Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Two weeks have come and gone for Biggest Losers “10” and “11” as well as most of January. Have you gotten started with your own program yet? With the Biggest Losers, our whole focus last week was simply to get everyone moving, and I think that went pretty well.

All but two of the 53 participants made the 1st weigh-in, and most everyone also made the workout. After a week of getting familiar with the machines and cardio equipment, their weekly workout was still pretty tough: 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 body squats, and 10 sit-ups.

After finishing all 50 of those, they did three rounds of 30 seconds of grappling (trying to muscle their partner around), partner pushups, and partner sit-ups. This was definitely the most fun, and there were a lot of laughs during those rounds.

This week, we lost one, and four others missed the weigh-in. In the workout, they did 4 rounds of 15 pushups, sit-ups and squats, for a total of 60 reps. They also did walking lunges, side-stepping squats, and the monkey walk, finishing with partner sit-ups, partner squats, and the dreaded one minute plank!

They were also supposed to focus on how much they were eating. They used a calorie log to track everything they ate during the day. If they didn’t know the calories from the box or packages, they looked it up on the internet at sites like www.calorieking.com .

They were also supposed to go to www.tomdolanfitness.com and plug in their height, weight, age, gender, and body fat. Then it would calculate their minimum number of calories they needed to get through the day. It also helped them set a target number.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that women never go below 1,200 calories. But we’ve found that most women do better if they eat just a little more. If they can stay between 1,500 and 1,650 calories/day, they’ll usually feel better—and still lose the weight.

Men need to stay above 1,800 calories for their minimum, but they usually feel better if they’ll stick around 2,400 calories/day. That’s usually more than enough food to satisfy them, but just about the right amount to lose weight if they’re active.

We also talked about how to eat right. It sounds silly, but eating right is almost a lost art these days. With all the junk food, fast food, and goofy diet’s out there, it’s tough putting the right foods into our bodies.

Good Protein sources include: Fish, Poultry (chicken & turkey), Meat (beef & pork), Low-fat Dairy (Milk, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Eggs, and Cheese), some Beans, and Nuts. Most people don’t get enough protein in their diet. Women need about 3-4 oz at every meal; men need 5-6 oz.

Good sources of Starch include Whole Grain Breads & Cereals, Pasta, Rice, Regular Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, some Beans, and Oats & Oatmeal. We typically eat too much starch at our meals, and whatever we don’t burn for energy will be stored as fat. Try to limit yourself to one starch per meal. If you’re diabetic, be extra careful with these, and check with your doctor.

The last category is Fruits & Greens, and they’re naturally low in calories—even bananas top out around at only 130 calories. Greens (vegetables) are low in calories due to their high fiber content. We don’t eat nearly enough of either, which is too bad because they’re so high in vitamins and minerals and we get a great quick energy boost from the fruits!

The one category not covered already, is fats. These are easy to deal with. If you’re avoiding junk foods, and eating low fat dairy, fish, nuts, and trimming the fat off meat & poultry, all you really need to do is add an Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplement. These are easy to find. I like the Omega Complex which has Omega-3, -6 and -9 in good proportions, and it’s pretty inexpensive.

The winner this week for the Friday night group in Biggest Loser “10” was Scott Block, who lost 2.4% of his body weight and 5.6 lbs. Heather Gill was 2nd, losing 2.3% and 3.4 lbs. Donnie Bartos and Danielle Foley tied for 3rd place, losing 2.2% and 4.4 lbs, and 3.4 lbs, respectively. Sheri Tyler and Shawn Bowers tied for 5th place, losing 2.1%. Sheri lost 4.6 lbs and Shawn dropped 6.2 lbs.

The winner for the Saturday group in Biggest Loser “11” was Scott Dosch, who lost 3.3% of his body weight and 8.8 lbs. Brad Adams was 2nd, losing 2.3% and 5.5 lbs. Jennifer Bowers lost 1.5% and 3.0 lbs for 3rd place. Dawn Stewart scored 4th, losing 1.4% and 2.9 lbs, and Melissa White placed 5th, losing 1.3% and 1.8 lbs.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Well we’re at it again. After a couple week layoff, 28 people started Biggest Loser “10” on Friday nights, and 24 people started Biggest Loser “11” on Saturday mornings. I think having two different groups is going to prove to be interesting.

After the initial weigh-in last week, the goal this week was to get them moving. I always get excited to start with a large group, even though I know that half of them probably won’t be there at the end. Perhaps with the New Year and resolutions and all that, we’ll keep more of them.

It’s just that so many people start things that they don’t finish. I think it’s cultural. Kids these days have so many activities and it’s good to let them try different things. There’s something to be said, though, for letting them focus on something and get really good at it. And also to keep trying, until you get what you want.

If I can use myself as an example, when I was young, I had severe asthma (still do) and my parents put me in music lessons (piano, violin, and drums) because I was unable to participate in sports or P.E. classes. Back then they didn’t have the medicines that they have now.

I did classical piano from a very early age, and added some jazz and lots of pop/rock later. My parents sent me to jazz camps for piano, and even orchestra camps for violin. My life pretty much revolved around music.

Later in life, I started writing songs and going to song-writing seminars. After writing some clunkers, I started getting some good results and even got two songs in the finals up in Canada back in 2004.

That was cool because I got to go up to a college up in Alberta in the dead of winter (man was it cold), and sing both songs in front of a bunch of other wannabees like me, and some industry professionals who were there to critique us. I came in second, but less than a year later, was recording my first “real” set of songs down in Nashville, TN in a “real” studio with some top musicians and engineers. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

In 2005, we released “Leaving Egypt” and three songs went to radio for a little while. One, called “Don’t Turn Away” actually did pretty well in Canada, and I’m still getting some royalties from up there, and believe it or not, South Africa.

By the way, if you’d like to hear the three songs that went to radio, “Don’t Turn Away”, “Someday”, and “Calling”, you can get them free. They’re available for free download, along with all the other ten tracks from “Leaving Egypt” and the follow-up group of ten songs from “Canaan” on my website: www.tomdolanmusic.com .

There’s also a fitness calculator that tells you how much you need to eat, along with my blog, which is basically these weekly articles, going back several years. Feel free to check them out.

I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed when the songs didn’t stick around long enough to “chart” so we weren’t able to push them into stores. After “Leaving Egypt” I was thinking that would be the last time.

Not only was it expensive, but it was an emotional roller coaster. Even though 350 radio stations played the songs, it still felt like a failure. None of the songs charted, and after about 100 concerts for the CD, it ran its course. Since then, I’ve realized that’s pretty normal, especially for new independent artists.

But in the next two years, while I was focusing on teaching fitness and martial arts here at home, I started hearing some new music in my head. I’d see things and have to write about them, and then I’d get some melodies.

Sometimes I’d just be practicing the piano or guitar, and they’d come to me. After I had a bunch of songs, I finally had the urge to call my producer in TN and arranged to go down and let him hear the songs. He felt we had enough for a CD, so we put “Canaan” together.

I didn’t try to push any of those songs to radio because I was still trying to pay off the first mess. As a result, there weren’t many concerts either, but I’m still pretty happy with how the songs turned out. A couple of them really seemed to touch people when they heard them. Again, though, I really thought I was done with that part of my life.

As it turns out, I wasn’t. Something in me made me keep playing, if only in my office or in church on Sunday mornings. But every now and then I’d hear something—a melody, or a cool phrase would pop into my head. It’s almost like the pressure builds and then you finally just have to do something about it.

So, I started the process to track three new ones. This time, I’m going to do it differently. When they’re done, I’m going to put them up on the website free—I’m not even going to wait until I have enough for a CD. Heck, I might not even do a whole CD, but these three—they’re pretty good, and I just couldn’t wait to hear them.

The three songs are: “Carry On”, “Hiding Place”, and “It takes a Hero”, which is a great tribute to the folks of 9-1-1, and Iraq. The tracks sound great, and I’m hoping to go down and cut vocals sometime soon. Then, we’ll get them mixed, mastered, and put them up on the website.

What’s the point to all this, and how does it relate to fitness? Well, if you want to get your music out there, you’ve got to be pretty persistent, in light of all the obstacles (which are many). It’s the same thing with getting your body back. It’s hard, it takes time, there are disappointments along the way, but if you really work at it, you can get what you want.

That’s what these two new groups need to do as they begin the process in Biggest Loser “10” and “11.” They’ve gotten started. Now they need to learn how to stick with it. To make it something they get good at. It needs to become a lifestyle. If they can learn how to do that, not only will they last the twelve weeks, but their success can last a lifetime.

We had some great numbers at the end of Week One. There’s a lot of excitement, and I think the groups are highly motivated, but they need to remember that it’s the trend over time that matters. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see numbers like this next week.

The winner Friday night was Judy Rush, who lost 4.2% of her body weight and 8.0 lbs. 2nd place went to Whitney Stepp, who lost 3.8% of her body weight and an amazing 9.4 lbs. In 3rd place, was Sherry Carr, who lost 3.6% of her body weight and 8.0 lbs. Donnie Bartos took 4th place, losing 3.4% of his body weight and 7.0 lbs, and Scot Grimes finished in 5th place, losing 3.3% of his body weight and 9.0 lbs.

Saturday morning Jennifer Bowers and Dale Rasmussen tied for 1st place, losing 2.2% of their body weight. Jen lost 4.6 lbs and Dale lost 5.8 lbs. 3rd place went to Shelly Harper, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 4.4 lbs. Cheri Dosch placed 4th, losing 1.9% of her body weight and 4.4 lbs. Kim Grimes finished 5th, losing 1.8% of her body weight and 4.2 lbs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This makes the second week of the New Year. So have you gotten started? Have you put your plans in motion yet? It’s amazing how quickly time passes. If you wait much longer, January will have come and gone.

We’ve seen the usual increase in people making those New Year’s resolutions. It’s always exciting to help people get started on a new health and wellness program. My advice to them is to spend the first week just getting moving.

If they can start creating some good habits and get in all their workouts, they’ll get off to a great start. One example is our local sportswriter and coach, and Biggest Loser participant, Scott Dosch, who’s posted a loss of 9.0 lbs in his first week, and that’s before we even started!

That’s the same goal we have for the 28 people who started Biggest Loser “10” which met for the first time Friday night. Another 22 more started Biggest Loser “11” which just met Saturday morning. All 50 are embarking on a 12 week program designed to get them moving the first week.

They did their initial weigh-in, and a couple fitness tests. First they did as many pushups as they could in a minute, and then they did a minute’s worth of sit-ups. Since it’s too cold to go outside and do a group run, they have to do their one mile walk/run on their own, and report their time. We’ll compare these scores with a post-test they’ll take on the last day, twelve weeks from now.

Next week, we’ll focus on the amount of food they eat—the quantity. Surprisingly, they’ll find that most women don’t eat enough. Not so surprisingly, they’ll learn that most men are eating too much. So, we’ll have everyone check it out with a daily calorie log, and then get their daily target dialed in.

In week three, we’ll focus on the quality of food—how to eat right. Once you’re eating the right amount of food, it’s time to make sure you’re getting the right things in your body to help you have quick energy, long-lasting fuels, lots of vitamins and minerals, and enough protein to build up your muscles and bones.

In week four, we look at other things, like water consumption, and vitamin and Omega 3 & 6 supplements. We’ll also talk about how protein shakes can help you lose fat while building muscle.

During the first month, they’ll be hitting the machine weight circuit three days a week, and using the cardio machines on the other days. They’re also going to try to work in an extra one mile walk every morning to help get things started. That extra 20 minutes is often the difference between losing one and two pounds a week.

Along the way, we’ll be getting together for weekly weigh-ins and workouts where I teach them new things designed to add intensity to their training. Then, when they’re doing their own workouts, they can sprinkle some of those things in, to keep it interesting.

The weekly weigh-in helps things out, too. Accountability is an important part of achieving any goal. In fact, the first thing I always do when I’m trying to accomplish something is tell someone what I want to do. Then I tell them when I start. That way, they’ll be curious to see how it’s going, and that means they’ll keep the pressure on me to perform.

Telling people helps ensure you’ll get it done. If you know you have to weigh in at the end of the week and tell someone else (in this case, they’re telling all 50 people), you’ll take it seriously. That gives you additional incentive to do what you have to do.

These things that we’re going to be doing with the Biggest Losers can be done by anyone, including you. It’s an effective strategy that’s been proven time and time again, so why not make believe that you’re in the process too? You can follow along and compete with them even if you’re doing your own thing.

Or, you can do exactly what they do. I’ll be writing about it each week, so you’ll know what’s been going on. Just make sure you’re accountable with someone, and have a weekly weigh-in there on your own.

It’s not hard to learn how to eat right and exercise smart. It is hard to keep doing it on a daily basis, until you make some serious lifestyle changes. Once they become habits, things get a little better.

Remember, half the people will quit before the end of 12 weeks. Which half are you going to be in? Do you have the ability to put yourself first at least once a day? Do you have the discipline to keep going, even when it isn’t easy? Can you stick with it until you get what you want?

Your mental toughness is more important than how you’re doing physically. We can always get the physical thing whipped into shape. What matters more, is how you think about things. If you think you’re going to succeed you probably will. If you think you’re going to quit, you’ll probably do that.

You’ve got to make a decision that no matter what, you’re going to stick. Whatever happens, you’re moving on. You’re going to keep going until you achieve your goals. That’s what it takes.

So are you ready? 2010 can be one heck of a year for you. Just get started, and don’t quit until you get what you want. A new year can result in a new you. It’s up to you.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Well, 2010 is finally here. Before you look forward, it’s often a good thing to look back over the year and take a look at what’s happened. This is a time to give yourself props for things that you’ve accomplished. It’s also a time to be honest about the things that didn’t go quite so well.

Not that you’re going to beat yourself up about it—it’s just that you need to reflect a bit. Maybe you made some mistakes along the way. Perhaps there was something you meant to do, but it never quite got off the ground.

Exercise programs often fall into this category. People make a New Year’s Resolution. Maybe they even come in and join the gym, or a Biggest Loser program. But then, life intrudes, old habits are hard to break, and so on, and before you know it, they’ve fallen away.

It’s like that for lots of new things that people try. Experts say it takes 21 times to make a habit. That would be 21 workouts, or three weeks, if you’re going every day. If you were planning on going three times a week, then it would take seven weeks before it was really a habit.

That’s about right. I’ve said before that in every Biggest Loser program we do—regardless how or when we do it, just about half the people stop for one reason or another. We see the biggest fall-out right in the middle of the 12 week program—at the six or seven week mark.

It’s tough finding people with staying power. I think it’s partly because people expect big results in the shortest possible time. The television show doesn’t help with this, because the Biggest Losers on TV are losing 10, 14, even 20 pounds in a week!

But people forget that those guys and gals are living on a ranch designed to help them do one thing—lose weight. They get to work out 6-8 hours a day. They have exactly the right food around, and lots of help and coaching. No kids, no jobs, and no distractions.

Sound like your life? I didn’t think so. Back here in the real world, you’ve got to find a way to fit your workouts into a life that’s probably already pretty full, with lots of distractions. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get to the gym for an hour, most days.

So we need a reality check when we’re watching those reality shows. Those are controlled environments with highly motivated people with few distractions, and that’s not really real.

Your life, on the other hand, is quite real, so how do you get there from here? How can you lose the weight and get in shape this year? What has to happen to make you successful?

The first thing you need to do is be realistic about your expectations. If you can give yourself a year, you can be totally transformed. I’ve not ever met anyone who couldn’t get to their ideal weight in a year, if they were totally committed to it—even right here in little Paris, IL. Give yourself the time to get it done right.

The second thing you need to do is recognize that you need some help. It can be done alone, but the odds aren’t in your favor. If you get with a buddy, or in a group that is like minded, all of a sudden it gets easier. If you can get in a program that has a track record of getting results like you want, you’ll be much better off. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

It’s like when horses pulled a stagecoach. It was always much easier to pull the wagon with a team of horses. Otherwise, they’d fatigue, and you wouldn’t get very far. But with that whole team pulling together, they could get farther, faster. Get with a team and get yourself some help.

The third thing you need to do is set a reasonable goal. If you have something to shoot for, even if you don’t quite hit it, you’ll get a lot farther than you would have otherwise. It’s funny, but people that tried to lose 50 pounds always get a little disappointed when they come in at 43 or 45 lbs. But the fact remains—they lost over 40 lbs! You’ve got to set a goal.

The next thing is just get started. I say this one a lot. It’s kind of a mantra of ours around here. There’s huge power in just getting started. You see, unless you never start, you can never get there. “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

There’s a lot of momentum that kicks in, once you get started. It’s a physical law too. Remember Newton’s laws? “An object at rest will remain at rest (read couch potato) unless acted on by an outside force.” This applies to you getting started, too.

It takes the greatest amount of effort to go in and get signed up, and then show up for your first workout. There’s a lot to overcome. You have to deal with fear of the unknown, fear of failing—perhaps you’ve tried things before.

Figuring out how to fit it into your schedule is often difficult too. That’s why I believe in the 24 hour concept, so that excuse is negated. Once you can get started, you’re on your way. After that, everything gets a little easier—and even if the workouts get harder later, you’ll continue to gain momentum.

I tell people that when they get started, their bodies are really working against them. They’re not as strong, and often carrying quite a bit of extra weight, which makes everything harder.
Once they get started, their body responds to the exercise by getting stronger and gaining endurance, making their exercise easier. As they start dropping a few pounds, that helps too, because they don’t have to move quite as much weight around.

Then as their body gets even stronger, it becomes an ally in the fight, because it lets them do even more work, which helps them burn even more calories, losing even more weight. It truly becomes a cycle of success—but you’ve got to last long enough for that to happen.

That brings me to the last thing you need to keep that cycle of success going: Be Consistent in your Approach. Another way of putting it is that you’ve got to be disciplined enough to keep doing it, even when you don’t feel like it or when things go wrong. You could also say you’re making a radical lifestyle change. This is critical.

I see it all the time. People will lose the weight, and then quit doing what they were doing, and gain most of it back. You have to make eating right and exercising smart part of your daily lifestyle for results to be permanent. But if you do, they’ll be spectacular.

We’re in the final week for registration for Biggest Loser “10” and “11.” One will run on Friday nights at 6:30 pm, and Saturday mornings at 10:00 am. When we did them only on Friday nights, people would tell me “if you only did it on Saturdays”… and when we did it on Saturday mornings, people would tell me “If we could just do it on Friday nights.”

Now, it’s up to you. Pick one, and get signed up before Friday. It’s $50 to participate. This train’s heading into 2010…with or without you. It might just be your chance to find a new you, this New Year!