Monday, December 28, 2009


What have you done with your time this past year? Have you accomplished all that you wanted? Did you do everything that you’d planned to do? How about your body? Did you get into shape, or out of shape?

Some remarkable things have happened here over the last year. Several people ran full marathons (26.2 miles) for the first time. Several more ran their first half marathon (13.1 miles). We took a group to Allerton Park for a 5.5 mile trail run through the woods.

A whole bunch of people went to several different 5 K runs (3.1 miles), and quite a few participated in the C.A.M.A. Park to Park bike rally and the Mill Creek Duathlon (2 mile run, 20 mile bike ride, 2 mile run). I also know of at least two others that did triathlons.

Lots of people started working out this last year, getting their cardio in and hitting the weights, whether it was with the machines, or with free-weights. Unfortunately, not everyone kept up with their workouts—but more on that later.

We put four more Biggest Loser programs in the books. A year ago this January, Biggest Loser “6” started with 58 people. The winner was Bill Lewis, who lost 62.0 lbs at the age of 68. Second place went to Randy Weir, 54, who lost 35 lbs. Gary Goodman, 62, lost 31.5 lbs for third place. Brian Bradley, 42, took fourth by losing 30.9 lbs at the age of 42, and John Sanchez, 41, came in fifth losing 31.4 lbs.

39 people started Biggest Loser “7” in the spring. The winner was Vince Porter, age 39, who lost 51.4 lbs. Second place went to Brittany Cline, age 24, who lost 27.2 lbs. Third place went to John Crow, 41, who lost 36.4 lbs.

Last summer, 24 people started Biggest Loser “8.” Tammi Hewitt, 42, won with 28.2 lbs. Shawn Bowers, 36, won 2nd place, losing 37.9 lbs. Vicki Riggen, 59, won 3rd place, losing 11.0 lbs.

After starting with 28 people, Biggest Loser “9” ended last week with a clean sweep by the women: Michelle Nugent, 30, won with 33.0 lbs. 2nd place went to Karen Brown, 50, who lost 42.8 lbs, becoming the highest losing lady here ever, in just 12 weeks. Nita Comstock, 53, lost 17.6 lbs, ending in 3rd place.

As you can see, they came in all shapes and sizes, and all ages too, and it wasn’t just the guys winning—the women won too. What you don’t often hear about is that really, everyone that finished, won.

My goal with Biggest Losers isn’t just helping people lose weight, although that’s what they do. My real goal is to turn couch potatoes into people that make fitness a lifestyle. They’ve learned how to work out and manage their eating and as a result, they look and feel better.

Not everyone makes it, because life intrudes. But when it does, something else suffers. Usually it’s their health, primarily because they start gaining their weight back. But it’s much easier to maintain your weight than it is to lose it in the first place.

Still, not everyone gets there. In every case, we finished with about half the people we started with. This held true, not just in the Biggest Losers, but also in the gym. It’s a real shame when someone quits because it’s really unlikely that they’ll get what they want.

What makes me sad, is when someone has finally decided they really need to do it, gotten up the courage to start, but then just can’t keep it going. They let little things like soreness, small injuries, and tight schedules keep them from going all the way.

It takes about a year to completely turn things around, but sometimes you just have to be patient. You need to be disciplined and keep working toward your goal. Plus, if you do something long enough, it will become a habit. That’s how you get what you want.

So what are you going to do this year? If you’re already in shape, how are you going to stay there? Quite a few of us are already thinking about the Illini marathon or half marathon on May 1st, or the Indy Mini, the week after.

Setting a goal like that is guaranteed to keep you training—and that keeps you thin. Now I know those goals might not be for everyone, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you set your own goals.

I have a friend who lost 100 lbs and then got lazy and gained 85 of them back. He’s been in the gym for the last two weeks and lost 10 lbs each week. He’s not doing Biggest Loser, because he already knows what to do. But he’s committed to losing the weight again, and this time, he’s determined to keep the weight off.

Another gal I’ve been helping has also just gotten started. She lost over 6.0 lbs the first week, and around 3.0 lbs the second. She’s pretty excited about what the next year has in store for her. She’s also committed to joining our next Biggest Loser group because she wants the extra help and accountability.

To make it even easier for people, we’re going to do two community wide Biggest Losers—one on Friday nights, and another on Saturday mornings. They’ll run concurrently and people will need to pick the one they weigh-in for. In a pinch, they can use the other one as an alternative, in case they have to miss.

We might even have some healthy competition between the two groups, which just might help them lose even more weight. Registration is underway, and the cost is $50 for the 12 week program. We start Friday, January 8th, or Saturday, January 9th. You don’t need to be a member to participate, but you should have a membership somewhere, or at least have enough stuff at home that you can get your workouts in.

So, whether you join Biggest Loser “10” or “11,” the gym, YMCA, Curves, or some other program, or you’re just planning to try it at home, I want to encourage you to get started doing something. Next week we’ll talk about setting goals and getting what you want. For now, I want to leave you with a couple questions.

What are you going to do this next year? Remember, the year is going to fly by, no matter what you do, so you might as well do something with it. This can be the year you get your body back! Will 2010 bring a new you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


This week marked the 12th and final week of Biggest Loser “9.” It was a pretty small group this time, and we started with 28, while 11 made the final weigh-in. Two didn’t make it to the weigh-in that I think are still involved, so that leaves us with 13 out of the original 28, so we lost just over half the people.

On the first day, I told them the same thing I tell every group: “Before this is over, half of you are going to quit. Which group are you going to be in? The half that quits or the half that sticks it out?” No one ever starts, thinking they’re going to be a quitter, but things happen, life intrudes, and it becomes easy to slip away.

If fitness hasn’t become a habit, a daily lifestyle, then it’s easy to slip back into the old ways of doing something. That’s why it’s critical to try to stick it out for at least 12 weeks. After that, if you’re still going, you’ve probably turned the corner and made it a lifestyle change.

That’s why once you start toward a goal the most important thing you can do afterward is simply choosing to continue. Or put another way, not stopping. Every day, you make a decision to keep going. That’s what will make the difference between making just another New Year’s resolution and getting a new life.

At the start of the twelve weeks, everyone walked or ran a mile for time, did pushups for a minute, and also did sit-ups for a minute. At the final workout, we had them do all three tests again. While not everyone had the chance to take the post-test, those that did showed nice improvements in all three areas.

For the twelve and final week, our winner was Cindy Irish, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs. Jennifer Bowers came in second, losing 1.6% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs. Third place was a tie between Rob Irish and Michelle Nugent who both lost 1.4% of their body weight. Rob lost 2.4 lbs and Michelle lost 1.8 lbs.

Since Rob wasn’t present at the final weigh-in, Michelle received the $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. At the start of the twelve weeks, State Farm provided pedometers to all the participants, and Terry Elston provided Walmart gift cards as prizes each week to all the weekly winners. Thanks Terry!

For Biggest Loser “9,” Michelle Nugent was the overall winner, losing 20.1% of her body weight and 33.0 lbs. Her original goal was to lose 35-40 lbs, and she got very close to it. Now she’s just seven lbs away from her original goal. Then she’ll need to slip into maintenance mode.

Significant weight loss means working out every day, some days twice a day. Once you’re where you want to be, it’s easier to maintain it. You just need to dial in your calories and can drop back to working out four to five days a week. If you feel you’re slipping backward, you can always adjust your calories a little, and add in a workout.

Michelle was also the only one to lose weight every week. Some weeks it was more than others, but that showed a very consistent approach. Some weeks she won, but in the weeks she didn’t, she was still up there in 3rd, 4th or 5th place. That accounts for her final result of losing 33.0 lbs.

Second place overall went to Karen Brown, who lost 15.4% of her body weight and an amazing 42.8 lbs. This gave her the distinction of being our first woman to lose more than 40 lbs in 12 weeks, and also the most weight overall. Previously, Erica Hollis had the record, losing 37.0 lbs in BL “5.” Karen has just raised the bar substantially. But she’s not done yet.

Karen is planning on continuing her routine in the next Biggest Loser and has set a new goal. That’s important. Now she knows what to do, and working with another group will help keep her motivated and accountable. I think it will also let her be an inspiration to others.

Third place overall went to Nita Comstock, who lost 11.1% of her body weight and 17.6 lbs. Nita learned that she likes running, and took 4 minutes off her 1 mile walk/run time. Fourth place overall went to Rob Irish, who lost 10.5% of his body weight and 19.4 lbs. Fifth place went to Tammi Hewitt, who won the last Biggest Loser. This time, she lost 7.4 % of her body weight and another 10.4 lbs.

Sixth place went to Renea Mullins, who lost 7.3% of her body weight and 20.4 lbs. She also took about 4 minutes off her 1 mile walk/run. Seventh place was a tie between Cindy Irish and Cathy Kemper, who both lost 5.3% of their body weight. Cindy lost 9.2 lbs and Cathy lost 10.0 lbs. Vicki Riggen ended with 6.2 lbs, and Jennifer Bowers finished with 5.8 lbs.

Our holiday strategy is pretty simple. Don’t gain any weight! If you watch what you eat and get most of your workouts in, it’s pretty easy to maintain your weight, even with all the extra temptations around. Just enjoy things in moderation. Remember, Vicki lost weight in BL “8” on a cruise ship!

Once the holidays are over, we’ll get back in the swing of things with Biggest Loser “10” and “11.” Yep, we’re going to try to run two different ones at the same time. One group will meet on Friday nights from 6:30-7:30, and the other will meet Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:00.

We might even have them compete against each other! You need to come in and reserve your space. The cost is still just $50 to participate, and you don’t have to be a member here, although you really need to be a member somewhere so you can get your workouts in. You’ve got to be working out.

Don’t miss this chance to make 2010 the year you get your body back! The year will come and go before you know it. Have a Merry Christmas and I’ll see you next week!

Monday, December 14, 2009


This week the group did a kickboxing workout. I like to throw one of those in near the end, so each group can give it a try. You recall they walked/ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago, so a kickboxing workout gave them a taste of something different yet again.

The way I run my kickboxing classes is a little different. As a martial arts instructor, I’m interested in giving them some very practical, real world skills, should they ever need to use them.

As a result, even though I’m a fitness guy, I’ve never been interested in teaching a fitness kickboxing class, where the moves look almost like dance. I figure they can do aerobics.

If we’re going to be doing some kickboxing, we’re going to be hitting things, like targets and the heavy bag. We’re going to be doing drills where they learn how to duck and slip punches, and fire back strong counters. It will be high intensity, and because of that, it will also turn out to be awesome exercise.

The first step was to teach them how to make a proper fist, and then how to hold their hands and arms up in front of them. They also learned how to cover their head with their hands and arms, when someone’s trying to hit them with pads. Done properly, it’s a pretty good shield.

After that, they learned the jab and right cross, doing partner drills on the target pads. Then they learned how to bob and weave, following the two punches. Finally, they put it all together. At that point, their coordination was challenged a bit, but after a few minutes, things smoothed out pretty well.

Then, we added the knee strike. A devastating blow (especially to a guy), it follows the jab and right cross. Done in a sequence, it’s very hard to defend. By then, the group was looking pretty sharp, and putting a lot of power into their techniques.

Finally, they went to the heavy bags and learned how to do an angle kick, based on the martial art of Muay Thai—an extremely effective form of kickboxing. Also used by law enforcement to take down resisting offenders, the kick targets the outside of the thigh, about six inches about the knee.

The targeted area is called the common peroneal, and once an assailant has been struck there, it’s very difficult to stand, much less walk or run after their intended victim. That gives the defender time to get away.

The whole combination goes as follows: Left Jab, Right Cross, Right Knee Strike (s), and finally, after reloading your leg, a Right Low Kick to the leg. Done quickly, the sequence is very reliable, and almost impossible to stop.

After just 45 minutes of practice, the group not only was looking sharp, but they were also sweating, laughing, and having fun. As an added bonus, the concepts were something they can take with them and use, if the need should ever arise.

That’s why I like teaching a straight kickboxing class at least once a week (Monday nights), and also work it in to our regular group training classes on Friday nights. Kickboxing empowers the participant. Plus the rigorous workout can burn as many as 500-750 calories an hour, depending on how hard you’re working.

Finally, the sheer fun of hitting things like handheld targets and the heavy bag, are a great release from stress and the worries of the day. Doing drills with a partner develops timing and a sense of distance, as well as coordination.

While they didn’t wear gloves in this workout, in the regular class, they’re required to get some real boxing gloves. Not only do they soften the blow, should someone get hit by mistake, instead of the targets they were holding (almost never happens), but they also protect the wearers hands and wrists from the impact on the bags.

All in all, the group really seemed to enjoy the workout. As predicted, they also had a good time hitting things—everyone does!

This week’s winner was Karen Brown, who proved that sometimes, results lag behind the workouts. A little disappointed last week, after doing a last chance 10 mile walk/run workout, this week the numbers came in big time. She lost 2.7% of her body weight, and a whopping 6.6 lbs!

That tells you that sometimes, you just need to cut yourself some slack. Do the work, and it will all work out in the end. Karen got a $15 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance for all of her hard work this and last week, including two more 7 mile walk/run sessions. Karen is now down exactly 40.0 lbs in just eleven weeks—right up there with the top gals from previous BL sessions.

Second place went to Michelle Nugent, who lost 1.9% of her body weight, and 2.6 lbs. She was also a little frustrated having to miss a few workouts, and with slight midweek gains, two weeks in a row.

Each time, though, just like with Karen, it worked out because she stayed focused and followed through the rest of the week. Michelle is now down 31.2 lbs and is quickly closing in on her goal weight.

Third place was a tie between Nita Comstock and Renea Mullins, who both lost 1.4% of their body weight. Nita lost 2.0 lbs and Renea lost 3.6 lbs. Nita’s been in the top three pretty much the whole session, and it looks like Renea has fallen in love with kickboxing!

Don’t forget about Biggest Loser “10 and 11” both of which will run concurrently—one on Friday nights, and the other on Saturday mornings, provided we get enough people. They’ll start on January 8th and 9th and we’ll help you get your New Year resolutions started off right!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


This week we did some interesting things. Thirteen of us from the center went over and participated in a 5K race, Sunday afternoon at Deming Park in Terre Haute, IN.

It was the first 5K race (3.1 miles) for one of the members, and she did fine. Most everyone else had an improved time over the last 5K they ran 2 weeks ago in Marshall, IL.

The weather was quite cold while standing around before and after the race, but just about perfect while running. In fact, we might have done a little better due to the cold weather. Much like an engine, you need to stay cool to avoid breaking down.

Sweating cools the body by bringing the heat out through the pores in the form of water which then evaporates. In cooler weather, you’ll still sweat, but it helps the process along, so you can typically push a little harder.

Outside of seeing everyone have a good race, the coolest thing was seeing the little kids do the half mile race. I mean there were four and five year olds running, along with their parents to keep them on track.

Talk about creating a lifestyle of fitness. These kids will grow up thinking that being in shape is normal, and running will help keep them that way. I’d like to find a way to bring a kids fitness event like that here to Paris sometime—perhaps in the spring.

On Saturday, during the Biggest Loser workout, the group learned how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Out of the original 28 people, about half are left, and eight made the workout. Those eight learned how to put more intensity into their workouts.

First they learned about Borg’s scale of “Perceived Exertion.” Basically you rank how tough the workload feels, on a scale of 1 to 10:

Perceived Exertion:
0 This is like doing nothing.
1 This is almost like doing nothing.
2 This still feels pretty light.
3 This finally feels like light exercise.
4 This feels like moderate exercise—no big deal.
5 This is getting a little harder but still pretty easy.
6 This is getting harder but still pretty doable.
7 This is harder and I’m breathing harder, too.
8 This feels very hard and talking is tough.
9 This is extremely hard—I can’t talk!
10 This is MAXIMAL—I have to stop!!!

They started with a fairly easy warm-up for a few minutes on either the treadmill, elliptical, or recumbent exercise bike. Then they did a minute at what felt like a “7” and then backed off for a minute to what felt like a “5” or a “6.” Then they took it up to an “8” before backing off again.

After another interval at what felt like an “8” and a minute of rest, they finally got up to what felt like a “9.” This is the big one. By then, I heard them breathing hard, and you could see them leaning in to the equipment to keep the pace.

Some wanted to quit before the minute was up, but the key is to last it out—it’s usually just a few seconds more. Once they got to the end of the minute, they backed it off to what felt like a “5” or a “6” to recover. Then they rotated machines and did the same thing again. After hitting a “9” on the new equipment, they rotated again, and did another series of intervals.

I hope they’ll implement HIIT workouts into their routines at least once a week. Not only will they burn more calories during their workouts, but HIIT workouts will give them a much longer after-burn as your body recovers over the next few hours.

The 5K was a different type of workout. More like a tempo run, the goal is to see how fast you can get through it. Most people pick a pace like say a 10 minute mile pace, and try to get through the 3.1 miles in just over 30 minutes. As your fitness level improves, you try to get down to 9 minute miles, or 8 minute miles, or even faster.

Once a week, you can even try to go either longer or further than usual. Karen did this again this week. Remember last week when she learned she could walk/jog 7 miles? This week she stayed on the treadmill for 10 miles!

In a perfect training scenario, it would be great to do all three types of workouts. You could do a tempo run one day, high intensity intervals the next time, and then on the weekend, you could go for distance.

One other thing to consider about weigh-ins, especially as you get 10 weeks into a weight loss routine, is that sometimes you hit a wall. Things slow down, even if you’ve been busting it big-time. Once in awhile, despite your best efforts, you just won’t lose any weight.

I usually don’t worry about those times, because the body is kind of quirky that way. Usually, it will just show up the following week. Of course, there are things to consider, too, like “time of the month,” whether you’ve eaten, or not, drank a 16 oz water, gone to the bathroom or not, and so on.

Sometimes the scale takes a little while to catch up, so I never look at any one weigh-in as all important. It’s the trend that matters, and that takes two in a row, or even better, three or more. Then you can tell what’s going on.

This week’s winner was Rob Irish, who lost 1.6% of his body weight and 2.6 lbs. Rob had to miss the workout, so the $15 prize, a gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance went to Cathy Kemper in 2nd place, who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.6 lbs. Third place went to Michelle Nugent, who lost 0.8 lbs.

It’s time to start thinking about Biggest Loser “10” which is coming up before you know it. Something I’m considering is running two groups at the same time: one on Friday nights from 6:30-7:30, and a separate one on Saturday mornings from 10:00-11:00 like we do now. If there’s enough interest in the Friday night, we’ll add it.

The cost will be the same: $50.00 for the 12 weeks and you don’t have to be a member here, but you should probably have a fitness membership somewhere, like at the Y or Curves, or at least have some decent home equipment. We’ll start the weekend of January 8th & 9th to make the most of your New Year’s Resolutions. Get ready!