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

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.

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!

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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!

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.

The good, the bad, and the not so visually appealing

Yes, I know it’s “the good, the bad, and the ugly” but really, who wants to hear the truth stated so bluntly? I think these days the majority of people need things as politically correct as possible. As a trainer, I make some semblance of a living from telling people things they don’t want to hear. While I don’t spend every second of my day berating clients for everything they do wrong from poor eating habits to improper form, I also don’t spend all my time pretending to be Pollyanna and find only the good things to praise. It’s my job to help people become better, healthier beings. That requires me to break them of their bad habits, point out flaws (yes, sometimes even character flaws), and tell them things they don’t want to hear. Much like setting a broken bone hurts, so does coming to someone like me when you know your fitness needs an overhaul. But I think we can all agree that the results of both, if done correctly, far outweigh the temporary misery required for improvement.

The real question here is this: can you hack it?
Of course everyone wants to hear positive things, things that may or may not be true but things nonetheless that make one feel good about himself or herself. I won’t disagree that positive reinforcement can help a person become more confident and as it were create a different persona. What I do disagree with, though, is encouraging something that may threaten one’s life and health in the future. There are amazing people, men and women alike, who are talented, brilliant, caring, beautiful, and so many other wonderful things yet at the same time they are sometimes overweight or even severely underweight. In order to maintain a relationship with them, their friends spout a continuous stream of “you are fine just the way you are” when that is not the case. In essence, they are lying to them by omitting and ignoring the problem that is staring everyone in the face. At this point, it’s fine for you to throw your phone across the room or slam your laptop shut and stomp away from my “meanness” but when you are done with your “I can’t believe how shallow she is” tantrum, I’ll be here waiting. Let me defend myself against the wild accusations that are undoubtedly flying against me right now.

1. This has nothing to do with looks. (Just in case you didn’t get my message earlier, go look at all the positive things I listed that some people with weight issues have going for them, both inside AND outside.)

2. I am not suggesting you walk up to every obese person and enlighten them as to just how overweight they are. Why? Well, because it’s rude and unkind on a whole new level, duh!

Oh, wait, you think I just contradicted myself, don’t you? Ya know, when I mentioned before how friends aren’t being truthful when they convince those who struggle with weight that they see just fine (suggesting that is not healthy to do so).

Here is where the “bad” gets addressed, right along with the “good.” If you are into tearing people apart, this isn’t for you. For the rest of you who see a problem but just aren’t sure how to address it, read on.

Sometimes it is necessary to take the people we care about the most, sit down, and point out the thing that will hurt them most. It’s not because we don’t love them, don’t appreciate their many qualities, or just want to hurt them. But in all honestly, how can anyone sit by and watch another eat (or not eat) themselves into an oblivion of health issues and and say nothing? Or worse yet, tell them they are ok?!? Yet a look around at the people you encounter most would show otherwise.

Let me cut to the heart of the matter. The issue is not how people look or how they perform in any capacity but rather the struggles, both physical and mental, that will continue to shroud individuals for the rest of their lives even they are allowed and even encouraged to gloss over the way they see their lifestyle choices, eating, and overall health.

No, I don’t revel in having to point out flaws in my clients and I certainly don’t enjoy telling complete strangers that everything they are doing is wrong after they have come to me to ask why they have cellulite, flabby bellies, and jiggly thighs. But what they can all attest to is that the fact that I don’t leave them hanging on the negative. I always ALWAYS offer a solution, even if it’s as simple as “we can beat this. Just give me some time to put together the best options.” And when I say “we,” I mean just that. While I do have the unpleasant task of pointing out things that no one wants to acknowledge, I look at it as my duty as their trainer, and just as a trainer in general, to be there every step of the way to help clients overcome these issues. I cannot force anyone to keep fighting to become healthy but no one can ever accuse me of giving up on them.

Back to my original question…can you hack it? Are you ready to face your issues and permanently take control? Are you willing to stop making excuses for yourself and to stop allowing yourself to think and be told you are ok as you are? Deep down, we all know we aren’t “ok” (yes, I’m including myself in that one because NO ONE is exempt from problems) but it takes guts to own up to it and start to repair the damage. So this year when you start to make your resolutions, don’t pat yourself on the back and give yourself an easy out. Make this year count. Make 2014 the year you take your health back and go from “ok” and “just fine” to “OMG! Who is that?!?”

Oxymoron of the century- skinny = healthy

I have seen so many things so many things the last few weeks like “be skinny/healthy” or “wanna get skinny and in shape?” It is not something I haven’t heard before although I am concerned with how much this is getting thrown around. If I were to get a nickel for every time I have been asked how I “stay so skinny” and what my secrets are, I would be rich.

Let me start by clarifying this by getting on my proverbial soap box for a few minutes. Merriam-Webster defines skinny as “lacking sufficient flesh: very thin: emaciated: lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t see this word as something I want describing me. Honestly, what person in their right mind would truly desire to look “emaciated” or in other words, starving to death? Being thin or “skinny” is portrayed in media as something attractive as it is seen so often in print and on the runway but that is no way to live life. Even some fitness competitors and models appear skinny in their photo shoots that they have during competition season where they are keeping their body fat percentage extremely low. This is not a lifestyle that can be maintained for very long without serious repercussions.

Interpretation: SKINNY IS NOT HEALTHY!!!

If you were to see a fitness competitor in her “off season” between competitions, she might even look a little overweight to the average person. A lifestyle of “skinny” whether unhealthy or fit-skinny cannot be maintained! It is a rather unreasonable goal yet it is one that is sought after by many women in today’s society. I, for one, am not skinny. Fit? –yes, but skinny, absolutely not! It surprises a lot of people to know that at 5’ 8”, I weigh in around 135-140 pounds. Those who simply see my stats without seeing me think I am incredibly chunky. I will let you be the judge from my photos.

Now to get back to the question on how I stay “skinny”- just like beauty, “skinny” is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, if you see my body as skinny, I will give you my secrets on how I stay the way I am. I do it by eating clean and exercising on a regular basis. Yes, that is my secret in a nutshell. My goals may be different than those of the average person who may desire to tone or even bulk up (build muscle). However, the same rules apply. One does not simply go from the couch to doing 10 full pull-ups in a day. It takes time, effort, and dedication. I have formed a habit of eating properly and working out regularly. This habit is what gets me through times where I get the urge to frequent a fast-food restaurant when hunger hits. It also keeps me going to the gym daily even when unpredictable weather conditions make it less than pleasant to leave the house with my little ones in tow. Yes, there are days when I would much rather get that extra hour of sleep or laze about in my pajamas all day but the benefits of staying active and getting my booty in gear far outweigh a day of laziness.

Fitness is a lifestyle for me, not a fad and it can be the same for anyone. If a person want something badly enough, he or she will undoubtedly make it possible through whatever means necessary and do so in a truly HEALTHY way.

Transform your life…be a mummy???

It’s Wednesday…that point in the week when I don’t mind stepping on a few toes so here it goes.
Transformations. Lifestyle changes. Weight loss. Skinny. These terms are thrown around so much these days that I think people forget that in order to transform or make a lifestyle change, you actually have to work..I mean, CHANGE something!
Yet here I see a lifestyle change (and I use this loosely) that only takes…OMG….less than an hour? (see pictures below) But this change requires me to wrap myself up like a baked potato or mummy (as I prefer) to magically melt away the pounds. Here are a few things I find disturbing about these “amazing” tools of transformation.

1. You become a mummy!
I don’t want to wrap myself in ceran-wrap like an ancient Egyptian to become skinny (we will debate “skinny” at a later time). I am sorry but it’s just ludicrous. But what is REALLY ludicrous…

2.They are expensive!
And by expensive, I mean $99 for 4 of them! I don’t know about you, but that is not even two months at my gym and I have unlimited access. I’ll stop there.

3. They have great “results” but they don’t last.
“Tightens, tones, & firms. Minimizes cellulite appearance…Results in as little as 45 minutes.” These are just a few of their claims. What they DON’T tell you is that these results are short lived. These wraps simply pull the water from your body so the changes only last until you eat or drink something (yes, food contains water).

4. They do nothing to actually transform more than the outside.
There is nothing about these things that actually encourages or guides users to make ANY sort of changes to their eating or exercise habits to make truly lasting results or transformations.
Temporarily dehydrating your skin does nothing to give you extra energy, boost your metabolism, or lower your body fat to make you truly healthy. A “lifestyle change” or “transformation” requires you to get up and work, to change your food choices, and change your way of thinking about life in general.

So before you go embalming yourself to “shed the pounds,” try actually changing your habits and save yourself some serious mullah…and maybe add a few enjoyable years to your life.

Get up and get healthy.

Skinny? I am soooo not!

This is a portion from a small project I am working on…I thought it fitting to post. This is a very rough draft but you get my drift.

The number one question I get asked: How do you stay skinny?
Let me start by clarifying this by getting on my proverbial soap box for a few minutes. Merriam-Webster defines skinny as “lacking sufficient flesh: very thin: emaciated: lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities, or significance.”I don’t know about you, but I don’t see this word as something I want describing me. Honestly, what person in their right mind would truly desire to look “emaciated” or in other words,starving to death? Being thin or“skinny” is portrayed in media as something attractive as it is seen so often in print and on the runway but that is no way to live life. Even some fitness competitors and models appear skinny in their photo shoots that they have during competition season where they are keeping their body fat percentage extremely low. This is not a lifestyle that can be maintained for very long without serious repercussions. If you were to see a fitness competitor in her “off season” between competitions, she might even look a little overweight to the average person. A lifestyle of “skinny” whether unhealthy or fit-skinny cannot be maintained! It is a rather unreasonable goal yet it is one that is sought after by many women in today’s society. I, for one, am not skinny. Fit? –yes, but skinny, absolutely not! It surprises a lot of people to know that at 5’ 8”, I weigh in around 135-140 pounds, and yes, I just made my weight public. Those who simply see my stats without seeing me think I am incredibly chunky. I will let you be the judge from my photos.

Now to get back to the question on how I stay “skinny”- just like beauty, “skinny” is in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, if you see my body as skinny, I will give you my secrets on how I stay the way I am. I do it by eating clean and exercising on a regular basis. Yes, that is my secret in a nutshell. My goals may be different than those of the average person who may desire to tone or even bulk up (build muscle). However, the same rules apply. One does not simply go from the couch to doing 10 full pull-ups in a day. It takes time, effort, and dedication. I have formed a habit of eating properly and working out regularly. This habit is what gets me through times where I get the urge to frequent a fast-food restaurant when hunger hits. It also keeps me going to the gym daily even when unpredictable weather conditions make it less than pleasant to leave the house with my little ones in tow. Yes,there are days when I would much rather get that extra hour of sleep or laze about in my pajamas all day but the benefits of staying active and getting my booty in gear far outweigh a day of laziness. Fitness is a lifestyle for me, not a fad and it can be the same for anyone. If a person want something badly enough, he or she will undoubtedly make it possible through whatever means necessary.