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November 06, 2007

Well, I had a pretty good week despite some some diet issues (cheating).  Turns out that standing in long lines for haunted houses burns more calories than I had anticipated.  So my cheating didn't mess me up too much.  I just had a couple of 'high fat' days.

I'm was still on vacation but had to stop by work for a few minutes to take care of some things.  One of which was to weigh-in for our weight loss challenge.  I dropped nearly 20 pounds from my last weigh-in (19.6 pounds)...so I'm doing pretty good there.  I'm a bit disappointed that so many people wussed out on the challenge.  Plenty of folks did the initial weigh-in but then they disappeared.  I think we are down to just four people.  People want to lose weight...but they don't want to put the time and effort into doing it.  That just drives me crazy sometimes.  It happened again last week....some one asked me how I lost so much weight but as soon as I started talking about tracking calories and exercising their eyes glassed over.  Why ask me if you aren't going to listen to me?  Seriously, it really bugs me.

What was really nice was that then I went into work people noticed that I'd lost some weight while I'd been gone.  That's much better than what happened last year.  Last year I went on my big vacation, lost about 12 pounds and no one said a word....no one noticed.  But I was pretty heavy still and thinking back on it 12 pounds either way won't have really made that much of a difference.

The big news right now is that I've hit a major milestone....my percent of body fat has fallen into the 20s.  I

Happy Halloween Everyone

I know that by the time you read this Halloween will be over...but I tend to write my blog entries a week or two in advance.  So I'm actually writing this on Halloween morning just after finishing my lower body workout....in the cold...brrrrr!  It was 60 degrees when I got up.

That's not really that cold for me...but it is for the South. :)

Progress Report

My percentage of body fat dropped into the 20s! I had to do it twice to be sure I hadn't made a mistake.  This is a really big deal.  I still won't admit to how high my body fat had gotten to when I was really big.  Let's just say I was mostly fat. 

Oh...and I got used as an example at the gym the other day.  Some new client was taking a tour before signing up for membership and the staff member pointed me out while I was working with the balance ball.  I stopped working out and said, "Check it out!  I'm an example!"  It was one of those 'you had to be there' things. 

And of course the big news is that I hit the 235 pound mark.  This means I'm back to the low point I was at before I'd gone off diet.  This has been the hardest weight to take off.  I'm not sure why.  I've finally got around to updating my weight loss spreadsheet.   Yum...the sugar free taste of success.

Where NOT to Put Your Money

Okay, I've talked about some FREE stuff you can do to get in shape....and I've talked about some INEXPENSIVE stuff you can do.  Now it is time to go over some stuff NOT TO DO.  Here are some things that you will want to stay away from.  Don't believe it...don't buy it...don't use it....

1.  The Ab Lounge:  This wonder of workout machinery costs between $200 - $300.  You sit in this chair and do what essentially is a crunch.  It is supposed to allow you to this focused workout on your abs so you can flatten you tummy.  Okay....here is what's wrong with it....


  • It is a common myth that you can do ANY sort of 'spot reduction' of your body fat.  Your body stores fat according to your genetics.  And the only way you can reduce fat in ANY PART of your body is to reduce your overall body fat percentage.  You will tend to lose fat in the reverse order of how you stored it in the first place.  This is an absolute truth....YOU CAN NOT SPOT REDUCE BODY FAT UNLESS YOU HAVE IT SURGICALLY REMOVED.  So doing a bunch of exercises for one muscle group is only going to make that group stronger and the muscle larger.  There's nothing wrong with strengthening your abs...but it will NOT give you that six pack that they advertise.
  • This is a $300 piece of junk.  If you have that kind of money to throw away, get a gym membership and do all the workouts you like....and for ALL your muscle groups.  Or just buy a balance ball and do all the crunches you like....and lots of other exercises as well.

2.  The Ab Rocker:  Aside from the 'no spot reducing rule'...the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University did a study to determine the best and worst abdominal exercises.  In both categories (rectus abdominus and obliques) the Ab Rocker came in DEAD LAST. 

abrocker Also, this thing is just plan unsafe.  I read numerous accounts from people that said that it tipped over backwards when they tried to use it. 

3.  The Red Exerciser:  This is a chair gizmo on which you are supposed play 'sit and spin'.  While doing research for this I went to their web site to check it out.  I clicked on the link for 'testimonials' and got a page that said 'Coming soon'.  In other words they couldn't find anyone that would say something good about the thing.

4.  Electronic Muscle Stimulators:  They go by many names, Ab Tronic, Ab Energizer, Fast Abs, Ab Force...and so on.  It is a belt that you wear that sends little electric impulses into the body.  The idea is that these impulses cause the muscles in your abs to tighten up and loosen just like you were exercising.  So you just sit there and the fat melts away....yeah...right.  What a load of crap!  Okay...we again hit on the 'no spot reducing' rule.  Also there where reports that these devices left bruises, blisters, and burns on some of the poor unfortunate suckers that bought into this.

Finally the FDA had to stepped in and filed a suit against the manufacturers.  However, sales have not slowed.  I guess PT Barnum was right...."There's a sucker born every minute."

NOTE:  There is some dispute on whether or not Barnum actually said that, as it was out of character for him.  It is believed that he might have been misquoted and actually said something like, "There's a customer born every minute."

5.  The Thigh Master:  Oh yes...its been around forever...the Thigh Master.  With its guarantee to women everywhere that they too can have trimmer thighs.  Guess what ladies....YOU WERE HAD.  Remember the rule of 'no spot reducing'?  Well, that isn't just for abs....it applies to all muscle groups.  So as much as I enjoy watching Suzanne Somers demonstrate the benefits of her prized product....it is worthless.

6.  The Air Climber:  I didn't even know this one existed until I was doing research for this article and stumbled onto it.  It is sort of like a stair climber and a foot operated air pump....and some handles with budgie cords.  The reviews on it were sort of mixed.  Some said it was easily breakable (cheap plastic), some claimed that the internal bellows needed to be redesigned, and a few people liked it. 

I went to their web site to have a closer look.  I love how stuff will claim "Lose 10 pounds in a Week".  Yeah...that's just water weight.  Its not like you are going to do that EVERYWEEK.  It comes with a DVD that has workout information and diet info.  That's the part that is tricky.  Some of these people that are actually losing weight are probably just improving their diets.  You can lose plenty of weight by just making changes in your diet.  In fact diet is WAY more important than exercise (but you need both).

So while the jury is still out on the Air Climber, I'll error on the side of caution and say 'don't buy'.

7.  OSIM´┐Ż iGallopT Core and Abs Exerciser:  This is the most ridiculous product I've seen so far.  It is supposed to simulate riding a horse...I think.  Imagine doing all your exercises on horseback or on a moving surf board.  I watched the infomercial on this and it looked like the poor actors they had demonstrating this hunk of junk were going to fall off at any second.  Seriously, I thought the guy was going to take a header right off it at one point.  My favorite part was the control for speed and intensity...it had little pictures of horses on it.

What to see something disturbing?  They set these things up in a mall and videotaped people trying to use it.  This is not for the faint of heart....

<link removed since it was deleted from YouTube> 

That's what I need in my home gym....a mechanical bull.  I can see it now....I get tossed into my Bowflex and end up hanging myself on the power rods.

8.  Sports Drinks/Energy Drinks:  We all know why sodas are bad for us...but sports drinks/energy drinks sound like they should be good for you.  Some of them are nothing more than glorified sugar water.  A great number of them have concentrated levels of citric acid in them...which while good for the body are very corrosive to tooth enamel....sort of like soft drinks are.  In fact the number one sports drink available, Gatorade, is made by...guess who....PepsiCo. 

For the most part, you shouldn't be drinking any calories.  They go down too fast and you can quickly drink more calories than you can eat in the same amount of time.  So fast that the body won't able to tell you when you should  STOP consuming calories.  The body just can't react that quickly to keep you from over doing it.

The only notable exceptions would be the following:

  • Protein Shakes - When used as a meal replacement to increase to increase protein intake and reduce fat intake
  • Pre-workout Carbs - Drink a SMALL amount of carbs just before your workouts and you will be able to run harder, lift more, push your limits....and in the long run burn more calories.  I have a half glass of V8 Fusion just before I workout...no more.
  • Catching up on lost calories - If your caloric deficit is too high, drinking some calories can be a great way to get caught up.  I use a product called 'Naked'.  They make some really good fruit and vegetable blends.  I'm partial to the Pomegranate Blueberry flavor...yum.  Just be aware that the small bottles are TWO servings....so the entire bottle is about 300 calories.

So stay away from the PixieSticks mixed in water...and just drink plain water.  And add some ice to it to make your body burn more calories as it has to heat the water for you.

Well, that brings to a close my 'money series'.  I hope that the information that I've provided can help anyone looking to get started.  Next week I'll have to find something else to drone on about.  Perhaps I'll spend some time figuring out how to keep the dogs off my blog.  Or even better yet...I'll figure out a way to make them useful.  Something like...."Having trouble with resisting junk foods?  Get a Dog!"



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