Tag Archives: fitness

A Client Success Story

For those of you who have known me and followed me over the years know that not only am I fitness professional but a very passionate one. You see, fitness to me is a way of life. I’ve just been fortunate enough to make a career out of it. Most view fitness as a side activity, one that either fits into their lives or it doesn’t. I take a great deal of pride and education for myself in helping people to understand the positives that fitness can have on their lives. I don’t always have followers but that’s why I continue on. I want to share with you today a story of a client who has done all those things – made fitness a priority in her life; continued to follow my guidance; took all the positives along with the negatives and turned out to become the best version of herself.

How We Started

Tricia and I first met about 12 years ago when I worked at Pottstown Health Club. She had been working with one of my trainers and it was brought to my attention that I might be better suited to help her. Tricia had a “nagging” forearm issue of sorts that we later determined was the result of carrying heavy bags (computer, handbags). With a successful evaluation and treatment plan, Tricia’s arm got better and shall we say, the rest is history. Tricia has been a personal client since then and stuck with me through the gym closing and venturing out on my own. Stories like you’re about to hear are one of the many reasons why I do what I do, why I love what I do, and where my passion for all things fitness comes from. What better way than for you to hear this story other than from Tricia herself.

Her Story

I’ve always been athletic; a tomboy most of my life.  As a kid, I played baseball and football with the boys in the neighborhood.  I played field hockey and lacrosse in high school until knee issues sidelined me during my senior year.  Since then I’ve had a total of 5 surgeries on both of knees.  Ultimately, I will need a full knee replacement, so I have learned to manage the issues and pain since I was 17.  Having a chronic injury like that impacted my participation in sports, as well as working out.  This led to weight gain, which is not good for anyone, but for me with my knee issues, it was worse because I found it even harder to work out or even move.  That’s when I decided to take control and lose weight.  Another motivator was that I was engaged and wanted to look my best for the wedding. I joined Weight Watchers, as I knew I needed to be accountable to someone other than myself in the weight loss journey.  I lost 30 pounds and was very proud of myself.  I focused mostly on my nutrition but was working out a little as well. 

After the wedding, a few of my work friends started working out together at a gym close to the office.  Within a year, I was at my most fit and felt great.  I really enjoyed working out with my friends (never thought I would be a “gym rat” but I was there a lot). Then life happened.  I began traveling a lot with work and was not home a lot.  Because I was working out so much, I had a lot more “flexibility” in my diet.  When you stop working out consistently and continue to eat the same “flexible” way, a not-so-funny thing happens; you gain weight.  I did work out while I was traveling.  I found I had less excuses to NOT work out when I wasn’t home.  It helped that most of my work travel mates were working out in the hotel gyms, so if I brought my workout gear, and told my colleagues I was going to work out. I was accountable to them.  So, I tended to work out more when traveling then when I was home, but eating more than I should have, and maybe drinking more.  Because of my travel schedule, as well as losing most of my workout buddies (started families, changed jobs, moved) I canceled my gym membership. 

My husband and I decided to join Pottstown Health Club together.  I was using the cardio equipment and taking classes.  It had been a while since I spent time in a proper gym, so felt like I needed to work with a trainer; also felt like I needed someone to be accountable to again.  I had started working out with Cathy but then I met Jeff. He created a workout for me that allowed me to continue my momentum despite my injury.  I have continued to work with him since.

Fast forward a couple of years to the week I turned 40.  That seemed to be the year I hit the wall; it felt like I hit the wall, bounced off, then got run over by a truck, got up, and then fell face first into a vat of molasses.  I’ve felt stuck for the past 8 years. The week I turned 40 my back spasmed.  I never had any back issues until that week.  I spent most of that week in bed trying to recover from that until Jeff had recommended massage therapy.  In March of my 40th year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Luckily it was caught very early, but a lumpectomy and 7 weeks of radiation were necessary.  Oh, and you can’t forget the 5 years of Tamoxifen.  Through my recovery, it was difficult to bounce back into a healthy, fit lifestyle.  It’s been nearly 9 years, but I found my way.  My health journey has one consistent factor…accountability.  And today is no different.  I got a sinus infection in January and visited the local urgent care.  They take your temp, blood pressure and weigh you before seeing the doctor.  As you leave, they provide a synopsis of your visit, including an evaluation of your weight.  I rarely read that information, but for some reason I did after that visit.  Based on their information, I was considered OBESE.  I knew I was heavy, but to see that word in my “chart” was eye-opening. 

Jeff and I talk about accountability a lot, and why it is so hard for people to be accountable to themselves.  I think it took the word OBESE and the quarantine to finally get me to be accountable to myself.  I also know that I do not want to start my 50’s feeling the way I have for most of my 40’s. I’ve taken advantage of the time that I’m home to take care of ME.  I’ve been using my normal “commute” time to work out.  At 6:00AM I ride my Peloton for 20 minutes (that’s my normal commute time).  Again at 5:00PM, I’m on my bike for another 30-45 minutes.  I’m also eating clean and healthy; tracking everything I eat (using Weight Watchers again).  I am feeling great!  I have a lot more energy and just overall feel better.  My approach to the quarantine has been one of taking care of me.  Since I am not traveling (which has been a major excuse for not always eating healthy or working out) I really have no excuses to NOT take care of me.  If I’m not going to do it now, I’m never going to take responsibility for myself. 

My husband is benefitting from it as well.  His pants are a little looser too.  And I just hit 40 pounds lost!!  I am at the same weight I was when I got married 18 years ago.  The journey has not been easy.  As much as it is about eating healthy and implementing a fitness routine, it is also about psychology.  I’ve found that without feeling accountable to myself I would self-sabotage.  It was a viscous cycle.  It is a little crazy that it took the word obese and a quarantine to set me straight.

Tricia – a living example of what it means to train smart, eat well, and be better!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 9 – Fitness is a Choice and Mindset

(This is part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

I’ll be honest. I really struggle when I hear people say that they either hate to exercise or that they don’t have any time to exercise as well as the thousands of other excuses they give on the subject. But then I can come to a better approach and realize that they just don’t get it. Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit; fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Perhaps they just don’t feel alive. I don’t know.

It a Choice

Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you. Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or upcoming vacation. Fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. What would you give for an extra 10 years of quality life? If you are 30, this doesn’t seem relevant, but if you are in your 40s, way overweight and don’t move, you made a decision, and that decision was to end your life earlier than someone who does realize what you do today in fitness determines how you will live 20 years from now. You, and only you, can determine the quality, and in many cases, the length of your life.

It’s a Mindset

The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today. There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax. Fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are. You choose to be healthy; then you chose life. You choose to ignore your fitness, and you made a choice… and you will pay for that choice someday, and then when you can’t get out of a chair without help, or play with a child, or hold the hand of the one you love on a walk through the woods, what would you pay then for just one hour of health and life? And the sad thing is you could have had it all along.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #5 – 9 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6 – The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet
Day #8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 8 – Dispelling 5 Common Training Lies

(This is part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

As a fitness professional, it is my job to not only work with people but educate them on the how, why, and what about fitness. In my 25 years of being a fitness professional I think I’ve heard and seen it all. Every once and a while something will surface that gets a lot of press and notoriety that people take for gospel. Most times, it’s something that was bad news in the past that’s just been repackaged to look new and sound better. It’s not. So here I’ve put together 5 of the top fitness/training myths that continue to pop up from time to time and ruin most people’s journey to optimum health and fitness.

  1. You have to confuse your muscles. If you’ve ever bought into the hype about muscles getting confused (P90X people), pay attention. This idea of “muscle confusion” was fabricated by some clever fitness marketing gurus eager to sell their products. Simply put, muscle confusion states that you have to change up your workout from session to session or from week to week – different exercises, varying rep ranges, and switching up rest periods – in order to get leaner, faster, and stronger. And by never giving your body a chance to adapt to a specific routine, you’ll never plateau and consequently never stop making improvements. Not exactly. Spend too much time with any one specific stimuli and your body will adapt to it less and less. But actively changing things up from time to time will yield much better returns – no confusion.
  2. You can lose tons of fat and gain muscle at the same time if you train hard enough. In an ideal world, yes. But in the real world, no. The only types of people who can simultaneously pile on muscle and melt fat are beginners, those who are just coming back to the gym after a long hiatus, very obese individuals, or folks on performance-enhancing drugs. Unless you’re one of the above, you’ll be spinning your wheels if you really want to try and go down this route. Prioritize one over the other and keep up the intensity in the gym regardless of your goal.
  3. Cardio will burn fat. Steady-state cardio is not inherently a fat loss modality. By itself, it does have mild benefits for cardiovascular health, but it’s not going to get you the lean physique you’re striving for. The more cardio you do, the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories. Sounds like a good thing at first glance, but if fat loss is your goal, this is the opposite of what you want. Moreover, study after study has shown that exercise protocols involving steady-state cardio have led to negligible weight loss and that aerobic exercise by itself is not an effective form of weight loss therapy.
  4. More volume is better, no matter how you go about it. Translation – more total work is the answer. No. There are people who love to tell you that they spend hours in the gym when in reality the total work they’re actually doing is questionable. Training volume is a critical component of exercise and one that can be easily manipulated. In fact, it’s one of the greatest determinants of muscle growth, much more than any other component of exercise. But the “more is better” mantra is never the goal with exercise. Consistency and progressiveness are.
  5. As long as you exercise, you can eat whatever you want. This is one of my favorites. You ALWAYS have to be mindful of not only what but how much you eat. Exercise is NEVER a permission to eat whatever or how much you want. Most exercise sessions burn a lot less calories than you think (ignore treadmill counters, fitness trackers, or popular fitness threads). The long term effect over time is that you’re typically burning more than being sedentary which will have a positive effect. I will tell you that here is where most people fail. They’ll work out, modestly at best, and then buy a smoothie or their favorite coffee drink that they feel they’ve earned. That’s a big no.

And that’s the problem with much of the information you read – we take an ounce of truth and turn it into two tons of BS. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing
Day #7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet



12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Are you fearing this year’s holidays? Are you wondering how you will handle the challenges of being confronted with mountains of delicious food, endless parties, and crazy schedules? Unfortunately, these worries and fears often lead to complete resignation, which causes people to give up all regular routines, self-discipline, and otherwise manageable self-restraint related to health and fitness. This, in turn, can result in guilty consciences, sick stomachs, sleepless nights, sluggish bodies, and bad attitudes.

The Good News: There is a Better Way!

If all this sounds familiar, your first step is to change your mindset. Practicing sound nutrition, health and fitness habits is vital to life-long wellness. Healthy eating, effective physical activity and regular rest are practices that should become part of who you are and essential to your daily life, just like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. This shift in mindset sets the stage for greater self-empowerment and self-confidence, as well as a transition in locus of control from external to internal. The key is to recognize that you have the power to transform your life and live it to the fullest during times of joy, trouble, hardship, success, holidays, and festivities by applying key foundational behavioral principles. When you do that, you won’t get bogged down with seemingly endless challenging choices in every situation. If you make the following key foundational behaviors a priority, circumstantial, seasonal and unexpected events won’t have the power to derail you. Here ya go:

1) Drink water.Choose to drink water over anything else. Cold or hot herbal teas are a good option, too. Drink two cups of water when you first wake up in the morning and when you feel hungry outside of your regular mealtime/regular snacks. Festive Fit Tip: When you arrive at a holiday party, drink two cups of water or herbal tea before you start eating.

2) Move more, sit less. If you have the option of standing versus sitting, stand. If you have the option of walking versus driving, walk. If you have the option of moving about versus standing, move about. Daily physical activity and structured exercise, including cardio, strength and flexibility exercises, are a part of a healthy daily routine. Festive Fit Tip: When you attend a holiday party or an event, find a way to avoid sitting for the majority of the time (move about the room, start a dance party, etc.).

3) Something positive is better than nothing. Get away from an all-or-nothing mindset. If you don’t have time for a full workout, do 10 minutes of exercise and you’ll reap some positive benefits. If you forgot to add any fruits or vegetables to your meals during the day, add an apple at night. Apply this principle where it makes sense. Festive Fit Tip: Focus on nutritious foods during the holidays rather than on what you shouldn’t eat. Each time you eat at home or at a holiday party, add things to your plate that are good for you, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts or other healthy proteins or grains.

4) Take control. Focus. Reflect. Ask yourself: Is this behavior good for me? Be mindful. Choose wisely. Follow-through. Festive Fit Tip: When you are at a party and about to fill your plate with all the goodies from the buffet, pause and ask yourself: Is it time to eat now? What have I already eaten today? What is available here that is considered healthy?

5) Half is enough. Eat only half of the less-nutritious foods on your plate. If you take a cookie, for example, eat half of it and pack the other half for another day. Festive Fit Tip: At a holiday party or event, serve yourself only half of what is on the serving platter. For example, if you want a brownie, cut it in two on the serving platter and only serve yourself half (and don’t go back for seconds).

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing


Preventing Muscle Loss as We Age

Use it or lose it – this is a phrase I’m sure you’re familiar with. It holds a lot of truth when it comes to muscle. Unlike bone, which of course can also decrease in mass as we age, muscle starts to diminish quickly, particularly if it’s not used or stimulated. Known as sarcopenia, it is a decline in skeletal muscle mass that typically affects older people, but can affect the much younger population as well. It can begin as early as age 40, and without intervention can get increasingly worse, with as much as half of muscle mass lost by age 70. Over time the muscle gets replaced by fat and fibrous tissue, making muscles resemble a well-marbled steak.

Is Sarcopenia Bad?

“Sarcopenia can be considered for muscle what osteoporosis is to bone,” Dr. John E. Morley, geriatrician at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, wrote in the journal Family Practice. He pointed out that up to 13 percent of people in their 60s and as many as half of those in their 80s have sarcopenia. As Dr. Jeremy D. Walston, geriatrician at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, put it, “Sarcopenia is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.” Yet few practicing physicians alert their older patients to this condition and tell them how to slow or reverse what is otherwise an inevitable decline. It can seriously impair their physical and emotional well-being and ability to carry out the tasks of daily life. Sarcopenia is also associated with a number of chronic diseases, increasing insulin resistance, fatigue, falls, and alas, death. A decline in physical activity, common among older people, is only one reason sarcopenia happens. Other contributing factors include hormonal changes, chronic illness, body-wide inflammation and poor nutrition. So in essence, yes, sarcopenia is bad but highly preventable.

What Can I Do?

No matter how old or out of shape you are, you can restore much of the strength you might have lost. Dr. Moffat noted that research documenting the ability to reverse the losses of sarcopenia — even among nursing home residents in their 90s — has been in medical literature for nearly 30 years, and the time is long overdue to act on it. In 1988, Walter R. Frontera and colleagues at the Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University demonstrated that 12 previously sedentary men aged 60 to 72 significantly increased their leg strength and muscle mass with a 12-week strength-training program three times a week. Two years later in JAMA, Dr. Maria A. Fiatarone and colleagues at the Tufts research center reported that eight weeks of “high-intensity resistance training” significantly enhanced the physical abilities of nine frail nursing home residents aged 90 and older. Strength gains averaged 174 percent, mid-thigh muscle mass increased 9 percent, and walking speed improved 48 percent. So, what are you waiting for? If you’re currently sedentary or have a serious chronic illness, check first with your doctor. But as soon as you get the go-ahead, start a strength-training program using free weights, resistance bands or machines, preferably after taking a few lessons from a certified trainer. Proper technique is critical to getting the desired results without incurring an injury. It’s very important to start at the appropriate level of resistance.

Nutritional Needs

Dr. Morley, among others, points out that adding and maintaining muscle mass also requires adequate nutrients, especially protein, the main constituent of healthy muscle tissue. Protein needs are based on a person’s ideal body weight, so if you’re overweight or underweight, subtract or add pounds to determine how much protein you should eat each day. To enhance muscle mass, Dr. Morley said that older people, who absorb protein less effectively, require at least 0.54 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight, an amount well above what older people typically consume. Thus, if you are a sedentary aging adult who should weigh 150 pounds, you may need to eat as much as 81 grams (0.54 x 150) of protein daily. To give you an idea of how this translates into food, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein; 1 cup of nonfat milk, 8.8 grams; 2 medium eggs, 11.4 grams; one chicken drumstick, 12.2 grams; a half-cup of cottage cheese, 15 grams; and 3 ounces of flounder, 25.5 grams. Or if you prefer turkey to fish, 3 ounces has 26.8 grams of protein. “Protein acts synergistically with exercise to increase muscle mass,” Dr. Morley wrote, adding that protein foods naturally rich in the amino acid leucine — milk, cheese, beef, tuna, chicken, peanuts, soybeans and eggs — are most effective.

The point to take home is that sarcopenia is not necessarily an age related condition. A sedentary lifestyle or a regular exercise program that does not utilize some form of resistance training are at risk. Start now and be strong for the rest of your life.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better


Stay tuned for my 13th year of my 12 Days of Fitness, 12 articles written by me throughout the year to keep your health and fitness in focus through the busy holiday season.

Why Is Fitness So Hard?

Fitness has multiple definitions. There’s mental fitness, emotional fitness, fiscal fitness etc. Of course, the one I’m most qualified to speak on is physical fitness, which also has several different types. There’s muscular fitness, aerobic fitness, joint fitness, and so on. But when or why did obtaining physical fitness become so hard? So much that it deters so many people from achieving it.

Bad Beginnings

For all one knows it goes back as far as elementary school when most are introduced to physical play. Now, most people are born within an active lifestyle. If you have or have had children I’m sure you would agree. But then we go to school and we’re taught gym or physical education class. Personally, I always loved gym class, but I know many people did not. Maybe it was their instructor or they didn’t like the idea of getting hot and sweaty after they were already dressed and showered. Maybe it was intimidating to them or they felt inadequate. When you’re having to perform physical tasks in front of others it can be quite discouraging. It could be that their first experience in a gym was horrifying. Perhaps they were injured badly doing a routine exercise that has either scared them emotionally or worse, physically harmed them. Whatever the reason may be, the real shame is that fitness is and should be a way of life, no different than breathing.

The Wrong Idea

There are literally hundreds of ways you can become physically fit. From health clubs to classes to home gym equipment to hobbies that just get you moving – the possibilities are endless. Yet somewhere along the way we forget that all we need to do is just move! We wait until January 1st to start working out. We exercise because it’s beach season. We workout for weeks prior to a vacation, wedding, or reunion and then return to our normal lifestyle. We exercise only because our doctor said so. We exercise to “kill” time. All of these reasons usually end in a complete cessation to exercise in general. We blame the exercise for not working. We get “ caught up” in everyday life. We claim to have no time. We endlessly search for the one thing that we’ll keep us motivated when in reality the motivation must come from within.

It’s Not That Hard

At its root, it’s insanely easy. Physical fitness is something that will occur from just moving. All movement is pretty much better than nothing. Walking slowly is better than sitting on the couch. Walking an hour a day changes your life forever and it will cost you nothing. Take things just a step further such as adding in some weights a few times a week and move a little bit more on the other days. Lifting weights a few days a week adds years of style, mobility and possibilities to your life. Learn the difference between a box of over processed food items with a heart healthy label on it and fresh, whole food. Don’t follow the latest “diet” plan or fad. Those change and are introduced routinely. That alone should start to tell you something. Of course the alternative is not as attractive, but it usually wins out. Many of us make it hard because we don’t want to change. If you want to change how you look and how you feel, it really isn’t that complicated. You are who you are because that is who you choose to be.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Getting to Know A Fitness Professional

Ok. I’m going to get personal with you. For those of you that know me on a personal level, most of it probably won’t come as much of a surprise. For those of you that don’t, I want to give you a chance to get to know me better. Why? Because after nearly 24 years as a fitness professional, I work in a profession that I still feel is highly misunderstood. So here we go.

What I Am Not

In my career, I’ve trained/worked with nearly 1,000 different people. Every single one of them was a positive learning experience. Many of my clientele I’ve had the privilege to work with for 10+ years. But even if we’ve only had a few opportunities of working together, I’m confident I’ve made a positive impact. In every contact opportunity I’ve had, the one thing I am not is a rep counter. Sure, reps are counted during sessions, but that’s not why I’m there contrary to some popular held beliefs. I am not a merciless hard ass that only works with those willing to push the extra mile either. My job is to push people out of their comfort zone in a reasonable, progressive manner. To build confidence in their in their abilities which in turn builds upon their self-confidence. That’s what proper training should be.

What I Am

For one, I’m a normal everyday guy. Yes, exercise is a passion of mine and it is my chosen profession, but I don’t think about it all the time. Exercise occurs for me without thought. More specifically, while I do plan exercise into my daily schedule, in some form it would still happen. It’s just who I am. I am a very compassionate person. I have certainly had my own challenges in life, but they’ve shaped me to who I am today. Every single person I meet is a challenge; a challenge to make better. I do not judge anyone as I don’t know what path they’ve followed before we met. I will admit, I don’t take excuses very well, but it is my job to determine why those excuses come forth. There’s always an underlying reason. Always. I work to find the best in everyone. It’s not always apparent to the individual but sometimes it’s what or where they’re not looking. I am amazed by the human body and all it’s capable of and more. When I work with clients, I’m observing their movement patterns – what’s good, what’s bad, what we can improve, etc. While form is certainly important during exercise, it is important not to be short sighted because everyone is different and unique. No one exercise is perfect for everyone. Modifications are not only necessary but a must. I am truly grateful for what this profession has provided for me: a comfortable way of life; the vast networks of contacts I’ve met; the incredible people I’ve not only had the chance to work with, but their trust in me. Most of all, the fact that I look forward to everyday of “work”. Sure, there are days that are some what more challenging or lengthy, but when it is all said and done, I wouldn’t change a thing.

A Few Other Tidbits

I am a fitness professional and teach the importance and value of a healthy diet, but I am a true foodie. And by foodie I mean eating at exquisite restaurants, sampling “unhealthy” items, enjoying all the glorious food on this planet! My Italian heritage probably has something to do with that. I am a coffee junkie. Every morning with cream and sugar. I don’t drink it to wake up. I drink it because I enjoy it. I drink, prefer loud, hard rock music, and I am a die hard Eagles and Flyers fan. I’d rather ride my bike 100 miles before running another marathon. At the end of the week, the gloves come off and I indulge in whatever the indulgence is that week. And why not? We’re only given this one life. The fact that you skipped on the potatoes indicates more of a bad relationship with food than a commitment to a silly diet. Eat the potatoes, eat the cake, and keep moving forward. If you spend too much time thinking about what you should have or could have done, you’re wasting time. Establish the balance that works best for YOU. No book or guru is going to help you there, I promise.

That’s me!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Patience is a Virtue

Well, here we are. Just about through the first month of the year and if you started the New Year with plans to better your health perhaps with some exercise, I’ve got some news for you. If you’re not committed and I mean truly committed save yourself the time and aggravation and stop now. As much as that kills me to say, there’s no point in wasting your time. I want you to succeed and you of course would love to succeed but true success only comes to those who put their nose down, make no excuses, and are willing to go above and beyond the normal. If you think that’s you, then please read on.

You’re Just Not Getting It

Exercise in all its forms is good. There are exercises best suited to what you’re trying to accomplish but the bottom line is all physical activity is good. Exercise is only the means, therefore never deserves the bad rap some will give it. If you ever thought that the exercise failed you, I will quickly counter that you failed the exercise. How do I know that? Let’s look at an example. Say a particular exercise (individual or program) was just not a good fit for you yet thousands of others have used it to much success. Is the exercise the problem? No, but for you perhaps it was. May be it was too complex or technical or may be it was just really hard. Was it something at your current level of fitness that you have no business doing? Exercise is an activity that has many levels across all populations. You must be able to put your ego aside and begin at a level that best suits you now. Not where you’d like it to be. Now. Not respecting exercise is an admittance to not truly knowing what you’re doing and that right there is a real problem.

It Will All “ Work Out”

Exercise never has nor ever will cause changes overnight. If you start to exercise regularly and with consistency you will begin to see positive changes in a little over a month. And that’s with regularity and consistency. Exercise is a stress albeit a good stress and one that your body has to adapt to. And it will, just not as quickly as you’d like, I can guarantee that. This is when a very strong virtue of patience is required. Forget what you’ve been told or heard through the media outlets. There’s nothing “quick”, “fast”, or “sudden” about exercise except perhaps your walking away from it. Exercise requires effort, work, and the ability to take the good days with the bad days. Anyone who exercises with regularity such as myself can tell you that. So how do you keep a positive, patient frame of mind when you start exercising but find yourself at that same point that you were at last year and the many years before? You have to be able to identify your “why” and your “why” is what will keep things in perspective when perhaps your perspective is lost.

Allow me to share my “why” with you:

• First and foremost, there’s that thing called my health. Control what I can control rather than let fate decide.
• I enjoy it so why not do something I enjoy. I realize that gets lost on most, but I enjoy the movement, how it makes me feel and when I miss it, how it also makes me feel.
• Those that mean the world to me are better with me in their lives so I will continue to do my best at staying in their lives.
• I want to continue to be a role model, not a celebrity model type. I want to be the one that others look up to.

Most of all, none of it is possible without patience. I am an extremely patient person as I believe that comes from practicing it consistently throughout my life. You too can learn patience with practice over time, as it will serve you well.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You

(This is part 6 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Correction. The appropriate title for this post should be “why you’re failing your workout” and not “why your workout is failing you”. It’s human nature to blame or point the finger at something or someone else when things don’t go according to plan. That same unfortunate mindset exists with exercise as well. People jump from program to program in the hopes that they’ll find the one that works for them. Sometimes that works but in reality all that was ever needed to be done was to take a quick look at one’s self and the approach to exercise. If 10 people follow the same program you will see 10 different results. The exercises are the same for everyone but aside from differences in sex and genetics, they will yield different outcomes. Why?

  • Differences in intensity, or lack thereof. I’ve seen this for many years working in gyms and fitness facilities. There are those who come to “workout” and there are those who are “going through the motions”. If change (improvement, betterment, etc.) is what you seek, just showing up isn’t going to cut it. You have to/want to challenge yourself consistently and progressively. No change begets no change. That’s true in every facet of life. Why people think that rule is different when it comes to exercise escapes me.
  • Overambitious. You’ve just started working out and you’re motivated like never before. All the times you’ve failed to keep a routine before are behind you now and this time you’ll show them all. Suddenly you set the alarm for 5 am to do an hour of cardio and then grab a carrot for breakfast. Before lunch you go for a run, followed by a light salad. For the evening you have a weight training session planned and a meal replacement dinner after that. But it’s not sustainable. This is why dieting will never work. You can easily drop a couple of pounds, grow stronger and improve your aerobic conditioning. But if you then go back to an unhealthy life – say goodbye to your progress. Your body will adjust to the way you live.
  • No direction. If you start walking aimlessly around you’ll probably not end up where you want. It’s simple logic. That’s why it’s frustrating to see people coming in to the gym with no idea what they’re training today. Stop wasting your time. Decide on a goal for the coming three months. More if you can but absolutely no less!
  • Bad form. A squat can seem like such a simple exercise: you sit down and then stand up again. It’s a movement pattern that comes very natural to our bodies. And it’s simple! But when you put an iron barbell with a hundred pounds on your back, it becomes more than just sitting down and standing up. You’re suddenly at risk of some serious injury. And if you want to see that weight go up, you really need to start optimizing your movement. Strength is a skill and to improve you’ll have to train not only your muscles (biological adaptation) but also your technique (neurological adaptation).
  • No progression. Are you lifting the same weights today as you were a year ago? Running the same distances, or managing the same number of max reps? I know many people who do and I can’t for the life of me understand how they can motivate themselves to keep training, when they do not progress. But progress doesn’t just incidentally happen. You need to keep pushing your limits, adding weights, and making it hard for yourself. Over time your training will come to feel easy. Pullups are no longer a problem but it also means you are no longer pushing yourself as hard as you used to, which in turn means you will stop making the same kind of progress as you used to.
  • Cheating yourself. What’s easier – to stay in the sofa researching which vegan protein has the best amino acid profile, or going to the gym and lift some weights? Then guess which will give you the best results. We are all genetically programmed to waste as little energy as possible. (Yes, we’re lazy by nature.) Given two choices that both feel like they take us closer to our goal, we’ll naturally pick the easiest. Getting strong and fit isn’t easy but it’s damn simple! The ones who try to make it complicated are often the ones who also try to sell you a shortcut. But there really are none – you will have to put in the work if you want the result.
  • Missing recovery. What you do when training is only half the story. After stimulating your body with the right amount of intensity, you’ll need to give it time to adjust. This is when the magic really happens. Muscles grow to handle the heavy weights, pathways improves to produce energy faster, and ligaments strengthen so that they can withstand more. But all too often you’ll see people not prioritizing their recovery. Their bodies don’t get enough nutrition, they’re always feeling a bit tired and yet the get back in it – smashing another workout. Continuing in this manner will stump your progress and eventually have you plateau. As for food – eat plenty and make sure it’s nutritious. Limit the crappy fast food, processed junk, and similar worthless calories. Make sure you get enough. Start with what feels like too much and then tweak week by week as you see your body change.
  • Boredom. Too many people go to the gym feeling it’s a chore. Something they would rather not do but have to. This is a terrible way to spend all the time that it takes to make meaningful progress. Plus, one of the absolutely biggest reasons people actually succeed with their ventures is whether they can stick to it and keep grinding. If you’re bored while doing so, that’ll make it so much harder.

See you tomorrow for Day 7 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating


What to Really Expect When You Exercise

Outside of death and taxes, there are so few guarantees in life. The optimist will want to counter that reality while the pessimist, well, it is their reality. But as they say, truth is in the eye of the beholder – you believe what you want. When it comes to exercise, many place it as the “Holy Grail” of sorts to answering all of their woes. It’s the one thing they must do to make everything right in their lives. While I can’t argue with the positive effects regular exercise will have on one’s life, there’s much more to be said about the expectations versus reality that exercise will provide for them. Let’s take a closer look at the realities of exercise and see if they are in line with your expectations.

  • Starting an exercise program can be exciting despite any reservations. It’s something that truly is good for you and that can be liberating. Within the first 4-6 weeks there will be noticeable changes. The body has adapted to the “stress” of the exercise(s) and it feels good. May be even pumps up your excitement about working our. Until….
  • After the initial 4-6 weeks and the body has adapted, it stops adapting. Translation: results diminish at this time. One of the major reasons perhaps for the post New Year’s drop off from exercise. Unless you change something about your routine (length of time, intensity, reps, weight, etc.) the physical adaptations will slowly diminish. Not too long after, the mental shift will also drop off. Whether the exercise was liked or not, there’s a really good chance it will lose its luster.
  • Muscle soreness is expected; muscle pain is not. It’s imperative you understand the difference. When a new physical stress is introduced to the body, the muscles will react and perhaps even become a little stiff/sore. In time, that will diminish and will most likely only reappear when a new motion or weight is introduced. However, it is important to note that muscle soreness is not a badge of honor one should strive for when working out. If muscle soreness is a constant, this could be a sign of a bigger issue. Pain is a signal not be ignored.
  • Just exercising isn’t enough. If the exercise you chose doesn’t match the goal, it can be very frustrating. And if you don’t think that’s important, exercise will never deliver what you expect. So many do copious amounts of “cardio” with the thought that they’ll lose the most weight. The reality is cardio is a terrible fat loss solution by itself.
  • Rest is important. The body gets pushed when it’s asked to exercise properly so planned rest is imperative. When the amount of rest exceeds the amount of exercise however, it will not work for you the way you expect. On the contrary, there’s no benefit to exercising excessively which ultimately leads to physical and mental burnout, or worse injury.

Not to be dismissed, exercise in all or any of its forms is a very good thing. With so many options to chose from, the most important thing is to find what you love and what you can see yourself consistently doing. The exercise in and of it self is only the method. What you get out of it is what you put into it.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.