Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A couple weeks ago, I gave the Biggest Losers a killer cardio workout based on high intensity interval training (HIIT). A friend of mine calls this type of workout the “Death Run!”

You’ll often see HIIT programs show up in fitness magazines. While they might change the progressions and work and rest intervals, or even use different workout platforms, they’re all pretty much the same thing.

You can do them on treadmills, ellipticals, or a bike, but say you’re on the treadmill and you’ve never done any running. After a 5-minute warm-up walking at 3.0 mph, turn the speed up to 4.0 mph. This is about the slowest possible speed that you can still be running (anything slower and you’d just be walking fast).

Whatever it takes, keep jogging at 4.0 mph for exactly 1 minute. If you’ve been seriously overweight, or just haven’t ever been a runner, even that slow pace might get difficult. Force yourself to hang in there for a minute.

At the end of the minute, back off the speed and take it down to 3.0 mph and walk for a minute. By the end of the minute you’ll be ready to go again. This time, take it up to 4.5 mph and jog for a minute, and then walk a minute at 3.0 mph.

Now run at 5.0 mph for a minute and then walk a minute at 3.0 mph. Next do a minute at 5.5 mph and another minute walking. Then do a minute at 6.0 mph, a minute walking, and then a minute at 6.5 mph, followed by another rest interval. If you think you can do it, try a minute at 7.0 mph with a minute rest, and then a minute at 7.5 mph and a minute rest.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it the full minute at the higher speeds. Do what you can, and then jump off (feet to the sides on the rails) while holding on to the handles. Then just walk a little extra. Later, you’ll be able to finish the full minute.

Do five minutes of cool-down at the end. That will be 5 minutes for warming up, 16 minutes of work/rest intervals (6-8 minutes running, 8 minutes walking), and 5 minutes cooling down. That’s only about 25 minutes, so I don’t want to hear you don’t have time to work out.

As you get better, you can always add a couple faster intervals to make your HIIT last longer.  Or, you can do 90 seconds or even two minutes of running. If you’re already a runner, try faster speed intervals and back down to a comfortable jogging pace for your rest intervals!

These workouts will give you a longer after-burn, which means you’ll burn more calories, which will help you lose the weight faster. You can follow the same program on an elliptical, bike, rower, by simply increasing the work levels, while keeping your rpm (speed) the same. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness !

This week’s Biggest Loser was Vince Porter, who lost 2.1% of his body weight and 4.8 lbs. Michelle Clark placed second, losing 1.8% and 2.6 lbs. Sande Sherer was third, losing 1.7% and 3.0 lbs, and Kara Englum finished fourth, losing 1.5% and 2.4 lbs. Michelle and Sande also represented the Biggest Losers in the Marshall 5K Turkey Trot!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This week I’d like to share some meal ideas with you. Remember, I’m not a nutritionist, just a fitness guy, but these are ideas I’ve seen work with other people. They’re also meals I ate on the way to losing 35 lbs over the last 6 months (I still eat them every day).

All are common foods you can get at your regular grocery. Adjust your total calories to your specific needs. Remember, women should never go below 1,200 calories/day and men should never go below 1,800. I’ve found, though, that people are happier when they come in around 1,500-1,650 calories/day (women) or 2,000-2,400 calories/day (men).

Feel free to substitute to take advantage of other wholesome foods in the same categories. Complex carbs found in healthy starches (ST) give you long-lasting energy. Protein builds muscle and bone. Fruits (F) give lots of quick energy while vegetables (V) have lots of fiber, and both have lots of vitamins & minerals! Add 2-3 healthy snacks between meals.

  • One serving of Honey Nut Cheerios (ST), ½ cup of 2% milk (P), ½ cup of frozen blueberries (F)
  • One whole grain waffle with a little butter and syrup (ST), one small low fat  yogurt (P), and ½ a banana (F)
  • One serving of oatmeal, ½ cup of 2% milk, ½ a banana.

  • ½ Pastrami & Cheese on rye (P, ST), or ½ Turkey & Cheese on whole grain (P, ST), or ½ Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich on wheat bread (P, ST) and a Fruit Cup (F)

  • One serving of meatloaf (P), ½ baked sweet potato (ST), and fresh cut green beans (V)
  • One fried chicken leg or wing and a thigh or rib (P), a serving of mashed potatoes and gravy (ST), and cole slaw (V)
  • A 6” chicken sub (P) on whole grain bread (ST), loaded with veggies (V)

  • Low fat Yogurt or Cottage Cheese (P) with fresh fruit (F)
  • Fruit Cup (F) & Granola (ST)
  • Apple slices (F) with Peanut Butter (P)
  • Peanut Butter Crackers (P & ST)
  • Protein Shake (P & Carbs)
This week’s Biggest Loser was Vince Porter, who lost 1.6% of his body weight and 3.6 lbs. Vince has lost 24 lbs in the last 8 weeks! Nikki Johnson, Darcy Midgley and Shirley Fiscus all tied for second place, losing a little less than 1.0% of their body weight and 1.4 lbs, 1.4 lbs, and 1.2 lbs respectively. Feel free to contact me at Tom’s Fitness on Facebook!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


When people ask for help figuring out their diets, I like to pass along the same information that we give our Biggest Losers. So unless you have a specific medical issue you’re dealing with such as diabetes, this might work for you, but sure and follow your doctor’s advice.

If you recall from last week, I believe the best diet is “no diet!” I think the best results over the long haul always come from eating a normal healthy diet that you can maintain for life. The first thing is to get off the pop and junk, and drink more water. 

The next thing is to work on having a balanced meal that has servings of Protein, Complex Carbs (Starches), and Fruits & Greens. If you do this, you’ll feel better right away, and your body will start working better, especially when you’re working out. Here’s why.

Protein is used by the body to build and preserve muscle and bone. While your body can use protein for fuel, it’s not very efficient. Glucogenesis (creating carbs from protein) is very inefficient and produces extra byproducts that your kidneys then have to deal with.

Sources of protein include lean cuts of beef and pork, chicken and turkey, dairy products like low fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese, fish, nuts (including peanut butter), and some beans. Sometimes it’s useful to supplement with a protein shake, especially when you’re very active.

Your best choices for long-lasting energy are complex carbohydrates called starches. It takes longer for your body to break them down than simple sugars, but it’s much more efficient than trying to use protein for fuel. Starches give you the time you need to complete your workout or get to the next meal.

Complex carbs include whole grain breads and cereals, whole grain pastas, long grain wild rice, oats, potatoes and sweet potatoes, corn and some beans. Our problem is that we tend to eat too many complex carbs and processed, refined foods.

The trick is to eat just one reasonably sized complex carb with each meal. Then you’ll get the long-lasting fuel you need. Go whole grain—it takes longer to breakdown, and you’ll get more nutrition too!

The last category is fruits and greens (vegetables). Self-explanatory, fruits and vegetables are probably the least consumed foods these days. That’s a shame, because they’ll give you some excellent benefits.

Fruits provide quick energy—the kind that gets you going in just minutes. They also have lots of vitamins and minerals and some fiber. Vegetables give you lots of vitamins and minerals too, that will make you feel and perform better. Because they’re packed with fiber, they also contain fewer calories which help fill you fill up.

A complete mixed salad with lettuce, spinach greens, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green onions, green peppers, and low fat dressing tops out at just 100 calories. Most other single servings of vegetables will only run you around 50 calories. That’s a great deal!

If you’re eating this way, the fats pretty much take care of themselves, too. All you really need to add is an Omega 3, 6 & 9 supplement to be sure you’re getting the good fats you need. Next week I’ll give you some sample meals to look at.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Michelle Clark, who lost 2.4% of her body weight and 3.6 lbs. Sande Sherer was second, losing 2.0% and 3.6 lbs. Kara Englum placed third, losing 1.6% and 2.6 lbs, and Nikki Johnson finished fourth, losing 1.0% and 2.4 lbs.

If you have any questions about fitness or working out, please feel free to contact me at Tom’s Fitness on Facebook!

Friday, November 04, 2011


After working with both men and women over the years, I’ve noticed that women are usually pretty different from men. It’s true.

While men tend to overestimate their capabilities (“no, I don’t need to read the map,” “I can lift it,” etc…), women often underestimate what they can do. Men just take off, confident they can handle, solve, or fix anything. Women tend to want to talk about it first—then they’ll do some research—then they’ll talk about it some more.

Men starting a workout program will often overdo it and get really sore, and ultimately quit. But many women starting a workout program will underdo it, get little or no results, and then quit too!

For both groups, the trick is to help them get a better start. With guys, I often try to slow them down a bit and help them avoid overtraining and injuries.

But women often need an extra push to help them “speed” things up. Just a couple days ago, I worked with a woman who’d been walking four miles a day but not losing as much weight as she’d like.

After a warm-up, I asked her if she’d ever gone uphill before. She told me she had “a little bit, on 1% and 2%.” I cranked the grade all the way up to 10% and had her walk ¼ mile. Now that was a hill!

She handled it well, so I asked her if she’d ever done any running or jogging. She said no, but she’d been wanting to. After a little while to recover, I increased the speed to 4.0 mph (about the slowest speed you can go, and still be running).

I kept her running for 100 yards (the length of a football field), and it took a little more than a minute.
She got to the end and said “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that!”

I told her she hadn’t seen anything yet, and after walking another 100 yards, had her do it again, but at 4.2 mph. After another walk break, she did another interval at 4.5 mph, and then one at 5.0 and 5.5 mph!

She’d been disciplined enough to walk four miles a day, but never tried to run—not even a little bit. When we got done, I told her that now she knew she could do it, she should start working in some big hills, and walking/running intervals.

We’ve had lots of women work up to running a 5K (3.1 mi), half marathons (13.1 mi) and a couple even did a full marathon (26.2 mi). Several of our “Wood Street Warriors” recently took on not one, but two “Century” bike rides (100 mi)!

You never know what you can do unless you try, so go ahead and talk about it, do some research, but then, jump right in—I’ll just bet you can do it!

If you have any questions about working out, feel free to contact me on Facebook at “Tom’s Fitness.”

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


This week let’s talk about the diet we’ve recommended to our Biggest Losers. I’ve always been a big believer that the best diet is… no diet! Now I know there are some very well known diets and meal plans out there and you can lose weight on them.

I’ve come to believe, though, that most diets really work because they impose discipline on the eater, typically by restricting certain “bad” foods and encouraging “good” foods. In many (if not most) cases, diets almost always end up being too hard to maintain over the long haul.

A much better approach is to learn how to eat correctly. I call it “eating right.” For most of us, its also comes down to learning how to manage your portions.

Women usually need to learn how to start eating breakfast and midmorning snacks. This means they need to learn how to eat more. This is a real paradigm shift for most ladies who’ve typically beaten themselves up about food, and are now scared of every single calorie.

Guys typically need to learn how to eat less, by learning some portion control. For guys, this also means they need to quit eating all the junk they shove in their mouths.

It also helps to slow down a little bit. When I was losing my 32 lbs, I realized that a lot of times, I’d eat past the point of being full—just to be eating. Later, it got easier to eat less, and now I find myself filling full sooner, on smaller portions!

This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the foods you like. You should be able to enjoy them—once in awhile. We’ve been given a palate for a reason. Foods are for fuel and enjoyment.

A good plan is to have a cheat meal or even a cheat day once in awhile. Another is to pick your times. If you know you’re going to have something higher in calories you can plan for it by pulling back earlier, perhaps missing a snack. You can also plan in extra activities to burn it off.

Remember, food is fuel. If you’re eating in the right amounts and covering your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which I talked about a few weeks ago, you’ll just burn what you eat. It won’t be stored as fat.

With all your new activity, you’ll also be coming up a little short during the day so your body will go to fat stores for fuel. This is called a calorie deficit and the basis for weight loss.

If you don’t lose a lot of pounds right away don’t worry too much—people often see changes in their clothing first. Last week, two ladies told me that while they both only lost four pounds in the first five weeks, they’d each lost 10 inches around their midsection and hips!

So here’s the Meal Plan: eating right means eating a balanced diet that contains a serving of Protein, Starch, and Fruits or Greens (vegetables). If your plate looks like this, you’re probably doing fine.
Next week, we’ll talk about food choices from each category, how your body uses them, and how this can help you feel and perform better!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jennifer Bell, who lost 1.8 percent of her body weight and 3.6 lbs! Michelle Clark was second, losing 1.7% and 2.6 lbs. She also won the workout challenge this week, logging 16 hours, 10 min total workout time! Vince Porter placed third, losing 1.6% and 3.8 lbs.

If you have any questions about fitness or working out, please feel free to contact me at Tom’s Fitness on Facebook!