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Weight Loss Challenge

By: Ben Greenfield

WOW! It's been a busy 4 months during the Lost It for Life: Weight Loss Challenge 2006. This was a weight loss contest that I helped coordinate at a local gym in Spokane, Washington. We kicked off at the beginning of the year with 96 people signing up, and 87 actually showing up for the first weigh-in, before photo, circumference measurements, and body fat testing. Every few weeks, participants were scheduled to weigh-in and re-test body fat. Of the starting 87 participants, the average body fat percentage was 32.7, with an average weight of 200 pounds. That's a lot of weight - about 17,400 pounds! And almost 5700 of it was pure fat, which figures to almost 20 million calories; a huge amount of energy.

I've noticed some very interesting patterns during the course of the challenge Ė patterns that anyone with weight loss aspirations or fitness goals will find quite intriguing. Letís take a look at how things finished up this last week. Pay close attention towards the end - it's absolutely amazing.

Of the 87 folks who participated in that first weigh-in, only 41 actually showed up for the final weigh-in. Thatís only 47% of the individuals who started!

The total starting weight of those 41 individuals was 8081 pounds, and based on their starting body fat percentage, the total number of fat pounds was 2626. Those 41 people combined for almost 500 pounds of weight loss, with nearly 400 of those pounds as fat! They burnt almost one and half million fat calories!

All said and done, these individuals, on average, went from 200lbs to 190lbs, and 32.7% body fat to 29.5% body fat. Thatís a 10lb weight loss and a 3.2% body fat loss. Obviously, some did better than others, so these numbers donít reflect the important individual differences. As a matter of fact, the top three individuals lost 61, 47 and 55 pounds, with body fat losses of 8%, 9%, and 7.5%, respectively. So what did the "big losers" do differently to achieve such significantly superior results? There are, in my opinion, 3 important answers that can drastically change your body and life.

1. Frequent metabolism boosting. The most successful participants raised their metabolism and their body's core temperature through frequent daily exercise. Many performed "two-a-day" routines. For instance, one of my clients would do a 60 minute morning walk every day of the week, but perform an additional evening 45 minute of resistance training on four days of the week. Research has shown that running for 10 minutes, three times a day, results in a more significant weight loss than running for 30 minutes, once a day. So take every chance you can to get the blood flowing - even if it just means several simple stretches and body weight exercises per day.

2. Lifestyle nutrition patterns. Thatís much different than a "calculator" based diet. Instead of following a magic formula or extensive math based routine, the successful participants simply made sure to fill their refrigerator and pantry with fresh fruits and vegetables, complex whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats. And then they simply grazed, throughout the day, on several small servings of these delicious and wholesome foods. This resulted in stabilized blood sugar levels, avoided "starvation" mode, and kept the bodyís metabolic fire constantly burning. So donít fret about food! Just surround yourself with the proper items, show a moderate amount of self-control, and the rest takes care of itself...continued on backÖ

3. A personal trainer. This was probably the most staggering statistic that I observed among successful participants. The presence of a personal trainer made an enormous positive difference that simply cannot be ignored. Let's take a look:

A special discount on personal training was offered at the beginning of the challenge. Out of 87 people, 25 took advantage of this discount, and made an investment in fitness to work out with a trainer on a weekly basis. During their training sessions, they received exercise advice, learned new fitness moves, performed prescribed workouts, and gained nutritional advice, grocery lists, and suggested dietary substitutions.

Now, like I said, 25 of 87 chose to work with a trainer. That leaves 62 that did not work with a trainer. Of those 62 individuals who did not have a personal trainer, only 18 remained at the end.

That's a 71% dropout rate!

How about the 25 people who had a trainer? Only 2 didn't make it. That's only an 8% dropout rate! SoÖof the final 41 participants who were left at the end, 23 of them had a personal trainer. Thatís 56%. Of the 46 others who did not make it to the final weigh-in, only 4% had a trainer. And we havenít even looked at resultsÖthis is simply adherence to exercise. The powerful message is this - if your trainer is waiting for you at the gym with an awesome workout, a motivational message, and exciting wellness and lifestyle advice, youíre going to be more likely to show up!

So how did the results differ between people who finished the challenge with a trainer versus those who finished without a trainer? Check it out:

Individuals who worked with a personal trainer lost an average of 17 pounds, while those who did not have a trainer only lost an average of 5.5 pounds.

Individuals who worked with a personal trainer decreased body fat by an average of 3%, while those who did not have a trainer decreased by 1.1%.

The total pounds of fat lost with a trainer was 11.6 pounds, or 40,600 calories of stored fat. Over the 88 day course of the challenge, that's about 462 calories lost per day. People who did not have a trainer lost 3.8 fat pounds, or 13,300 calories of stored fat. That's only 151 calories per day.

What about circumference measurements? If you had a trainer, you lost an average of 7.1 inches from the waist, but without a trainer, only about 3.6 inches. For the butt, 7.1 inches were lost with a trainer, versus 5.5 inches lost without a trainer. That'll make a difference in how those pants fit!

The numbers speak for themselves. One of the best investments you can make in your fitness and your body is to work with a personal trainer. You can sign-up with Pacific Elite Fitness to receive a complete personalized fitness and nutritional program, as well as e-mail and phone accountability for under four bucks a day! Thatís a small investment for a new and improved bodyÖcheck it out and go shopping for fitness at www.pacificfit.net.

Until next time, train smart,

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield holds bachelor's and master's degrees in sports science and exercise physiology (University of Idaho), Ben is the owner of Pacific Elite Fitness www.pacificfit.net online multi-sport coaching,personal training service and is director of sports performance for Champions Sports Medicine www.champsportsmed.com He is also available as a private wellness coach.E-mail elite@pacificfit.net

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