Doing some training, losing some weight

Apparently I've been really lucky with the training I'm getting. I started light with a once-a-week personal training regimen and then moved on to a more intense, competitive weight loss program.

I more or less maintained my weight during the personal training, but in the first three weeks of what the gym calls the Weight Loss Challenge, I've dumped 15 pounds (I don't know what the body fat percentage loss is like – we'll check that after six weeks of the program), and, at 8.8% of my starting weight (170.4 pounds), that's good enough for second in the program.

That video up top? I never want to slice my trainer open. He lost 30 pounds in 12 weeks on his own, trains a few times a week with his adult son, and is a genuinely nice guy. I came into the program with a goal to lose exactly that number (30 pounds over the 12-week program), and I'm on track to beat that. I'm probably a couple of weeks away from my lowest weight since the late 1990s, and a couple of months away from my best shape (not lowest weight; I was a skinny tennis player) since high school.

For perspective, I graduated high school in 1994 at 115 pounds. By the turn of the century, I had hit 160. When I moved to Syracuse in 2003, I had hit 215. I did the first 45 pounds on my own (and in only a couple of years), but I'd stabilized in the 160s (my initial weigh-in for the program might have been slightly inflated by a breakfast of 4 chocolate chip pancakes with butter and maple syrup, a ham steak and a protein bar in the hour before I climbed on the scale).

By the end of next week, I'll have rendered useless my second belt of the Challenge.

Here is a sample workout – it's roughly one we do Thursdays (we also do team workouts on Tuesday and Saturday, I play racquetball three times a week, tennis at least once a week, and get short – 30-45 minutes – workouts in once or twice in addition to all that). And food's a big part of the program. I decided to not count calories in favor of eating good foods, and this is what's working for me.

A note about food: I can't say enough about Omaha Steaks. They're not the cheapest meat out there, but they portion their meats in the right sizes, the food is really tasty, and I'm expecting my second shipment. If you do one of the value packs, you can get 25 pounds of meat for about $6 a pound, and you can avoid the fatty stuff (like potatoes au gratin) in favor of lean burgers.

Where will you find your community manager?

You recognize that you need to be on social media. Your neighbor business to your left is bringing in new business after spending a year meeting locals on Twitter, then in real life, and the referrals just keep rolling in. The neighbor to your right is killing it with coupons they upload to their Facebook page and ask customers to print out. The folks across the street have had these Foursquare stickers in their windows for weeks and you see everyone who walks through their door whip out a mobile phone.

You haven't lost when it comes to social media, you're just not winning. You're behind, and you don't have the time, the inclination, or the knowledge (or some combination of those) to get going now. You'd like to bring someone in-house to be your community manager, but how do you find these people?

On the one hand, that person might already work for you. If you listen to your employees' conversations and you've heard words like "Twitter" and "location-based" sprinkled between the words you understand, you might have yourself a community manager.

On the other hand, talk to your customers. If you have customers who have been coming through your door for four or five years, you recognize them, you might make small talk, you might even know a lot about them. The one thing you can be sure of, though, is that these customers are loyal to your brand. They like you, your products, and/or your prices. Something about your business keeps those customers coming back. One of them might be the perfect brand ambassador for you.

I've recently taken a job as a community manager at the Gold's Gym franchise in Dewitt, New York. I've been a member there for five years; I really believe in what they do. I like the way they operate. I like the people. I'd already known many of the staff members and already recognized a lot of the gym members when I joined the staff. With the exception of the details (logging such-and-such in this book, using UPC A in Case 1 and UPC B in Case 2), I already had a good idea of how the gym operated.

In this case, I approached the gym; if someone who fit that description approached you, knowing you needed the social side and willing to do other things you needed, you'd likely have a hard time saying no. On the other hand, could you just reach out and ask someone? Try it. It might get you far.