Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The older I get, the faster each year seems to go. Remember when we were younger, and things seemed to take forever? Still, to me, year ends are like bookends. It’s always good to take a look back so you can close the book on things.

Did you accomplish all you wanted to do? If not, did you at least make some progress?

Unfortunately, sometimes we can look around and wonder what we really accomplished. If everything’s the same but everything’s great, then that’s fine. Good job. But if everything’s still the same and everything isn’t great, then you’ve got some work to do in 2014.

If you’ve just been procrastinating, remember time marches on, with or without you. If you feel like you just can’t do it, I’d like to ask “who said you can’t do it? Who told you that?” Just because you haven’t been successful yet doesn’t mean you can’t be, or won’t be.

You might recall last week I told you “Resolutions matter, but what you do matters more.” Well here are ten tips to help you keep them:

1. Know what you want to do.
2. Really, really want it.
3. Do your homework.
4. Break it up into smaller, attainable goals.
5. Stay focused.
6. Don’t let setbacks throw you off track.
7. Learn from your mistakes.
8. Get back on the pony.
9. Take pride in your victories, but know that they’re not yours alone.
10. Use them to gain momentum that keeps building, until you get what you want.

To give you some support, we’re going right ahead with our community-wide Biggest Loser “19” in January starting right after the holidays on Monday, January 6th. Our goal is to have lots of couples, partners, or even just friends, so you’ll have lots of motivation to get there!

For more information, you can reach by email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Friday, December 20, 2013


I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about their New Year’s resolutions. You’ve probably even made a few of your own over the years. The question is, did you follow through? Did you actually do the things you said you were going to do?

Most everyone has good intentions. We’d all like to see things get better whether it’s at home, at work, in the community, or inside our clothing. I’m guessing that many of us are feeling a little bit snugger in those “skinny” jeans. Maybe even in our not-so-skinny jeans!

You’ve probably heard that the average American gains between five and seven pounds over the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Years. It’s easy to see why, with all the extra temptations like Christmas cookies, Egg Nog, and all those awesome leftovers.

Plus you’ve got all that stuff to do during the holidays like all the running around for shopping, kids concerts, and so on. It’s easy to start missing workouts, if you were active. And if you were already struggling with the whole exercise business, it’s easy to let it slide altogether.

Here’s where you just have to have some discipline. Good things don’t always happen to those who wait (although sometimes you do have wait). Good things tend to happen to those who get going, and keep going!

Sometimes I hear people speak a little enviously of others. “Those people are so lucky, they can just do anything they want.” Or, “She’s always so skinny, she can just eat anything.”

But they don’t see how that couple has worked three jobs, tons of overtime, socking money away, and avoiding debt. And that gal has walked five miles a day, everyday, for years, even in bad weather! It’s what they’ve done, that has put them in that better place today.

Having a resolution is great, because it means you’re really resolved to do something; it‘s important to you. It means you have a plan. And telling other people gives you leverage and helps make you accountable.

To help you get some leverage, the community-wide Biggest Loser “19” starts right after the holidays, on Monday, January 6th. If you’ve already made your resolutions, that’s great, for resolutions do matter. But remember, talk can be cheap. It’s what you do that matters most.

For more information, you can reach by email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Friday, December 13, 2013


After 12 difficult weeks, we finally reached the end of Biggest Loser “18.” We started with 24, and ended up with 12, which was exactly half the group. Things come up, people get busy, and priorities change, especially with such a difficult thing as starting and sticking to a new, rigorous, exercise and weight loss program.

The statistic always holds, no matter the size of the group (we’ve had up to 66), the difficulty of the program (I’ve tried easing them into it, slamming them into it, and everything in between). Half will finish, half will drop for one reason or another.

So I always like to ask the ones left standing a couple questions: “What makes you different? How did you do this, when others couldn’t? Here are some of their answers.

“I just made up my mind.” “I love new clothing.” “It’s about not ever giving up, even if you tried 100 times before.” “Determination.” “It was the competition with my wife.” “When you told us half the people always quit, I was determined not to be a quitter.”

The group also took post-test like the one they took on the first day: a series of one minute tests: Pushups, Sit-ups, Body Squats, Burpees, and Mountain Climbers (they had already done a 1-mile post-test on their own).

All of them were much stronger in each area, doubling their output in several categories. Most took several minutes off their 1 mile time, and a couple gained more than 7 minutes!

The winner for Week Twelve was Johna Todd, who finished first by losing 2.4 lbs and 1.2% of her body weight. Lesley Mills, Tracy Whitaker, and Sondra Martin tied for second place, and Julie Panetti and Debbie Eveland tied for third place.

Our overall winner for Biggest Loser “18” was Jeremy Whitaker, who lost 30.0 lbs and 17.1% of his body weight during the 12 weeks. This is particularly impressive because he was also the winner last time in Biggest Loser “17”, losing 66.4 lbs, bringing his total weight loss to 96.4 lbs! This is the first time anyone has won two Biggest Losers or two in a row.

Tracy Whitaker, finished second overall, losing 18.2 lbs and 13.6% of her body weight. This was also unique, because it was the first time a husband and wife ever finished in 1st and 2nd place! Sondra Martin was third, losing 30.2 lbs and 12.7% of her body weight.

Now the group needs to think about how to maintain what they’ve fought so hard for. In some cases, they’ll set new fitness and weight loss goals, with a new 12-week cycle. Others may need three or four 12-week cycles before they get where they really want to be.

To help them along, we’ll be starting Biggest Loser “19” right after the holidays on Monday, January 6th. It’s been reported that most Americans gain 5-7 lbs between Thanksgiving and New Years. Hopefully that won’t happen to this group, but if it does, we’ll be ready!

For more information, you can reach by email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


We’re getting close to the finish line for this 12 week program and it’s pretty clear who the finishers will be. I always wish more people could make it to the end, but so many different things always seem to come up that make it hard for them to stick with it.

For the remaining participants, it always comes down to how well they hit their calorie targets each week, and how much they were able to keep moving. Calories out must exceed calories in. If you watch what you eat and move more, you’ll lose the pounds.

While those things are constant, we try to change the intensity of their workouts each week. As they get capable of doing more work, they’ll be able to burn more calories which means more pounds off on the scale.

The goal has always been to show them they can do much more than they thought they could do, in both the cardio room and weight room. Since this was the last chance I had to work them out, I really tried to make that point this week.

We set up a couple 6 station circuits and spent 30 seconds at each station with about a short break after each round. That amounted to about 3 ½ minutes per round, if you count movement time. The exercises were Dumbbell Curls, Box Jumps, Pushups, Kettlebell Swings, Ball Smack-downs, and Abs.

At first they thought they were doing five rounds, but after the fifth one, I let them know they were actually doing ten! It would have been hard for them to believe they could do 10 rounds, but once they were halfway, they realized that they could do it.

Since each station lasted only 30 seconds, they were able to push really hard at each station, each time. This 100% effort on each exercise is guaranteed to raise the intensity.

Two of the group are runners, doing significant mileage each week. They both said they were breathing harder and sweating more than they do during 8-10 mile runs. Another participant logged 400 calories for the 36 minute workout, which is quite good for such a short time.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Sondra Martin, who lost another 2.0 lbs and 0.8% of her body weight. Sondra’s been very consistent, averaging two and a half pounds a week for a total of 28.8 lbs. Second place went to Tracy Whitaker, losing 1.0 lb and 0.7%. Stevannah Drake was third, losing 1.0 lb and 0.6%.

For more information, you can reach by email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


I do a lot of kickboxing and other forms of martial arts training like Brazilian JiuJitsu and mixed martial arts, so as you might imagine, I also like to work them into my regular workouts.

One of my favorite workouts is to do ten 5 min rounds on the heavy bag with a 30 second break between rounds. Since it’s a lot of rounds, with little rest, it’s a pretty good workout.

Sometimes, if I don’t feel like doing so many rounds, I’ll alternate rounds on the bag with either 500 meters on the rower, or with quarter mile sprints on the treadmill. If I’m doing that, I’ll usually just do five 5 min rounds.

Once in awhile, if I’ve had trouble finding time to get my weight workout in, I’ll actually work it into a kickboxing routine, or a Brazilian JiuJitsu workout on the mat with a partner. I tend to do this more when I can roll with a partner on the mat, but hitting the bag works fine too.

The most recent example is where we did 5 minutes on the mat, and then a biceps and triceps exercise. Then we returned to the mat for another round, another set for arms, and so on. I’ve also done it with chest & back routines, and also with legs & abs, usually for 10 rounds.

Regardless what body parts you’re working on, it’ll be a tough workout, because you tend to also use the same parts kickboxing or rolling on the mat. It makes for high intensity, especially in the later rounds, and it also gives you a huge calorie burn. Trust me, your workout clothes will be totally soaked when you finish, if you’ve been pushing hard.

For this week’s Monday night group workout, we used the same idea to expand on the basic kickboxing workout we did two weeks ago. This time they learned some new combinations, and also included workout intervals. Each round lasted five minutes.

The group working their kickboxing did Jab-Cross-Low Round Kick (both sides), and then Front Kick-Jab-Cross-Low Round Kick (both sides). They worked on hand held targets for the first two rounds, and then on the heavy bag for the last two rounds.

While they were doing kickboxing, the other group did Pushups, Pull-ups, & Sit-ups or Kettlebell swings, Pull-ups & Crunches. After five minutes, each group rotated, so they all ended up with four rounds of kickboxing, and four rounds of exercises.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Steve Johnson III, who lost 2.9% of his body weight and 6.2 lbs. Debbie Eveland finished second, losing 1.2% and 1.6 lbs. Sondra Martin was third, losing 0.8% and 2.0 lbs, and Jeremy Whitaker placed fourth, losing 0.7% and 1.2 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Over the past nine weeks the group has been learning different ways to exercise, in both the cardio room, and on the weight equipment. The goal is to keep raising the level of intensity of their workouts by showing them something new each week.

This week, they learned how to perform compound movements with the long straight bar and weight plates. They’re called compound movements because they involve more than one muscle group, and since they use so many different muscles at the same time, these exercises are much more taxing. This means you’ll burn more calories faster.

The first movement is the straight bar deadlift. Bend down at the knee and waist and grab a straight bar. Being sure to use your hips and legs, and not just your lower back, you then straighten back up while dragging the bar up to your waist to an upright posture. Then you reverse the movement by bending at the knee and waist and lowering the bar back to the floor.

The second exercise is a new one called the hanging clean, which starts where the other one left off. With the bar hanging from your arms in an upright, standing position, you slightly dip your knees and hips, and then explosively drag the bar straight up your body, by pushing up with your hips, legs and calves. Your elbows will move outward, and then back inward as the bar goes up past your hands, which come in to grab the bar from below, holding it at shoulder level. Reverse the movement, letting the bar drop back to a hanging position.

The third movement also starts where the last one left off, and is called the front squat. Once you have the bar palms up in the upright position on the shoulders, with your elbows out in front of you (which keeps the bar tight to your upper chest), slowly squat down by sitting backward until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Be sure to keep your upper body as straight as possible and avoid bending forward, which can hurt your lower back. Reverse the movement by pushing up, especially from your heels, and not just the balls of your feet, until you’re standing upright again.

The final movement also begins where the last one left off, and is called the push press. This time, with the bar in the upright position, resting on your upper chest with palms up, slightly bend at the knees and hips, and then explosively straighten your legs, and hips, transferring the energy into your arms, which then explode straight upward, lifting the bar to the overhead position with arms locked out overhead. Reverse the movement until the bar is resting on your palms and upper chest.

The group performed each exercise 10 times before moving on to the next one. Once all four exercises were performed 10 times, they did a bunch of different ab exercises while waiting for their partner to complete the four movements. Then they switched back and forth until each of them had done the whole thing five times.

It’s a fairly quick workout, but it’s a barn burner, with lots of benefits. Be sure not to use much weight while you’re learning the movements. At first, you might even just use the bar, without any weights on it.

You should also get with a trainer or other qualified individual who can actually show you how to do it. You can also check out lots of videos on YouTube. Just Goggle that particular exercise and you’ll find lots of hits showing you how to do it.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Stevannah Drake, who lost 1.1% and 2.0 lbs. Second place was a tie between Tracy and Jeremy Whitaker, both losing 0.7% and 1.0 and 1.2 lbs respectively. Third place went to Sondra Martin who lost 0.4% and 1.0 lb.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, November 18, 2013


On Monday night, we reached week eight which means we’ve completed two thirds of the 12 week program. At this point, most everyone who’s going to drop out has done so, unless something serious comes up in the last four weeks.

By now, most of the participants have found their rhythm and are running on auto-pilot. While there might be a mistake now and then, they’ve pretty much figured out their eating. They’ve also been working out long enough that hopefully, it’s become a habit.

In addition to the usual Monday night weigh-in, it was also time for another set of measurements to compare with the measurements taken at the beginning and at the four week mark. By now, the differences in inches will really start adding up.

It’s also a good time to get a couple more pictures to compare with their earlier shots (if they dared to do it). The new pictures will serve as good motivation for you.

A full frontal shot and side profile shot dressed in nothing but boxers (guys), or tight shorts and a sports bra (gals) will really raise your level of “got to do this.” You’ll also be able to actually see the pounds come off from month to month.

This week we did Kickboxing for the workout. After pairing up the participants, we talked about the basic elements of Kickboxing like how to make a proper fist, how to cover your head, bobbing and weaving, scooting in and out, jab, cross, knee-knee, cover, cover, and even a back leg front kick.

At first we broke everything down to the simplest possible elements. Once they started getting it, we started putting things together in combinations, switching back and forth. After practice in the air, they started hitting a pair of targets held by their partners.

After even more practice, the partners also used the targets to counter strike with, which helped the others to remember to keep their hands up. It also helped them learn how to react off an opponent.

Once they had the skills, we added scooting in and out, which helps you change the distance to your opponent as needed. It also adds a lot of intensity to the workout. By the end of the class, they were all doing the entire sequence: jab-cross, cover-cover (or duck, duck), knee-knee, and front kick.

The most important things are to take your time building your skill and comfort level, and to always protect your partner (don’t get too excited). People don’t always react right, and it’s easy to hit someone by mistake.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Pam Johns, who lost 2.2% of her body weight and 3.4 lbs. Sondra Martin was second, losing 1.8% and 4.4 lbs. Lesley Mills and Ryan Carroll tied for third place, both losing 1.1% and 2.2 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Saturday, November 02, 2013


We reached the halfway point of the 12 week program with this week’s Monday night meeting and workout. Overall, things seem to be on track for most of them, although the numbers are down as expected.

If you’ve been paying attention to the last few Biggest Losers, you’ll recall that about half of the participants typically drop out for one reason or another. This has held true over the other 17 Biggest Loser groups we’ve run, and it seems to be holding true now.

We started with 24 people, and at this point it looks like we have about 18 still involved. As I mentioned earlier, the reasons tend to vary. One thing is sure though; it’s pretty hard to get what you want if you stop trying to get it.

Over the years I’ve learned 7 steps that have helped me and others achieve goals in a variety of things, including weight loss:

1. Figure out exactly what you want.
2. Set some realistic goals.
3. Measure your progress.
4. Periodically evaluate your performance.
5. Modify your behavior and redouble your efforts if necessary.
6. Stay focused and be consistent.
7. Don’t quit.

Since we were halfway through, we talked about whether their results have been measuring up to their expectations. If so, that’s awesome. Keep on trucking. If not, then we have to try to figure out what’s going wrong and make some changes.

Have they been hitting it hard? Getting all their workouts in? Getting the eating right? Is something else going on? They need to try and zero in on the thing or things that have been throwing them off track. The tough thing is to modify their behavior so they start getting the results they want. It always is.

To keep turning it up on the exercise side of things, I gave them an 11 station, 3 round circuit (since 11 people showed up for the workout). As usual in circuits, they spent a minute at each station, working for 45-50 seconds, and using the last 10-15 seconds to rotate to the next station.

After they hit all 11 stations, they got a 1 minute break to get a quick drink between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. This amounted to a 35 minute workout with 33 actual minutes working out. The first round was fairly easy, the second round was tough, and consensus was, the third and final round was really tough.

Most of them felt like they’d been working out much longer. They also thought they’d worked out much harder than in a typical hour long cardio workout. Here’s what they did:

1. Handstands on the wall (or donkey kicks)
2. Dumbbell Curls
3. Rower
4. Burpees
5. Schwinn AirDyne
6. Overhead Push Presses w/straight bar
7. Rower #2
8. Battle Rope
9. Kettlebell swings
10. Schwinn AirDyne #2
11. Assorted Abs (crunches & crunches w/legs up; crunches to sides; leglifts)

This week’s Biggest Loser was Tracy Whitaker who lost 3.6 lbs and 2.5% of her body weight. Debbie Eveland placed second, losing 2.8 lbs and 2.1%. Third place went to Jeremy Whitaker who lost 2.8 lbs and 1.5%.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


For the last month, we’ve been getting the group used to working out daily. They’ve been using all the weight machines three to four days a week, in addition to their daily cardio workouts.

Over the last couple of weeks they’ve also picked up quite a few exercises that use free weights, dumbbells, and exercise balls. This has helped them add lots of intensity to their workouts. That means they can burn more calories.

This week, we talked about how to add that intensity in the cardio room with HIIT (high intensity interval training). The neat thing about HIIT, is that you can do it on any piece of cardio equipment, whether it’s on the treadmill, elliptical, rower, stationary or recumbent bike, Schwinn AirDyne (bike with arms), or the stair stepper.

After a short warmup, the goal is to take a one minute interval and try to go harder than usual. Then you slow down for a minute to give you a little break to recover. Then you hit it hard again for another minute, slow down and rest a minute, and so on.

You can decide how long the hard intervals are, as well as the rest intervals. Once you get in great shape, you might go 90 seconds hard, and only 30 seconds easy. Or you could even go 2 minutes hard and 1 minute easy.

Later, you might pour it on for an entire quarter mile, and then walk a couple minutes, repeating until you’ve covered a mile and a half, or two miles with high intensity intervals. I’ve done half mile repeats (800’s) where you just kill it for a half mile, and then walk two minutes, before repeating two or three more times.

You can do HIIT training on one piece of equipment for the entire time, say 20-30 minutes. You can also rotate between different pieces of equipment during your workout.

For example, start with three or four one minute HIIT intervals on the treadmill, move to the rower and do three or four HIIT intervals there. Then do three or four HIIT intervals on the elliptical. Finally, move to the Schwinn AirDyne bicycle and do several HIIT intervals there.

This is essentially what the group did during the Monday night workout. That way they got to feel what HIIT workouts felt like on the different pieces of cardio equipment. I think they learned that in the end, HIIT workouts are tough no matter where you do them!

It’s a good idea to do a few minutes easy at the start to be sure you’re fully warmed up. You also want to ease into the intervals, making each one a little harder, ramping up the intensity of the tough intervals. Don’t just jump right into the toughest, fastest, or hardest one.

Finally, you want to work up to a couple intervals that are almost too tough to complete. They might be so tough that you just can’t maintain the pace for the entire minute. Try to hang on for the whole minute if you can. If not, that’s O.K. Just rest a few seconds and then try to finish it.

At least now you’ll know what your limits are. I’ll bet it will be more than you thought you could do. If you couldn’t quite make the whole minute, make it your goal to try and get it the next time you do a HIIT workout. It’s very possible that you’ll get it that next time.

Make sure you don’t stop immediately after the toughest intervals. Spend a little time cooling down first. Be prepared for lots of sweat, and needing a couple of minutes to catch your breath.

You might also be hungry later, because these HIIT workouts take a lot out of you. You’ll still be burning calories too, even a couple hours after the workout. That means you’ll burn more total calories than in regular cardio workouts, and that will help you get what you want!

This week’s Biggest Loser was Steve Johnson III, losing 2.5% of his body weight and 5.4 lbs. Jeremy Whitaker was second, losing 1.9% and 3.6 lbs. Third place went to Stevannah Drake, who lost 1.8% and 3.4 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, October 21, 2013


We just finished the first four weeks of training with Biggest Loser “18.” With one month down, and two to go, we’re still really just getting started. Up to now we’ve focused on helping them learn to control their portions, watch their total calories, and get moving at least once every day (twice is better).

It takes awhile before something new can become a habit. But after a month of eating right, it should start getting a little easier to put healthy meals together. And with a month of daily workouts behind them, hopefully they’re getting to the point where they’re not having to fight themselves to get to the gym either.

So at this point, the main issues will be getting them to stick with the program, and to keep them progressing in their workouts. Typically, about half the group drops out of most programs at one time or another.

Right now, we’re doing pretty well with about 20 out of the original 24 still here, giving us about an 80% participation rate. The irony is that the harder they work now, the better results they get. The better they do, the more motivated they are to continue. That’s why we push pretty hard to get good results early.

In the end, you get what you focus on. Work hard and work often, and sooner or later, you’ll likely get what you want (as long as it’s reasonable). One thing is certain. If you quit trying, you’ll never get what you want.

The other big focus will be teaching them how to add intensity to their workouts. As they get stronger, they can work out harder, burning more calories in the same amount of time. Or, they can work out longer, which also burns more calories. This translates directly to more weight loss.

One of the big keys is mixing up the workouts by adding new and different exercises that they aren’t used to. This helps them get through the inevitable weight loss plateau.

Circuit training is an excellent way to keep things moving along. To that end, I gave them a two part workout with a bunch of new and challenging exercises. The first part was four rounds of four exercises, each lasting about 50 seconds, with 10 seconds to move to the next station.

Round One: Bouncing pushups over a BOSU trainer; Box Jumps on and off of a step with several risers; Standing dumbbell (DB) curl & overhead presses; and AB rollers with a stability ball.

Round Two: Pushups on an upside down BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s side-to-side; Walking Lunges; and Pushups with their legs on the stability ball.

Round Three: Body Squats standing on the BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s length wise; Walking Lunges with DB curls; and Knee-Ins on the stability ball.

Round Four: Burpees while holding the BOSU trainer; Box Step Over’s while turning behind; Walking Lunges with DB curl & overhead presses; and Pikes on the stability ball.

The second part of the workout took about 12 minutes. One person got on the battle rope and had to do 25 battle ropes (L & R) while the others took did DB Burpee Curl & Presses (holding two DB, drop down and do a pushup on them, then stand back up with the DB, curling & pressing them overhead; repeat).

When the person finished on the rope, another took their place, rotating until everyone had a chance to do the battle rope. Everyone else continued with the DB Burpee Curl & Presses, which was pretty brutal by the time everybody got through the rope!

What makes workouts like these so difficult, but also so effective, is that the are using whole body movements like the Walking Lunge, Curl Press, or DB Burpee Curl & Presses. The exercises on the BOSU trainer and stability ball also require lots of muscle, especially your core.

Since these exercises use all the major muscle groups, often at the same time, they require lots of oxygen, and burn tons of calories, including a long after burn. Start-to-finish, it was less than a half hour, but I’ll bet they’ll tell you it was the toughest workout by far.

This week’s Biggest Loser was Julie Panetti, who lost 2.1% of her body weight and 2.6 lbs. Second place went to Maddie Johnson, who lost 1.9% and 4.6 lbs. Third place was a tie between Pam Johns and Jeremy Whitaker, both losing 1.5% and 2.4 lbs and 2.8 lbs respectively.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, October 14, 2013


This week we talked about how to keep your diet in check while you’re eating out. The easiest and most obvious way is to simply check the menu for calories.

Many fast food places publish the calories for most items, either in the store or online. You’ll also find them on the good phone apps. Some of the larger restaurant chains also have a low calorie menu where you’ll know the value of the whole meal.

Most of the fast food chains now have some pretty healthy menu choices like grilled chicken sandwiches and salads, wraps, and of course 6” subs. The key there is to avoid the fries and large pops, which add a ton of calories to your meal.

If you can’t find the calories, then you can make a good guess. Figure a 5-6 oz serving of meat or poultry is around 150 calories and a 7-8 oz serving is 200 calories. Both will usually be about the size of your palm; the smaller size for women, and the large size for men.

A quality serving of starch (potato, sweet potato, pasta, rice, etc…) will be about 150 calories for a half size portion (ladies), or 300 calories for a full size portion (guys). Like we talked about last week, the key is to just eat one serving.

It’s hard to consume more than 100 calories in a serving of vegetables, even with a little sauce. The only issue with salads is the dressing. A serving size is usually just 2 tbsp, which would be 50 calories (low fat) or up to 200 calories or more for house or regular dressings.

Soft drinks or sweet teas typically run around 120-150 calories per 8 oz serving. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s easy to have a refill or two without even thinking about it, so be careful.

Once you have an idea of what certain foods are, you can plan to fit it into your day. If you know it’s going to be a little high, you can scale back elsewhere, by skipping a snack, or in some extreme cases, another meal if you know you really need the room.

Of course you can always make up for it by throwing in an extra calorie burning workout like an extra walk at night, or staying in the gym a little longer. The point is that sometimes you can eat some of the foods you might have thought were off limits. If you’re careful, between the two strategies you can ensure that nothing will be stored as fat; you’ll just burn it.

This week they did a full body circuit with dumbbells (DB) and calisthenics for the Monday night workout. It was just 30 minutes, but I’m pretty sure they thought it was action packed. Here it is in case you’d like to give it a try:

1. DB Chest Press & DB Pec Fly’s on the Ball (Chest)
2. DB Squat & DB Deadlifts (Lower Body)
3. DB Single Arm Rows, and DB Pull-overs on the Ball (Back)
4. Pushups, Sit-Ups & Body Squats, run-in-place w/3 burpees (3 rounds)
5. DB Shoulder Press & DB Lateral Raises (Shoulders)
6. DB Overhead Tricep Press & DB Tricep Kickbacks (Arms)
7. DB Hammer Curls & DB Bicep Curls (Arms)
8. AB Routine #1-5: Crunches, Crunches w/legs up, Cross to L, Cross to R, & Leg-lifts (Abs)

First place this week was a tie between Jeremy Whitaker and Shelly Borchers who both lost 1.9% of their body weight and 3.6 and 3.4 lbs respectively. Steve Johnson III placed second, losing 1.7% and 3.8 lbs.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Our goals for Week Two were to make sure they’re exercising every day, and then to help them start ramping up their workouts as they get stronger. In previous Biggest Losers, I worked the group out after each weekly weigh-in, and told them what to do the rest of the week.

For Biggest Loser “18”, I’m posting a different workout on Facebook each day, which is the same workout I’d do if I were personally training each of them. So this is even better. It’s pretty cool to come in and see people actually doing it, just like I posted.

The daily posts have been mostly workouts utilizing machines up to this point. Now they’ll start including some free weight exercises, as well as more sets and reps of everything.

Using free weights will force them to use more muscle groups to help stabilize the weights, which means they’ll burn more calories in their workouts. I held back a bit early on to help with soreness, and help them build confidence, but now they’re ready for more.

To that end I set up a circuit with a bunch of dumbbells, exercise balls, kettlebells, and some other cool stuff. This will help them learn how to turn things up in the weight room.

They split up into groups of four, each group doing a station for a minute or so before rotating to the next station. It wasn’t a super tough workout, but the information gained will open the door to much more interesting workouts that will be tougher!

On the food side of things, the goal this week was for them to continue eating the right amount of food, but also to start looking at the quality of their food. They learned about the three main categories:

Protein – is for building muscle and bone; lean cuts of beef, pork, poultry, fish, nuts, and some beans. Most people don’t get nearly enough protein, especially if they are working out. Every meal and snack should include protein, and even then, you might need to supplement with a protein shake.

Starches – are complex carbohydrates that provide long lasting energy, and some vitamins and minerals. Sources include whole grain breads and cereals, oats, barley, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and some beans. We usually get too many starches in our diet, especially at things like potlucks, or if we’re eating fast foods, or junk foods, which are poor substitutes nutritionally, and much higher in calories. If you eat one quality starch per meal, you’ll always have the energy you need to get through your day and workout.

Fruits & Greens – are basically free foods that provide lots of quick energy (fruits), vitamins & minerals (both), and a ton of fiber (vegetables especially). It’s hard to go wrong with these, unless you’re a diabetic (see your doctor). A good plan is to try to have fruits at least at breakfast & lunch, and vegetables at least at supper.

Most experts also recommend an Omega-3 (fish oil) to make sure you’re getting the proper amount of “good” fats. Recent studies are showing that it’s even better if you take a “Multi-Oil” that contains a blend of Omega-3, 6, & 9 oils.

These tips have helped a lot of our Biggest Losers lose quite a bit of weight over the last 17 groups. For more detailed and personal information, see a nutritionist or your doctor.

The winner for Week Two was Pam Johns, who lost 1.7% of her body weight and 2.8 lbs. Nicole Shaughnessy placed second, losing 1.6% and 2.3 lbs. Steve Johnson III and Polly Webster tied for third, both losing 1.4% and 3.2 lbs and 2.0 lbs respectively.

For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Monday, September 30, 2013


After a good start a week ago, we met again Monday night for the first weekly weigh-in and workout. Perhaps the biggest issue was quite a few of the participants struggled to hit their basal metabolic rate (BMR). I call this their “hitting their minimum.”

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), ladies should never go below 1,200 calories/day, and guys should never go below 1,800. This is without regard to activity level, meaning it’s what they’d need and burn, even if they were in a coma. If they’re active on top of that, they’d need even more calories.

It’s pretty common for women to eat less than their minimum, but many have a hard time even getting to 1,000 calories/day. Experience proves that 9 out of 10 won’t be hitting their minimum. Guys tend to be overeaters, so it tends to swing the other way, with 9 out of 10 getting more than they need. This is certainly the case with me. It’s easy for me to overeat.

Let’s start with the guys. It’s easy to get in a scenario where you can be 500 calories over for the day due to overeating, inactivity, or both. Since a pound of fat is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories, it just takes 7 days being 500 calories over and you’re a pound heavier.

If you’re only a little over, it can take longer to accumulate the fat, which is why it tends to creep up on us. We won’t notice it for awhile, but then one day, we’re 10-15 lbs overweight. If we don’t take any action, that will turn to 30-40 lbs, or more over time.

So with the guys, it’s usually just a matter of teaching them how to control their portions, and then getting their butt moving. Hitting it from both directions like that usually brings great results.

For the under-eaters, it’s not quite that simple. If you’re not hitting your minimum, based on your BMR, your body puts you into “starvation” mode, and tries to preserve energy stores (fat). So even if you think you’re going to lose weight by eating less, it becomes almost impossible to burn fat for fuel.

This is the dilemma facing most women. Plenty of them are active, and eating like birds, but they can’t lose the weight. But it’s counter-intuitive for them to believe they need to eat more. They just can’t bring themselves to do it.

So the biggest problem I have isn’t getting them to exercise more. It’s getting them to believe that if they’ll just eat another 200-300 calories a day, it won’t be stored as fat, it will be used as fuel. They’ll just burn it, and they’ll feel a lot better too.

Sometimes it takes weeks before they’ll get on board with this idea, but once they do, they always start losing weight immediately. I’ve had women resist this for 10 weeks, but after seeing the others do it and get results, they finally give in, and that will be the first week they lose two pounds.

Even if they’re not hungry, and often they aren’t, they need to try to get to that minimum by eating breakfast, even if it’s not a full breakfast. Small snacks can also help get them there.

Over the years, we’ve found that the average women will lose weight successfully on three 400 calorie meals, and two to three healthy 150 calorie snacks totaling 1,500-1,650 calories/day. Guys tend to be successful with three 500-600 calorie meals, and two to three 300 calorie snacks totaling 2,100-2,400 calories. The trick is to experiment and see what works best for you. Just remember never to go below your minimum.

As for how little you can eat, I’ve seen some extremely strong willed participants over the years stay with 1,200 or 1,800 calories, but most people find that hard to stick with. It seems to work better for people to stay a few hundred calories above it, especially if you’re active.

Keep in mind, I’m not a nutritionist. These are just basic guidelines that we’ve seen work for lots of other people in the Biggest Loser programs. You should check with your doctor and a real nutritionist for more information, or if you have special concerns that need to be addressed.

Next week, we’ll be talking about the quality of food, and how your body uses different foods. I’ll also give you some sample meals that have worked well for Biggest Losers in the past.

You might be thinking that this is a lot of information about food, and where are the workouts? I understand. As a gym owner and fitness guy, you know I want to talk about exercise and working out, but that’s only part of the puzzle. You have to get the food right too.

For the workout, we ran about a half mile down the street to the park and did three rounds of jumping jacks, windmills, pushups, body squats, mountain climbers, and lunges, 10 reps each. After jogging back to the gym, they added sit-ups, and learned a new crunch routine. This week, they’ve been focusing on the machines. Next week we’ll add some free weights!

The winner for Week One was Shelly Borchers who lost an amazing 9.4 lbs and 4.9% of her body weight. Jeremy Whitaker took second place, losing 9.6 lbs and 4.7% of his body weight. Tracy Whitaker was third, losing 5.0 lbs and 3.3%.
For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Biggest Loser “18” met together for the first time Monday night with 24 participants. It was exciting for me, as we haven’t had a Biggest Loser group since last fall. Over the last few years, we’ve done 17 other groups, so after a nine month break, I was ready to go.

It’s always pretty chaotic on the first night. It takes a little time to teach them how to use the scale and get weighed in. Not that the scale’s difficult, but there are a lot of variables it measures. I’ll have more on that later.

While people were weighing in, we had the rest of them getting their basic measurements: R & L arm, Chest, Stomach, Hips, R & L thigh, and R & L calf. They’ll do this again at the end of each month, so they’ll have four different measurements to compare along the way.

This will be especially important at times when they don’t necessarily see it on the scale. That way they can still have confidence that good things are happening, even if they’re in a weight loss plateau. Over time, the total inches they’ll lose will be amazing.

Once we got the group weighed in, we talked a little bit about how to interpret the results from the scale. First of all, no one should be totally devastated by their numbers.

Many people avoid the scale when they’re overweight, and this can be a rude awakening. That’s good, actually, because sometimes we have to reach a level of disgust with the current situation before we’re willing to do what’s necessary to make some changes.

Even so, it’s just a starting point. You need to know where you are, so you can see if you’re making progress. Besides, I never trust any one or two weigh-ins anyway. It’s the trend over time that matters.

We’ll have the following measures each week: weight, body fat %, body water %, muscle mass, their BMR (basal metabolic rate), metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral (belly) fat.

Body fat % is important for a couple of reasons. Weight loss without a corresponding drop in body fat, means you’re losing muscle mass. That’s not how we want to do this. For every pound you lose, you should see a .25 to .5 reduction in body fat. The body fat % is also very accurate in predicting the risk of things like diabetes and high blood pressure due to obesity.

Knowing the body water % is also important to see if they are fully hydrated. This is critical, because hydration has a big effect on measured body fat % and muscle mass, so you’ll know whether you can trust the numbers. It also has a lot to do with how you feel, and how well your body is working.

I love the fact that they can get their personal BMR (basal metabolic rate) directly from the scale. This will tell them exactly how many calories they need each day as a minimum. We’ll set a daily target goal a little above that, so they feel full, but still will be well set up for weight loss.

Metabolic age and visceral fat readings are also pretty big wake up calls. No one wants to have a body that’s older than they are! As for the belly fat, that’s directly correlated with their risk of heart disease.

We did several fitness tests: 1 minute of push-ups, 1 minute of sit-ups, 1 minute of body squats, 1 minute of burpees, and 1 minute of mountain-climbers. As homework assignments, they also have to complete a 1 mile walk/run and post their scores to Facebook.

They got their calorie log to start recording their daily calories, and have to turn in several days worth next Monday night. This will let them know if they’re hitting their minimum, and also get us set up to start talking about the quality of what they’re eating.

Finally, they got their workout assignments for the week: Walk 20 minutes every morning, and get a more intense, longer workout in later in the day. Three days a week, they’ll focus on weights, and three days a week, they’ll focus on cardio oriented workouts.

I’ll be posting their suggested workouts on Facebook each day. Next week, I’ll give you more information, in case you want to follow along on your own. We’ll also have the results from Week One, which are always pretty exciting!

There’s still time to get involved in this community-wide program! For more information, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


This week I thought I’d tell you a little bit about what to expect in Biggest Loser “18” which starts a week from Monday on Sept. 16th. For those of you that won’t be able to participate, I’m going to use this column to give you the full rundown each week, so you can follow along on your own if you like!

The first thing we’re going to do is weigh-in. Most people know they need to lose weight, but it’s often a wake up call. For sure, some of them will have been avoiding the scale, which I understand, but that’s really the wrong approach.

That’s like knowing you’re overdrawn at the bank, so you just don’t open your statements. Or knowing you can’t pay all your bills, so you just let them pile up unopened. How can you fix something if you don’t know how badly it’s broken? You need the truth, so it can set you free.

It gives you a starting point, so you know where you need to go. It also lets you know how bad things are from a risk standpoint. Being overweight can cause some problems, but being obese can kill you.

So we’ll weigh-in, and then also do their body fat percentage, along with several other measurements, including using an actual tape measure. I’m also going to encourage them to take a “before” picture from both the front, and the side, in skimpy clothing (sports bra & shorts, or just shorts for the guys). That will give them something to compare to in a month, two months, and at the end of the 12 weeks.

Then we’re going to do several fitness assessments, including a sit & reach test, a minute of push-ups, a minute of sit-ups, a minute of body squats, a minute of burpees, and finally, a 1 mile walk/run! Then, at the end of the 12 weeks, we’ll do them again, and they’ll be amazed at how much they’ve improved in most of the categories.

We’ll go over the basic game plan, which is always to get moving, and keep moving. They more they move, they more they’ll lose. It’s that simple. They’ll also get some examples of simple meal plans that have worked well for people in the past, and learn what workouts to do during the first week.

Then every week after the weigh-in, we’ll talk about something different about food, and then I’ll kick their butts with a new workout for the week. The goal there, will be to keep increasing the level of intensity each week, so they can burn more calories each time.

I’ll also encourage them to do a separate, second workout, usually first thing in the morning. This can be as simple as walking for 20 minutes (a mile), or riding the exercise bike. It doesn’t have to be hard. It just gets them moving, and will be the difference in losing more weight.

The most we’ve seen in twelve weeks was 60 lbs, on two different occasions, and several others have lost in the 40’s and 50’s. They were killing it though. The vast majority of people tend to fall somewhere between 15 and 25 lbs, which is still pretty good, don’t you think?

In the end, it’s always up to you, how well you do. But if this sounds like something that might be good for you, I’d love to see you this time in Biggest Loser “18.”

For more information about getting involved in this community-wide program, you can reach me at the gym, email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Friday, August 30, 2013


“Just what exactly do I have to do to lose weight?” I got this question yesterday from someone that I’ve been working with once a week for over a year. She went on to say, “I’m working out a lot, so what do I have to do?”

Now this is someone who works out hard whenever I see her, and she also has some nice equipment at home. She already had an elliptical and treadmill, and after she started training with me, she added dumbbells, an exercise ball, a rower, and a Schwinn AirDyne bike.

I told her I was afraid she wasn’t going to like the answers, and that she probably already knew them! First, she was simply going to have to do more. While her workouts were great, her body was used to them, and she’d have to add some activity to burn more calories.

She was also going to have to pay much closer attention to what she was eating. She sighed as she began her next round of exercises and said, “I know.”

I probably have a similar conversation at least every other day. We always tend to underestimate how much exercise we need to take off extra weight, and how quickly we can put the weight back on, if we get our eating out of whack.

Most people know what they need to do; they just need a little extra push to get there. People have been asking me for awhile now, so I think it’s time to bring back Biggest Loser “18.”

Over the past few years, we’ve done 17 other community-wide Biggest Losers. Some were small, with just twenty people, and others were huge, the largest one starting with 68 people. Now that one was interesting!

This time around we’re starting Monday, September 16th at 6:00 pm. The first meeting will consist of a fitness assessment, weigh-in and other measurements, and an overview of how the 12 weeks will work. Participants will also get information that outlines the different things they’ll be doing, some examples of good food choices, workouts, and so on.

The goal is always to get as many people involved as possible, especially couples, or friends. We’ve found that people tend to do better if they have someone else to suffer with! It also helps keep them both motivated and accountable.

The cost is $100 for the 12 weeks (13 sessions) and you don’t need to be a member to participate. In fact, many of the participants will have memberships at other facilities like the YMCA, elsewhere, or even do their workouts at home. It’s pretty important that you have access to equipment, though, because we’re going to be using it!

If you’d like to participate, or need more information, contact me as soon as possible, because with or without you, we’re getting this party started! Might as well make it with you! You can reach me at the gym, via email at tomdolanfitness@gmail.com, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


By the time you read this, most of the kids will have started back to school here in town. They’ll have had the big open house for the parents to check things out and meet the teachers, and then a half a day on Friday.

A common joke I hear is when you ask the kids if they’re glad summer’s over and they have to go back to school, they say “no.” If you ask the parents, they say “absolutely! They’ve been in the house long enough.” But almost every kid I ask is actually pretty glad to get started back in school.

I think part of it has to do with going back and seeing their friends, and part of it has to do with getting to learn something new. Think about it. There’s great status in being a grade higher. It’s something to take pride in. As one of my grand-daughters put it, “I’m a third grader now!”

For those kids that are actually switching schools, like from Memorial to Wentz, or Mayo to the high school, it’s an even bigger deal. While they might be a little nervous about things, it’s an exciting time in their lives. Sure, after a couple months, the newness wears off, and it becomes routine. After a couple years, it might even become a little ho-hum.

But there’s always the next year to get their adrenaline pumping again. Some kids actually love the learning, and just want to know more. Others look forward to the chance to play their favorite sport. Some kids just like the social part of things, although not everyone’s going to “fit in.”

Those few that don’t will have a harder time of it, but hopefully, will come out alright too. I happened to be in that particular group, but things worked out over time. The things I seem to remember most, though, are the excitement of starting something new and different.

The anticipation of having another chance to jump in and get it right. And the hope that we can be part of something big; something important. We all did it back then, year after year, as far as we could take it. But somehow, we’ve moved past it into a life that’s more, well, routine.

We don’t often challenge ourselves with anything new, and it’s often tough to get excited about anything. But what if we could figure out how to recapture that spirit.

What if we could get excited about something again. How would that revitalize our lives, our jobs, our relationships? To live each day like it was our first day back in school? Wouldn’t that be something?

If you’d like more information about health and fitness, or to comment on this or other articles, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I was watching one of the regulars work out at the gym this morning. He did a 10 minute warm-up on the Schwinn AirDyne exercise bicycle, and then went back and did some dumbbell curls and presses.

You could tell he was pretty serious about it. After the dumbbells, he moved to the weight machine circuit. He started with the first one, did a set, rested a bit, and then did another set, and so on, spending about five minutes before moving on to the next machine.

All told, he did thirteen machines, which took him about an hour. When I finally looked in on him, he’d moved on to the Kettlebell rack, and was fiddling around with them. He ended up doing 10 min warm-up on the bike, and a little more than an hour in the weight room.

Yesterday I saw him working out in the cardio room. He rode the exercise bike for 30 minutes. Then he walked 30 minutes on the treadmill. Finally, he finished with another 30 minutes on the Schwinn AirDyne. That’s an hour and a half of cardio! Granted, he doesn’t go all that fast, or push all that hard, but it’s still a lot of exercise.

He does this every day. Some days it’s an hour on the bike and treadmill, and then half an hour on the weight machines. Other days, he’ll do it like he did today.

What makes this even more impressive is that he just had his 90th birthday this week. As he says, he made it into the next decade. You’ve probably guessed that I’m writing about my dad.

He works out like this Mon-Sat, holidays included. In fact, the only time I’ve seen him miss in the last few years, was six months ago when he was in the hospital as a result of some seizures and a subsequent fall.

After a few days of testing, some anti-seizure medicine, and a 6 week rehab at Twin Lakes, the doctors released him back to independent living. That same day I took him back to Brookstone, I also brought him back to the gym. In fact, he did his workout first!

He was pretty shaky the first week, but by the end of the first month, he was pretty much back to what he had been doing before. “I just have to be a little more deliberate in my movements in my old age,” he says.

Whenever someone says hello at the gym, and asks him how he’s doing, he always tells them, “I’m still alive.” I guess when you’re 90, you don’t take this for granted.

Some days I need to remind him what to do, and sometimes, how to do it, because he has some short-term memory issues. But he’s always ready to go. Dad says “I need to do it until the day I die.” We’re hoping he gets another decade of workouts in.

If you’d like more information about health and fitness, or to comment on this or other articles, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


At first glance, routines sound like a good thing, and they can be. They can help us establish new habits. They can even give us comfort at times. But sometimes routines can work against us.

Say your routine is to stop somewhere for a few drinks after work everyday. It might help you wind down, but it might also mean you’re on your way to becoming an alcoholic. It could also get you arrested for DUI.

You may have heard the term emotional overeater. This is someone whose routine is to turn to food for comfort when they’re feeling stressed. Obviously, this can lead to being overweight and obesity. So you can see that routines aren’t always helpful.

But what about a healthy routine, like going to the gym every day, and doing your regular workout? How could this possibly lead to problems?

Actually, I’ve seen it happen several different ways. While running is an awesome activity with tons of great benefits, I’ve know many people, including myself, that ran themselves right into chronic injuries.

Shin splints, inflammation of the plantar (lower) surface of the foot are quite common, especially in newer runners trying to run too many days, or do too many miles. My own issue was with ITB syndrome (inflammation of the side of a tendon on the side of the knee).

Another common problem occurs with someone who’s been exercising for awhile, but just doing the same thing over and over, never changing things up. At first they get pretty decent results, primarily because doing any program is usual better than doing nothing.

But after awhile, their body starts getting used to the routine, and it gets easier because they’re stronger and more efficient at that workout. At that point, they can do the same work, but will burn fewer calories. This is how you can exercise regularly, but still gain weight.

That’s why in Biggest Loser, we always try to ramp things up over the 12 weeks, regularly changing the exercises and the level of intensity. That way the people never get used to the work, and it always continues to be difficult. This burns the most calories and works very well.

Experienced weight lifters and body builders also know they need to change things up if they want to continue stimulating new muscle growth. A good rule of thumb is to do things in 3-4 week cycles, with 5-6 weeks being about the longest you should ever do the same routine.

I like to change things up more often than that, but at 51, my latest goals are simply to stay as lean as possible, and focus on things like explosiveness and endurance, which help me with my grappling and martial arts.

Finally, changing it up keeps things new and interesting. A group of us trained last year for a 12 mile trail run called Tough Mudder, and it was very cool, because we’d never done it before.

A stream that stops moving usually becomes stale and stagnant. Personally, I think it’s much more fun to be around a stream that’s still flowing, unless of course, you have to run through it!

If you’d like more information about health and fitness, or to comment on this or other articles, please feel free to contact me through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Things are always changing. That’s normal. But it seems like they’re changing quicker than they used to. We all thought our parent’s music was lame, and that we had the real deal. But the new generation is quite a bit edgier than the last one. There’s something else. I think our attention spans are shrinking.

It might have something to do with the culture. Everything is 24-7, on demand, right now. Fast this, fast that, i-phones, and Droid’s. The technology’s great, I admit it. I’m a junkie too. But even my not quite 3 year old is getting hooked on it.

He watches YouTube videos on DirectV, and even names the one he wants (and wants them now, thank you). He knows the remote does it, but he can’t quite figure it out. That makes him pretty mad.

He can turn on my iphone, slide the thumb over to open the home page, and even touches the icons to open an app but gets mad when I grab it before he calls someone overseas. I haven’t shown him how to use it; he’s just picked it up by observing us. I suppose it’s great that he can do these things, but it kind of worries me too.

I often see kids entertaining themselves with a game on their phone or DS. I guess that’s a good thing, and it does keep them occupied for a little while. But if a kid spends most of his or her time on it, that can’t be

With all this technology, I hope we’re not forgetting to teach kids that it takes hard work and persistence to get somewhere in life. Great DS and phone skills are cool, but they won’t help a kid learn how to answer tough questions in their first job interview.

These cultural changes aren’t limited to just kids either. A week ago, Kathy and I went out to eat at a restaurant, and sat down near another couple we didn’t know. They were sitting across from each other, like us, but they were both on their phones (presumably with someone else).

There was probably a good explanation for it. They both might have been doctors, or lawyers, each handling their own emergency. I hope so, because if the goal was to go out and have a nice meal and spend some time talking together, it wasn’t happening.

And the culture makes it so easy. You can watch your sports team up on the big screen in real time while you eat. If that isn’t quick enough, you can use an app on your phone to get updates with news and scores. You can even get alerts so your phone tells you when something “important” has happened.

On TV, the news has a box with more news within it, along with a scrolling bar with even more news at the bottom. Heck, even our gym is “conveniently 24-7” with members having their own keys so they can let themselves in whenever they want.

I guess I’m getting so used to this new way of doing things, that when a teenager goes out of their way to communicate with me verbally, it’s quite a surprise. The other day, one of our member’s sons came over and said hello, and asked me how I was doing! He’s all of 13 or 14.

He then asked me about my workout, and started comparing that to what he was doing! He was so polite and engaging, that I couldn’t help but be impressed. He had great communication skills, and a great work ethic in the gym, which I’m sure will translate to other areas in his life.

I remember thinking, that I hope my two year old will grow up to be that polite, and work that hard. That would be great. I’m going to try to do my part. Now if I can just keep my iphone away from him.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions about the little picture, or comments about the big picture.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Last week, I had a couple people ask me when we were going to do our next Biggest Loser program (“18”). When I told them we’d probably do it in the fall, they were obviously disappointed, because they said they were hoping to get started now.

So I told them that even if Biggest Loser wasn’t until the fall, they could do it now. I’d give them all the materials the group gets. I’d feed them the workouts so they knew what to do each week, and we even spent some time talking about how to start tracking their food intake in a daily calorie log, online, or with one of the numerous phone apps available these days.

What they were looking for was some motivation and accountability. I told them they could weigh in each week, just like in the group. They could take beginning measurements, and if they were really serious, have someone take a couple pictures of them in some tight workout clothes (front and side view).

They could put a picture up on their mirror that would serve as amazing motivation. The truth hurts sometimes, and pictures as they say, “tell a thousand words.” Each month, they could take a new picture, and they’d be able to see the changes as they happen. Along with new measurements each month this would give them a chance to see their progress even if the scale wasn’t cooperating, which happens sometimes.

We also talked about letting other people know what they were doing so they’d have additional accountability. The more people you tell, the more pressure you have to get it done.

I even gave them some first assignments. They were supposed to do a simple first workout (go for a walk), and then get back with me so we could do their initial weigh-in, body fat, basal metabolic rate calculation (tells them their minimum needed calories each day), % of water, and other measurements. It’s been over a week and I still haven’t heard back from them.

What makes this frustrating for me, is that they’d already overcome several of the biggest obstacles facing them. They’d recognized they needed to do something. They’d located someone with a program (me). They even took the next step of making contact to get things going. One of them even joined the center. We spent quite a bit of time talking about it.

But somewhere along the way, they ran into something that got them off track before they could even get started. Both of them had already told me that motivation was their biggest problem. I’d told them that even if they were in a Biggest Loser group, they still had to show up and get it done.

I have a lot of respect for them for coming in and sharing their problem with me. That took a lot of courage. And hopefully, something will change for them, and they’ll be able to get things going. But in the end, it always comes down to getting started and sticking with it. You’ve still got to do it.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions about the little picture, or comments about the big picture.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


It seems like we get almost immune to hearing the news these days. There’s so much coverage, from all over the world, and its 24-7, day after day, to the point where we can almost tune it out. Many times we do.

Another 50 people killed in roadside car bombs in Iraq; just another day over there. And there were over a dozen people dead gang related shootings up in Chicago. But down here, are we going to the game tonight? What are we having for supper? Somewhere along the way, we’ve become a calloused people.

Still, something caught my eye a little while ago. They found a woman, still alive after 17 days of being buried in rubble after an earthquake in Bangladesh. Oh, another one of those. It seems like we’re always hearing about earthquakes. But then I saw the death toll. At that time, it was over a thousand people!

This had happened several days ago. I didn’t even know they’d had an earthquake over there, and I’m a news junkie. I often catch several hours a day, between watching cable news while working out, working at the gym, or listening to the radio in the car.

Even as I was reading the story about the girl they’d found alive, something in me was horrified that I hadn’t been horrified. It had all somehow just slipped by me.

At that moment, I realized I needed to stop and offer up a prayer for… all those affected. And also for myself, that I’d be a little more aware of people that are hurting, whether they’re halfway around the world, or here in our own neighborhood. And I started paying attention.

We all hate to see people in trouble and suffering, especially if it’s someone we know, or are close to. It’s been about a week since the massive tornado that nearly wiped out an entire community near Oklahoma City. For a few days, the devastation dominated the news cycle to the point where that was all you saw on cable news.

A huge number of families lost everything, much like in the other natural disasters we’ve seen over the years, but this was particularly compelling due to the shear scope of things. But it was the people we didn’t hear from that surely had the more heart-wrenching stories.

These were people who had lost people. Perhaps the most horrific story was where all those children were crushed in the rubble of that grade school. We just can’t comprehend what that must be like, but we can all identify with the families who have lost loved ones.

And what do you do when something like that happens? I’m amazed at the human spirit that can somehow rise above things like that. Even in the worst of times, some are able to maintain their hope and the faith that “even though this is really bad, God will help us get through it.”

You’ve probably seen stories about parents who have suffered a tragic loss like in a school shooting, but then turned that grief into a foundation that helps others in the memory of their lost child. It helps bring meaning to their loss, and lets their loved one live on in another way.

Over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with the little picture around us. In my world, that’s teaching people how to learn how to focus, get healthy, and protect themselves, all worthy things. But I’m starting to become aware that there’s something higher. God help us learn to be a little more aware of the big picture going on around us.

If you’d like to help the recovery effort in Oklahoma, there are easy ways to do it, like contributing to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse, Red Cross, or even the United Way. It just takes a minute to help groups who can be our hands and feet working down there and making a difference.

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions about the little picture, or comments about the big picture.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say something like: “I know I really need to get up there and get started on an exercise program, but I just can’t because…” (enter excuses here). So here are the top 10 reasons NOT to go to the gym. I’m serious! These are all things I’ve heard. Drum roll please.

10. I need to get in shape before I come up there so I won’t look out of place.

9. I need to get in shape first, so it won’t be so tough when I start exercising.

8. I can’t come up there, because people will see me, and I’m shy.

7. Too many people will be looking at me.

6. Until I get past this ____ (various illnesses and ailments), I just can’t do it.

5. I just don’t ever get any results.

4. I just can’t find the motivation.

3. Every time I start an exercise program, I just end up stopping anyway.

2. I just work too many hours.

1. I just don’t have the time.

Remember, all of those are actual excuses I’ve heard. Now I’m not trying to belittle people who have very real situations that come up from time to time that just make it impossible. I’m talking about those times when the excuses don’t really hold water.

Recently, I was talking with an interesting couple who are both in their seventies. She’s long since retired but he’s still running a successful business. Because I see them both at the gym regularly, I was wondering what made them different from other couples their age, so I decided to ask them.

She told me that in her case, others in her family were pretty active, so she’s always tried to stay in shape. She said her husband realized the other guys his age were dying and he was the only one left!

When I talked to him, he said he was blessed with good health and wanted to keep what he had. He told me “you’ve just got to make yourself do it” and went on to say “as soon as you stop doing it, you’re done.” I think he’s right.

I’ve talked to many people who were inactive, got overweight, developed high blood pressure and diabetes and then had to start taking medicines for those conditions. This resulted in them gaining even more weight, and now they have serious knee and back problems that pretty much keep them from moving at all. In their case, they literally can’t do it.

It’s much better to get started now, before it’s too late and those excuses become real. If you’re already doing it, you better not quit. I have more to say about this, but I can’t, because… I’m out of time!

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I remember many years ago when I was a teenage camp counselor at a YMCA camp up in Reading, MI. After a long hot summer filled with young excited campers, our camp director arranged for us to take a week long canoe trip down the Manistee River in upper Michigan.

It was a great end to the summer. They drove us way upstream and we put in about six days traveling time from where we ended up. We had a good time camping and canoeing, and I learned a lot about both.

It wasn’t that big a stream, certainly not a big river, but there was definitely some current. Since we wanted to go downstream, it was no problem. Just relax and drift while the current pulled us along.

Sure, we had to do a course-correction now and then; a little dipping of the paddle here and there to keep in the middle of the stream. But basically, we paddled just enough to keep things on track.

Now when we had to get to the shore to make a portage around a log jam of downed trees and branches, we had to paddle a little bit more to get over there. Plus it took some work hoisting those canoes up overhead and carrying our gear through the woods on the obviously well-used portage trails. That was pretty hot and sweaty.

Even at the end of the day, though, while it took a bit of work setting up our campsite, it quickly became routine, and we could get it done pretty quickly with little trouble. All and all, it was a fairly easy proposition without much difficulty.

But as we got further and further downstream, the current picked up a little, so we traveled faster, with even less effort, except if we wanted to get over to the shore. Once, it got pretty exciting when we went through this small section of falls and rocks.

As we came around a bend, we realized that we were passing our landing site for the night. Tat was interesting. Even though we’d had advance warning that it would take a bit of work to get back over there, it still took us by surprise.

Now we had to paddle back upstream, against the current, which took a lot more work. At times, we seemed almost to be standing still. But little by little, we worked our way back over to the opposite shore, upstream. By the time we got there, we were toast. But the camping that night was awesome. We’d earned it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “You’re either moving forward or moving backward, but you’re never really just standing still.” Life often pulls us along, but we don’t always like where we’re going. We end up reacting to things as they come along, making course corrections as we have to.

When things go wrong, and they will, it takes a lot more out of you. When you need to dramatically change your direction, you better get paddling.

It’s a lot harder losing weight than maintaining, and it’s much harder gaining strength than losing it. Both take lots of time and work, but you can get there. You’ve just got to be willing to buck the stream!

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Did you know that fat cells never go away? Sure, you can lose the fat, by burning it for fuel during and after your workouts. The fat will come right out of the cells when needed, but the cells are still there, shriveled up and much smaller than before. I like to imagine it like they are now simply “shrink-wrapped”.

But if you stop working out and start letting your diet slip through the cracks, those fat cells are not only still there, ready and waiting to receive “new fat”, but the pathways to store the fat are right there and easy to access too.

Once you’ve been overweight, your body is very accommodating to new fat. Even your metabolism will quickly adjust back to the original lower levels, helping you get and stay fat again. This is so common it’s called “the Yo-Yo syndrome.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people mount a huge effort, losing 50 pounds or more, only to see them six months later with all that weight back on. Often, they’re even heavier.

I even see the process starting a little closer to home. It’s very easy to put 5 pounds back on in a hurry. Just get a little lazy, or miss a few workouts. Couple that with letting your diet slip a little bit (read cookies here), and presto, you’ve put on 5 pounds in just a couple weeks.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. If you address it, you’ll be able to turn it right around. If you let it go, it will take over and take on a life of its own.

It’s kind of like the spiritual side of life. Get a little lazy in your faith, and pretty soon, you’re making small compromises. Let it go a little longer, and before you know it, you’re having a King David moment, looking over the roof at your own Bathsheba.

If you don’t know the story, King David was a great king and warrior in the Old Testament. He fought and won many battles, starting with the giant, Goliath, at a remarkably young age.

Something happened, though, that caused him to stay home “at the time when kings go forth to battle.” That was probably his first mistake, but things happen. The problem came when he went for a walk on the roof one evening and saw a beautiful woman bathing.

He should have walked away, but instead made a deliberate choice to ask about her. His advisors tried to steer him away, telling him she was married to one of his captains but by then it was too late. He was already too far down that road to turn back, and he told them to send her to him. He was the king, so they did, and then he did. It gets worse from there.

We have to be vigilant and guard our hearts and minds. I think we need to guard our stomachs too. If you’re like me, we just can’t keep cookies in the house. We probably need to pray more as well. And we probably need to keep going forth to battle (read working out here).

The secret is to keep a close eye on things. If you start to see you’re slipping a little, you need to start taking action now, not later. It’s much harder later. If you catch it early, you can make some small adjustments and get things back on track.

It’s never too late, though. After a lot of pain and suffering, even King David found redemption and was still considered a man after God’s own heart. Remember the old saying: “If you’re in a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging!”

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Last week we looked at seven steps to getting started. Over the next few weeks, I want to take a look at some things that can help you keep your mojo going.

The first thing I want to talk about is having a real goal in mind. Make it specific and measureable if possible. This means you have to have a target to focus on. If it’s pretty vague, you’ll probably get vague results. If it’s pretty direct, like you’re going to lose 15 pounds by the start of summer, then you have a better chance of achieving it.

It also helps if you absolutely, positively, just have to do it! It’s got to almost kill you if for some reason you don’t do it. When failure is not an option, you have no choice but to succeed.

Knowing what you’re aiming at helps you focus so you can hit what you’re aiming at. Imagine grabbing a bat and just going out, chopping wildly at the air, hoping a baseball will fly by so you can hit it!

Write down your goal. If you’ve written it down, it’s much more likely that you’ll get it done. This applies to simple, daily tasks, short-term goals, and even longer term goals that might take up to six months to a year, or more.

Once you have your main goal, see if you can break it down into several smaller, more manageable bite size goals. Make a list of objectives to hit along the way. If the main goal is to lose 15 lbs over the next three weeks, then that means each week you need to lose 5 lbs.

The next step is figuring out how you’re going to do it this week. Next week doesn’t matter if you don’t lose the 5 lbs this week. What’s it going to take to make that happen? What actions do you need to take each day to make this a realistic proposition?

If you need some help making new habits, it might be helpful to have a checklist that you look at every day. It could be as simple as something like this:

Morning walk (15-20 min) ____

Breakfast (400 cal) ____

Lunch (400 cal) ____

Snack (150 cal) ____

Evening workout (45 min) ____

Supper (400 cal) ____

Snack (150 cal) ____

4-5 bottles of water/day ____

Good self-talk today ____

Read something to help ____

Encourage someone else ____

At the start of each day, take a look at your objectives. Even experienced pilots still perform pre-flight checklists—they don’t want to miss anything that might be important.

At the end of the day, take another look at it. Did you get everything done? Did anything slip through the cracks? At some point, those things on your list will become much more automatic, but for awhile, it might help you to check things off.

Each week, measure your progress. If you did enough work, you’ll hit your goal. If you didn’t, you won’t. Be honest either way. If you made it, that’s awesome. Give yourself some love. If you didn’t, what do you need to do to turn it around? Make a decision to do better next week, and then do it!

Next week, we’ll look at some other strategies to help you get what you want. Until then, feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


People often ask me, “Why it is so hard to make changes?” Perhaps an even better question is: “How do we make changes permanent?” It’s so easy to drift back into the same old habits and undo any changes we’ve made. It’s also easy to give up on a process that might take longer than you expected.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a pattern in people making significant changes to their lifestyle under a wide variety of circumstances. There seem to be seven steps that people need to take if they’re going to get the job done.

This includes people going back to school to change a career; people trying to overcome addiction; people working on their debt snowball; and perhaps the most common, people trying to lose a little weight and get into shape. While they’ve not all been successful, it seems like most people had better odds if they hit each one of these seven steps. I know I’ve written about these before, but I get so many questions about it, I thought I’d reprise them for you:

1. Unfortunately, there often has to be a crisis of some sort to get our attention. It often takes something going wrong before we wake up about things. Health problems often push people into making changes in their diet and exercise, but it’s a whole lot easier to get started before you develop problems like diabetes or high blood pressure. Sometimes, someone else’s crisis can be our wake up call.

2. This brings us to an awareness of our situation. We have to realize a need before we can make a change. What you need can often be different than what someone else needs. It can be as simple as concluding that you need to take off a few pounds and tighten things up, or it can be as big as realizing you need to lose 100 lbs or you develop diabetes or a heart condition.

3. Just knowing you need to do something doesn’t get it done, however. You have to make a decision to do it. This is different. Without a decision, nothing gets done.

4. You’ve got to have a big desire to get it done. It’s going to take a big desire to get past all the obstacles that are going to come up. There are lots of things we know we should be doing, but it takes a different amount of motivation to actually do them. I’ve heard it said that until your “want-to” becomes a “have-to” it’s going to be really hard to make the changes you need.

5. Once you’ve made a decision, you need to get some information. There are lots of programs out there, with tons of information available through the internet and in books and magazines easily available. One of the best sources of information is with someone that you know and trust who has already been successful. Mentoring with a knowledgeable friend who has your best interests in mind can often make the difference between success and failure.

6. You’ve got to be accountable to someone. The more people who know about your plan, the more likely you are to accomplish it. This is called getting leverage on yourself. Your team can help keep you on track when you start drifting off the path. Your mentor can help you in this area as well.

7. Finally, and this is perhaps the most important part, you’ve got to actually just get started. All the preparation in the world doesn’t matter if you never begin the journey. You will never hit your target if you can’t actually pull the trigger. O.K., maybe one too many metaphors, but you get the idea. You’ve got to actually DO it.

Next week, we’ll take a look at how you can keep your eye on the ball (whoops, another metaphor). Until then, I hope you’ll feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


If you’re getting in all your workouts and burning a bunch of fat calories, AND you’re hitting your minimum daily calorie target, then there’s only one other thing to look at. What kind of foods are you eating?

First of all, if you know you probably shouldn’t be eating it, you’re probably right. You shouldn’t be eating it, or at least much of it. It’s probably alright to eat a little bit of most anything. Our problem (especially guys), is that we tend to way overdo it.

Three duplex cookies won’t make you fat. It’s only 130 calories. If you’re in balance, you’ll just burn it. Unfortunately (personal experience here), three cookies turns into nine cookies. Nine turns into nineteen cookies. Now that will make you fat!

So, knock off the pop. Cut back on the sweet tea, and just don’t keep cookies or chips in the house. If you can do that, you’ll get a lot farther on your weight loss program.

Drink some more water. Your body needs more than you think.

If you like beer, and drink a lot of it, you’re going to have problems losing weight. You might have other problems too, but that’s another article.

Once you’ve taken care of the junk, and the things that you know aren’t good for you, then you can start making some healthier choices. Every meal should have some protein for building muscle and bone, some complex carbs for long-lasting energy, and some fruits or vegetables for quick energy, fiber, and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Good protein sources include chicken and turkey, lean cuts of beef or pork, fish, and low fat dairy products like milk, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese. Protein shakes are also a good food choice, especially after your workout. You need much more protein than you think.

Quality complex carbs take longer for the body to break down, and include whole wheat and other whole grain breads and cereals, oats or oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, whole grain pastas, and some beans. One portion or serving will be good enough.

Fruits and vegetables pretty much speak for themselves. The more variety and color the better. Unless you’re diabetic, you really can’t go wrong with more fruits and greens. If you’re diabetic, or have another medical condition, then you need to consult with your doctor.

Here’s what our typical well-balanced breakfasts look like in Biggest Loser: Oatmeal, half a banana, and a low fat yogurt. Or whole grain cereal, 2% milk, and some fresh fruit. You get the idea. Replace any category with anything else in the same category and you’re good to go.

Lunch can be as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat with some fruit. Or a 6” chicken sub on whole grain bread with lots of veggies. It’s the same idea. Take one thing from each category.

For supper, we’ll take some meat, poultry or fish; add one serving of complex carbs, and round it off with lots of vegetables. The gals usually need about 3-4 oz of the protein, while guys will need 6-8 oz. Remember, stick with one serving of the complex carbs, and load up on the veggies.

Like the song says, “This is how we do-oo it.” Work out like a dog, knock off the junk, and eat balanced meals in the right amount for you. I’ve seen hundreds of people lose weight over the past 17 Biggest Loser programs, and hundreds more in the gym. You can do it too!

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Last week I told you about a common question I get all the time: “Why am I not losing any weight?” I always ask a couple of questions in return. The first question was “Are you getting all your workouts in?”

I went on to talk about how sometimes you just need to do more to get that weight coming off—even if you’re already pretty active. Not too long ago, I was in what most people would call pretty good shape, but I still was able to lose 35 lbs—mainly by adding what I like to call my “bonus” workouts.

I was pretty active to begin with, but by adding that “bonus” workout every evening, I was able to maintain regular weight loss. It can be as simple as just walking 20 minutes in the morning. In my case, I like to ride the bike every evening after supper.

It doesn’t really matter what you do. What matters is that you’re moving more than you were before. Over and over, I’ve seen people who do this lose more weight than people that don’t.

Usually, when people complain about their lack of weight loss, they haven’t been getting all their workouts in, but sometimes, they have. So what then?

Someone made a great comment on Facebook last week: “You can out-eat any exercise program.” This is true, although I think it applies more to men than women. But there’s another factor that often comes into play, especially for women.

Coincidentally, right after I finished last week’s article, I was folding towels at the center when another woman asked me basically the same thing. After we covered talked about exercise, I asked her a second question: “Are you hitting your minimum?”

After talking with hundreds of women about this over the years, I’ve learned that most women (perhaps 9 out of 10) aren’t hitting their minimum, even if many of them think they’re eating too much. While most guys tend to overeat, most women don’t eat enough.

It’s very easy to prove, one way or the other. There are lots of smart phone apps and web sites that make it easy to track your calories these days, like www.calorieking.com ; www.myfitnesspal.com ; www.mynetdairy.com .

We have a scale at the gym that measures body fat, belly fat, hydration levels, metabolic age, and BMR (basal metabolic rate). Don’t confuse this with BMI, which is an index that compares your weight to norms based on your height.

BMR is a measure of the number of calories your body needs every day, based on your frame (height, weight, and age), and it’s very accurate. I like to call it your “minimum” since most people can identify with that easily.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, women should never fall below 1,200 calories a day, regardless of activity level. This is because your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) requires at least that many calories just to maintain normal body functions. For guys, it’s around 1,800 calories.

So she showed me her weight loss sheet that tracks all the parameters, and I looked at her BMR, which was right around 1,300 calories. When I asked her if she was eating at least that much, she told me “well, I’m having a hard time getting to 1,200.”

This is very typical, especially with women who have been cutting back, trying to lose weight. Here’s the bottom line. If you don’t hit your minimum, your body somehow makes it near impossible to lose weight.

Your metabolism will slow down, and you’ll have a hard time burning fat for fuel. I’ve seen it time and time again. But as soon as you start eating above that threshold, your body somehow adjusts again, and you’ll start to lose weight.

The secret is picking a moderate amount of calories above your minimum so you feel comfortable throughout the day. For women, a comfortable margin is usually between 1,500-1,650 calories. Guys tend to lose weight easily between 2,000-2,400 calories.

So now you know the first thing: you probably have to do more. The second thing is: you have to hit your minimum. Since overeating is pretty obvious, if you’re doing that, knock it off!

Next week, we’ll talk about what to eat while you’re hitting that minimum. Until then, feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I had a Facebook question recently that I thought I’d share with our Beacon-News readers too. She said, “I’ve been working out on the treadmill since mid January, and also been watching what I eat, but I really haven’t been losing any weight. Can you give me some tips?”

First of all, I had to congratulate her, because she realized there was a problem, set some goals, and took some action. She’s also made it through a couple months and established some good new habits.

This is no small point. Lots of people run out of gas after just a couple weeks—especially if they’re not seeing any weight loss. In her case, it probably comes down to tweaking things a little bit, or trying to do a little bit more.

In our Biggest Loser groups, if someone isn’t losing, I always ask them two questions. Are you getting all your workouts in, and are you hitting your daily minimum (calorie goal)? Usually, the first answer is no.

Keep in mind that in Biggest Loser, we ask them to do two workouts a day. There’s the normal cardio or weight routine every day in the afternoon or evening. But there’s also the wakeup workout which can be as simple as just walking 20 minutes (roughly a mile) in the morning before you start your day.

Just adding that second workout often adds a pound a week to their weight loss. Said another way, it takes most people from losing just a pound a week, to losing two pounds a week—or more!

When I lost my 35 lbs, I did the same thing. I was already pretty active with great cardio and weight routines every day, so I took one of our Schwinn Air Dyne exercise bicycles home and rode it every night for at least 30 minutes.

Many times, I did 45 minutes or even an hour. I figured I was going to sit there and watch TV anyway, so I might as well do something while I was sitting. Two years later, I still do it every night and I’ve kept the weight off. (I also do 20-30 minutes most mornings).

So that “bonus” workout is the ticket, because it helps you burn more calories. In the end, it’s math. If you keep your intake the same, and simply add some extra calories out each day, by the end of the week, you’ll lose another pound or two.

Now this doesn’t mean that you can eat more. It means you’re trying to burn another 500 calories a day through activity. If you do it seven days, you’ll have burned 3,500 calories which equals a pound of fat.

Next week, I’ll address the second question: “Are you hitting your minimum (daily calorie target)”? This is more important than you might think. Until then, feel free to contact me through Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomdolanfitness if you have any questions or comments.