Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I had a chance to participate in the Paris YMCA/Shawna Morrison Memorial 5K Walk/Run (3.1 mi) this past weekend. It’s always great seeing so many people from the community getting together for this event.

People have different reasons for participating. Some do it for the exercise. Some do it for the competition, whether it’s with others or just themselves as they try for a personal best. Many of us do it in memory of Shawna. I also think that many do it just to have a good time.

There were a couple things that stood out to me this year. The first was seeing the younger kids running. Three miles is quite a long way when you’re smaller like that.

Several obviously had a gift for running, but one girl in particular really impressed me. She didn’t have the typical “runners” body, but I happened to watch her finish, and she was really pushing herself. If these kids can find a way to keep this up, they’ll have a life of health and fitness ahead of them!

That’s why our Biggest Losers always have to do their own 5K before the end of their 12 weeks. They should get to where they’re doing several 5K’s a week, but it’s always different when you do it in a race environment. The one they’ll be doing is in Marshall, IL on Saturday, November 19th. I hope you’ll join us!

This week, after a ½ mile walk/run to get warmed up, the group had their first workout. The goal was to throw an assortment of things at them and keep them moving for 20 minutes.

Here’s what they did: pushups, body squats, sit-ups, jumping jacks, running in place, burpees, baby walks, crab walks, jumping squats, jumps across the room, walking lunges, jumping lunges, an assortment of crunches, crunches on the ball, knee-ins on the ball, pushups on the ball, and sumo wrestling with a partner and a ball! The 20 minutes passes pretty quickly when you do all those things.

Our Week One winner was Shirley Fiscus, who lost 6.8 lbs and 3.2% of her body weight. Karen Wolfe, Karen Brown and Nicole Clodfelter were tied for second, losing 2.6% of their body weight. That translated into 4.4 lbs for Karen Wolfe, 6.8 lbs for Karen Brown, and an amazing 7.0 lbs for Nicole. Sande Sherer and Vince Porter were tied for third, losing 2.5% of their body weight, and 4.8 lbs and 6.2 lbs respectively.    

Next week we’ll have the results from Week Two, plus I want to tell you about those new fitness parameters we’re using for the participants. Don’t forget, if you have any questions about fitness or working out, please feel free to contact me at “Tom’s Fitness” on Facebook.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


After quite a layoff, we finally got another group going last Monday night. It’s always an exciting time for me, but I could tell that some of them were a little nervous.

That initial weigh-in causes so much apprehension, but it’s such a powerful tool for the participants. You can “want-to”, know you “need-to”, but when you see that number pop up on the scale, it gives you a pretty good “have-to.”

This is where your initial motivation comes from. It almost makes you sick to think of it, but when you realize how much you weigh compared to what you should weigh, it gets your attention. And when you see how much of your body weight is fat, it really starts to sink in.

Many people haven’t weighed in for a long time, but avoiding the issue doesn’t help you deal with it. Once you know you have a problem, and have made a decision to start doing something, that’s when change can occur. This holds true for a lot of problems, including being obese or just overweight. That’s where we were Monday night.

About half of the 25 had already done Biggest Loser at least once, and a few had done it several times. The most consistent thing I heard was that they’d put a lot of the weight back on. To a person, they all said that they’d just quit working out and watching what they ate.

I told them not to worry about it, because that was the past and this was their chance to get a new start. One advantage they’ll have is that they pretty much know what to do and how to do it. They just need structure and accountability. We’re going to give them plenty of that!

We took a beginning measure for weight, body fat%, body water%, muscle mass, physique rating, their basal metabolic rate (BMR), metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral fat (around their internal organs). We’re going to track all those variables each week and it’ll give us an even better idea of how their body is changing. Next week I’ll cover them in detail for you.

They also took tape measurements of their arm, chest, stomach, butt, and thigh. I also encouraged them to take a couple of pictures wearing shorts and sports bra (gals). Sometimes it’s hard to see the changes when you’re losing weight, and a couple front and side view pictures every month will help keep you motivated.

After the preliminary measures and an introduction, it was time for the physical testing. Everyone did a 1-minute pushup test, a 1-minute sit-up test, a 1-minute body squat test, and then finished with a 1-mile walk/run as fast as they could. At the end of the 12 weeks, we’ll do them again, and they’ll be astonished how much they’ll have improved.

Their goal this week was to fill out and return a daily calorie log next Monday night, and to get their workouts going. They’re supposed to hit the weight circuit three days (M, W, F), and do a cardio workout on the alternating days (T, TH, SA).

They were also given a new secret weapon—a second workout each day! As simple as just getting out and walking a mile first thing in the morning, this second workout will really make a difference in their calorie burning.
Next week we’ll have the results from Week One. It’s not too late for you to participate either, but you’ve got to let me know right away! Feel free to contact me on Facebook at Tom’s Fitness.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

My Weight Loss Story

It’s been awhile since I’ve written “Bodies-in-Balance. Last spring, I took some time off to recharge because I kind of felt like I’d been running out of things to say. I also wanted the time to take care of a couple of other things, one of which was quite a surprise.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time helping others lose weight and get in shape, and I’ve always been pretty active myself. Somehow, I took my eye off the ball personally.

I’d been kidding myself that I was “bulking up.” My clothing covered it pretty well, and I was still pretty active, but when the shirt came off, my abs had come up missing and I was getting those “handles” on the sides. Kathy tells me she knew that, but she didn’t want to embarrass me. Great.

The final straw came when preparing for the Illini Half-Marathon last spring. It was just harder running those longer distances. In fact, I was surprised at how much harder it had gotten. I went back and checked my records from a couple years ago, and it turns out that I was carrying an extra 25 lbs of fat. No wonder it was harder!

After the race, I decided to do something about it. I was supposed to be the “fitness guy” with all the answers, so this should be easy, right? It wasn’t—at least at the start. I decided right away to get some extra workouts going (I call these “bonus” workouts).

For me, my “bonus” workout was the exercise bike at night for an hour, watching the news shows I’d recorded, or a morning walk for 2 or even 3 miles. Sometimes I did both. I also turned it up in the gym with more intensity, more variety, and longer workouts.

On the weekend, I’d ride the bike for 2 hours, or go and do a 3-4 mi run followed by an hour on the bike. Sometimes I even got in a third workout, if I had a chance. That fat just doesn’t come off by itself—you’ve got to burn it off!

The other big thing I changed was watching my portions, and getting off the cookies and chips. It was amazing how much I’d been overeating. I started eating sandwiches on 1 piece of bread, instead of two. I also started eating more rye bread.

I cut down to a low fat yogurt, and cut my ice tea consumption way back too. Occasionally, I’d have a treat like a donut, or chips, but basically, I watched it pretty closely for 3 months.

Little by little, it started coming off—at first, just a half pound a week. Then it went to two pounds, three pounds, and a couple times, even four pounds a week.

Before the race, my weight was 194.4 lbs and 17.0% fat. By the end of July, I was down to 174.2 lbs and 12.0%. At last look, I was 169.2 lbs and 9.9% fat. Man, I feel better. It’s so much easier to move and I found my abs too.

Going through this experience myself made me realize we needed to bring back the Biggest Loser program so we can help others get back on track, too. As a result, “Biggest Loser 14” starts Monday, September 19th. We’ll meet from 6-7 pm for 12 weeks (13 sessions).

This is the first time for Monday nights. Hopefully, it will give people a chance to get their week off to a great start. Participants don’t have to be members, but they probably should have a fitness membership somewhere, or at the least, access to equipment at home.

Feel free to email me with questions at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com . I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle with “Biggest Loser 14” and with the article too!