Regular Measures are Key to Success

As a Red Deer personal trainer I’ve always explained to my client how important regular assessments and measurements are. They were often surprised when I explained measuring yourself surprisingly might be the best method for a number of reasons, learn more in this weeks video.


How-to Plan a Successful New Year's Resolution

How-to Plan a Successful New Year’s Resolution

ny-picNew Year’s is one of my favourite holidays of the year. Kind of an odd ritual when you think about it; time doesn’t stop, the world doesn’t suddenly change overnight, yet we generally have an entirely new outlook on the days ahead. Our perception of this even leaves us supercharged and full of vigour, a focused energy to strive toward new goal, dreams, ambitions, achievements. This is a massive time of growth for the fitness industry.

One statistic I came across suggested that only 12% of people who set New Year’s resolutions will reach them. By the end of February more than 60% of resolutions have been abandoned and by the end of June this swells to over 80%.

I can’t imagine that any of us look ourselves in the mirror and think, “I’m excited about setting this goal knowing that I’m going to fail.” Yet the likelihood of this reality is significant. I hope with each column I write, at any time of year, that many more of you will be empowered to beat the statistics.

There is an acronym that as a Red Deer personal trainer I’ve used for effective goal setting for a long time; this New Year’s I’d like you to set a SMART goal. Here’s the Breakdown on what SMART stands for and how to use it.

Specific – All goals must be as specific as possible, written down and reviewed often. It’s not enough to say, “I want to lose weight and tone up.” A specific goal would be, “I am going to lose 30lbs, 3 pant sizes and be able to run 10kms by the end of April.”

Measureable – Define how you will measure and how often you will measure. For the above goal this individual should commit to weighing on Fridays, trying on the goal pants at the end of each month and ever week to two weeks completing a long distance run to see how progress is coming. By tracking weight, if they can fit into the pants and recording running distances they have effective measurement metrics to know whether they are progressing to their goal.

Attainable – This letter in the acronym can be interpreted differently. In my interpretation of attainable I teach that each goal must be reverse engineered. Attainability is dependent upon breaking it down into short periods of weeks or days and outlining the baby steps you will need to complete in each of these micro periods to reach your goal. These micro-periods play to our emotional side making commitment easier because it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly long. For example based on our above goal to lose an average of 2lbs per week one suggestion would be to complete about 45-75 min/day of cardiovascular activity, this will also help with the secondary goal of running 10km. Each micro-period might be one week where it will be important that at least 5 of the 7 days I complete 45-75 minutes of sustained cardiovascular exercise. Just checking that off my list each day will be a small victory that feels good reinforcing me to greater likelihood of reaching my final goal.

Realistic – This point in your goal setting is a point of review. Your goal must be realistic in the sense that it must fit your current lifestyle habits; or that you’ve planned for an appropriate period of time and baby steps to adapt to it. People often say they lack willpower but this is inaccurate. Emotionally if we become discouraged or resentful toward a goal it’s our body protecting itself from us trying to force it to adapt to fast. A realistic goal is one that encompasses a pattern of adaptation that you will find reasonable comfortable and manageable. For instance if you know you need to complete 45-75 minutes of cardiovascular activity per day starting at what’s comfortable (say 10 minutes) and adding 2 minutes every 3rd day may seem like no big deal at all. This would be my definition of a realistic plan for reaching your goal.

Time – The final step for creating an effective goal is finalizing a timeline. Based on the steps above you should now have a pretty definitive plan for what you want to do, broken down into what you need to do, that’s then broken down into the baby steps that will make it all a reality. The timeline could really read deadline, and it needs to be taken seriously. Set a defined date with a real risk and reward that waits for you, and don’t let yourself off the hook. Plan a special event with your spouse or friends, plan to wear the new pants that are 3 sizes smaller, tell someone about it or write a basic contract as a form of greater commitment and accountability.

Effective goal planning takes a little time. I suggest you don’t complete your SMART goal plan all in one sitting. Just jot everything down quickly completing each step, then come back to it later that day or the next and review and revise.  Review and revise one more time and you will be amazed at how much easier the little ideas and details will come that will ensure you know what you need to do, how you need to do it, and it won’t seem nearly as daunting. As a final step visit us on facebook and tell us your New Year’s resolution and deadline. J

I'm Not The Fitness Grinch But...

I’m Not The Fitness Grinch But…

ChristmasGrinHere we are, Christmas time once again. It’s that time a year we engage in a social marathon of Christmas parties, dinners, functions and family gatherings. They say the average person will gain approximately 5lbs over the four week Christmas season. If this concerns you read on, I created a short Christmas Fitness Survival List for you.

1)     Deep breaths and relax – With inconsistent sleep hours, hydration, and increased or unusual food intake your weight will fluctuate. Understand that it’s almost physiologically impossible to gain pounds of fat in just a few days; much of the fluctuation that occurs is simply a change in intercellular volume, something that will take care of itself once normal habits return.

2)     Don’t be on the naughty list – New Year’s is coming, the clean state, start fresh, oodles of motivation time. Don’t wait until New Year’s to start exercising, start now. Even with unstable nutritional habits regular exercise on a consistent basis, now and through Christmas, will minimize holiday weight gain. Set your body up for immediate change in the New Year, and psychologically ensure you don’t become a dreaded statistic for an abandoned resolution.

3)     Frequency is always important – If you’ve been eating 5-6 times per day up until now, try to maintain that, and if you haven’t try to start. What most of us have a hard time realizing is that our stomach is an amazing calorie burner, every time you put something in it uses a lot of energy to break it down. By eating small meals frequently you can burn additional calories and minimize the impact of the holiday additives.

4)     Drink, drink, drink – Sorry I mean water. If I could only ensure everyone learned one thing about how to look and feel better it would be consume more water. We require much more than 8 glasses per day in to offset the physiological demands of a drastically changing climate, increased amounts of stress, altered sleep habits and of course the possibility of holiday spirits. Increased water intake is a keystone catalyst of controlling how you look and feel a good target for each day is half your bodyweight in ounces.

5)     Speaking of spirits – I’m sorry but it’s the truth, there are few things worse for you metabolically than alcohol. As little as one ounce will drastically reduce metabolic function for up to 72 hours, the more alcohol consume the longer your metabolism is disrupted and the more suppressed its function. Be a socialite but try to pick your functions and minimize consumption, I hate being the bearer of bad news but you will thank me later.

These few tips should help you avoid the holiday weight gain woes but in all seriousness please don’t worry about fitness and weight gain too much at all through the holiday season. This is a time for friends, family, celebration and reinforcing the relationships that matter most. Take this time to enjoy what really matters. Have a Merry Christmas and know that when celebrations settle and normal habits return, the scale will begin to drop and you’ll only be left with the memories of the happy moments shared with others. If for some reason that’s not the case than at least you know a good trainer to help you out, happy holidays from our family to yours.

Holiday Survival Guide

Holiday Survival Guide

Santa-girl makign shhh - Christmastime 03The holiday season is upon us once again. It’s that time of year when it seems as though there is a social gathering every other night. That time of year when we become seemingly less conscious about our health, fitness and maintain a paradoxical outlook on weight loss.

It might surprise you but I always recommend to my clients to not worry or stress about their fitness and nutrition too much during the holidays. I believe that our relationships with family and friends are so intrinsically important to our overall well being that they should be our primary focus throughout the holiday season. None the less it only makes sense as one of Red Deer’s fitness experts I give you my tips and thoughts on fitness for the holidays.

1)     Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Not just a famous book series but words to live by. Even worse than over indulging during the holidays is stressing about it. Physiologically increased physical and emotional stress for any length of time are more potentially damaging to your health than two weeks of bad habits ever could be.

2)     If You’ve Been Doing Your Homework You Have Nothing to Worry About – Truth is if you’ve been exercising regularly and eating well for at least 6 weeks prior to the holidays than nothing you can do during this time will be a major setback. Solid, regular lifestyle habits do not deteriorate with a brief interruption; though you might see the scale and your energy levels fluctuate they will quickly return once you resume your exercise program at the conclusion of the holiday season.

3)     Unfortunately Alcohol is Always the Biggest Problem – Many people are seemingly confused about a few social beverages. Numerous times I’ve had someone try to explain to me that by eliminating the calories in the mix they are going to coast through unscathed. As bad as sugar is this logic is very flawed. 1-2 ounces of alcohol is all that is needed to suppress hormonal function (significantly impairing the metabolism) for a period of 72 hours or longer. The more you drink the longer you remain impaired, no pun intended. (Ok maybe a little.)

4)     Water it Down – No not your favourite beverage, but by that I mean you. Consume even more water if possible, ideally 4 litres or more per day. By consuming significantly more water than usual you will not only minimize your tendency or desire to over eat but also help your body shed excess toxins from processed food and alcohol faster. This is a great way to further insulate your metabolism during periods where you know your habits will be less than ideal. Yes you may wind up in the bathroom more but even that will subside with consistency for 72 hours or longer.

5)     Gaze Down the Highway – Set your goals for the New Year now. Don’t wait until after the holidays and the rush of resolusionists to set your fitness and weight loss goals. By setting your goals now before the holidays you are programming your subconscious to turn on course to reach them. It sounds silly but this little exercise will give you the will to ensure your holiday deviation from the beaten path doesn’t leave you lost in the woods.

However you choose to enjoy the holidays I hope they are joyous and merry. Spend time with loved ones; take much deserved time for yourself. Look at the year ahead and know great things will come if you wish them to.

Well, it comes down to stress..

Well, it comes down to stress..

FullSizeRenderDon’t be so uptight.

More people are affected by violence, crime and tragedy than ever before, it’s sad how many people are negatively affected by such things. In my mind, just as sad is that people are killing each other in this very city every single day without even saying a word to each other. You might think I’m crazy but hear me out.

The physiological effects of physical and emotional stress are well documented. In their most basic form they both create similar situations in our internal metabolic environment. A heightened sense of emotion will cause a similar dramatic hormonal cascade to that of a situation of danger requiring immediate physical response. The frequent over expression of these hormones leads to metabolic havoc. The effects of physical and emotional stress have now been linked to a variety of serious ailments: depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and even cancer to name a few.

In our world today we are not only faced with more stress than ever but it’s my belief we’ve become so in tune with negative stressors we’ve become even more reactionary to them making stress and stress related disease an even more serious problem.

It seems in general as people we are constantly bombarded with negative influences.  I call the news the “bad news”, each magazine cover represents something scandalous, we’re hooked on the emotional drama of reality TV and so on. You may have noticed in general it seems we’re bent on finding the flaw in any situation and pointing it out, we’re quick to anger, become frustrated and continually feel the need to criticize or react to other’s actions.

Here’s an example, this past weekend my wife and I were trying to head to the mall and then out of town for the day, she was driving. As we approached an intersection the turning light changed from green to yellow, she opted to continue rather than slamming on the brakes, just as she was about to enter the intersection to turn the light turned red and the through light turned green. She should have stopped, clearly that would have been the right choice, but I suspect many of us have been in a similar situation and made a similar choice. Someone in the through lane was immediately angered by the choice she made, horn blaring, fist (and maybe fingers) waving they made sure to let us know. Now as I mentioned, my wife made the wrong choice from a safe manner of operating a motor vehicle, however in terms of the situation there was no immediate danger. Everyone could easily see us, if she impeded anyone from carrying on with their journey it was for a fraction of a second, yet as people we’re quick to react, judge, and express anger. Now if you’re feeling or thinking that person in the through lane was justified in their action that’s fine I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but I’d like to point out that the person most harmed in this situation was that same person in the through lane. Physiologically that short chain of events set about a dramatic chain of internal events.

Simply being angry causes adrenal hormones to surge, our fight or flight mechanism to react, our body to lurch into production beyond its normal capacity. When this pattern occurs frequently it leads to the physiological damages of stress, the over production of cortisol, the inability to sleep restfully, ultimately disease and quite possibly premature death.

Take a moment each day to look at life as a whole and ask yourself is it really worth being affected by the small things. Try to avoid criticizing others, being negative about things that don’t really matter, and make every effort not to become angry. Every time you avoid reacting to something small you are enhancing your own health and likely someone else’s, if we all kept this in mind we could eliminate this North American disease called stress.


Always here to help,



The Power of Will

I think I’ve heard people say, “I have no willpower,” or, “my willpower ran out,” more times than I can count. Both of these statements couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve become convinced that will is greatly misunderstood.

If you’re a sports fan at all I suspect this will really resonate with you. Deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs you seen frequent demonstrations of will. It’s amazing how much higher the intensity of playoff hockey is over games played early in the season. It’s even more amazing when you can practically feel the energy of two teams that truly want to win, even sitting thousands of miles away from the stadium in your living room. In my opinion this is the power of will, in spite of all odds and statistics two teams appear so evenly matched, so determined to be the victor. Their will to win is incredibly strong, yet early in the season even a 100% effort to win would pale in comparison.

That’s the thing about will, it seems as though it’s bound by time. There’s no accurate measure of time too which each person can perform above their current standards or commit to major changes of lifestyle before their willpower runs out. I think this is because your power of will is greatly determined by the results of the immediate task.

If you go back to the hockey example you might liken it to the discussion of “team momentum.” A goal or that one big play is said to be a “momentum shift” giving that team a competitive edge. Suddenly they are energized by the power of their will, they have a stronger inner belief that they can succeed. This may seem like kind of a hokey discussion if you’ve read a number of my other articles but the truth is this may be at the very basis of what we do as personal trainers that allows our clients to continually succeed. We can’t change your life in a few hours a week, it’s imperative that we find a way to increase your will to succeed during all of the hours you don’t spend with us.

So you see when it comes to your own willpower the picture I am really try to draw for you is that if it “runs out,” it’s because too much time transpired before you achieved your desired goal. This only happens if your task list wasn’t realistic to reach the goal in the desired time or that the goal was much bigger than the task list. For example if your goal was to lose 30lbs in three months but you were only willing to cut down from eating fast food from 5 days a week to 4 it becomes obvious that your task list won’t be enough to reach the goal. This is where you need to be honest with yourself and set yourself up for success. First pick your goal, and then create the task list to get there. Itemize that task list based on what you are excited to commit to immediately and what will leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment. Create a daily checklist and physically check the items off each day. By creating your own personal scorecard you enhance the power of will rather than wear it out. The size of the success is irrelevant, the more success you experience the more personal “momentum” you’ll create. You’ll be executing your own personal playoff performance in no time.

We were fortunate enough to run into Sid at our hotel while attending a conference in California. Sidney was kind enough to give Wendy the quick 1 minute on how important Carrick was to his recovery, a moment of inspiration he may never realize just how important it was. One we're very thankful for.

It’s not as hard as you think…

You won’t believe where I am…

After three years of constant dizziness and daily struggle we find ourselves in a dark room in Dallas, Texas.

I share this with you because something magical happened that really made me think about my own life and I think it might do the same for you.

None of you would know this but now three years ago my wife suffered a severe concussion.

She was just playing a simple game of catch with a friend.

Hit just above the temple by a high thrown ball she was knocked unconscious for just a split second.

She has nearly full memory of the event, and at the time a lump and a headache.

After being checked out at the hospital we assumed everything would be fine in just a few days or weeks.

Three years later and my wife is still unable to work, unable to drive, and spends pretty much every minute of every day dizzy.

She doesn’t have vertigo but a strange sensation that the world around her is moving, unable to focus on a specific point.

We were fortunate enough to run into Sid at our hotel while attending a conference in California. Sidney was kind enough to give Wendy the quick 1 minute on how important Carrick was to his recovery, a moment of inspiration he may never realize just how important it was. One we're very thankful for.

We were fortunate enough to run into Sid at our hotel while attending a conference in California. Sidney was kind enough to give Wendy the quick 1 minute on how important Carrick was to his recovery, a moment of inspiration he may never realize just how important it was. One we’re very thankful for.

After exhausting a long list of medical and alternative health practitioners here in Canada, repeatedly being told she was fine we decided to travel to the Carrick Brain Centre in Dallas, Texas.

If you’re thinking that name sounds familiar it might be because this is the same clinic that ultimately helped Sidney Crosby return to hockey after a season and half delaying concussion, not to mention countless other athletes.

Within only hours we found direction and new hope at Carrick brain centre for helping Wendy finally recover and feel herself again, but that’s not what this is about…


Over the course of the week we met a number of other people.


We met Heather who had fallen through a railing on the upper floor of her home and suffered a severe brain injury. After lying injured in a pool of her own blood for 8 hours before being found she now finds herself a year and half later fighting through a compromised ability to speak and balance and coordination problems, she has two young girls she’s trying to stay connected with and was an avid skier.

We met Tom who woke up one morning and was basically paralyzed on his left side, and that was twenty years ago. On Monday he was walking with a cane, and really compromised gate patterns, by Thursday he was striding up and down the hall with a huge grin on his face.

His problems were not fully solved but he shared with us his story of unending diligence that was a roller coaster of initial success and regression, determined that there had to be a solution and he was going to find it.

My wife and I both noted that Tom’s smile was heartfelt and extraordinary; despite of rare and unexplainable challenges clearly nothing slowed him down

We met Kim who was poisoned by Botox and had now been unable to work for more than a year due to similar dizziness as my wife experiences (she was travelling with someone else from Australia who had a similar Botox experience.)

We met a young autistic boy and his mother as they experienced treatment to help him hold his head up and when arrived Katie (one of the administrators) shared a story of a young girl who was poisoned by a vaccine and paralyzed as a result. After years in a wheelchair set it aside and walked into the clinic one morning after 3 months of treatment.

There were dozens more stories like these as we spoke to the doctors each day, but that’s not really what this is about.

Being there as support for my wife, I spent a lot of time sitting in that dark relaxation room as patients came and went for their next round of therapy.

As I sat with them, listened, observed I found myself inspired, quite in awe really, and just a little ashamed.


Wendy during rotational therapy at Carrick Brain Center, one of the therapies that were utilized alongside visual stimulation and visual and physical proprioception linking the brain hemispheres to enhance her body’s response to movements. Wendy’s challenges stem from an inability of her eyes to move immediately and opposite of any body movement, when observing these therapies you gain new appreciation for how perfect our body is and the miracle of what our eyes do just in movement.

There are times each day I think to myself how hard life is, how stressful things are. Or I hear clients explain how difficult it is to eat differently, to exercise more, to make that time to invest in yourself.

I know how much of a struggle it seems like, how “hard” it feels, but at that moment I couldn’t help but acknowledge how trivial these things are in comparison.

I think about all the clients who said they “couldn’t do it” and how each of these individuals I met could have given up at any time, and in many cases no one would have blamed them.

Seeing someone that had their whole life change, beyond their control, in the blink of an eye and yet find a way to commit to whatever is necessary not for just a few weeks or a few months (like a weight loss goal) but in many cases years or even a life time really made me think.

Something is only hard if you make it hard.

Each day we take so much for granted. Our world is so busy it’s easy to lose perspective that we become distracted and forget the true value of looking after ourselves.

Returning home I’m happy to report my wife drove with no symptoms, something she hasn’t done in years, we’re not there yet but invigorated with new hope and determination. I see now in new light each day the hours of research she does, the commitment to her therapy exercises, and most importantly the consistent attention to detail of the little things. It’s those little habits consistently adhered to that allow her to manage her symptoms the best she can. If she hadn’t stayed determined even with long periods of little or no progress she literally would have been “disabled” for the rest of her life (remember numerous specialists have told her they didn’t know what to do.)

Now think about our own lives, by comparison our challenges are less, our resources and abilities are greater and our progress will come much faster (whether that’s weight loss, increased muscle tone, increased cardio capacity or just improved feeling) all we need to do is remind ourselves it’s not that big of deal and stay on track!

Four Top Tips to Keep You Motivated

Four Top Tips to Keep You Motivated


1536688_634655366599819_96347844_nHey remember those New Years Resolutions? You could probably say by now the majority of people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions. It’s true, and usually it comes with comments like, “I’m out of willpower,” or, “I’m just not motivated anymore.”

The truth is it’s almost impossible to stay motivated without clear goals, constant re-evaluation, and special attention to short term details that keep you focused and inspired to reach your desired goal. Every single person is like this, we are all wired for instant gratification, and often we’re disappointed. You can’t give up now because little do you realize in all likelihood you’ve just set the foundation for major physical change within your body. Think of it like this, if you’ve ever built a new home the anticipation is a killer waiting for them to dig the hole and pour the foundation. It feels like forever before anything happens. Suddenly when they start building the walls it’s like your house just appears out of thin air, weight loss and physical change can be a lot like this. (But that’s a whole other column.)

Create A Goal-Reward Journal

It’s critical to reverse engineer everything. Work backwards from your goal setting short term targets. These should really be no longer than a week or so apart. Set yourself small, but meaningful rewards for meeting each of these goals.

Get A Workout Buddy or Accountability Partner

Now with short term rewards in place you need a mechanism of accountability. A workout buddy or accountability partner should follow up and keep you on track with the action plan to reaching the goal. It’s not their job to determine whether you reached the short term target, they don’t even need to know. Their sole purpose is to ensure you follow through with the action plan.

Clip Some Pictures

Visualization has been proven to be effective in study after study. Find the picture of the end result and keep it where you will see it regularly. You must remind yourself why you must persevere for change and create new habits.

Think About The ‘If I Couldn’t’ Scenario

Finally, the last quick tip that tends to work incredibly well is to think about the opposite scenario – if you couldn’t workout.

So many of us find we are too tired to workout or just don’t feel like it but consider the feeling you’d have if you physically couldn’t.  When you think about it like that more often than not it’s enough to make you realize how much you value at least having the ability to workout and get into that gym for your session.

We often don’t realize what we have until it’s gone so imagining this scenario may just change your frame of mind.

These four tips can really keep you on track but only if you utilize them and revisit them often, there’s a great quote I’ve been thinking of a lot lately. “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration.” –Frank Tibolt