Trainer Blog

Time Out

Katie’s Corner  – Last weekend, I took a much-needed two day “vacation” to visit my cousin, Colleen, in Connecticut. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I got there, but it felt good to get away. Really, really good. Now, I love my home in Western Mass, especially because of all the wonderful people I am fortunate enough to interact with everyday. But I also recognize that I tend to grow blinders out of the sides of my face to what else the world has to offer when I take no time to look up. I imagine many of you are the same in that regard. Traveling elsewhere though, even if for a short while, can really put the rest of life into perspective.

We went out on the town and got to people-watch all the newly-returned Yalies, danced to some killer beats by a live DJ with flashing strobes all around us, went paddle boarding, ate Mexican, got pedicures, hiked around a beautiful lake, took all the back roads we could with the doors and top off of her new Jeep, and ate Mexican again (because it’s our favorite).

Somehow with Colleen, our seemingly benign experiences always turn into ridiculous adventures, and this trip was no different. For instance, at the dance club, in the horde of students, a man who resembled Mr. Miyagi and who must’ve been the age of no-less-than-72 was bouncing up and down to the beat of the music with his eyes closed and an energy that screamed, “I’m on acid.” When we were driving around, we house-hunted for our dream home among the sea of mansions, owned by the likes of Phil Donahue and Oprah. We caught the full moon over a lighthouse in the harbor. As we traversed the Long Island Sound with our paddle boards, we happened upon a wedding in the backyard and we (carefully) danced to the live band’s music.

Because I took a step out of my normal (and no less wonderful) life for a short period of time, my creative, silly-natured spark returned. My blinders lifted and I experienced life in a way that only vacations will allow for. As you fall back into your routines of school, work, and family, I encourage you to take a vacation of sorts, whether it’s a week or it’s a couple of hours, doing something spontaneous and out of the ordinary. Be silly. Be free. Do that which will feed your soul in some way, and subsequently feel your blinders lift.

5 Bad Habits of Healthy People

You aren’t a stupid person –not by any means.

In fact, I believe that you’re healthier than most. You exercise regularly. You watch what you eat. You keep up-to-date on the latest health concerns. You don’t binge on sugar. And you never – ever – eat fast food. Well, almost never.

But you do have a few unhealthy skeletons in your closet – ones that you probably aren’t even aware of.

The following 5 underlying “bad” habits are frequently committed by health conscious people. Once you break these patterns, you’ll find that achieving your weight loss goals just became a whole lot easier.

1. You’re Dehydrated

  • It has been said that 75 percent of the population is chronically dehydrated. Would you disagree? When was the last time that you actually drank 8 glasses of water in a day?
  • Dehydration occurs when more fluid leaves your body than is taken in. Symptoms include: fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, rapid heart rate, and, in extreme cases, even death.
  • Dehydration also slows your metabolism, which hinders weight loss.

You shouldn’t wait until the feeling of thirst or dry mouth hits you, at that point damage has already been done. Instead, constantly rehydrate throughout your day to avoid the side effects.

The best way to do this is to incorporate water into your daily schedule. Have a water bottle at your desk and train yourself to sip on it often, and get into the habit of drinking a full glass of water with each meal and snack. You can even create a water tracker or spreadsheet and mark off each time you finish a bottle.

2. You Eat Out Too Often

  • Research suggests that most people eat out one out of every 4 meals and snacks. That’s an average of once a day.
  • Restaurant food is designed to do one thing: to taste good. In order to increase eating pleasure, each item is loaded with fat, salt and sugar. This causes you to eat way more calories than you actually need.
  • Even when you order ‘healthy’ items, you’re still taking in more calories and fat grams than you would if you had prepared the item at home. Imagine the last salad you ordered out. Didn’t it come with cream dressing, croutons, cheese sprinkles and a piece of butter laden bread on the side?

The main reason people eat out is for convenience, so with a little organization you’ll find that preparing your own meals takes less time than you thought it would.

Over the weekend, sit down and plan out your meals for the upcoming week. Then go to the grocery store and stock up on everything you’ll need for those meals. Pack your lunch and snacks each night before bed, then grab it on your way out the door in the morning. When you prepare dinner at home, make enough for at least the next day as well. Your efforts will pay off both in terms of weight loss and in money saved.

3. You’re Sleep Deprived

    • In Gallup Poll surveys, 56% of the adult population reported that drowsiness is a problem in the daytime. That’s more than half of us that clearly don’t get enough sleep.
    • Healthy adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When you fail to meet this need your body goes into sleep debt, which continues to accumulate indefinitely until you catch up.
    • A lack of sleep negatively affects your immune system, your nervous system, and interferes with healthy hormone release and cellular repairs.The best way to combat sleep deprivation is to set a scheduled bedtime. Your body will benefit from a consistent sleeping and waking routine, and you’re sure to get all the rest you need.

If you have trouble falling asleep once you’re in bed, then try these two tips. First, make sure that you don’t drink any caffeinated beverages after lunchtime. Second, don’t eat for three hours before you go to bed. This helps eliminate sleeplessness due to indigestion, and will also turbo-charge your weight loss, minus the late calories.

4. You’re Stressed Out


  • I don’t have to tell you that we are living in a fast-paced world and that most of us have stress levels that are through the roof. But what you might not realize is that your stress levels are making you heavier.
  • Stress creates an increase in the hormone cortisol, and chronic stress creates a chronic increase in cortisol. This is problematic because is slows your metabolism, leads to cravings and is linked to greater levels of abdominal fat storage.
  • The vicious cycle of stress and weight gain goes around and around. Stress causes you to eat emotionally, and your raised cortisol levels cause that food to be stored as fat.

One of the most effective ways to instantly eliminate stress is to sit down and write out a list of all the things that are bothering you. This should include things that you need to get done, issues that weigh on your mind and anything you believe contributes to your stress level.

Once it’s all down on paper, organize it like a to-do list and start resolving each item. Doing so will get the stress off of your mind and will put your body into the motion of resolving each issue.
5. You’re on Exercise Autopilot


    • You do the same thing each and every time you exercise. Same machines, same pace, same duration. While your routine sure feels comfortable, your results have long since halted.
    • A plateau occurs when your body adapts to your routine and weight loss stops. It is incredibly frustrating, and totally avoidable.
    • You don’t have to increase the amount of time that you spend exercising in order to see quicker, faster results. It’s all about challenging your body.

There are two simple ways to instantly increase the effectiveness of your exercise routine. First, increase your pace. Secondly, increase your intensity. Constantly vary your speed and intensity in order to keep your muscles guessing and adapting.

Another way to break through the exercise plateau is to do something totally new. If you regularly use weight machines then start using free weights. If you normally jog on the treadmill then start using the bike. If you normally do a Spin class, try Spin & Strength or TRX.

Are you ready to break the plateau as you take your routine to the next level? Would you like to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are going to lose weight in the coming months.

It’s our goal to see you achieve greatness. We believe that you’ve got what it takes.

It’s so simple. Call or email today to get started on a program that will improve your health and well being, and will get you amazing results.


Moving Forward

Katie’s Corner –  Normally, I try to stay away from celebrity gossip, not for lack of interest (to be completely honest), but simply for lack of time. However, when one of our fabulous clients recommended an article that featured actress Kerri Washington talking about her post-baby body, I took notice. In the September issue of SELF, the star talks about getting rid of the idea of trying to obtain her pre-baby body, but rather embracing her body as it is now, because of–not in spite of–giving birth. The reason this topic excites me isn’t due to the fact that Kerri Washington and many other women, celebrity or not, are demonstrating their empowerment as women, but because they accepting themselves exactly where they are in life.

Frequently, I hear clients refer to how fit they were in high school (which could have been 30 years ago) or what they weighed when they got married. They highlight different points in their lives that were pre-marriage, pre-baby, pre-career, pre-traumatic event, or pre-injury. I understand the desire to return to those “glory days,” but I am all for encouraging a person to celebrate themselves as they are now and tweak the things that they don’t feel comfortable with in a healthy and realistic way. The ideal is to move forward, since living in the past accomplishes little. I know that I wouldn’t want to go back to the naive and biased mental state I had in high school, as I feel I have developed immensely as a person since. Similarly, I feel much more fit and health conscious now than I was then, and I’ve gotten there through redefining my own awareness of what goals are attainable for me in my present body.

Your challenge this week is to think about what you would like to see yourself accomplish physically over the next few months, setting your goals high, but also being realistic. Move forward. You have a plethora of options available to you no matter how many babies, jobs, injuries, relationships, or stressful things have happened throughout the years. And of course, if you need help
moving forward, we are always here to help position you for success on your new path.

Acknowledging–Not Finding–Your Confidence

Katie’s Corner – “You can’t teach it. You can’t learn it. You can’t buy it. You already have it.” This was one of the statements a client made to me last week when we were having an in-depth discussion about having confidence in light of, and in opposition to, insecurity. The conversation began as an analysis of feeling self-assured in the gym with this voice in the back of your head that people are seemingly judging you and your abilities. This idea that confidence isn’t learned, or taught, or bought simplifies the idea that you can own your confidence and feel empowered by what you are able to do throughout the day, and especially during your workouts.

Call to mind what you do with confidence on a daily basis; these tasks and experiences don’t have to be momentous. It takes confidence to get out of bed every morning, to take a shower and get dressed, to go to work, to manage a household. Many people are not capable of doing these things, for various reasons, and I would like you to recognize the confidence that you have inside of you to help you accomplish these seemingly normal and mundane tasks.

Now, countering the challenge from Katie’s Corner last week, think about where you feel confident—or have gained confidence—in your fitness regimen. Have you gained flexibility in your shoulders? Is your core stronger than it was 2 months ago? Are you able to get further down in your push-up than when you started? Are you able to spin for a full 45 minutes without feeling like you’re going pass out? Wherever you recognize this confidence in yourself, identify what about that exercise or activity gives you such a boost. The goal is to channel these endorphins into areas where you feel less secure and begin to believe that you can, in fact, accomplish this too, and one day feel confident in it, along with the plethora of other things you can do well. As my client so eloquently said it, “Think of confidence as a flicker of light inside of you. We all have that light, and it’s just a matter of how bright we let it shine.”

What was your moment?

In a recent study, 77% of individuals who successfully lost weight reported a triggering effect that preceded their accompanying weight loss. This type of motivator is called a precipitating event. In sports, they are signified by a swing in momentum typically due to an unexpected happening. In life, these events are often much more profound. We all know that smoking kills, yet millions still smoke. We all know that obesity kills, yet we still overeat. Why? We get so consumed in our daily lives that it makes it impossible to focus on the little things. We forget to take care of ourselves. We forget to learnhow to take care of ourselves. Until that moment. It could be something tragic, a ‘life is too short’ moment. It could be getting picked last for a game of 5 on 5 with your buddies. It could be waking up one day and finally staring down years and years of poor decisions and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Everyone has their moments. It’s all about how you handle them and what you choose to do thereafter. It all starts with the ability to learn, and the desire to take action.

So I ask you…What was your defining moment?

Insecure Much?

Katie’s Corner – As many of you know, Mindy Theroux has started teaching many of her Pilates classes, previously based out of her home studio, at 50/50, and we are adding several more in the Fall. We are thrilled about this partnership with Mindy, as she has a wealth of knowledge about the body that is second to none, as well as thoughtful and intentional ways of communicating with her students, helping them to gain that knowledge of their own bodies. Mindy plans to vacation in Florida for the Winter months, and so she needs someone to fill her role when she is gone. I am humbled and grateful that she has asked me to teach in her absence, and we have been doing Pilates-based sessions together one or two times per week.

I have become so used to being the teacher, that I find it very challenging to be the student, learning strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, and compensations that my body has made for several years. My feet turn in, my right side takes over when my left feels weak, my core is strong, my pectoral muscles are very
tight which is causing my shoulders to pull forward, etc. I think I know my body pretty well, but I’m discovering Pilates is much more mindful of practice than I originally assumed. I am truly enjoying it, though I also recognize my lack of confidence–in the placement of my body, how I look when I’m doing an exercise, in the jumbled
connection between my brain and my body while doing an exercise .

This week, as you do your workouts, think about the insecurities that arise when you are exercising . Do you have a sense of humor about these insecurities, or is it something that really gets you down? If it’s the latter, I would suggest making room to accept yourself in whatever capacity you are able to do the exercise, and if it’s not quite at the place you would like it to be, set a goal around it. If your hips sag when you do planks, set a goal to find that straight-line plank. If you are not able to hold 80rpms on the bike with a resistance of 7 for longer than 30 seconds, try to increase your time to 45seconds over the next month. Meanwhile, try to find humor and accept your flaws and imperfections. We’ve all got them, so recognize them, accept them, andchange them. My hope is that I will be a suitable substitute for Mindy while she’s away; meanwhile, I will continue to learn and grow in the Pilates practice, imperfections and all.

Human Connection and Compassion

Katie’s Corner

Two years ago, while walking around Northampton by myself, I came upon a homeless woman, who was asking for money, with a child by her side. Now, someone asking us for money is really nothing new, no matter where we are. People find themselves in dire straits, for whatever reason, and humble themselves to ask others for the change passersby have in their pockets. To be honest, for my own reasons, I don’t usually give money to people, and in this day and age, I’m likely to carry a card rather than cash. So was the case when this woman in Northampton asked me for money, and I told her that I had nothing to give. She thanked me and told me to have a nice day.

As I walked away from her, I couldn’t shake the look in her eyes. It wasn’t a passive look of asking for a handout; it was a genuine display of desperation and dejection—one that said, “I don’t know how this happened. I’m not supposed to be here.” In those quick seconds, I thought about how hard it must be for her to ask strangers for money with her child looking on, knowing that in most cases, parents only want to be a shining example of the lives they want their children to lead. I thought about how she likely grew up wanting to be a teacher or veterinarian or astronaut, not living on the streets. And I thought about how, at my most difficult moments, those people who showed compassion and acceptance of me were what helped me through. And in that instant, I asked myself what I could do for this person to provide some sense of reprieve in what I assumed to be a difficult moment in her life.

I turned around, walked back to her, and said, “Can I give you a hug?” Without hesitation, she agreed and she opened up her arms. As I hugged her, she broke down, sobbing and shuddering. I made sure to hold on tight, communicating nonverbally that it was safe for her to place her burden on me for that short period of time. It was probably a good three minutes before she let go of me, and wiping the tears from her eyes, she expressed her appreciation. I said, “I hope that helped.” “It did,” she said.

I want to be clear that I am not sharing this story with you for praise, as I can be as critical as the next person. But in this case, I was able to be open to what turned out to be a real human connection, and I am still grateful for it to this day. My challenge this week for you is to take (or make) an opportunity to offer kindness and compassion to another person who you may suspect needs it. Stranger, colleague, friend, enemy—doesn’t matter. Because really, we’re all trying to do the best we can in this crazy, mixed up world. Don’t shy away from human connection because it’s scary, especially when you have a chance to help another. It’ll leave a mark on the other person, yes, but also on you. Hey, you could even still be reminiscing about it two years later.

My Rainbow through the Storm

Yesterday, it rained. Hard. It reminded me of the kind of downpour you’d see in Texas—steady-going for at least an hour. During the storm, I had a little bit of a break before my Tabata class, so I figured I’d go see my mom for a little while. I ran out to my car, trying to run in between the raindrops so I wouldn’t get completely drenched, got in and turned on the windshield wipers as high as they’d go. I was feeling inconvenienced, that is, until I spotted a double rainbow right in the middle of Route 9. It was beautiful, and a rare sight for this area, I feel.

As I stepped into the assisted living facility where Momma lives, I felt a little apprehension, which is not uncommon. Many of you know that my mother has been exhibiting symptoms of Alzheimer’s for the past eight years, and has declined in performing many day-to-day functions. She’s still got her spunk, but my apprehension lies in knowing that I’m still going to experience a good bit of pain when I see her, knowing what a strong, independent woman she once was. As many times as it’s happened, it still tugs on the heart strings when she repeats the same questions, sometimes several times in a short period of time, and each time I answer as if it’s the first time she’s asked me. Other reminders of the disease are difficult, too, like when her clothes are mismatched or she tries to put things on backwards. Momma was never a fashionista, but she was always put together. And as the day-to-day tasks become increasingly challenging for her to accomplish, the more of a reality this is for me.

But of course, without rain, there can’t be rainbows, right? Yesterday, I was sitting next to her with my arms wrapped tightly around her, and I said, “Momma, sometimes I never want to let you go.” And she said, “Katie, I never want to let you go all the time. I love you so much, I can hardly see straight.” And there it was—my rainbow through the storm.

We all have our own storms going on, some that are light drizzles and some that are full on deluges. But more often than not, there is a rainbow mixed in somewhere, and it’s vital that we pay attention to its appearance in our lives. That’s my challenge to you this week: look for the rainbow in whatever you have concerning you right now. Or, if it doesn’t manifest right away, trust that it will. And, on the slight chance that you’re just not ready to see the rainbow right now, make sure you stay open to a future sighting. I’m not promising any pots of gold, here, but my sincerest hope is to offer a little light to your path.

No Time to Workout?

The number one reason why you don’t exercise is that you don’t have time.

At least that’s what you tell yourself.

I know we are all busy. Between getting to and from work, balancing responsibilities and having time for yourself, there’s little left over for workouts.

With summer in full swing, your busy schedule is sure to get even busier. There will be vacations, cookouts and family gatherings. It’s no wonder that exercise quickly takes a backseat to summer activities.

You don’t have to succumb to weight gain this summer. Escape the time crunch excuse in three easy steps:

Step One: Schedule Your Workouts: You’ve heard this before, and it makes so much sense. If you treat your exercise time with the importance of a work meeting then you’d never skip a workout and you’d be in amazing shape.

While the scheduling concept is brilliant in its simplicity, you have to put it into practice to reap the benefits. Pull out your calendar and a pen. Don’t laugh, I’m serious! Just do it. If you want to get into shape it starts with committing to a revised schedule with a set exercise time.

Identify three 45-minute time slots and mark them on your calendar. That is when you’ll exercise.

Remember this: if the thought that you should exercise this week is floating around in your head, but you haven’t anchored it down to a specific time and date, then it will quickly disappear.

Step Two: Get the Most from Each Minute: The days of endless, mind numbing cardio are over. A great workout can take place in under an hour, when done correctly. The idea is to burn more calories each minute. This is done through short, intense bursts of exercise.

Use the following three tips to bring your routine up to the next level:

1. Be Unstable: Use your entire body, and target your core, by performing exercises that engage stabilizing muscles. To do this use an exercise ball, a balance board, a balance disk, or you could simply stand on one leg.

2. Add Resistance: The more resistance that you incorporate with your routine translates into higher intensity and more calories burned. Some ideas for adding resistance include: carrying dumbbells while doing lunges, carrying weights up and down the stairs, or simply using a resistance band (great for traveling) for a quick, dynamic upper body sequence!

3. Use Intervals: Interval training is an amazing tool for creating short yet effective workouts. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. Interval training is simply alternating between different short bursts of activity.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you want to focus on your legs and abs, all while getting an effective cardiovascular workout. This would be a great, simple interval routine for your goals:

  • Lunge while biceps curl, 15-20 repetitions/side
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Squat while pressing dumbbells overhead, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Crunches on an exercise ball, 15-20 repetitions
  • 30 seconds of intense cardio: sprint, jump rope, or jumping jacks
  • Leg raises off the end of an exercise bench or from the ground up, 15-20 repetitions

Step Three: Twice the Results in Half the Time: What if I told you that we have a proven way to deliver twice the fitness results in half the time? It’s simple really… When you attempt to lose weight or meet a fitness goal on your own, the odds are stacked against you. Sure, you could do it over time – but it’s a long and trying road. A road lined with detours that threaten to undermine your progress.

When you start a program with us, you suddenly have the upper hand on weight loss… You have one of our Health & Fitness Specialists in your corner, coaching you each step of the way, keeping you accountable to workouts inside and outside of the gym and giving you that dose of encouragement went the going gets tough.

Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will put exercise firmly on your calendar, and results squarely in your future.

Creating Myself

Katie’s Corner

I recently came across a quote that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” When dietician, Michele LaRock, gave her Spring Nutrition Series earlier this year, she offered the advice of setting a goal and making decisions that would only support that goal, rather than sabotage it. Since that talk, I ask myself several times a day, “Will this activity/mindset/food/behavior get me closer to my end goal?” If the answer i no, then I choose a path that leads me in the right direction. I have set my own goals about where I want to go, who I want to go there with, and how I want to get there. They are simple and uncomplicated and perfect for the life I wish to lead. Now it’s just a matter of making decisions that support those goals.

For many years, I sort of let life happen to me rather than be an active participant. It didn’t help matters that I didn’t really know what kind of life I wanted, but once I figured out what would help me make a great life for myself, I decided to try for it. I tried, I tried, and I tried, and by golly, it’s worked. I have always had a drive to achieve greatness (and was open to whatever that looked like for me), but I’ve finally learned how to focus my efforts into the greatness I’ve sought, with the help of many, many others, no doubt. I dreamed big, and now I am surrounded every day by the most amazing people, who work their asses off for the health of their body and mind. Every day, I strive to do great things, and many times those things come to fruition and I get to see them manifest. Don’t get me wrong, I am and always will be a risk taker. I’m now, however, less interested in experimenting with life and more interested in grabbing it by the handles and taking it out for a spin.

My challenge to you this week is to think about a way you can actively create and develop one aspect of your life, big or small. Being ardently responsible for how our own lives turn out can admittedly be a scary thing, but the reward in it always outweighs the risk. Watching life pass you by does not make the end result of whatever comes your way fulfilling. However, working hard for that end result does. So are you going to let life pass you by, or are you going to be an active participant in its journey? It starts with a simple choice.