Monday, December 20, 2010


This week marks the end of our thirteenth Biggest Loser. While it was certainly the smallest group we’ve worked with for quite some time, it was probably one of the most motivated.

Just about half the participants finished, which was normal. The ones who did, however, all came through quite a bit of adversity along the way. What you do when life intrudes makes all the difference, and I’m proud of them all for finding a way to stick with it.

The overall winner for Biggest Loser “13” was Nicole Shaughnessy, who lost a total of 8.2% of her body weight and 13.8 lbs. But that’s not quite the whole story.

At the start of the twelve weeks, we took measurements of everyone’s Chest, Right Arm, Waist, Hips, and Right Thigh. At the end, we took measurements again. In just twelve weeks, Nicole lost a total of 16.5 inches overall!

And she wasn’t the only one. Shay Jones, our 5th place finisher, lost a total of 17.25 inches overall! This goes to show you that weight loss isn’t the only way to look at things.

Nicole Clodfelter was second overall, losing 7.8% and 17.4 lbs. This brings Nicole up to an amazing total weight loss of 136.5 lbs! She says she’s not done yet, but she’s getting close!

Shawn Bowers was third, losing 6.6% and 20.4 lbs. Karen Brown was fourth, losing 6.1% and 13.6 lbs. Shay was fifth, losing 5.0% and 8.0 lbs. Jennifer Bell placed sixth, losing 4.8% and 9.6 lbs, and Nikki Johnson was seventh, losing 3.0% and 6.6 lbs.

Even though this was the end of the twelve weeks, it shouldn’t be an end at all. Now that they know what to do and how to do it, they should set a new goal and keep on going.

At this point, their results are pretty predictable. As long as they do what they were doing, there is no reason they can’t do it again, and then again, until they reach their ideal weight.

Once again, congratulations to everyone. If you’ve been thinking about getting started, maybe you need to start your own twelve week program. There’s never been a better time. Just think about it: “New Year—New You.” Good luck!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This week the group did another Level IV workout. For a workout to qualify for Level IV status, it has to have several things going for it.

It should use enough different exercises that taken together will work the entire body: Upper Body—pushing; Upper Body—pulling; Lower Body; and Core. There should be at least one compound movement (uses several different body parts). It also needs to be completed non-stop, without any breaks.

This time the workout consisted of just three exercises: Running, Kettle Bell Swings, and Sit-ups. Running hit the lower body and the Sit-ups hit the core. Interestingly, the Kettle Bell Swings actually hit all three areas: Pushing, Pulling, and Lower Body, as well as the core, since it connects everything together.

Here’s how it worked. They started by jogging a quarter mile. Then they did 25 Kettle Bell Swings followed by 25 Sit-ups. That was round one. The goal was to do six rounds as fast as possible. By the end, they will have completed a mile and a half, 150 Kettle Bell Swings, and 150 Sit-ups.

• Run ¼ mile
• 25 Kettle Bell Swings
• 25 Sit-ups
(Repeat 6x)

Although this workout used only three things, sometimes we’ll have as many as 7 or 8 different exercises. It’s important to move from one exercise to the other without any breaks. Depending on how many exercises and rounds, the workouts will last between 20 and 25 minutes.

By the time you’ve finished your Level IV workout, you’ll have hit your entire body for some serious muscle training. Since it was non-stop, you’ll also have gotten a cardio workout too. Give it a try!

This week’s winner was Nicole Clodfelter (again), who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 2.2 lbs. One week to go!

Monday, December 06, 2010


This week we introduced the group to Level IV workouts. You might recall that the basic machine strength training circuit was Level I. Replacing the movements with dumbbells and exercise balls was Level II. Last week we combined cardio intervals (ran ¼ mile) with body weight exercises (pushups, body squats, sit-ups for Level III.

What makes Level IV workouts unique and difficult is the type of exercises you do, with little or no break between them. For their workout, we used five different exercises:

(1) Wall Ball—this was a new movement for them, holding a soft medicine ball on their shoulder, executing a body squat, and then tossing the ball up overhead against the wall before catching it on the opposite shoulder and then doing another body squat.

(2) Dumbbell Curls—this was a familiar traditional weight lifting exercise, curling a dumbbell in each arm, alternating right then left.

(3) Kettle Bell Swings—another new movement for them, holding a kettle bell by the hand in both hands, swinging it down between their legs, and using their hips, arms and shoulders to swing it back up overhead. Make sure you have a tight grip so you don’t hit yourself in the head!

(4) Bench Jumps—another new movement, standing on one side of a weight bench, gripping it with both hands with most of your weight on your arms, jump from one side to the other, swinging both feet together as one.

(5) Abs Routine #1 to #4
—this was familiar to them from previous workouts. Crunches with knees bent; crunches with legs straight up; crunches to each side; and leg flippers.

Here’s how it worked. Each person performed one exercise for 50 seconds. During a 10 second rest period, they moved to the next station and then did the next exercise for 50 seconds. At the end of five minutes they had rotated through all five exercises and completed one round. They did this four times for a total of four rounds and 20 minutes.

It sounds easy, but because Wall Ball, Kettle Ball swings, and Bench Jumps are compound movements using several different muscle groups at a time, it quickly gets intense. Since they did everything without any breaks—just the 10 seconds to move over and get ready—it became a cardio workout too!

Give it a try sometime, but make sure you’ve eaten something before hand. This type of workout will make you light headed and nauseous if you try to do it on an empty stomach—it’s too tough!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Nicole Shaughnessy, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 1.8 lbs. Second place went to Nicole Clodfelter, who lost 0.7% of her body weight and 1.5 lbs.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


As I’ve said in the past, the key to avoiding weight loss plateaus is changing things up. They’ve been at it for two months, and in most cases are seeing their weight level off. This means we need to shake things up yet again.

Once they’ve had high intensity interval training, it’s time to start combining it with their resistance training. For these Level III workouts, we’re combining cardio intervals with exercises that use their own body weight, like pushups, body squats, sit-ups, and pull-ups.

After walking for a short while to warm up, they started jogging ¼ mile on the treadmill—in the warmer months, we actually take them out to the football field and have them run a lap there. After that, they did 25 pushups, 25 body squats, and 25 sit-ups. Then they took off for another ¼ mile lap. Here’s what it looks like:

• Run ¼ mile
• 25 pushups
• 25 body squats
• 25 sit-ups
(Do a total of 4 times)

The goal is to do the ¼ miles as fast as possible. For some people this is a walk/run. For others, it’s a faster jog. Once you’re in better shape, it’s more like a sprint. Once you get around, you knock off the pushups, body squats and sit-ups as quickly as possible without stopping.

By the time you get done, you’ll have jogged a mile and completed 100 pushups, 100 body squats, and 100 sit-ups. It’s a full body workout that doesn’t take very long to complete, but if you’re pushing hard, you’ll be pretty gassed when you finish.

A good goal would be to try in finish in less than 30 minutes. Once a month, try the workout again and see if you can improve on your time.

This week’s winner was Nikki Johnson, who lost about half a pound. Next week, we’ll talk about the even more intense Level IV workouts. In the meantime, why don’t you give this one a try? Good luck!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This week instead of the regular workout, the Biggest Losers met in Marshall for the annual Turkey Trot 5 K (3.1 miles) race. They’ve known about the challenge since the first week, and have been working to step up their distance, especially in the last few weeks.

Just about anyone can walk a mile, even three miles, but when you start jogging, it becomes quite a bit more difficult. Much more energy is required once you break into a jog, and your respiration and heart rate go up dramatically to meet the increased oxygen demands. That’s why we teach people how to build up to it by run/walking intervals.

What I like about the organized races, is that it puts you around other like-minded people. In fact, you’ll often find inspiration there. There’s something special about lining up with a bunch of other people all about to do something like this.

Don’t worry about how fast you’re going to be either. If you’ve never done an event like this, the accomplishment is starting and finishing the event—that’s what makes you a winner. Once you have one under your belt, you can then work on trying to improve your time at the next one.

Not everyone in the group was able to make the event. If they couldn’t, they were supposed to make it up on their own. Karen did her 3.1 miles on Friday night (44:30). Here are the others and their Turkey Trot times: Shelly (27:12), Nicole C. (33:13), Nicole S. (39:14), Mary (43:01), Shay (43:13), Nikki (43:28), and Jennifer (45:47). Great job everybody!

Monday, November 15, 2010


This week we taught the participants how to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for their cardio workouts. This type of training is exactly how it sounds. After a 5 or 10 minute warm-up, you simply alternate higher intensity cardio intervals with lower intensity rest intervals.

There are many different ways to package your HIIT training. When working with someone new, I try to match the level of intensity to their individual fitness level. The first two examples are from actual Biggest Loser participants.

Relatively New Runner—one participant named Jennifer hadn’t had a lot of experience running, and the fastest she’d ever gone on the treadmill prior to the workout was 4.2 mph. After walking a quarter mile (400 meters), I had her start jogging at 4.0 mph for half a lap (200 meters). When she got halfway around the track on the display, I had her walk the other half lap at 3.0 mph to rest and recover.

Then she bumped up the speed to 4.2 mph (her previous fastest pace) for another half a lap on the display. Once she got halfway around again, she went back to walking for the rest of the lap. At the end of that quarter mile, she cranked it up to 4.4 mph for half a lap, followed by another half-lap of walking.

She was able to do another half lap at 4.6 mph, walked half a lap, and then another interval at 4.8 mph, followed by another half a lap of walking. Finally, she ground out a half lap at 5.0 mph, well faster than she’d ever gone prior to the workout. She said it was pretty tough, but she finished the workout. At the end, she did a quarter mile walk as a cool down.

Runner with Moderate Experience—another participant you’ve been reading about for several months was Nicole, who’s been running for the last few Biggest Losers, and has completed several 5 K (3.1 mile) races, running most of the way, with some walking every mile. Just the other day, she completed 3 miles consecutive running without having to walk at all!

Since she had more experience, we divided the workout differently. Instead of half a lap running and half a lap walking, we had her walk a quarter of the way around the display (100 meters), and jog three quarters (300 meters). Since she said she was comfortable running at 5.5 mph, we had her start at 5.0 mph.

Once she made it around the whole lap, she got to walk a quarter of the way around again before turning it up to 5.5 mph. After another walk break, she did the next ¾ lap at 6.0 mph, and then another at 6.5 mph, 7.0 mph, 7.5 mph, and then a final one at 8.0 mph—well faster than she ever thought she could go.

Again, the trick is doing harder intervals than you think you can do, followed by short breaks to let you catch your breath, get a drink, and wipe off the sweat! You’ll burn more calories in a shorter period of time, and stimulate all kinds of changes in your body.

These types of workouts have a much longer after-burn, which means you’ll burn more calories during the hours after the workout while your body is working to recover. It will also make your regular workouts easier.

I’ll even combine HIIT training with short runs and resistance training to make some very intense workouts. In the boot camp class held before the Biggest Loser workout, here’s the HIIT training that they did:

1. Run ¼ mile
2. 25 pull-ups
3. Run ¼ mile
4. 50 pushups
5. Run ¼ mile
6. 25 dumbbell curls (each arm)
7. Run ¼ mile
8. 25 kettle bell swings
9. Run ¼ mile
10. 25 floor-wipers (both sides)
11. Run ¼ mile

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jennifer Bell (from the first example above) who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.6 lbs. With this type of HIIT training to add to her workout arsenal, I’m sure she’s going to continue to have success!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This week marks the halfway point of the twelve week program. By now, the participants have pretty much figured out how to manage their eating. They’ve also got their exercise routines down and are usually able to get their workouts in every day.

Even so, it’s right about this time that many people experience a slump in their weight loss. Where they might have lost a couple pounds a week, now they’ve only lost a half a pound or so.

This plateau in weight loss is a mystery to everyone, including trainers. A very few people never experience them, but most people do. There are a lot of reasons why it could be happening, but it’s tough to really know for sure. Here are a few things to look for.

1. Loss of focus—sometimes you just get tired and start taking things for granted. When you let your guard down, it’s easy to take your eye off the prize. You’ve got to work to get it back. Perhaps you need to start writing down your calories again.

2. Lack of effort—this one makes people mad, but usually I can tell when people just start taking it easy. They start getting comfortable and coasting in their workouts, doing the same things, and quit pushing. You’ve got to get it done.

3. Lack of consistency—this is all about what you do when life starts intruding. There are all kinds of reasons to miss a workout, but only one reason will get you there—because you have to. There’s always a way if you want it bad enough. Doing 100 pushups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 body squats at home will get the job done.

4. Not eating enough—this one sounds stupid, but it really gets a lot of people, especially women. As you get busy, if you start missing meals again (especially breakfast), it can backfire on you. You’ve got to make sure you hit your minimum number of calories every day.

5. Your body needing a change—this is similar to number two (lack of effort), but not because you weren’t trying. It’s just that as things get easier for you, you can do the same amount of work without burning as much energy, so you’ll burn fewer calories. You’ve got to keep turning it up. Take a different class. Try a different workout.

That’s why I taught them a different free-weight routine this week, and next week, we’ll do a high intensity interval workout. It’s important to keep changing it up. That keeps the body working hard and burning lots of calories.

It’s also good for your mind. That helps you keep focused on the goal and keep pushing too. It lets you get excited about your workouts, and that will keep you consistent.

In the end, it comes down to showing up, pushing hard when you get here, and changing it up enough to keep the intensity there. When you’re home, watch what you eat, but make sure you’re eating enough.

Finally, remember that one weigh-in really doesn’t matter—it’s the trend over time. Often, people will get discouraged when they gain a little bit, only to find two days later, they take it right back off. By the end of the week, things are back on track, so keep plugging!

This week’s winner was Nicole Clodfelter, who’s had a pretty good track record since she keeps pushing. She lost 1.4% of her body weight and 3.0 pounds. That brings her six week total up to 11.0 lbs.

Monday, November 01, 2010


This week we introduced the Biggest Losers to a kickboxing class. Since I have a martial arts background, I like to make the kickboxing class very practical—they get to hit stuff like targets and the heavy bags.

Since they’re hitting things, the pads add resistance to the training. This is good for two reasons. First, it makes the workout more intense. It also is pretty realistic. If you ever have to defend yourself, it’s helpful if you’ve actually practiced hitting things!

Kickboxing can also be an amazing cardio workout. It uses the entire body, especially the core, as you bob and weave to avoid punches. Typically, I have partners hold pads that you hit and then block as they pop you back. It teaches you how to cover up and move to avoid being hit.

I like to work on things in “rounds” like in a match. One person might do “Jab, Cross, Cover, Cover” for two minutes while the other one holds the pads. Then they’ll switch roles for another two minutes. This way you get enough time to figure out how to get the skill going, but it’s also a nice little cardio interval.

Then, we’ll add something to the combination like, “Jab, Cross, Cover, Cover, Knee, Knee.” Two more minutes of that and then we’ll switch again. The next combination might be “Jab, Cross, Low Kick, Low Kick” and then “Jab, Cross, Kick, Knees.”

Once they’re pretty good at doing the combinations on the hand pads, I like to have the partner start moving a little bit before and after. This forces the kickboxer to adjust forward or backward which makes it more difficult. It’s also a little more real-world, as physical encounters never happen in a static environment.

People move and you have to adjust. Once they get some experience at moving in and out, I’ll have them start working on slipping to the side a little bit. Again, that raises the level of difficulty. It also raises the level of the workout intensity anytime you add movement.

At some point, we’ll turn to the heavy bag and let them work on their combinations there. While partner drills with pads make for learning how to react and move, the bag provides much more resistance. When you can snap off some combinations on the heavy bag, and get it to move, that means you can deliver some power to your target.

You’ve got to make sure you keep your wrists tight and straight when working on the heavy bag because it’s easy to lose focus. If you hit the bag hard with a bent wrist, you’ll have a sprained, bent wrist.

You’ve also got to wear boxing gloves to protect your knuckles. The gloves add some weight, too, which means more resistance. That means you’ll get more out of the workout.

Near the end of the class, I like to do 30 second intervals where they have to just go crazy with everything they’ve learned. It’s non-stop, full throttle, until I yell time. Sounds easy, but as soon as you ramp up the intensity, it becomes amazingly exhausting—just like a real fight would be.

When I was in the police academy, we learned that in a physical encounter, it’s typical to burn through 90% of your energy in the first minute. Part of that’s due to an adrenaline dump that comes when you’re in danger.

If you’re not in shape, and can’t manage your energy, you can quickly find yourself with little left to defend yourself. That’s why I like to do these short, fast intervals in class.

After three or four of those, people start slowing down big-time, even if they’re in pretty good shape. That’s when I like to throw in a 60 second interval to really blast them. If they can keep going guns blazing for 60 seconds, you’ll probably do pretty well in the real thing.

Normally, the classes last 45 minutes, and if we do it right, you’re ready to leave at the end. As you get better, your combinations get sharper and you can hit harder. You get better at moving, and as you move more, you’ll get an even better workout.

It’s not uncommon to have people burn over 500 calories in a class. Once, a few years ago, I had a gal lose 49 pounds in a year, and the only thing she did differently was take kickboxing twice a week.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Karen Brown who lost 1.6% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. Karen’s lost 11.0 lbs in just 5 weeks. While she will tell you she wishes it were more, she’s very happy about all the inches she’s lost!

Second place went to Nicole Shaughnessy who lost about 1.0% of her body weight and 1.4 lbs. Shay Jones came in third, losing 1.2 lbs, and Nikki Johnson was fourth, losing 1.6 lbs.

Monday, October 25, 2010


This week the group took their weight training to the next level. They’ve been doing Level I training with the machines for a month so it was time to turn it up. Level II training with dumbbells presents a different challenge.

While the machines provide a nice safe, guided motion with a leverage assist, dumbbells (DB) require you to control the entire movement. This means more stabilizer muscles are called on which makes it more work. That means you’ll get a better workout and burn more calories.

Machines also have pads to lean on or press against. Level II training with dumbbells requires you to use your core to keep your posture correct. Once again, this means you’ll be using more muscles to complete the same movements.

Our goal was to replace each of the machines with a similar movement with dumbbells. We also taught them how to string several exercises together in what are called supersets. It also allows you to rest one muscle group while you’re working another. I call it “active rest.”

We also used a stability ball (exercise ball) for many of the exercises which hit their core even more. Finally, we threw in some mini cardio bursts between rounds to help keep their heart rate up.

Here’s what their first Level II dumbbell workout looked like in case you want to try it yourself:

1. DB Chest Press on Ball
2. Body Squat (holding exercise ball overhead)
(repeat 3x, back-to-back, 10-12 repetitions)
3. Jog around the room 5 times

4. DB Dead-lifts
5. Single Arm Rows
(repeat 3x, back-to-back, 10-12 reps)
6. Run the lines in the room (wind sprints)

7. DB Lateral Shoulder Raises
8. Standing DB Single Arm Curls
9. Standing Triceps Overhead Press
(repeat 3x, back-to-back, 10-12 reps)
10. Jog around the room 5 times

11. Series of different Abdominal Crunches with Exercise Ball
12. Run the lines in the room (wind sprints)

Shelly Roark was our Biggest Loser this week, losing 2.0% of her body weight and 3.0 lbs. Mary Pfister came in second, losing 1.8% and 3.5 lbs. Lisa Eskew was third, losing 1.3% and 2.4 lbs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


In Week One the goal was to get the group moving. They also focused on learning how much they were eating, by tracking their calories each day. In Week Two they focused on looking at the quality of what they were eating, and how to put together balanced meals.

This week our goal was to help them learn how to burn, by turning up the intensity of their exercise. In the first Friday night workout, they did 5 sets of 10 pushups, sit-ups and body squats, for a total of 50 each, followed by walk/running one mile.

Last week in the second workout, they did 4 sets of 15 pushups, sit-ups and body squats, for a total of 60 each. They also learned how to do walking lunges, and several different exercises for their abs on the stability ball.

This week we raised the intensity by having them walk/run to the water tower park. Once everyone got there, we did all the usual things plus some new exercises: burpees, windmills, mountain climbers, leg-lifts, and even a sprint across the park and back. Once they finished, they jogged back to the center.

So instead of just a mile after the workout, they ended up doing about a mile and a half. The intensity of the workout was higher because they ran before all the exercises, and then ran again afterward. All the new exercises helped too.

So how do you use this information to increase the intensity of your own workouts? The first thing is to start doing some cardio at the beginning. Ten minutes is a good start. Then, after you use the strength circuit, do another ten minutes of cardio at the end.

This works whether you’re using machines or free weights. Adding a run always increases the intensity. That’s why jogging and calisthenics have always been the backbone of physical training in police academies as well as the military.

Now if you’ve never done any running, that’s O.K. After a couple minutes walking to warm up, try a very slow jog for just a minute. You don’t need to go fast. Pick a pace that’s just fast enough that you’re not walking anymore.

Even then, it might be hard to get a whole minute in. That’s O.K. too. Do what you can. Then walk two minutes. Then try another minute jogging and another two minutes walking to recover. Try to do it several times.

The next time, try to do five or six intervals, then seven, and so on. At some point, you’ll realize you don’t need the entire two minutes of walking to recover. Start jogging again a little sooner. You’ll get to where you can do a minute on and a minute off.

Before you know it, you’ll be able to go longer than a minute. Then it will switch. Try jogging two minutes with only a one minute walk break. Then go three minutes and so on. It won’t take long and you’ll really be building up your time.

So that’s how to sandwich your workouts with cardio. Next week I’ll tell you how they built cardio intervals into their workouts! See you then.

This week’s Biggest Loser was a two-way tie between Janet Tyler and Nicole Shaughnessy, who lost 1.1% of their body weight. Janet lost 2.0 lbs and Nicole lost 1.8 lbs. Nicole Clodfelter and Shawn Bowers tied for second, losing 1.0% of their body weight. Nicole C. lost 2.2 lbs while Shawn lost 3.0 lbs. Next week we’ll introduce the group to free weights, so I’ll see you then!

Monday, October 11, 2010


This week the Biggest Losers looked at how to eat meals that are in balance. If you recall from last week, each type of food has a preferred use in the body.

Proteins are best for building muscle and bone; starches (complex carbs) are best for long lasting energy and some vitamins; and fruits and greens provide quick energy, lots of vitamins and minerals, and also some fiber.

While there are lots of different diets out there, our Biggest Losers have pretty good results by just eating plain old balanced meals—in the right amounts. Here are some healthy, balanced meal ideas we used to get them started. Each has a serving of Protein, Starch, and Fruits or Greens.

A woman shooting for 1,650 calories a day needs three 400 calorie meals and three 150 calorie snacks as shown in the examples below. Guys need larger meals and have to adjust up as needed. Mix and match foods to come up with slightly different meals.

Sample 400 Calorie Breakfasts:
• ½ to ¾ cup whole grain Cereal, 8 oz Skim or Soy Milk, and a Medium Banana.
• 1 piece of quality whole grain Bread with a little butter and honey, a small low fat Yogurt, and some fresh Fruit.
• 2 eggs, 1 piece of whole wheat Toast with 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 with fat free dressing.
• ½ broiled Chicken Breast, ½ cup frozen Bean Medley, 1 piece ww Bread with butter.

Sample 400 Calorie Suppers:
• 3 oz baked Chicken, ½ cup Baked Beans, Mixed Salad with 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 with 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. a little butter, Mixed Salad with 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.

Once you have your routine down, you won’t need to keep track of the calories so much anymore. Then it will be more about just controlling your portions. In fact, that’s really what you’re learning to do when you start eating this way, so you might give it a try.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jennifer Bell who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. Lisa Eskew was second, losing 2.8% and 2.4 lbs. Mary Pfister placed third, losing 1.4% and 2.8 lbs. Shay Jones was fourth, losing 1.1% and 1.8 lbs, and Nicole Clodfelter came in fifth, losing 1.0% and 2.0 lbs.

Monday, October 04, 2010


The Biggest Losers completed their first week and had their first workout on Friday night. During the workout, we talked about how important it was for them to hit their minimum (calories) each day.

For women, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 1,200 calories. For men it’s 1,800 calories. Anything less than that will work against you. But if you can hit your minimum, you’ll feel better and start to lose weight.

Once you hit your minimum, you can actually shoot for eating a little more to cover your activity during the day. Most women can eat between 1,500-1,650 calories and feel fine while losing weight. Most guys can lose weight around 2,200-2,400 calories. Once you get your quantity under control, the next step is to look at the quality of what you’re eating.

Remember, food is fuel. Sure, it can give us pleasure, but the bottom line is food is fuel. When you get empty, you need to fuel up. But there’s another issue.

If you put the wrong kind of fuel in a car, it won’t run well, or not at all. What you want is high octane foods that help your body work better. Every meal should have three main components: Protein, Starch & Fruits & Greens.

Protein—for building Muscle & Bone:
Meats, Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Low Fat Dairy products like Milk, Yogurt & Cottage Cheese, Nuts, Peanut Butter, some Beans, and Meal Replacement Shakes.

Most people don’t get nearly enough protein in their diet. It’s not fuel, though. Your body doesn’t like to burn protein for fuel as it’s inefficient, and can cause medical side effects.

You should probably eat more Fish, then Chicken & Turkey, less Beef (lean cuts only), and even less Pork. Low Fat Dairy is fine. If you’re lactose intolerant, choose a Soy based dairy product.

Starch—for long lasting Fuel (Energy):
Quality Whole Grains like Cereals & Breads, Oats, Whole Wheat Pasta, Long Grain Wild Rice, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Sugar Snap Peas, Beans.

Starches are your bodies preferred fuel for energy. Also known as complex carbohydrates, starches take a long time for your body to break down, so you get long lasting energy.

Most people eat too much starch (carbs), especially the bad kinds like white breads, refined flours, and junk foods. Some diets tell you not to eat carbs at all (even the good stuff!). That’s goofy. Just don’t eat too many.

Fruits & Greens—for Vitamins & Minerals, Quick Energy, and Fiber:
Most people don’t eat nearly enough Fruits & Greens and some don’t eat any at all. Fruits & Greens have tons of vitamins & minerals, along with the enzymes needed to use them. They're high in fiber and low in calories. If you’ll start eating more Fruits & Greens, you’ll start feeling better, almost immediately. Go for Fruits early in the day for quick energy, and have lots of Greens at your later meals.

Take a high quality supplement that has a blend of Omega-3 (fish oil) and also Omega-6 and Omega-9 in it. It will help you fight infections, think more clearly, support your metabolism, and make you feel better. Eat more fish and nuts too. Avoid vegetable oils and foods cooked in them. They’ll make you fat. Go with olive oil for cooking.

Avoid Trans Fats. If you see a label that says Trans Fats .5 or more, don’t buy it. Only buy it if it says Trans Fats 0. This type of fat is extremely dangerous. Your body can’t process them, so it coats them with cholesterol and stores them in your arteries. Experts believe they’re the main reason for the increase in heart disease in men and women at younger ages.

Choose low fat dairy products for milk, cottage cheese and yogurt. There’s no difference in the amount of protein, only fat. Go 2%, or even lower if you can. Choose low fat salad dressings, too. This will take you from 140 calories for 2 tbsp down to 50, 45, or sometimes 25 calories!

Try to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), found in pop, ice creams, and many other foods. Unlike fructose (sugars found in fruits), sucrose (simple sugars), or even corn syrup (all of which your body CAN burn for fuel), HFCS can’t be burned for fuel, so your body stores it as fat.

Another problem is that HFCS doesn’t trigger the release of leptin which tells you that you’re full. Many experts believe HFCS is the main reason behind the epidemic of obesity in our kids.

If you want to feel better, drink more water. It helps flush and cleanse the body, and also is critical to things moving in and out of the cells at a molecular level.

When you’re dehydrated, your body doesn’t work as well. Until you’ve been fully hydrated you’ll never really know how good you can feel. Coffee and pop don’t count as water. Quit the pop. Only water counts as water. Drink it.

The government recommends adults have at least 64 oz (a little more than 3 20 oz bottles) of water each day. Even that’s not enough, especially if you’re exercising. Active women may need up to 4 bottles (up to 80 oz) and active men could need 5 or 6 (100-120 oz).

Week One Results
Next week I’ll give you some sample meal and snack ideas. This week’s Biggest Loser was Janet Tyler, who lost 3.1% of her body weight and 5.8 lbs. Shawn Bowers was second, losing 2.3% and 7.2 lbs. Nicole Shaughnessy was third, losing 1.8% and 3.0 lbs. Nicole Clodfelter placed fourth, losing 1.6% and 3.6 lbs, and Mary Pfister was fifth, losing 1.4% and 2.8 lbs.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This week the new group showed up for their first initial weigh-in prior to the start of Week One. Facing the scale for the first time is always a little uncomfortable for most people. It’s important though, because they need to know what they’re facing.

We also measured their body fat, which might be more important than the actual weigh-in. It’s much better to be 15-20% fat than 25-30%. For example, it would be much better to be 150 lbs and 20% fat (30 lbs of fat) than 150 lbs and 30% fat (45 lbs).

I’ve seen quite a few people start the program between 30-40% fat, and once in awhile, I’ll see someone at 50% fat or higher. The highest body fat percentage I’ve ever seen was someone that came in at 60% fat. Over the course of a year, they lost 100 lbs and were still fairly big.

The participant’s body fat ranged from a low of 34.7% to 45.5%. Think of it—almost half your weight in fat. According to experts, a woman with body fat over 33% is considered “over-fat” and over 39% is considered to be obese. For guys, anyone over 20% is “over-fat” and over 28% is obese.

When you lose fat, it gets a lot easier to move around. In some cases, it gets easier to breath. Think of all the extra circulation you need with all that extra fat. Plus your heart has to work harder to pump the blood around, too. In the morbidly obese, the extra fat is actually packed around the lungs, pressing in, making it even harder to breath.

As you get stronger and put on muscle, it actually makes it easier to lose more fat. Not only can you work harder and burn more calories, but muscle requires more energy to live, so it will have an effect on your metabolism.

We also had them measure themselves, at the chest, arm, waist, hips and thigh. This way they’ll have another objective measurement to compare with as they progress through the 12 weeks. Sometimes you don’t see any weight loss, but you’ll see a difference in inches. That’s why I’ll always ask them if their clothing is fitting any looser.

Once we got all that out of the way, we did four fitness tests: 1 minute body squats, 1 minute pushups, 1 minute sit-ups, and the 1 mile walk/run. The goal was to do as many body squats, pushups and sit-ups as possible in a minute, and then cover the mile as fast as they could.

It’s always a wakeup call for them, especially when they’re exhausted at the end of each test. For some, it’s the most exercise they’ve done in years. They’ll actually felt like they did a workout, but I assured them it wasn’t—just some fitness tests.

The real workouts start next week. We’ll do the three tests again at the end of the 12 weeks and they’ll be amazed at how much they’ll have improved.

I gave them a little informational booklet that outlines the exercise strategy (see the last couple articles), and our approach to eating smart. They also got a daily calorie log so they can start recording how much they eat everyday.

Research shows that people who write it down lose more weight than people who don’t. It also shows that eating smaller meals more often, increases your metabolism and gives you more energy to get through your day.

A good quality Breakfast gets things started. I didn’t make this up—breakfast is the most important meal of the day! As you finish burning what you ate for breakfast, you fuel up by having a Healthy Snack
Awhile later, it’s time for Lunch, then another Healthy Snack in the afternoon. Finally it’s time for Supper. If you want one, feel free to have another Healthy Snack in the evening. There’s nothing wrong with using that snack for a healthy dessert.

If your meals and snacks total up to your calorie Target, and you’re active, you’ll lose weight. If they exceed your Target, you’ll stay the same. Make sure you’re over your minimum, though.

If you miss meals to the point where you go under your minimum, your body will think you’re starving and lower your metabolism again, making it hard if not impossible to burn fat.

Eating this way keeps you from overeating, and levels out your insulin, too, keeping you feeling just right all day. Some experts call it grazing. Next week, we’ll look more closely at what foods to eat and why.

We also talked about the importance of setting a goal. Regardless what you see on television, a pound a week is good, two pounds a week is great, and three or more is fantastic. So if you want to lose 24 lbs, you know you need to average two pounds a week. If you can meet a bunch of little goals, they’ll all add up into one big goal.

Finally, I asked Nicole Clodfelter to speak a little bit about what it takes. You may remember her from past Biggest Loser articles. This is her third Biggest Loser, and she started her journey a little less than a year ago. Since last December, she’s lost 120 lbs, so she’s well qualified to talk about sticking with it.

In most groups, half will quit somewhere along the way. I’m hoping that the “Friends & Family” concept of having a training buddy will help us counter that statistic. Knowing someone else is planning on being there should make it harder to ditch their workouts, so it should help them with accountability.

Another thing that should help them stay accountable is the weekly weigh-ins. Since they know they’re going to be facing the scale every Friday, hopefully, it will help them make better decisions throughout the week.

It’s not too late to join this group but you’ll need to let me know before the first workout Friday night. The cost is just $50 and you don’t need to be a member to participate, but you probably need to have a membership somewhere so you can get all your workouts in. Stay tuned for the results from Week One next time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


With Biggest Loser “13” starting this Friday, Sept. 24th, it’s always a good idea to kind of run down what it takes to start and finish a 12 week program like that. Obviously, the participants have to be tired of things the way they are, and want to lose a serious amount of weight.

While we have had people participate that only wanted to lose 5-10 lbs, it’s pretty rare. Usually, people want to lose around 20-25 lbs. Often, they want to lose even more than that. It’s not uncommon to have people needing to lose 50 lbs, and several people have had goals of 100 lbs or more.

At the end of the 12 weeks, we always talk about what their original goal was, and compare it to what they actually lost. In the end, only a very few actually achieve their stated goal, but quite a few end up within 5 lbs of the goal. That’s pretty good.

It really comes down to how hard people are willing to work, how dedicated they are to making the changes, and how committed they are to seeing it through. It’s hard work taking weight off, especially if you’re trying to do it quickly.

Most people can comfortably lose 1-2 lbs a week without too much trouble, if they’re doing all the right things: exercising every day, and watching what they eat. To lose more than that requires even more discipline, and for most people, two workouts a day. That’s what we ask participants to shoot for.

The first workout is pretty simple. You just get out and walk a mile every morning. Most people can do this in 20 minutes or less. It gets the metabolism moving and sets you up well for the day. Then later in the afternoon or evening, you do the “real” workout.

In this second workout of the day, we have them alternate between doing cardio one day and weights on the other day. For example, using the weight machines on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, and hitting the cardio machines on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. Sunday can be a rest day, or a light walk day.

People that add the extra workout tend to lose more weight than those that don’t. Sometimes participants will just do extra in the gym because they can only squeeze in the one workout each day. While that will work, there seems to be a benefit to doing two different activities at each end of the day.

Like I talked about in the last article, the physical workouts start off pretty easy, but increase in intensity each week. The goal is to keep pushing the limits. Our bodies adapt pretty quickly to harder workloads, so it’s important to keep changing it up to keep those pounds coming off.

By the end of the first month, the Biggest Losers will move off the weight machines and start using dumbbells and exercise balls. They’ll feel a difference right away. Machines guide you and provide leverage and stabilization. With dumbbells, you provide all the stabilization yourself.

They’ll notice more accessory muscles kicking in, along with their core muscles. It’s an enormous difference. If they could lift a total of 50 lbs on the chest press machine, that doesn’t mean they could successfully do the same exercise with two 25 lb dumbbells. In fact, I’d probably start them off with 10 or 12 lb dumbbells. It’s that different!

Again, the goal is to keep increasing the demands on the body so it continues to try to adapt. Remember, if you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. So, we want to keep trying things that are difficult. Then your body will work to make it easier.

This has two benefits. First, that difficult work will burn more calories, meaning you’ll lose more weight. To lose a pound of fat you’ll have to burn 3,500 calories. If you want to lose a pound in a week, that means you need to burn 500 extra calories a day. It’s as simple as that. If you want to lose more, you’ve got to do more.

If your goal is to lose two pounds a week, than you’ll have to burn 7,000 calories. That means you’ll have to up your activity level by 1,000 calories a day.

There’s a reason those people on the Biggest Loser television show lose that much weight—they work out 6-8 hours a day! Most of us don’t have that kind of time, or even desire. But we’re not competing for a $250,000 prize either—there’s NO prize.

The second benefit you’ll get if you continue to change it up and try newer difficult things, is that you’ll get stronger. That means that you’ll be able to push harder in your workouts. You’ll build some muscle.

That will increase your metabolism so you can burn more calories just standing around. It will also let you burn more calories during exercise because you’ll simply be able to do more work in the same amount of time.

By the third month, our Biggest Losers will be doing compound exercises and some pretty serious circuit training workouts with the free weights. They’ll also have trained for a 5 K run/walk, and worked to improve their 1 mile time.

By the end of the twelve weeks, they’ll be amazed at how much stronger they are, and how much more stamina they have. Most women will be down a few dress sizes, and their clothing will be quite a bit looser. The guys will typically lose inches around the waist, and put on quite a bit of muscle in their upper body.

That’s the physical side of things. Next week, I’ll tell you a little about what they’re going to be looking at on the food side of things. If you want to participate, you need to get signed up before we start at 6:30 on Friday the 24th.

The cost is $50.00 and don’t forget that this time we’re doing “Friends and Family” so bring a close friend or family member to sign up with you. The goal is that if you start together, you just might stick it out together! You don’t need to be a member, but you should probably have a fitness membership somewhere so you can get all your workouts in. See you then!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


In just two weeks, we’ll be starting our thirteenth Biggest Loser after a three month hiatus. I’ve been taking calls all summer long from people wondering when we’re going to get the next group going. The initial weigh-in and fitness testing will be on Friday, September 24th from 6:30-7:30.

This time we’re doing “Friends & Family.” To get involved, you have to have either a family member that does it with you, or a good friend. Typically, half the participants in any exercise program drop out for a host of different reasons. We’re hoping to counter that this time around with “Friends & Family.”

Now you don’t have to participate in a program like Biggest Losers to lose weight, because plenty of people have done it on their own. But what it does do, is take you on a 12 week journey that teaches you a lot about yourself and your capabilities.

Participants start off with basic walking and simple machines. Each week they get a different physical challenge in the Friday night workout. They also learn more exercises that get more demanding as the weeks go by.

After a few weeks, most are able to add some jogging to the walking. If necessary, they’ll substitute the elliptical or the exercise bicycle. In any case, they learn how to keep turning up the intensity, which burns more calories, and keeps taking those pounds off.

After a month of using different machines (Level I), they learn how to use free weights (dumbbells) and the exercise ball (Level II) in month two. Then they progress to compound movements with free weights (Level III) in month three. The final workout in week eleven is an introductory to our demanding circuit workouts (Level IV).

By the end of the 12 weeks, they’re ready for our regular boot camp classes if they want to try them. They’ll have also completed at least one 5 K race (3.1 miles) for time, and several interval training workouts.

Another area that gets hit pretty hard is how to eat right. Diets typically fail, so what people need is to learn how to eat correctly. They’ll learn how the different foods are used in the body, and why we get fat.

Most women will learn they actually need to eat more than their eating. Guys will typically need to back off their portion sizes. Everyone usually needs to start making better choices.

One of the other benefits is how the weekly workouts and weigh-ins help people stay accountable. Something powerful happens when you get a bunch of people together, all working toward the same goal and all doing the same thing.

We’ve have people lose as much as 60 lbs in 12 weeks, but 30-40 lbs is more likely, if they do everything they’re supposed to. The vast majority of people lose 20-25 lbs, which is fine. We say that a pound a week is good. That’s twelve pounds by the end of the program. Two pounds a week is great (24 lbs), and three or more pounds is fantastic (36 lbs).

But this isn’t the TV show where people live on a ranch and don’t have to go to work or look after their kids. These people have real lives, real jobs, and have to find a way to get it done. And they’re not competing for a big prize. In fact, they’re not competing for a prize at all—except maybe getting their body back.

Biggest Loser “13” is open to anyone and you don’t have to be a member to participate. Half the people typically belong to the Y, Curves, or another facility. You probably need to be a member of a gym somewhere, though, because you’re going to need to get your workouts in.

The cost for Biggest Loser “13” is $50 per person which lets you participate in the weekly weigh-ins and workouts. You can sign up anytime, but you need to sign up before Friday the 24th. Come early to get weighed in so we can start promptly at 6:30 pm. This could be your time to get your body back—plenty of other people have, so you can too.

Monday, August 30, 2010


About 10 days ago I was mowing when I looked up to see a massive tractor on tracks coming down the lane pulling this enormous box scraper. It was a friend of mine named Scott Plummer who was there to start putting in a pond for us.

Coincidentally, the area I was mowing was the same place where the pond was going to be, which was great because the uneven ground bumps you all over the place. Formerly a bunch of scrub brush and scab trees, we knocked it down a few years back to start the process.

The first few years we lived there, we used to walk all over it dreaming. There was a small ravine with a couple of run-offs that converged in a low place just right for a pond. It took me a couple more years but finally I’d cut down all of the scab trees, leaving the bigger hickory trees.

It was kind of ugly, all those stumps sticking up the next couple years, but things take time, and we kept thinking about how nice it was going to be when we got the pond in. Finally we had a guy come and take out and bury the stumps, giving it a cleared but rough appearance.

That’s when I started mowing. All but this ugly center part, because there was a broken field tile in there somewhere that kept it pretty wet, so the ground started eroding, little by little each year. We also got a bunch of wetlands grass that stood around eight feet tall in the summer, along with a bunch of other varieties and even a couple trees that started growing back.

The ugly part slowly started taking over, a little more each year, so I’d keep mowing around it. Every time I mowed, the bumps would knock me all over the place, and I’d tell myself, “It won’t be long, and I won’t have to mow this anymore.”

When Scott told us he’d be there sometime in August to put in the pond, we got pretty excited. Now when I mowed, it was “just a couple more times” until finally, “this is the LAST time I’ve got to mow this!”

So you can imagine how I felt seeing him come down the lane with his big scraper, even bigger excavator and bulldozer! He wanted to do it while it was dry so he could work the ground better—plus we’d stand a good chance to see the pond start to fill in once the rains come later.

It was pretty entertaining, watching him work. We sat on the front porch with iced tea as he made trip after trip with the tractor pulling the scraper. He’d fill it up with clay from where the pond was going to be, and take it to the edge of the property where he was building the dam.

I mean it was hundreds of trips. After an hour or so, you could tell he’d built the dam up a little bit, but there was still a long way to go. But little by little, trip by trip, he kept scraping dirt from the bottom of the pond and moving it to the dam.

One afternoon he showed me how he used the laser to locate the edge of the pond, all the way around. It also showed him how high the dam had to be to hold the water. It was hard to get perspective until you actually went out and stood there.

Scott had to excavate a few more trees in a few places to make it all work, and shape the rest of the property so it would help drain into the pond. He used his excavator to haul the wood over to my wood cutting area and saved some of the stumps for the fish to use for nesting.

After about three days of moving dirt and clay and packing it down, we had about a two acre pond. The dam was now big enough to keep the water back, but with contours on each end to release water if it got too high.

Scott also found and released the water flow from the field tile coming in there, and viola, we had water. It’s still flowing 24 hours later, so I can’t wait until it rains and really gets going!

The water will be about fifteen to eighteen feet deep by the dam, with the rest of it gently tapered, especially up closer to the house, by the swimming area. It’s a very gentle grade down so you can just wade out there, with no big drop-offs. I mean this guy thought of everything.

He was telling me about grass carp, one of the species of fish we need to put in next year after it fills up. Apparently, you get about three of those guys, hybrids that are neutered (how do you neuter a fish?), and they’ll grow to around 2-3 feet and eat the algae and help keep the pond clean.

We learned about putting in some bluegill, bass and catfish, along with a bunch of little feeder fish, so they don’t eat each other. Then, once the bluegill get old enough to have their own babies, the bass will start eating them, and the pond will find it’s own balance.

One of the hickory trees we saved has a big branch that’s just perfect for a rope swing at the deep end of the pond. I was also thinking back to YMCA summer camp years ago where I’d swim out to a diving platform anchored out in the lake. Hmm.

As I sat out there on the swing each afternoon watching Scott work, it reminded me of a couple things about my job. First of all, when we needed help, we got an expert (maybe even an artist) with that excavator and scraper.

I would never try to tackle our “big dig” myself. I don’t have the tools or the knowledge. And people don’t need to try and figure out how to take all that weight off on their own. With a little help and the right equipment, it’s pretty easy (except for the hard work part).

It also occurred to me that just like Scott moving that dirt, taking the weight off is kind of like him taking another pass with that box scraper. That dirt’s not going to move unless he moves it. Likewise, you’ve got to show up and get your workout in. Get enough of them in and you’ll start scraping away at it.

In some cases, people want to tone up and put on some muscle. To me, it was like when Plummer was building the dam. It took some time before we could start to see it growing. After a while, though, it started taking shape, and finally, it became pretty robust.

And he kept working at it until it was exactly the way he wanted it. That’s how it is in the gym. You keep showing up, and keep chiseling away, until you’ve reshaped your body the way you want it.

I think back to how that ugly eroded part of the property had started taking over, each year getting more and more out of control. It’s the same thing with our weight. Take a break from working out, quit watching what you eat, and the next thing you know, you look down and discover you’re fat!

But now, with some expert help from Scott and his life-size Tonka toys, we’ve taken an eyesore and irritation, and turned it into something we’ll be able to use and enjoy for many years. It’s kind of like getting your body back. It takes some time, and it takes some work, but it’s definitely going to be worth it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


While I left home to come up and write this, Kathy stayed behind so she could continue scrubbing and spraying off the front porch. Over the past few months we’d been pretty busy dealing with other things, so it had gotten a little neglected.

Meanwhile, the spiders were weaving their webs and rolling their prey up in those little sticky balls. That green grime was starting to appear on the rails and decking, and there was quite a bit of dirt that had gotten blown in on the siding and up on the ceiling.

Now we’re usually pretty good about maintaining things. Just yesterday, we were putting some more paint on the walls in the center, and I’ve been busy doing trim at home to finally finish up a remodel job I started last year.

But sometimes, you get distracted. There’s always a lot to do, and in this case, the porches got left in the lurch. We actually started on the back porch last weekend after installing the last of 8 replacement outdoor lights on the back deck. Once again, it was spider balls everywhere.

So yesterday, Kathy finished it up, and this morning, I found her out front with her brush and soap bucket. She said she knew how much we used to like sitting out there and just had to clean it up. We’d gone through some tough times earlier in the year, and lots of things were just left undone.

Over the past four or five months, we’ve been working pretty hard to go back and fix things, and we’ve been knocking them out, one by one. When you’ve got a pretty long list, that’s the only way you can do it. Pick something and just jump in. When you finish it up, pick something else from the list and move on to the next one.

I remember when we first bought the property. It was just a mess of undeveloped trees and scrub brush. I guess I went a little crazy with the chainsaw and before we knew it, we had a couple acres of trees cut helter-skelter in every direction. It was like someone had just dumped a big box of giant tinker-toys.

It was pretty overwhelming. I cut up the trees and she dragged the brush to the burn pile. Lots of it. For days. Every weekend, that’s what we did. I cut, she dragged. She dragged, and I cut. Even in the winter. If I thought about how much there was to do, I’d get depressed.

The only way to handle it was to pick out an area to work on, and say “today, that’s how much I want to get done.” Then, we just hit it. At the end of the day, if we cleared that section, we felt pretty good.

Over the course of the fall and winter, we actually got it all cleared out and they were able to come in and remove the stumps and all of a sudden, we had a nice space for the house. Looking back, it doesn’t seem that bad.

Have you ever felt that way? When you’re in the soup it seems impossible to swim but later you realize you made it through O.K. I wish we had pictures of that mess of trees all piled up. We need to remember how we made it through the tough times, and who helped us through, too.

When we’re facing another big challenge, we’ll be able to say, “We’ve done tough things before, we can do this, too.” I think that’s why God told the Israelites to tell the stories to their children and their children’s children. He said to write it on their hearts. We need to remember.

You can’t let things get too bad before dealing with them. Ignoring little pains early can let bad things grow and fester that left unchecked, can be life threatening. Some forms of cancer are very treatable if you catch them early. But a lifetime of too much bad cholesterol can clog your arteries to the point where only bypass surgery will save you.

It’s the same way with relationships. If you quit talking, sooner or later, someone’s going to start walking. I’ve learned the hard way that burying old bones doesn’t keep them from coming back up. Sooner or later you’ve got to deal with them.

This year we’ve been so distracted that even the garden didn’t produce like it should have. We’ve focused so much time on us, making sure we were going out for walks, talking, and just spending time together, that the weeds took over the tomato plants.

Usually it’s a bumper crop with more tomatoes than we could ever hope to eat, can, or give away. Because of the lack of maintenance, the weeds stole the energy needed for our vegetables to thrive. But it’s better to have weeds in the garden than weeds in our hearts. Next year, things will be different.

I just spoke with someone in the gym. He said they’d been away for two weeks doing different things and now it’s almost like starting over. I told him that we really need to learn how to keep active when we’re traveling.

It’s not too hard if you plan for it. There are daily passes at gym memberships. Most YMCA’s let you attend free if you’re a member elsewhere. If nothing else, I’ll do pushups, sit-ups and body squats in the hotel. If they don’t have a workout room, there’s always walking or jogging outdoors.

But that won’t work if you’re not maintaining things already. It takes regular effort to keep things alive and even more work if you want things to thrive. And if you’ve neglected things for quite awhile, it can seem overwhelming.

But you can turn things around. Unhealthy hearts can become stronger. Gardens can grow again. Sometimes surgery is required, but hopefully you catch it in time. You’ve just got to dig in and get started.

Don’t let things get too out of control. Trust me on this. It’s much easier to nip things in the bud early. A little talk now can prevent heartache later. A little maintenance now can keep things running smoothly. A little exercise now will actually keep you running.

As for me, right now, I’m heading home to enjoy sitting on that nice clean front porch! Then, I’ll probably get on that baseboard trim. There’s work to be done!

Monday, August 16, 2010


This week one of our regulars named Nicole has been struggling with a shoulder/arm injury. She’s not sure quite how it happened. At first they thought it was a torn tricep. Now they’re leaning toward a slightly herniated disc in the cervical spine, which could put pressure on the nerves that feed the biceps and triceps.

She’s handling it pretty well, though. While it’s driving her nuts that she can’t participate in kickboxing, running or weight lifting, she’s determined to keep training by riding the bicycle for another week until her arm gets better.

Now it might sound like I’m talking about some elite athlete that does triathlons, but actually, I’m talking about a fairly regular gal that started exercising about 8 months ago. She’s had remarkable success since then, losing over 100 lbs to date.

I say fairly regular, because she’s just like the rest of us, but actually, she’s pretty extraordinary. Not only did she make it into the top 50% of people that didn’t quit after starting an exercise routine, she made it into the top 25% of people that never miss a workout.

She started a month before one of our Biggest Loser groups, to get a jump on things, and then did two Biggest Loser sessions in a row. Since then, she’s been doing cardio on her own, Kickboxing class on Mondays (a really barn burning workout), and coming into our Level 4 group workouts several times a week.

But with this injury to her shoulder/bicep area, she said she’s got to pull back to just the bicycle for awhile. “This is really putting a kink in my workouts!!!” I really like her attitude, though. She told me, “Oh well, guess this is one of those bumps in the road I’ve got to overcome, and I WILL!!!”

Is there any doubt that Nicole will continue to reach her goal? Even with a week of being limited in what she could do, she still lost another 5.6 lbs! Where once it worked against her, now her body is working for her—even when she can’t do quite as much until her arm heals up.

Think of it. Losing 100 lbs. If that’s difficult, come in to the gym sometime and I’ll have you pick up 100 lbs and walk around with it for a little bit. Just walking for a couple minutes carrying two 50 lb dumbbells is beyond most people’s grasp.

I’ve got a 40 lb backpack we use for adding weights to pull-ups and dips. What can be a tough exercise anyway becomes VERY difficult with that pack on. One time I put it on and walked a mile on the treadmill, just to see how it felt. That was just 40 lbs.

The first half mile wasn’t too bad, although I could feel the weight pulling down on my shoulders and back. By the end of the mile, the weight was getting heavy, and my breathing was getting a little labored—and I’m in pretty good shape.

I’ve got friends in the military that do forced marches with 50 lb rucksacks. They’ve got my respect. Imagine doing that with 100 lbs. That’s what Nicole had to do when she first started working out. No wonder half the people quit!

If you’re overweight, think of all the extra weight your frame has to support. It’s kind of like overloading an elevator. It might not snap and crash this time, but it can’t be good either. It’s no wonder that people complain of pain in their joints and back. Or that their muscles get sore. But it’s not just carrying around the extra weight.

When you’re morbidly obese, all that extra fat is actually pressing in on your lungs and other organs, making it difficult to breathe, so you can’t get enough oxygen—literally smothering you. And if you do get a decent breath, your heart has to pump that blood and oxygen through all those miles of extra blood vessels, making it work way harder than it should have to.

Now imagine walking around that way but then being able to throw 100 lbs off. How would it feel? What would it be like to not have to carry that weight around? How would your heart be working? How would your muscles and skeleton feel?

Before, your metabolism would be running slowly, but now, due to all that exercise and more muscle mass, it’s soaring right along. That’s why even though she hasn’t been able to do as much, Nicole still lost 5.6 lbs! Now, her body is working for her.

It is, too. You should see her doing the workouts. It’s like seeing freedom at work. I know how she feels. It used to be that I couldn’t run without having a serious asthma attack. Now, with the new asthma meds, I can run like the wind. OK, like a small breeze.

Folks, there’s freedom here. Figure out what you’ve got to do, make a decision like Nicole did—to just get started. Make up your mind, and then do it. Get started. Keep doing it. When it’s tough, do what you can. Work around things. You’re going to hurt. But you’re going to hurt more, later, if you don’t do it.

I’m sure Nicole would tell you that if she can do it, you can do it. But maybe not. After all, this pretty regular person is pretty extraordinary. So what about you? What are you going to do?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I was watching one of our cats the other night. He’s the spitting image of an older cat we have called Sylvester. Since this one follows him around like a little buddy, we decided to call him Buddy.

One night last week, I noticed Buddy just lying there by the water bowl. That was a little unusual. Typically they come over, get a drink of water, and then go find something to do.

But he wasn’t moving and it looked like he was staring at the cupboard. He stayed that way for a couple hours. As it turns out, there was a mouse in there. When it finally came out another way, he found it, caught it, and…well, you know the rest of the story.

Now Buddy wasn’t that hungry because he’s always sticking his nose in the food bowl. What he had, though, was a genetic need to find and pursue prey. Those cats are all pretty loving, but if we were little, we’d be cat food.

They can’t help themselves. Put a small rabbit in front of them and they’re gonna drag it home. It’s the same thing with a bird that doesn’t get away in time, or in this case, our little house mouse.

Another cat named Jack likes to sit near the edge of the lawn by the field. He likes it at dusk, or even right after dark. We’ll go out for a walk and there he is, like clockwork. The other two cats have their own routines.

What impresses me is their commitment to the idea. They are dedicated. Buddy’s still a kitten really, and he’s usually all over the place, getting into everything. But that night he was so patient, he waited until the little guy showed his nose. Then he lowered the boom.

And Jack never misses a night. He’s a hunter and knows it. Prowling and growling. We need to be more like cats.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that half the people quit after starting working out. That’s a real shame, because if you need to lose weight, you need to increase your activity—not decrease it.

What’s interesting is that of the 50% left over, about half of them NEVER miss! Or if they do, it kills them. They are so dedicated that you can set your clock by them. They’re typically the ones who are at or near their ideal weight, or well on their way to it.

They’re like Buddy and Jack in their mousing. They’re consistent in their approach, always persistent, and they’re completely dedicated to the idea. It takes high priority in their life and is part of their regular routine.

That’s what you need if you want to turn things around. Half measures generally don’t get the job done. They just get you halfway there. It’s why they call them half measures.

If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, stop smoking, make repairs, or anything else you’d like to do, it’s going to take a little bit more than half measures. Figure out exactly what it is you want, and then write it down, or even tell others so now you’re on the spot about it.

Then break it down into measurable smaller goals—like a weekly weigh-in. Figure out a schedule that is consistent. Every day at such and such time, this is what you’ll be doing. Don’t deviate—no exceptions, no excuses.

Finally, you’ve just got to get start. I mean really. Just get started. Many people never get past the dreaming stage. If you want to get something done, you’ve actually got to do it.

Once you’ve gotten started, take a lesson from Buddy and Jack. You’ve got to be consistent. You’ve got to be persistent. You’ve got to be dedicated. If you can learn how to make it your mission in life, I promise you’ll get it done. Now get out there and get going!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


One of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves is engage in competition. It helps our country too. Competition to provide goods and services is what drives our economy. Competition can also drive our quest to get and stay in better shape.

But sometimes competition can get a bad rap. You’ve probably heard stories about some school programs that have begun to de-emphasize competition in the classroom, to level the playing field. The theory is it’s bad for kids to be told they’re “average.” It’s too much of a blow to their self-esteem.

Well, getting a “C” might affect their self-esteem, but what about the kids that are above average, or even at the top of their class? They deserve the recognition for all their hard work.

Frankly, getting a low grade or two might provide a little motivation and incentive for the kid that has the ability but needs to pick it up. If the grade itself doesn’t do it, I’ll bet the parents could find a way to light a fire under their butt.

Life is full of selection, and if you want to be selected, you need to be near the top. That shows you’re capable, and willing to work hard. One way competition can get out of hand though, is in youth sports. We’ve all heard the parent take it just a little too far on the soccer field or ball diamond. And I think sometimes kids can get a little too disappointed when it doesn’t go their way. Winning is good, but it isn’t everything.

It’s the process that matters, where kids learn how to push themselves beyond their limits, and how to focus on a task. It’s learning how to try hard, and sometimes, how to live with disappointment.

In the end, if you did your best, that’s pretty good. If it was good enough to come out on top—sweet! But if you come up a little short, what’s wrong with celebrating the effort of the other guys?

I’ve learned much more from my losses than from my wins. Sure, I had some 1st place finishes back when I was competing hot and heavy in Taekwondo and Jiu Jitsu tournaments. But I had many more 2nd and 3rd place finishes.

For one thing, if they beat me, they were pretty amazing, and I always appreciated that. It’s hard to argue with excellence. The other thing is that I always treated it like an education. What could I take home to work on that would make me stronger the next time?

That doesn’t mean I wasn’t trying to win. With a competition coming up, we’d intensify our efforts. That went a long way to keep us training, and training hard—which provided other benefits.

The one time I had a shot at 1st place in a national tournament was at Disney World some years back. I was surprised I made the finals and guess I focused a little too much on attacking and trying to win. As a result, a spinning hook kick knocked me into 2nd place and left me with a broken nose and my right cheek broken in two places.

When it happened, I just kind of sat down because I knew it was over. When the referee asked me if I could go on, I didn’t want to say I quit, so all I could think of was “I resign.” Later, I realized that I was probably in shock due to the injuries.

As a result of that match, and a couple other injuries, the national Master’s council decided to make face shields mandatory, and now thousands of kids and adults have a little extra protection. Sometimes I wonder if we’re all a little lazier about blocking now, knowing we have that shield, but I guess it’s better than a kick in the head!

I’m always encouraging people to sign up for different 5 K races, half or full marathons (depending on their capabilities), trail runs and bike rides. It’s not so they’ll win the event, because that’s usually pretty unlikely for people new to running or riding. It’s because they’ll have to train for the event, and that will keep them focused.

Then, during the race, they’ll always push a little harder, because others are pushing too. It’s also quite inspiring, when you see others that are better than you. Of course, it can also be a little demoralizing so you need to keep perspective.

I remember my second marathon. The first one was a disaster with a knee injury. The second one was only a little better and I was at about mile 25, just kind of plugging along, when I heard “How you doing honey?”

As that registered, this sweet older lady caught up to me. She must have been at least 65, possibly 70. I told her I was fine, but that it was pretty tough. She slapped me on the shoulder and said, “That’s O.K. Sweety, we can do it” and took off!

I tried my best but she pulled away from me and finished a couple minutes ahead of me. I came to find out was that she’d been running for years and does a bunch of races every season. But for a couple years, anytime I was out training, I thought of grandma.

Even when we’re competing with others, we’re really competing with ourselves. We’re trying to bring out our best performance. If we can learn how to live up to our true potential, that’s when we really become winners!

Monday, July 26, 2010


No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, one of the most important tools you have is accountability. Whether it’s a new goal you’re working on, or you're trying to fix that same old problem, the difference between success and failure is often how accountable you are.

Accountability means that you have to answer to someone. At work, this usually is a direct supervisor, but often you can have others you are accountable to as well, like a board of directors, a city board, county board, and so on.

Even elected officials are accountable—to you, at the ballot box. If they make you mad enough, you’ll give your vote to someone else. If enough people don’t like the situation, that accountability will get them voted out of office.

But the flip side is true, too. Here’s where accountability is a blessing. If enough people like what they’ve done, they’ll get re-elected.

If you’re self-employed, you’re really accountable to your customers. It means you take things seriously when people have a complaint or suggestion. And you try to be proactive when you can.

That’s one reason we’re continually trying to improve things, like putting fresh paint on a wall, moving equipment around, or even removing a wall to make a room bigger. Or getting a couple more treadmills because you’ve noticed the cardio room is getting pretty crowded at times.

Accountability is also important in relationships. When things are going great, we get accustomed to it and start taking things for granted. But then when things start going wrong, if you don’t have a system in place to talk things over, they can go downhill pretty fast.

Here’s where friends and family members need to stick their nose in. While at first it might be unwelcome, sometimes it’s necessary. And while it’s uncomfortable telling someone what you think about what they’re doing, it’s better than just watching them go down the tubes.

Later if they come to their senses, they’ll appreciate what you tried to do for them. And if they don’t make it through, at least you’ll know you did everything you could. It’s tough on everybody, because this is tough stuff, but you can survive it.

I can tell you this from personal experience. Circumstances, desire, and other factors can work together to create a “perfect storm” that leads to a moment of insanity which is the turning point. Then you have to justify things to yourself and others.

Little things become big things, up is down, black is white, wrong becomes right. Before you know it, you find yourself in an entirely different place than you ever thought possible.
Left unchecked, it’s easy to make a mess of things. It doesn’t take long for things to get out of hand, trust me on this. I lacked accountability.

But even then, redemption is possible. And accountability can play a role here too. If you’ve broken trust with someone, only complete, open accountability will demonstrate your intent to repair the breach and turn things around. If anything remains hidden, it won’t work.

Accountability here can work for you too. As you’re seen doing the right thing and making better choices every day, you can start to rebuild those bonds that were broken.

So what does this have to do with exercise? It’s got everything to do with exercise, especially if you’re overweight. Did you know that it’s possible to “have an affair” with food? If you’ve ever left a trail of cookie crumbs across the counter at two in the morning, you know what I’m talking about.

And how many times have you tried to lose the weight, only to just put it back on, perhaps greater than before? I know several people who’ve lost 100 lbs and gained it all back. One told me he just quit working out and went back to eating whatever he wanted to. He lacked discipline, but he also lacked accountability.

When I went through the academy to become a part-time police officer, I learned one of the prime functions of law enforcement was police presence. And when I was working, my mentor Ray was always telling me that the vast majority of policing was just being seen, and I found it to be true.

Think about it. If you find yourself going just a little too fast, what do most people do as soon as they even see a police car? Slow down. While many people wouldn’t even think of breaking the law, the potential for a ticket or even arrest keeps us all honest. That’s accountability.

But what would happen if we just took away all those laws, along with the people who enforce them? The strong but immoral would prey on the rest. It would become the Wild West all over again.

That’s what happens when someone lost the weight but then doesn’t have the structure and accountability anymore. Their stronger desire overcomes their weaker will, and you can see what can happen then.

This summer we’re not doing the Biggest Loser, but it occurred to me that we still can help make a difference. I can’t drag them into the gym, but I can help the ones that are coming with accountability.

That’s why we’ve started a weekly weigh-in for the summer that’s posted conspicuously. There are no prizes, no accolades. Just names, last week’s weight, and this week’s weigh-in. If people want to opt in, all they have to do is give me their weight each week.

This should prove to provide some accountability for them. Is it that other people are going to see it? Perhaps, but I don’t think that’s the main thing. Really, it’s just like making sure I talk to my wife when things are bothering me, or all of us slowing down when we see a police car.

That regular weigh-in should help to serve the same purpose—it will force them to take a hard look at how things are going. And that accountability may just help keep them on track.

Now, you don’t have to be a member to take advantage of this idea. Tell someone else what you want to accomplish, and set up a weekly check-in with them. Write down the progress you’re making—or not making. Talk it over each week and stay focused. Good luck!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Well, with Biggest Loser ending last week, I don’t have anyone to talk about, so I guess I’m going to have to talk about myself—at least this time. I hope something interesting will happen next week so you won’t have to put up with this too often!

Lately, I’ve been messing around with a little cross-training with a ¾ mile trail run and a 2 ½ mile bike loop. It takes me about 18:30 to do one trail run and one bike loop. So far, the most loops I’ve done in a row have been four, which took just under 75 minutes last Sunday afternoon. It was a nice workout. I was able to keep moving the whole time.

The trail loop has a bunch of small hills that gas you pretty quickly, and I do the bike loop on my mountain bike to get a little extra resistance. It’s heavier than my road bike, and has those big old tires, so it’s more of a workout, which is just fine on these short rides.

If I don’t have a lot of time, I’ll just run four laps, which is 3 miles. It’s nice because it’s softer than the road, and it has those hills to add a little fun to the run. Yesterday, I just ran and rode 2 circuits—half of what I did last wee—so it takes about half the time.

But when the heat index really gets up there, it’s tough to push myself out the door. Fortunately, I have access to a bunch of treadmills, bikes and ellipticals, so I can always get my cardio workout inside where it’s cool.

It’s not nearly as fun or interesting though. In fact, I pretty much hate running inside. The only time I don’t mind it is in the winter, when I hate running outside. Then, it’s too cold for me.

Now I know some really serious runners who have the special cold weather gear, but I’ve just never liked going out there. I’m not crazy about shoveling the sidewalk, much less trying to get out there and run a few miles.

So in the winter, you’ll see me on the treadmill. That works for me, especially on Sundays during football. Sometimes, I’ll even run the entire game. It’s interesting enough that I’ll forget about the running—kind of.

But today, it was really hot outside (I know, I’m a whiner), so I surrendered. That’s right. It was so hot, that even me, Mr. Trainer guy didn’t really feel like doing the run outside, so I jumped on the elliptical.

That was O.K. though, because it felt a little different, and used the muscles in a slightly different way, so that makes it kind of interesting. It reminded me of when we first got the center and I just about wore the ellipticals out. That was before I fell in love with running
So now, a little cross-training is just fine. You see, it really doesn’t matter what you do. What matters is that you just do something. It helps if you kind of like doing it. That’s never been a problem for me.

Someone asked me the other day if I just didn’t want to work out. I thought about it for a little bit and had to say “no, not really.” I can’t wait to workout. I think it’s because I was pretty sick as a kid. Back then, they didn’t have much help for serious asthmatics, so I wasn’t allowed to do anything strenuous.

The other kids would be mad that I “got” to sit on the side-lines during gym class, but all I ever wanted to do was get out there with them. Later, I got into martial arts and working out so much that I ended up getting a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology.

I still fought the asthma, though, even as an adult. I’d compete in martial arts events, like sparring and grappling, but I’d always have to hold back a little bit—and even then, I’d probably have an asthma attack. Then I’d have to use my rescue inhaler.

If that wasn’t enough, I had a breathing machine. If that wasn’t enough, I’d have to go to the hospital for a shot of adrenaline and breathing treatments which happened frequently.

I’ve probably used thousands of inhalers. But about seven years ago, they came out with new medicine that blocks the triggers that cause attacks. That was a life changer. Now, I can turn it up as much as I want, and I don’t even need to carry a rescue inhaler. I do take a small breathing machine with me when I’m traveling—just in case—but I very rarely need it.

It’s kind of ironic. Now that I can finally work out as hard as I want, since I’m getting older, my body doesn’t recover quite as well as it used to! So now I can run like the wind, but it hurts like hell later. Go figure.

After a lot of messing around with all kinds of different exercise programs, I’ve kind of realized that I’m happy if I just get to get my workout in. If it’s kind of tough, I like it. If it’s really tough, I love it, but pay for it later. So I just try to keep it kind of tough. That gives me a challenge, keeps it interesting, and helps keep me in shape.

I also get quite a kick out of working with everybody at the gym. There are lots of different people. Some need to lose a lot of weight, some just a little bit. Some want to get in better shape so they can do more things. Others are trying to improve their sports performance.

Right now I’ve got a bunch of sixth and seventh grade basketball players doing my morning workout three days a week. They’re a hoot. First of all, they’re kids, so they can do just about anything. Second, they’re really quite funny, and it’s a nice way to start the day.

What I really like is how they’re kind of like blank slates. It’s nice to know I have the chance to write things on their hearts and minds that could stay with them for a long time, perhaps all their life.

Things like “work hard and it will pay off later.” And “you can always do more than you think you can do.” These are concepts that will help them now in sport, but also help them a lot, later in life!

When I was their age, I couldn’t do what they’re doing. It would have killed me—literally. Now not only can I do it, but I’m teaching others. I’m pretty grateful, and think God must have quite a sense of humor. It’s nice to have a second chance at things.

Last year, I started tracking how many miles I ran, and this year, decided to just lump all my miles together, whether they were running, walking, on the bike, elliptical, or whatever. As long as I did them, they counted.

After the quick 30 minute workout on the elliptical today, I logged nine miles. Well, it said 18 miles, but I know that can’t be true, because these particular machines way overestimate your actual usage, in both calories and miles. So I only take credit for half-miles on it.

Still, 9 miles put me over the top at 1,001 miles for the year, which was my original goal. I was a little miffed because I really wanted to do it running. But that’s O.K. It’s been only a little over half a year and it got me thinking. What about 2,000? Or even, 2010 in 2010. Hmm…

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This week marks the end of Biggest Loser “12.” It’s hard to believe we’ve done 12 of them, but here we are. With interest waning a little bit, I think we’re going to take the rest of the summer off and pick it back up in the fall.

Out of the original 28 people, just 6 made the final weigh-in. This is a much lower percentage than normal. Typically, we see about a 50-55% drop out rate for various reasons. I’m not sure why it’s higher than normal, since the workouts were exactly the same as last time.

We’ve had BL in the summer before too, so I’m not sure that’s the reason either. Perhaps it’s just a busier summer this year. While no one had an amazing run with weight loss over the 12 weeks, there were some very respectable losses. What I’m most proud of is the way the remaining participants pushed themselves.

Everyone improved in their one minute pushups, one minute sit-ups, and all but one posted improved 5 K times. In some cases, the improvements were dramatic, like Janice Johnson taking 4 minutes and Michelle Clark taking almost 3 minutes off their 5 K times. That was a reflection of all the hard work they put in over the 12 weeks.

If they can keep it up, I’m confident that they’ll continue to make progress toward their goal. Once they reach it, they can then transition into a maintenance mode. It’s much easier to maintain than it is to lose the weight, but even that will require them to be vigilant.

I’ve seen way too many people take off the weight, but then get lazy and stop working out. They also go back to eating the old way, and guess what? The weight comes back on, faster than ever, and often times, they’ll end up even heavier.

That’s no way to live. The secret is to find a balance and stay active while eating right and in moderation. You still have the same choices to make every day. Something you may not know is that when you lose weight, you burn the fat from out of the fat cell, but you still have the fat cell!

They’re still sitting there, kind of shrink-wrapped and much smaller, but they’re there, waiting for you to screw up. If you consume more calories than you burn in a given day, the excess calories will be converted to fat and stored—you guessed it—right back in those same fat cells.

This is one reason why experts get very concerned about obesity in our youth. Studies show that if they still have the weight into their teen years, they are almost certain to struggle with obesity all their life.

We need to set our kids up for success and get them moving early. If they’re already lean, great. It will keep them that way. If they’re a little overweight, getting them exercising daily could well change the pattern of their life.

Of course we need to help them make better food choices, too, primarily by helping them avoid all the junk food. And just like with adults, you can’t go wrong by focusing on more whole-grains and lots of fruits and vegetables.

This group knows what to do, and their results show it. The winner for week 12 was Cheryl Clark who lost 4.8 lbs and 2.5% of her body weight. Second place went to Michelle Clark who lost 2.2 lbs and 1.5%. Nicole Clodfelter placed third, losing 3.0 lbs and 1.2%.

The overall winner for Biggest Loser “12” was Michelle Clark, who lost 13.9% of her body weight and 23.2 lbs in the 12 weeks. Cheryl Clark placed second overall, by losing 11.6% and 24.6 lbs. Nicole Clodfelter was third overall, losing 10.1% and 27.0 lbs. Janice Johnson finished in 4th place, losing 7.7% and 18.2 lbs. Karen Brown was 5th, losing 5.9% and 13.4 lbs. Brittany Brown was 6th, losing 2.1% and 3.0 lbs.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


This week it was time to take things up to the next level. When people start training in Biggest Loser, they start with Level I activities. These are basic movements like walking, biking, using the elliptical machines and simple weight lifting exercises on the machines.

By month two, they’ve built some strength and endurance and are ready to advance to Level II activities like light jogging and basic free weight movements. Changing it up will keep their body guessing, and keep them losing weight.

By month three, they’re ready to start high intensity interval training with their cardio, and also start learning more advanced ways to lift weights. For details about these programs, see the previous articles for the last few weeks on the blog.

Before we finish the twelve weeks, I always like to introduce them to Level IV training, which is the most dynamic (and grueling), and perhaps, the most fun. This type of training was initially developed to help people achieve their athletic potential, which I use with young athletes all the time.

It turns out that regular folks like to train that way too. Originally, I was just doing the workouts with my son in the morning. I was doing it to get in shape for grappling tournaments. Several years ago, some people saw us and wanted to join in, so we started a morning group.

Then, some others asked if we could do it at noon. So we had two groups doing the Level IV boot camp style workouts twice a day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Finally, at the end of an earlier Biggest Loser—I think it was BL 4, some of them asked me if we could do an afternoon group, so we started a 5:30 group too. That turned into the biggest group of all, and it’s been going ever since.

I think that people like having someone push them. I think they also like a challenge. They never know what they’re going to do in the workout, because they’re different every time. It’s also nice to know that they’re not the only one suffering through the workout!

So this time, at the end of week eleven, the Biggest Loser workout was an introduction to Level IV. I had four stations set up (usually I do five or more). The objective is to work for about a minute at station one, and then move to station two, and so on.

The first exercise was Wall Ball, where you squat down while holding a 10-20 lb soft ball on your shoulders. As you push back to a standing position, you toss the ball overhead up on the wall, and then catch it before doing another squat, and so on. You do this the entire minute.

It sounds easy, but quickly gets very difficult. The reason is that you’re using your entire body, and performing several different movements at the same time. This is called a compound exercise (squat and shoulder press).

Compound exercises use more muscles so they significantly increase the oxygen demands placed on your body. This makes the strength training workout a cardio workout too. It also burns a ton of calories!

The second exercise for the group was standing alternating Bicep Curls with dumbbells. This is a single joint exercise, and was used to give them a slight break for a minute, but still keep them moving. It also hit their pulling muscles (previously they used lower body and pushing muscles).

Movement three was Kettle-Ball swings. This is a great full-body movement where you hold a kettle-ball (basically an iron ball with a handle) and squat down swinging it between your legs and then back overhead until your arms are straight. Then you let the weight swing back down and repeat the movement. It’s tough!

The final exercise was our basic Abs Routine #1-5. For the first round they did crunches with their knees bent and feet on the floor. In the second round, they did crunches with their legs up in the air. In the third round, they did crunches with one leg crossed, and the other side in round four. For the fifth round, they did leg lifts. Each exercise hits the abs in a different area, and it also gave them a little break for a minute.

So they had four minute-long exercises and five rounds, for a total of twenty minutes. It sounds easy, and even feels easy for the first round or two. But by the third and fourth round, you know you’re in for something, and in round five, you’re just trying to hold.

If you’re new to this type of training, you can modify the intensity by using lighter weights, and stopping after just 30 or 45 seconds. This will give you a longer break between exercises. After awhile, though, you won’t need the break. Don’t forget to take a little drink of water between rounds. Good luck!

This week’s winner was Cheryl Clark, who lost 1.8 lbs and has lost 19.8 lbs overall so far. Michelle Clark placed second, losing 1.9 lbs. She’s lost 21.0 lbs to date. Janice Johnson was third, losing 1.4 lbs this week, and 17.4 lbs overall so far.

Nicole Clodfelter placed fourth, losing 1.0 lb and has lost 24.0 lbs overall in the past 11 weeks. She’s also an interesting story. To date, she’s lost 98.6 lbs and is just 1.4 lbs away from her initial goal of losing 100 lbs. She’d lost 14 lbs before coming in, and has lost the other 84.6 lbs in just 7 months here at the gym.

She says her biggest challenge is sticking with it, because some days she doesn’t feel like coming in and working out. She says she needs to “just do it.” Her biggest surprise so far is being able to run. At 36, that’s pretty cool because she hasn’t been able to run since high school.

After 7 months and two Biggest Losers, Nicole says she’s ready to try it on her own. She thinks the Level IV classes will help keep her motivated. She’d like to lose 50 more pounds, and I’m sure she’ll be successful. Way to go Nicole!