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 www.calorieking.com. 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.