Wednesday, June 25, 2014


This week, I'd like to share some lessons I've been learning from Buddy, our 14 month old Golden Retriever. I'm sure the Dog Whisperer would have lots to say about these things, but here goes anyway.

A cute little 2-month old puppy soon becomes a large force of nature, rivaling even the strongest willed and most energetic 3 year old child. In fact, it's pretty much like having another 3 year old, without the vocabulary. When you see "cute", unless you're committed to the long haul, turn around and run.

Human Lesson: Nothing will ever be as easy as you think it will be. (It's still worth it though).

Library Books are expensive when you have to buy them. Apparently, 50 chew toys aren't enough to satisfy this need. Any book left out on a counter sooner or later becomes number 51. After the second book, we use the cabinet now to avoid yet another $30 fee.

Human Lesson: Whatever your vice, don't just leave it laying around. I can always sniff out a leftover cookie, and I'm sure to make short work of it too. Just like Buddy and my books.

No matter how many times he's come up short, he's always going to try and catch that next bird that he scares up. You've got to keep a pretty tight rein on things, even when you're just out there for potty-time. At a newly trim 74 lbs, Buddy's quite a force to be reckoned with, especially if he gets the jump on you.

Human Lesson: Never give up, and keep reaching for that goal. Even if you don't make it, you'll get lots of exercise.

Finally, when we first got Buddy, we followed the directions on the dog food. That's what you're supposed to do, right? Wrong. With all the extra calories, and less activity due to the winter weather, Buddy was starting to get fat!

So on the advice of our vet, we slowly cut back his serving sizes, adding some vegetables like green beans and carrots to make up the difference. We also get him outside several times a day so he can really get moving. He even goes swimming in the pond (which is another story). It's been working too. Last weigh-in, he was down about five pounds!

Human Lesson:

Don't count on "regular" serving sizes and portions to keep you thin. We probably also need to get moving more ourselves.

Some people who've been moving include our Biggest Losers. Brian Bradley finished first this week, losing 4.6 lbs and 2.0% of his body weight. Lori Hollingsworth was second, losing 3.1 lbs and 1.9%. Matt Murphy placed third, losing 5.3 lbs and 1.6%.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


"But I don't want to go." If you're a parent, you've probably heard this a time or two. Given loud enough, and with enough frequency, even the toughest parent can begin to waiver. Truth be told, we've said those words ourselves a time or two.

It's easy to quit. Especially these days. Kids are so busy, with so many activities, that sometimes they just get tired. Likewise, parents are often glad for the break when seasons end, or even when a child stops an activity. But the real secret to success in youth sports is that the season never really ends.

Parents with kids on traveling teams understand this. They've made a commitment to it. For these kids, their skills continue to grow. They get to test themselves against other kids just as interested. It's no surprise that these will be the go-to kids when they hit the varsity level.

But what about the kids who don't have that level of interest or ability, and never will. How are they going to learn the life skills that come with competitive sports? Where will they face challenges that help them learn how to overcome, and be successful in life? And how are they going to stay in shape?

Most experts agree that we need to be active everyday to keep fit. Just look at a 3-5 year old. They're little balls of energy that almost never seem to stop. They're also rarely overweight. It's later that we usually see a problem, when their movement slows down, and television and iPod game time increases. If they're not in an organized sport, their weight gain can be even more pronounced.

That's one of the reasons I love our summer BooT CamP for KidZ, and our Karate for Kids programs. These classes, and others like them around the country, give kids a chance to stay active, and to learn all those other life skills too.

For me personally, I can tell you that martial arts changed my life. I was a sick, asthmatic youth who wasn't allowed to even participate in gym class. As a result, my focus was mostly on music, because it was pretty unlikely my piano would ever cause an asthma attack.

After high school, I was finally able to get in the gym, and also into a martial arts program they offered there. New medicine for asthmatics helped out at just the right time, too. Over the years, I just kept on training, ultimately becoming a Master Instructor and 6th Degree Black Belt. When people ask me how I got that far, I tell them "It's simple. I just never quit." I still haven't.

Out of the hundreds of kids I've worked with over the years in our Karate for Kids programs, I've never had one tell me later that they were glad they quit.
Now as adults, they often tell me they wish they'd have kept on going.

I've also never met a black belt who wasn't grateful for the lessons they learned along the way:
Hard work pays off.
Courtesy and respect make things go smoother.
Confidence breeds success.
And no one does it all by themselves.

If you're thinking about quitting, think again. And if your kids are thinking about quitting something, stand strong and help them look past the short term. It could have lasting consequences.

Some people who haven't quit include this week's Biggest Losers. Cheryl Funkhouser finished first, losing 3.0 lbs and 1.9% of her body weight. Mary Jo Becher and Heather Watson tied for second, losing 2.5 and 2.4 lbs respectively, both losing 1.4%. Pam Kelly lost 2.2 lbs and tied for fourth place with Christy Henry, who lost 1.8 lbs, and both losing about 1.0%.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


"You have to put yourself in a position to succeed." We used to hear this all the time from Dad when we were growing up.

He said it when I was getting tired of school. He said it when I didn't want to go to piano lessons or practice my violin. He said it anytime I wanted to quit anything.

Once I made it into college, he never seemed to mind when I changed majors, even after the fifth time. He said whatever I wanted to do was fine, as long as it was legal. But he always insisted I be as prepared as possible, so I'd be in a position to succeed.

I've often wondered what he meant by succeeding. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to try a lot of different things. Some were successful; others not so much. But it's all been interesting, and I think I've finally figured out what Dad was really getting at.

It wasn't about which career, which job, or the type lifestyle I could get. It was about the effort. It was about doing my best, and not giving up, even when it was hard. Particularly when I didn't feel like it.

A World War II veteran born during the Great Depression, Dad understood the value of hard work and persistence. That whole generation did. They knew how to gut it out, day by day, doing the hard work you do that to achieve something, or make something better.

It worked too. Our industrial base and ingenuity helped win the war, and it took us a long way in the decades since. But sometimes I wonder if we've been as successful in transmitting that work ethic as they were.

We want everything so fast these days: fast food, faster news, and immediate status updates. Recently someone told me they had to lose 30 lbs by the time they went on vacation--in just a couple weeks! Yeah, they do it on television, but they live on a ranch with no kids, no minivan, no job. Just weight loss.

I told them they probably just didn't have enough time, but to just get started, and do whatever they could. I didn't want to discourage them, but really, how long has it taken them to gain the weight? Why do we think we should get such dramatic results overnight?

Our leader in Biggest Loser "20" has lost just over 35 lbs in eight weeks, which is fantastic. But you need to know that she's been walking 6 miles EVERY morning, and then coming in and doing the regular workouts every night. I've seen her do them. She's one of the only people I know I who actually prints out my daily workout and brings it to the gym.

When people are a little unhappy because they aren't quite getting there fast enough, I tell them to look at her. See what she's doing. "If you want those results, maybe you need to try that." And remember, it's not so much WHAT she's doing, it's how she's doing it. It's her work ethic. She found a plan she could do. She takes full advantage of it, (to an extreme), and she's totally committed. She just doesn't stop.

Dad was right. We have to put ourselves in a position to succeed. This week's Biggest Losers have certainly done that. Lori Hollingsworth finished first, losing 3.5 lbs and 2.0%. Christy Henry took second, losing another 2.6 lbs and 1.3%. Brad Adams was third, losing 2.4 lbs and about 1.0%.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


We've passed the halfway point in Biggest Loser "20" and I have to say, it's been pretty interesting. Our leader, Christy Henry, has lost an amazing 32.8 lbs, and she's done it in just seven weeks. Another has lost about 25 lbs, and we have several who have lost around 15 lbs.

I've really tried to mix things up with this group. They've done a couple of tough new kickboxing workouts, with weights, ropes and other exercises mixed in. They've done a workout in the park where they also ran there and back. Last week, they even took on a hill run, up and down the overhead bridge (by the football field), complete with battle ropes at the bottom!

But during each Biggest Loser, I like to introduce a concept called High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Always a tough workout, HIIT keeps making a comeback in fitness circles because it allows you to burn a lot of calories in a fairly short amount of time.

This week their HIIT workout was about 28 minutes long, based on doing a hard minute of work followed by an easier minute for recovery. They did a 7 minute round on each of four pieces of cardio equipment: a Treadmill, Rower, Elliptical, and an AirDyne bike. Here's what each round looked like:

1 min warm up at 50-60%*
1 min at 70%
1 min at 50-60% to recover
1 min at 80%
1 min at 50-60% to recover
1 min at 90%**
1 min at 50-60%

*of a maximal effort.
**just short of having to stop.

After completing that seven minute round, they moved to the next piece of equipment, repeating the same routine. While a person could complete several rounds of a HIIT workout on a single piece of equipment, I wanted them to experience it on a variety of things. It also keeps it interesting and is pretty good for the body too.

Shorter workouts are becoming the norm, due to busy schedules and other time constraints. For example, Monday's popular boot-camp workout was based on a protocol created by a well known exercise physiologist named Tabata. It calls for eight intervals per exercise, for 20 seconds on and just 10 seconds of rest. It's only four minutes per exercise, but it's pretty tough. We did seven stations, eight sets each, for a total workout lasting just 28 minutes. I think they found it challenging.

Even the latest workout DVDs have been trending shorter, like the super popular T-25 series, which is just 25 minutes in length. The newest version of P90X3 has also shortened their workouts to just 30 minutes, 6 days a week. In both cases, they were responding to the main reason people either didn't finish their program, or didn't even start it at all: people reporting that they just didn't have enough time.

This week's Biggest Losers have found the time for some good results. Brian Bradley finished first, losing 5.2 lbs and 2.2% of his body weight. Jennifer Bowers placed second, losing 4.2 lbs and 1.7%. Matt Murphy was third, losing 4.6 lbs and 1.4%. Christy Henry finished fourth, losing 1.8 lbs, and Brad Adams was fifth, also losing 1.8 lbs, both losing about 1.0%.