Thursday, October 04, 2012


After taking the summer off, it’s nice to get another Biggest Loser group started, so here we go with Biggest Loser “17.” It’s a pretty small group, just fourteen people, especially compared to some of the bigger groups we’ve had, but I figure there are still lots of people wanting to do this on their own.

So for the next 12 weeks, I’m going to take you through everything we do with the group. I’ll tell you about the workouts and how they progress in intensity over the course of the program. We’ll also cover how they’re learning to watch what they’re eating.

There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel—if someone has success, we should be able to copy it and have some success of our own. So if you want to do this on your own, you should be able to mirror what they do with similar results. Here’s what we’ve done so far.

A week ago, we met for the initial weigh-in and measurement sessions so they could get an accurate read on where they were. We took weight, body fat, water, bone density, and other variables, as well as several tape measurements: Right & Left Arm, Chest, Stomach, Hips, Right & Left Thigh, and Right & Left Calves. They’ll weigh-in weekly, and do measurements once a month. This will give them a way of tracking their progress, both on the scale, and around their body.

They also did a fitness test consisting of 1 min pushups, 1 min sit-ups, 1 min body squats, 1 min burpees, and 1 min mountain climbers. Part of their homework assignment was to do a 1 mile walk/run for time.

We had two goals here. The first was just to show them what kind of shape they were in. The other was to have something to compare to when they do the tests again in 12 weeks. I’m betting they’ll all be pretty amazed at how much easier each of these tests will be.

Another part of their homework was to start filling out a Daily Calorie Log. Most people have no idea how much they’re eating—they either guess high or low—but few people guess right. This will lock that in for them and show them exactly where they are each day.

We’ll also use the logs to look at the quality of their foods, but for the first week, it’s all about getting the quantity right. Women need to stay above 1,200 calories; men above 1,800. Targets that seem to work pretty well are 1,650 calories for women and 2,400 calories for men. If you don’t get enough food, your metabolism will slow, making it hard to burn fat for fuel.

Obviously, if you get too much, you store whatever you don’t need as fat. Either way, it’s a problem, so the trick is figuring out what your body needs and not go much over that. Then, by adding exercise and more activity, you put your body in a calorie deficit that lets you start burning fat for fuel.

If you can burn 500 calories a day through a combination of exercise and watching what you eat, you’ll net 3,500 calories a week, which is a pound of fat. If you can double that and burn 1,000 calories a day, you can lose two pounds of fat, and so on. In the end, it comes down to how much activity you have, and how closely you stick to your calorie targets.

Highly motivated people can even triple those numbers, especially early in the weight loss cycle, often losing three pounds a week or even more. Of the 14 people involved, eight of them lost at least 2.6 pounds, and six of them lost over 3.4 lbs, so you see what I’m talking about.

That means we’re off to a good start. All 14 people weighed in, with 12 of them losing weight. We had a two-way tie for first place between Carla Duke and Jeremy Whitaker, both losing 3.8% of their body weight and a whopping 6.0 lbs and 10.2 lbs respectively. Second place went to Nicole Shaughnessy, who lost 3.1% and 5.0 lbs.

Their workout goals are to walk at least a mile every morning, and then get their regular workouts each afternoon or evening. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they’re supposed to hit the weight machine circuit after a cardio warm-up. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, they’ll get a good cardio workout on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, rower, stepper, or even running and walking outside.

They’re also supposed to start pushing a little bit during their cardio workouts. One of the best ways to get this going is by first warming up, and then trying to jog a minute at a low running speed (4.0 to 5.0 mph). After a minute pushing, they can rest a little by walking two minutes. Then they do another interval jogging, rest, and so on. This will help them prepare for an upcoming 5 K (3.1 mile) walk/run they’ll do in November.

Next week we’ll take a look at food diaries and how they start ramping things up in the gym. Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

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