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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts


Posted: February 22, 2008

Well here we are, halfway through the 12 weeks. We’ve lost a few more people this week. Some are probably too busy, and others are hurt in some way or another. Others are finding it hard to stick with the program.

The bottom line is that change is difficult. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable—painful even. For some people, it’s just not worth it.

Say you’ve been given a special anniversary present—a week away on your own small island somewhere in the Pacific. White sandy beaches, beautiful palm trees. There’s no one around except you, your spouse, and a servant that takes care of your every need. You’ll have incredible meals, sunsets—just the perfect getaway.

The problem is getting there. You’ve got to catch a four hour flight to Miami, with a 12-hour layover before catching a smaller jet and 8 hour flight to Guam. Then it’s another 12-hour layover before you take a puddle jumper to another larger island.

After another 12-hour layover, you finally get in a boat and ride on a choppy sea for 4 hours before getting to the island. It’s taken you more than two days to get there and you’re exhausted. You also had to pay for the flights. Is it worth it? How many people would say forget it—it’s too much trouble?

Let’s say you were coming home from Iraq after serving there for a year. Sure, the flights would be free, but it’s still a hassle. No question it’s worth it, though? You couldn’t wait to go.

It’s all about your perspective. You have to want the destination badly enough to put up with the hassles along the way. And when you can learn to enjoy the journey, it gets even better.

We’ve got about 45 people left out of the original 57 who started six weeks ago. For the remaining contestants, it’s becoming as much about the journey as it is the destination, and that’s a wonderful thing to see.

This week we had our guest nutritionist back for another session. Camilla Whitkanack, MS RD, from Terre Haute Regional spoke to the group about how to make better choices when looking at calories in their meals and snacks.

She had some powerful visual aids that helped her make the point that “some foods marketed as “diet” foods may actually be poor choices because of unhealthy additives and/or being overly processed.”

Camilla went on to compare an actual 1 oz baggy of baked potato chips (120 calories) with a 1 oz baggy of regular potato chips (150 calories). The 30 calories savings “is hardly enough to bother with.”

She also pointed out that the potato chips had just three ingredients: potatoes, salt, and oil. In contrast, the baked chips had around 15 ingredients, most of which are chemical compounds that are hard to pronounce, and had to determine exactly what they are!

She goes on to say, “It certainly doesn’t justify eating more baked chips than regular chips, especially considering that the baked chips are higher in sodium and loaded with additives to artificially enhance flavor and texture.”

Another great example Camilla gave was with a popular name brand protein bar marketed as a diet bar as a “meal-on-the-go.” “It weighs a measly 2 ounces and provides 220 calories.” Not very filling.

She continues, “First of all, 220 calories should be considered a snack, not a meal. Even when you’re trying to lose weight, a balanced meal should provide 400-500 calories to provide enough energy to get through your day, provide fuel for exercise, and allow you to burn fat instead of muscle.” That’s exactly why I wanted them to hear what she had to say.

Camilla said that the bars might work fine in a pinch, but that there were far better choices, as she held up a baggie with a cup of strawberries and blueberries, an 8 oz cup of light yogurt, and yet another baggie with Kashi granola—grand total, 220 calories!

In one hand she had the diet bar—in the other, all that fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. Which one do you think would fill you up more? Which would have more vitamins and minerals? And which would have a bunch of ingredients you couldn’t pronounce—which to me can’t be as good?

It was a pretty powerful demonstration that you “have to look beyond the numbers when trying to make life-long improvements in your eating habits.” Camilla ended with “Lean more towards whole foods or food with minimal processing such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals, balanced with lean sources of protein and lowfat or nonfat dairy.”

This week we had two $20 Walmart gift cards provided by Dimond Brothers Insurance for the top two losers. First place went to our oldest contestant, Bill Lewis, who lost the largest percentage of body weight (-1.97%) and a weight loss of 5.0 lbs. Bill is 67, and has lost an amazing 27.2 pounds in just six weeks! Bill said his secret is working out twice a day. He’s also pretty careful about what he’s eating.

Second place went to Jane Graham, who lost the 2nd largest percentage of body weight (-1.65%), and a weight loss of 2.6 lbs. This is pretty impressive since Jane’s one of the smallest people here. Whenever I see her, though, she’s busting it pretty hard, whether it’s on the treadmill, in the weight room, or in kickboxing class.

I also gave them a group training session on the cardio equipment, where they learned how to do high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. After a warmup, they learned how to evaluate their effort on a scale from 1 (Couch Potato) to 10 (Have to Quit).

Couch Potato Very Easy Light Work Moderate Tougher Very Hard Have to Quit!

The secret to HIIT workouts is to get a good warmup by starting at a 5 or a 6. After about 5 minutes, crank the intensity up to a 7 by increasing the speed or grade (hills) on the treadmill, or the speed or resistance on the elliptical or bike.

After another few minutes, crank it up to what feels like an 8 for a minute. Then back it down to a 6 or 7 for a minute to recover. Take it back up to an 8 for another minute before lowering it to what feels like a 7. After a few of those intervals, crank it up to what feels like a 9 for a minute before going back down to a 6 or 7 to recover.

Do a couple of those intervals! If you really want to drive a stack through it’s heart and call it dead, do your last interval for twice as long (2 minutes)! Or, shoot for a 10 and see if you can make it for a full minute.

If you don’t have much time, doing HIIT for 20 minutes will burn more calories than regular cardio for twice as long. Plus, it has a much longer after burn—giving you a calorie burning bonus over the next couple hours. Give it a try. Make sure you get have a recovery day in between HIIT workouts—you’ll need them. See you next week!