and even necessary, if we’re going to move past difficult times or events in our lives.

You may have heard about the different ways we (humans) handle a crisis. These are also used to help explain the grieving process when someone close to you dies. The first stage is denial—trying to ignore the problem exists, or trying to pretend it isn’t really happening—but it is.

Once you’re forced to deal with it, though, the next stage is anger. You start thinking, “why me? You want to strike back and look for things or people to blame. But most often, there’s no one to blame. Things happen.

At some point in the process, we’ll often start bargaining, trying to come up with some way of making things the way they used to be. But usually, there’s no way to change the outcome.

Once reality sets in, and we’re moving past the anger and bargaining, depression can set in. Here’s where things seem hopeless. You can’t see a future and the past hurts too much.

Finally, if you give it enough time, and with lots of prayer, help and support from your friends and family, you can move to the final stage, which is acceptance. You’re acknowledging your loss, and getting some perspective about it. It doesn’t mean you quit hurting—just that you’ve come to terms with it and have made a decision to move on.

This acceptance is healthy, critical even, if we’re going to ever going to get over things. I’ve heard it said that it takes a minimum of a year to do this when you’re grieving over a lost loved one. It’s true.

It took a full year after Mom died from a sudden stroke before I could think about it with any perspective. Then it took another year before I was able to talk about it. I saw the same thing with my wife and her mom.

A friend of mine has had some pretty tough years due to a disease that put him in a wheelchair. Recently though, I’ve seen him start thinking about things he can do now, instead of things he couldn’t do anymore. It’s making a difference for him, I think.

I’ve had several different times in my life when I lost jobs that were important to me, for one reason or another. It was difficult at the time, but through faith and prayer, and some hard work, it always worked out for the better and things always ended up far better than they were before.

Still, sudden memories can come out of nowhere and just pierce your heart. You can be going along just fine and you’ll see or do something that triggers a very strong emotion. That’s part of the healing process too.

I call them bittersweet memories—you think about them with a kind of sad smile on your face. You’re accepting things and are moving on. The memories are there, but you only get to touch them for a moment and then they’re gone.

And moving on is crucial to living. A stream that stops flowing gets stagnant and dies. It’s got to keep flowing for life to continue there. It’s not dishonoring their memories or them, for they’d want us to go on and have a good life, right?

So finally, after much struggle, we fall into acceptance. We surrender the memories, the things we’ve lost, the lives we’ve had, the people we’ve loved, to God, to the past, and we pick up and move on. It’s in the bible. Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies… right?

Great things can happen in the moving on. We can see things that we never would have seen before. We have empathy for others that we never had before. We get a new appreciation for life, relationships, and want to make the most of it. That’s very healthy.

But there’s a different kind of giving up that’s not so healthy. For some reason, we become too willing to just settle for things. It’s the notion that this is the way things are and the way they’ll always have to be.

Acceptance is one thing, but settling for less than our best is another. Just because you’ve struggled with your weight for years doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to being fat forever.

Just because you have a hard time quitting smoking doesn’t mean you should just quit trying. Just because you’ve lost a job doesn’t mean you’re worthless. Just because you’ve had a hard time sticking with an exercise program doesn’t mean you can’t do it so you might as well just give up.

Things happen—some that we’ve caused and others through no fault of our own, and we’re going to go through the same stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The quicker we can get to acceptance, though, especially in the small stuff, the quicker we can figure out how to start moving on.

Identify where you are and what you’re facing. That’s called being realistic. State the facts and don’t sugarcoat them. But don’t just live there. Figure out where you need to go, and start thinking about what it might take to get to that different place.

One strategy is to pretend you’re bringing in a “consultant.” If you had a bunch of money and paid a brilliant strategist that knew exactly what to do, what would they tell you? What would they say you needed to do?

Often, you’ll already know the answers—you just didn’t want to do it. So what’s your “consultant” saying you need to do? Sometimes, it’s just a matter of starting again. You’ve heard the old saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

So what’s that still, small voice inside of you saying? What are you hearing these days? Where is your stream flowing? Why not listen awhile, and then maybe, jump back in. It can be a most interesting journey.

The winner of Week Seven for Biggest Loser “8” was Shawn Bowers, who lost 1.5% of his body weight and 4.0 lbs. Shawn won a $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all his hard work. Second place went to John Rigdon, who lost 1.3% of his body weight and 2.6 lbs, and third place went to Tina Foote, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 1.8 lbs.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Hundreds of people from the community just participated in the 2009 Relay For Life out at the Edgar County Fairgrounds. Always a touching event, participants walk to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society, often in memory of someone they knew who has battled cancer.

With that in mind, it’s always good to think about things we can do to prevent cancer before it occurs, if possible. So I’d like to share some information from an interesting book I just finished: “The Hidden Story of Cancer” by Brian Scott Peskin, B.S.E.E., M.I.T., and Amid Habib, M.D.

With a background in engineering and mathematics, Peskin has applied his particular expertise to the cancer research that has been completed in the last century, and come up with some interesting findings. He says much of the relevant information was actually known in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but researchers didn’t want to believe it, so they went off in a different direction.

The current trend in research is to use the Genome Mapping Project to try and figure out genetic causes. Unfortunately, after mapping 1.3 genes, and spending over $1.3 billion, there hasn’t been any real movement.

Other research has been disappointing. Several 5 and 7 year studies have been recently published, showing that eating more fruits and vegetables had no significant effect on preventing cancer.

But Peskin’s research is suggesting that the real cause of cancer isn’t genetic at all. Instead, it’s due to poor cellular respiration, because of the unhealthy foods we’ve been eating, especially in the last 50 years.

What he means is that our cells aren’t able to take in oxygen in sufficient quantities, so they start to become unhealthy, and eventually, cancerous. The primary cause is due to a lack of what are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)—called Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.

As we’ve shifted from whole, natural foods to more prepared foods, manufactures started adding Trans Fats to give them longer shelf life. They also started using more Omega-6 (vegetable oils), including cheaper Canola and Soy based oils, which Peskin says were never meant for human consumption.

Instead, they were originally meant to be used as food for farm animals and also for industrial applications. The Trans Fats and unhealthy Omega-6’s that are wide spread now, actually can “poison” otherwise healthy cells. Anything that had vegetable oil in the ingredients is suspect.

Even foods with “0” Trans Fats might still actually have some, because the government only requires that there are less than .5 grams to be called “0” grams. So if you eat several portions with “0”, you might still be getting several portions with .49 grams—still a ticking time bomb.

Researchers have established that cancerous cells have poorer “respiration” than otherwise healthy, normal cells, which means their ability to uptake oxygen is compromised. Research also shows that EFA’s in the correct amount and balance can improve cellular respiration.

In essence, the EFA’s act like anti-inflammatory drugs, directly in the cell. They also help improve oxygenation which is the breath of life, even at the cellular level. This helps explain why people taking Omega-3 supplements often see improvements in a wide variety of inflammation driven conditions.

Recent studies of cancer patients being treated with radiation, but also supplementing with EFA’s, have shown significant improvements over treatment with radiation therapy alone. The EFA’s apparently help keep new cells from being affected by the disease and the treatment.
Peskin has also shown the recent trend to avoid Omega-6’s altogether, in favor of supplementing only Omega-3, isn’t the best approach. It might even be putting people at risk.

The research shows that our cells actually need a healthy amount of what is called parent Omega-6. So not only do we need to curtail our eating of the different processed (especially junk) foods, we need to make sure we’re getting enough of the pure, “good” Omega-6.

The first of five anti-cancer steps Peskin recommends is that we get a blend of 1:1 or 2:1 of what’s called parent Omega-6 to parent Omega-3. That means we need an equal amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3, or no more than twice as much Omega-6 as Omega-3, quite a bit different from what health practitioners (and myself) have often recommended.

For me, the surprise is that there are “good” Omega-6’s, and that the cells actually need them. Also, overdosing on Omega-3 (fish oil) can be very harmful, because it can cause other problems in the cells. It’s a little complicated when you try to look at the bottles, but here are the things to look for.

When you buy Omega-6, it should have these derivatives of “Parent” Omega-6: GLA and CLA (or LA), like Flaxseed Oil, Safflower Oil, Sunflower Oil or Pumpkin Oil. Other oils aren’t nearly potent enough, and some are downright harmful. If you eat anything cooked in vegetable oil (packaged or otherwise), your cells are undoubtedly getting the harmful Omega-6’s, so it’s important to supplement this with the good Omega-6’s to offset them.

When you buy Omega-3, it should have these derivatives of “Parent” Omega-3: EPA and DHA. Typically found in fish oil, it’s important to not over do these. Make sure that you are getting close to a 1:1 ratio between the quality Omega-6’s to offset any poor Omega-6 you might be getting.

You’ve got to look closely at the blend to make sure it’s balanced. One strategy is to buy them separately, but I went to the GNC website, and they offer several products that combine the two, for around $20-$24.

Adding high quality EFA’s to your daily routine is probably the simplest, yet most important thing you can do, and people that do it report back to me quite quickly that they feel better. They might also help keep you from getting cancer.

Peskin had 4 other anti-cancer steps, including (2) getting enough minerals, which can improve cellular function. He also suggests (3) eating enough animal based protein, to ensure proper cellular development.

He says we need to (4) limit the number of carbs we eat each day. The amount is pretty radical, and quite restrictive: no more than 60 g of carbohydrates a day. This is very similar to the Atkins diet.

His reasons are because carbs (glucose) are the primary fuel for cancer cells—they can’t live on fats or proteins. Glucose also “sticks to your blood proteins, slowing down the blood flow due to high viscosity, reducing the amount of oxygen reaching the cells. This plays a big role in whether the cancer will metastasize or not, which is what kills you.

Finally, he suggests (5) we take a herbal detoxifier each day to help minimize the effect of any carcinogens and harmful additives in our foods. Look for one containing Sheep Sorrel, Burdock Root, Slippery Elm Bark, and Turkish Rhubarb Root.

Wow, that was pretty intense, but worth it, I hope. It was a tough read, but I tried my best to break it down to what we really need to know. In my opinion, the EFA’s are a no-brainer. We’d be dumb not to do them, along with more minerals, and good protein, too.

The carbs, I’m not so sure about, but we certainly can restrict them to just one a meal, and avoid the worst of them, most of the time—especially the junk foods. Just cutting back could make a difference.

If you already have cancer, restricting carbs might prolong your life because it could choke off the food supply to the cancerous cells. The EFA’s could then help keep it from spreading and keep your good cells oxygenated. The herbal detoxifier is another one that most people probably won’t do, but I could be wrong. You can find it at GNC or your health food store.

The winner from Biggest Loser “8” Week Six was Tammy Hewitt, who lost 2.5% of her body weight and 4.0 lbs. She won a $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. Second place went to Shawn Bowers, who lost 2.1% of his body weight and 5.9 lbs. Third place went to both Vicki Riggen and Brittany Cline who both lost 1.8% of their body weight and 2.7 lbs.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


I was talking with a new member who had been working out for a few weeks. When I asked her how things were going, she told me “things were fine.” That was too generic an answer for me, so I asked her how she was feeling. Kind of reluctantly, she replied in a shy voice, “Better.” I said “so you’re feeling better?” She smiled and said, “Yes, I feel better.”

I said, “So you’ve been exercising every day and you’re feeling better?” She laughed and said, “O.K. I’m feeling better. I didn’t want to admit it, but I’m feeling better.” I asked her how her clothes were fitting and she said they fit more loosely.

I told her that was great, and just the way it should be. The most important thing is always how do you feel? After that, what are your clothes doing? Do they fit better? Often times, we’ll see these two long before it starts showing up on the scale.

It’s kind of funny that she really didn’t want to admit she felt better. She told me that she wasn’t expecting it to work and didn’t want to admit she was wrong. Now she knows she needs to keep doing it because it does work. No excuses.

The amazing thing is that once you feel better, you can do more things because you’re stronger and carrying less weight around. Before you start an exercise program, your body feels like it’s working against you. You’re heavier and things are harder. But after you lose some weight and put on some muscle, you body starts working for you.

Regardless of age, losing fat and gaining more muscle makes everything easier, and that makes it better. Studies show even people in their 80’s can gain muscle mass in just six weeks!

What you have to do is get past the early painful part when you’re starting out. It’s going to be difficult. You might be sore, but you’ll get better. But it won’t feel that way forever.

Now if you don’t care how long it takes and don’t mind slower, less obvious progress, you don’t have to experience much pain at all. You can start out very easily and just do a little more each time. Some people don’t like this, because they can’t see the changes quickly enough.

That’s when you need to ask yourself those questions: “How do I feel? Do I feel better? How are my clothes fitting?” Usually, you’ll feel much better and your clothes will be looser. That will give you some motivation to keep going and turn it up a bit.

Once you get to where you start looking forward to your workouts, and start trying new and different challenges, that’s when you’re going to get what you want. It will be part of your lifestyle.

I had a gal in Biggest Loser “8” tell me how she hurt her back last week. She’s done a couple Biggest Losers and has been feeling pretty good lately. Last week, she was running and biking with her son and was feeling so good, she decided to race her son up the hill on the bike, standing up on the pedals.

The good news was that she was feeling that good. The bad news was that her back wasn’t quite ready for that extra loading with the body twisting side to side while pushing too. She paid for it for a week, and needs some therapy to get things back to normal.

What’s amazing is that she felt like doing it. That’s what I’m talking about. This is a woman who used to read magazines while walking on the treadmill. Now she’s out there running and biking, and she actually felt like racing up the hill! Read that again. She felt like it. Sure, she paid for it, but with some more core training and building up to it, her back will be fine.

Finally, I got an email from another friend in Biggest Loser “8.” She’s had to miss a couple workouts due to going on a mission trip, then a cruise, and then another meeting. I told her to be careful on the ship, because they have plenty of food. I also told her to be sure to make sure she got her workout in every day, since they’d have a great gym on the ship, and she could do lots of walking, too.

She emailed me her weight after the cruise and she lost 1.8 lbs—on a cruise ship! Here’s what she said: “I took your advice seriously and only ate at meal times. I made good choices when picking entrees and exercised for about an hour each morning. BUT—I had dessert each evening. Eating right does not mean starving or denying! Hard to believe, but eating right and exercising are the keys---just like you always say!”

If they can do it, you can do it. So how do you feel? How do you want to feel? Brittany Cline feels pretty good, winning Week Five of Biggest Loser “8.” She lost 3.2% of her body weight and 4.9 lbs and won a $20 Walmart gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Tammy Hewitt who feels pretty good too—losing 1.4% of her body weight and 2.2 lbs. Third place went to Cathy Kemper, who lost 1.0% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs. I think she’s feeling pretty good too.