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Attorney Tim Coriden is two years shy of 40 years old. He’s in decent shape, although admittedly not in great shape. His back aches every once in a while. He’d like to get a little healthier.
Unlike many others, though, Coriden and 23 of his friends are doing something about it. They have created a game that will last another six weeks in which all of the participants are competing to be the guy who loses the most fat and gains the most muscle as measured by a trained physician at Southern Indiana Orthopedics. The orthopedic clinic uses a DexaFit scanner — a low-dose X-ray machine — to measure the amount of fat, muscle and bone literally limb-by-limb in a person’s body.
This Columbus-based group of business leaders — doctors, dentists and other executives among them — are putting their waistlines, muscle and money on the line to get leaner. Each participant has ponied up $100, betting they’ll be the fittest at the end of a 90-day workout and dietary regimen that each man designs for himself.
“I’m approaching middle age, and I want to become more serious and more sophisticated about maintaining the proper weight and strength,” said Coriden, who saw mixed results after the first 45 days of tweaking his diet, exercising and lifting weights. The good news is Coriden lost a total of six pounds, but that included one pound of muscle mass.
How the fitness game works
Each of the 24 participants pays an entry fee of $24. Players with the combined best percentages of fat lost and muscle gained over the first 45-day segment, second 45-day segment and the overall contest will win prize money.
Each 45-day winner will pocket $600, and the person with the best total score over the full 90 days will collect $1,200.
The contest will wrap up in early November.
“I’m satisfied overall, but a little disappointed that I lost some muscle,” said Coriden, whose weight dropped overall from 200 pounds to 194 pounds. “The goal really is to lose weight but maintain or build up your core strength.”
Dr. Darryl Tannenbaum, a marathon runner the past four years and a physician at Southern Indiana Orthopedics, said Coriden’s dilemma represents a typical miscalculation that many people make when they increase their level of exercise. Tannenbaum is friends with several of the fitness contestants, although he’s not advising any of them directly on their new workout programs.
The typical person may exercise more often, run several times a week and start a weightlifting routine for the first time, Tannenbaum said. But they don’t always eat enough of the right things or time their eating to properly replenish their bodies immediately after strenuous exercise, he said.
“You really need to feed your body protein within 20 minutes of concluding a period of exercise,” the 48-year-old physician said, adding that he speaks from experience as well as medical knowledge.
Tannenbaum, who has run the Boston, Berlin and New York City marathons among others, said he puts out a tray of chicken and roast beef before going for a lengthy run, and he starts munching on the meats within a few minutes of arriving back at his home.
Over a 16-month training period, the 6-foot-3 Tannenbaum said he lost 11 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle. He now weighs a little over 200 pounds and carries it well on broad shoulders and a 34-inch waist.
One other thing to keep in mind, Tannenbaum said, is that every human has to fight against muscle loss after the age of 28, no matter what. Beginning at that age, people typically lose 1 percent to 3 percent of muscle mass every year as they get older. So, you’ve got to gain muscle just to stay even.
Diet — what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat — are among key factors in fitness, the doctor said.
“Some people just aren’t eating enough for their level of exercise,” Tannenbaum said. “Keep in mind that as your body loses weight, if it doesn’t get enough protein, you burn muscle as well as fat as the pounds drop off.”
Ideally, the fitness game players would have set out to improve their physiques over a longer period of time, Tannenbaum said. “You really need six months or more to make a lifestyle change.”
Learn from mistakes
After 45 days or so of playing the weight-loss, muscle-gain game — albeit with serious intent — some of the amateur fitness gurus are rethinking their approach.
“I don’t think I fully grasped the dietary regimen you need to lose weight but also gain muscle,” Coriden said. “The next six weeks I plan to keep some of the same workout routine and focus more on consumption of the right foods (lean meats and fish among the desired items).
“Everybody’s goal is to develop more of a healthy, sustainable lifestyle,” said Coriden, who has been lifting weights in the mornings before work with a colleague. “None of us are kids anymore. If you’re going to take the time to work out and lose weight, you really need to figure out the most efficient way to do that. None of us were really well-schooled in our younger days as to the vast importance of diet.”
Ron Patberg, a vice president and trust officer with First Financial Wealth Management, said he got into the game when he realized that a business suit that once draped nicely over his frame suddenly seemed snug.
“It definitely wasn’t upper-body muscle that was making my clothes a tight fit,” said Patberg, who also coaches girls’ basketball as an assistant for Columbus North High School, where his Notre Dame-bound, hoops-star daughter, Ali Patberg, plays.
Ron Patberg saw mixed results in his first 45 days of working out, lifting weights three or four days a week, running twice a week, playing basketball with friends and trying to eat a proper diet.
“I lost 20 pounds, but that included eight pounds of muscle,” he said. “I have to increase my protein intake to build up my muscle mass. I’ve also been lifting lower weights with lots of repetitions. I probably have to move to heavier weights with less reps.
“I’m not all that disappointed. I’ve dropped my weight down to 210 pounds, and I’d like to get to 190 or 195. I already feel better getting up in the morning and putting on clothes that fit,” Patberg said.
What started all this?
Tannenbaum said the game started as the bright idea of Dr. Trent Miller, a Columbus-based anesthesiologist who knew Southern Indiana Orthopedics owned the only DexaFit scanner in the area that can measure body mass composition.
Tannenbaum said he thinks two-dozen guys getting together and trying to live healthier is a great thing that ties in well with Saturday’s Mill Race Marathon.
“It’s not a vanity thing. There’s real value in this,” the orthopedic specialist said. The marathon has helped spur lots of people in Columbus to get fit, “and I hope this momentum in the community continues,” Tannenbaum said.
For his part, Miller said he recruited friends with a highly competitive spirit to take part in the 90-day fitness contest.
“So many of the guys say they feel a lot better already, and it’s turning out to be the best $100 they could have spent,” Miller said.
He is participating in the weight-control game to lower his blood pressure, a lifelong challenge. By mid-September, Miller said his blood pressure had dropped from 178/115 to 143/95.
“I feel tons better,” he said. “I was a stroke waiting to happen.”
Miller said he has been eating more fish, chicken and fresh vegetables. “I’ve cut way back on sweets,” he said.
At his most recent body screening, Miller learned he has shed fat and lost weight, but his muscle mass stayed roughly where it was before.
So, who’s winning at the halfway point of the game?
The 45-day results haven’t been shared with the full group yet, but odds are business executive Brian Hannasch has made himself $600 richer based on partial results, Miller said.
Hannasch is chief operating officer affiliated with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which owns Circle K stores and varied other retail interests in the U.S. and Canada.
Miller said early results showed Hannasch dropping 10.44 pounds of body fat and adding 7.59 pounds of muscle for a combined 37.9 percent score. Results are expressed in percent of fat lost, plus percent of muscle gained to compensate for a wide variety of total body weights among the contestants.
“He’s been really disciplined,” Miller said of Hannasch, “even though he travels constantly for work. Somehow he manages to get his workouts in.”
Tracking fat, muscle
Contestants in the weight-control game involving 24 Columbus men go to the Southern Indiana Orthopedics clinic on North Marr Road to get their fat loss/muscle gain scores.
There, they undergo a full body scan using DexaFit, a machine that uses low-dose X-rays to measure a patient’s body composition.
The machine’s main use in medical circles is to gauge bone density measurements in women at risk of osteoporosis.
It can also do health screenings, detecting the percentage of fat, muscle and bone in a person’s legs, torso and arms.
The end result is a picture of how fat and muscle mass are distributed throughout a person’s body.
Cost of the health screening is $75 at the clinic. It is not typically covered by insurance.
Source: Southern Indiana Orthopedics
Measuring body mass index
One measurement that medical professionals use to determine whether a person is within a healthy weight range is the Body Mass Index, or BMI, a calculation based on a person’s height and weight. According to the American Medical Association:
A reading of less than 25 is generally considered healthy, although a person with a BMI lower than 18.5 is considered underweight.
A BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight, and person with a reading higher than 30 is considered obese.
You can find a BMI calculator online on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm
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