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!

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