All posts by Anna Reed

Strong starts on the inside.

“You have to be strong. You have to hold it together.” These and so many others seem to be pet phrases when someone encounters a difficult time in their life. And this is exactly what I have done. I have not only learned to be strong but I have also trained my body to be stronger and faster than ever before. Things are good. I have my husband and 3 children, my house, my business. Life is beautiful. However, there comes a time when you have to acknowledge that not everything is as it seems. We live in a world where everything revolves around perfection-looks, kids, homes, relationships. People don’t want to see *not pretty.* We’ve been trained- almost brainwashed- into hiding our troubles, our hurts, our scars. We’ve been taught to keep things nearly in place, our faces flawlessly contoured, our wardrobe hip and stylish, our hair oh-so-chic, our families happy and well cared for. But those nagging thoughts and those tears that threaten to fall are all but forbidden. When we make the mistake of letting our smile slip away and let our guard down, the reactions of those around us can range from a simple look in the other direction to bring labeled as unstable and crazy. So rather than address the underlying problem, we continue to cover it up. We can be strong on the outside and still have a crippled spirit, wounded and damaged from our pasts. Much like an injury that causes internal bleeding, our hurts are deep and invisible externally while inside our very life is hemorrhaging into our body cavities. No one can live like this.

My scars and hurts are deep. While my brain has spared me from remembering many of the things that have hurt me, I still relive more of them than I’d like. Some of these hurts were physical but the majority were emotional and while physical wounds heal with time, emotional wounds take much longer and often just get buried under happy memories in an attempt to pretend they don’t exist. There are words that have haunted me for years. Even when I am not actively thinking about them, they affect my view of myself and life in general. Things like “I hope you die,” “God makes mistakes and you are one of them,” and “If you’d do —, you’d be prettier.” Then there are the friends I have lost and I berate myself for turning yet another person against me without knowing it. I have tried to change myself to fit in. I have bent over backward to help people who are really just taking advantage of my kindness. I have been burned out and fighting to keep up an image of composure and strength is exhausting. So while my body has become strong, my spirit has remained wounded.The realization hit me this year that STRONG STARTS ON THE INSIDE. I have taken up writing on my mirror reminding myself of things just like this. As I look back at the “friends” I have lost, I am learning to see just how good it was for them to leave. There were the users, the haters, the underhanded judges, and the leaches (and probably more than I just can’t come up with witty names for.) My life was sucked out as I tried to make these people happy rather than search for godly friends who would help my spirit heal and grow. I have come to learn that I cannot depend on those around me to be what I need. What I have been needing for a long time is a hero. I remember talking to a close friend recently and her words were these: sometimes you have to be your own hero. How true! (And yes, that one is on my mirror in deliciously perfect red lipstick.)

To those who have used me: while you have made me regret not seeing the shallowness of your friendship, I have not lost my spirit of kindness and giving.

To those who have hated me and tried to control my actions and decisions by chiding, scolding, or withholding friendship: I have learned that I do not need your approval and I most certainly do not need you in my life. I aught to thank you for leaving. You did me a favor. My spirit was not strong enough to walk away, to cut away the abscess that you were in my life. Yes, losing another “friend” was hard on me, it took me one step closer to healing. It ripped open an old wound that was in dire need of cleansing. The pain was there but healing followed.

To those who are unwilling to grow with me and help me see my full potential: I have nothing more to say to you than goodbye.

To the words that hurt me so deeply: I am enough. I am beautiful. I am strong and I am brave. God never makes a mistake and He has a plan for me that no one could possibly imagine. My life, my hopes, my spirit, my dreams and aspirations are not an accident or a mistake. I do not have to be perfect, be “ON” all the time. My beauty exists in my flaws. They are what make me unique. But even more so is my determination to soar above it all and my drive that pushes me to pick myself back up off the ground time and time again.

Strong starts on the outside and until I see otherwise, I will continue to be my own hero. Change yourself~change the world.

~

Photo credit: Jeremy Meier, Meier Photography
Photo credit: Jeremy Meier, Meier Photography

Back to Fit Client Laura M.

Laura M. 8 week progress- front
Laura M. 8 week progress- front

Prior to  Anna and Sharon’s eight week challenge I think I had tried every fad diet available and had no luck with weight loss of more than 10 pounds.  The weight never stayed off, and usually I gained back more than I lost.  I constantly found myself without energy, always feeling tired, depressed, and having a lot of mood swings.  We live two blocks from the park and my kids would always run there and I couldn’t keep up.  After work I would come home and lay on the couch until it was time for bed. I even felt like I was starting to have hot flashes, and I’m only 34!

I was the heaviest I have ever been when I started the eight week challenge, weighing the same as I did when I was full term pregnant with my kids.  I was very nervous about doing the challenge, and the potential for feeling like I would fail again.  I made myself a deal to take it one week, sometimes one day, at a time and that I wouldn’t give up for the entire eight weeks.  The first week was horrible!  I couldn’t believe how extremely difficult the exercises were for me!  I could barely complete level one with 5 pound weights!  The “100” exercises took me two hours to complete!  Every week I found the exercises getting easier, so I added more weights!  By the end of the eight week challenge I was using 10-15 pound weights for each exercise, and completed the “100” in 50 minutes!

Laura M. 8 week progress- side
Laura M. 8 week progress- side

I also didn’t set a weight loss goal, which is something that I think contributed to me failing each time before because I would be so upset with myself for missing it.  Instead I focused on what Anna and Sharon said, “it’s not about the number of pounds, it’s about the overall transformation.”  After the first week I realized I could do this, and set a goal in my mind to win the challenge!  I stuck to the diet and exercise plan faithfully for the entire eight weeks.  By the end I didn’t care if I won the challenge or not because I had made an amazing transformation myself!  I have energy, I can run as far as I want with my kids, no more mood swings, no depression, no hot flashes, and most importantly I feel so good about myself!  Over the eight week challenge I lost 31 pounds and 26 inches, but the most important thing I gained from the challenge was confidence in myself!  I’m so glad I took the challenge and completed it, it really has changed my life!  I’m so grateful to Sharon and Anna for their time and help throughout the challenge!

Laura M. 8 week progress- back
Laura M. 8 week progress- back

Back to Fit Client Jess S.

One day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw my friend post about joining an 8 week challenge. I knew I was in a rut physically and I needed change.

Jess S. 8 week progress
Jess S. 8 week progress- side

I immediately took the plunge and joined the group. I was sick of not fitting into my clothes, binging on junk, and feeling awful. I knew my husband was trying his best to compliment me and of course he loved me no matter what, but I needed change. I joined the group with Anna and Sharon and saw the meal plan and workout and was a bit overwhelmed. I was unsure of myself but decided to give it my all and push forward.

Jess S. 8 week progress- front
Jess S. 8 week progress- front

Week by week I had more energy and I could see numbers going down inch by inch, pound by pound. This was working! I couldn’t believe it! My healthier choices in my diet made it easier to turn down bad foods and eventually my cravings for bad food became few and far between. By the end of the challenge I lost almost 28 lbs. I couldn’t believe it. In just two short months I developed healthier habits that have helped me come farther than I ever have since my second daughter. I’m so thankful I decided to sign up for this challenge and so excited to continue this journey!!

Jess S. 8 week progress- back
Jess S. 8 week progress- back

Back to Fit Client “J”

I began this 8-week challenge with the idea that it would change my life!  It has.

8 week progress
8 week progress

I was overweight & feeling tired all the time.  I had been walking a lot during my lunch breaks from work, but I still kept gaining weight and had quite a muffin top.  My eating habits were out of control, snacking on things that were not good for me. I didn’t know if I could make it for 8-weeks, but I was going to give it my best shot!

At the beginning it was very hard to do some of the exercises, but I would at least attempt them & do as many as I could. I gradually worked up to doing more & more of them & it took me less time to accomplish than at the first. I started feeling like I had more energy right from the first week!

Sometimes I would get discouraged when I didn’t think that progress was happening, but I was encouraged by my instructors and other teammates in the Challenge.  My husband has been such an encouragement to me also.  He even gave me a challenge that if I just finished the 8-weeks without missing a day of workouts that he would take me on the train to Chicago and buy me a new outfit. I can buy a new outfit anytime, but this was something that really kept me going!  I picked out a picture of what I would buy in Chicago, as well as a picture of the train so that I would have a visual of my goal. (Goal accomplished!!!  We are going to Chicago tomorrow!)

The pictures I had at the beginning of the Challenge were so embarrassing, but I was resolved that I would never look that bad again.  I am so excited to say that the picture I have at the end of the Challenge looks pretty good!  I still have goals I want to reach, but I am so far along!

I lost almost 9 pounds.  But the best part is the inches I have lost in areas I had a hard time losing them!  I lost 3 inches in my chest, 4.5 inches in my waist, and 3 inches in my hips.PhotoGrid_1446827430412

The best part is I have so much more energy & am much more healthy & happy.  I feel stronger than I have in a long time.

This 8-week challenge was the best thing I have done in a long time.  It’s been a “life-changer!”

New Study Shows The Benefits Of Working With A Personal Trainer

Over the course of my career as a personal trainer, it has become obvious to me the benefits that come from using a personal trainer, especially when it is combined with a proper nutrition plan. Clients lose fat, look better, feel healthier and have increased energy. As you can see from my success stories page, my clients also see that benefit.

While I see these benefits on a daily basis when working with clients, a recent study conducted by supplementcritique.com to gauge consumer perceptions of personal fitness trainers reinforces that. The study found that an overwhelming number of people are satisfied with their experience when they worked with a personal trainer. The survey, conducted in the United States, targeted consumers that currently workout at least three times a week.

Key Takeaways:

  •  83% of people that have used a personal trainer were satisfied with the results.
  •  Experience is the most important factor people consider when   choosing a personal trainer, with 35% of respondents stating this  was their most important consideration.

Satisfied Customers

Of those surveyed, 56% of respondents who exercised three times or more per week stated that they had used the services of a personal trainer in the past. Of those that had used the services of a personal trainer as part of their workout regime, a whopping 83% were satisfied with the results, underlining the value that personal trainers bring to those looking to achieve their fitness goals.

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Of those respondents that had not used a personal trainer in the past, there was a clear understanding of the benefit of using a personal trainer as evidenced by the fact that 68% of respondents believed that working with a personal trainer would help them reach their fitness goals.

Experience Matters

Consumers were asked what the most important factors they would consider when hiring a personal trainer. 35% of respondents said that the experience of the personal trainer was the most important factor followed by 27% of people saying that personality and likeability were most important. 26% of respondents cited cost as being the most important factor they would consider when choosing a trainer to work with.

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Education

The study asked respondents what they thought was the education level of the average personal trainer. 61% of those surveyed believed that the average personal trainer has less than a college degree. 15% believed that the average education level was high school, while 46% believed that the average personal trainer had some college. 38% believed that the average personal trainer had obtained a college degree.

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What is striking about this study is the satisfaction level that people have when they work with a personal trainer. Working with a personal trainer that you can connect with is far more likely to lead to you having success while also increasing your enjoyment level.

Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups

  • 4.00 boneless, skinless chicken breasts- halved
  • 1/4 cup(s), Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 0.12 cup(s), parmesan cheese
  • 1.00 tsp(s), Cajun Seasoning
  • 4.00 oz(s), Cheese, cheddar
  • 2.00 large, Eggs – White only, raw
  • 2.00 tbsp (14 g), Coconut Oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Heat coconut oil in large skillet.
3. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Add egg whites to another bowl and whisk lightly.
4. Slice cheese in 8 slices. Flatten each breast half slightly and roll cheese slice in the middle of each. Dip in egg whites and coat in bread crumb mixture.
5. Pan fry 2 minutes each side. Transfer to glass baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Info:
Calories: 209
Protein: 25g
Carbs: 3g
Fat: 10g

Stuffed Chicken Roll-ups

Sara D.

Sara D Before and AfterI have often been asked what motivates me to be in the gym 6 days a week, 2 hours a day and basically eat 6 staple ingredients a day, every day for the last 11 months. Tricks and magic must be involved, right? I mean, I work on average 60-70 hours a week, have a household to take care of (husband and 2 spoiled Yorkies is quite the handful believe it or not) and have other countless obligations I need to be present for so how could I possibly have time to fit workouts and meal planning into my schedule. While I can’t say the ‘tricks and magic’ was as easy as blaming it on a specific issue that would require most people to change their habits (e.g., health reasons, life events, etc.), I can say that I just simply HAD ENOUGH. For me, I literally woke up one day and decided that I had enough. ‘Enough’ was my tricks and magic to my transformation.

 

Each year, my friends and I always challenged each other to see who would be the fittest in 3, 4, 5 months and then plan to reward ourselves if we ever met our goal. Truth be told, prior to Anna, I never met my workout goals and I had enough. I had enough of setting “binge” type goals and not meeting them, I had enough of feeling unsatisfied and being stressed that I had to incorporate many changes in my life to do so in order to look great, I had enough of feeling overwhelmed about what I needed to eat, calorie counting and piecing together workout plans from a million sources. While setting goals is a fantastic idea and it’s good to have something to strive for, tell me this, what happens after your goal is accomplished? I needed to realize that eating right and getting fit is not just ‘a goal’ and then it’s over and back to the beginning, but rather, a lifestyle and an important way of life, part of my being, my existence!

Sara Before

Then I met Anna. Under Anna’s counseling, dedication and belief that it’s not about the number on the scale or how many calories are consumed, my life began to transform. Anna helped me with nutrition and workouts tailored to my specific needs. She encouraged and supported me and answered every question I had (trust me, I had many, as annoying as it was). I could email her at 8am or midnight and she was always responsive, which is a rare quality! Without Anna, I would not be able to enjoy the results I have accomplished (note, the picture above was taken just 4 months after I joined Anna’s hit list). I can’t say it was easy, but without Anna, I would not be where I am at today and I am forever grateful for her services.

 

Looking forward to this lifelong relationship and lifestyle!

SaraWk 16 (1)

Confessions of a Personal Trainer: we like to have friends too.

Contrary to popular belief, you can be friends with a trainer too. I know, I know…you are all thinking it. “But you’ll just sit there and critique me and even though you aren’t saying it, you are secretly dreaming of putting me through a torturous workout to burn off my unsightly areas.” You couldn’t be more wrong!

I don’t know what drives them to but I cannot count the number of times someone has walked by me with a plate of food at a function of some sort, made eye contact with me, and said, “I’m getting back to the gym next week” or “I am going to get back on the wagon.” At no point did I ever even glance at these plates of food much less judge the contents. I have learned to refrain from making a lot of eye contact in these situations. Yes, you all see me as a gym obsessed weirdo who eats strange things and a lot of it, cooks in even stranger ways, and may or may not show up to various things wearing gym clothes. Does this somehow make me less than human? To some, maybe, but really I am no different than the next girl.

How can we still be friends? Really, we can be friends just like everyone else. The bane of my existence is NOT to workout constantly or to make those around me feel bad about themselves. Trainers like to have friends just as much as the next person. We don’t want to constantly talk about our job and fitness or be known as the person you only talk to when you want to lose your love handles. Sure, if it comes up in conversation, we may venture out to talk about it (especially if it’s to attempt to correct a misconception on the subject) but this is always a painful situation since we are constantly cringing, waiting for the eye rolls, snide remarks, and mock confessions. If you ask me what I have been up to and my answer includes the words “I went to the gym,” I am not trying to force you into hiring me. I am not trying to guilt you about your lifestyle and eating habits. I am simply answering the question in the same way anyone else would.

We enjoy what we do but at times, it costs us the connections we crave in our lives. We often find ourselves the butt of any joke about fitness or fat, whether we are present to hear it or not. We are laughed at for our methods and while we wouldn’t change them for anything, it is still difficult to constantly be the outsider. The next time you talk to one of us, remember we are just as human as you and before we get caught up in another controversy or joke about our lifestyle, we just want to have be treated like the normal people we are.
Plank
Cheers!

Kasja P.

Over the last few years I had been trying to lose the extra weight that I had previously gained. I tried all sorts of programs, but never seemed to be able to keep the weight off. Growing up I was always athletic and fit. I never paid attention to how or what I ate. Once I hit college it was as though the food started to stick to me! I would start a diet or workout program for a while and it would work, but I never truly made it part of my lifestyle and that was the problem I needed something more. It wasn’t until my sister told me that she started working with Anna, and after seeing her quick results, I wanted in on it too!

 

Through this program I learned that it is not just a fad, but actually a true lifestyle choice. I am not going to lie; it was certainly tough at the beginning. After the first week I was exhausted and did not know if I would be able to do this. I was determined not to give up and to give it more time. Then when I turned in my first month’s stats I was surprised! I had lost weight and started to see some definition that I hadn’t seen in years! This was the turning point, I decided to stick with it and surprisingly it became easier. As each month passed I continued to see more results and due to these results I became addicted to eating right and working out regularly. I could hardly wait to get to the gym. I often thought who is this person, addicted to working out??

 

I know that I would not have been able to do this without my trainer, Anna. She was always a phone call away to answer questions and give me advice. Through this program I learned what it really takes to stick to a program and it truly is a lifestyle commitment. There is no magic diet pill, only a lot of hard work and determination to achieve your goals.

 

Kasja Pinter

Judgment day at the gym

Picture this: a gym full of sweaty people, working their tails off for one reason or another. Well, duh, that is your typical picture in the gym. Now take yourself to that day when you saw someone a little (or a lot) overweight, looking out of his or her element, trying desperately to work out. Maybe he or she had poor form or were completely out of breath after just one set of bodyweight squats. Do you remember the looks, the eye rolls, the snorts that were flung that way as “the fit” of the gym shook their heads in disgust and disdain wondering why someone like that dared come to the gym.

Now take a step back while I tell you my story. Right now, I am the “fat girl” at the gym. I am there lifting 4-5 days a week with a little cardio the end and still somehow, I am getting bigger. When I mean bigger, I am talking over 40 pounds bigger! 37 weeks

As far as everyone else is concerned, my workouts aren’t helping as I continue to balloon up. But I’ll let you in on a little secret that only 3 or 4 people at my gym know: I’m just shy of 9 months pregnant (38 weeks today to be exact) with my 3rd baby! While those looks are getting flung at me wondering why I even bother working out if I am just getting fat anyway, I am growing a human. Since the majority of the people at the gym aren’t aware of the circumstances surrounding my weight gain, the looks have only increased the bigger I have gotten. And I will be the first to admit that I notice…and it bothers me…a lot on some days. I even got a tank top that reads, “Mom to be. Est 2014” yet that didn’t even give away the not-so-obvious.

Sure, I am not the typical “out of shape” person but I am still experiencing the same “gym judgment” that others do. Maybe that person huffing and puffing on the treadmill that you just rolled your eyes at has metabolic damage. Perhaps they are diabetic and trying to lose weight to control the diabetes. Or maybe they have lost a lot of weight already and are just trying to get off that last 50 pounds. My point is this: you never know someone’s story just by looking at them. We have all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I think it’s safe to say you cannot accurately judge a person on a first (or even second) glance. Everyone has to start somewhere whether it be learning proper form, how to use the big boy weights, or how to make fitness a part of their lifestyle. I know I wouldn’t have learned what I know if it hadn’t been for the friends I had who were always willing to answer my stream of annoying questions- “What’s that one exercise where you….?” “How do you do that again?” You get my point.

So before you determine that person fumbling with the 3lb dumbbells is incompetent and doesn’t belong in the gym, check yourself and instead, give them a smile or compliment them on how hard they are working. You may just land yourself a new gym buddy. You just never can tell.