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 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 ; ; .

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 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 if you have any questions or comments.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Fitness programs often get derailed before they’re really began, and how when life presses in, they’re usually the first things to go. This week I’d like to give you five tips to help keep you going when the going gets tough.

1. Speak out your goals frequently – there’s power in the spoken word. It’s even Biblical. When God spoke, things happened. Say what you want to do. Tell other people. Continue to tell yourself. The squeaky wheel gets the most grease, so you might as well be the wheel, squeaking to yourself. Remember “The Little Engine That Could” from our childhood? He said “I think I can, I think I can.” And then he did.

2. Write down your goals – there’s power in the written word too. People with written goals are more likely to achieve them. They’re also helpful reminders about what we need to do. If I don’t write something down, forget about it. Too many things are trying to get our attention. Write it down.

3. You need to have a reason behind the reason – this is the goal; it’s why you want to achieve the goal. This gives the goal meaning. For example, say you want to lose weight. Ask yourself why you want to lose the weight. Perhaps the answer might be “so I can look better.” Then go deeper. Ask yourself why you want to look better. Maybe that answer is “so I can feel better about myself.” See how it works? The deeper you go, the more likely it is that that goal will have staying power.

4. Be accountable to someone else – this will help keep you honest, and perhaps even keep you out of trouble! Someone once said we should try to live our lives as if someone was always watching. It applies to working out too. It’s easy to push when you’re working out with someone else. If other people know your goals, and how important they are to you, they’ll be able to help you stay on track.

5. Finally, give yourself a reward – even though the goal itself is often a reward, it can be great fun to do something to celebrate your success, even if the success is measured in small increments. If you just went down a pants size, go buy yourself a pair of skinny jeans. You earned it! If it’s a bigger goal, plan a bigger party. That might give you the extra juice you need to stay the course.

I hope these tips help a little bit. Let me know. Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.