Anatomy of a 100 lb weight loss

In talking to a fellow trainer the other day, it occurred to me that having a client lose 100 pounds is a rather rare phenomenon. He had only one client lose that much in an 18 year career. This is a guy I respect and he is a capable and knowledgable trainer.

We then talked about how “keeping it off” was akin to seeing a unicorn sliding down a rainbow while being ridden by a leprechaun and the Easter Bunny.

The statistics are not good for this demographic.

He then asked me why I was so successful in producing clients who both lose 100 pounds AND keep it off. I didn’t have the time to explain MY reasoning so I just said “The clients do all the work. I must just be lucky in choosing clients.”

Although there is some truth to that statement, I wasn’t satisfied with that explanation. So I decided to write this post as a way to atone for it.

I believe the reason my clients have been successful is, in large part, due to the initial philosophy. My goal as a coach is not to create 100 pound weight loss. It is to create the environment, within which, 100 pound weight loss is possible.

That might seem like semantics to you but believe me it is not. I want my clients to “get it.” By “get it” I mean to have a clear understanding of their body and how exercise and nutrition impact them. I want them to understand “why” they make the decisions they do and how to control that power. I want them to create a new self worth and use that to create the life of their dreams. I want them to continually strive to better each day.

If I worked with a client for a year and they didn’t lose a pound, I would still be satisfied if they “got it” on the 365th day. Why? Because then they would have the ability to create that life any time they wanted.

Of course, it doesn’t happen that way. Clients do lose a ton of weight during the process. I am just trying to make an analogy about the importance of the philosophy.

Secondly, the speed with which this philosophical transformation occurs is different for everyone. There are too many factors involved and each client needs to be treated as a unique equation. Herein lies the most difficult part of the coaches responsibilities. Coaches must be “Masters of Programming.” Cookie cutter programs and close mindedness about there being one solution to the problem are killers. If you aren’t well versed in program design or don’t have the ability to interpret needs and prescribe solutions, you will never be able to help these people.

For example, I cringe every time a see a young, enthusiastic coach putting a new, inexperienced, older client on a bosu ball with a barbell attached to their back. This trainer is suffering from STS (Super Trainer Syndrome). They believe in “functional training” so their clients do “functional training” routines.

Now, I’m not saying that functional training is unimportant. On the contrary I believe that functional training, if prescribed in the appropriate parameters, is incredibly important to the over 50 crowd. It just think it needs to start very slowly and build gradually. That is not what I’m seeing in the gyms.

Start slowly, keep the complexity down and grow by tiny increments.

Another major contributor to the success rate of 100 pound weight loss is the attention to “mindset.” These clients need to redefine themselves. I prevented a client from referring to himself as Big Mike (name is changed to protect the innocent). He had referred to himself as “Big Mike” for decades. All that did was reinforce his negative opinion of himself. So, we banned the “Big” and he became “Mike” for the first time since he was a kid.

I love it when I am talking to a client and he/she says “I love to eat!” I usually say “We all love to eat.” The client then corrects me by saying “Ya, but I’m Italian!!!” I was unaware that all other ethnic groups had it so easy because the Italians have a corner on the “eating enjoyment” market.

I have this conversation almost every week. This is also a “mindset” issue. We all love to eat. You cannot use your nationality as an excuse to over eat. That philosophy needs to change. If you change that mindset you change the internal decision making process and thereby gain control.

These are just some of the reasons why I feel that my clients are successful on their journey. There are more reasons, but I think if you focus on these few, in the beginning, you will have a greater chance of success.

Remember…….we are all unique and need to find the right combination to open our own safe. Peace.

Are you ungrateful?


Look around you. What do you see? If you are reading this blog post then you have computer access. Maybe you have a smart phone. You have internet access at the very least.

Do you have loved ones….parents, siblings, spouse, significant other, friends? Do you have income? Do you have access to transportation? Do you have shelter? How about food? Are you healthy?

We have a tendency to disregard and overlook all the gifts in our lives. We always want more. We are always trying to get better. We stress about what we don’t have. We compare our situations to someone else who we think has it better than we do.

It is usually not discovered how incredibly lucky we are until we lose something. Once gone, we then distress about getting it back or lament that it is gone.

We spend time complaining about our jobs until we are laid off or fired or retire. Then, and only then, do we realize that we should have been more appreciative of what we had.

We cry about the stress of raising young children. We wonder when we can take a shower or sleep uninterrupted. Then our kids go off to college and we are saddened by the quiet.

We argue with and criticize our significant others, until they move on. Then we pray for them to come back.

We make excuses about being too tired to workout and diet. We use time and energy as a means to justify why we cannot be consistent with our efforts. Then we lose our health and we wish we could go back in time and be more diligent with our fitness regimen.

We can be ungrateful bastards…..plain and simple.

But this life has a way of humbling us. It will bring us to our knees. It will cause us to look at the big picture. The problem lies in that, for most people, it is too late when we finally realize what we had.

My brother, Dan, is a two time survivor of life threatening experiences. He survived a car accident which took the life of one of his friends. And he is a cancer survivor.

I watched his change after beating cancer. It was dramatic. He enjoys life more fully. He is thankful for every moment. He sees the good in just about everything. He laughs often. He is goofy and spontaneous. He gets it.

There has been some death around me recently. Is this incredibly sad? Indeed it is. But at the same time there is a bit of happiness. Happy for the friendship. Happy for the memories. Happy for the love. Happy for the time however brief.

We all have the opportunity to express and practice GRATITUDE. There is no need to wait until things are gone before we appreciate them.

For the next 30 days I want you to write a list of ten things that you are grateful for. Make a new list every day. You can keep it private or you can share it on social media. That decision is completely up to you.

This exercise will help you appreciate all the gifts in your life. It will help to curb complaining. It will change negative thinking patterns into positive ones. It is a very simple yet highly effective technique to help you find more value and happiness in your life.

Give it a shot and then let me know how it has influenced you.


The Art of Multi-tasking

This generation has mastered that art of the multi-task! We can do just about anything while texting, posting to social media or taking selfies.

I was reminded of this last night as I watched Michael Phelps win yet another gold medal. The camera showed NBA stars Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan in the audience as they were taking selfies while celebrating Phelp’s victory.

It is an acquired skill set that the younger generation has embraced. We should probably learn from this.

Fitness is an area where we can benefit from a skill like this. Life gets hectic. It is difficult to make the time to get to the gym. We have priorities like family and work that take precedence over getting to the gym.

Who says we can’t multi-task? Actually, it makes all the sense in the world. While watching Junior’s baseball game, why not crush some push-ups and a lap around the field in between innings? That’s a brilliant idea! You could also do curls with the grocery bags while bringing them in from the car. I suggest making multiple trips instead of trying to take every bag at once. More trips, more calories burned. Do squats on your coffee break at work. It doesn’t take long to get a burn in those quads.

I get asked all the time if yard work is considered “cardio?” If it is done as vigorously as your normal cardio session then, “Hell Yeah” it is. Housework is the same. If you are huffing, puffing and sweating then it counts.

By utilizing the “not so free” time throughout your day you can eliminate the need to set time aside specifically for working out. Take a lesson from a couple of NBA superstars and multi-task.

Words are powerful!!!

Has anyone seen the Netflix documentary about Tony Robbins? It’s called “I am not your Guru.” If you haven’t, I suggest you do. It is incredibly powerful.

I have been a fan of Tony’s for decades. He is one of, if not the, most well known “self help” Gurus in today’s world. And for good reason.  I have read most of his books, subscribe to his blog and follow him on social media.

But this documentary shined a whole new light on my vision of him. There were things that were shocking to me, like the fact that he drops the “F-bomb” frequently. I’m not shocked by the F-bomb, just shocked that he uses it. In my decades of following him I had never heard that. It actually increased my respect for him.

See, one of the things that I have learned from his teachings over the years was how powerful the spoken word is. The words you use on a daily basis give insight as to what is going on in your brain. You can even determine what learning modality you rely more heavily on. For example, if you say “I hear you” more frequently you are probably more reliant upon the auditory modality. By comparison, if you say “I see what you mean” you are probably more visually based.

I have always used this knowledge in my communication with people. I’ve been a police officer and a fitness coach for 26 years. My job, in both regards, is heavily built around effective communication. Language usage gives me insights into the thinking patterns of whomever I am dealing with. It helps, tremendously!

Another tool that I learned from Tony is the “pattern interrupt.” A pattern interrupt is a stimulus that interrupts a thought pattern thereby allowing a change of mental state. In the documentary you see Tony use this technique in the first 3 minutes of the film. He is interviewing a man who is saying that he is suicidal. Tony, upon seeing the body language, facial expression and tone of voice of the young man start to become depressed, immediately points to the man’s footwear and says “Why do you want to kill yourself? Is it because of your red shoes?” The guy looks at him as if to say “WTF?” Then he smiles. Guess what? No more depression. No more suicidal thoughts. There is only a smile and laughter. Depression and suicidal thoughts cannot exist when there is smiling and laughing.  What an incredibly powerful moment. If you get the opportunity to watch this film, pay attention to the man’s body language, facial expression and tone of voice. It will shock you.

So, I guess I just want to pass on these two techniques so that you can benefit from them in your own life. Use positive language, always! When someone asks you how you are doing, respond by saying something positive. “I’m fantastic!” “I couldn’t be better!” “Outstanding!” You will be surprised at the effect it will have on you and thereby on everyone who comes into contact with you.

And, use a pattern interrupt. When you find yourself “turning dark” use a word or action that will interrupt that downward spiral. It can be anything that gives you power or makes you happy. Make it a word that is meaningful to you.

In closing, I just want to give you a personal story. Yesterday I had a phone conversation with my coach and friend, Daniel DiPiazza. He was taking time out of his busy day to help me with a project I have been working on. At the end of the conversation he says “I appreciate you, man!” What? You are taking time out of your day to do me a favor and YOU appreciate ME? That made me feel like a million bucks. You and I can do the same for those around us. Words are POWERFUL!!!!!