Fitness in Thailand…how not to get run over.


Life has brought me over here to Bangkok , Thailand for a couple weeks. Most of my travel up to this point has been in the states, so finding a place to run or workout has never been much of a problem. There is an easiness to venturing out on your own in America versus a foreign country, especially here in the land of limited open spaces. Yesterday I was mere inches from being run over by a motorcycle on the sidewalk!! Let me tell you, this is not a pedestrian friendly place.

Many of my clients travel and I have written fitness programs for travel, but to be honest writing one versus doing it was much easier. I know I could lunge around my room, pump out some air squats , plank and do pushups…but I need weights. I like the feel and forcefulness of pushing or pulling a heavy dumbbell or cable machine, the other stuff is like eating  jello when what I want is a slice of fudge cake…or drinking water when I want a glass of Chardonnay ( more accurate).

Luckily for me the hotel I am staying at has a decent fitness room with treadmills, bikes ,some dumbbells and a seriously deflated Swiss Ball. However when I asked if they had Kettlebells ( trying to shape one in the air ) I was met with a blank stare. Bit of a language barrier. It also took me 2 days to understand the treadmill wasn’t slow, it was in KMP not MPH…duh. The hotel I originally checked into had nothing, and that’s why for twice the money I am now staying at a place with fitness facilities. You can’t put a price on sanity.

There is a strange phenomena that happens when you leave your normal routine, a routine  that you depended on becomes optional. The first few days I was here I had no sense of urgency to get back on my eating and fitness program. It’s very odd because I am the person that freaks out when my fitness and nutrition is disrupted. Maybe I was just overwhelmed and over tired, a deadly combination for falling off track. Maybe I was suffering from magical thinking … a different country didn’t require the same amount of discipline because simply flying half way across the world to a time zone 11 hours ahead was like algebra…12 hours- 11 hours + 3 days = zero. Consuming calories magically didn’t matter, burning calories didn’t matter and honestly I have eaten foods here that would never have passed my lips at home. I call this the Disney effect…where fantasy replaces reality.

It happened to me , a well structured professional which was good because it’s a great reality check. You can find all kinds of helpful hints for staying fit and all sounds so reasonable . The problem is for many of us success lies in our predicatable routine, and that’s a bit of a problem…because  life is rarely that smooth. If your fitness is structured around a class, what will you do when they cancel the classes? If your fitness routine needs a gym, what will you do when it closes? If your running requires a path or treadmill what will you do when there is a blizzard ?

Everyone should have an emergency fitness and nutrition plan, especially if your traveling. It took me a few days to find a store with organics and you would have thought I found a pot of gold. I spent twice the amount of money for a hotel that had a gym and it’s priceless to me. These are things that have real life value to me. Yes, I had some not so great days here with eating Pringles potato chips straight out of a can my lowest point. Damn that stuff is so crunchy and salty, my tastebuds were saying yes, yes…YES and my mind was saying stop, stop, STOP. This is why there are some foods ( that’s not really a food, more like Crack Chips ), that you can never, ever buy.

Traveling abroad is harder than I thought…for me to be a world traveler I’m going to need a private jet, a personal chef and 5 star resorts. I guess world traveler is just not my thing..unless I win the lottery or magically become a celebrity trainer. I really love Disney.





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Resolution Monday


Resolution Monday, that day and time of the year when you’ve had enough of everything that happened last Monday thru Sunday, last month thru this month and of course last year thru this year. January is a hot bed of guilt, self-flagellation and king of goal setting of the most GINORMOUS size. Good intentions are fueled by the ringing in of a New Year, like the birth of a newborn baby. Congratulations on the birth of your new intention, may it bring you many days of joy and lack of sleep.

Let’s talk about New Year Resolutions from a statistical view, since we all know I am essentially a science nerd masquerading as a Fitness and Nutrition Professional. Did you know:

The Top 5 Resolutions are 

  1. Lose Weight (shocking!)
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend less and Save more
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy

45% of Americans usually make resolutions, 17% occasionally and 38% never. Of the percent that make resolutions, only 8 % are actually successful and 29% always fail. Most of the resolutions made are for some kind of self-improvement (47%) and of course weight loss (38%).

Resolutions   are very simply a reflection of our best hope for ourselves. We want to be healthy, we want to be Hollywood thin (I do!), we want to have money in the bank, we want to feel engaged in our life, we want to stop losing our car keys and find our favorite pair of socks in a nice neat sock drawer. It’s not too much to ask…is it? Well…yeah…yeah it is. When a goal (intention/resolution) is too big, it creates an intense amount of anxiety. Ironically the thing we want to change about ourselves is also the thing that makes us the most disappointed in ourselves. Nothing is more motivating that feeling bad about yourself! Some misguided parents would call this reverse psychology, I say something terrible about you and you’ll get so mad at yourself you will change it! Little Johnny…your sister gets all A’s…what’s WRONG with you! Are you STUPID! Twenty years later poor little Johnny is pulling time for robbery because he thought he was too stupid and worthless and dropped out of school. Saying negative things about yourself or another person is not inspiring. Setting a goal that is outside of your limitations is quite simply the road to failure. What we want for ourselves is to feel good about who we are, isn’t that our best hope for ourselves? The good news is you CAN succeed at resolutions and goals when you create them in a manner that ensures your success.

Let me help you with that.

There are a few key points to goal setting, but the single most important ONE is the Power of ONE.

The Power of Less is book written by Leo Babauta, the concepts of this book are designed on the theory that less is more. In our society we have a hard time scaling back our thoughts, desires and actions into more simplistic actions, thoughts or desires. Dream big is what your told. The bigger the dream the better, the bigger the goal the better, Go Big or Go Home they say. What a bunch of hooey. To revisit my science nerd stats…you have an 80% chance of success when you focus on one small goal and as the number of goals increase your chance of success decreases to <20%. The difference is when you pick ONE habit you can focus all your effort on creating that one habit rather than trying to create a basket of habits and dropping them like apples.

The hardest part about the Power of Less, is that it takes time. And time and patience are not the quick fix most people are after. Which is why we have fast food and get impatient at the checkout counter if something takes longer than 2 minutes. We want what we want now. It’s human nature. And because we now live in a world where that’s possible it makes waiting harder. This is why you will never see an infomercial on losing weight with the Power of Less. “Looking for weight loss? Looking to get fit? “ We guarantee results in one year! I doubt the phone would even ring. Yet it is what works in the long run. And it sticks…that’s the best part. January brings with it an onslaught of weight loss products and fitness gadgets, that promises you what? They promise FAST results…why in as little as 5 minute you can lose 5 inches off your waist and have the abs of a 20 year old fitness model. The lure of getting what you want with little effort, it’s created a billion dollar industry that thrives on your desire to be the best you can be. And yet…the obesity rates climb higher and higher, people can’t make it work. They want to be active, they want to lose weight but the mountain is just too high to climb. I suggest we get rid of the mountain and replace it with a molehill!


Let me throw this little challenge out, pick one small habit that will have the biggest impact on your resolution. It could be anything that you feel a chance at mastery over. What are some small habits that are ultimately huge with weight loss? Is it replacing soda with water? You can easily measure replacing soda with water, did you drink 8 glasses of water, and did you eliminate 2 cans of soda? Without the measurement, how do you know if you were successful? This is a habit you should be able to consistently follow through on everyday. Most important be positive and have self-compassion. Try to avoid shaming yourself if you slip, because there is nothing motivating or inspiring about name calling. Nothing.

smart goal setting concept

Let’s discuss the components of a goal. They have acronym for this…SMART. Broken down it means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based.   Cutting out soda and replacing it with water meets all the criteria. It’s specific…No Soda, it’s measurable…2 cans, it’s attainable …water is available, it’s relevant…less soda equals weight loss, and it’s time based…this week I will cut out soda!

Now we have to determine the difference between a goal and a dream. If it’s not written down it’s a dream. Pretty simple.

You must develop a plan of action. Be specific, toning up and losing some weight are vague notions, not goals. Realistic goals need to reflect an accurate understanding of how long this might take. Timeline, you have to set a specific amount of time to a goal, otherwise once again your just wishing. To be inspired a goal must be personally meaningful. You need a deeper value for it to stick. I think this is where some people get hung up, they don’t really know or have a value placed on what losing weight or developing healthy habits means to them on a gut level.

To set a successful goal, you have know who you are. Do you understand your strengths and weaknesses, your passion…your story? This requires a little self evaluation. Sometimes our beliefs about ourselves are slightly above our real abilities. This is your time to be brutally honest. Personally I have pondered many a goal that would/could improve my life. But when I step back and…really look…at who I am in the world…it isn’t gonna happen. Nope…I am not giving up wine or shoes. Losing weight, getting in shape is a form of reinvention. We want to build a better us. But in order for that to happen there must be concordance between what really maters to us and the goals we set. This is basically you do it for you…and you alone.

Okay, nobody wants to be a failure so how can you ensure that this time you won’t fail? . Truth Alert! There is no way to avoid failure there can only be ways to minimize failure. All day long your mind is creating automatic thoughts, some of which might be negative or self defeating. The more real the thought is, the more real the action. So if your thought is “ I am a stress eater, hand me a donut”…and a donut appears? What will your action be? If your thought says “ I am a stress eater, hand me a carrot”…what is your action? We underestimate the power of food. Your brain want’s a reward. It wants some feel good dopamine. It’s not going to let go of that easily…knowing why your brain is so stubborn when it comes to macaroni and cheese can help you direct your efforts and realize you will fail a few times before you succeed. We all expect some kind of happiness from our food, it’s depressing when we remove it. Sometimes this results in negotiations, which can be exhausting. If I do this now, then I can do that later, but only if and then. Willpower has a time limit. Most people make better choices during the day before they get tired and worn out from the daily stress. This is why planning is key. You may have every intention at 7am to “ stop at the grocery and pick up fresh salmon”, but odds are after a long workday that chance diminishes. Then we all have the recurring rationalizations…“ It’s okay this one time” and “ I deserve it” and “ Cheat this time and I’ll be more disciplined the rest of the day” and lastly“ This is too hard”. Be Fully Committed, you can’t have half a toe in the water.

Finally I would like to make a distinction between a Outcome goal and a Behavior goal. One focuses on the result (outcome) and the other on the process (behavior).

Outcome goals are very specific such as losing 10lbs in 10 weeks. I want to lose weight or get healthy is not…that’s a wish. An outcome goal is what you want and a behavior goal is what your going to do to get to the outcome you want. Behavior goals are the steps you take to accomplish your Outcome goal. It’s an action that you choose to do everyday. In order to lose 10lbs in 10 weeks, I am going to cut my calories by 500 everyday, or I am going to add 50grams of protein and remove a starchy carb. Personally I know that using positive actions versus negative actions is beneficial. Declare what you are going to do versus what your not going to do, I am going to eat more green vegetables versus I am not going to eat cookies.


Resolution Monday…with some realistic goal setting that is combined with an action plan this could be your year to succeed. Old habits are hard to break and New habits are hard to make. This week I want you to pick one small habit…just one. Conquer that and you’re on your way to really being the best version of you! A solid house is built one nail, one brick at a time…go build yourself a better house for your spirit.







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Right For Life…kinda sorta


Come January…who among us is not telling ourselves “I’ll do better”. I’ll spend less, I’ll love more, I’ll make time, I’ll watch what I eat”…on and on. Seriously thats a lot of pressure all at once! We call these good intentions and ultimately when we fail it makes us feel like losers. The problem is with all those intentions something is bound to fail. Lets face it we work in stressful jobs, worry about our money, worry about our kids and worry about our health. How do we deal with all this worry? It happens to be the opposite of all those good intentions. Human nature…we relieve stress with activities that make us feel better. Shopping, eating, drinking…and of course the inertia that develops from being overwhelmed from all these self imposed demands.

Now let me speak for myself…as a “fitness” professional. I am no different from anyone else who struggles with all of the above. I eat the wrong things, sit on my ass when I should be moving, buy things I don’t need and even worse drink wayyyyy to much wine. There is this image that people who promote fitness/health seem to bypass these struggles. I mean really does any of us think Jillian Michael’s ever eats a french fry dipped in cheese sauce and then skips her workout? I can’t walk through a grocery isle without being bombarded with how tabloids telling me how so and so lost weight in 3 minutes and how so and so went from a fat size 6 all the way down to a skelator size zero. Its really just way to much for me. In the study of psychology ( of which I am a lifelong student) the concept of negative reinforcement has been shown to be a complete failure. Remember when you dad would say things like ” your brother/sister never made a D in math and can run a .03 second mile”. Did you feel encouraged to do better or did you feel like throwing your hands up and smoking a joint behind the school gym? See…thats how I feel about the media. In between all the ads for gyms, diets and skinny celebrities…do you feel inspired or defeated? The average size woman is a size 10-12 by the way and most men are likely to be around a 36-38. This is nowhere near a 30 or a 0 unless your 8 years old.

Lets talk reality. I consider myself a realist, I don’t promote goals that are only obtainable by celebrities with personal trainer and chefs and of course the money. There will be days when you act completely irresponsible and days you act like a saint. The goal is to find that happy middle ground where you feel moderately successful. With each moderate success you will develop a bit more confidence in your own ability to achieve your goals. The hardest part is to not compare yourself to others. I struggle with this all the time…I doubt it will ever change. I am aware and sometimes that is the best you can do. It’s okay. At the end of the day its mostly about what we tell ourselves, not what the media or our friends tell us. We create our own reality…its simple. Yes there are outside events and people that intermix with our reality but its still our choice on how we deal with this. Sometimes quite frankly I suck at this. However thats the point somedays you may just suck at life…ehhhh…move on…tomorrow really is another day Scarlet.

So while you are ruminating on how to perfect your life this year…give yourself some wiggle room. Take each goal one baby step at a time. It might be to switch out your Fruit Loops for Cherrios, or to walk for 30 minutes today. Success does not come quick or easy as we are lead to believe. It is a journey…it is called living our lives. Somedays you face-plant (happens to me running at least twice a year ) and somedays you sail like a schooner on calm waters.

One step…one small goal…be kind to yourself and others. Be happy for the successes of others and accept your own shortcomings for today. Tomorrow give it another shot and remember that perfection is not the outcome just the effort.


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Thanks Giving



gratitude-300x274Thanksgiving day is a day we celebrate gratitude, family and football…although recently added would be shopping. This blog is now going to digress a little from Turkey legs, Football and Pilgrims. I know I have stated this before but Thanksgiving is not one of my favorite holidays, as a matter of fact it’s on the bottom of the list. As a kid and even as an adult, I always found it rather…boring. Maybe this was because my family has less people in it than a carton of eggs, but mostly I just don’t see the big brewhahaha over spending an entire day waiting for a bunch of food and in less than an hour it’s done. The truth is I don’t like big meals…it’s not that I don’t like good food but I don’t like it all at once and then I have to sit there, and sit there and sit there. My dislike of sit there and sit there probably began when I was 5. My parents were of the generation where you ate what was on your plate and you sat there until you did. I spent many a night sitting there staring at my plate…I am a notoriously picky eater and no offense mom but it wasn’t exactly like eating at Rachel Ray’s table. A good many peas were hidden in the bottom of my milk glass.

But anyway…with that said my focus for the holiday has turned to reflection and gratitude instead of turkey and stuffing. There is no real way to sugar coat the last 12 months between November 2013 and November 2014. The events that have occurred in between those months have been the most challenging times of my life both professionally and personally. It’s been a fair amount of loss and a fair amount of disenchantment and a fair amount of stress. A life changing event for my child, the death of my father, the loss of vision in my eye and the ongoing struggle as a trainer at Impact Fitness. One of the benefits of my career as a fitness professional is that I have the opportunity to be among some incredible people with incredible energy and great positive attitudes even when mine is suffering. It’s rather ironic because truth told…the gym has always been a sanctuary for me. It was the gym back in the 80’s that gave me back my self-esteem and a place where I could feel strong not just physically but emotionally. A gym isn’t a place …it’s a community.

It’s always been important to have a degree of transparency as fitness professional, we cry and struggle like mere mortals too. My focus on writing has always been to be a person you could relate to not some super human who never eats poorly, skips a workout or experiences a poor attitude. But that said, I could tell you that most of us in this business do attach a decent part of our identity to being the inspiring, confident fitness pro. There is nothing worse than feeling that identity slip away. Recently Richard Simmons was in the news, because he has removed himself from society due to physical problems. I’m guessing it’s because he now can no longer be that BIG personality when he has even bigger health issues, which must be soul crushing for him. I get it…the guy has spent a lifetime as a “brand”. Who is he beyond a pair of dancing running shorts and a bad tank top?

The changes I went through with Impact Fitness which were simultaneously occurring with the death of my father, changes in my child and eyesight digression were at times overwhelming. My focus remained on my clients and the members, and none of you may realize this but all of you were pivotal to helping me get through those difficult months. I am beyond grateful for all the positive interactions, the laughter, the teasing and the concern you gave to me. What I get from being in this profession has always exceeded what I give.

This Thanksgiving I want to express my gratitude to all of you for providing me with enough inspiration and energy to fuel my spirit. I have some of the most amazing fitness colleagues…everyone of you have impacted my life. Most of my private clients have been with me a very long time, we have weathered many a storm together…you are priceless. The members of Impact…my second home, my second family. My family and my friends some of whom have barely seen me in a year, I am grateful for your patience and understanding.


“ We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk”   Thomas Moore


“ Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”   Plato





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Goodnight Impact

Fitness has been apart of my life for as long as I can recall, even before I knew what “fitness” was. As a child I grew up in a small town and literally lived down a country road in a house my parents built from the ground up. So fitness for me probably started when I was 4 years old and our job was to toss rocks out of the dirt so they could plant grass. With 2 older brothers I often times would be roaming the fields and woods, climbing trees and hills. The outdoors has always been a sanctuary for me, which explains my love of running.  I was a very fortunate child , I grew up in a simple time and found happiness in movement not things. We would walk 2 miles to Paul’s Service Center, the local gas station, to buy penny candy and get Orange Crush from a Coke machine. We walked or rode bikes everywhere we needed to go, movement was a natural part of life. Those habits moved forward into my adult life, I’ve never been a couch potato. My oldest brother always refers to me as the Energizer Bunny. Lately though I feel like the Energeezer Bunny.

I’m not sure when I started to notice I wasn’t 25 years old anymore, probably when I found myself in the company of 25-30 year old fitness professionals. It’s a little jarring to have a view of yourself as fit and vibrant, and then realize …Oh crap…I can’t jump as high, run as fast, lift as much weight or maintain enthusiasm longer than an hour.  You start to question yourself…Do I belong in this profession at this age? Is this the point I am supposed to let the younger professionals step up while I step down? My best friend who is a very young 60, is still teaching group fitness with the vibrancy of a 25 year old, and another close girlfriend is my age and kicking ass teaching Body Combat and Pump classes. So I have to ask myself if they are kicking ass and taking names what’s my problem?

One of my specialties is problem solving. I can solve a wardrobe problem, a decorator problem, a science problem, a behavior problem and even a movement problem. To my credit I have an objective eye…except when it comes to myself of course. So here I am…pondering if it’s time to throw in the personal trainer towel.

And the answer is….NO ! I do however think it’s time to stop for a minute and focus on what and why I got into this profession in the first place.  Truly that’s an easy question for me to answer, I have always found empowerment in fitness and it’s equally fulfilling to be able to empower others. Now when I say empower, I am not talking about how much weight you can lift, fast you can run or survive a tough training session. Empowerment to me is what happens when a person who has zero physical confidence learns that they can in fact jump onto a step, run without dying and swing a 30lb kettlebell in perfect form. The official start to my personal training career began when I certified through the NSCA in 2002. Prior to that I had taught some aerobics, walked people through Nautilus, worked the floor at the YMCA, the front desk at another gym and showed my gym rat buddies new exercises. When I started to really study movement science and certified through the NSCA my concept of fitness changed drastically. I no longer saw fitness through the eyes of bodybuilding or dance classes, I saw fitness as a way to restore movement and improve my client’s health. Which is pretty much what I did from 2002 up until 2012. My clients were looking to improve fitness levels, lose weight, walk without falling over and regain lost strength. They ranged from healthy to those with devastating diseases such as Parkinson’s and PSP. Eventually I earned the reputation as the trainer of train wrecks, which translated to “ she does a lot of corrective exercise and not the hard stuff”.  I liked helping people who had nowhere else to turn, physical therapy was no longer and option but they wanted to keep moving. It wasn’t the most fun work but it certainly was the most rewarding. Of course the downside was the misconception as a “soft” trainer. And I guess to some extent that is the truth, I am no Jillian Michaels pushing a client to the brink of exhaustion. Because…well quite frankly I just find that stupid and pointless.

My expertise began with functional fitness in 2002 and finally 10 years later a local professional opened a facility based on training principles I had been using for the last 10 years. I can remember back in 2002 I was training a client at the YMCA and the comments and stares we would get was often times amusing. NOBODY understood one exercise we were doing. The best question was “ what are you training him for?”…To which I replied “ life”… which was followed with a blank stare.

Many of the exercises you see in Group training are exactly the same ones we did in 2002, now they just seem acceptable.

So…in 2012 I found Impact Fitness and it was a breathe of fresh air. Finally a facility that echoed my beliefs! After years of working privately with clients I was looking for some fun, and group training sure looked like fun. I’ve often times referred to Group Training as Personal Training on steroids.  Every exercise, every concept was exactly what I had been doing for the last 10 years with my own clients. Of course I had to earn my entryway into the club, especially since I was so misunderstood as the “ rehab trainer”.  I found something to be a part of and it was exciting to be a part of something with such promise. Gym culture often can look like a soap opera and Impact really wasn’t much different from As The World Turns. The amount of drama and change was sometimes like a tropical storm and other times like a category 4 hurricane. And yet I thrived on the energy of the members, the enthusiasm of my co-workers and always, always the possibility that Impact could become my dream facility. In 2013 Impact went through some major changes, which resulted in different owners and a different perspective. Different not bad…which was okay because in business you have to evolve to be successful. The biggest downside for me was I lost the camaraderie of “ One for all. All for one “.  I lost my connection to being a part of something big. Impact began to feel like a burden and not a joy. All of my creative energy that I had been allowed to use was no longer of service and I found myself no longer feeling like what I did mattered. Well I am sure it mattered to the members and the staff, but I felt powerless to really make any changes that could improve Impact’s…well…Impact.

I finally have to pry my fingers off Impact and let it go. It’s the one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am no quitter and I think I gave this my best shot, but it’s time to move on and allow other opportunities to enter my life. I will be forever grateful for all of the amazing people I have met through Impact, the outstanding professionals and the joy I experienced hundreds of times leading a group class.

When I asked myself was it time for me to hang up my personal trainer shoes, I think the bigger question was why did I feel so defeated at a profession I love. Maybe it’s because I had lost the connection to why I found personal training in the first place.  What I can say in a positive note is that Impact has been a huge part of my growth as a trainer and nutritional coach.

One of the downsides as a personal trainer is you develop long standing relationships with clients. You’re in their lives a few times a week, sometimes for years. Eventually it develops into a social structure, which is what Impact became for me. One day your interacting on a regular basis with clients, developing a closer relationship and then one day “POOF” it all goes away. I’ve learned to accept the fact clients will move on and often times that also means the relationship dissolves.  It never gets easier, I can tell you that gone does not mean forgotten.

So…I am returning to my private training business and maintaining professional relationships with my colleagues.  You know where to find me…on I-95 driving my Physiques by PT car to my next client and my next endeavor.

Goodnight Impact


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Is Your Work Killing Your Workout ?


When your work is ruining your workout. 

I coach group training at a local training center called Impact Fitness and Health, it keeps my personal training spirit excited.  It’s good for a person like myself who has done mostly private training because I get the chance to interact with a really wide variety of people and issues. It also gives me lots of material to write about.

Last week during one of our more intense group classes, I watched one of our members just giving it her all and smiling through the pain. This woman literally grins and bears it! I admire her determination and her consistency with workouts, she truly has made tremendous progress. So, in between sets I asked her how she was doing with her fitness goals and eating. Thus the topic for this blog.

Turns out her work is ruining her workouts, for every day she is busting her ass in the gym there is a day when the call of the treats in the office is ruining her nutrition.  It’s a fairly common problem and I have had the same conversation with other clients and members. They go to work, it’s stressful, they are bored…and in the office like a golden lamb is coffee cake whispering sweet nothings…eat me…let me soothe your nerves. What’s one little bite…except it’s usually more like one little chunk eaten so quick your brain barely gets a chance to say, “ thanks for the glucose”.

I am pretty sure just about every reader including myself can relate. The free lunch from KFC, the free cookies, the free donuts, the free pasta from Olive Garden…on and on it goes. There just is something about free that gives everyone a pass, why is that? Well, for one thing we like it when we get rewarded at work, almost like when we reward our pets with treats. Which is kinda sad to think we are all trick ponies looking for a nibble at work.

Here are some depressing statistics, a study of 1,947 women found the average female worker consumes 1/3 of her daily calories snaking. Over half (51%) confessed to eating a whopping 750 calories worth of junk, and squirreling treats away in drawers, file cabinets and tree holes. Over half of these women admitted it was simple boredom that inspired them to graze at the office. I doubt any of us is shocked to hear this most of the excess calories we consume is not due to hunger but boredom or just plain absence of giving damn.

So what’s the solution? According to all the fitness magazines all you have to do is say no. Just say NO…, which is silly. It’s not a question of saying no to bad things. We all saw how the “ Just say NO to drugs “ worked. That’s not much of a strategy. Willpower in situations where you are stressed, lonely, depressed, tired and bored is an iffy solution to depend on. I went online to read what “solutions” were being offered up and I disagreed with most of them. But, for the sake of sharing here goes:

1. Eat breakfast so you are not hungry. Why I disagree. 

Most people are not eating donuts in the lunchroom at 10am because they are starving they are eating donuts because they are there. Period.

2. Just take a few bites. Why I disagree. 

Ironically, just take a few bites IS one of my strategies for holiday eating and parties. However, when you are in a stressful and/or bored job, taking a few bites has really big chances of just eat the whole thing or going back and back and back and now you’ve eaten the whole thing! It’s one thing to take a sampling and know you’ve got distractions to keep you from going back to the feed table, it’s an entire different ballgame when your there for 8 hours.

3. Bring healthy snacks to work and eat those instead. Why I disagree.

It’s not a question of you eating a snack it’s a question of a snack attack which means weapons of self destruction (wings and chips) will crush the friendly fire of an apple. Do I think having healthy alternatives at work is a great idea…yes I do! Do I think it’s a solution…no I don’t.  Your at work with 2 different socks on because you had a terrible nights sleep, the boss just told you that he needs you to come in on Saturday…Hey! It’s an apple !!!! Uhmmmmm…no.

The PT solution, researched exclusively on myself. And since I am both the researcher and subject I can make up my own statistics, so I am going to say my success rate is about 90% with a standard deviation of 0.5.

So… as many of my readers know I have been in fitness a really long time. Which means I have spent many years managing my nutrition and exercise through good times and bad times….lot’s of bad times. In my younger years, it wasn’t much of a big deal. One donut or crispy fried chicken wing wasn’t going to do much, I had youthful metabolism on my side. As the years crept up so did my weight, which is what happens when you get cocky with your own diet and fitness. I had to develop some type of strategy to end my self-sabotage, I am supposed to walk the talk and you can’t do that with a cinnamon roll in your back pocket.


  1. Remind yourself how many hours you spent exercising and running, and then ask yourself if that donut was worth an hour of running. Basically you need to take what you’re eating and put it into hours spent at the gym. Those 4 cookies are ½ hour of group training, chicken alfredo is 2 DAYS of group training. Most people underestimate calories and you would be shocked to learn that you cannot actually out train a bad diet. Calories do not even out like you had hoped. If your working out to eat, you’re probably eating more than the training can get rid of.
  2. Goal food…at some point during the week I am saving myself for that something special treat. It’s much like a budget you only have so many dollars to spend on shoes. Are you going to spend your hard earned money on several pairs of un-amazing shoes, or are you going to save up for that special pair of FABULOUS shoes? I am saving up for fabulous, that’s what I’m saying
  3. The walk away, which might be like “just say no “except it’s a silent reproach. I see you little coffee cake, I find you unimportant…now be gone.

Ultimately we all have to develop our own systems to protect our health, manage our weight and stay sane. Basically it all comes down to what you allow in and what you don’t. Do you allow people to ruin your hard work at the gym or do you protect it? Do you tell yourself little white lies about why it’s okay to sabotage yourself? Are you going for the 3 minutes of happiness eating free food or would you rather have a lifetime of feeling good about yourself, your efforts and your appearance?

Stay strong …Don’t let work ruin your workout! PT






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Monster Training

I’ve got a problem…the fitness industry has a problem…I think we have created a monster and that monster is anabolic training also known as metabolic, high intensity and a variety of other intense sounding names such as Insanity and so on.

The concept of metabolic training is founded in sound scientific principles, the problem has become the application is founded on …and yes I am going to say this…Fear. Fear? Yes, fear as in if you don’t feel like tossing your cookies, gasping for breathe, falling on the floor or barley able to get off the toilet you have not worked out INTENSE enough. And we all know that INTENSITY is the heart of metabolic training…right? Well…it is …but there are rules to follow when you are INTENSE and one of them is limit your intense days to 2-3 times a week with a break in between. A Break? WHAT !!

Just like the principle of metabolic training is founded in science so is the principle of less is more when it comes to this type of training.  The problem as I see it is unfortunately we as a society have a hard time grasping that if we do less we will gain more.  The more you work the more money you make, the harder you work the more achievements you’ll collect, the more you exercise the leaner you’ll get…and…. I am not going to say it’s all a pack of lies but not exactly true either. While it is true you make more money if you work more, it is also true you can make more money by working less by working smarter. It’s also not true that all that hard work is going to shoot you up the achievement ladder, especially if all your hard work is ineffective. So why is it so hard to conceptualize that more and harder exercise isn’t necessarily going to get you leaner and meaner if all your hard work is ineffective, poorly timed and not smart?  I smell resistance.

I love Science…I love fact…I am not a fan of beliefs as fact. For the most part what people are interpreting as exercise facts are simply buying into a belief system that the industry has perfected by twisting fact. Why…why would we do that? Well I for one sure wouldn’t but I am not trying to get you to buy a 6 set DVD of craziness or sell you a magazine that promotes the promise of a hard body physique that most of us mortal humans cannot achieve, what with jobs and kids and all that other stuff we have to do besides ripping up our shoulders doing 100 swinging pull ups like a crazed monkey. And I just want to state for the record that I myself have had a few beliefs that turned out to be totally non factual, such as I can do a high kick and star on Broadway singing Tonight from a fake balcony. Pack…of…lies.

Let’s talk fact! Let’s talk about hormones and cortisol and repetitive stress injuries! There is a fine line between training hard and over training, so I get that this would be confusing for many people simply trying to push themselves physically. But there is a point of too intense and there is a point of too much, and at this point you body is pushed into a unhealthy stress response which results in a cascade of biochemical responses that ultimately can damage your health and your lean mean machine body. The short list looks like this, adrenal fatigue, gut dysbiosis (out of balance), autoimmune diseases, depression and chronic fatigue.  The boring science…over training affects blood levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and glutamine, which can leave you feeling like eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and dragging your ass around all day (depression and chronic fatigue).  The worst offending effect of extreme exercise is the excess production of cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone that is released when the body is under stress, intense and heavy resistance exercise stimulates acute cortisol responses. Chronically high levels of cortisol will result in sleep disturbances, digestive problems, depression, memory impairment…and …drum roll…FAT GAIN! So there you are crushing it at the gym everyday getting fatter, tired, sad, forgetting your spouses name and getting the runs (aka diarrhea) on a daily basis. What FUN!  I want me some of that!  Of course the other obvious by-product of over training is the damage to your joints, tendons and muscles.  Read this: ( you have to copy and paste, I’m not brilliant enough to figure out a link )


The list of those common injuries are: Bursitis, Carpal Tunnel, Diffuse RSI (this is pain that can’t be diagnosed, it just hurts), Tennis Elbow, Rotator Cuff Syndrome and Tendonitis.  So to review, your training hard, too much and instead of getting super fit, now you can’t open jar of Fluffer Nutter to feel better about your sad, tired, forgetful ever growing belly fat self.

Digression ahead.  I have been involved in fitness on different levels and in different degrees since 1985. In that period of time fitness has grown by leaps and bounds and improved tremendously…it has also grown into something I am not sure I even like anymore. Last week I was coaching a group class, watching people perform a exercise task that would have never, ever been even considered 30 years ago. And my thought was…it shouldn’t be performed 30 years later either. In an effort to keep things tough, challenging and fresh the fitness industry has gathered concepts that range from strong man competitions, Power lifting, Olympic lifting and the Israeli army. I’ll be honest none of those things are on my radar, I have no desire to train like a soldier carrying a boulder across enemy lines. I completely admire the sport of Power lifting and Olympic lifting …it’s just not anything I personally desire to do.  So all this got me reminiscing about fitness back in the day, and how we still managed to get in shape, look good and stay lean without pummeling ourselves. My fitness plan in 1987 looked like this: Get up and dress the baby in something cute, put on your tights and leotard, get out your baby blue Rebook princess shoes, grab a Diet Pepsi (I know, I know…I was an addict), drive to gym, drop baby off at gym daycare, dance like a fool in aerobics, do a little floor work and head into the weight room with my BFF to hit the heavy weights. I trained like this for yeaaaaarrrssss! And surprisingly I was in really, really good shape for only going to the gym 3 days a week! Of course 15 years later, I also felt the backlash of high impact aerobics and placing ridiculous amounts of weight on my back. Which is probably why I frequently cringe while coaching when I see poor form under heavy weight…been there…done that…hurt that. I would hope that we have learned from the past that more isn’t always better, that you can get fit and lean without beating yourself with the INTENSITY stick, that novelty should never trump common sense and to embrace the research that guides us to good training principles.

For all of you who love to train hard, who enjoy competing against yourself, pushing your limits…I say go for it. Just don’t go for it every day or any day when you’re hurting or should be allowing your body to heal.  You can train everyday…there are other options like Yoga, Pilates and even walking! The body is not a machine it has mechanisms to protect itself from our own stupidity. Be mindful and respectful of your body and it will reward your efforts with lean mass and a joyful spirit. Disrespect it and you will be nursing a painful joint with macaroni and cheese while watching reruns of Lassie bawling your eyes out.



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Excuses…No More!


Excuses, I need to begin this article with this statement, “It takes one to know one”.  Often when am inspired to write about something, it develops out of a recent interaction I may have had with someone. If you are that someone and you read this please know this is not about you…it is about everyone. In fitness we generally run across the same people just in different bodies. Weight issues, diet issues they all seem to be fairly universal among human beings.  The other thing that seems to be universal is excuses. You know those little lies we tell ourselves that allow us to reject responsibility? Some of my favorites are: I don’t have time, I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, I don’t eat that much, I don’t have time, I’m too old, I don’t have time. Rolling in at number…drum roll…I don’t have time! Fortunately this excuse is not the one I choose to write about today, I don’t have enough time…hahaha. No, I am inspired to write about this excuse: I don’t know how I gained XX pounds, I used to be skinny, I don’t eat that much. Now if you’re sensitive, you should probably just click out of this article. I tend to be a bit blunt and non-PC with this subject. The truth can be awfully harsh.

Phil, the husband, tells me he hears this a lot from his patients and I hear it a lot from random people. He tells me he uses the analogy of the victims of the concentration camps, as in did you ever see a fat person in a concentration camp? No…you don’t…because they starved those people to death. I am pretty sure they really didn’t eat that much. I have to admit, I have told this lie to myself on a few occasions. Gee…where did those 5 pounds come from, I didn’t eat that much (last week, last month, last year).  You know what those extra 5 must be from? Water? No…uhhhh…muscle? No…uhm…too much wine or junk food…Bingo! I suck at fooling myself, although I do give it a good try now and then.

I happen to be a fan of Wayne Dyer, he writes books that I find inspiring and he also doesn’t cut much slack to those who refuse to acknowledge behavior patterns that are self-destructive.  I have a book he wrote titled “ Excuses Begone”. The first time I read through it I was a little pissy at Wayne. Anytime I read something that forces me to accept my own self-limiting behaviors I tend to get a little defensive. He just won’t allow me to lie to myself! Anyway, there are these 7 questions that he states make up for a new set of beliefs, the ones that trample excuses. They are:

  1. Is it true?
  2. Where did the excuses come from?
  3. What’s the payoff?
  4. What would my life look like if I couldn’t use these excuses?
  5. Can I create a rational reason to change?
  6. Can I access universal cooperation in shedding old habits?
  7. How do I continuously reinforce this new way of being?

I can’t give away all of Wayne’s secrets here, but these are some pretty good questions to ask yourself when you say “ I don’t eat that much “. Lets start with “Is it true?”

So if that’s true you don’t eat that much, how did you gain XX pounds? Was it your medication? Your genetics? Your age? Is this #2 “ where did the excuses come from?” And so I ask you #3“what’s the payoff?” What if you (#4) couldn’t use those excuses? Would you create a good reason to change (#5)? How can you access help in changing  (#6) and then how do you keep it up (#7)?

There are some good physiological reasons why some people are given the short straw, and they do gain weight more readily than others. It sucks to draw the short straw. But your stuck with it, you can reason away why you can’t fix it or you can own up to your short straw and find a way to stick it in a diet soda, or a milkshake…your call. Fortunately there are some great resources and programs that help you “ not eat so much of the wrong thing”.  A really good place to start is writing down exactly what you are eating and how much of it. A serving of cereal is not 3 cups spilling out of the bowl. A serving of popcorn is not the entire bag. A serving of pasta is not the entire space on your plate. The best part of being young is that your body is running like a Porsche. The suckiest part of getting old is your body is plodding like a tired mule. You just cannot eat the same as you did in your glory days. Well, you can but the end result will be those extra XX you gained from “not eating that much”.  The other thing to be aware of is the glycemic index of the foods your eating. The GI is used for classifying carbohydrate foods based on how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. The quicker your blood sugar rises the higher the glycemic index. Let me state this very simply. If you are chowing on white bread, white potatoes and white sugar…you will gain weight.  Excess blood sugar is stored as fat.  So if “your not eating that much”, maybe what your eating is crap.  You know if you really “are what you eat”, then eating crap isn’t going to smell or look very pretty…is it?

So, here is the deal. Eat foods as close to their natural state, eliminate junk, reduce processed foods, and manage your portions. You will lose weight. However…you also have to incorporate some exercise that actually makes you sweat and causes you to make grunting and huffing noises. If your form of exercise is walking your neighborhood and you barely break a sweat and can recite the Declaration of Independence seamlessly, then you are in the middle of an “activity” not “exercise”. If your wading around a pool waving your arms like a fish gliding through calm seas, your engaging in an “activity” not exercise. Exercise should feel a little uncomfortable and you should be sweating a tad. And when I say uncomfortable, I don’t mean tight lycra, I mean on a effort scale of 1-10…you better be around a 8.

Excuse or the Truth…it’s your journey.


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The Power Of Less

Yesterday I was in our local nutrition store to meet with the owners and discuss our mutual goals for our clients/customers. Its important to me as a nutritional coach as well as personal trainer that I have a reliable source for my clients, so I like to use due diligence when selecting a local business I can trust my clients wellbeing with.  The owner was asking a variety of questions regarding my stance on nutrition and he gave me a case scenario to answer.

Case: You have a client who comes to you and needs to lose over 25pounds and is completely deconditioned. This particular client never eats breakfast, eats lunch at fast food restaurants almost everyday and dinner consists of beer and leftover pizza. They know they have to lose this weight because they are at risk for Type II diabetes in addition to a family history of cardiac disease.  What is your course of action for this person, how are you going to counsel them and fix this?

My answer: One habit at a time. Period. You can’t overhaul someone’s life in a week. That is pretty much a set up for failure as it all becomes totally overwhelming.  The problem with all these “ weight loss” centers and solutions is they attack the problem with a sudden death type approach. It might work in the short term but it rarely works in the long term. For anyone to adapt new habits they have to learn how to set behavior based goals.  In the book “ The Power of Less”, author Leo Babauta emphasizes focusing on one habit at a time so that you can focus all of your energy on creating that one habit. According to Babauta sticking to one goal has an almost 80% success rate, once you start to add on other goals that success rate drops below 20%.  How do you eat an elephant…one bite at a time! It sounds so simplistic but it works and it is the truth. Often times the difference between success and failure is the ability of the client to dial in to change one bite at a time. The problem with this concept of course from a marketing standpoint is change comes slowly and not quickly, and we all know that our culture loves a McDonalds solution to any problem.

This week while you are contemplating making positive change, write down one specific goal (known as outcome goal) and then write down your behavior goal for the week.  Your outcome goal might be to lose 5 pounds this month. How are you going to get there? This is your behavior goal. What one habit can you work on this week to help you achieve that 5 pound weight loss? Is it making sure you eat breakfast, or is it going to the grocery and planning out your lunch for the week? Is it simply packing your lunch on Monday, Weds and Friday? One small change every day, each week will add up to the big change you seek and that change will now be not just temporary but woven into your new lifestyle choices.  Change is hard for all of us, myself included. Sometimes changes I think should work for me do not and back to the drawing board I go. None of us has the same genetics, the same freedom or the same income to achieve our mutually similar goals.  You have to find what works for you in your life and not what works for some celebrity with unlimited resources.

As a Nutritional Coach and a Fitness Professional, what I know is this. No one person is the same there is no cookie cutter approach to human success. We need to listen more, judge less and understand that each individual has a unique set of circumstances that can only be addressed…one…bite…at …a time.




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The Curse of Holiday Ivy

November first, that’s when the tight squeeze in my chest starts. At first it’s just a little tingle but as the days roll by it grows like Ivy, twisting it’s way into my brain. That damn Ivy chokes the life out of everything, my workouts, my family time, my ability to maintain a spotless home…it wraps itself around every detail of my life. I know I am not alone and I know this because as the days and weeks roll by I see more clients wrapped up in the dreaded Ivy. They stop coming to training classes, they cancel private appointments, and they slip away unable to kill the pesky grip of Ivy’s obligations and expectations.  The holiday’s…don’t ya love ‘em? I don’t mean to single out women but I find Ivy to be more of a woman’s weed than a mans. Ivy is anxiety out of control. Ivy is the by-product of trying to do it all and do it all perfectly in a span of time that is completely impossible. It’s hard enough to keep my life afloat without the added demands of gift buying, card writing, party planning and decorating the house to reflect the holiday cheer I so poorly lack. This is a reality for a lot of my female comrades and clients, and I want everyone to know I am on the same sinking ship. I knew I was in trouble when I showed up to coach a group class and asked my fellow trainer “ How do I look?” and he said, “ Worn out”. Uh-Ohhh…damn it! It’s hard enough to look fresh faced and be perky when your 54, clearly I am not pulling it off as well as I had hoped. So here it is:

For all of you who are excusing yourself from your fitness programs and have fallen head first off the nutrition wagon because Ivy has enveloped you like Saran Wrap…I get it.  I am not Superwoman I don’t have shiny wrist things that reflect stress off with the flick of a bicep. I…am…a mortal…trainer.  Let’s just say that while I am preaching about the benefits of kale and almond milk, I am not actually eating or drinking either of those in November or December with any regularity. Amy’s organic cheddar bunnies and chardonnay are far more medicinal for me than kale, almond milk or salmon will ever be. Doesn’t make it right…doesn’t actually help my cause to stay under 25% body fat…really doesn’t make my liver sing with joy either.  But with every crunch and sip….Ivy loosens it’s grip…until I wake up the next day. Clearly cheddar bunnies and wine are a misplaced effort to regain some sense of calm.  Bad habits don’t last in my life I am fortunate enough that I get sick of me way before cheddar bunnies become a pantry staple. As a mortal trainer maybe I can leave some wisdom for those of you struggling with guilt, stress, perfection and zero me time. And here it is:

One: You are not as important as you think you are. The earth probably won’t stop rotating on its axis because you choose to exercise for an hour rather than make sure [insert person who needs you] did not eat dinner at 5:00 pm. The earth most certainly will continue to spin if you say “No”. Putting yourself last in life really never works. You end up resentful, tired, bloated and empty. I think my family would rather have a happy, healthy me than a cranky me with chest pains in the Emergency Room.   I guard my running and gym time like a fierce momma lion. Does it annoy people, yes. Is it inconvenient for people, yes. Is someone frequently trying to persuade me to skip it or change it, yes.  Has everyone in my family come to the conclusion that the only way I will miss a run/workout is life or death events, yes. Women are notorious for putting themselves last, which might explain why so many women are depressed and overweight. This is my mantra on days when I am feeling overwhelmed by everyone’s needs that I can’t meet.

“ Get Over Yourself”.  The more I dial OUT of my self importance the better able I am to dial IN to self preservation.

Two:  Get over that ALL or NOTHING mentality. Yes, I have a thing for wine and cheddar bunnies but not at the expense of my lifetime effort to stay healthy and fit.  Good nutrition and exercise just has to become “ that thing you do”. It’s not that thing you did last month and not this month. It’s not that thing you do for 6 weeks before your class reunion, it’s just that thing you do “most” of the time.  Most is the keyword, nobody other than those fake fitness celebrities eats clean and never misses a workout in life. Well, I take that back there are people who exist like that and they are about as much fun as snowstorm in May.  You missed 2 weeks…and next thing your saying to yourself well might as well round that out to a month! You ate like a Medieval King all week, doesn’t mean you might as well pillage the kingdom. Stop with the excuses. Yes you screwed up and refer to number One, Get Over Yourself. Because honestly at the end of the day it’s all what you allow and tell yourself.

Ivy…it’s a big huge choking weed. The more obligations you have the more insidiously it will creep into your life. Eventually you end feeling like you can’t do anything about …well anything! Stop…breath…pack your gym clothes and don’t second guess the importance of your decision to stay healthy. Stop…breath…push away foods whose quick feel good turns into feeling horrible even quicker. Exercise and good nutrition are better than any weed killer on the market.  Remind yourself that fitness isn’t some trivial selfish activity, it’s the activity that keeps you whole and healthy.

It’s harsh…but your no good to anybody if you’re dead. And that’s my parting wisdom.


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