The “Give It To Me” mentality.

Nobody gives it to you, you have to take it.

At my nephew’s football game tonight, I realized, I wanted to scrap my initial idea tonight of a running blog, and change it to something like… The “GIVE IT TO ME” mentality of fitness took over my chaotic mind.

It was a junior varsity game, the last one of the season. My nephew is on said team. However, true to this particular coach’s “style”, my nephew and all of the other junior varsity players — never saw the field. The varsity players had a record at the end of THEIR season 2-7, while JV has a record of 5-1.

I have been to many games this season, for many different football teams. Part of my day job as a sports reporter and photographer. This particular coach, makes me shake my head. Why? He would rather lose a game, shout at his defensive line, watch his team get crushed — than make the changes he would need to make in order to play a successful game of football, and win. Because that would mean taking seniors off of the field, and putting in underclassmen.

The seniors are automatically made starters, never having to earn their spot on the field, while the players who play their positions better, watch from the sidelines. A quarterback who ignores the coach’s plays and creates his own. A team that fights and swears on the field, causing them to receive a 10-yard penalty because of their behavior. A defensive line that opens up like the Panama Canal right after a snap.

These players should be benched, and made to work and earn their places on the field. But instead, the privilege is just handed over to them.

This week in my fitness world, a few different things happened. I said good-bye to my last seasonal client, who, while I’m snowed in, will be enjoying the warm sun in Florida. I had two of my 60+ year old clients push themselves through six rather grueling rounds of a new workout, something I knew they had in them, but they themselves didn’t. The pride on their faces at the end, made it all worth it. And I had a potential client call with the request to lose 25-pounds by Thanksgiving week, and have a “nice, flat, toned stomach”. She and her husband are going to Mexico for Thanksgiving this year and she bought a bikini a few sizes too small, six months ago, to get her “up for losing the weight”. Yet she just now reached out to someone to accomplish that.

25-pounds in three weeks. Not to mention what she called a nice, flat and toned stomach.

Realistic? No, most certainly not by any healthy means. I won’t lie. It would take a lot of work to lose just half of that in a healthy way. I refuse to encourage unhealthy behavior for weight loss. Absolutely refuse.

I told her we could meet for a consultation, and made sure to make zero promise or guarantee I could do that even before she agreed to the consultation.


Because of the same mentality those seniors on the field tonight have developed. The Give It To Me mentality.

Results are not instant. You have to work for them.

The slew of advertisements for magic shakes, magic wraps or pills, those that will make you shed weight instantly – only encourage this mentality. The football coach I’ve mentioned here, he’s just like these advertisements. A world of false hope. The issue there is: Do they work? In reality: No. Very few work to some extent, but the results are only temporary. Lasting maybe a few days. Like with the players out there on the field. Only a few, a very small few, might be able to stand up to being able to prove that they deserve to stay on that field. The rest? Not so much. And with the magic potions: The damage to your body? Permanent. When those kids go off to college and think they’ll get the same privileges this coach extended to them? Heartbreak, because most coaches are not like that.

Over the summer, I had one of the gyms I contract with contact me because they had a woman who was getting married in two weeks that wanted to shed 20-pounds before her wedding.

My dilemma with clients like this, who are stuck in the Give It To Me mentality is: I take them on, make it clear that I can help them work towards that goal, make sure to NEVER say that I can do exactly what they are asking and — after just a session or two, they are not seeing results, it becomes my fault, I’m a horrible trainer, and I shouldn’t be working with people. I receive bad reviews from them. They tell all of their friends. It hurts my business. Never mind that I have several successful classes with glowing clients and reviews, or that I have many one-on-ones who have never once had a complaint… It will be because for the ones who want instant, finger snapped results, I’m “damaged”.

It is something that all trainers face. The clients who want as much in the result department, for as little to no work to them.

There is no magic workout. There isn’t a magic diet. It takes hard work and dedication to reach your goals in a healthy manner, and in that process, you learn the dedication and ways to keep successful and maintain your progress. There will be set backs, but if done properly, and coached correctly, those set backs will be easily overcome.

You won’t have it given to you — you have to take it. Dreams and goals only come to fruition if you’re willing to put the work into it.

Baby Rebel is… well, gonna be a rebel.

We found out last Tuesday that Baby Rebel is a boy. And that he is already living up to his, now well loved, nickname.

While it’d have been fun to experience life with a mini-me/girl, I realized very quickly, I’m best suited to be raising a boy. Make-up, princesses, actual style? I’d be a hot mess. Totally lost. I wouldn’t know what to do. Dirt, Tonkas, engines, bugs? I’ve got that. 1904093_10202773718804200_8158087595152938800_n

It’s quite funny that I’m having a boy actually. Women who are/have been pregnant or have children, know exactly what I’m talking about with what I’m going to say next…

Pregnancy seems to give the people around you a pair of brass balls. You get a lot of advice that you – guess what? Don’t even have to ask for! But you also hear all of those infamous old wives tales. The gender ones. The second the world around me was clued into my pregnancy, they came.

The only thing that indicated boy was the position of my bump and the low heart rate we were hearing on the doppler. Now, right off, I ruled out how I was carrying. Because of the positioning of my hips (tilted), my spine (from my disease), and the way things are tipped and tilted inside – I’m going to carry low regardless.

Everyone swore it was a girl. Morning sickness all day, that went away for week 21, but has since returned again in week 22. My face looks like a teenage girl’s face (she’s stealing my beauty). Among many other “tales”…

When the woman doing the sonogram announced “It’s a boy!” I pat my belly and smiled. Baby Rebel is already defying the world around him, and he isn’t even out of the womb.
Proving the world wrong, step one, check.

Just like mommy.

He’s an active little boy. The sonogram was hard to do because he wouldn’t hold still, and the heart beat on the doppler was fascinating as hell because in-between his heart beats, we’d hear “Whoooosh!” because he was still on the move.

He has been fascinated with kicking my belly button, I’ll poke my belly and tell him to cut it out, but it just makes him more persistent. We needed him to move just right to get a full spinal picture on the sonogram, but as he flipped all around, he wouldn’t show his back.

Don’t ever say no or stop, step two, check.

Needless to say, my little man already is trailing in momma’s footsteps, much to daddy’s worry.

So I guess we won’t tell daddy that momma’s worried about all the crazy things daddy did when he was younger, and our little guy wanting to do the same.

I guess I’m going to get a taste of my own medicine, aren’t I?

Pressed for time & space? Quick shoulders & back.

wwI have been home sick for going on three days now. Despite still working during two of those days, I hit stir crazy at the end of day numero uno. And I’m guessing by the activity level inside my stomach… Baby Rebel did too.

Ahhh, the pitfalls of coworkers coming to work sick. Add that to the wonky immune system courtesy of pregnancy: you are going to catch anything that passes your way. And it’s going to suck. Because it’s going to be bad.

Because of being so bad off on Monday, I missed my typical Monday night workout. Okay, fine, it can be done on Tuesday and I’ll just skip a day of yoga this week. Nope. After puking Tuesday morning, I knew it was a good idea to sit that day out completely too.

“Aren’t rest days for sissies?” or “Whatever happened to no days off?”

When you’re pregnant, you take the back seat and baby is in the driver seat. For real. That little thing growing inside of you becomes top priority. Sure, I could have still done my usual Tuesday yoga at night, or even gone to the gym that evening. By that afternoon, I was starting to feel better. But baby is first, and I don’t want to risk his/her health, just so I can go pump some iron for an hour, or work up my already high body heat in a prenatal yoga sesh. Nuh-uh.

Train smarter not harder.

So naturally, by this morning, my body hated me. My back and knees were especially screaming at me “You bitch! You haven’t worked out in almost three whole days! DO something!”

My body needs movement. It has been a huge coping mechanism not just with stress and anxiety in my life, but it has been immense in helping me deal with my spinal disease. I can tell, just how my body feels, how long it’s been since I’ve worked out. I don’t need a calendar.

Because people enjoy going to work sick, passing germs around and what not (then when you get sick from them, tell you not to bring those germs into work!), I felt it wise to spend one more down day at home. This time, since press day had passed, I could make the couch and three weeks worth of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Total Divas my sole days plan. I’d rather not, while I’m down, dealing with this sinus cold thing, catch whatever coworker-x has decided to bring into the office. Baby first, remember?

I can’t just sit on the couch all day, I needed to get some movement in. Thank the workout gods that I’m a personal trainer and have a crap ton of weights, kettles, bands, etc in my sunroom closet, my garage and in my car. Yay for home workouts!

Quickie Home Shoulder/Back workout:

Standing Kettlebell Overhead Press

American Kettlebell Swing

Bent-over Rear Delt Flye

Modified Warrior III Shoulder Raise (in Warrior III pose, weight in one hand, palm down, raise arm nice and high, over head, pause, then return to side)

Sitting Low Band Row (at hip height)

Sitting High Band Row (shoulders parallel to ground)

Pushups (pausing at top for 2 counts, and at bottom for 2 counts)

Tent Pushups

It’s not only a time friendly workout, but it’s a space conserving workout too. You only need about 35-minutes, and about the space of a yoga mat, so it’s great to have on hand for when you’re crunched for time, but need to get a workout in.

Foodie Friday: Eating for two.

This week’s is a special Foodie Friday blog. It touches on that infamous “eating for two” many, if not all, pregnant woman hear during their pregnancies.

Pregnancy brings out the worst in people. Really. It does. Just like with working out, parenting, driving, etc… Suddenly, the day everyone finds out your pregnant, you meet all of the “experts”.

So with voices coming at you, at all sides, how do you know what is correct information, and what’s just “expert” advice from those who just kind of need to take a pause, and maybe even back off?

First and foremost: Listen to your doctor, your midwife and even your doula if you have one.

Second? Stay away from the internet. For real. Those forum boards, chat threads, the endless articles about pregnancy? No. Just don’t even open that browser tab and search for it. Internet “experts” are the same as real life ones.

Unless they’ve had the education, the schooling, etc… Take everything anyone tells you with a giant, sparkling grain of salt.

As you can see, I am viewing my experiences in pregnancy, the same as I have my experiences in the fitness and nutrition world. The people who give their “advice” and “expertise” without prompt, make me batty. In any instance. I’ve been educated in my field, and I only offer anything when I’m approached by someone, seeking answers/guidance/etc…

I have yet to ask for advice, but man, have I gotten a lot of it. Most have been in regards to my still working out, and my eating habits.

It’s really hard to remember that not everyone knows of the studies and research that has been done to prove that exercise during pregnancy not only is okay, but something all doctors are encouraging now. So when I have someone looking at me like I’m about to drop my baby in front of the weight rack at the gym, I have to do my best to not chuckle or make a rude, snide remark.

Although, I did have to take that route one evening with a young man that tried to muscle me out of the gym that I have been going to for more than a decade — and he’s a new member. Sorry buddy, not sorry.

But the eating one is the one that gets me the most.


Should you really be eating for two while pregnant? The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist say firmly and adamantly, no. It puts you and baby at unnecessary risks.

“Oh! You’re supposed to be eating for two! You shouldn’t skip those seconds!” And “Why aren’t you eating that? You have a growing baby in there, you need to eat for two now!”, so on and so forth.


Pre-pregnancy, my caloric intake was 3,300 calories a day. Those calories were consumed in 5 small, very well balanced meals a day. To consume twice that?! I’d be dead before I got the chance to meet my child. I’d smother myself to death consuming 6,600 calories a day, without increasing my activity level to match that intake.

Pregnancy isn’t the meal ticket to eat more and eat whatever the hell you want. If that’s your prerogative, so be it. It’s not a healthy one, and it certainly is NOT a smart one.

So what is best during pregnancy? Stick with the diet you’re on now. And I don’t mean diet as in what you do to lose weight. I mean diet as in: Eat a well balanced, whole diet of foods rich in nutrients, etc. You should NEVER diet to lose weight during pregnancy.

When you’re pregnant, the only thing that should change is how much you eat. During that first trimester, especially if you’re dealing with morning sickness — don’t worry so much about getting a few extra calories. Just focus on getting what your body needs to keep that baby growing and healthy.

You’re looking at a 300+ calorie a day consumption. This is on top of what you were consuming pre-pregnancy. That’s right. Only a measly little 300 more calories a day more than what you had before. A far, far cry from the “eat for two” everyone will tell you to do. Except your doctors, nurses, midwives, etc. They’ll tell you DO NOT eat that much.

If you and baby are going through a fit pregnancy, then on your gym/workout/run days, you’re definitely going to need to consume a little more than that 300 calories a day extra. That’s where that little plus sign comes in. Keep track of your workouts, monitor what you burn so that you can replenish, and you’re all set.

Ideally, a pregnant woman, who was of normal weight pre-pregnancy, should gain about 25-35 pounds during. If she was overweight before pregnancy? Obviously less weight should be gained. More if she was underweight.

Another thing often heard during pregnancy is: Give in to those cravings. Baby wants it!

Just like without being pregnant, your body is craving that certain “thing” for a reason. No, it’s not because it wants you to pig out on ten hamburgers from Burger King or McDonalds. To spring for the large Blizzard at Dairy Queen instead of that little bite size one they have. Your body is telling you that it’s missing something. Missing, or lacking a nutrient that it needs to get through. That’s where our sweets cravings come from. Most of the time, we get the sweets cravings because our body wants fruit and the nutrients that come with it. NOT that Three Musketeers bar.

Babies are the same way. Our body needs more of all of the nutrients we need on a daily basis, and your diet might be lacking in some key spots. Which is where those cravings come in. Finding out what exactly it is that your body is telling you that it needs, can be like deciphering an ancient code some times, but it can be done.

That’s not to say that everyone once in awhile you can’t have a burger, some ice cream, a candy bar, etc… But treat it as you would before. No, it’s not a reward for behaving well on your diet. No, it’s not meant to be a treat or a cheat. Indulge, lightly, once in awhile. That’s how you stay on track with your healthy eating. Don’t deprive, but sample and don’t dive right on in either. A few bites once in awhile is okay.

Brings me back to what Jill Coleman once said on sampling: taste everything and binge on nothing.

In the end, eating right and exercising will not only help you get back into shape easier and even faster, but it will help you in that delivery room as well.

Workout Wednesday: Group Fitness Classes.

wwWhen I first started out as a personal trainer and instructor, I wasn’t sure if I would ever, not only decide to do fitness classes, but want to teach fitness classes. Personally, classes have never been my “thing”. Then again, I was always a solo gym goer right from the start. Sure, my husband and I go to the gym together, and I have several lifting pals I’ve made over the 12 years I’ve been going to the gym… But it’s still me, rockin’ the workout, solo, 90% of the time.

About a half year in, I started brainstorming all of these great ideas to help a lot of my mom friends and area moms get into fitness, learn about eating right, and how to finagle getting their families on board with healthy living. Something I have always seen my area lacking big time.

My area is financially tight for pretty much everyone. So how could I do it affordably? The answer was simply: Classes. Weekend FITT for those who were uber busy, had a hard time finding even a second to get in the gym (but had 20-40 minutes at home of some down time), was born. From there, MommyFITT, my first nutrition and fitness 6-week camp style class became a thing.

Then Body360. Then Better Your Body, my 50+/Seniors class.

Next thing I knew, I had more people in my classes than I did one-on-one training.

Now, with the start of my new class JumpStart, another round of MommyFITT coming up and the launch of UNBootCamp at my new locations… I can’t believe I ever once thought that I’d remain just a one-on-one trainer. Classes are great, I enjoy them a lot, and the benefits are even greater.

Top benefits of taking part in a group fitness class:

1. Proper Instruction
Knowing the correct technique of any workout prevents injuries and will maximize your results. The instructor will always be right there to help demonstrate the proper way to execute an exercise move, help you fix your form, and show you modifications to workouts should you need it.

2. Motivation
Going to a class with a friend or exercising beside a stranger is a great way to boost your ego. Being able to keep up with the class is great motivation for pushing personal boundaries and achieving goals, especially when the instructor is saying “just 5 more!” You are able to push yourself a little more to finish out the set with the rest of the class!

3. Make New Friends
In a group fitness setting you have the opportunity to meet new people, and make new friends. You get to meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet unless you were taking a class. And friends hold you accountable!

4. Affordability
Not everyone has the finances to afford that hourly fee, two to three times a week. Group fitness classes give you a workout at a fraction of personal training costs. And you get the same benefits in the end!

5. Push Yourself Further
When you are in a group setting you are more likely to push yourself and work harder.

And who can forget the best one?…

6. It’s Fun!
Working out in a group fitness setting is fun and takes you mind off of the work. Most classes have energetic music to keep you pumped up and get you going.

Why client talk is important.

This isn’t going to be a typical Workout Wednesday post. It’s Wednesday, and I did workout. I had quite a few different posts I’ve thought about working up for today, but this is something that I feel is a little more important.

Why is talking with your client important? Not only does it establish some type of comfortable relationship, but it helps you, as a trainer, get to know who your client is. It also gives you the opportunity to learn their “tells”, which is key in helping your client progress forward.

Each client appointment I have with my regular, weekly clients, I check in with them. I take about 10-15 minutes from each session just to chat with them. How was their weekend? Their week at work? Etc… It breaks the ice, makes them feel more comfortable with me, and gives me the chance to get a solid read on them as a person. This way, when I shift the questions to how they felt after the last session and the following days, I can tell better just how honest they’re being with me.

“Well… I was good.”

Some trainers may just brush that off, and just get on with the session. If they even take a moment to chat with their client and ask at all. Me? That answer doesn’t leave me feeling comfortable going into the session. The long pause. The only good, not great. No details as to how they really felt.

I have one client who answers this way almost every time. It takes some careful prodding with questions like “Only good? Not great?” or “Any soreness in the following day(s)?” and the likes to get more solid answers that will tell me whether or not it’s a good idea to proceed with the session as the program I designed for them or make some tweaks and changes.

We all think we’re invincible. Just as not everyone knows the difference between soreness from usage versus soreness from oh-crap-something-got-pulled/sprained-torn-etc. It’s my job as a trainer to find out how the client was feeling, in the best description possible, to make sure that it’s not an injury they’re facing. And if it is, help them with a new course of action.

More stretching? Take a break all together? A short break? A long one? Change up their program some so that they don’t experience the feelings they are post-workout? There are a thousand and one reasons why talking to your client is key. Their safety and health is priority. Not that paycheck you get at the end of the month.

I have a client who currently only lives here for six months out of the year. The first month we worked together, he was confused as to why I would always ask him about how he felt after our session. Ask him about how he felt getting out of bed, just doing his daily activities. Then, as I began making small changes here and there to his program, he realized that I was adapting the program to best suit his needs and help keep him safely on track for his goal. He noted that his trainer where he lives during the winter months has never once asked him the questions that I do. And in my mind, I can’t help but wonder why not?

No, a personal trainer isn’t a doctor, but at the end of the day, us trainers are responsible for the well being of our clients. It is our job to make sure that they are okay and doing okay. We should never just assume that because they showed up for their session, or didn’t cancel, that they’re alright.

Assuming is never a safe thing.

Foodie Friday: Crinkle Cookies.

wpid-img_20140919_143056775_hdr.jpgThe hardest thing about baking right now is: Remembering to stay out of the cookie dough.

I know, I shouldn’t be eating raw cookie dough anyway, regardless if I’m pregnant or not. It’s just not good for you. Oh well…

I’m a part of a cookie swap thing with a group of women all over the country that I know. It’s a fun idea, and it keeps us all connected in one way or another. Last year, I made the super delicious Red Velvet Chocolate Chip cookies that made the adventure to Pennsylvania, and were well loved.

This year, it was Chocolate Crinkle cookies. I can’t say where they’re going yet, because they won’t go in the mail until tomorrow and it’s sort of like Secret Santa. You don’t know who made you cookies until you get them. So shh…

I love to cook. But baking and I are a different story. I make a hot mess either of myself or my kitchen. This recipe since I couldn’t find my ice cream scoop, and involved confectioners sugar, did both.

Word of advice? Find your ice cream scoop, or something similar before you even start this recipe.


Unbaked, before the “crinkle”

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls. I like to use a number 50 size scoop. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.