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!

Friday, July 02, 2010


This week the group did their 5 K walk/run. Most of them have already been doing at least 3 miles in their walks or runs so they were used to the distance. The difference for most of them was that this time, the goal was to do it faster than ever before.

In the past, we’ve had several different Biggest Loser groups hit it just right where there was a real 5 K race somewhere nearby. The timing was also good, because the races were near the end of the 12 weeks.

In this case, we had to do our own 5 K, which was our usual 1-mile loop three times. While a couple of the Biggest Losers had actually done a couple 5 K runs, even posting improvements to their times, this course might have been a little tougher, with several hills each mile.

It’s a good thing to do the run for time once in awhile. While it’s good to cover 3 miles on a regular basis, it’s altogether different when you push the speed and try to do it faster. Or do a different, more difficult course.

Most people can walk a 5 K (3.1 miles) in right around an hour. That’s walking at 3.0 miles an hour, which is a pretty comfortable and average pace. A good basic program would be to work up to doing a 5 K three days a week, say on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

If you’re not used to exercise, you might have to start with a mile. At a comfortable pace it will take you about 20 minutes. Of all the different people we’ve seen start at the center or in Biggest Losers, only a very few needed much more time than that.

As soon as possible, the goal is to add time and distance to your program. Work up to 2 miles, or 40 minutes. Then try to do the 2 miles faster. Then one day, just keep walking until you’ve covered 3 miles. Once you’ve done that, you can work on your speed.

What you need to understand is that if you can already do it, your body has no reason to change. Your body quickly adapts to a new workload so the same amount of work becomes easier. That means that you’ll actually start burning fewer calories while doing the same amount of work.

But if you can challenge yourself to go a little further, or a little faster, you can burn more calories in the same amount of time. That means you’ll get better results in your exercise program, especially if weight loss is your goal.

I talked to each of the Biggest Losers who did the 5 K this weekend. Their new goal is to keep working on their 5 K on a regular basis. If they do, not only will their times improve, but they’ll keep burning lots of calories and that will keep them losing weight.

This week’s Biggest Loser is Michelle Clark who lost 1.1% of her body weight and 1.6 lbs. Second place went to Janice Johnson who lost 1.0% and 2.2 lbs. Vanessa Becker placed third by losing about 1.0% and 1.0 lb.

With ten weeks in the books, we’ve got to start thinking about our next Biggest Loser. I’m trying to decide if we should take a break for the summer, or go for Biggest Loser “13.” The dropout rate this last time has been the biggest ever, so you need to tell me.

Do you want another Biggest Loser this summer? I was thinking of doing couples (which could include friends and family members). Perhaps that would give both parties incentive to stick. Or, we could take a break.

Let me know if you’re interested. If I hear from enough of you in the next week or so, we’ll go for it! If not, then we’ll pick it back up in September. Hope to hear from you.