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.