Fitness Expert Tom Gilliam

Fitness Expert Tom Gilliam

Fitness expert Thomas B. Gilliam, Ph.D., is the founder and president of T. Gilliam & Associates, coauthor of the book Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy: The Simple Truth About Achieving and Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight, creator of the Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.® wellness program, and founder and owner of Industrial Physical Capability Services, Inc. (IPCS). Dr. Gilliam established the Heart "E" Heart program, which is a healthy lifestyle program for children and their families.

Before we talk about your book, I'd like to ask about the Heart "E" Heart.

Heart "E" Heart is a children's program that covers 18 months to eight or nine years of age. There are two components. The story book component is used in the home to read to young children about how to become more active and eat nutritionally. We have a different series of stories that go form age five to eight years, and a complete pre-school curriculum teaching children about the Heart "E" Heart program. They are a year long program and have 10 cartoon lifestyle characters, such as Lazy Heart and Heart "E" Heart. What children learn are lifestyles connected to these characters. They learn through association what foods and activities are connected to these characters. Heart "E" Heart is always encouraging Lazy Heart to go out for walk. Children will say to their parents, "That's not a Hearty "E" Heart activity," or, "That's not a Heart "E" Heart food."

With all the diet books on the market, what does Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy offer that's different?

We are not a weight loss program, not a diet. My goal is to teach people what is body weight. I believe many times people want to do the right thing but there's so much misinformation. This book came about after church one Sunday. A group of us often go out for a pastry. We were talking about the affect that pastry has, and a dear friend said, "You need to write a book about Physiology and how it is tied into weight and how it is tied into food."

People want good information. Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy lets them know it's not a quick fix and that they need to understand the importance of calories in and calories out. That's basically what body weight is, and it lets them know why crash diets don't work. It's all related to the set point theory. We teach people that if you are overweight, that didn't happen overnight. It happens by gaining two to three pounds a year. That's really why the book was written. To talk about some of the myths of programs that have millions of dollars behind them that are misleading people. Our focus is to be upbeat and positive.

Your book talks about common misinformation that might actually hinder fitness goals, can you give us a couple of examples?

During the summer months, I see people out walking because they're trying to lose 10-15 pounds, but their consuming a sports drink as they walk. I ask them if they understand that when they walk for 30 minutes, while drinking the sports drink that they've just negated their walk, as opposed to just taking a bottle of water with them. Everything you put in your mouth except for water has calories.

We have a slideshow that we show called "You are who you are." Gilliam is not going to change that immediately. We try to get people to start thinking smaller portions and other changes. I give a lot of talks in factories, and many times workers have soft drinks in front of them. I'll tell them to stop drinking one soft drink a day. You may ask, "140 calories, what's that going to do?" Multiply that times 365 days in a year. 52,000 calories saved, by virtue of that one 140 calories soft drink. That's a 15 pound weight swing right there. People start to think, Maybe I could do something to achieve a healthy body weight, if I begin to think long term.

Another myth is, "The worst thing you can do is weigh yourself." During the summer, my wife had Good Morning America on. Oprah Winfrey's guru told people to throw their scale away. That's the exact opposite of everything research says. Research is clear that if you want to manage your weight, you should weigh yourself everyday. Your goal should be to lose one percent of your body weight per month.

You also mention that that taking our waist measurement can sometimes be a better indicator of our fitness level than stepping on the scale. Explain.

I just talked to a person who told me she's been going to a fitness center for two to three months. She's not losing any weight, but her clothes are fitting better. Had she taken her waist measurement at the beginning, she'd realize she is losing inches. When you take someone who has not been too terribly active and they begin exercise, including weight training, they will gain muscle weight as they lose fat weight. Eventually the muscle weight gain levels off somewhere around three to six months, and the fat weight continues to decrease. That's when you really begin to see the weight loss. Measure your waist, if you really want to see if things are changing. You lose inches because you're adjusting body composition.

Do you offer guidelines for people to know how to eat and how much to exercise?

We do. The guideline from the exercise point of view is that you have to understand your current fitness level. If you're a sedentary person, walking 15 minutes is quite an achievement. We tell people to think of the duration of the activity, the intensity of the activity (a pace per mile) and frequency, five days a week or seven days a week. You need to understand and listen to your body. If you've been sedentary, you eventually work up to a 30 minute activity. Once you get to 30 minutes, you can begin to increase your intensity. The book identifies how to safely get involved activity.

Cardio is very important, but if you want to have an impact on your body weight you need to get involved with strength training, which increases your protein metabolism.

Are there any last words of wisdom you'd like to share?

Our goal is to get good accurate information based on fact, not on myth. Body weight is a common link to so many diseases and disorders, so if you can maintain a healthy body weight, the probability of these things happening is much less.

Fitness Expert Tom Gilliam