Monday, November 30, 2009


This week we’re coming off a big accomplishment—the 5 K run/walk that 11 of the Biggest Losers participated in. Several more weren’t able to attend the race, but made it up on their own. The most important reason people need to try a 5 K is to learn that you can.

Once you know you can do it, things change quite a bit. You become empowered to do more things, train harder in your workouts, and perhaps try other new things.

But you can learn these lessons in the gym on your own, too. Take Karen for instance. She joined Biggest Loser because she knew someone who’d died at the same age. It was a real eye opener. She also wanted to be around to see her kids and grand kids.

After eight weeks, she’d been very consistent, walking a total of 4 miles a day. She’d also been trying to get more time in on the elliptical, but it was tough. I told her to just add a minute a day—just a minute. Then, in a few weeks, she’d be up to 30 minutes.

So she started pushing herself to add a minute or two, and then pushed some more. All of a sudden she found she was able to do a half hour. Then she did it again a couple days later.

Next we talked about her time spent walking and jogging. She’d said she wasn’t really able to jog more than 50 steps before having to stop. I suggested she try jogging a minute, and then walking two, repeating the process until she covered a whole mile. Then she could hit the elliptical, and then come back and finish walking.

Well, Karen got the mile in, and was surprised. She found that after 9 weeks of training, she was a lot stronger than she thought. She was able to do the jogging intervals for the entire mile, and then did the 30 minutes on the elliptical, although it was much tougher that way. Then she went back and walked 2 miles.

If that had been it, I would have been plenty proud of her. But that evening, she came back again. She said she wanted to make up for missing a workout on Thanksgiving Day. I told her that with everything she’d done that morning, it would be fine if she simply walked.

The next thing I hear is Karen beating feet on the treadmill—running! She did a mile full of intervals. Then she hit two miles, and then three. At that point, I left to go to the store for a few minutes. When I came back, I’d expected her to be gone.

Instead, she was still in there on the treadmill doing running intervals! By now, she was up to five miles and working toward six. Before it was over, she’d logged seven miles, with the jog a little, walk a little more approach! It was an amazing thing, especially since she’d logged three miles that morning. That’s a 10 mile day!

One of the things I like about training people, especially in Biggest Loser is that they learn things, like how to workout, and use the equipment. They also learn how to change up their routines to keep them interesting and effective.

What I like even more is that they learn things about themselves. In this case, Karen had no idea that she could jog more, until she tried doing the intervals. She ended up with a 10 mile day, and now she really knows she can push herself harder.

It showed on the scale too. Even with missing a couple workouts, Thanksgiving dinner, and Texas Roadhouse, she ended up losing 3.8 pounds for the week. That brought her to 33.4 pounds lost, in just 9 weeks, and you can bet she’ll be turning it up during the last 3 weeks.

We worked on a couple new ways to throw the weights around, too. Having spent a month doing Level I training (machines), and a month on Level II training (replace machines with dumbbell exercises), I showed them two new Level III routines.

What makes these exercises harder is that they combine two or three separate exercises into one full body exercise. Since you’re using more muscles at the same time, it becomes more demanding, and also engages your core more.

The first one was Thrusters, a combination Body Squat and Shoulder Press. First, you squat, holding a pair of dumbbells on your shoulders. Then as you come back up, you thrust the dumbbells over head to a locked out position. It’s a great exercise that works your lower body and pushing muscles well.

Since Thrusters use so much large muscle mass, the exercise demands more oxygen, and burn more calories, too. I also taught them how to use a lowered bar, regular bar and chairs to do assisted pull-ups which work the pulling muscles. When done together with Thrusters and some abdominal exercises, they make a complete workout. Try 4-5 sets.

The other routine they learned was the Walking Lunge-Curl-Press. Holding a pair of dumbbells, take a big walking step into a lunge position with both knees bent. While maintaining that position, curl both DB, and then rotate and press them straight overhead. Then, lower them, and uncurl them back down to your side. Finally, take another big walking step into a lunge position on the other side and repeat.

Walking Lunge-Curl-Presses work the whole body and you’ll know it right away. Do 4-5 sets of 12-15 steps, followed by some crunches or other core exercises. Both this workout and the other one are quick and dirty, and you can complete them in as little as 15 minutes after a quick warm-up. Give them a try.

This week’s winner was once again Michelle Nugent, who lost 4.4 lbs and 3.1% of her body weight. Down 27.8 lbs now, and with a strong lead for highest overall percentage of weight loss, she won a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance.

Second place went to Karen Brown, who I talked about earlier. Karen lost 1.5% of her body weight and 3.8 lbs and is in the lead for most pounds lost overall, with 33.4 lbs. Third place went to Nita Comstock, who lost 1.0% of her body weight and 1.2 lbs.

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