Monday, May 24, 2010


This week we turned it up with our Park-to-Park workout. It’s a combination of jogging and calisthenics that hits the whole body. They started at the gym and ran down Wood St. to Schwartz Park and then walked around the trail. Once everyone got there, we did 10 jumping jacks, 10 body squats, 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups.

I’d been waiting a couple weeks for good weather, and we lucked out. After showers for several days, we had a break just a few hours before the workout, and the sun even came out for awhile. At the same time, it was still a little cool with a breeze, which always helps!

As soon as we were done with the calisthenics, we took out down to High St. and ran North to Sunrise Park. While they waited for any stragglers, they walked around the park like before. Once everyone arrived, we did another 10 jumping jacks, body squats, pushups and sit-ups.

Once we all got done, we jogged down High St. to the football field where we did 10 more reps of each exercise. Finally, we headed back up over the overhead bridge on Buena Vista. At that point it got really difficult, but most everyone jogged up the hill! Once they got back to Wood St., they jogged back to the center where they did a final set of each of the exercises.

All in all, they went right about 2.0 miles and did 40 jumping jacks, body squats, pushups and sit-ups. For most, it was a pretty tough workout because they were using so many different muscle groups.

Their legs and lungs were working hard during the jogging. Then they hit the Chest, Shoulders, Arms, Legs, Back and Core with the calisthenics. Then they were back running again, and so on. So it’s anaerobic and aerobic at the same time, which makes it quite the calorie burner.

Anytime you can mix things up like that, it’s good for your body. Your body develops the ability to use different energy systems, and your endurance will improve dramatically. At the same time, you’re doing something goal oriented—run to there and then do so many reps of such and such. Then do it again. It’s good for your mind, too, because it keeps you interested.

We do this all the time in my Level IV boot camp classes. Just a week ago, the Friday workout was very similar. The difference was the distance ran, the number of times they ran it, and the type of movements they did in between.

It’s pretty challenging, so you might want to work up to it. You definitely don’t want to do it on an empty stomach. You might try the BL workout first. If everything goes OK, then you can try the Level IV workout—but with fewer repetitions of each exercise. Another way to scale the workout down is by doing 2 minutes on the elliptical trainer instead of the ¼ mile run.

Make sure you know how to do the movements correctly. If you ever have any questions, you can always contact me at the center, or through the website.

1. Run ¼ mile
2. Do 25 pull-ups
3. Run ¼ mile
4. Do 25 overhead squats (w/stick)
5. Run ¼ mile
6. Do 25 pushups on an exercise ball
7. Run ¼ mile
8. Do 25 Dumb Bell Curls
9. Run ¼ mile
10. Do 25 Kettle Bell Swings
11. Run ¼ mile
12. Do 25 Pikes or Knee-Ins on the Ball
13. Run ¼ mile
14. Do 25 Sit-ups
15. Run ¼ mile

This week’s Biggest Loser was Carrieann Phegley, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.8 lbs. Cheryl Clark placed second, losing 1.9% and 3.8 lbs. Cheryl’s lost the most weight so far, by losing 12.8 lbs in five weeks.

Bridgett Trover was third for the week, losing 1.7% and 3.0 lbs. Michelle Clark, who has the overall lead so far, placed fourth by losing 1.5% and 2.4 lbs. Karen Brown was fifth, losing 1.3% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs, and Nicole Clodfelter finished in sixth place, losing about 1.0% and 2.4 lbs.

Don’t forget about the C.A.M.A. Teen Bike Rally coming up on June 5th. It’s a great chance to get some cross-training in, and not just for teens. Proceeds go to benefit the Coalition Against Methamphetamine Abuse and provide teens education about Meth and other forms of substance abuse, but anyone can do the ride! You can get information online at .

You can choose from several routes of varying difficulty. The easiest is an 8.5 mile route which anyone can do, including my 7 year old grandson. Next is a 25 mile route which is a little tougher, but my 9 year old Cutie-Pie can do it. I’m guessing most newer riders will do this one.

Next is a 41.5 mile which a lot of us from the center are doing. It’s best if you have a road bike for this one, and some experience. Finally, the most difficult route is a 70 mile loop. This one’s for the big dogs. These characters have lots of riding experience, and riding is often their main form of exercise.

Pick one and give it a shot. Do some riding over the next couple weeks to prepare. It’ll be a great workout, and you’ll get lunch, too! See you there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


This week we talked to the group about turning it up a notch. After a month of using the machines, it was time to learn how to use free weights. It came at a good time, too, because many of them had reached a plateau.

For some reason, this group has had some difficulty breaking through to the next level. Hopefully the free weights will help shake some things loose. They’ll burn more calories doing the exercises with dumbbells (DB) because of all the other stabilizer muscles that will come into play, particularly in their core.

The main idea is to simply take each exercise they did on machines, and replace it with dumbbells. The Chest Press machine is replaced with Chest Press on the exercise ball. The Seated Row machine is replaced with Single Arm Rows.

The Leg Press machine is replaced by doing body squats while holding dumbbells on their shoulders. The Lower Back machine and Leg machines are replaced with Bent Knee Deadlifts.

They’ll also do Lateral Raises instead of the Shoulder Press Machine, Bicep Curls with instead of the Bicep Curl Machine, and Overhead Presses instead of the Tricep Press Machine. They’ll also do several abdominal exercises on the ball, to replace the Ab Machine.

One of the keys to keeping the intensity up is to do the exercises back to back, without stopping. Here’s the first workout they’ll be doing for the next two weeks in case you’d like to try it. Make sure you get with someone who knows how to perform the movements correctly. Do each group of exercises back-to-back three times, with 10-12 repetitions each.

1. Chest Press on Ball (DB) / Body Squats (DB)
2. Single Arm Rows (DB) / Bent Knee Deadlifts (DB)
3. Lateral Raises (DB) / Bicep Curls (DB) / Overhead Press
4. Ab Crunches on Ball (regular, back bends, crossing over)

This week, my Cutie-Pie also turned it up a little bit. Her gym class is doing a 1 mile run fitness test on Tuesday, so she got together with me several times to help her prepare. I just love the fact that they’re having the kids do this, and she says they’ve been running quite a bit in gym class to get ready.

So we got on the treadmill to see where she was. I was pretty surprised, and she did a fair amount of running the first time to finish in 15:56. Now I know there are kids out there that will blow that away, but some kids are born runners and some aren’t.

I’m one of those guys that wasn’t borne to it. In fact, for many years, I couldn’t run at all, due to a pretty serious case of asthma. A few years back, they came out with some medicine that finally controlled it.

When I first started jogging a few years ago, I finished at the back of the pack consistently. After a couple years of working on it, I now finish right in the middle of the group.

That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal to me. Especially when you realize that only so many people show up for the 5K’s, duathons, and half marathons that I like to run. So to be in the middle of a pretty exclusive group is pretty cool.

The second time we got together, we went out to the track at the football field. I think it’s much easier doing a mile for time out there, because you’re outside. It’s also cooler outside this time of year.

At the field, she kept a faster pace and only walked a little bit after each quarter mile. The last lap was faster, as she kicked it up to try and get there under 13:00. I was surprised at how determined she was as we ran around that last turn, and she finished in 12:53, three minutes quicker than before.

The last workout had to be inside again, due to the rain. It was also later in the day, and I could tell she wasn’t feeling it quite as much, as she held back a little in the first two quarter miles. Still, she kicked it up in the end and finished right at 14:00.

While it was a minute slower than out at the track, it was still almost two minutes faster than the last time she was on the treadmill. It was also pretty darn good for an eight year old who’s about four feet tall!

Her fitness test is Tuesday at school, so after resting Monday to recover, she should be ready to go. The things she’ll need to remember are to try and lengthen her stride to use more muscles and take the pressure off her knees. She also needs to concentrate on her breathing when it gets tough: in-two, out-two, in-two, out-two.

She’s also planning on doing the 25 mile distance in the C.A.M.A. Park-To-Park bike ride coming up the first weekend in June. She’s done the 8 mile distance already, and with a new bike, wants to go a little bit further. So she’ll do it with her daddy, while her younger brother does the 8 miler with her mom.

A bunch of us will be doing the 40 miler, and there are even some serious riders in town who’ll do the 70 mile distance—now that’s impressive! But to me, it’s just as impressive to see an 8 year old do 25 miles.

This week’s winner was Alison Raney, who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 2.0 lbs. Nicole Clodfelter and Mindi Milner tied for second, losing about 1.0%. Nicole lost 2.2 lbs, and Mindi lost 1.6 lbs. Tisha Brinkley placed fourth, losing 1.6 lbs, and Janice Johnson was fifth, also losing 1.2 lbs.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


This week marks the end of three weeks for our Biggest Losers, or 21 days in the program. Experts say it takes a minimum of 21 times to make something a habit, so hopefully, they’re right on track.

The goal for week one was simply to get them moving. In week two, the goal was to get them to start keeping a daily food diary so they would be able to see if they were eating enough (most women don’t) or overeating (most men do). Week three was about the types of food they were eating, and understanding how food is used in the body.

The participants have had three weeks working out on the machines to build their strength, and on cardio days, they’ve hopefully been hitting it for a minimum of 30 minutes. As their endurance allows, they were to up it to 45 minutes, or even an hour! On top of that, if their schedules allowed, they were to also get in a quick 20 minute walk each morning.

The whole purpose has been to get them eating better, in the right amounts, and start building their strength and endurance so they can do more during their workouts. At first, they were kind of fighting their own bodies, which weren’t used to working out.

Once they started building some strength, though, their bodies started working for them, which allows them to do a little bit more in the same amount of time, or even, spend more time before they get gassed.

The more work they can do, the more calories they’ll burn, so they’ll end up losing more weight, which of course was their goal all along. At first, it’s pretty tough burning enough calories, but later, as they get stronger, it will be much easier.

Most people can burn around 5 calories a minute with light to moderate exercise. That means about 300 calories an hour when you’re starting out. After a few weeks to get stronger, though, people can start doing work to the tune of around 10 calories a minute, or around 600 calories an hour.

That’s double the work, and it pays off. A pound of fat is the equivalent of 3,500 calories. That means if everything else is equal, and you just add an hour of activity to your day, at first, it would take about 11 ½ days to burn a pound of fat.

Once you start getting in shape, you can double your output, which can cut your time to lose a pound almost in half—down to around 5 or 6 days. And if you work out longer, you can lose more.

That’s why if people have a big weight loss goal, I always recommend they take an extra 20-30 minute walk regardless what else they did in their “real” workout. If they want to take the weight off quickly, that can make a big difference.

So now that they’re stronger, the goal is to change the intensity of the work along with the amount of time they can keep going. Both will drive up the calorie output, and that will drive off the pounds.

This week, their goal is to use the machines for one more week, but this time doing “supersets.” Rather than just hit the circuit from start to finish, they’ll be doing a pushing exercise like the Chest Press, and then do an opposing pulling movement like the Seated Row, back to back. Then they’ll repeat the two exercises two more times before moving on to the next two machines.

Each pair of machines are arranged in order so they can get the Pushing/Pulling thing going at each step as they work their way through the circuit. This way, they’ll never take a break, but while one muscle group is resting, the other, opposing group is working.

If the machines aren’t organized quite that way where you work out, or if you’re using equipment at home, here’s how I have the machines arranged, so you can simulate the workout. Do each pair of exercises back to back, 10-12 repetitions each, for a total of 3 sets before moving on. Next week, we’ll raise the intensity again by moving to free weights!

1. Chest Press -- Seated Row
2. Pec Deck -- Lat Pulldown
3. Shoulder Press -- Rear Delt
4. Tricep Press -- Bicep Curl
5. Leg Press -- Calf Raises
6. Leg Extension -- Leg Curl
7. Ab Crunch -- Lower Back

This week’s Biggest Loser was a two-way tie between Cheryl Clark and Carrieann Phegley, who both lost 2.1% of their body weight. Cheryl lost 4.4 lbs and Carrieann lost 3.6 lbs. Third place went to Dale Rasmussen, who lost 2.0% and 4.6 lbs.

Michelle Clark was fourth, losing 1.6% and 2.6 lbs. Alison Raney took fifth, losing 1.1% and 2.0 lbs. Sixth place went to Janice Johnson, who lost 1.0% and 2.4 lbs.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


This week the group was supposed to look more closely at what they ate. After a week of keeping a daily food journal, it should be pretty easy to make sure they’re getting the right amount of food. Remember from last week, studies show that people who write down what they eat lost more weight than those who didn’t.

The journal will also tell them where they have holes in their diet. That could be from either missing meals or snacks, or from missing even part of their meals. To be well rounded, each meal should have a source of protein, starch (complex carbs), and fruits or greens.

Protein is for building muscle and bone. Without protein in your diet, you will slowly waste away. Your bones won’t be as strong as they could be either. This explains in part why our elderly become frail, with bones that are easily broken.

Studies show that people in their 80’s can increase muscle mass after just six weeks of regular exercise such as walking and basic strength training. And if our seniors would dedicate 45 minutes to an hour a day to regular exercise, and ensuring they get enough protein in their diet, they’d be amazed at how good they’d feel.

My dad will be 87 in July, and he spends at least an hour a day in the gym doing a very similar routine to what our Biggest Losers are doing in the first month of training. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, he hits the strength circuit, doing most of the machines, three times around. On Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, he focuses on Cardio, riding the exercise bike, and walking.

He also gets up in the morning and goes for a walk outside for 20-30 minutes. That’s right. He does two workouts a day! His weight is down to what it was back when he was in basic training in the army during World War II. I’m sure he had a bit more muscle back then, but come on, he’s 86! Sometimes I tell him he needs to focus on getting a little more protein.

Sources of protein include meats, poultry, fish, dairy products like milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, nuts, and some beans. You need to make sure you get some protein in every meal. Some people need to supplement this with a protein shake, if they’re very active.

Starches are the next category to look at. Starches are complex carbohydrates, meaning that the starch molecules are more difficult for the body to break down. This means they’ll give the body longer lasting energy, compared to simple sugars that are used right away.

Sources of starch include whole grain breads and cereals, oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, corn, rice, and some beans like the navy and pinto beans. Also a good source of vitamins and minerals, and some fiber, complex carbs need to be part of every meal too.

Dad tends to stick with the basic starches like whole grain breads and cereals. The bread should feel heavy, compared to the other choices. You should also be able to smell it when you pick it up. That means you’ll have more of the good stuff in there.

The last category was fruits and greens. These need no description—a fruits a fruit, and greens are all the other vegetables out there. Most people eat very little of either, and that’s unfortunate because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that will help your body work better, and make you feel great.

Dad really scores well here. He eats fruits for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks. He likes the fact that they’re very low in calories, so he can eat them without worrying about gaining weight. They have lots of fiber too, so as he says, “they fill you up.”

The other main benefit of eating fruits is quick energy. Unlike the more complex starches, fruits are simple sugars (fructose), so your body breaks it down in a hurry. If you ever feel a little run down and need a quick pick-me-up, have some fruit. You’ll feel better within minutes.

Dad eats a ton of veggies, too, mostly in a home-made soup that he puts together a couple times a week. It’s got every vegetable under the sun in there. There will be some quick energy from the vegetables, but the main benefit there is all the natural vitamins and minerals, and the fiber.

As the Biggest Losers start getting their diet squared away, each meal will start to have all three key components: protein, starch, and fruits or greens. Once they start eating that way, they’ll start feeling better, and their body will use everything they eat (assuming they’re eating the right amount). That means nothing will be stored as fat, and their bodies will be working great.

Speaking of fats, it’s not necessary to worry about them too much. All you need to do is make sure you eat leaner cuts of meats, trim the fat where possible, and choose low fat dairy products during the day. It’s also a no brainer that you need to avoid junk foods and fried foods too. This will keep you from getting too much of the bad fats.

For the good fats, you’ll be getting that low fat dairy every day, and hopefully eating some other things like fish, and nuts that are high in Omega-3. Finally, it’s best to take a good supplement that has all three of the Omegas: Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. Experts used to focus only on Omega-3, but lately, they’ve been leaning toward a balanced supplement.

Don’t forget to get plenty of water each day, too. The more active you are, the more you need, but most people aren’t even getting the minimum daily recommendation: 48 oz. Personally, I think that’s about half what an active guy needs. I’d shoot for 3-4 bottles a day if you’re an active female, and 4-5 bottles a day if you’re a guy.

This week’s winner was Mindi Milner, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 4.2 lbs. Second place went to Carrieann Phegley, who lost 1.8% and 3.2 lbs. Venessa Becker took third, losing 1.5% and 2.0 lbs. John Kaufman was fourth, losing 1.4% and 3.0 lbs. Cheryl Clark was fifth, losing 1.3% and 2.8 lbs, and Karen Brown and Nicole Clodfelter tied for sixth place, both losing 1.1%. Karen lost 2.4 lbs while Nicole lost 2.8 lbs.

Finally, a big shout out to everyone who completed the Christie Clinic Illinois Half or Full Marathon over in Champaign this weekend! I wish I could have been there with you, but a stupid sinus infection knocked me out of the running. Sigh. Great job you guys.