Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lessons from the Biggest loser contest




The biggest loser is probably the most popular fitness based program in the history of television. In case you are not aware what the show is about, then let me give you a brief idea. It is a reality game show that involves obese contestants. Every week one contestant is eliminated and it goes on in this manner, till one contestant remains, who is declared the winner. As you must have guessed by now that elimination depends though not fully but greatly on the weight that is lost by the contestants.

Although it did not make it big in India, it sure is a hit in many other countries and the trainers of the US edition are definite celebrities. However if you were to ever ask other trainers about their personal opinion of Jillian, Bob then be ready for some big time criticism. Beginning from Jillian's rude and cold behavior towards the contestants to criticizing Bob for various reasons, you will hear a lot of negative stuff thrown at them. I mean does Jillian know how to swing a kettlbell, maybe, maybe not. But come on guys, how about giving a little credit where its due? I mean how many gyms were making 400 pound folks do squats, inverted rows, push ups on the floor and other intense exercises? 


Most gyms had their obese population sit on the recumbent bike for 45 minutes followed by some gentle machine resistance training like leg extensions, seated bench press, etc. So yes, the biggest loser is not all that bad! Infact I know this from experience that years ago most trainers, yes I mean trainers who are supposed to help their clients get fitter would mentally laugh and never believe that it was possible when their obese clients expressed their dream to run something like 5 Km someday. They might have said "sure it can happen someday", but in their minds they were like, "yeah right as if you got a chance to make that ever happen you big fat slob"!






If you were to ask me about the trainers in the show, then to be honest I will have to say that I have a very mixed opinion of them. Some of their negative features like being rude to contestants is really disturbing for me to watch, however I do realize that it is a commercial TV show and that behavior obviously helps in gaining viewership. Plus the ultra fast rate of fat loss achieved during the show is almost impossible to achieve in real life situations due to many reasons like lack of time, distractions, etc. Also some of their methods are too dangerous, for eg taking a 400 pound guy and making him do all out sprints on day 1 without building up a conditioning base is frankly speaking crazy in my opinion!  

There are however some important lessons that one can learn from the biggest loser show that they can use in their lives to lose fat. Of course just dont expect to lose 100 pounds in 8 weeks for sure. So pay attention and take notes, what you learn from the show might help you go on your own personal biggest loser experience, even if you are not as obese as the contestants.

1) Team work is important- did you notice how the contestants begin the show in teams? Did you notice how the team members motivate and push each other to be that much more dedicated or push that much harder? Now do you think that it would have been the same if they were to start the contest alone by themselves? Surely not! Research has shown that whenever someone teams up with a friend, partner or any one else they are more successful. The accountability factor and the want to not let the other person down motivates one to be really dedicated in their approach. So try to start your fat loss journey with someone like yourself who is also very keen to lose fat.

If you do not know of any such person then even asking your friends and family members to be your cheering squad can be great. The constant reminders, compliments from your friends and family will go a long way to keep you on track for sure.


2) Take your grocery shopping seriously- I have never been to the biggest loser house, but my guess is that you will probably go crazy if you were to search for items like sweets, beer, fried chips,etc. I am sure that the fridge in the biggest loser home only contains healthy and nutritious foods. This is something that you must ensure in your home too. If your fridge only gives you the option of taking out things like lean meats, vegetables, and your kitchen is full of healthy spices, oils, etc then you will find it hard to stay fat!

On the other hand if chips, sweets are only an arm's length away for you and your TV room has a six pack of beer in it, then it will be the easiest thing for you to consume. So from now on get rid of all the unhealthy food items in your house and replace it with the healthy ones. Every time you go shopping for food items, look to put only healthy eating options in your cart.


3) Have a well rounded training program- check out the training portion of any biggest loser episode, and you will find that the contestants warm up, lift, run, stretch, etc. In short they have a complete approach to fitness. On the other hand the regular fat loss aspirant will probably only think of cardio and not really bother about the other important factors of overall fitness.

If you want the best results, then follow a well rounded strength and fitness program which takes care of your overall health.


4) Make your workouts intense- when the contestants are in the gym they mean business! The gym for them is a place for work and not the place and time to gossip or catch up on the latest episode of their favorite TV show that they may have missed out, the night before. The contestants are sweating, huffing, grunting, swearing while they work out. That is what an intense workout feels like. Compare that to the fat guy in your gym who probably pedals away on the exercise bike while he is watching TV or talking all the time on the mobile (believe me I have seen such folks).

From now on approach your workouts like they are a very important business meeting. Your focus should be fully into the exercise that you are doing. Also keep in mind to choose intense resistance exercises rather than only train your abs or some isolation exercise for your legs. For cardio look to push up your breathing rate and keep it up, instead of taking it slow and easy. I will however remind you that before beginning any exercise, please do consult your doctor and get a clearance so that you know your actual limits.


5) Set rewards for achieving goals- besides the ultimate goal of losing fat and changing their life, the contestants also have an eye on the prize money that awaits them. Besides the prize money, there is also a smaller prize for the team that wins the weekly challenges. The concept of rewarding yourself for achieving both your long and short term goals will be a great way to keep you on track. Sure, you might not be able to reward yourself with big prizes like the contestants get, you can however use the money that you save from eating excess food to get a new better fitting jeans, or something else that you fancy. You should ensure that your rewards are not food items. Think in terms of clothes, watches, perfumes, jewelery, shoes, etc.


6) Move more often- the contestants on an average spend about 4-6 hours a day exercising. Now before you decide to do the same let me stop and warn you against doing so. It maybe ok for them since their only job while on the show is to eat, rest, and train for a lot of money that is at stake. You, on the other hand live in the real world and will not be able to keep up with such a schedule with your work and family commitments.

There is however the important lesson to be learned, i.e to be more active. Lets be honest, one of the reasons why people get fat is because they are inactive. So that is a habit that needs to change. So even though you may hit the gym only 3-4 times a week, you should still look to be active throughout the day, everyday. The simple steps like taking the stairs, walking more and relying less on automobiles are very useful when trying to get a little extra activity.


7) Yes, you can do it too- this should probably have been the first big lesson to learn from the show. No matter how huge you are, you can always change that and become healthier. Sure, you might not drop 20 pounds every week, or might not get down to your "perfect" weight, but you can definitely lose fat and get a grip on your life.

I have on occasions come across people who have been trying to lose those unwanted pounds for years but have been failing, and after sometime they actually give up all hope. The show has given a new ray of hope to such individuals who have restarted their journey and have done well too. So if you too have been unsuccessful for years, then do not give up hope. Look to work with a well qualified professional and make things happen. It might take a little longer for you, but it will surely happen.


Biggest loser inspired workout




The war against fat is on!


Okay so who's up for a workout inspired from the biggest loser contest? Oh yes, I do believe that working out on most days a week, working hard, and getting frequent activity is a good thing, period! So if your schedule allows for training 5 days a week, then here you go:

Monday

Circuit:
Double ketlebell clean and press     10 reps 
Dumbbell rows                               10 reps each side
Push ups                                        10 reps
Kettlbell front squats                      12-15 reps

Take a rest of 2 minutes between circuit rounds and repeat another 2-4 times.

Abs circuit:
Reverse crunches                          10-15 reps
Dumbbell side bends                     15 each side
Plank                                            30 seconds

Do 2-3 rounds with 1-2 minutes break in between rounds.


Tuesday

Circuit:
Sledgehammer strikes on tire        30 seconds 
Kettlbell hand to hand swings       30 seconds

Do this for 10 rounds alternating between the two exercises and rest 1 minute between sets. With time cut the rest down to nil and then increase time on the strikes and weight on the swings and go back to 90 seconds rest.

Kickboxing

Strike a heavy bag for 10 rounds of 1 minute. Go hard and combine various kicks, punches, elbows, knees, feints, ducks, etc. Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets. You can also do shadow kickboxing if you do not have access to a punching bag. If you have no idea about kickboxing, then click here to learn.

Wednesday- rest

Thursday- same as Monday

Friday 
Do some joint mobility and yoga for some active recovery and improving flexibility. 

Saturday

Sprints:
After warm up sprint 40-100 meters depending upon your fitness levels. Walk 2 minutes or so for recovery and then repeat for another 5-10 rounds. Initially no need to go all out, you may go at about 80% max speed. With time go for all out sprints, once you are more conditioned. 

Medicine ball slams             5 sets of 10 reps


Clearly the biggest loser inspired workout that I have shared is not one for the faint of heart. You need a ton of mental toughness, dedication and a burning desire to change yourself. Just a word of caution though, if you are extremely obese and/or have medical complications, then you should consult your physician to find out if the above mentioned routine is safe for you or not.

As mentioned earlier, you do not have to be 400 pounds to do the workout that I mentioned. If you wish to lose fat, get stronger, and fitter you can very well do the workout to meet your goals. After all sometimes in life, you got to lose to be a winner!

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