Friday, October 07, 2011


Even though it’s getting colder outside, we turned up the heat on the participants again this week. The goal is to get them doing more work, with more intensity each week. I call it learning how to exercise smart. This week, they did 2 minute cardio intervals followed by 2 minutes of weight training on the machines, back and forth!

The more exercise they can do, the more calories they’ll be burning. And the more calories they can burn, the more impact it will have on their body. But just losing weight doesn’t always mean you’re losing the right kind of weight.

That’s why we look at the following physical parameters when they weigh each week: Weight, Body Fat %, Body Water %, Muscle Mass, Physique Rating, BMR, Metabolic Age, Bone Mass, and Visceral Fat.

The first one is obvious: Weight. This should drop at least a pound each week. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, healthy weight loss is 1-2 lbs per week which is achievable and sustainable.

It’s fine to lose more weight than that, as long as it’s fat loss. Many of our contestants will lose more than that. On TV they lose incredible amounts of weight, but you have to remember a few things. They live on a ranch. Losing weight is their job—and their only job. They don’t have to take care of kids or run errands. So even though it’s “reality TV”, it’s not real life.

After doing this for quite awhile, I’ve come to believe that losing a pound a week is good; two pounds a week is great; and three or more pounds a week is fantastic. In the end, it comes down to how much work you’re willing to do.

The second parameter, and perhaps the more important one, is Body Fat %. This is the amount of fat we have, compared to our total weight. We carry a lot more fat around than we think. Believe me, I know.

If a man weighs 167.6 lbs with 9.3% body fat, roughly 15.6 lbs is fat. That means about 144.4 lbs is lean Muscle Mass, with about 7.6 lbs in Bone Mass. Healthy bone mass in guys ranges from 5.9 to 8.1 lbs based on your size. For women, it ranges from 4.3 lbs to 6.5 lbs.   

Now if that same guy weighed in at 194.4 lbs, with 17.0% body fat, that means 33 lbs of his weight would be fat (more than double), with 153.8 lbs as lean muscle, and the same 7.6 lbs of bone mass.

It’s good to have a little more muscle mass but twice the fat, it’s just not worth it. Like I said, I know. Even though I was in pretty good shape and carried it reasonably well, that heavier, twice-as-fat guy was me five months ago! My new goal now is to keep the weight and fat down and add perhaps 5 lbs of muscle mass.

People with 30% or 40% fat have greatly increased risk of heart disease and type II diabetes. As they become inactive, they start losing muscle mass. When they consume more calories than they burn, they store it as fat, so their fat weight increases. That’s why it’s so important to keep moving!

Our Week Two winner was Stacy Reed, who lost 3.0% of her body weight and 8.8 lbs. Michelle Clark placed second, losing 2.0% and 3.2 lbs. Jennifer Bell was third, losing 1.9% and 3.8 lbs. Fourth place went to Kara Englum who lost 1.7% and 2.8 lbs. Jennifer Bowers and Shirley Fiscus tied for fifth, losing 1.6% of their body weight. Jennifer lost 4.2 lbs and Shirley lost 3.4 lbs.

Next week I’ll cover the other physical parameters we look at: Body Water %, Physique Rating, Metabolic Age, and Visceral Fat. 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.

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