You, Inc.: A Practical Guide for Setting Fitness Goals

Want solid returns on your fitness investment in the new year? Get down to business — with a smart, strategic plan worthy of an MBA.

In business, planning is paramount. Whether lining up logistics, attending strategy meetings or digesting quarterly reports, savvy executives treat time as an ally, surveying the past for clear-eyed lessons about what worked and what didn’t, and looking forward for a chance to do it better next time.

At the gym, planning is too often an afterthought. Many of the same ambitious, practical people who divide their workdays into five-minute time blocks may amble aimlessly through their workouts like an office temp without a supervisor. They don’t know what tasks to perform, when to perform them or how to gauge success from day to day, let alone next week, next month or next year. “Most people never really get focused about fitness,” says Mike Robertson, MS, CSCS, co-owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training in Indianapolis. “They switch programs every few days or not at all. They miss workouts for weeks at a time.”
As a result, no matter how earnest our intentions, many of us miss the mark. Not for lack of trying, but because we don’t have a winning blueprint or a strategy. “It’s only when you focus on one or two well-defined goals and follow a clear plan to accomplish them that you start to make real progress,” Robertson says.
Robertson, along with many other leading trainers, is articulating a fitness truth grounded in the basic tenets of business: If you want to accomplish any complex, challenging objective, you have to set clear goals, approach each of your hurdles systematically, routinely assess progress, and course-correct when necessary.
“When you go to the office, you don’t just show up and putter around. You go in with a plan, a series of tasks oriented toward a long-term goal,” says Chicago-based personal trainer Jim Karas, author of The Business Plan for the Body (Three Rivers Press, 2001) and The Petite Advantage Diet (HarperOne, 2013). “That’s how you should approach your fitness program as well.”
The payoff? If you walk through the gym doors armed with a solid strategy like the one outlined on the following pages, you’ll not only leave feeling satisfied with your efforts, you’ll also find yourself looking forward to moving your fitness game plan forward — week by week, month by month.

The best part: You’ll get the benefits of working for the world’s best boss. You.


Just as Ben and Jerry probably would have blown a gasket building computer software, and Bill Gates might have imploded dishing up ice cream, your fitness plans will most likely fizzle if you try to follow someone else’s dream or template. You need a big-picture approach that matches your interests, goals, lifestyle and passions.
The first step along the fitness path, then, is to create a fitness mission statement. What, exactly, do you want to accomplish, both in the short term (up to three months from now) and in the long term (a year or more from now)?

“Figuring out where you want to go with your fitness is hugely significant,” says Jolie Kobrinsky, CEO of and co-owner of Prime Personal Training in Monterey, Calif. “You’re taking a vague inkling and making it concrete.”

Your vision can be athletic, aesthetic or both: You can set your sights on running a half-marathon or losing 25 pounds, earning a black belt or gaining slabs of lean muscle. You can choose almost anything, but it’s essential that you choose something, since the mission statement is your road map for success. It’s the “true north” toward which every workout, meal, food choice and recovery session should ultimately lead.

To get started on the process, think “S.M.A.R.T.” — a goal-setting acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. In the business world, those are the goal-definition standards that help executives set well-defined agendas.
For instance, “getting fit” is a commendable ambition, but it’s vague. Fit in what way, and by when? You’ll have a better shot succeeding if you aim for a clear and achievable target, like losing a belt size by summer or attending a fitness class twice a week for the next six weeks.

The other thing your mission statement needs is passion. What gets you excited? What are you fired up to accomplish, learn or participate in? If you’ve always wanted to dance the tango, learn to fence competitively or complete a mud-strewn adventure race, find out what sort of regimen is required and get to it.
“What you want in any fitness program,” says Robertson, “is skin in the game.” If you can’t come up with a substantial list of reasons why you want to realize a given goal, choose something else that pushes your buttons right now. In business, passion drives profits; in the gym, it drives progress.


Once your mission statement is in ink (or stored on your hard drive), take some time to clearly look at your assets and liabilities: What do you have going for yourself, and where are you now, relative to where you want to be?

If you’re trying to change the way you look, take a “before” photo. If you want to finish stronger in your next 5K, use your heart-rate monitor’s stopwatch function on your next run and get a baseline. If you want to deadlift 300 pounds, get a clear sense of what your muscles can heft now.

While taking stock, consider not only your present physical condition but also what has worked for you historically. “A lot of answers can be found in your past,” says Linda Spangle, RN, MA, author of 100 Days of Weight Loss: The Secret to Being Successful on Any Diet Plan (Thomas Nelson, 2007). So reflect on those periods when you’ve found success and enjoyment in your pursuit of fitness: Was it the era when you hit the gym every day before work? When you played on a team, worked out with a partner, trained for a competitive event?

It’s also wise to take inventory of any recurring injuries, pain and other functional limitations that might hold you back. Some of these problems might be obvious; others (like stiff hips or a tight back) might not be as evident, which is why doing an initial evaluation with a professional trainer can ultimately save you time and unnecessary setbacks. It can help you identify and remove any physical barriers to progress. “If a new client has movement or postural issues,” says Robertson, “I’d rather address that at the outset, before we jump into intense training.”

Finally, take stock of your available resources, including time, equipment and personnel: When do you have time to work out and prepare meals? Where can you find the necessary equipment? Do you need the support of a group, professional trainer or healthcare practitioner to help you get there? If so, who are those people and when can you see them?

At this stage, Karas also recommends that you “go public” with your goal: “Get your family and friends on board,” he says. That way they’ll do things like “bring you something healthy on your birthday instead of a triple-mocha cheesecake.”


“The world gets out of the way for a man — or woman — with a plan,” says Karas, whose client list includes a host of Chicago’s most successful CEOs, plus celebrities like Diane Sawyer and Hugh Jackman. Just as a chief executive has to keep an eye on both short- and long-term goals, you need to think about daily to-dos and the big picture to make serious strides in your fitness objectives.
Whether you get the help of a pro at this stage or go it alone, always strive to break larger fitness goals into several smaller, more manageable bits. If you plan to do a triathlon this summer, start increasing your swim, bike and run distances now. If you’re trying to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks, focus on dropping 5 pounds in five weeks.
A well-constructed fitness program is systematically progressive: You’ll gradually lift a little more, run a little farther or learn more skills over the course of time.
Remember, though, that progress is never completely linear. Improvement in any physical endeavor resembles the stock market during a bullish period: a general trend upward with peaks and troughs appearing throughout. So it’s not important that you set a personal record every time you work out, just that over the long haul you get closer to achieving the objectives outlined in your mission statement.
As with almost any truly fruitful investment, you want to take the long view, and keep your focus on working your plan, week in, week out.
Ignore the get-fit-quick schemers who promise instant, spectacular returns — the kind that almost always end in injury, regained weight, undermined health or loss of interest.

“Too many people approach their fitness plan looking for the quick and easy payoff,” says Karas. “But the best results come when you’re slow and steady. Don’t be Bernie Madoff; be Warren Buffett.”

Remember, too, that a well-thought-out plan includes not just what to do in the gym, but also the smaller, behavioral strategies that make getting to (and through) your workout as easy as possible. “You want to remove the obstacles,” says Spangle. “I call it figuring out your ‘What It Takes’ list.”

For some people, that might mean laying out workout clothes the night before an early run or finding a gym that’s on the way home from work.

Elite-level ISSA trainer Angelo Poli, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, Calif., requires his weight-loss clients to pack and carry an ice chest of food with them every day. “In my experience,” he says, “that’s the single action that makes the biggest difference for anyone trying to get and stay on a healthy eating plan.”


Ultimately, success in any health and fitness program depends on hard data: mileage logged, weight lifted, nutrition consumed. By keeping track of the relevant numbers in a journal, you can celebrate successes, pick apart setbacks, and course-correct as you go.

For instance, maybe you’re dropping unwanted weight but you’re also feeling listless and struggling to build strength or endurance. If you’re keeping a food journal and a workout log, you can use the information and make small tweaks to your program, adding a little food, swapping some cardio for strength training to see what happens. But unless you have a decent record of what you’ve changed and how, you’ll have no clue what really worked, or why.
If keeping a journal helps, try ways to make the data crunching an enjoyable exercise. Spangle’s clients employ stickers on a calendar to keep themselves on course: “At the end of every day, put a green sticker on the calendar if you’ve adhered to your nutrition and fitness plan, a yellow sticker if you made a few mistakes, and a red sticker if you fell off completely. For best results, no fewer than 19 out of every 20 of those stickers should be green.”
Often, even the act of keeping notes is enough to effect a behavior change.

“Just keeping a precise food journal, without even trying consciously to change anything, can make a huge difference in your diet,” Robertson says, “because it makes you think about what you’re doing.”

Think of it this way: If you’re at a party and faced with a big bowl of tortilla chips, you’re less likely to overindulge if you’re keeping track of every chip you pilfer.


Lack of time is one of the main reasons people cite for not exercising. They can’t see any way to fit a few hours a week of exercise into an already-crammed schedule. Generally, though, that’s bunk.

“When people tell me they don’t have time to work out,” says Robertson, “I’ll ask them for a daily schedule in which they account for every 15-minute chunk of time during waking hours. Most people don’t even have to fill it out before they realize their real problem is too much Facebook and TV.” By trading lower-value pastimes for top-priority self-care, he notes, most people stand to gain not just vitality, but also an enhanced sense of focus and self-respect.

How many minutes, hours and days you need to train also depends on the contents of your mission statement. For most people with general fitness-improvement and weight-loss goals, three hourlong workouts a week on nonconsecutive days, including some intensive interval training, does the trick, Poli says. “With those types of workouts, you’re combining cardiovascular training and strength work. You’ll stimulate your largest muscle fibers while deriving a huge cardiovascular benefit at the same time.”
If you have serious, sports-specific performance goals, you may need to commit more time. But contrary to popular belief, unless you’re training for an endurance event, long, slow cardio exercise generally isn’t necessary and may actually work against building muscle mass. “Muscle mass is your fitness capital,” says Karas. “You want to do everything you can to preserve it.”

When you are seriously strapped for time or low on energy, Spangle suggests the “10-Minute Solution”: “Tell yourself you’re just going to exercise for 10 minutes. Often, after 10 minutes you’ll have overcome your resistance and will want to keep going. But if you stop for the day at that point, that’s fine, too. Either way, you’ve been successful.”


In fitness, just as in business, you have to take stock at regular intervals. Once a quarter, either on your own or with a trainer, assess how you’re doing.

“Meeting a goal can be tremendously empowering,” says Kobrinsky. And periodic check-ins can spark a well-deserved mini-celebration.

Seeing that you’re falling short of a goal can be instructive as well. Was your plan itself ineffective? Was it too restrictive, time consuming and impossible to follow? Did work obligations, family stress or other distractions prevent you from fully committing to it? If so, don’t throw out the whole endeavor — simply rework your plan to better suit your current schedule and obligations.

“Perfectionism can be a real obstacle,” says Spangle. “People try to do these complex, time-consuming programs and decide that if they can’t follow them to the letter, they won’t follow them at all. It’s much better to be successful on a slightly less ambitious program.”

Whether you meet, exceed or fall a little shy of your fitness goals at any given time, it’s important to either recommit or thoughtfully reconsider your approach. Give some thought to what you most want to accomplish now, and how you might best be able to move toward that goal in the short term.

“After accomplishing a goal, most of my clients go through a doldrums period,” says Robertson. “They’re less fired up in the gym, less strict with their diet. That’s when I try to help them find something new that they’re excited about. If they’ve had a physique goal, for example, I try to get them to consider a performance goal.”

What’s important is that you keep your eyes on the prize, and your head in the game. When in doubt, go back to the mission statement that fired you up in the first place.

“Not every company can be Apple,” says Kobrinsky. “Just like not everyone will become an Olympic athlete. But companies that invest in quality, dependability and durability over the long haul typically find great success. By using that same strategic, committed approach to training, we can build great bodies, too.”


The first step toward accomplishing your health goals is to construct a mission statement — one that outlines who you are and where you want to go. Here are a few questions to get you started.

• What do I want to accomplish? (Compete in an adventure race, gain 10 pounds of muscle, cross-country ski competitively.

• By when do I want to accomplish this goal?

• Why do I want to accomplish this goal? (Try to list at least 10 reasons.)

• What are my physical strengths and abilities? (I’m flexible, have endurance, good coordination, solid strength, decent body confidence.)

• What activities do I enjoy? (Team sports, solo sports, endurance events, outdoor adventures.)

• What activities have been effective for me in the past? (Pilates, strength training, martial arts, dance.)

• What recurring injuries or pain do I have?

• How much time during a week can I dedicate to exercise? When can I fit in those workouts?

• Who can help me accomplish my goal? (Friends, family, coworkers, a support group, a professional trainer or coach.)

• What official events can mark my progression toward my long-term fitness goal? (Races, tournaments, competitions, group races or rides.)

• Five years from now, what would I like to have accomplished? How do I want my body to look, feel, perform?

• What will I need to keep track of in order to see progress? (Protein and veggie consumption, weight lifted, physical measurements, body-fat percentage, miles run or cycled.)

• What are some daily strategies I can incorporate to support my progress and overcome known obstacles?

By: Andrew Heffernan

7 Fall Food Essentials


Using foods in season are usually the healthiest way to shop for local fruits and vegetables. Harvest brings a bounty of crisp fruits, delicious roots, and vibrant squash. With fall flavor in full swing try fixing up a dish incorporating some of these ripe and plenty fruits and veggies!

1 Squash (winter/butternut)
• Harvest Season: October-February
• Health Benefits:  Omega-3 fatty acids source of vitamin A
• Try This: Cube squash, spray lightly with olive oil (try the
Misto). Season with cinnamon, minced ginger, salt, and pepper to desired taste. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes.

2 Sweet Potato
• Harvest Season: September-December
• Health Benefits: More nutritionally dense than a white potato. Good source of iron, vitamin A, and provides anti inflammatory benefits
• Try This: Oven roasted sweet potato wedges. Oven roasting will maintain more vitamins than boiling. Cut lengthwise, lightly spray with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking sheet, bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until soft, turning occasionally.

3 Pomegranate
• Harvest Season: August-December
• Health Benefits: higher antioxidant levels than red wine, vitamin C, folate.
• Try This: Add to cottage cheese, salad, or oatmeal for a tart pop of flavor and crunchy texture **Check with your MetPro coach for recommended usage depending on your current nutritional phase.

4 Brussel Sprouts
• Harvest Season: September - March
• Health Benefits:  Source of folate, iron, and ½ C equals more than daily recommended intake of vitamin K. High content of glucosinolates, a phytonutrient responsible for a variety of cancer-protective substances.
• Try this: Balsamic Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts. Season 1.5lbs halved brussel sprouts with salt pepper and Misto with olive oil. Roast at 400° for 20-30 minutes, until tender and browned. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and toss.

5 Apples  
• Harvest Season: August - November
• Health Benefits: High in antioxidants and full of fiber.
• Try This: Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal.  Bring 4 cups water to boil. Stir in 1C. Steel Cut oats, 1 C. peeled and chopped granny smith apples. When oats thicken, reduce heat, continue to cook until desired consistency, about 25-30 minutes. Add cinnamon and serve! 

6 Pears
• Harvest Season: August-February
• Health Benefits: Vitamin C, copper, 4g fiber/serving
• Try This: A delicious spinach, pear, pecan salad makes a yummy afternoon snack. 

7 Tangerines
• Harvest Season: November-April
• Health Benefits:  Good source of Vitamin C and beta-carotene.
• Try This: Juice them with oil, vinegar, and ginger for a delicious dressing.

Don't see your favorite fall food on the list?

Let us know your favorite fall food!  How do you use it in your kitchen?

For Recipe Ideas Visit Our Recipe Page:

10 Habits For Better Sleep


Sleep. The most overlooked factor in overall health. Getting some good Z’s is a major contributor that is typically undervalued, especially when it comes to weight loss. I have personally always had a love/hate relationship with sleep. I love a good night’s sleep, but I hate going to bed!

Often times playing volleyball abroad our practices would end late at night, leaving me full of adrenaline taking me hours to wind down. That second wind of energy that occurs after an exhausting long day is related to a higher cortisol level. Calories may be stored as fat when cortisol is at higher than normal levels. Cortisol levels begin torise around 10:30 11:00pm so head to bed before that for 7 hrs of shut eye.

Sleep allows for the restorative process to occur within the body. My schedule as a trainer has taught me to value of sleep on health and fitness. Training clients at 5:30am means I need to be functioning and fully awake! Now I crawl into bed around 8:30, asleep well before 10pm.

This did NOT come easy. I started to try different routines and created habits to ensure I get a good night's sleep. By creating habits that encourage restfulness, relaxation, and rest I have been able to get better sleep and maintain productivity throughout my day.

Here are 10 habits I have found key to getting amazing sleep

1 Get Moving!
Regular exercise can relieve insomnia and make for more restful sleep.
Participating in aerobic exercise 4 times a week is ideal.

2 Dim the Lights
I come home and turn on a lamp and light a candle. The body’s circadian rhythm
is controlled by a part of the brain that responds to light and darkness. Light
travels via the optic nerve to the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) signaling the
internal clock that you need to be awake or asleep. The SCN then sends signals
to parts of the brain that release hormones, regulate temperature, etc which can
make us feel more awake.  Exposure to bright lights when it’s bedtime can delay
the release of melatonin that assists with our sleepiness.

3 Wash Off the Day
Relax mind and body. Showering after work gives me time to process the day,
decompress creating a transition period from work mode to chill mode.

4 Dine
Take time to sit down and eat dinner, push pause and be still. Share your day
with your family, converse. I rush through my meals during the day, squeezing in
snacks and lunch, dinner is my time to sit down and enjoy my food.

5 Prep for Tomorrow
Preparing my food for the following day means it’s ready to grab in the fridge in
the morning allowing for a longer nights sleep and one less thing to worry about.

6 Setting a Bedtime
Having a regular bedtime and wake time keeps that circadian rhythm within your

7 Make Your Bed
Pulling back the corner of my neatly made bed and crawling in! My routine for
getting a good night's sleep starts when I get out of bed in the morning! It’s like
you have a hotel maid.

8 Ban Devices in Bed
Blue light stimulation, caused by electronics, creates a block of melatonin which
signals sleep in the brain and body. Don't delay getting to that precious REM

9 Read a Book
If you aren’t feeling heavy in the eyelids yet, a good relaxing read transporting
you into a story,  not real news or stressful reading. Skip the device reading, find
some old fashioned paperback reads.

10 Channel Your Inner Caveman
Let your bedroom be a cave, cool and dark. I sleep with an eye mask on
ensuring complete darkness.

Client Success Tips: Alex

I love Whole Body Fitness clients because they understand it is not simply a diet, or a shape up 6 week bootcamp. It is a lifestyle change and they are committed to it.

Who better to give us the keys to finding success than those among us who have accomplished their goals and continued to thrive?  I’ve been reaching out to clients who have found success to see if they’d have any advice, or tips for the WBF family that could enable us to find our success.

It’s been 3 years since Alex was rolling on the floor in agony. At 33 he was in unbearable pain caused by herniated discs in his lumbar spine. Work, sleep, and even holding his children became impossible without heavy medication. He was determined to get back his life and made an appointment at Whole Body Fitness. Focusing on posture, core strength, and a personalized nutrition plan in 3 months he lost 20lbs and 6in on his waistline.

Today Alex works 10-14 hours at his physically demanding job, holding his children pain free, and living an active life. With his postural and nutritional re-education he now understands what his body needs to maintain this physical level.

Tips from Alex:

I hope anyone who reads this understands with the right guidance, and motivation you can accomplish whatever you set out to do.- Alex

1.Work hard, you'll only get out what you put in, but don't push so hard you injure yourself.

2. Keep good form you'll get more out of clean full reps with lighter weight than ugly reps with heavier weight.

3. Don't get discouraged if you're not getting the results you want you just have to work a little harder.

We love hearing about ongoing client success.

Keep an eye out for Alex in our group classes and say hello!

Click Here to see Alex's Transformation Video

The Importance of Positive Self-Talk

Talk yourself into your goals.

We all have dialogue happening within our own head everyday. This can be referred to as self-talk. Think of it as your own personal announcer, giving a play by play of your life. Criticisms, support critique, and cheerleading.

When I was playing volleyball in college you have announcers of other teams sometimes being impartial or cruel with the commentary, especially in close rival games where even the fans were yelling and taunting from the sidelines or directly behind you as you are serving. This can get into your head if you don’t have your own positive dialogue to drown them out.

This continued as I played volleyball overseas. The taunting fans and announcers were now speaking languages I couldn’t process. I could always tell when my teammates heard them loud and clear though, the effect of negative thoughts transferring to negative outcome are fluent in any language. It’s easier to channel your own voice in your head when the announcer sounds like the teacher from Peanuts “womp womp womp womp”. 

My self talk, as an athlete competing became “You do this everyday. You know what to do. You have prepared for this challenge. You are good at what you do” You need to train the mind as equal as you train the body!

Remember, YOU have control over that voice.

Destructive self-talk leads to self-sabotaging outcomes. “I’m so stupid” “I can’t ever do that!” This leads you to question your ability, create insecurity, and fill you with doubt. The more you question yourself, others will follow suit.

Replace the dysfunctional self talk with a constructive statement. “You are good at what you do, accept praise for your hard work.” “I am strong. I can do this.” If you believe in yourself, and others will follow suit. Focus on positive statements and outcomes and give yourself permission to feel good about your accomplishments.

The internal thought process can snowball quickly. Starting with positive dialogue is key. Have a mantra or phrase that reminds you what you are capable of. That way, when the announcers in your life are critical and doubt your ability, your voice is louder.

Begin creating positive uplifting self-talk and you’ll find not only will you be able to inspire and influence yourself and others in a positive way everyday.

Get in the habit of being aware of your self-talk.
Do you hear your voice? What does it say?

Stop Working and Workout!

Make your workday a workout with 8 easy circuits! 


I have a highly motivated client who is willing to put in extra work to reach his goals. He had the brilliant idea of breaking up the monotony of emails, spreadsheets, and conference calls with some movement! 

Here are 8 circuits that should to be completed in about 5 minutes while you are at work!  He works from home and has cardio equipment as well. So if you have cardio equipment as well supplementing that in place of a few of the circuits.

These are all body weight exercises and all you need is yourself, some wall space, and floor space! This workout focuses on posture and core.  The emphasis is on moving, getting the heart rate elevated, but not “lets get drenched in sweat in my cubicle” status.

The goal is to keep moving, so something is always better than nothing. Don't be discouraged about not doing EVERY workout. Leave a check mark next to rounds workouts you complete.

Keep track of how many you squeezed in during the whole workweek and have that as a benchmark or goal to match/beat next week! My client has been completing between 4-6 per day on average.

After Lunch

2:00 PM 3 Rounds

20 Table Top Cruch

10 Push Up

20 Arm Circles Both Directions

3:00 PM 4 Rounds

20 Wall Sit Elbow Touch or Pullover

20 Ice Skaters

20 Clamshell Per Leg

4:00 AM 3 Rounds

20 Total Plank Taps

20 Total Alternating Reverse Lunges

5:00 PM 2 Rounds

1:00 Jump Roap

1:00 Wall Sit

30 Active Back Crunch

Before Lunch

9:00 AM 2 Rounds

1:00 Air Squats

1:00 Wall Sit Elbow Touches

20/20 Arm Circles

10:00 AM 2 Rounds

20 Total Plank Taps

20 Total Bird Dogs

20 Total Hero March

11:00 AM 3 Rounds

25 Wall Tricep Press

15 Jumping Jacks

12:00 PM 3 Rounds

20 Air Squats

20 Tiny Taps

20 Lying Reverse Presses



90/10: Committing to the Process

A certain level of dedication is required when striving to see fitness and nutrition results. In the case of nutrition this means committing to the process of meal prep, planning ahead for your week, designing a menu, making good choices on business trips and lunch meetings, or long weekends at sporting events for your kids.

Often times in the gym when discussing nutrition with clients we get questions like:

“How much do I need to be nailing it in order to see results?”

Or statements like:

“I AM doing it … 65% of the time.”

Sound familiar? The truth is in order to see real results and make your hard work pay off you need to be adherent 90% of the time allowing only a 10% window for non-adherence.

Recently I have had a few clients who had tremendous success right off the bat! They nailed it, lost weight fast, got complimented on how great they are doing, and then nailed it less. With others we get close to the goal, and then results begin to slow. It can be discouraging when you aren’t losing 2-5lbs a week anymore. We’ve all been there.

We tell ourselves that we are nailing it, tell our coaches we are nailing it, and then there’s that Ah-Ha moment. We realize our adherence to the program hasn’t been as spot on. We’ve lost a bit of that excitement we had when we first started.

It’s important to follow through fully with the plan, to eat ALL your meal carbs, all your snacks, etc.  It’s important to do some extra work, add cardio, etc. It is important to do all of these things effectively, when we get close to a goal or experiencing a plateau, BEFORE you want to adjust your nutrition. Commit to your process. It’s important to be 90% on track and stay committed to the process.

Realize, when striving for weight loss, the more weight you lose the less body fat you have to lose. So when you near the end and the finish lines in sight, which is when the extra push comes.

The hardest work of all comes in the end, and in the end it is worth it!

Stay committed.  We are all pulling for your success!

Get More Out Of Your Trainer

Whether you’re a long time client, or just had your very first session, why not maximize your time? At Whole Body Fitness we endeavor to help each client get results. While our amazing trainers work hard to enable each client is successful, a lot of it depends on you, the client.

Here are 7 tips to maximize your fitness and personal training experience.

1. Have Clear Goals
What and Why. It’s important to know what you are working for and why you are here. Is it to stay in shape and accomplish your daily activities pain free? Is it to be pushed like an athlete and build muscle? Perhaps you’d like to lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.

Regardless, your goals should be attainable and need to be discussed with your trainer and/or nutritionist. If you are told your goal is unrealistic, don’t despair.  Your trainer and/or nutritionist is there to provide you with professional guidance, and can help you focus on a goal that is attainable.

Setting goals exponentially propels your success in the gym. Visualizing yourself accomplishing these goals can help you commit to them even further.

2. Be Vocal
Communication is crucial. Don’t be afraid to speak up! While Personal Trainers can be very perceptive, they are not mind readers.  Speak your truth. That means being honest about an injury. Speaking up if you feel you’re being worked too hard or not hard enough. Being open and honest about your motivation levels, needing a new goal, etc.

Your trainer wants you to have a positive experience and suffering in silence helps no one. Clear the air so you can keep moving in the right direction.

3. Respect the Time
Show up on time and be focused while you’re there. This can be extremely challenging. Every minute counts in a 45-minute session. Arriving even 5 minutes late can throw off your trainers programming for you. Checking email, visiting with others in your group, and answering calls and texts, can mean you miss important instruction from your trainer.
This is time for you, and your health and fitness goals. Distractions can limit your productivity, motivation, and can lead to injury as well. Devote this time to your health and make the most out of it by being 100% in the moment.

4. Be Honest
Lying slows your progress. It’s hard to manage a clients program when there’s no transparency. Sure, your trainer knows you well enough to see that you didn’t eat breakfast before coming, or that your shoulder pain is back although you say it isn’t. 

By claiming to be eating better or drinking less than you actually are, you’re bound to be frustrated that you aren't reaching your goals. If you’re in pain, hiding that injury could lead to a much longer recovery.  Trust that you’re in good hands and remember your trainers want you to succeed. Our trainers are still able to program challenging workouts around injuries. Be open. Only then can your trainer can be honest with you about the results you can expect.

5. Be Mindful
Put your heart into it. Wanting to have a good workout comes from your mindset. Your attitude is just as much fuel for your success as your nutrition. Make the most out of your time with a professional by showing up ready to work!

Focus on the reasons you came, why you’re there, why your hired a personal trainer, and what your goals are.

Sometimes a personal mantra such as “I’m here, I’m ready, I’m all in!” can help you get in the right mindset before your workout even starts, and remind you why you’re there to begin with.

6. Manage the Other 23
Your personal trainer typically sees you a few hours a week. That’s all they truly have control over. What you do outside the gym will have a much greater effect on your progress than the efforts you make in the gym. Whether that is a positive or negative result is up to you. The negatives outside the gym will always outweigh the positives in the gym.

Ask yourself; do you want to spin the tires or actually go somewhere?

7. Ask for Homework
Make the most of your off day! Many clients exercise on the days they aren’t in the gym, or jump in an extra group class.
You hired trainers to be motivators, but you are the one putting in the work! Is your goal to have more glut definition? Do you need more posture work?
Ask your trainer what series of exercises you could do on your off day to work toward your goal outside the gym.

No More Fitness Excuses

Don’t hit the snooze button on your fitness goals.

Here are 17 of the most common obstacles to exercising — and expert advice on how to overcome them.

We all know we’re supposed to exercise. There are so many good reasons! More strength and stamina. More energy. A sleeker, leaner physique. A longer, happier life. And yet, when the alarm goes off for that early-morning run, or quitting time rolls around and kickboxing class beckons, it’s always easier to think of a reason not to go: No time. No childcare. No energy. No motivation.

Longtime exercisers know that the additional energy exercise provides makes it well worth the time and effort they expend — and that before long, that charged-up postworkout feeling can become a powerful motivator in itself.

So why do we let so many things — real-life obstacles as well as imagined excuses — get in our way?

“There are lots of reasons to not exercise — including social, cultural, financial, and time limitations,” says sports psychologist Michelle Cleere, PhD, author of From Here to There: A Simple Blueprint for Women to Achieve Peak Performance in Sports and Business. Still, she notes, “it’s what’s behind these reasons that really makes it hard to exercise: worries, doubt, fears, lack of confidence.”

None of us needs another sales pitch on the value of exercise. But we could all use more practical strategies on how to squeeze that workout in when it would be easier not to.
Here are 17 of the most common reasons people offer for bailing on their workouts — including lack of time and lack of confidence — and expert advice for overcoming them.

Don’t see your personal favorite excuse here?

Send it to us at and we’ll tackle it in the future.

People sometimes assume that a workout has to happen in a certain place, at a certain time, and for a certain number of minutes in order to count. This isn’t true. “Some of the most fun training sessions my clients and I have done are under 30 minutes,” says fitness trainer Jen Comas Keck, NASM, cofounder of “Set up a fast-paced circuit, keep your rest periods short, and you can get in and out in limited time.”

For days when you’re really pressed, keep gym clothes at work and a few pieces of equipment — a suspension trainer, some bands, a kettlebell or two — at home so you can squeeze in a workout even when you can’t make it to the gym. A 10-minute circuit (continuously rotating sets of, say, 10 pushups, 20 squats, and 12 lunges on each leg, resting minimally between sets) is far better than no workout at all.

Steady-state cardio canimprove the health of your heart, and some people find it meditative and relaxing. But for many others, it’s a time-consuming, pain-inducing bore. If you fall into the boredom camp, center your workouts on strength training, and add high-intensity, short-duration intervals for a cardio effect.

Sprints, jumping rope, kettlebell swings, and rope slams lend themselves well to high-intensity training. Build up to eight to 10 intervals of 30 to 45 seconds each, either between sets of other exercises in a strength workout, or with a 90-second rest between repetitions. Looking for more ideas? Check out “Three-Speed Cardio“.

If you’ve never set foot in a health club before, it’s easy to assume that they’re just for the über-fit. Take a walk-through during peak hours, however, and you’ll likely see a diverse cross-section of beginners, intermediates, and advanced exercisers, all building their fitness chops. And many of them had to overcome the exact same resistance to get there.
“Everyone at the gym is there to improve their health and feel better,” says Keck. “And we all have a right to be there.” So don’t get hung up on how you think you should be. Just make peace with where you are, and enjoy the journey.

So don’t get hung up on how you think you should be. Just make peace with where you are, and enjoy the journey.

It also pays to remember that we’re all a little self-focused, especially during our “me” time at the gym. “I can assure you nobody is paying attention to what you’re doing,” says Keck. “They’re too busy worrying about themselves!”

While an injury is good reason to use caution, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to curtail your workouts. “There’s always a way to exercise,” says Cleere.

Avoid anything that causes pain in the injured area, and do more of what you can do comfortably. When you have lower-back pain, you’re usually best off avoiding movements where you twist, bend to the side, or load the spine significantly — including heavy lower-body moves like squats and deadlifts. (Seeking advice on dealing with back issues? See “Back in Trouble“.)

If you have painful knees, skip exercises requiring your quads to do lots of work (such as lunges and leg extensions) and double down on hip-extension moves like Swiss-ball leg curls. Cranky shoulders? Don’t press anything overhead or in front of you, and focus on back exercises, particularly rowing, instead.

For acute injuries, Billy Anderson, Master Personal Trainer at Life Time Fitness in Eden Prairie, Minn., advises clients to simply “accept the limitation” and move on. Even if you have a sprained ankle, he points out, you can still do exercises for your upper body and the noninjured leg. If your physician clears you for activity, you can work with a limited range of motion in the injured area and gradually increase it as your symptoms improve. In most cases, a moderate amount of safe movement aids in recovery and reduces discomfort.

The prospect of lunging, twisting, and downward-dogging in a room full of strangers can intimidate even the most enthusiastic of would-be yoginis. To make your initiation into the namaste crowd easier, Keck suggests, “find a beginner’s class, and set up your mat at the back of the room. You might also recruit a buddy to come along. Everything is a little less scary with a friend.”
Still gun-shy? Remember that yoga practitioners — newbies to experts alike — are rarely there to judge their fellow students. The culture of yoga is meant to be a gentle and accepting one. So go get your OM on.

Images of shredded, flat-abbed fitness models are everywhere in popular media, but that aesthetic — often achieved through a combination of extreme dieting, short-term dehydration, and aggressive photo retouching — may not be a particularly realistic or worthwhile goal for most people.

Rather than focusing on achieving a particular appearance, set attainable fitness-oriented goals that reflect your current lifestyle and abilities. Focus less on how your body looks than on what it can do. Set your sights on the regular, daily actions you can pursue to become your healthiest, strongest, most body-confident self.
And remember, athletic bodies come in many shapes and sizes. Check out the differing physiques of competitive swimmers, marathoners, and weightlifters: They look entirely different, and yet each is at the pinnacle of fitness for his or her particular sport.

Fatigue can be due to many factors. Chief among them are poor sleep and poor nutrition, which often play roles in the same vicious cycle.

“Study after study has shown that poor sleep adversely affects appetite and food intake,” says ISSA elite trainer Angelo Poli of Chico, Calif. Being short on shut-eye can make you hungrier for processed carbs and other foods of limited nutritional value, which can undermine your energy levels. This combination has a direct negative effect on your desire to exercise and the efficacy of your workouts — and can, in turn, create additional sleep disruptions.

Consider making sleep nonnegotiable. Set a bedtime you can stick to, and create rituals that help you unwind, such as taking a warm bath and setting aside electronic devices. If sleep still eludes you, talk to a medical practitioner about testing to rule out certain sleep disorders.
On the dietary front, eating too close to bedtime can lead to sleepless nights, as can choosing foods that are difficult to digest. Food intolerances can profoundly undermine your energy and make you feel chronically sleepy. Have a health professional evaluate your diet, if necessary, to determine if food might be the source of your fatigue.

“If you have a fever or runny nose, or are otherwise in the acute stages of illness, stay out of the gym,” says Poli. “You’re likely to prolong your illness and may make someone else sick.”
Short of that, though, you’re probably OK to do at least a light workout when you’re under the weather. “Your aerobic capacity may be a little down, but lifting weights and light cardio are fine as long as you don’t go overboard,” he says.

Sometimes, the immune-system boost you receive from moderate exercise might even help you feel better. A 2009 study by University of Illinois researchers found that moderate exercise helped fight off viral respiratory infection better than either complete rest or intense exercise.

The first step to overcoming this obstacle is simply recognizing that our bodies were designed to move and to feel good in motion. Exercise can and should be fun. In fact, for an exercise plan to be effective and sustainable, it has to be enjoyable.

Once you’re open to that possibility, the next step is to figure out what’s fun for you.
Some people love to run and lift heavy weights, while others prefer Rollerblading and trapeze classes. Open your mind to nontraditional activities — such as a half hour at the trampoline park or playing kickball on a rec league — and you may discover an activity that gets your heart rate up and puts a smile on your face.

The key to finding your passion is trial and error. You can test-drive many activities for little cost by dropping in at your local gym or fitness studio (many offer free introductory classes) or by renting a bike, paddleboard, snowshoes, or other equipment for a small fee at your local park.
Discover activities you love, and you’re much more likely to stick to them.

Consider rewriting that statement: You don’t know how to exercise yet. In other words, you are learning. Which, by the way, is how everyone starts.

You can pull great workout ideas from magazines, books, and websites (check out our collection at “Move“). You might also try fitness DVDs, which you can buy online or borrow from your local library, or hit YouTube for videos demonstrating key moves and form pointers.

If you’re a health-club member, consider trying out a group fitness class, or enlist a trainer to help you learn some basics. Adopt a beginner’s mind: Decide not to be intimidated by what you don’t yet know. Just start where you are, and over time you’ll gain both skill and confidence.

Let go of your guilt. First, the few hours you invest in your workouts will help you show up as a better, healthier, more energetic parent. Second, being a regular exerciser with the discipline to carry out a self-care plan makes you a far better role model for your kids to look up to — and quite possibly a nicer parent to be around.

Get strategic. If you have a partner, the two of you can set up a schedule that lets you swap exercise and parenting stints. No dice? See if you can find another parent who wants to trade an hour or so of babysitting for “me time.” This arrangement has the added advantage of breaking up the day-to-day routine of caring for a young child and giving kids some social time with children their own age.

Increasingly, health clubs offer onsite childcare — and even activity classes for kids — either as part of your membership or for a nominal fee. If you’re a gym-goer, check your options at the front desk. And if your gym doesn’t offer these services, consider switching to another facility.
Another workaround is to exercise with your kids. If you have small children, tuck them into a jogging stroller and head out for a walk or run. At the park or playground, create a circuit that you can do while your kids play: pushups and step-ups on a park bench, pull-ups on the monkey bars, sprints across the length of the field. Or try a game of tag with your kids. This way, everyone gets a workout, and you’ll help instill good habits that will last your kids a lifetime.

Find a workout buddy, preferably someone who has similar goals and taste in fitness activities. Enlist a friend, or work through a social group such as You can also join an exercise class, where high-energy instructors provide guidance on workout techniques, and the group atmosphere keeps you motivated.

Make a point of seeking out environmentswhere you have enough privacy to feel comfortable. Dance, lift, or do calisthenics in your living room. Bike some quiet park trails. Or hit the gym during off-peak hours.

And on the occasions when you just can’t seem to escape the madding crowd, pop in your headphones (the universal symbol for “leave me alone”) and get lost in your favorite songs or a terrific audiobook.
Focus on yourself and your goals, and you’re less likely to be bothered by the presence of others.

Weigh the relative costs of powering your exercise habit against the costs of being less fit and healthy than you want to be. Basic memberships at many clubs amount to less than a monthly cable (or daily latte) bill. If you work for a large company, you may get a fee discount, or your health insurance may give you a rebate for hitting the club regularly.

If a gym membership simply isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of other budget-friendly options out there. Running and walking require little investment beyond a pair of sneakers. Bodyweight exercises require no equipment at all, can be performed almost anywhere, and can be scaled to your goals and fitness level. Start with squats, lunges, and pushups. Add some squat jumps, jumping lunges, and plyo pushups for a cardio boost. Work in some burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and plank variations, and you’ve got the most affordable workout program around.

Gyms offer locker rooms as a convenience to members who like to go right to work or a social engagement after they exercise. But you never have to set foot inside one if you don’t want to. Just go to the gym in your workout gear, lock all your valuables in your car, place your car key in a zippered pocket, and you’re off to the races. Afterward, motor home and shower there.

If you’re stressed out, undernourished, or exhausted, it can be hard to summon the motivation for anything, workouts included. But if you have a specific resistance to activity, there may be a deeper issue, such as body-image or exercise-related anxiety, that’s holding you back.
It can help to get in touch with your bigger “why” — the reasons you care about getting healthier and fitter, or why you feel compelled to take better care of yourself in general.

“Motivation is mostly a question of getting in touch with what you care about in life,” says Anderson, who, in addition to being a trainer, is also a leadership coach.

Your doctor may tell you to exercise to lower your blood pressure, for example, but until lowering blood pressure has meaning for you — because you want to stick around for your partner and kids, for example — the inspirational value of that objective will be limited.
It can also help to connect your fitness ambitions with bigger life goals, like being able to keep up with your kids, completing an active adventure, or showing up more fully for your work and relationships. From there, Anderson says, “the practice of fitness will become intimately connected with those reasons.” And accordingly, it will become much easier — and more rewarding — to embrace.

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4 Ways to Stay on Your Diet Without Giving Up Your Social Life

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

Dinner parties, dances, and date nights can add up to disaster if you’re not ultra savvy. One of the most infamous gripes I hear is feeling like you have to choose between sticking to your diet and causing a scene at parties.

You’ve worked hard to get yourself in shape! Don’t assume amnesty to the oldest of influences — peer pressure — just because you’re out of high school. The desire to remain inconspicuous in a group is one of the most common reasons people break their diet. If you’re often social and want to keep your Vogue (or GQ) physique, you’ll need to know the tricks. Here are four real world tips I give to my high profile clientele:

1) Eat First, Eat Twice: This is your most important strategy. Eat your planned lunch, dinner, whatever, BEFORE you arrive. The biggest miscalculation dieters make is eating less before arriving in an effort to offset extra calories at the event. To quote a favorite actress of mine, “Big mistake... huge.”

While most events will have at least “something” that’s on your diet, no one wants to walk around with half the party’s lettuce wraps on their plate... awkward.

Eating less before arriving means you’ll be showing up with low blood sugar and a raging appetite. You’ll eat far fewer calories if you eat a healthy meal before arriving — then eat a second light meal selected without hunger at the party.

2) Bring Alcohol: Yup, you read right. I want you to bring alcohol. If you’re a savvy dieter you’ve already figured out that hard alcohol mixed with calorie-free beverages is a dieter’s best trick. Trouble is... you never know what drinks will be served. So let’s eliminate the variable. Besides, who wants to show up for a dinner party empty handed? If it’s a more intimate party, bring your host a martini shaker and olives for a classy gift.

3) Sample, Don’t Pile: For buffet-style spreads place a small portion of several things on your plate instead of holding up the line while you figure out your best options. Being selective after you leave the buffet line will go unnoticed.

4) Ask for a To-Go Container With Your Entrée: For restaurant meals, ask your waiter to bring you a to-go box with your entrée. When it arrives you can scoop half into the container and avoid appearing as though you barely touched your meal.

Social dieters rely on real life strategies so they can keep up appearances — you can beat the system and stick to your diet, you just need to know the tricks.

The Best Workout For You

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

One occupational hazard of being in the fitness ‘industry’ (an awful term, by the way — shouldn’t fitness be free?) is that people often ask me to evaluate their workouts. “Is CrossFit good?” they’ll say. “Is yoga good? Does Pilates work?”

Look, I can wax on and on about the perks and liabilities of just about any exercise modality. I can make a case for and against nearly all of it, and usually do, given the chance. What ‘expert’ doesn’t like to drone on about his or her topic until long after everyone else at the party has gone home? We fitness nerds dream about captive audiences — especially since so few people out there really appear to be listening.

But these days I’ve decided that all my jabber might not be worth it. Not because people don’t want to know about energy systems and glute activation and the stretch-shortening cycle.

No, it’s not worth it because when it comes to movement, it’s all good. If you like taking long walks because it helps clear your head and your neighbor likes taking short sprints because she finds it invigorating, who am I to say one is right and the other is wrong?

If you’re doing any formal exercise at all, you’re okay by me. You’re already doing infinitely better than the legions of sedentary folks out there who are, unaccountably, blind and deaf to the avalanche of studies, books, TV shows, websites, et al, that have been telling us for decades that moving is, you know, good for you.

You reap something like 80 percent of the health benefits of exercise by going from completely sedentary to doing something. Say, taking a short walk a few times a week, which almost all of us can do any time, for free. So if you’re doing that, and you’re not hurting yourself, and you like it — then as far as I’m concerned, you’re golden.

Now: will that give you ripped abs and glutes as taut as volleyballs? Will those easy walks impart Herculean strength, marathon endurance or NFL-worthy strength and power? Absolutely not. To get those things — and to achieve a higher level of fitness — you’ve got to work systematically and progressively, do the right workouts, eat the right meals, and so on. Heck, you might even consult a fitness expert or two.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Few of us really need those things. Glutes and abs and the ability to run or cycle for tens or hundreds of miles are decidedly first-world aspirations. Even if the end of the world visits us, wiping out communication, hospitals, your local big-box gym, and so on, the depth your social ties are far more likely to save you than your ropey arm muscles or sky-high V02-max.

I’m not saying don’t seek elite fitness. I’ve done so all my life and I don’t consider it time wasted any more than the concert pianist or the heart surgeon regrets his or her time in the trenches of his or her trade. And I’m not saying stop looking around for a workout you like better. I’m just saying move. Have fun at it, don’t hurt yourself, and don’t stress over it.

And while you’re at it, make some friends, too. Just in case.

The Only Strength Exercises You'll Ever Need

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

Big box gyms pride themselves on having lots of equipment — specifically, vaguely medieval-looking contraptions you strap yourself into and lift stacks of weighted bricks by pushing, pulling, squeezing, extending or flexing various parts of yourself against a platform or a lever arm.

For a newcomer to the gym, though, all that machinery can be awfully confusing. Do I get on the machine where I sit and push the pads outwards with my knees — or the one where I push them inward? Or both? And then what do I do? A person could waste a lot of time wondering such things.

The machine/free weight debate is something I’ll take up in another blog post — though I will say here that the people who modeled for all the classical statues many consider the standard for physical beauty never met a Butt-Blaster. Here instead I want to boil down strength training into five simple types of exercise you should be doing in the gym.

Here they are: plank, pull, squat, push, lunge. Do those five moves and you can go home knowing you’ve worked your entire body effectively — no innie-outie machine required.

Taking those things in the order you should do them in the gym:

• A plank is a ramrod straight top-of-a-pushup position, usually done on your elbows and held for time. Think you’re straight enough? Get in front of a mirror and you’ll see your hips are too high. Now squeeze your belly and hold it. 30 seconds too easy? Try it with one leg lifted. Still easy? Lift the opposite arm as well. If that’s easy, it may not be too late for the 2016 Olympic trials. I’ll be rooting for you.

• A pull is a move where you take hold of something and pull it towards your chest or abdomen: a row. A pulldown. A pull-up or chin-up. Often neglected, these moves — especially row variations — are a major key to improving posture and keeping your shoulders healthy. Do them.

• A squat is a squat is a squat. Gym class-style, bodyweight only, is fine, just make sure you drop down to a point where the tops of your thighs are parallel with the floor. Do it holding two dumbbells. Do it with a jump at the top. Then with a barbell on your shoulders, in front or behind your head. Good form is imperative. Get some coaching on this one from that bored-looking trainer wandering the floor. Seriously, that guy needs something to do.

• A push is anything where you... wait for it... push something away from you. (I hope you’re taking notes.) Two dumbbells overhead. One barbell while lying on your back — aka the ever-ego-boosting bench press. Yourself, off the floor, with your body straight (as in a pushup!). If you’re really diesel, try the handstand pushup.

• A lunge is a lot like a squat, only your feet are in a staggered position, one in front of the other. Do them walking, or with your feet planted, or holding light dumbbells, or your grandchild on your shoulders. Don’t let you front knee buckle inward. Keep your form tight, like a Renaissance courtier bowing to royalty.

Those five moves will do it for you. Pretty soon you’ll be able to stroll confidently past all those machines at the gym knowing that all of them are just variations on those five simple moves you’ve now mastered. See something that isn’t? You probably don’t need it. Good luck!

Make A Fitness Resolution That Sticks

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli & Co-authored by Andrew Heffernan

About a zillion people make resolutions that relate to fitness around the New Year. And about three-quarters of a zillion of them don’t stick to those resolutions past six weeks. I have a few theories as to why that might be — and how you might be able to make a fitness resolution that sticks this time around.

You’ve probably seen the acronym SMART before. Originally coined in 1981 to describe the characteristics of the kind of goal you are most likely to stick to and achieve, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

So saying you want to “run a marathon in June” is preferable to saying you want to “get in shape.” The former is specific: You know when you’ve attained it, it’s (presumably) realistic for you, you can break it into tiny daily actions. The latter is vague: Since you don’t really know what you’re chasing (getting a six-pack? bench pressing 300? weighing 140?) you can’t really act on it.

Most articles on goal-setting stop right there. But there’s another element to the equation without which no fitness resolution is worth the paper it’s printed on. And that’s passion.

I encounter people all the time who say they want to get in shape, improve their health, energy, and outlook. Maybe they’ve even gotten a you need to lose weight speech from a doctor. They’ve been hearing it for years — and they don’t do it.

But then the epiphany happens: They meet the right girl. They decide they want to get pregnant. They get divorced or fired or hired. They see a picture of how they used to look, and decide they’re going to look that way again, no matter the cost. And a year later they’re unrecognizable.

It doesn’t matter what sparks that internal change — but it’s essential that it happens. None of my ravings about potential improvements in your metabolic rate or cardiovascular functioning or mitochondrial density are worth a hoot without it.

You can’t force this kind of epiphany, of course. But you can sit yourself down and have a good, long think about what will fire you up to get it done — not just NOW, when you have the time and energy, but in four months, when taxes are due and the kids are clamoring for attention and it’s cold outside and staying in bed for an extra hour sounds way more appealing than getting up for a 6:30 run.

Only you know what that spark is. Maybe it’s about attracting a mate or reigniting a spark in a relationship or getting a promotion or being a better parent or feeling like you did in high school or looking like a Greek statue. Maybe it involves the gym and a trainer or a fencing team or a cycling club or a rec-league basketball team. It doesn’t matter what it is — but a deep, personal, primal connection to your fitness goal is indispensable.

The rest is details.

Move More-All Day-To Get Fit

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

Co-authored by Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, co-author of The Exercise Cure, by Rodale, 2013.

One of the more interesting insights in The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner — a book about the world’s longest-living sub-populations — is physical activity is built into the everyday activities of long-living people.

This may seem like an obvious point: Of course exercise is associated with longevity. But exercise isn’t just a priority for people who live a long time — it’s part and parcel of everyday living. Maybe it should be for the rest of us as well.

I find it interesting that when my clients go on vacation — and, almost inevitably, fall off the “formal exercise” and the “strict diet” wagon in the process — they sometimes come back in better shape than when they left. When I quiz them about what they were doing on vacation that might have trumped the brilliant and well-thought-out fitness plan I’ve given them, inevitably it involves movement, and lots of it: sightseeing, shopping, hiking, scurrying here and here, from one event to another, often for eight or more hours a day.

Contrasted with their desk-bound lives at home, many of these peoples’ vacation schedules resemble an Olympic athlete’s training schedule — gym or no gym!

These people aren’t “exercising more.” They’ve simply gone to a new environment where they needed to move a lot to get through their day. And they were fitter for it.

I’m not saying you should cancel your gym membership and sightsee your life away (if only we could). Formal exercise is still the most convenient, effective choice for busy people.

But I am pointing out that a walk up the stairs here, a stroll down the block there, things that many people consider meaningless movement, can have serious ramifications for your health, well-being, and bodyweight. Probably a lot more than you think. Getting more informal moving into our days perhaps the most overlooked — yet absolutely essential — part of the health and fitness equation. Especially when you consider the oft-reported dangers of sitting.

How to do that? Take a look at your day-to-day activities and ask how you might build more movement into your life. Could you walk to the grocery store once or twice a week? Could you place a laptop on a cabinet and stand while writing? Could you go see your co-worker instead of texting or emailing? Could you meet a friend for a walk instead of a baguette and coffee? Like an investment account with compounding interest, these humble, age-old fitness tips can pay enormous dividends in the long-term. And in the short-term, they’ll stave off common sitting-related ailments like stiffness, back pain — even a lousy mood.

This is not to say don’t avail yourself of conveniences or indulgences (everyone loves baguettes). But, whenever possible, to stand up, make like a blue-zoner, and move.

The End of Fitness Plateaus!

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

Co-authored by Andrew Heffernan, co-author of The Exercise Cure (Rodale, 2013).

As a lifelong fitness enthusiast and a career fitness professional, I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. Superslow training. Balance training. Step aerobics. Tae Bo. P90X. Spinning. Rowing. Nordic-tracking. The list goes on and on.

Ever notice, though, that these trends typically have about an eight-week shelf life?

Sure, you may see them straggling along past the eight-week mark. But how long does your average person do Step, or Zumba, or P90X?

The answer? Eight weeks. For eight weeks that’s all they’ll talk about: the new Zumba class. The new piece of exercise equipment they got for their garage that solves everything for them. You’ll probably even notice them getting slimmer or muscling up a bit. But soon enough, the talk will end. The membership will expire. The equipment will start to gather dust.

How soon? Eight weeks. You can set your watch by it.

Funny thing: Eight weeks is ALSO about how long people continue to see results from ANY exercise program. Even the spiffiest, coolest, most bang-zoom-wow program you can imagine, promoted by the slimmest, sexiest, most six-packed stud or studette in the world. That’s about how long a body can adapt to a new stimulus before you need to shake it up with something new. I’ve seen this happen over and over with my clients.

So every eight weeks, I shake things up. Radically.

You should too.

If you go to the gym, you’ve probably seen this trend at work: the guy or girl who slavishly does the same workout for years. You may have even thought to yourself, “Wow, wasn’t that guy curling or benching or squatting that same weight two years ago? Poor guy,” you think, “Spinning his wheels, going nowhere, hoping that the honeymoon phase when he was making real progress will magically come back again.”

And then you realize you’ve been doing the same thing.

But rather falling into the fitness doldrums (and getting bored, and probably taking an extended break from training) you can use this one little tidbit of fitness trivia to help you stay on a constant upward-spiral of improvement.

The solution: Every eight weeks, choose a new goal: Lose 10 pounds. Gain five pounds of muscle. Lift a Volkswagen. Run a marathon. Or just keep up with your kids. You want to make it YOUR goal, not the goal of the exercise addict next door or the infomercial yelling at you from your blurry TV screen. Make it a goal that speaks to YOU, something tangible and attainable that you’re passionate about.

If you have a longer-term goal — say, lose 50 pounds or add 100 more pounds to your bench press — break it down and attack it in eight-week chunks: Focus on building a cardiovascular base for eight weeks, then work on sprinting. Work with low reps on your strength training, then higher reps.

Maybe you need a coach to help you. Or a decent exercise manual (the book that Andrew recently co-authored, The Exercise Cure, has just such a program!). Or a knowledgeable training partner. Any way you slice it, do it, and do it hard.

For eight weeks.

Fat Anywhere But There: How to Get Rid of Cellulite

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

Few subjects have been addressed with such chronic inaccuracy as cellulite.  We’ve come such a long way in fitness, with more widely-available hard data on what works, and fewer pervasive myths, that it amazes me to find such rampant misunderstanding surrounding the causes of and remedies for cellulite. 
Cellulite, like male-pattern baldness (trust me) is genetics’ way of reminding us that life isn’t fair. People who are “pissed off” enough can get hair plugs or liposuction. But those of us who are merely “put out” — but unwilling to resort to the knife — still have some options. At least you women do. Me, I’m going to have to hope year-round hats stay in style.
Sit Still While We Vacuum Your Rump

So what doesn’t work? First off, we have topical creams and bum vibrators. These range from largely ineffective to a complete waste of time. Simple math, if these provided long-term results, no one would have cellulite. We can argue over what constitutes results, but we all know we’re not going to rub the cottage cheese off our buns.

Weight Loss, That’ll Do the Trick

The basic concept is sound — lose weight, lose the downtown dimples. You’re on the right track — losing weight is a piece of the puzzle — but it’s not indiscriminate weight loss you’re after. What you’re really looking for is your skin to press more tightly against the underlying muscle, creating enough pressure to smooth out the dimpling effect caused by any adipose tissue (fat) between the two. That’s why the appearance of cellulite is reduced while the underlying muscle is contracted or you’re bending over: Muscle tissue presses up against the layer of fat, temporarily ironing out your dimples. It’s when the muscles under the area affected by dimpling are under-developed that cellulite rears its curdy head.

What you’re really aiming for is decreased body fat and increased muscle mass around the affected area. This doesn’t mean you’ll be building big thighs or a large butt; instead view it as shifting the composition of what’s already there to a firmer, less clumpy composition. If you’re significantly overweight, then starting with weight loss is a good bet. Up your aerobics and keep your calories in check.

If you’re battling cellulite but are not significantly overweight, indiscriminate weight loss can result in a shrinking of muscle volume in the affected area. This can cause a reduction in tension between the skin and your muscle that can sometimes even make the dimpling appear worse. The trick is both to decrease body fat and increase the muscle mass around the affected areas. Since you can’t spot-reduce body fat, you’ll have to improve body composition throughout your entire body by cleaning up your diet and performing aerobics regularly. But you can spot increase muscle mass — so that means hit the weights! Work your whole body, but give special attention to building the muscle under your trouble areas.
I Thought I Was Working My Butt?  

Are you sure? You may be working the right muscle groups but the wrong muscle fibers. Muscles have different fiber types for different jobs. Slow-twitch fibers are for endurance: You use these when you walk, jog, or peddle for any extended amount of time. Training them doesn’t result in much, if any, growth and may even cause your muscles to shrink. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are for your heavy lifting and high-effort activities like sprinting. These are the fibers with the potential for the kind of growth you want. You primarily use them when the load is heavy and your effort level is high.

You can determine which type of muscle fiber you’re working by how long it takes to reach muscular fatigue. A safe bet is to select exercises that bring you to muscular fatigue in 30 seconds or less — then you know you’re hitting your fast-twitch fibers. If you’re doing hundreds of kickbacks and step ups in an hour-long aerobics class, you’re training the wrong fibers.
If you’re doing deep squats, heavy kick-backs, leg curls, and walking lunges with weights that become challenging after 8-12 repetitions, then you’re on the right track. These are some of the staples I use with my clients.

Intense exercise coupled with clean eating will take you in the right direction, but chances are you won’t see the body fat come off your trouble areas first — that’s why they’re your trouble areas. But as long as you’re seeing signs elsewhere in your physique — more definition in your arms, shoulders, and cheekbones — know that you’re on the right track. Train regularly, eat clean, and you’ll see some good results.
I’ve witnessed firsthand many females completely (yes I said completely) smooth out their lady lumps. Battling cellulite isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever do, but you’re not doomed to spend your days at the beach hiding dimpled cheeks. As for me with my pale skin and hairless dome, all I can do is re-apply sun screen and hope for shade.

For more by Angelo Poli, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

Dieting Through The Decades: The History Of Weight Loss

What we choose to eat isn't simply about filling our bellies; it's an expression of who we are, when we are, and often, what we value. "You are what you eat" now takes on new meaning in a world of carnivores, herbivores, "fat free" fanatics, raw food artists, junk food junkies, and juicing warriors. Food and diets are as much of our pop culture as music and entertainment. We're fascinated with what people are eating and what diets the celebrities are following.
Reality television routinely showcases people with outrageous food cravings and uncontrollable obsessions -- it's our new voyeuristic entertainment. Meanwhile, diet propaganda shockingly encourages young women to starve themselves while other venues promote guzzling beer and inhaling pizza as a man's rite of passage. 

As a species, the human race is getting fatter. Obesity rates increased 214 percent between 1950 and 2000. Two out of every 3 people in the U.S. were obese or overweight in 2010. Not surprisingly, bookstore shelves are lined with new diet books daily. How did we arrive at this point, and what diets have been the most persuasive on our culture? What can we learn from the missteps -- and smart moves -- of the past?
The '80s
Journey, Depeche Mode, Back to the Future, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Full House. Ah, the '80s, notorious for many things -- including the turning point for our waistlines. It was the perfect storm, personal computers became mainstream, Nintendo ushered in the golden age of gaming with the NES, and the original Star Wars trilogy was completed. What further reasons did we need to sit and stare at a screen? Meanwhile, the food industry ramped up the packaged snack selections. Obesity began reaching epidemic proportions, and the need for an honest solution to the problem became obvious. 
To cater to the demand for less fattening foods, manufacturers began making everything "reduced fat" or "fat free." This was in response to the philosophy that fats made you fat. Since fats are the most calorie dense macronutrients, their reduction became a common way of cutting calories.
The concept of restricting the food we eat has been around since humans have had a desire for slenderness, but the low-calorie trend began to really pick up steam in the '80s. These diets used different methods to get their participants to eat fewer calories: Some promoted pre-made, calorie-controlled meals; others implemented low-calorie snacks aimed at reducing appetite. Most promoted restriction of all types of fats. 
What we got right in the '80s: Reduced calorie diets result in weight loss when caloric intake is sufficiently lower then what the participant is accustomed to. In other words, if the participant typically eats 2,500 calories per day and the diet reduces them to 1,600, the dieter will lose weight, at least for a little while. However, if the dieter is already used to eating only 1,600 calories, reducing it marginally further to 1,400 calories will only result in minor weight loss -- if any. 
Where we went wrong: Low-calorie diets are based on a false premise that a person's metabolic rate, or number of calories they require, is fixed. In reality, the primary function of our metabolism is to keep us in stasis (status quo), or to adapt to our nutritional environment. This means if we eat less, our metabolism will gradually re-adjust to run slower, negating marginal reductions to our caloric intake. This is known as the "survival mechanic." If a person burned a set, unchanging number of calories based on genetics, even a small reduction in calories would result in unending weight loss. We know, of course, that this simply isn't so; we hit plateaus and stop losing sooner than we'd like. Despite the fact that our bodies try to thwart our best efforts, fat and caloric restriction remain a principle method of battling the effects of overfeeding ourselves in America.
The '90s:
Sheryl Crow, Green Day, Jurassic Park, PlayStation, Friends, and the Internet forever changed the landscape of our lives. Welcome to the '90s, also the era when we decided all carbohydrates were to be drug out back and shot.  After years of chowing down on every cookie, cracker, and crust that manufacturers slapped a "low-fat" label on, we decided we'd had enough. Fats were in, carbs were out, and we quit caring about calories. Low-carb diets all revolve around the single theme of cutting -- you guessed it -- carbs. 

More aggressive variations on this theme actually promote entering a state called ketosis. Ketosis is triggered by fasting, starvation, intense exercise, and yes, low-carbohydrate diets. Reducing carbs too much can leave you with mental fogginess and even cause irritability. In the absence of carbohydrates our bodies are forced to use alternative metabolic pathways to produce glycogen. The flip side is it can lead to greater metabolizing of fats.
What we got right in the '90s: In many ways, your body views fat (lipids) as a second -ate energy source and needs a little encouragement to use them. Fats are your body's preferred fuel source for sustained low energy output activities. But by the 90's these activities (the foremost being walking and manual chores) had been replaced with power steering and remote controls. Cutting carbohydrates was a means of tricking your body into using more fat for fuel during a greater variety of activities. If you don't have enough sugars (glycogen) available, well then, I suppose you can burn a little more fat. It's this encouragement of using fats for fuel that's earned low carbohydrate diets their iconic status in weight loss history.
Where we went wrong: While cutting carbohydrates did indeed lead to increased fat burning, being over aggressive also led to the depletion of fuels necessary for intense activity making exercise, a key ingredient in long term weight loss, difficult. Furthermore, going for bouts with little to no carbohydrates leaves the body in a "carb sensitive" state. This environment isn't dissimilar to that of athletes preparing to carb load before a race. By reducing their carb intake the body readies itself to store additional rations when they become available. I teach my clients that there is a difference between the carb cost and the calorie cost of a cheat. When it's carbs you've been cutting the cost is much higher; a couple dinner rolls and a glass of wine can easily result in waking up to 2-3 pounds of extra you in the morning even though they only amounted to a few hundred calories.
Dieting since 2000 and beyond:
Eminem, Black eyed Peas, iPhones, The Office, and Mark Zuckerberg changing the way we connect with people. Today as technology marches ever forward, the trend in nutrition is going backward to our beginnings. What we have is a melting pot of diets under the broad theme of "eating natural". Among their ranks are; raw food diets, paleo and gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, and organic food plans. They each promote a chemical free, minimally processed approach to eating, but the similarities end there. Many of their proponents are at each other's throats vying for the label of "the human's natural diet". 
Any such claims are hard to make stick since humans have populated nearly every inch of the globe with nutritional variances as diverse as the climates and terrain these cultures were born out of. Arctic settlers and coastal cultures have thrived off food from the sea, including organ meats and even whale blubber. Jungle tribes and tropical civilizations have flourished eating a mostly plant based diet. Farming cultures have been among the most enduring consuming a mixture of grains and animal products. Some of these diets conflict philosophically over what humans were originally designed to eat, but they wholeheartedly agree that processed foods laced with high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, and artificial sweeteners aren't it.
What we're doing right: We're no longer in denial about the effects greasy--fried foods have on our bodies. And we know we probably can't get away with snacking on sweets and crackers every night. More recently we've learned to shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid foods laced with harmful ingredients. Overall we're trying to eat foods more like our grandparents did.
Where we're still going wrong: We're still overweight and filling hospital rooms with people suffering from preventable disease. With improved lifestyle and nutrition many of our country's ills would fade away. Why are we not acting? What is the missing ingredient that will solve our problems? The answer may surprise you: based on what I see in my clients, I think the answer is time. Most people cite "not enough time" as the reason behind their poor eating habits. Our technology-driven society rewards those who move fast, multitask, and rush. In the future I believe the most effective nutrition plans will place emphasis on practical strategies, simple food prep, and offer its patrons compelling evidence that investing the time in procuring healthy foods is a worthwhile investment.  

-Angelo Poli SET SPN CFT

High Heels and Barbells: The Changing Psychology of Fitness

This article originally posted on The Huffington Post. Written by Angelo Poli

For years, experts have been touting the value of weight training for women, but the shift from cardio machines to barbells has been slow. Women have long held that weights are for getting bigger and cardio is for getting smaller. But we know that isn’t so. Early indications from CrossFit, boot camps, and private training programs are that some women are catching on and getting results. Could they know something you don’t? Are wrist wraps and lifting gloves in the same gym bag as lipstick and Lululemon the new norm? 

Over the last decade, trends in the fitness world have come and gone, but here to stay is the changed attitudes toward gender-specific exercise. Overwhelmingly, fitness experts believe in the benefits that both men and women get from strength training. While men get muscled up, women are leaving weight rooms with curves in all the right places and leaner than they’ve ever been.

Boot camps and private training featuring strength routines have been appealing to more and more women. CrossFit has abandoned mirrors and amenities in favor of hand chalk and barbells, openly encouraging scaled competition between the sexes. And it’s been almost 10 years since NBC first aired The Biggest Loser featuring men and women pushing, pulling, and lifting to lose weight. Women are finding they look even better in high heels after extra sessions in the weight room — and they don’t need help with heavy groceries anymore.

Strong is the new sexy:
After years of mathematical calculations, the ladies have finally correlated the link between big bad lifting and a smooth, round, gravity-defying gluteus maximus. The bodies that most women see and desire in magazines and on TV aren’t built on the treadmill anymore. They belong to strong, athletic women unafraid to lift weights and keep up with the boys. 

Additionally, more women are unwilling to settle for merely “appearing” fit. With broader exposure to strength training, I see more of my female clientele taking pride in outgrowing what they presumed were their personal boundaries. They’re able to lift greater loads, move with more grace, and are becoming stronger than they ever thought possible. Note to the guy waiting his turn on the squat rack: The ladies are here to stay!

Couples turn up the heat by training together:
With the trending co-ed exercise that includes side-by-side strength training, couples are finding programs they can do together. This time it’s different however: The guys aren’t just humoring the girls, and the girls aren’t showing up in full makeup and hair. The girls have figured out just how strong they really are and are showing up ready to work. Often they out-do the guys in stamina and compete in strength-based lifts with impressive numbers. The chemistry and feel is totally different. It’s more aggressive, it’s more competitive, and it’s sexier. Girls are finally getting the results they’ve wanted, and the guys are being inspired by their girlfriends, wives, and female co-workers.

The decision to strength train:
Unlike the TV-facing wall of cardio machines at the gym, using weights takes a level of skill. Don’t let that scare you off; the buy in isn’t too steep. Starting gradually and enlisting the help of a skilled coach will help you maximize results and minimize the risk of hurting yourself. Women usually fall into three categories when weighing the decision to train with weights:

Novice: No history of strength training or competitive sports? Weight training is the perfect way to add the intensity you need in your workouts. Your body will respond by firming, lifting, and over time accentuating your natural hourglass shape. Don’t be concerned you’ll transform into the Incredible She-Hulk. That would be like refusing to travel by car for fear of accidentally overshooting your destination by a thousand miles. It’s never going to happen. You’re at no risk of waking up in the morning looking like Madea from the Tyler Perry movies.

Over 40: Many women over 40 believe that getting fit is all about reaching a number on the scale, but find that their old strategies for getting there aren’t working anymore. As we age, our bodies change, and maintaining muscle mass becomes more and more important: It’s our metabolic engine and, in many ways, the engine of youth. A few pounds of muscle may keep the post-40 woman slightly heavier than in her college years, but the improved body composition and faster metabolism is well worth it. Many women find they’re able to reach a lower body fat percentage, fit into smaller sizes, and generally feel more vigorous by adding weight training.

Weight loss: Hitting the weights causes us to burn more calories over the 24-48 hour period following a workout. Include aerobics between strength training sessions and, when possible, select a form of strength training that keeps you moving vigorously throughout the entire workout. You’ve got to work hard: A slow and easy workout won’t cut it — intensity is the key. Remember, no matter what type of training you do, if you’re eating too much, your body mass is going to keep increasing. I’ve said it before: You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Sugar and spice and everything nice:
Ladies have typically approached weights worrying more about the number on their scale than the number on the bar and some had grown accustomed to considering themselves physically weak. But things are changing. More women are gaining mastery and acceptance over all the numbers in their life — the scale, their age, dress size, etc. — while taking pride in their bodies and abilities at each point of their journey. Weight training is giving women yet another tool: strength. And it looks good on them. As long as women continue to step up to the bar without preconceived boundaries, there’s no limit to what they can do.

3 Steps to Selecting the Right Fitness Plan

So you want to get in shape. I see it all the time, gym bag in hand, iPod fully loaded, and a workout that looks like something you’d expect if Richard Simmons and Hulk Hogan got together to teach a yoga class.

You have guts, determination, and the Rocky theme in your head. The only thing missing: a fitness plan. Before stepping foot on the treadmill, let’s talk about three things you need to do to get results.

1. Know your body type

2. Evaluate your nutrition

3. Set a goal

Step 1: Know your body type.

Knowing your body type will allow you to address the specific obstacles you’ll face while working to reach your fitness goals. Once you know your body type, you can structure your nutrition and exercise to best suit your needs.

Ectomorph: Are you small-framed with longer arms and legs, prone to accumulating fat in your mid section but not your legs? Can you wrap your thumb and middle finger around your wrist and easily touch your fingertips together, even overlap? You’re an ectomorph. You may be lower in body fat but struggling to gain muscle. Most ectomorphs will need more calories to make substantial muscle gains. Generally, add in this order: Assure that adequate (and possibly a bit more) protein needs are met. Then, begin liberally adding complex carbohydrates and a little healthy fat. If you still are not seeing gains, try adding more good fats if you’re too full to consume more carbohydrates. If you’ve identified yourself as an ectomorph but still have weight to lose, consider incorporating resistance training to help you maintain lean mass while thinning out.

Mesomorph: Did you have an athletic build in high school? Not too skinny or stocky, you know, the Goldilocks zone, just right? You set some athletic records in high school and still think of yourself as an athlete even though you’ve gotten a little soft around the middle? Probably a mesomorph. Change it up. Want to build muscle? Fine, do it for a while, then switch it up. Get your body used to extra calories and carbs for recovery, then scale back and watch the body fat melt off. If you want to do it in reverse, cut back on your calories or carbs until you stop seeing changes in your body, and then gradually increase both food intake and training intensity. You’ll pack on some new muscle.

Endomorph: Were you were bigger and stronger than most the kids in grade school, but running was never your thing? By high school, you already began equating the word “metabolism” with various profanities. Endomorph. Gains in the weight room come easy, but so do gains around your waistline. You have a solid muscular foundation. If weight loss is your goal, you’ll likely have to be more diligent about monitoring your intake than the other body types, eating fewer calories and carbs than someone of similar height and weight of a different body type. Be consistent and include plenty of aerobics in your day-to-day activities, like walking, climbing stairs, and hiking.

Step 2: Evaluate your diet

Start by keeping a detailed food log for three days. If you bite it, you write it. Food logging alone can go a long way toward rooting out poor nutritional habits. Ultimately, the best way to predict what nutritional approach will work for you is to evaluate your current eating habits. If you aren’t particularly savvy about nutrition, use an online calculator (such as FitDay or Calorie King). Take special note of your approximate calories and carbohydrates and view them as dials you can use to rev your metabolism up or scale your intake back. Small increases to your intake can help when trying to build muscle, while calculated restriction results in shedding unwanted body fat. Nutrition is at least 75 percent of the battle, and you can’t out-train a poor diet.

Step 3: Set a goal

It needs to be a real goal. Something you can measure and stay committed to. Just saying you want to “get fit” or “tone up” doesn’t commit you to anything specific and leaves the door open to bowing out before you see measurable results. Be specific. If your primary goal is weight loss, then choose an additional performance-based goal that supports your goal of weight loss. Running a 5k or signing up for a triathlon are both great examples of performance-based goals that will also help you drop pounds. Bumping up your bench press or doing more pull-ups is a great choice for someone trying to build muscle. Don’t make the mistake of failing to select a performance goal. By itself the scale can be deceptive, unable to discern composition improvements and additional muscle. However, making progress toward a carefully-selected, performance-based goal will be empowering and motivational.

Putting it together

Now we’re ready to head out and create the new you, this time with goals clearly laid out, body type well understood, and nutrition to back you up. With the demands of daily life already vying for space in our busy schedules, having the right fitness plan is worth our due diligence. In future posts we’ll examine the exact dos and don’ts of creating your new body.


Seven Tests of True Strength

By Andrew Hefferman, C.S.C.S, Photographs by Matthew Salacuse

"Are you Men's Health Fit? Prove it -- or improve


Sure, the definition of "fit" varies; power lifters and marathoners have different views. Still, every man should be able to meet certain standards before he can call himself in shape." And then there's Men's Health Fit.Take these tests to see how you measure up. If you don't clear our admittedly high bar, don't sweat it - we have tips from top experts to help bring you up to speed."

1. Jump

2. Squat, Curl, Push Press

3. Controlled Wall Squat

4. Beep Test

5. Deadlift

6. Clapping Pushups

7. Plank - Hold for more than 3 minutes

"A Chiseled core makes you stronger in everything you do, from carrying groceries to mastering the deadlift. It enables you to "produce, stabilize, and transmit force through out the body" says Angelo Poli, owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California. But that armada of muscles is "on" whenever you're upright, so stamina is key."

See Full Article at "Men's Health". - requires digital subscription or purchase the issue at your local newsstand.