She said she wanted to lose weight. I was there in her home, sitting at her kitchen table. She was overweight but not obese. “Dino,” she said, “I want to lose weight.”
I nodded thoughtfully. “OK, but let me ask you something. Why do you want to lose weight?”
The question threw her, I could tell. “Well, because my clothes don’t fit, for one. And I hate the way my thighs look. And my stomach, and my rear. I never wear short sleeves anymore because I hate the fat on my arms.” It was taking a lot out of her to tell me this; I could see it in her eyes.
“Plus,” she said, “I’ve got two kids to take care of, so I don’t have time to go to the gym five times a week. I’ve tried lots of things and nothing lasts. I’m just about ready to give up . . . again, if you really want to know. Somebody I know worked with you and she swears by what you did. She looks great now. And it seems like she’s always smiling, too.” She looked at me wistfully. “I thought I’d give it one more shot.”
How many times I had heard this same story. How many other men and women have sat across from me and told me the same thing. I am always so glad when they ask to talk to me. I especially like surprising them at our first encounter.
“Well,” I said, “I think I can help you. But the first thing we have to do is get your attention off your weight.”
She looked at me like I was crazy. “I’m sorry? Isn’t that kind of what this is all about? What else am I supposed to pay attention to, if not weight?” I smiled. “I know it’s going to sound strange, but you’ve come to me for help, so I need you to just let go and trust me.”
She wasn’t convinced, I could tell, but at least she hadn’t sent me packing. I asked her questions about her eating habits and actually suggested that she start eating more food and more often. She looked like she was about to kick me out at this point. It is just counterintuitive to think that when we want to lose fat we need to eat more. But diets fail because they make our bodies think we are starving, and this powers down our metabolism. We have to power it back up again with more frequent meals. We began to take some measurements of her body. I am the last one to put the focus on pounds or inches, but it is important to take a set of beginning measurements so you can gauge progress.
Then we began her fitness and nutrition program. It is the program outlined in this book. It covers not just the physical aspects of health, but the emotional and spiritual as well. These three—physical, emotional, and spiritual—are inseparable. No one can be truly healthy whose body is fit but whose soul and spirit are crushed or bitter or hopeless. Now fast-forward six weeks in the life of this woman.
What happened in six weeks time was amazing—but not a surprise.
When we weighed her (I do this only when looking at other tests to compare what is happening, never by itself), she had lost only 3 pounds. You can imagine she might have been disappointed by that. But . . .
She had dropped 4 percent of her body fat, which is amazing. That equated to 7 pounds of actual body fat gone—not just weight, but fat. So why did she lose only 3 pounds? Ah, I thought you would ask that. It is because she had also gained 4 pounds of muscle, leaving her still with a net loss of 3 pounds, which is what we saw on the scale. (And no, she did not get all bulky from the muscle; that’s a myth.)
She had lost 7 pounds of pure fat! She had gained 4 pounds of muscle, which will make losing fat easier as we keep going. Why? Because a pound of fat on your body will burn just 3–6 calories a day. But a pound of muscle on your body will burn 30–50 calories a day! So by adding muscle we just revved her metabolism up by 120–200 calories a day even if she does nothing. This would easily cover your occasional ice cream night. She had also lost 30 millimeters on her skinfold measurements. This measurement was done by grabbing the fat at the back of her arms, stomach, back, and hip area, and measured with calipers. For her, a 30-millimeter loss here represented a 30 percent decrease—in six weeks! I know the fatgrab-and-measure thing sounds like a nightmare, but it is critical. Without doing it on the first day, all she would have looked at was the 3 pounds lost on the scale, and she probably would have been discouraged. How many times have you been there before?
We also did her circumference measurements with a tape measure. Without giving you her exact dimensions, I can tell you she lost a total of 9 inches all over her body, including hips, stomach, and arms. Was she discouraged now? Of course not! Now that she began to understand what was going on inside her body, she was so excited.
Finally we tested her strength with a push-up test, her abdominal strength and endurance with a curl-up test, and finally tested her flexibility. You will do all this, too. After just six weeks she had tripled the number of push-ups she could do on her knees and was now able to do twenty regular Push-ups with good form! That’s more than most guys can do! She increased her abdominal strength test by sixteen more sit-ups, and she was strong to begin with. She also added 4½ inches to her flexibility test.
Yes, there’s more. She was sleeping better, feeling stronger and more energetic, her clothes fit (even the short-sleeve shirts!), and her moods were better. She had actually inspired her husband to start exercising. Plus she was eating more food than she had before, so she didn’t feel hungry, and she was still able to enjoy her treats now without guilt (they taste much better that way). Most importantly, she now had the skills to continue losing fat and stay healthy. No more fad diets for her.
I hope this story gives you hope. This is what happens when you actually learn about your body instead of trying to obey someone’s list of “good” foods and “bad” foods.
You may be one of those people who have tried just about everything. You have read and done every diet book that has ever been put out. All the big fad diets? Your bookshelves are lined with them. You have ordered just about every infomercial product that has promised you easy, quick, and finally lasting results. But you are still searching for the thing that will bring you what you are after, or you would not have picked this book up. Each time your efforts failed to get you the results you wanted, you thought the problem was you or maybe that it was just the wrong program.
Maybe . . . just maybe the next one will work, you thought. You hold out hope, only to be disappointed with each new “revolutionary” diet and fitness product.
So maybe this book has found you in a place where you have all but lost hope. You think you will always be this way and that’s just it. Perhaps your hopelessness has caused you to drown your sorrows in food even more, eating whatever and whenever and as much as you wanted—just out of despair and maybe even as a way to punish yourself.
My friend, I am here to tell you there is hope.
Imagine me sitting across from you saying this eye to eye. That’s what I’m imagining as I write this. When you come to the point where you have lost all hope, when you have put all your trust in the world only to be disappointed time and time again, guess what? Congratulations! Yes, congratulations. Because now you are perfectly positioned to make some serious transformations.
I want you to hold out hope, but this time let’s put that hope somewhere else. This will be a completely different and freeing experience. Trust me when I say absolutely no one is beyond hope or beyond reach. We’ll first have to untangle much of what you have been sold over the years, but at the end of that mess you will find the health, freedom, and peace with your body you’ve been looking for with every $19.95 you’ve spent.
All of us, but especially women, are the subject of intense scrutiny and pressure to conform to our culture’s image of beauty. How many people can attain that image? Not many, I can tell you. I work in Hollywood and have many beautiful people as my clients. But I can tell you they are feeling this pressure just as much as the rest of us. Maybe more. Even they cannot maintain it. That kind of beauty is unattainable. It’s accomplished with makeup and computers and smoke and mirrors. For all of us, the culture’s image of beauty can put us in bondage.
We throw ourselves into bondage when we allow a culture that worships thinness and physical appearance to set the ideals that we try to follow. So much so that when we do not fit the ideal (which almost no one does because it is not real!), our confidence, self-esteem, and body image all suffer.
Maybe you cease to engage in activities you once did. You may not go out with your spouse for fear of how you think you’ll be looked at by others. You may feel trapped at home out of embarrassment or fear of seeing that look in someone’s eyes. We tie our self-worth and our identity into the image we see in the mirror and how it compares to the cover model on the magazine.
Am I totally off here, or does that sound like us today? Does it describe you? We need to be set free from this bondage.
By working from the inside out.
By refusing to listen to supposed health gurus who cannot help us because their teachings are not build on a foundation of ultimate truth.
By seeing the multibillion-dollar miracle health industry for the scam collection it is.
By learning how the body really works—so you can spot the phony diets a mile away.
By understanding how much food your body really needs—and what it does with the excess.
By achieving health that is founded on not just the physical, but on health in the emotional and spiritual parts of you, too. Physical fitness by itself is doomed from the beginning if the emotional and spiritual causes of the fat gain are not dealt with.
By moving beyond the scale, beyond issues of weight.
By learning where true identity should come from.
And by learning my wonderful workout system that lets you start at any of seven levels for every exercise on the plan! (You knew I had to get that one in, didn’t you?)
You are probably wondering who this guy is that’s writing this book. Well, let me take a minute to introduce myself. I am a personal fitness trainer. But hey, aren’t personal trainers a dime a dozen? Don’t they get their certifications through the mail or off the back of a cereal box? If you are asking that, that’s good. You should question a trainer’s credentials. I have pursued and achieved some of the strongest training certifications available, and I continue to study the psychological and medical aspects to the health and fitness craze. I am a certified health and fitness instructor from the American College of Sports Medicine and a clinical exercise specialist from the American Council on Exercise. I am also master trainer and older adult exercise specialist from the Cooper Institute and was the personal training manager for a high-end health club in California, where later I became the general manager.
When I moved to Hollywood, I knew many “trainers” who learned their techniques from a book or had taken a quick course, received a certification, and made it a goal to make as much money as they could during the day while pursuing other interests (like becoming movie stars). If someone like this had a decent body, he or she became a trainer instead of waiting tables.
Not me. Fitness has always been my passion. As you will see when you read my story, it is something I took quite seriously, always studying and questioning.
After college I moved to Hollywood where I started working with actors in television and film—from the beautiful women on soaps to shows that focused on bodies, such as Baywatch. I even worked with a Miss World winner. I also worked with several mainstream and Christian music artists, both on the road and off. But one thing I found in common with all of them was the surprising discovery that not one of them was ever satisfied with the way he or she looked. They were real people with real fears—and they had believed some false messages Hollywood itself was creating and sending out.
I realized I needed to share what I had experienced firsthand in Hollywood. That mission statement was confirmed in my heart every time I heard a personal story of someone who had given up hope or whenever I heard about a new fad diet or gadget that became the latest craze, tricking everyone yet again for the sake of a dollar.
So here I stand today, promising you nothing but the truth and freedom. Get ready for a wonderful, eye-opening experience. You will never look at your body the same way again.
Something that may be new for you in this effort is the introduction of the idea that we have to address your emotional and spiritual life, in addition to your physical.
You have no doubt read countless diet books and tried exercise programs throughout your life. You may have even had some great success—but does it last? Sadly, for 95 percent of all Americans, the answer is no. I believe that is because those programs focus only on the physical and leave the other areas unchanged.
Would you agree that there is so much more to who you are than just your physical body? Of course. However, each attempt at “losing weight” focuses on the physical, though some popular programs today throw in a little New Age spirituality or pop psychology. It may reduce your stress to chant in a yoga class, but you are not developing a firm foundation to build your life upon.
To be healthy in a true sense, we must address the three gears of your life: emotional, spiritual, and physical. No one component operates in isolation. Imagine three gears each connected to each other. When one gear is moved forward or backward, the other two gears are impacted. Now bring this back to your life. When you are physically unfit, aren’t your emotions a little more on edge (to put it mildly)? What about your selfesteem? Body image? Confidence? Think your body doesn’t impact you on a spiritual level? Think again. You were created and designed for a purpose.
But are you physically or emotionally able to carry out that purpose? Are you shying away from using the talents and gifts you have been bestowed with because of all of the above? Do you hold back because of your fear of how others will look at you or what they will think?
We are going to destroy these strongholds together as we examine some powerful, liberating truths. You are more than your body, so the same old methods—that concentrate only on the physical—will forever fail you.
What you hold in your hands is a book and a program that will shatter the fads, myths, and scams you have succumbed to over the years. It will show you how to be truly healthy and whole once and for all by addressing all three components of who you are.
Another shift in thinking we must make is moving beyond the scale. For far too long people—particularly women—have allowed a little three-digit number to dictate their self-worth, moods, and even identity. The worst of it is that this fickle and fluctuating little number means nothing by itself. Have I got you scratching your head right now? You see, our weight tells us nothing by itself. I have clients in Hollywood whose clothing sizes are perfect in the eyes of our culture: size 2 or 3. And then I have others who are “plus sized” in the culture’s eyes. But get this: some of my tiny, size 2 clients are classified as obese, while some of my plus-sized clients are considered healthy and normal.
Let me explain. There is a difference between body fat and weight. Anyone can get you to lose weight. You enslave yourself to yet another ridiculous diet and your body simply sheds its water and begins to cannibalize its lean tissue to survive. Now, losing pure fat and maintaining and increasing your lean tissue is the better goal. That is what we will be going for in this book. The body works in one predictable way when it comes to weight loss. It is something we know scientifically, but people have not gotten the message yet, so they continue to give themselves to fads, quick fixes, and miracle pills.
You are probably asking how someone who is a size 2 could be classified as obese. A body fat percentage over 38 percent is classified as obese, and I have had some “thin” women pull this percentage. Many others are a bit lower, like 35 percent, and are therefore classified as overfat. On the other hand, I work with ladies who are plus sized in the eyes of the culture but who are active and healthy and have a body fat percentage of 27–29 percent, which puts them in the normal/healthy category.
Do you see how such a person could judge herself solely on the number on the scale and end up wrongly berating herself and becoming discouraged? The scale does not give you the full picture. In this book we are going to move beyond it.
The Final Makeover is a book with a workout system. Everything between these covers is either part of the system or something you need to know to get the most out of the system. Believe me, I could write a lot more on this topic than has been included in this book. But this is enough to get you to what you have wanted: a total lifestyle system that works for you.
The book is laid out in three parts. Part 1, “Busting the Lies,” takes us from where we are and what we have learned from our culture about health, identity, and body image, and exposes the myths and scams that can control our lives. This section is where I develop the physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects of health, which I just spoke about. We have to understand the lies we’ve been told so we can spot them in the future, and so we can receive the truth in their place. Physical fitness by itself is not true health. You will only achieve complete and lasting wellness when you are fit in all three areas.
Part 2, “Laying Out the Truth,” explains how the body truly operates to store and burn fat, gain energy, and process the foods we put into it. Here is where we see the craziness of low-carb diets and programs based on the glycemic index. You will learn how to eyeball portion size, read food labels, and eat out with confidence and freedom. Understanding this material is essential to knowing what your body really needs to be healthy. You will also come to understand the philosophy behind my total fitness system.
Part 3, “Your Forty-Day Guide to Personal Fitness,” explains how to do my movement program. You will take your initial measurements, which will be your starting point in your journey toward personal fitness, you will discover how to use the charts and logs, and you will learn the seven levels of every exercise.
Does it make sense to stand in front of a staircase that has twenty-five to thirty steps and beat yourself up because you cannot make it to the top in one giant step? No! So why do we beat ourselves up because we cannot, in just a short time, change a body we have had for years?
Take the first step in front of you and achieve that. When you do, wonderful! Celebrate it. Then take the next step after that. And celebrate again. As you take each step, focus only on the next one in front of you. Concentrate on the smaller goals. Before you know it, you will be at the top of the stairs. You will look back and wonder, “How did I achieve all this? I never thought I would be able to do it.”
But if you keep obsessing about the top, all you will see is how far away it is. You will take your eyes off what is in front of you and fail to see your daily and weekly victories, only to become discouraged. You then begin to believe it is unattainable, and you eventually quit. I have seen it so many times.
There is nothing wrong with lifting up your eyes to see the big picture. We will be doing that in this book. But you cannot let that be the center of your attention. You have to keep your focus back on the here and now, the small successes you can begin to achieve today. As you take these victories one by one, you will surprise yourself when you find yourself at your ultimate “fitness” goal.