Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I noticed something during our Christmas shopping this year. People seemed to fall into two groups. One was pretty healthy, but there were quite a few who were overweight.

I didn’t see many people in the middle. And the older they got, the more extreme the differences. It seemed like there were those who were moving well, and those who weren’t. Is it just me, or our there more people in motorized carts these days?

“Use it or lose it” is just as applicable as it ever was. As we stop moving, our muscles atrophy (get smaller), our bones weaken, and we accumulate excess fat. Even if our weight hasn’t changed, our body composition has. And if our weight has gone up, our body fat has really gone up!

I’ve got a toddler, and he’s a machine. He’s up and down, all around, moving constantly. Picking things up, throwing them down. He does hundreds of body squats. One of these days I’m going to put a pedometer on him just to see how far he goes!

But I’ve noticed that at a certain age, kids start slowing down. They’ll start spending more time watching TV and playing video games. Every minute they spend sitting on the couch, is a minute they’re not moving anymore.

Kids involved in sports have the opportunity to stay in shape, but the ones that don’t participate will slow down even more. And it’s tough to catch up, because even gym classes aren’t offered every day at many schools these days.

That’s why I’m a big believer in having kids in something, whether it’s team sports, or an individual sport like gymnastics or Taekwondo. We’ve got to keep them moving.

It applies to adults too. Young adults that were active in high school or college sports often stop playing altogether once they enter the real world and start jobs and families. And most of our jobs don’t involve enough real activity to keep us healthy.

It takes a concerted effort to get in shape and stay there. But it’s not impossible. Plenty of people have made the commitment to stay moving. I’ve even got 60, 70 and 80 year olds I’ll see in the gym exercising every day. They want to keep moving.

Of course, the other part of the problem is the changes we’ve made to our diet. There was a time when eating fast foods were the exception. Now they’re often the rule. Junk foods have become staples in our pantries.

Unfortunately, they’re filled with empty calories that don’t provide the same nutritional value. At least if you’re active, you’ll probably burn them off. But if consumed by someone who isn’t very active, junk foods are usually excess calories, which are stored as fat.

It comes down to this. You can get moving, or get fat. You can eat right, or get fat. That sounds harsh, but in the end, if you’re not moving, and you’re not eating right, it’s going to go to your end!

The good news is that for most people, even if you’re overweight, you can turn it around. I’ve seen plenty of people lose 30, 40, 50, 60, and even 100 lbs. I personally lost 35 lbs last year and it’s changed my life. I want to keep moving.

So do you want to get moving, and learn how to start eating better? You might try our community-wide Biggest Loser “15” which starts Monday, January 2nd. If you have questions, feel free to contact Tom through Facebook at !

Friday, December 23, 2011


Can you believe it? We’re about to reach the end of another year. When I was younger, each year went on forever and I couldn’t wait to be older. These days, I wonder where the years go!

But like most people, at least once a year, I like to spend a little time looking back to see what I’ve accomplished. Sometimes it’s a pretty short list!  

We can get so caught up in the process of doing stuff, that a little reflection can help you gain perspective. When you look back, you can remember what goals were attained, identify mistakes that were made, and make some course corrections if necessary.

Maybe you lost some weight but then put some of it back on. You need to recognize you did a good job losing the weight. What you learned then will help you out this next year.

But what went wrong that let you put the weight back on? If you can figure that out, you can take steps to ensure that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Maybe you just quit working out. Perhaps you fell off your diet.

Maybe you’ve just been thinking about trying to get your weight under control but it hasn’t happened yet. You might even have started a couple of times, but just got off track.

The good news is that 2012 can be a new year in lots of ways. If you need to lose weight and get yourself healthy, here’s what you need to do to start getting prepared.

Develop an action plan designed to help get you started. Find out about gym memberships. Talk to friends that lost weight. Ask them what they’ve been doing.  

Take a look at some websites like or . Look at phone apps for your smart phone that will help you stay on top of things.

Start telling yourself that this time you’re going to do it. It’s not a resolution that can fail. It’s a fact. You’re going to do it. This is going to be your year. Tell a friend what your plan is. If someone else knows, you just became accountable. Write it down, too. Goals written down are much more likely to be achieved.

Have someone take a picture of you in your knickers, front and side views. Put it on your bathroom mirror. Weigh in. Do your body fat. Take some measurements. Then set some reasonable goals about what you’d like to see happen.

Most people can lose 1-1 ½ pounds a week if they start exercising daily and watching what they eat. With a little more effort, you can take that up to 2-3 pounds a week.

This can be your year. The year you get it together and get thinner. I’m telling you, you won’t believe how good it’s going to feel, and how good you’ll feel about yourself. You just have to take my word for it.

I lost 35 lbs in 2011, over 7 months, and have maintained it over the last few months. Now, everything feels different. It’s so much easier to move and run, and grapple, and do all the other things I like to do. My goal is to keep it off in 2012 while building some more muscle.

So what’s your goal? You better get cracking, because the New Year’s almost here! If you have any questions about exercise, weight loss, or Biggest Loser “15” which starts Monday, January 2nd, contact Tom through Facebook at !

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Another Biggest Loser finally came to an end. While 25 people started, only five people made it to the final workout, with six weighing in—a completion rate of just 24%. That’s about half of what it usually is (typically it’s around 50%).

Part of it was the holidays, shopping, and a few people had injuries or illness. But I always wonder why many of the others simply couldn’t make it. Dropping out is all too common a problem these days, especially with exercise programs and weight loss.

People can know they need to change, even want to change, but it’s often hard finding the will to change. It’s tough coming up with that thing deep inside where quitting is not an option, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes.

12 weeks seems like such a long time when you’re in it, but when you look back, it’s over pretty fast. Compared to a year, it’s pretty short. Compared to a life, it’s not even a blip on the screen. But if you can finish, it’s often produces lasting change. So how do you stick it out? Five women finished the program, so what made them different? I asked them how they did it:

  • “The knowledge of the scale helped a lot—seeing those extra parameters like water percentage and metabolic age kept me motivated.”
  • “Having someone to workout with every time—we scheduled it. It made us more accountable.”
  • “I became moody if I didn’t go.”
  • “I learned that when I weighed in, it was a new week—even if I messed up, ate too much, or didn’t workout, it was a new week and a new start.”
  • “Writing down the calories.”
  • “Being honest—realizing that I was fatter than I thought.”
  • “I wasn’t going to go into another New Years and have to make another resolution.”
One guy also finished, but had to work and missed the final. I’d spoken with him in the gym, and he was always motivated. At that point he was focusing on building muscle.

Four of the five women only missed one of the 13 sessions; the other had perfect attendance. That alone goes a long way to explain their success. So I asked them what difficulties they’d faced along the way:
  • “Scheduling my workouts.”
  • “My guilty feelings—taking away from family and work.”
  • “Laziness.”
  • “Being motivated.”
  • “Being honest.”
Finally, I asked them what they’d want to tell someone who might be struggling:

  • “Do something.”
  • “Get started.”
  • “Everybody has time.”
  • “Quit making excuses.”
  • “I wish I’d done this earlier.”
Our overall Biggest Loser was Michelle Clark, who lost 15.8% of her body weight, and 26.2 lbs. Vince Porter was second, losing 13.5% and 33.6 lbs. Kara Englum finished third, losing 9.9% and 16.8 lbs. Sande Sherer placed fourth, losing 9.0% and 17.0 lbs. Darcy Midgley was fifth, losing 8.1% and 19.6 lbs, and Shirley Fiscus was sixth, losing 7.4% and 16.0 lbs.

If you have any questions about exercise or weight loss, or would like to weigh in on whether we should do another Biggest Loser “15” after the New Year, feel free to contact Tom through Facebook at !

Friday, December 09, 2011


We’ve been talking about raising the level of your workouts by doing high intensity interval training (HIIT). Two weeks ago, I introduced the group to another great set of exercises they could do with just a 30 lb bar and two 5 lb plates (40 lbs total). The guys started with a 45 lb bar and two 10 lb plates (65 lbs total).

The first exercise was 10 deadlifts. Without stopping, they then performed 10 reps of upright rows. Then they did 10 front squats, holding the bar on their chest. Finally, they did 10 front shoulder presses or push-presses (using their legs a bit if necessary).

After the 40 reps, they put the bar down and did 20 sit-ups which gave them a bit of a break. They did 5 rounds of the deadlifts, upright rows, squats and shoulder presses, and sit-ups.

This week, since it was the last real workout with the group, I wanted to make sure they got one more chance to see how to turn it up! I decided to challenge them by adding a couple new things (pull-ups and handstand pushups), to a long list of other exercises they’ve done.

Instead of doing several exercises interval style for 4-5 rounds, this time they did a bunch of different exercises for 25 reps each. They couldn’t move on to the next station until they’d completed all the reps at the current station.

Each movement uses Pushing muscles (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps), Pulling muscles (Back, Biceps, Forearms), Lower Body (Hips & Thighs), Core (Abdominals & Obliques), or sometimes a combination of muscle groups. Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions.

  • Ran ¼ mile
  • 25 Handstand Pushups
  • 25 Pull-ups
  • 25 Body Squats
  • 25 Sit-ups
  • 25 Dumbbell Lateral Raises
  • 25 Kettle Bell Swings
  • 25 Knee-Raises
  • 25 Pushups
  • 25 Dumbbell Curls
  • 25 Box Jumps
  • 25 Mountain Climbers
  • 25 Pilate Crunches
  • Ran ¼ mile
This week’s Biggest Loser was Vince Porter, who lost 1.0% of his body weight and 2.2 lbs. Michelle Clark placed 2nd, losing almost 1.0% and a pound. Third place was a tie between Kara Englum, Shirley Fiscus, and Jennifer Bell who all lost about 0.5% and a pound.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Last week we talked about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio workouts. This week I’d like to tell you about a couple other types of interval training workouts.

Whether it’s with Biggest Loser groups, or folks in the gym, I like to teach four levels of workouts. They range from basic to difficult in a progression that keeps the body changing.

Level 1 workouts use the machines; Level 2 workouts use basic free weight exercises with dumbbells and exercise balls. Level 3 workouts start combining the high intensity interval training (HIIT) with strength training.

Level 4 workouts are the toughest, using both free weights and body weight movements and sometimes, cardio, in a circuit that keeps the heart rate up while still giving you a great muscular strength and endurance workout. They are real calorie blasters!

After showing the Biggest Losers how to do HIIT on the cardio equipment, the next step was teaching them a Level 3 workout where they start to combine the HIIT workouts with their strength training workouts. They did this one a couple weeks ago.

They ran ¼ mile on the treadmill, then went in the workout room and did 25 pushups, 25 body squats, and 25 sit-ups. They did this four times (4x) for a total of one mile running, and 100 pushups, 100 body squats, and 100 sit-ups.

When the weather’s nice and it isn’t dark outside, that’s a good one to do at the football field. That way they can run their ¼ miles around the track, and the pushups, squats and sit-ups on the grass. It was just as intense in the gym, though.

The Level 4 workout they learned was pretty tough, too. Each person started at a different station and did 50 seconds of one exercise, and then had 10 seconds to switch stations.

1.      Wall Ball—tossing a soft 10 lb medicine ball on the wall, catching it, and squatting; works the lower body (hips & thighs), and your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps).

2.      Kettle Bell (KB) swings—works the lower body, pulling muscles (upper back & biceps), and pushing muscles (shoulders).

3.      BOSU Pushups—on a BOSU trainer; works pushing muscles and your core.

4.      Box Jumps—on a 12-24” step; works the lower body muscles.

5.      Single Arm (SA) Dumbbell (DB) Curls—works the pulling muscles.

6.      AB Routine #1-4—crunches, crunches with legs in the air, sit-ups crossing to each side, and leg lifts; works your upper and lower abdominals and your obliques.

They did each exercise until they’d completed one circuit. Then they repeated the whole thing until they had gone around a total of four times, in just 24 minutes.

Give it a try. If you’re not sure how to do some of the movements, get with someone who does. Feel free to contact me with questions at .

This week’s Biggest Loser was Michelle Clark, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.2 lbs. Nikki Johnson was second, losing 1.3% and 3.0 lbs, and Darcy Midgley placed third, losing 1.2% and 2.6 lbs.