Thursday, December 20, 2012


This marked the end of Biggest Loser “17” for our group, after 12 weeks of training and watching what they ate. After the final weigh-in, the remaining participants once again took measurements of their arms, chest, stomach, hips, legs and calves. The goal was to compare their numbers with what they got in the first meeting, so they could calculate total inches lost.

We also did a fitness post-test, consisting of a minute each of push-ups, sit-ups, body squats, burpees, and mountain climbers. In each case, the participants were stronger and had much more endurance, sometimes markedly so, often doubling and tripling their numbers from before.

They also had to record a final 1 mile walk/run time. It was not unusual to see several minutes taken off their 1 mile walk/run time from twelve weeks ago. Most of them have completed at least one 5 K recently, and several have done two!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 3.2% of his body weight and another 6.6 lbs in the final week of the program. He finished off the program with a 6 mile run this morning, and then Garfields for lunch and Texas Roadhouse for Supper! Not to worry – he ate sensibly at both places.

For second place, we had a tie between Nicole Shaughnessy and Betty Payne, both losing 1.2% and also 1.8 and 1.6 lbs respectively. Interestingly, we also had a tie for third place, with Ashlee Hiatt and Johna Todd losing about 1.0% and also 1.6 and 1.8 lbs respectively.

Since it was the last meeting, we talked about how each of them needed to set new goals, whether it’s additional weight loss, or maintaining the results they’ve gotten. If they get out of balance, it will be easy to put that weight right back on. Exercising daily and watching what they eat will be a life-long pursuit.

The overall winner for Biggest Loser “17” was Jeremy Whitaker (no surprise there), who lost 32.7% of his body weight and a whopping 66.4 lbs – a new Biggest Loser record for 12 weeks! His body fat percentage went down by 13.5%, and he lost in excess of 40 inches across his body. He also significantly reduced his metabolic age, now having a body much younger than his actual years, rather than much older.

Nicole Shaughnessy finished the twelve weeks in second place, losing 10.8% and 15.7 lbs. Ashlee Hiatt placed third, losing 10.2% and 17.0 lbs. Johna Todd finished fourth, losing 7.6% and 15.0 lbs. Carla Duke was fifth, losing 4.7% and 7.0 lbs, and Betty Payne finished sixth, losing 4.6% and 6.0 lbs.

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Thursday, December 13, 2012


This was the last meeting with the group before the final weigh-in next week, so I had one last chance to give them another tough workout! You might recall the last few weeks have included High Intensity Interval Training in the cardio room, and also several advanced circuit training workouts in the weight room.

To keep it new and interesting, I took things they knew from each of the past few workouts but combined them all into one giant super-circuit. Instead of doing several rounds of six or seven exercises, this time they only had to do each station one time, but a lot of reps while they were there. The other twist was that they started with a ¼ mile run, and also did ¼ mile runs after each station!

This is a challenging workout for people whether you’re used to running or not. If you’re an experienced runner, treat the ¼ mile runs like sprints and try to increase your speed each time. Then attack the different stations, trying to finish each as quickly as possible.

If running is new and difficult for you, don’t try to go too fast, just try to run the entire ¼ mile. Then when you get to the stations, push yourself there. As an alternative to running, you could do 2-3 minute intervals on an elliptical, stepper, bike, or rower. Here’s what the workout looked like, in case you’d like to give it a try.

1. 25 Pull-ups

2. 50 Box Jumps

3. 50 Kettlebell Swings

4. 50 Pushups

5. 50 Single-arm DB Curls (total)

6. 50 Sit-ups

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 2.1% of his body weight and 4.6 lbs. Johna Todd was second, losing 1.9% and 3.8 lbs. Carla Duke placed third, losing about 1.0% and 1.2 lbs. Betty Payne was fourth, losing about 1.0% and 1.0 lbs.

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Thursday, December 06, 2012


This week I introduced the group to another type of circuit training that uses some traditional power training moves. They used a straight bar which comes in two sizes: 30 lbs for the ladies, and the traditional 45 lb bar for the guys. The ladies started with the bar and 5 lbs on each side (40 lbs total) while the guys started with the bar and 10 lbs on each side (65 lbs total).

They did four basic movements. The first is a Bent Leg Dead-Lift: Bend over, grabbing the bar with both hands in an overhand grip. With knees slightly bent, use your hips and lower back to straighten your body up so you are standing straight, and the bar is hanging down around thigh level. Don’t use your arms at all, except to hold the bar. Once you straighten up, bend back over, lowering the bar to the ground. People lifting heavy weights will often use a reverse grip in one hand, switching hands in each subsequent set. On the last rep, don’t put the bar back down on the floor.

The second movement is the Hanging Clean: This movement starts with you standing up straight, with the bar in both arms hanging down in front of you with an overhand grip (where you ended above). Drop your knees just a little bit, and then accelerate your hips up while pulling up on the bar in a straight line up to eye level. At the top of the movement, drop your arms a little bit so you can get your hands under the bar and let the bar settle in front of your shoulders on your upper chest. Release the bar so it hangs at arm level again and then repeat. On the last rep, leave the bar up on your chest.

The third movement is the Front Squat: With the bar up on your chest, and keeping your body as erect as possible, bend your knees into a squat position. Try to avoid letting your knees move forward, instead pushing your hips back behind you with most of your weight on your heels. Some people find it better to balance with their shoes off, since tennis shoes tend to lift you up and tilt you forward a bit. Again, try to keep your upper body as straight as possible, with a good natural arch in your back. It might also be helpful to tilt your head back, looking upward. You definitely don’t want to bend forward as that puts too much stress on your lower back. Once you’ve reached a 90 degree angle at the knee joint, use your legs and hips to stand back up to the starting position. On the last rep, don’t put the bar down.

The fourth movement is the Push Press: Starting in the last position, slightly bend your knees, and then explode upward using your hips to get the bar moving. Using that momentum, use your arms and shoulders to press the bar up overhead into a locked position. Keep your back straight and try to avoid leaning backward. If it’s too heavy, use a lighter weight. Once the bar is overhead, you should be able to pause there for just a split second before lowering the bar back to your chest and repeating the movement. On the last rep, put the bar back down on the floor by dropping your arms so the bar is hanging down, and then lowering the bar by squatting and bending at the waist. Again, use your legs, and not just your back when lowering the bar.

After completing all four movements (40 reps total), they took “a break” by doing 5 assorted Ab exercises: Toes-2-Bar, Leg Raises, Sit-Ups, Crunches, and Leg Lifts. After doing about a minutes worth of abs, they started another set with the bar, for 5 rounds total!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 3.1% of his body weight and another 6.8 lbs. His ten week total is an amazing 55.2 lbs total. Second place went to Betty Payne, who lost 1.3% and 1.8 lbs. Carla Duke placed third, losing about 1.0% and 1.4 lbs.

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