Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Biggest Loser "22" Week Six

We just finished Week Six of Biggest Loser "22" and have just one week to go. It's a tough time of year for many, with travel, holiday meals, and various other time demands. But that's just another reason to keep pushing forward. 

Even though you might get pulled off your game a little bit, it doesn't have to be game over. If you stay determined, you can still make some progress, or at least stay even. Worst case, you might slip and fall a little bit, but with the right focus and dedication, you can get back on track quickly. 

We just had a family of three do this. They had a not-so-good week, just a week ago, and all three gained a little weight. But they buckled down and not only made up for the weight they'd gained, but even lost a little more to boot. That's how you do it. 

One of the guys did the last Biggest Loser, after losing over 50 pounds to win the last one. Work has taken him to Arkansas, but before he left, he'd lost another 14 pounds in the first four weeks!

Another participant has had some major obstacles getting here the last two weeks, due to other activities, but she's still been able to lose 6.8 lbs at home. Now that's the way to stay with it. She's lost 21.8 lbs during the six weeks. 

Perhaps the most impressive thing is when I catch someone doing one of the Biggest Loser workouts later on their own. Or even better, making up their own workouts from things they've learned. That will take them a long way. 

So we've got one more week to go with this group. Next week, we'll have the final results for the seven weeks and they'll retake the fitness test that they took on the first night. I think they'll be surprised how much easier it's going to be. 

We're also going to do something new next week. For the first time ever, we're going to start the next group of Biggest Losers at the very same time as we finish this one. This will give the new ones a chance to hear directly from those who are finishing this one. I'm sure they'll have some good tips for them about how to be successful. 

We're also going to run the new group right through the holiday season. Lots of people gain five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Our goal is to prevent that, and trim some more pounds to boot. Anyone interested should sign up right away, because Biggest Loser "23" starts Monday night at 7:00 pm

Our Biggest Losers for Week Six were Tracy Whitaker and Rebecca Fehrmann, who tied for first place, losing 2.0 and 2.4 lbs respectively. Both lost 1.3% of their body weight. Doris Frisse placed third, losing 1.1 lbs and 0.7%.

How to lose or maintain your weight during the holidays

The holiday season is finally here and my four year old keeps asking me "Is it Christmas yet?" He can't wait until they turn on the "park lights" so we can "see Santa."

While the holidays are usually a time for reflection and joy, I know they can be a sad time for some. If this is the case for you, I'm truly sorry, and pray God will grant you some peace. 

One of the best things you can do is try not to go it alone. Try and find someone to share some time with. Look for ways to get involved with others. Nothing seems to help our spirits more than to help someone else. It's hard sometimes, but if you can take that first step, it can get better, I promise you. 

Another problem we face this time of year, is that it's so easy to eat too much. I've read the average person gains five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's. 

If you're like me, you've probably already had at least one meal that could really have been two, or even three. We had our Thanksgiving potluck at church last week. We've got another one coming up, plus a couple of big holiday meals at home. 

Over the years, I've tried to help people at least maintain their weight over the holidays. Then one year, I worked with a couple that actually lost weight while on vacation, on a cruise ship! This is what they did. 

They worked out every day in the ship's fitness center. They also walked lots of laps around the outer deck. But the main thing they did was eat only when they would normally have eaten at home. And they took small portions when eating at those big buffets. 

If they could do it in that environment, we can do it too. We just need to employ the same strategies. Go to the gym every day. Walk a few miles on top of that. Only eat at the regular times, and take small portions. If you can keep to this strategy, you can maintain your weight. 

Don't miss your workouts. If your workout usually burns 500 calories, missing one day won't kill you. But do it seven days in a row and you'll gain a pound of fat if you don't cut back your intake, too. Do it a few weeks in a row and ta-da, there are your five pounds, just look down! 

But what really gets us is missing workouts AND eating more. That combination will double your weight gain. So definitely don't do that. 

That said, here are a couple strategies that have worked well for many of our Biggest Losers. I use them too. 

If you know you're going to a potluck, or out to a buffet, skip the meal beforehand. I know some say that just makes you hungry so you'll overeat when you get there. But I've observed most of us eat a lot in those situations, regardless of how hungry we are. 

If you save some calories before, it will give you some wiggle room. You may be over for that meal, but you don't have to be over for the DAY. That's when you gain weight. So end the day even and you'll stay even, regardless of the potluck or buffet. 

Now that you have a little room to work with, take small portions, and don't fill your whole plate up. Cut yourself off while you're still in line. If it's on your plate, you'll probably eat it.

I mean really. If you can't even see your plate under that heaping mound of food, you're going to get fat. I don't care how much you work out. You can't outwork stupid.

Furthermore, don't go back for seconds. You don't need em. You already had em. Maybe even thirds. To help make up for it, later in the day, skip your snacks, too. Eat a lighter meal than usual. All these things can help you stay even. 

Finally, I know I mentioned this earlier, but THIS is not the day to skip your workout. Ideally, you'll hit it before the meal so you'll just burn most of it off. In a perfect world, you'll hit it again later, with at least some light cardio. 

For our Biggest Losers, we shoot for two workouts a day anyway, because that's how you lose the most weight. People who do a second workout lose twice as much weight as those who don't. 

Know that you're going to face these challenges. If you ignore them, you're going to gain weight. But if you pay attention and have a strategy, you can win the battle of the belly this year. 

To help you do it, our next Biggest Loser "23" starts Monday, December 1st at 7:00 pm. We're going to work hard to help you stay focused for the next seven weeks, and get you through the holidays. 

Like last time, we're including all the daily workouts, and the bootcamp and kickboxing classes too. Let me know if you'd like to participate. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tiny Tigers Come Roaring Back

It's been quite awhile since we've had a Tiny Tigers program at the center. We work with ages six and up in our Karate for Kids program, and have seen a lot of them over the years. You know you're getting old when former students are bringing their own kids to class!

The benefits of martial arts training for children are well known. Kids learn how to listen, pay attention, focus on a task, set and achieve goals, and gain lots of self confidence. Of course they get some self defense skills too. 

Karate isn't the only way kids can learn these skills, although it's very effective at teaching them. But what do you do with 3-5 year olds? They're a different animal altogether. 

The younger kids are often just starting preschool, so they're not as used to operating in a group setting. Add some shorter attention spans and really impulsive behavior, and it gets pretty interesting. 

Fifteen years ago, we had a pretty big Tiny Tiger class in my larger school up in Danville. This was back before we sold the school to focus on the center here in Paris. Many of those kids went on to the "big kids" class there and had lots of success. 

I've seen the same thing happen here too. We had quite a few Karate for Kids and Adults in our martial arts program at the center around ten years ago. Some of the parents and adult students wanted to get their younger 3 year olds involved. 

At the same time, we also had a 3 year old granddaughter (Bailey Johnson) so we started a Tiny Tigers class for her, three Blair's (Zane, Sean & Caitlin), and a little boy named Alex Elmore, whose parents had been driving him all the way up to my Tigers class in Danville. 

Over the years, they eventually graduated to the big kids class, and all ended up with their black belts. Alex kept training and even received his Second Degree Black Belt. He just started college at Eastern this year. 

Over the years, we moved toward working five year olds into the regular class, and my other two granddaughters started training that way. Both are black belts, still training, and now learning how to help other kids as part of our Leadership Program. 

Last summer, my son was almost four, and one of our original black belt parents also had another four year old. I'd also just found a cool new Tigers program with neat new belt ranks based on some awesome animal characters. It was Tiger time!

Now here we are, a few months later, and we've just had our first new Tiger testing and graduation. It's taken a little while to get my Tiger teaching chops back. But when it all comes together, it's pretty amazing to see a group of three and four year olds listening, paying attention, following directions, and doing their new karate moves together. 

I've learned all over again that you have to keep it really short and move on to the next thing, or you'll lose them. Wait too long, and you'll have mutiny on your hands. At that point you just have to roll with it! 

Last week, our first three Tigers advanced from their beginning white belt to their new "Ara" White Belt. Ara is a little turtle, and the first character in the new Tigers program. Ara means "of the sea" and is shy, sweet and innocent, like most new students of that age. 

Each Tiger rank has their own special character that teaches special life skills represents one of the nine different colored belt ranks in the regular program. 

Ara the turtle (white)
Baeoh the Tiger (orange)
Cheeri the Cheetah (yellow)
Raon the Lion (camo)
Suri the Eagle (green) 
Choa the Phoenix (purple)
Mir the Dragon (blue)
Narsha the nice Cobra (brown)
Baron the Panther (red)

At some point, the Tigers will transition into the regular "Big Kids" program and start earning their regular colored belts, and hopefully, black belts. It's going to be interesting to look back in a few years, and see where these new Tigers end up! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Biggest Loser "22" Workouts

Last week we looked at how persistence is key, whatever you're trying to accomplish. This week I'm going to take you through a few workouts that some of the Biggest Losers have been doing. 

When people start an exercise program, they usually start with what I call Level One training. This is entry level exercise on the treadmill, ellipticals, and bikes, and also the Maxicam weight machine circuit. 

The next step is what I call Level Two training. This includes High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on the cardio equipment, and replacing weight machines with dumbbell movements and an exercise ball. 

After some time with these, they're usually ready for Level Three training, where we combine cardio exercises with free weights. We'll also combine individual dumbbell exercises to make multi-joint or compound movements. 

One example of this would be to take a dumbbell squat and a dumbbell shoulder press and put them together. The result is a compound movement called a thruster (squat w/press). 

Another example is to take three individual dumbbell exercises and make a deadlift-curl-press, or a walking lunge-curl-press. These movements are all much tougher, because they use more overall muscle, and more of your core for stability. 

Level Four workouts make it even more demanding by combining cardio with multi-joint movements. That means more calories burned, which means more fat lost. 

For Biggest Loser "22" we threw the introductory phase out the window and started right at Level Two. We modified the workouts a little, to make them doable. 

Many of them jumped into the Level 3 and 4 workouts in Boot Camp, too. Remember, the goal was to get them going as quickly as possible, and they've sure been doing that. 

Here are some actual examples of Level 3 and 4 workouts that many of them have done in the last couple of weeks. 


Run 1/4 mi
25 pushups
25 body squats
25 sit-ups

Row 500 m
50 pushups (modify as needed)

Pushups or Pikes on the Ball 
DB Curls
BOSU Squats
Battle Rope
Kettle Bell swings
Ball Smacks


Run 1/4 mi*
25 Burpee/pull-ups (cheat as needed on the pull-up)
*Try to increase speed during each run. 

Run 1 mi
100 Pull-ups
100 Pushups
100 Sit-ups
100 Body Squats
Run 1 mi

Note: This bootcamp workout one was especially difficult, and many had to modify parts of it. However, at least one Biggest Loser completed it as is. 

Level Three and Level Four workouts are a great way to keep your intensity high and beat those dull workout blues. They'll also help you through those times when you need to break through workout and weight loss plateaus. 

Some people beating the weight loss blues and dreaded plateaus, include our Week Five Biggest Losers. Tracy Whitaker, 1st Place, lost 2.2 lbs and 1.4% of her body weight. Nancy Vono and Rebecca Fehrmann tied for 2nd place, both losing 1.2 lbs. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

We've all read the story about the Tortoise and the Hare. You know how it goes. After a pretty slow start for the turtle, the rabbit finally gasses out, and the turtle ends up winning. Hooray!

Nice if you're the turtle. Especially if you're crossing a finish line that has significant meaning or value to you. Like saving for retirement. Now that's where a slow, steady investment strategy over the years will definitely make you a winner. 

According to Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover, Baby Step #4 is putting away 15% of our income toward retirement. If one starts early in their career and follows through for 30-40 years, they can amass an amazing amount of money to live on. They'll also have quite a legacy to pass on to loved ones. 

To be sure, slow and steady definitely wins the race, if we'll just do it. But getting there often requires us to sprint with "gazelle-like intensity."

We learned this in a nine week course that just wrapped up recently, called "Financial Peace University." Also created by Dave Ramsey, FPU has had well over a million graduates. As the coordinator for our group at church, I had the honor of helping presenting the material, including seven "Baby Steps" laid out in a logical progression. 

Now being coordinator doesn't mean I was all that or anything. I  was there studying along with everyone else. Regardless of our particular point in the journey, we were all trying to figure out what our next move was, so we could turn our own boat around. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about just the first three Baby Steps. They were important, but only part of the process, so here are all seven, just like Dave teaches it. Complete each one before moving on to the next one. 

Baby Step #1 is to establish a $1,000 basic emergency fund, as quickly as possible. This is a BIG deal! Do it right away. 

Baby Step #2 is to do a "Debt Snowball" where you pay off all non-mortgage debt, smallest to largest. Throw everything you can at the smallest one until it's gone, making only minimum payments on the others. Pick them off one-by-one and apply the old payments to the next larger debt. The further you get, the more momentum you gain, just like a snowball rolling downhill. Some people can do it in a year or less with gazelle intensity. For most of us, it's going to take a little longer.

Baby Step #3 is to now start saving aggressively, until you have a fully funded 3-6 month Emergency Fund. This should be enough to make it through 3-6 months of regular expenses, in times of trouble. Without any consumer debt payments, you'll now have more money each month to put on this. 

Baby Step #4 is to start saving 15% of your income toward retirement in Roth IRA's and other pre-tax retirement plans. There are always a lot of questions about why this is the fourth step, instead of starting earlier. Basically, you get what you focus on, and the earlier steps are going to require all your effort to get them done as quickly as possible. 

Baby Step #5 is to set up a savings plan for your children's college. The reason this comes AFTER your own retirement planning, is that they can always work and help with college. You can't work forever. 

Baby Step #6 is getting your house paid off early. Dave also has some specific guidelines on what kind of financing is best (15 year fixed). We often have too much house, so we typically go 30 years just so we can manage the payment. This isn't wise, and can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure if trouble comes knocking at your door. 

Baby Step #7 is to let it all grow and build wealth, so you can "Live and Give, like no one else." What an awesome place that would be to live in. Here's where that tortoise really prevails. 

So there you have it. Seven steps to success, just like we learned in FPU. Let's be clear. It's not going to happen overnight, just like it's going to take some time losing the weight you've accumulated.  

But you need to be gazelle intense at the start so you can get some momentum going. Stay gazelle intense while you're getting those debts paid off as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get there, the sooner you can start putting some serious money away (or losing that weight). And THAT'S when slow and steady will win the race!

At least two area churches will be offering Financial Peace University in the upcoming months: Cornerstone Baptist, after the first of the year, and First Baptist Church, in the Spring. 

Persistence, the key to overcoming obstacles and reaching goals.

I've been chronicling the weekly progress of participants in our new accelerated Seven Week Biggest Loser program. We had two new goals with this one.  

I wanted to jump start their effort by giving them more help and more workout opportunities through the week. We started off strong on day one, and many have become regular Boot Camp Warriors (those workouts are tough)!

I've also been testing the idea that the new format could help our completion rate. We've had 21 different Biggest Loser groups over the last 10 years, ranging in size from 12 to 68 participants (that was a BIG one). While there are a lot of success stories, no matter how well some did, the average dropout rate always stayed around 50%. I'm hoping to change that. 

So we've made it to the end of Week Four and we still have really high participation. Of the few drops, one dropped right away, and another is out due to surgery. A third has missed two weekly weigh-in's but I think she's still trying. So with just three weeks to go, it's looking pretty good.

Typically, most people drop around the fourth or fifth week, which is right now. They may not have had the dramatic results that the leaders have had, so it's hard for them to maintain their motivation. With a shorter, more intense program, I'm hoping they'll see the goal posts in sight and keep on running. 

I believe it really doesn't matter what program people use. There are lots of good ones out there. Whatever they do, what really matters is that they STICK with it. And the people that work the hardest always seem to do the best. You have to be persistent. 

Everyone has obstacles and setbacks, and we've all had our own mountains to climb, and struggles to deal with. Sure, some are much worse than others. Some we can't even comprehend. 

But people can bounce back from the toughest things, though it might take years. One of the highest rated shows on TV, "America's Most Wanted", started with a man's tragic loss of a child. John Walsh went on to host the show, and is personally responsible for bringing many people to justice. 

People tortured brutally as prisoners of war have gone on to have remarkable successes. Perhaps most notably, Senator John McCain, who was the Republican nominee for President of the United States. 

Popular author and radio host Dave Ramsey turned a personal bankruptcy into an amazing program called "Financial Peace University." This system has been wildly successful in helping millions of people get out of debt. 

Bethany Hamilton, the champion surfer, lost her arm in a shark attack several years ago. She's since returned to surfing, and is now starring on "The Amazing Race." On that challenging show, she went over a long rope bridge one-handed, and put a puzzle together with her feet. 

I can't say I really understand what any of these people have truly gone through. Even right here in our community, we've seen some tragic things recently. You just can't even imagine. 

But the quality that people who survive seem to have, is a desire to keep going. They have something inside them that carries them through. I'll bet faith often plays a large role in it. 

I think they show us that we don't have to be defined by our problems, struggles or failures. Even the hard ones. Instead, we can be defined by how we overcome them. By how we find a way to keep going, and by what we do with them. I'm pretty sure this works in the little things too. 

Some people who have kept going include this week's Biggest Losers. Tracy Whitaker placed first, losing 3.8 lbs and 2.4% of her body weight. Mark Clark was second, losing 3.4 lbs and 1.3%. Alyssa Horner was third, losing 1.2 lbs and about 1.0%. 

Next week, some of the killer workouts we've been up to. Until then, remember. Just get started, don't quit, and be persistent! You'll get through it. 

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Biggest Loser "22" (Week Three)

Last week, we looked at better food choices, but that's just half the battle. Biggest Losers also have to make exercise a consistent part of their life, too.

In this streamlined seven week program, they've had lots of daily Boot Camp, Cardio, and Kickboxing workouts. We also turned it up in their weekly Biggest Loser workouts with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and circuit training routines with dumbbells (DB). 

Here are their first three, in case you'd like to give them a try. Make sure you know how to do everything safely and correctly. You'll find lots of help these days, from YouTube videos to local personal trainers. 

5 min cardio warmup
5 min of 30 second HIIT intervals (30 sec jogging/30 sec walking)
5 min cool down

DB Chest Press on Ball, DB Bent Over Rows, & DB Squats (3 x 10 reps)
DB Deadlifts & DB Bicep Curl-Presses (3 x 10 reps)
Assorted Crunches (3 x 10 reps)

By the second week, they'd increased the length of their cardio and learned some new dumbbell routines:

5 min cardio warmup
10 min of 60 second HIIT intervals 
5 minute cool down

DB Thrusters (squat & press), DB Curls, & Assorted Abs* (2 x 15 reps)
DB Deadlifts-Curl-Presses, & Assorted Abs* (2 x 15 reps)
DB Walking Lunge-Curl-Presses, & Assorted Abs* (1 x 15 reps)
*1) Crunches, 2) Crunches w/Legs up, 3) Crunches to L side, 4) Crunches to R side, 5) Leg Lifts

In the Week Three workout, we stepped it up yet again. This time they did more cardio with longer warmups and longer HIIT intervals, and a new full body routine with a straight barbell:

10 min cardio warmup
Three 90 sec HIIT intervals
10 min cool down

Straight Bar Deadlifts, Upward Rows, Cleans, Squat Cleans, Clean & Jerks, and Squat Cleans w/Press (3 x 3 reps each), and the earlier Assorted Ab Routine #1-5 (3 x 15 reps)

Hopefully, with all of the different things they're doing, they'll find some things they really like that they'll keep on doing. If they can also keep control over their eating, I know they'll reach their weight loss goals. 

Some people reaching their goals include our Week Three Biggest Losers. Tracy Whitaker took first place, losing 3.8 lbs and 2.3% of her body weight. Doris Frisse and Betsy Higginbotham both tied for second place, losing 2.0% of their body weight and 3.4 and 3.8 lbs respectively.