Sunday, March 4, 2018

Are you kidding me?

One thing I always wished I could do, but never was able to do is push-ups.

I tried and tried.  I struggled.  What looks so easy, for me was super hard.  I made being able to do them a goal.  As my strength improved, I wrote about the progress I saw in doing them:  Five and Ten.  It was exciting to see real progress.  Eventually they became so easy that I stopped doing them, except as part of a HIIT routine.  When I hurt my shoulder, I was under strict orders to not do them until after my shoulder healed.

Since that time, being able to do push-ups well and "easily" has plagued me.  So after my back injury last February, I made it a goal to improve upon them again.  But it has been difficult.  In May of last year, I was able to do three sets of 15 push-ups.  So hard!  I mean super hard.  It wasn't so much doing them as the weakness in my shoulder.  Not for nothing, when things are hard, you tend to shy away from doing them.  Why do I want to do this if it's this hard?

When I started training with Pat, he had me doing three sets of 15-20 push-ups.  I was like, "I'm not going to be able to do that.  I can barely do 10 push-ups and you want me to do 15?"  He said, "If you can do a Dumb-Bell bench press with 25 lbs., you can do 15 push-ups."

So for three weeks, I did three sets of 15 push-ups (never 20).  And it was NOT easy.  One week I couldn't even do one single push-up.  Not one.  "It's a mental block," Pat responded.

I hated doing them.  Unlike three years ago when doing push-ups motivated me, this time around, I was not enthused.

Then the next three weeks, he changed it up and had me doing four sets of 12-15 reps.  I always tried for the 15, but four sets was a lot.

This week, he changed it up again.  When I looked at the plan for this week, it changed from 4 sets of 12-15 to FIVE sets of 20 push-ups.  That's 100 push-ups.  Are you KIDDING ME???

So when I saw him this week, I said, "What in the world are you thinking?"

He said, "You can do it."  Confident as can be, like it's no problem.

I was like, "I can't do that!  There's just no way."

He said, "Yes you can.  Easy."

I said, "Well, I can't do five sets of 20 push-ups all together like that.  It's just not going to happen.  I mean, maybe I can do them if I work them throughout the entire workout.  One set after each group of exercises, but not all at once."

His response, "I don't care how you do them, just get them done."

Get them done?  Doesn't he know I have a shoulder injury?  Doesn't he know these are super hard for me?  What does he mean, "Just get them done."

"Ok, boss."

And so Friday night was the moment of truth.  100 push-ups.  Five sets of twenty.

We get to the gym, I figure, let's get the first set done now and just see, while I'm feeling strong, how I do.  Is 20 even on the table?  (Great way to think positive, isn't it?)

And I do it.  20 push-ups.  No problem.

I decided to do 20 at a time, throughout my workout, allowing my shoulder/ body to recover before attempting the next set.  And it worked!  Twice I had to take a 10 second break in between to finish the 20 reps, but I did all 100!

Here is my last set:

So, what's the point of this whole post?  Overcoming the way you think and feel about food, about exercise, about yourself:  your self-image, your abilities, your potential... This is so key to your success.  Over four years into this journey and I still struggle.  I have doubts.  While they may be based on reality (I do have tendinitis in my shoulder, there is weakness there, I do continue to have pain), the fact is I can do more than I believe I can do.

When you get to the point when you feel like, "What am I doing?" or "I can't do this" or you feel like just giving up, stick with it.  You have SO much more potential than you can even begin to believe.

I did 100 push-ups.  Not five or ten like I did three years ago.  One-Hundred.   I didn't think I could.  I thought Pat was crazy.  I was even miffed with him a little.  It wasn't clean, it wasn't perfect, but I did it!  

- - - - - - - - - -

"Why Have a Trainer?" is a topic I discussed in January.  Having someone push you beyond your own self-expectations, to basically say, "It's no big deal, you can do it."  THIS is why I have a trainer.  I struggled with one health issue after another over the past 18+ months and tried to figure out how to get back on the path by myself.  Every set-back and every self-doubt left me feeling badly about myself and where I was going.  Not really knowing what to do to get things back on track left me frustrated, which is WHY I sought out Pat.  He is really awesome.  

If you are thinking about having a trainer, you definitely want to check him out.  The rates are affordable and he is amazing.  If you live in the area, you can train one-on-one with him.  If not, he does online coaching as well.  Check out his website for the details:  I cannot say enough about him.  Training with Pat means you will see growth, you will make change, you will accomplish your goals.  Either way, check out his website.  There is contact information for him there.

There's a saying out there, "Put on some gangster rap and get over it."  Here's the newest song on my playlist:
Not Afraid by Eminem
And I just can't keep living this way.  So starting today, I'm breaking out of this cage.  I'm standing up, I'mma face my demons.  I'm manning up, I'mma hold my ground.  I've had enough, now I'm so fed up.  Time to put my life back together right now!

Question for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What holds you back?

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

My new mantra:  Be the Champion of Today!
Have a great weekend!  Go get 'em!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

My Top Reads

In my last post, It's a Process:  Three Keys, I talked about what it takes to lose weight and keep it off.  Establishing a cognitive / emotional shift is probably the most critical key to long term success.  What does this mean?  It means changing the way you think about feel, and removing the emotional attachment you have to the process, including emotional connections to food, the way you see yourself, and self-imposed limitations.

There really isn't a road map for this.  But there are several things you can do to work on this, including reading about nutrition and exercise from reliable sources.  I subscribe to several newsletters and blogs which help me in a variety of ways.  One of my readers asked me to share with you here, so my best picks.

Caution:  You can't take EVERYTHING you read as straight from the Bible. Ask yourself, "Does the information provided concur with what I know from other reliable sources?" There is a lot of conflicting information out there.  It doesn't hurt to fact check anything that seems questionable.  So take what you can, and leave the rest.


Run Eat Repeat by Monica Olivas is a blog all about running, weight loss and healthy living.  What I like about Monica's blog is she provides so much variety in her posts.  She talks about everything and anything, is very candid in her posts, and is one of the most motivating people I follow.  I subscribe to her blog, but I also follow her on FacebookInstagram, and a Vlog on YouTube.   She also has great podcasts you can listen to.

Even if you don't run, you will learn a lot about healthy living.  She is always giving super easy meal ideas and recipes, basic at-home workouts you can do, as well as strategies for overcoming mental blocks, just to name a few.  RUNEATRepeat is my favorite blog and Monica is definitely my favorite motivational fitness person out there.  Check her out! 

Great:  Monica does not try to sell anything to you.  She will share products she uses so you have the option of checking them out if you are looking for something to help you run better.  But she is not a vendor, so she's not looking to sell her product. is a very popular site/ online store for nutritional supplements for body builders.  But it is so much more than that!  Written by leading experts, the site has a wealth of articles about training and nutrition.  These feature different workout programs (with step-by-step videos), tips for improving your workouts, overcoming injuries, and even how to get started.  Here are just a few examples of featured articles on their website today:

I subscribe to their newsletter, but I find myself going to their website again and again for suggestions and ideas.  When I'm doing a new exercise, if I'm not sure how to do it and Pat (my trainer), isn't available to show me how to do it, I go to them for the specific "how to's."  When someone asks me for help with their nutrition, I direct them to's calculators, which help you calculate calories or macros.

Remember: this site is selling their product.  You are not going to lose weight or get in shape by consuming supplements alone.  You have to do the work. 

SELF Magazine

Click on their link and you are automatically directed to sign up for their newsletter.  I receive daily emails from them with links to articles about recipes, fitness fashion, workouts, motivation, and different health tips.  They also feature articles about what different celebrities are doing to get or stay in shape.

This newsletter has become my favorite email of the day.  I love checking out the recipes they feature.  Because I get so bored with the same foods.  Who doesn't?  While I have my own workout plan that I follow every day, I really like to know what else is out there.  Anything I can do to change things up or make my workout a little more fun is always of interest to me.

Furthermore, SELF has articles about topics no one wants to discuss publicly.  Like:
...just to name a few.

Break Out the Skinny Girl

I can't really do justice to describing this blog, so here's the summary right from Dee, the author:

It’s not a blog about a diet. It’s more a blog about what goes on in my head because I’m on a diet, if that makes sense. Which it doesn’t, always…I should manage your expectations in that regard! Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s thorny, sometimes I struggle and sometimes I feel like I’m on top of it but the thread that runs through all of it is bare naked honesty. Oh, and I do use a few naughty words here and there…sorry about that 🙂
I can so relate to Dee's experience and have enjoyed reading her blog since its inception.  

Note:  Dee's blog is a personal one about her journey.  You can become part of her "posse" by regularly commenting on her posts.  Keep your comments positive!


WebMD, simply put is an online website with articles about everything health related under the sun.  I subscribe to their newsletter, but have it customized to items of interest to me, like women's health, mental health, fitness and nutrition.  I LOVE the various slideshows they have with quick information about topics of interest, such as 15 Things That Slow Your Metabolism.

Note:  Don't use WebMD as your personal doctor.  You really have to speak openly with your own physician about medical concerns you have.

New favorite workout song:
Turn Me On
by David Guetta ft. Nicki Minaj

Question for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What's your favorite online magazine/ newsletter or blog?

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

My new mantra:  Be the Champion of Today!
Have a great weekend!  Go get 'em!

Monday, January 29, 2018

It's a Process: Three Keys

What does it take to lose weight?  How do you do it?  What's your secret?

I'd like to tell you it's easy, but in all seriousness, it's a process.

If I were to narrow down to just three things to make it work, this is what I would tell you.

The NUMBER ONE most important thing is

Drum roll, please.

Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition!

You really have to learn how to eat right and stick with it over time.  Don't think about going on another diet.  Diet is a four letter word.  Think "nutrition."  Food is fuel, it's what your body needs to function, for muscle growth, for healing and recovery, for energy.  Food.

In a nutshell, you want to cut back on calories, but not much.  You want to DRINK lots of WATER, increase lean proteins and vegetables.  You can pretty much have all the vegetables you want, plus one to two servings of fruit each day. 

The kinds of food you eat really matters.  Severely limit your sugar intake, especially refined sugars.   Limit your intake of saturated fats (cream, butter, bacon, beef), but don't cut fat out.  Avocado, nuts, nut butters, and healthy oils like olive or canola oil in small quantities are good for you.  

Reducing your carbohydrates will help, but remember fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates and you should consume those.  As far as other carbs go - appropriate portions of  whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, legumes or quinoa are good.  Just remember 1/2 cup of brown rice is 124 calories and 26 g of carbs, so if you are eating 1+ cups, the calories and carbs go up.  Only have bread once in a while and make sure to eat 100% whole grain bread.  As far as potatoes go, one or 1/2 of one isn't going to hurt you.  I often have 1/2 of a sweet potato.  My question is who eats a plain white potato?  I need butter and sour cream on mine, which means LOTS of fat. 


MOVE your body!

Moving your body, including strength training, will boost your metabolism so you burn the calories you eat better.  Consistent exercise helps you deal with stress and helps to improve your mood.

The best way to start is to walk, then add in some body weight exercises into your routine, such as squats and push ups (or desk push ups).  Check out my post 10 Minutes for ideas on how to make the most of the time you have and ideas to get yourself moving.

Move Your Body by Sia

NUMBER THREE is critical to long term success.

Cognitive / Emotional Shift

Changing the way you think and feel about food is critical.  It takes time and honestly, I can't give you a road map how to do this.  

Here are some suggestions...

Read about nutrition and exercise from reliable sources.  I subscribe to several online newsletters and blogs that talk about nutrition.  I am always wanting new recipes because vegetables are great, but eating salad every day is... BORING.  

Keep a food / exercise journal.  I track ALL of my food in MyFitnessPal, good and "bad."  If I have honey in my tea, a glass of wine, a piece of cake, a chocolate cookie - it's all there.  Bad days show trends.  Did I sleep enough the night before?  Where was I emotionally that day?  Did I work out a LOT the day (days) before?  I log my workouts in the Notebook on my phone.  I do this so I can see progress from week to week.  My goal right now is strength training, so I follow a program every week and want to see an increase in the amount of weight I lift from week to week.  I also write notes like, "Remember to give yourself time for recovery" or  "The last set was super hard."  I insert emojis to show how I feel about that particular exercise or set.  Doing this helps me feel better about my workouts.  I can see progress and that makes me happy.

Talk to like-minded people about your journey.  What do I mean?  Join a fitness group, get a buddy who wants to lose weight with you.  Have a friend who is already fit and in shape?  Ask them for suggestions, work out with them, do meal prep with them.  Like-minded people will help you to think differently about dieting in general.  It's not a diet.  It's a life change.  It's nutrition and exercise combined.

Identify your triggers.  What makes you "go off the wagon" so to speak?  Are there certain times of the day?  Stresses?  Sleeplessness?  Spending time with a toxic person can derail you, do you find yourself raiding the refrigerator afterwards?  Again, it takes time to recognize your triggers.

Remember, don't let a bad day or a series of bad days derail you.

I had a super bad day Saturday, which lead to a sleepless night, leaving me completely deplete the next day.  I went to church, but I usually sit with my father and he wasn't there.  I stayed for a few minutes, but all I wanted to do was cry and sleep and I just couldn't keep it together, so I went home.  (That sounds so bad, but it's just what I needed at the time.)  I took a nap and then my niece and I did a great workout at a track near her house.  Talking with her and literally working it out helped restore me.  When I got home, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I think that is the one food that cures everything... because carbs and peanut butter.  Took another nap and felt restored.  

I recognized my triggers.  Sleeplessness and stress and being super emotional.

I talked to my niece about what was going on.  She is a like-minded person.  She loves to workout and eats super healthy all the time.  She helped me to process. 

I worked out.  Working out helps to manage your stress.  I don't know the science of it, but somehow it literally takes the weight off your brain and lets you put perspective on your situation.

I ate.  I didn't overdo it.  I ate what I felt my body needed and limited the quantity.

You really can lose weight if you want.  Remember, it's a process.  There are no quick fixes.  It's a journey, not a sprint.

My new mantra:  Be the Champion of Today!

You've got this!

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
What did you do this weekend?  

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Me Too

Very few people know this and I've only publicly shared it this afternoon.  I write this very reluctantly, but part of me wants to be transparent about my journey, in the hopes that sharing it may help you.

For most of my adult life I have battled my weight.  It was easy to shed the pounds when I was younger, so yo-yo dieting was more or less my lifestyle.  I could shed 10 lbs. in one month without too much effort.  As I got older, that became a lot more challenging and the pounds added on.

One of those times, in the early 2000s, I joined a local gym and started working out, running and eating virtually nothing.  Another "crash diet" of sorts, but this time I wasn't just dieting, I was also working out, so I looked "toned."  But then.

It happened.

This past October when #MeToo became a way to share solidarity among women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted, I considered if I should join the movement.  There is a deep shame in being a victim.  One you really don't want other people to know about.  Because somehow, deep down, you wonder

Is (was) it my your fault? 

Did I somehow bring it on myself

Is it even that serious?  I mean, other people have experienced so much worse.

We had a garden and used to share our extra vegetables with people I  knew.  Most of them were very appreciative and often wanted to reciprocate in one way or another.

One was a little too appreciative.

At the time, I drove a Ford Explorer, which had some rust damage on the body.  One of the people I shared vegetables with offered to do some free body work on my car.

Little did I know the true cost of "free" labor.

When I went to pick up my car, the friendly man decided to put the moves on me.  He grabbed my breast and my buttocks as I was getting into my car.  I brushed his hand away and told him, "No!"  It happened so quickly.  I just wanted to get away.

The aftermath was super ugly and isn't really the point of my story here, so I will spare those details.

A few people who knew what happened couldn't understand why I didn't smash him.  I don't know.  I think when you're in a predicament like that, it's fight or flight.  For me, it was flight.

Just. Get. Away.

As time progressed, I stopped working out.  I did not want anyone to look at me and desire me.  Then I stopped caring about what I ate or looked like.  And gained all the weight (and then some) back.

Every time I tried to lose weight again, that incident hung over my head like a dark cloud.

You just feel so violated.

On my journey over the past four years, I don't think what happened has really affected my journey.  I know it happened, it's behind me.  I've moved on.  My weight, my strength, my fitness level have been and continue to be all about me.  There simply can be no looking back, no becoming a pillar of salt.  Keep it moving, look ahead.  Be the champion of today.

I'd like to say it doesn't bother me anymore, that I've put it behind me.  But the truth is, there is still some shame.  When I think about it, I can't help but wonder if I could have done anything differently to get away, to not put myself in that situation in the first place, to have avoided the fall out.  Fortunately, time has allowed me to safely lock it up and tuck it away.

Today was different though.  Letting out my secret was like plunging a knife into the old wound, stirring up the shame and insecurities of the past.

Something else happened earlier in the day that hurt my feelings.  So when I came home and talked about it, the flood gates opened.  Initially the tears were about my feelings being damaged.  Did she really say that?  I need to get thicker skin, I guess.  But as I thought about the whole day.  The secret I shared, I just could not stop crying.

I am sharing my story with you because silence only keeps us a victim.  It only perpetuates the pain, the shame.  When you are violated, it affects how you feel about yourself.  Your self-image.

As I laid in bed tonight, unable to sleep, the thoughts of the day rushing through my brain...

My hurt feelings.  How could she say that?  What did she mean?  Maybe I should have done or said this differently.

My secret.  I wish I hadn't said anything.  It really wasn't that big of a deal.  Why did you bring that up?

...I cling to this verse:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

If you, like me, are the victim of sexual harassment or assault, know you are not alone.  Those of us who have experienced something similar understand.  United together, we can support one another.  Lift each other up.

When you look in the mirror, don't see yourself the way your abuser saw you.  Look deeper.

It is okay to cry, to feel the pain,even if it happened a long time ago.  There is something cathartic about the tears.  It's like an emotional healing, a cleansing of the soul.  Just don't let the tears, the pain take hold of you.  Your past does not define nor control you.  Your circumstances do not dictate your future or who you are.  Be the champion of today.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

Know this.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are NOT a victim, you are a survivor.  An overcomer.  You are loved.

Overcomer by Mandisa

Additional resources you may find helpful:
Dealing With Sexual Harassment at Work
Help and Support for Victims
How to help survivors of sexual assault.

Contact me:

Friday, January 19, 2018

From Flab to Fab

We started a Biggest Loser Competition at work again this month.  It's a fun thing to do together as a collective - to all be on the same page with health and wellness as our common goal.

My focus right now is on building endurance and strength, so I'm not trying to lose weight.  We have quite a few new people in our school who didn't know me "before."  So they are surprised to hear that I lost a lot of weight.  The question of the week has been, "Tracey, can you help me?"

This post is for you!  I'm going to share the key things I did and continue to do to keep the weight off.  So, how do you get started?  What do you do?  Can you take control over your yo-yo dieting?  Well, the last one is up to you, because you do have to get started first, but the yo-yo dieting stopped for me when I started doing these things.

As I have shared before, I track all of my food in MyFitnessPal.  Everything - good and bad.  If I'm trying to lose weight, or burn fat, I adjust my daily macros and caloric intake.  (Macros is short for macronutrients:  protein, carbohydrates and fat.) If for whatever reason, you can't do that or aren't ready just yet, start by writing down everything you eat.  Use a notebook (even try the one in your phone) or something more structured like this food journal I found below:

The reason you want to keep track of what you eat is so you can see trends.  When you eat really light one day, are you super hungry later at night or the next day?  If so, adjust your daily food intake.

This is something I still struggle with the most, maybe that and my sweet tooth.  But getting enough water is so important.  If you keep water by your side all the time and sip it throughout the day, you will be less likely to want to eat when you're not really hungry.  How much should you drink?  Everyone has a different answer.  I've read to drink one ounce for every pound you are, 8 glasses per day, or at least a gallon of water per day.  I've even read several times that your coffee and the liquid in your food count towards your daily water intake.  (This I don't believe at all!)  I think there is a fine line.  Drink enough so your urine isn't yellow and your mouth isn't dry.  Just DRINK!

One of the people who asked me for help told me that she eats salad for lunch and dinner when she's trying to lose weight.  I don't mind salad, but I don't eat it every day.  In fact, I can't remember the last time I had salad.  Every day I eat plenty of steamed vegetables, veggie omelets, soups with lots of veggies or fresh cut veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers and raw zucchini.   I ALWAYS include protein with my vegetables.  For dinner the other night, I had left over sirloin steak with steamed green beans, steamed asparagus and some cut up tomatoes and cucumbers on the side.  It was very satisfying and tasted great.  I couldn't even eat all the veggies because I was so full.

If you want to eat salad every day, there is no harm in that, but try to spice it up a little.  Try different dressings and proteins with your salads.  One of my favorite salads is shredded carrots, cabbage, and chopped broccoli with left over teriyaki chicken thighs cooked in the crock pot.  I use Ken's Light Asian salad dressing and sprinkle a few sesame seeds over the top.  Try spinach, tomatoes and shrimp or make your own taco salad.  There is a lot you can do to change things up  with your salads.

Make sure you eat PLENTY of protein ALL day.  I recommend at least 25 grams of protein for every meal and a protein rich snack in the morning and again in the afternoon.

For breakfast, try something like this:
2 large eggs, scrambled (12 g protein)
1/2 cup of egg whites (10 g protein)
One slice of whole grain toast (4 g protein).

For lunch, think PROTEIN:
3 1/2 oz. chicken breast (30 g protein)
with home made Vegetable Soup or
make your own salad (hold the cheese, please)

For dinner, think PROTEIN!  Try one of these recipes...
One-Pain Beef Enchiladas  (41 g protein)
Shrimp Burrito Bowl (34 g protein)
Chicken Salad  (34 g protein)
Caprese Chicken and Roasted Broccoli (26 g protein)
Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables (29 g protein)

Protein rich snacks:
Protein Smoothie (*protein depends on your brand of protein)
Protein bars (with at least 20 g protein)
Greek yogurt with two tbsp. granola (12-18 g protein)
3/4 cup Cottage cheese with tomatoes  (20 g protein)
1/2 cup Oatmeal (5 g protein) with protein* added
2 hard boiled eggs (12 g protein)
1 scoop protein powder* (your favorite flavor), with 1 Tbsp. peanut (or nut) butter and a few drops of water (Mix together until it makes a thick pudding type texture.  The peanut butter makes this extra yummy.)

Note, there are a lot of other healthy snack options, I'm just brain storming the ones that are protein rich.

These are just a few ideas to get you started.

This is much harder said than done, I understand.  But for those of us with a sweet tooth, this is our demise.  By increasing your daily protein and healthy fats, you can stave off hunger better.  I keep Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches in my freezer in the basement for the times when I really need something sweet.

You need to increase your metabolism so it burns the calories you eat.  To do that, you need to eat, but you also need to move your body.  Pick up a new hobby for this year...try riding your bike, hiking, or swimming.  If you are stuck inside with poor weather right now like I am, just figure out a way to move your body.  Walk around your office every hour, go up and down the stairs as many times as you can.  Make a point to increase your movement.  Using a fitness tracker, such as the one on your phone or a FitBit makes it easier.

Your goal should be to include 1 hour of exercise every day.  I know that seems like a LOT and probably completely out of reach if you are relatively sedentary.  But that's the end goal.  You don't have to start out that way.  I tell people to increase their movement by 10% each week.  So if you're averaging 5,000 steps per day, that's an extra 500 steps each day for next week.  You want to make the most of the time and space you do have. Check out my post 10 Minutes for some suggestions.

Lift Weights
To increase your metabolism, you want to improve your body composition, by decreasing your fat and increasing your muscle mass.  To do that, add resistance training into your routine.

If you don't know how to lift free weights, try the machines at your gym.  A lot of gyms have them set up like a circuit, where you move from one machine to the next.  If you're not sure how to use the machine, ASK someone.  Before you move from one machine to the next, complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions each machine.  That means you would do one exercise for 10 times on the same machine.  Give yourself 30 seconds to two minutes to recover and repeat that two more times, for 3 total sets.   Then go onto the next machine.  Keep in mind, you want to start by keeping the weight LIGHT.  You want to do the exercise with good form or you will not benefit from the exercise and can hurt yourself.  Gradually add weight each week so you can complete the 3 sets.

If you want to learn how to lift free weights properly, try some classes your gym offers or work with a trainer.

Can you do it?  Of course you can!  Come up with a plan.  How will you do it?  What's your strategy?  Then follow through.  You GOT this!  Start by downloading the MyFitnessPal app or use a notebook to keep track of your food.  Then go shopping and load up on all the colors - lots of fruit, vegetables and lean protein options.  Finally, look at your schedule and plan your workouts.  If one day looks busy to you, plan to move your body for at least 10 minutes in the morning, again at lunch and later in the day.  Last but not least, keep your water bottle filled and drink, drink, drink.

Stop the getaway car and take hold of your health today!  You got this!  You do!
I posted this a couple weeks ago.  When I started this journey on January 1, 2014, I weighed 232 lbs. 
I've kept the weight off too. You just have to stick with it!

Tune for your play list:  

Getaway Car by Taylor Swift

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
Are you trying to lose weight?  Have you been on one yo-yo diet after another?  What's different this time?

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Thursday, January 18, 2018

10 Minutes

So 2018 is your year! You've decided to lose weight and get moving!  

You've bought plenty of greens and chicken breasts.
You even dusted off your old treadmill.
You're ready! 

One to two weeks in...and then...your motivation starts to wane. 

It's hard.  

You're busy. 
It's one more thing. 
You think,"I didn't have time for this before, why did I think I could do it now? Can't get blood from a stone."
Eventually you throw in the towel. "That's it! I'm done."


Right now. Go back to the beginning of this post. 

2018 is your year! You can do it! You can.

I want to talk to you about the value of 10 minutes. On those days when you are super busy, running around and can't fit in that hour trip to the gym, I want you to make the most of ten minutes you may have...  at lunch time, while you're waiting to pick the kids up from one of their activities or in between meetings.  Find, carve out even, 10 minutes in your day and make it count.


Always make sure you have sneakers close by. I bring mine with me in my work bag every day, and I keep my gym bag packed and in the car at all times..

After lunch, put on your sneakers and take a walk during the few minutes you have left before you have to go back to work. Walk as fast if you can. Go up and down the stairs.  

Can't leave the office? Walk around the office. Do high knees for 10 seconds after each lap around. 

Don't worry about what people think. It's your duty free lunch break, make the most of it.

In between meetings, or while you're waiting for the kids, do a series of two minute circuits. Try body weight squats, high knees, jumping jacks, and side squats.  

Invest in some light dumbbells and do shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and bent over rows.  For core training, add some planks, sit ups, bicycle crunches and Russian twists into the mix.  
Design your own routine, set a time for ten minutes and do it.

When I am snowed in or am traveling, I put together circuits like the ones in this video.  I repeat the circuit for 10 minutes.  Check it out and let me know what you think:

The trick is consistency and intensity. If you want to see results, you want your heart rate to get up there.  Building in some resistance training means your muscles work harder and you will see better results.

Now, I'm not suggesting that 10 minutes a day is all it takes to get in shape. You should aim for 30-45 minutes a day to start, with an hour being your ultimate goal. But if you aren't usually active or your life is really busy, making the most of ten minutes makes a huge difference over not exercising at all.

Promise yourself that on the days you don't get to the gym, you're at least going to climb the stairs for ten minutes and stick to it. You should see my dogs when I do that. They just don't understand, "What is Momma doing?"

You might not believe me.  Just do a google search, "10 minute workout" an see what comes up. Don't buy anything though! You can check out some of the workouts posted for suggestions, but there is no need to invest in a book or video series telling you how to make the most of 10 minutes.  Remember, you're short on time. Which is exactly why the 10-minute workout may be beneficial for you.

A couple cautions.... don't settle for the 10 minutes. This is a good way to make sure you are moving your body every day. It's a strategy to stay true to your goals, but is not substitute for regular strength training and cardio exercise. 

Make sure you have deodorant with you at work. If you start climbing the stairs at work during lunch, you don't want to stink up the office all afternoon. Keep it fresh in there so your colleagues want to join you, not stay away. 

And finally, don't be afraid to do more than one ten minute workout a day. Steal 15 minutes in the morning  to stretch, 10 minutes at lunch and another 10-15 minutes later in the day.

Try it!

Tune for your play list:  This song makes you move.

Hey Mama by David Guetta ft Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha & Afrojack

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
Would you classify yourself as glued to your desk or more of a couch potato?  Or do you make a point to get up and move?  

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why have a trainer?

When you're stuck or feel like you need an extra push, sometimes it helps to have a personal trainer.   Here I will share the successes and failures in working with a personal trainer.  It's worth the investment, I promise.

Having a personal trainer is a huge part of my story.  It is the key factor that helped me to change the way I think about nutrition, exercise and sticking with it.  I have worked with four different trainers.  The first trainer and I were not a good match.  However, I can't say enough about the others.  You can read about Mike and Dmitriy here:  Mike Made Me Do It and Dmitriy Made It Happen.  I'm working with Pat now.  I'll tell you a little about him and why I decided to go back to training with someone again in this post.

So, why have a trainer?  

It's different for each person.  For me, originally it was to lose weight.  For others, to build strength, to get in shape, to help recover from an injury after physical therapy is complete, to train for an event or something else.  

When I first decided to work with trainer, I had been obese for so long and tried everything under the sun with no success.  A couple of my friends had personal trainers and were finding success with that, so I decided to follow suit.  The person I was originally matched with was not a good fit for me.  She was super nice and listened to me and all my woes, but I didn't need that.  (I broke my thumb while I was training with her, had a bad knee, started going to grad school for my CAGS, and was miserable at my job.)  I needed someone to be like, "Yeah, so what.  Do you want this or not?  Enough with your excuses."  I realized that when I started training with Mike, so I made the decision to NOT share with him my woes and stopped all the excuses.  

I started training with Pat last month because I was stuck.  After my back injury last year, I could not overcome the fear hurting myself again.  I was not pushing myself.  My brain said, "Ok, that's enough," and I listened.  With the head aches I've had, I was all over the place with my training. I had no real direction and was not seeing any progress on my own.  I felt like what I was doing wasn't enough, but I didn't know what to do because I didn't want to hurt my back.  I was referred to Pat by someone I know from the gym and couldn't be happier.

What's the investment?

Different trainers / gyms charge different rates, depending on the type of training you want, as well as the amount of time you train (e.g.:  30 minutes or 60 minutes) and the frequency you train with someone (e.g. once, twice or three times per week).  Most providers don't tell you the bottom line up front.  They want to meet with you, discuss your goals and let you know which type of program they think is best for you based on your needs.  It depends on your own motivation and what you can afford. The rates vary from gym to gym.  If you hire someone privately, their rates will vary as well.  

Typically, you are looking at anywhere from $40 to $100 (on the high end) per session, depending on the gym and your level of need.  You should know, when training with someone who works for a gym, you are paying the gym, not the trainer.  If you think you are paying $45 for a session with your trainer, that trainer is probably only getting $12 - $20 for that session.  The gym keeps the rest.  The sad fact is, trainers are not paid well by their gyms and if you don't show up for your session, they don't get paid.

So the investment is two fold.  You are investing your money and your time to train with an expert.  They are investing in you as well, they take pride from your success.  Don't forget, this is their livelihood, so be respectful of that. Make sure to show up for every session.  If there is a conflict, then let him/her know well in advance so you can reschedule your session.  You shouldn't cancel unless there is a dire emergency.  

A personal trainer is different from having a fitness coach

Fitness coaches typically work independently and provide online or over the phone fitness coaching. They may provide you with nutritional information, with a detailed diet plan and workout plan you follow on your own.  They often have groups on Facebook for you to share successes/ failures/ and support with their other clients.  Typically they schedule email or telephone check ins with you to see how you are doing and what you may need.  

Many competitive body builders work with coaches or may be coaches themselves.  Their rates vary, depending on how often they check in with you and what type of support you may need.  I have seen rates go from $100 per month to $1200 for six months.  I don't like this kind of "training" because I like the one on one interaction with a trainer.  I want to work with my trainer in person, have a face to face conversation with him.  But this kind of training/coaching works for many people.

So, you're thinking about working with a trainer, now what?

You should ALWAYS start with a meeting to talk about your goals. WHY do you want a trainer?  What are you hoping to get out of personal training?  What are your unique goals?  

When I started training with Dmitriy, I had very specific goals:
  • Do push ups without assistance
  • Lose weight
  • Do the Ride to Remember (a 100 mile bike ride)

When I started training with Pat, my goals are simple:
  • Regain/ Improve strength
  • Improve my endurance
It is important to know what your goals are so you can be successful in your training.

How do you know if your trainer is right for you?

This is probably the hardest thing to figure out and is definitely where things went wrong with my first trainer.  So be smart about this.  

If you can, check out their online presence before your first meeting.  
Follow them on Instagram, which is a very popular place for body builders and fitness experts to promote their work.  Do they promote a healthy lifestyle?  What are they about?  

At your first meeting with your trainer, this is your opportunity to check him/her out.  
Ask LOTs of questions.
  • What is their experience?
  • How long have they been doing this?  
  • Tell him/her your needs, your story.  
  • Ask them if they can help you and how.  
  • Do they like their job?  If there is any indication that they don't like their job, if it's too stressful or they don't like management, find a different trainer.  This is NOT someone you want to train with.
  • If you can't tell, find out if they workout themselves.  If they don't, find a different trainer.
  • Will they provide you with support about nutrition?
  • Will they provide you with personalized workout plans?
  • How do you stay in contact with them? Do they want you to check in with them?  How often?
  • How long is the commitment?  Is there a contract?  For how long?

Ask yourself a few questions...  
Do you like this person?  Can you talk to him/her?  Do they seem to have a good sense of humor?  Can they help you with your unique needs?  Are they serious about their work?  

Don't forget to ask 
What is their availability?  Does it match yours?  
MAKE SURE you get their cell phone number and they get yours!  

Benefits of having a trainer 

Besides the most obvious reason to have a trainer (working with an expert to help you obtain your goals), there are a lot of benefits.

A trainer pushes you past what you believe you can do on your own.

I hurt my back last February and have recovered from that injury, but was holding myself back.  When I started training with Pat, he basically made me start all over.  My favorite exercise is deadlifts.  A year ago, my personal record was 210 lbs.  A month ago I was able to do a single rep maximum of 175 lbs.  I was excited because I was approaching my PR.  But Pat said, "No.  Don't do that, do this instead."  He has me lifting lighter weights with 10 repetitions for each set.  Sounds easy, right?  Well the first time I did it, I thought I would die.  This week, I worked my way up to do four sets of 10 reps at 145 lbs.  On Thursday when I trained with him, he's like, "Ok, so you did 145 lbs. on Monday, let's do 155 lbs. today."  And I was like , "What?"  Then he brought the weight down to 135 lbs. and had me do 15 repetitions.  15 reps.  I thought I was going to die.  I didn't, but I thought it was the end.  That's what a trainer does.  They push you.

You have a cheerleader

Seriously, your trainer should be your biggest cheerleader.  

Pat posts his clients achievements on his live Instagram story all the time.  I am so impressed with that.  It's one of the reasons I knew I could work with him.  It's not about posting about you in social media, it's about saying, "Look at that!"  Look what you can do.  When I did 15 reps of deadlifts at 135 lbs. with him the other day, he was like, "Wow!  That's really impressive."  Of course, I wanted to die and was cursing at him for making me do it, but that pat on the back carried a long way for me.

When I did the Rugged Maniac for the first time in 2014, I texted Mike and thanked him for his support.  He was like, "That's incredible Tracey!  Way to go!"  He asked me to post a picture and tag him in it too.  I had no idea what Instagram was at the time, but I did do that on Facebook.

You have someone to answer your questions

As I am working out during the week, I always have questions I want to ask Pat.  While I started training with him because I wanted to regain the strength I lost after my back injury, I've found my back isn't really the issue.  My shoulder is.  So I always have questions for him.  While he doesn't necessarily have all the answers, he is super about helping me figure things out.  "Try this," he'll say.  or  "You're doubling up on these exercises and that may be what's aggravating it."  He is my personal expert and I trust him.  So I ask him lots of questions.  (I so hope he's not overly annoyed with me for asking so many.)

Working with a trainer is personal.

It is very personal and can break your heart.  

Mike was incredible.  Training with him made me take my workouts seriously.  At one of our sessions, I remember him telling me, "You did a great job today, Tracey.  I'm proud of you."  That single statement has stayed with me.  After that, it became so important to me to make gains so I could do better next time.  He motivated me.  I cared about him, so when he died, I was devastated.  

Dmitriy and I were very close.  I considered him my friend.  While at times he listened to my complaining, he didn't put up with any of it.  I trusted him and learned how to move past my obstacles.  He helped me accomplish every one of my goals and pushed me past them to achieve things I didn't even realize were possible.  I miss him.

Having a trainer means you have a personal relationship with this person.  You make it what you want it to be.  

What to look out for 

They are not psychologists.  Remember, your trainer's background is in fitness. While you definitely have a personal relationship with them, try not to dump all your personal problems on them.  Keep your relationship about fitness.  Don't mistake them for your personal therapist or you won't see the gains you want to make.  This happened with me and my first trainer.  I had every reason for not being successful.  She listened to me and this is how we seemed to spend our sessions.  Don't do that.  If you have personal problems, seek professional help from a licensed therapist.  Your time with your trainer should be focused on your physical training.

Your trainer should like his/her job.  Don't waste your sessions with your trainer listening to them gripe about management, how little they are being paid, or about how their other clients missed sessions.  This is a major danger sign.  I get it, you become friends with your trainer and want to support them as much as they support you.  But if they don't like their job, they should seek other employment.  Redirect them if you can, keep the focus on you and your training sessions.

Are they on time for your sessions?  If you are on time, so should your trainer.  If you are paying $50 for a 1/2 hour session, that works out to $1.67 per minute.  If you are waiting five minutes for your trainer, that's $8 you are paying to stand and wait.  Your trainer should be mindful of the time, ending sessions with other clients on time so you can make the most of your session.

Keep track of your sessions.  Know how many sessions you have paid for each month.  Keep track of them and make sure you use them.  If you miss a session because you have to reschedule, due to inclement weather or because of an unexpected cancellation, keep track of that.  When I started training with Dmitriy, I had over 10 unused sessions I had never used because of sessions missed when Mike died and a collection of unused cancellations with my first trainer.  (She was in the National Guard and was gone a lot.)  You paid for them, use them. 

Is it worth it? 

YES!  Having a trainer literally changed my life.  If you can work it into your budget, do it. 

Meanwhile, if you are or are not in the area, check out out Pat's website:

Pat does one on one training in the Connecticut / Western Massachusetts area, as well as online coaching.  He has over 10 years of experience in the field.  He is unbelievably knowledgeable about fitness and nutrition.  He offers very reasonable rates for the different programs.  I really like Pat and can't say enough about him.

New entry coming soon:  

10 Minutes.  For those who want to make a change, but are still stuck in first gear.  Making a 10 minute workout count.  This has been ready to post, but I'm having trouble uploading my video to YouTube.  Watch for it soon!

Tune for your play list:  This song has a mellow beat, which is for strength training sessions.  

Starboy by The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk

Questions for you:  (Answer in the comment section below.)
Do you work out with someone?  (A friend?  A partner?  A trainer?)  Do they push you or do you push them?    

Follow me...

Instagram:  @tracoleman99