Thursday, January 30, 2014


I’ve always heard that if one person is asking a question, more are thinking it, so it’s always good to encourage questions. In Biggest Losers, we’ve been talking about creating a daily calorie deficit. This is where you burn more calories than you take in, so your body will start burning fat to make up the difference.

One of our Biggest Losers picked up a new wristband called the fitbit™. It’s one of several products like it that hook up to a smart phone and help you track your calories, even while you’re sleeping. They run around $100 and can really give you an edge if you’re trying to lose weight.

After using her fitbit™ for a day, Brooke found that she’d burned over 3,000 calories. I told her this was awesome, because now she could start predicting how much weight she’d lose.

She asked me through Facebook if I could explain how the daily calorie deficit works with losing weight. By the way, social media is another great tool that has made it very easy for people to communicate about anything, including workouts and weight loss. So I got back to her on Facebook, through my iphone, while I was riding the exercise bike. Here’s what I told her.

Ok, you asked for it! Here goes.

So you have your minimum calories you need to live (BMR). That was the number on your sheet. Anything you eat over that has to cover your daily activities plus exercise.

If you get moving enough, though, you'll end up in a daily calorie deficit. This means you burned more than you took in. That energy has to come from somewhere so it comes from fat.

Say you need to take in 1,500 calories. But you burned 3,000 according to your fitbit. That means you had a calorie deficit of 1,500 calories. While the numbers don't work exactly like this, it's close enough.

Think of things in 500 calorie chunks. It takes 7 chunks to burn a pound of fat (3,500 calories). So if you have a 500 calorie deficit, it will take 7 days to burn that pound of fat (500 cal x 7 days = 3,500 cal).

In your case, the deficit was 1,500 cal (3 chunks). So you'll burn that pound of fat much quicker, in just a little more than two days.

In fact, if you can keep that rate up, you'll end up burning 3 lbs that week (1,500 cal x 7 days = 10,500 cal). Divide that weekly total by our 3,500 calorie magic number and you get 3 lbs of fat!

You may have seen that the number of 500 cal chunks burned each day corresponds to the number of pounds you'll burn each week.
1 chunk/day = 1 lb/wk
2 chunks/day = 2 lbs/wk
3 chunks/day = 3 lbs/wk
4 chunks/day = 4 lbs/wk
5 chunks/day = 5 lbs/wk

This is why I like each workout to burn at least one chunk of at least 500 cal. Sometimes, monster workouts can be twice that, burning two chunks, or 1,000 cal.

But those are hard to do, much less keep up over time. This is why the second workout is so important each day.

Now your FitBit will tell you where you are, compared to where you want to be, based on how much you want to burn each day!

Our Biggest Loser this week was Cheryl Redman, who lost an amazing 7.0 lbs, and 3.0% of her body weight. Lori Newlin was second, losing 5.2 lbs and 2.2%. Penny Spinner placed third, losing 3.6 lbs and 2.1%.

For more information, you can reach me via email at, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


It’s not unusual for people to pick up 5-10 lbs over the holidays. But this can happen several times over the course of a few years, until one day, you realize you’re 40 or 50 lbs overweight. Left unchecked, you can get to the point where now you’re 80 to 100 lbs in the hole.

Now your body is forced to carry all that extra load, which makes everything harder, and can lead to knee and back trouble. Your heart has to work harder too, and you become at risk for other problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart disease.

But not everyone lets it go that far. Some people catch it halfway there, and just need to lose 40 or 50 lbs. Others catch it earlier and just want to lose 15 or 20 lbs. For some, it isn’t even about the weight. They’re just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. So after a few weeks off, and a week delay due to the big winter storm, Biggest Loser “19” started a week ago.

The first step was weighing in, which isn’t a simple undertaking with 32 people. We got their weight and body fat, which tells us how much of them is fat, and how much is lean muscle and bone. We also got their water percentage, which tells us if they’re drinking enough water.

We also recorded their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which tells us the minimum calories they need each day, and also their visceral (belly) fat, which helps define their risk for heart disease and other problems. They also got a homework assignment to take body measurements and pictures so they can track inches lost and other changes over the 12 weeks.

The group took a battery of physical tests, including a minute each of pushups, sit-ups, body squats, burpees, and mountain climbers. Even though it was only five total minutes of exercise, many thought it felt like a “workout” and were pretty sore over the next couple of days. They’ll be amazed at how much easier it is when we throw that test at them again in 12 weeks.

They also had some other tests to do on their own, including a 1 mile walk/run for time, and a minute on the battle rope, a minute of kettle bell swings, and a minute of medicine ball smack downs. There were just too many people to do these all at the same time.

For the first week, the goal was to get moving, twice a day if possible. They did some cardio like walking or riding the bike. Then later in the day, they went to the gym for a more vigorous workout with both the cardio and weight machines.

In times past, I’d tell everyone what to do all week, and then hope for the best. Now, with most everyone on Facebook, I can give them workouts everyday, along with other things that are good to know.

The other main goal was for them to learn how much they were eating, by starting a daily calorie log. Right now, it’s important for them to track their calories so they know if they’re eating too much or too little.

Surprisingly, 9 out of 10 women don’t eat enough (though they usually think they do). Not surprisingly, 9 out of 10 men are overeaters. Tracking it with a daily calorie log on their phone or computer (or even old fashioned paper) will show us the truth, and help them see where they are.

Our Week One Biggest Loser was Shawn Bowers who lost an astounding 12.1 lbs and 3.6 percent of his body weight. Second place went to Rhonda Arthur, who lost 6.8 lbs and 3.2%. Brooke Bishop was third, losing 7.6 lbs and 3.1%, and Sarah Mitchell placed fourth with 4.2 lbs and 2.8%. Chris Redmon finished in fifth, losing an amazing 8.8 lbs and 2.6%.

For more information, you can reach me via email at, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


It was quite a storm. Especially for us, here in Edgar County. You know it’s rare when you start hearing comparisons to the “Blizzard of 78.”

To me, it starts getting “cold” in the 30’s. Single digits make me start thinking fondly about just freezing temperatures. But when you get below zero, with these crazy wind chills, now we’re talking some serious weather.

How do people deal with this kind of stuff day in and day out, year after year? Imagine living in North Dakota or somewhere else up there? I guess they learn to deal with it, or move.

They dress warm, and live and work smart. They understand how to keep their vehicles running and keep them moving too. They have to, because their lives depend on it. But every now and then, we get a little glimpse into their world.

I took a trip to the store today, to get a few things we missed when we stocked up before the storm. The shelves looked pretty empty. Imagine if the storm had gone on longer. It makes me think we need to stock a little more food in our pantry, just in case.

Remember those folks in the North East last year? Some of them were without power for days. Think of it. No power. No heat. No work. No food. No gas. We were pretty lucky.

Big props to our Edgar County Highway Department, especially their updates. They were the best source of information through the worst of it.

I also admire all the ECHD, IDOT, Ameren, and Enerstar crews, local police, fire, deputies, and other emergency services personnel who got the job done in pretty tough conditions. You know it’s bad, when even they can’t get through!

Perhaps the most impressive to me, though, were the volunteers who didn’t have any affiliation, but did happen to have a truck, a plow, or a snowmobile, and the willingness to use it. There were lots of stories on Facebook that make me proud to be part of this community!

So because of the storm, we had to delay the start of Biggest Loser “19” a week, but finally got underway last week. It's tough sometimes. Things don’t always come easily. But you can get through it. Just like a winter storm.

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

Saturday, January 04, 2014


At first glance, that almost seems like an oxymoron: words that seem to suggest just the opposite. The words change and lasting don’t seem to go together very well, do they? But look at it this way. If you make an important change, you want it to last, right?

All too often, this is exactly what happens. You’ve probably heard of the yo-yo syndrome. This is where someone loses weight, then puts it back on, loses it again, gains it back, and so on. The problem is we like being lazier and eating whatever we want, more than we want to be thin.

How many of us have worked hard to eliminate our debt, maybe even followed Dave Ramsey’s debt reduction program, only to start using credit cards again when things tightened up. The problem was that we wanted stuff more than we wanted to stay debt free.

In the end, it always comes down to the choices we make. You’re going to do what matters most to you. Good or bad.
Last week we looked at 10 tips to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions. But first you actually have to be resolute about something. That means you have to really want it.

If you don’t want it more than you want what you’re already doing, you’ll keep doing what you’re doing. But if you want it more than what you’re doing, then, and only then, will you start making changes. But you have to do something else first.

You’ve got to change your state of mind before you can change your state of being. You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re also right.” Either way, what you think, is what you’ll get.

You’ve got to believe that doing something new will be good for you, good for the people you care about, and good for your situation. So to be really effective, you’ve got to really believe it. You’ve got to have buy-in.

Once you make up your mind, then, get to work. Soon, you’ll start seeing changes. Stay with it long enough and you’ll see more changes. But if you quit, or just do half measures, or a half-hearted effort, the changes will only be temporary. Stay with it, though, and the sky’s the limit.

What changes do you want to make this year? Write it down. Tell your friends. Get started, and don’t quit. That’s how you get real and lasting change! To help you with the changes, Biggest Loser “19” starts this Monday at 6:00 pm. Let us know if you want to participate!

For more information, you can reach me via email at, or through Facebook at www.facebook/tomdolanfitness!