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Motivation: Where It All Begins

There are a lot of things that motivate people, but only a few result in success in the long term.  Finding the positive ways to motivate yourself to be successful for the long term is the most important piece of making a change for life.
One of the most frustrating things for a good trainer or coach to encounter is a client or athlete who is only interested in praise and attention.  There is often an underlying negative dialogue going on with those individuals so when there isn’t a constant stream of praise and attention, self-loathing and doubt rise to the surface.  For the individual who only feels validated by the likes and comments they get in person or on social media, there is often a dark side of feeling invisible or even ugly and unaccomplished.  Individuals who love the praise and encouragement to eat and move better are often not motivated to do anything when the voice encouraging them is silent.

This may sound a bit harsh, but as a personal trainer and coach, I find a lot…
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Reality Checks

As a coach, my job is to teach and encourage my athletes through a lot of changes, hard workouts, higher expectations, the occasional injury, and hopefully, successful competitions.  Every now and then however, I have an athlete that gets a little too comfortable with the status quo, watches too many Youtube videos or Instagram tips, or simply starts to believe their own bullshit.  This is when a reality check becomes necessary.  This is not fun.  Nor is it as easy as saying Dr. Phil's favorite line, "So, how's that working for you?"

People don't like change, especially about their personal training practice.  Or any practice for that matter.  And I'm not exempt.

As I've written about before, I spent a lot of my youth riding and training horses, teaching lessons, and practicing a number of disciplines including show jumping, cross country, dressage, etc.  I've recently returned to my horse addiction and have been working with some young horses and sta…


We never question why we might find a thing fascinating.  Or beautiful.  We just do.  We are drawn to it.  We fantasize about it.  We ascribe qualities to it that may or may not exist in reality.  Most of it exists in the eye of the beholder and unless we are a gifted artist or poet, we can rarely describe exactly what it is that holds our attention so keenly.

Get stronger.  Get faster. Get better at doing that thing.  It all happens from practice.  Repetition.  Consistency.  Time.  At intensities that allow for more perfect time and time again.  Always trying for more perfect.  No one else may understand, but you know.
As I've grown older and wiser, I've witnessed how we can ultimately distill the most results from the simplest practices.  How staying out of your own way and advancing the ball makes you more successful.  How most people overemphasize complexity and disregard simple practice.  Simple is beautiful.  Simple is effective.
Stay focused. There are a lot of distra…

Selection or Development?

Teaching kids to work hard these days involves a lot of challenges.  One of the biggest challenges is getting them to keep trying when they just aren't as fast, strong, or skilled as their peers in whatever sport they are trying to excel in.  What is actually known about kids and development is that a lot of kids just show up that way.  Puberty, the great equalizer, takes a lot more time to show up and start building that strength, endurance, and coordination that full grown adults are gifted with.  In the meantime, those who struggle are often discouraged from trying harder or even sticking it out to allow time to do its magic.

So, aside from being naturally gifted, what is the one thing that can keep the not-so-gifted from giving up altogether?

Well, its an easy question to answer.  The parents and coaches who have the privilege of working with kids need to understand the difference between selection and development.

There are a lot of sports these days where kids are funneled i…

What is Fitness?

So, before we get into what we need to do to improve our fitness, let’s talk about what it actually is. Forget for a moment that all the glossy magazine images and Instagram posts don’t exist and let’s simply define fitness as what it is and how it applies to the human body.

Fitness is the ability to complete a task. And so, just like that, you have to think of your fitness as task-specific. What are the tasks that you want to be able to accomplish? Do you want to restore your ability to live a functional life? Do you want to play a sport? Do you want to train for a race or a strength competition?

Regardless of the task, there are three qualities that your body needs to have in order to function well in a way that is resistant to injury and does not restrict your participation in daily activities. These are strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness and are the foundation of basic fitness. These qualities need to be in place in order to optimally build a more functional …

What we can learn from My 600 lb Life.

For a lot of people, their fitness goals revolve around improving body composition.  I've been thinking about this a lot as I've been sitting on my couch overeating and watching bad television.  However, its not all bad. 

After binging on a few episodes of "Hoarders", I was inspired by my next TV binge of  "My 600 lb Life".  The struggles to commit to life-changing, and often life-saving behavior serves as a good metaphor for the rest of us who are trying to make drastic changes whether its diet, physical ability, or getting over an addiction.

This show reminds me of a “chose your own adventure” book.There are a few different outcomes that are relatively predictable based on what happens at different points during the show.And its an incredibly clear illustration of what is possible when people follow directions and stop making excuses. It always starts the same way.You meet a person who desperately needs help losing an excessive amount of weight.They talk…

How to Train Like a Scientist

Before becoming a mom, and a trainer, and a coach, I spent about 10 years working as a research scientist in a variety of labs.  I've worked in both the university and commercial setting as well as both medical and environmental labs and with a number of different teachers, mentors, students, and objectives.  The most wonderful thing about working in a lab as a research scientist is that regardless of nationality, we all speak the same language, ie, the scientific method.

Scientists are both perpetual students as well as teachers.  We are always learning about new methods, new research, and entirely new fields of study.  Likewise, we are constantly teaching the steady stream of students and fellow researchers who are coming through our labs as well as anyone who may reach out from other labs who need advice or guidance on their own research.  Generally speaking, scientific research, especially in the university setting, often promotes an atmosphere of collaboration and education t…