Aha Fitness

Discover Your Power!

Don’t let Holiday Weight Gain Scare You (October Post)

Boo!  Can you believe it?  October has floated in like a ghost at Halloween.  And for many, October is the beginning of the holiday season.

First, there is the candy on display at the store.  You tell yourself you’ll get some, but you won’t open it until October 31st.  Right?  Or, maybe you convince yourself to not even get the chocolate stuff because you know yourself.  You decide to get the lollipops or spider rings instead for the kiddies.  But then, why do they have to put the Reece’s Peanut butter Pumpkin Cups in your checkout line?

From there, the candy just keeps stalking you worse than the Grim Reaper.  People bring it to work, your kids bring it home from school, there are even have little dishes of candy corn sitting out at the doctor’s office.  The doctor’s office!

So what do you do?  This is only the first holiday of the season, you know.  You’ve got over three months ahead of you that you’ll need to carry around your powers of discipline and self-restraint like a neon glow stick.  If you want to scare away any extra pounds from undermining your weight loss and fitness, you know you’ll have to stay focused.  Do you want the fright of stepping on the scale after a holiday season of over-feasting?  Of course, not.  You want the sweat treat of looking and feeling good at the start of the New Year.

So in the hallowed spirit of staying true to what really matters most to you, I suggest you take these beginning days of October and get clear about where you want to be come January 1st.  What eating and exercise habits do you want to promise yourself you will maintain through the hustle and bustle and holiday dinners?  Develop a plan for how you can stay committed and a plan B for those festive yet frustrating challenges that get in your way.  And remember, if you need a personal trainer to support you with all of this, I am here to help.

You see, October can be your month to set yourself up successfully for the holidays.  Don’t let the excess calories or holiday stress scare you away from sticking with your nutrition and fitness program.  Get focused, plan smart, and let your motivation shine like a neon glow stick for you all the way to January.

If you’d like to treat us with your ideas for how you scare away those pounds for Halloween or any time from October to January 1st, please leave a comment below!

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There are 2,678,400 seconds in August

There are 2,678,400 seconds in August.  I challenge you to make each one count.

August is here!  The sun is still out, the days are still long, and the beach will always be there waiting for you.  I can’t believe how fast this summer has gone by.  It seems like just yesterday I was trying to get my clients pumped up about “bikini season” and now it feels like the “holiday season” is just around the corner.

For August, I would like for you to make the most of the rest of the summer season, the month of August, and even this precious day.   I want to share with you something personal–A family member of mine just recently passed away and our family is still dealing with the grief and the loss, which is particularly more difficult because this person died way too young.  There is no way to make sense as to why some of us are here on this Earth for awhile and others are gone too soon.   We can do our best to be healthy.  We can eat right and exercise yet still there is the certainty that all of our time here will eventually come to an end.

I don’t mean this to be depressing.  I want to share this with you as a reminder that if our time here is limited, then it is in our best interest to make every moment count.  There are so many things in this life to enjoy and experience.  I think too often we are waiting for that next day off work or next vacation or next whatever instead of being able to appreciate the moment we are in at that very moment.   Every moment can be wonderful.  Each day can be an opportunity to laugh, to love, to live.

This month, as you continue with your fitness, don’t just focus on the end goal; consider how you can enjoy “the process of getting fit”.  Don’t just eat the apple–savor its sweetness and the nourishment it gives you.  Don’t just go for a walk–have gratitude for having two legs and look around at the beauty of nature.   Stay conscious of the way your body moves.  Take in a breath.  On the inhale, say to yourself, “I am grateful” and every time you exhale say something you are grateful for.  I promise it will be the best exercise you do all month.

Namaste, my friends


Top 10 List of Hot Things This July

Do you know what’s hot?  July in San Diego!  If you are going to be active outdoors, drink plenty of fluids and consider timing your workouts in the earlier morning or evening when it’s not so hot.

Do you know what else is hot?  If you are staying committed to your fitness goals this month, here is your ….

Top 10 List of Hot Things This July

1.  Your sweaty glow post-workout

2.  Your yoga mat drying in the sun

3.   Your bare feet as you walk or jog in the sand

4.  That new outfit you just bought…one size smaller

5.  Your arms (yes, they really are getting toned)

6.  How you got in one more push-up

7.  The candles you lit for your bubble bath (to ease those sore muscles)

8.  Getting in one more push-up

9.  Those complements you keep getting

10.  Realizing you are getting stronger, fitter, and leaner everyday.  In other words, Discovering your Power! 

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Beyond the Bikini

Do you know what I love about my clients?  My clients go beyond the bikini.  That’s right.  When I ask them why they want to get in shape for summer, their motivation is more meaningful than wanting to fit into some silly yellow polka-dot apparel.

Take my client who wants to keep up with her grandchildren.  Then, there is my client who wants to one day do 5 unassisted pull-ups.  I even have a client who is just excited he can finally bend over to tie his shoes.  For my clients, it’s not just about looking good, it’s about feeling good.  It’s about taking good care of themselves so they can be in their best shape to take care of the ones they love.  My clients know that by making fitness a part of their life, they can have a better quality of life.

And, get this–my clients aren’t just smart about fitness, my clients are Aha smart about fitness!  That means my clients know the little ahas that work for them when it comes to how to eat and exercise their bodies.  Their goals are specific to what they need, and their knowledge and awareness of themselves allows me to design the perfect exercise programs for them.  For example, I have a client, Sonia, who has a painful knee condition who can now lift, jog, and execute a mean curtsy squat.  She knows she needs to develop the muscles in her legs to relieve the pressure in her knees and she works at it.  At the same time, she is smart enough to know her limitations.  I am in awe of her inner and outer beautiful strength.

Sonia is just one of my clients who know what her body needs and goes after it.  Whether it be to build up their strength and endurance with weights and cardio or repair their body with stretching and mobility work, my clients are tuned in to what their body tells them with improve the way they feel.  They understand getting fit isn’t just about sweating.  It’s not just about putting in a workout video and getting through it.  My clients know the body needs different tools and different moves at different times.  They know to pick up the foam roller before the dumbbell.  They know staying with their breath is more important than how long they can hold their plank pose.

A healthy body doesn’t just look good in a swimsuit.  A healthy body stands tall and strong.  It is free of aches and pains and is flexible and has good posture.  A healthy body breaths deep and laughs loud because we all feel better when we exercise.  This summer, you may see one of my clients in a bathing suit (and yes, you can compliment them on their improving figure).  But, I’m sure if you see one of my clients, you will see them wearing their health body with pride.   My clients are beautiful.  I love you all.

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How to Make “Cents” of Eating Right

For just a minute (or however long it takes you to read this blog), I would like for you to think about calories as a type of currency.

How are you spending your calories?

When it comes to your bank account, you know there are some things you need to fit into your budget.  Most of us have to pay rent or a mortgage.  We have to put gas in our cars, put food on our table, and even allocate our funds for toiletries.  While many of us would like to take our paycheck and head off on a vacation or to our favorite store, we understand that we must make sure our needs are met before we can spend money on our wants.

When it comes to calories, are you making sure your nutritional needs are being met?


Now, when we go to the grocery store, all of the food items have a price tag just like everything else.  Yes, there is the actual cost of the food, but the real value of foods is given in the nutritional label.  Some items are super high in calorie cost, but low in nutritional value like ice cream and potato chips.  Conversely, some items are lower in calories but high in nutrients, like anything in the produce isle.  There are, of course, other items with different cost/value ratios.  The problem, as I see it, is many of us are becoming more conscious of calories, but we are ignoring the nutrient value of foods.  This is mostly because we know if we eat too many calories, we will gain weight, but we don’t think about, and some people don’t even know, that if we don’t meet our nutritional needs with certain foods we will develop poor health, disease, and absolutely hinder our abilities to reach and maintain an ideal weight.

Our bodies require a certain amount of necessary vitamins and minerals to survive.  We need adequate amounts of protein and essential fats.  We thrive on foods that are free of preservatives, pesticides, and genetically-modified and artificial ingredients.  Yes, we need to watch our calories if we want to be at an ideal weight, but if we want to truly be successful in taking care of our health, we need to ensure we are spending our calories wisely.

So how do you make sure your nutrient needs are being met?  One option would be going to your doctor and ask for a test to find out if you are deficient in any nutrients.  Restoring your deficiencies is very important!  Consider how many people these days have found out they are low in Vitamin D.  I could write a whole other blog on the “low Vitamin D epidemic,” but nevertheless, people taking vitamin D supplements is as common today as people using mouthwash.  If, however, people were paying attention to how much Vitamin D they were getting from natural foods (and the sun), would they need to supplement with a pill at all?

Another way you can find out if your diet is lacking in necessary nutrients is to track your foods.  There are websites like Lose It! and Fit Day.  which make this very easy.  You record the foods you eat using a database, and the website adds up the calories and nutrition for you.  Note:  Make sure you don’t just use it as a calorie counting log.  LOOK at your nutrient scores and make note of nutrients you consistently don’t eat enough of.

Finally, be smarter with your calorie budget when you are grocery shopping.  Read the nutrition labels for more than just the calorie information.  Don’t just see how much something costs, take a look at its value.  How much sugar does it have?  Does it have any trans fats?  Go a step further and READ the ingredients list.  Does it have more than 5 ingredients?  More than 20?

There is a new book that has just come out calledRich Food, Poor Food by the Caltons.  You know, I only encourage you to buy products I believe in, and I tell you, this book is like having a financial adviser for your calories at the grocery store.  Listen, would you buy toilet paper that was made from the anal glands of beavers?  Well, guess what?  After reading this book, I found out good ol’ beaver butt is used to make raspberry flavoring in many food products.  So it really can be worth it to have some professional advice about what you are paying for (and eating).

However you decide to become savvier at managing your calorie budget, I hope my little blog here has motivated you to do so.  For the last time, it’s not just about calories in and calories out.  I can spend my entire paycheck at Macy’s and not overdraw my bank account, but what will happen at the end of the month?  It’s amazing how when we take the focus away from calories and start thinking about how we can get better nutrition, everything seems to fall into place. Our energy improves, our food cravings go away, we feel more satiated, less hungry…we just feel better.

There are so many delicious nutrient-rich foods available to you.  Give your palette a taste of wealth, and you will buy yourself a lifetime of good health.

Now, it’s your turn.  How do you keep your diet nutrient-rich?  Do you sometimes slip into eating poorly?  Let me know your “two cents” on eating right!


I wrote this on purpose

This week I had a medical procedure that gave me just enough recovery time to contemplate on life.  As I lay in bed, thankful to have survived surgery, I reflected on how much of my life I was living and how much of my life I was really living.  I think all of us can get caught up in the routine of life, going about the motions, and not paying much attention to what we are doing and why we are doing it.  There’s a popular Christian book called, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, and while I like to think I am following my purpose in life, I must admit there are some areas that are passing for productive, but not necessarily helping me achieve my highest purpose.

Now, I want you to know that I believe in my heart Aha Fitness is part of my bigger purpose.  One of my life missions is to help people take better care of themselves, and I know I can do that through helping people discover their own power.  It might just look like push-ups and sweet potatoes, but trust me, fitness gives people power.  It is just the beginning!

I want to be honest on this blog; however, and I admit there are other areas of my life that I am not living so much on purpose.  My intentions are good, but I am staying in a position which holds me back from fully giving all I can towards my purpose.  And why do I stay.  F-E-A-R.

You see, fear is what holds so many of us back from living on purpose.  I can’t tell you how many of my clients have a goal of achieving a number on the scale or a performance marker, and whether they know it or not, it is their fear of success that keeps them from achieving their goal.  We know that if all of our actions are driven with purpose, we will meet our goals, yet somehow the fear of success prevents us from taking such direct action.  Take for example, my client who desperately wants to lose the rest of her weight but eats the bag of potato chips.  If you think it is just because she likes the taste of potato chips, you are mistaken.  In that moment, she didn’t forget her purpose.  She denied herself of moving towards her purpose, because she was afraid.  Of being attractive?  Of not having “being overweight” as an excuse?  Of what it doesn’t matter, the point is her potato chip-eating moved her away from her purpose and made her feel bad because we always feel bad when we are not living our lives on purpose.

So where does this fear come from?  If we start to live on purpose, we will have to let go of the excuses, we will have to stop putting off all those things we are putting off until we reach our goal.  We will have to start actually living.  It no longer is just about wishing, praying, manifesting, visualizing.  We will be actually living on purpose.

And that my friends, is where I am.  It is time to take Aha Fitness to the next level, and I know in order to do that, I must make follow my purpose in all areas of my life without constraint.  Stay-tuned!  My life is about to change as I strive to live my whole life with the conviction of my purpose which I hold so dear to my heart.

How about you?  What is your purpose?  Is there something holding you back?  How will you persevere?

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Two Hearts are Better Than One

Recently I shared with an acquaintance that one of my life goals is to write a book.  I hadn’t shared this goal with many people as the task seems daunting and I realize the odds of it getting published are small.  To my surprise and awe, this woman shared with me she has always wanted to write a book as well, and in fact, she had already started the process.  She just wished she had the time and discipline to write more regularly.

That night, I had a dream, or actually, I had a vision of this woman and me writing together.  There we were nestled in the corner of a coffee shop with our ideas brewing and my heart warm with joy as we created our best-selling fitness book.

The next day, with albeit hesitation, I e-mailed the woman to tell her my dream.  I was nervous how she would take it.  Was I being too presumptuous?  Would she even want my help?  It took her a few days to respond, but when I saw her message in my inbox, my heart leapt.  “Yes,” she said.  “I would love a writing partner and you are the perfect person to help me with it.”

Since then, she and I have had several writing sessions together, some of them in a coffee shop that looks dreamily familiar, (ah ha) and I am so thankful I had the courage to ask.  The reality is I probably wouldn’t have started a book on my own, and she told me without me, she didn’t know if she would have taken this book we are writing to its completion.  We both agree we needed the Accountability, Support, and Belief of each other to make our dream of writing a fitness book come true.

My message to you then on this post Valentine ’s Day is to reflect on what you love (or used to love) and ask yourself who you can ask to help you with it.  Do you have a forgotten hobby you’ve become too busy to do?  Do you have a dream you’ve almost given up on?  Maybe your love is you.  Are you doing everything you can to love yourself?  Are you making the time to eat right, exercise, or even just play?

If you are struggling to keep that thing you love in your life, please consider asking a friend, family member, or a coach like me J to be your partner in keeping the love alive.  Have the two of you come up with a plan.  Tell him/her what you need.  Ask what you can do for them in return.  It works.  I promise you—two hearts are better than one.

Now tell me about your love?  Have you already accomplished something in your life thanks to the support of another?  Come on and leave your comments below so we can all share the love!how to draw a dragon heart, dragon and heart step 1

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Unhinge with Uttanasana

You don’t have to go to a class or stand on a mat to do yoga.  The physical branch of yoga (the poses or asanas) can be done anytime and anywhere.  Yoga is about putting your body in different positions, which put your spirit in a different place as well.  This means you can use a quick yoga pose at any moment in your day to help you calm down, reduce your stress, lift your mood, etc.

One my favorite “go-to” yoga poses is Uttanasana, a forward bending pose that relieves tension in my neck, lower back, and nervous system.  After two or three minutes of Uttanasana, I can think more clearly and breathe more deeply.

Here is how to do Uttanasana:

1.  Stand with your feet forward, hip distance apart.

2.  Bend forward at the hips and let your upper body just hang.

3.  You can cross your arms and hold onto your elbows or place your hands on either side of your feet.

4.  Let your head drop away from your shoulders.  Unclench your jaw and shake your head gently from side to side.

5.  Inhale and every time you exhale, sink more deeply into the pose.



Your turn.  Got a “go-to” yoga pose?  How does your pose help change your body, mind, and spirit?


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Attacking Heart Disease

February is Heart Health Awareness month.  Sadly, we are familiar by now with the heart-breaking statistics:  Cardiovascular Disease is the number one cause of death globally; one in every 3 deaths in the U.S. is caused by CD or stroke, and 2,200 people die from heart disease every day (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs317/en/index.html).   What makes these numbers even more depressing is that Heart Disease is largely preventable.  We know that lifestyle factors like smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise are what make people get heart disease.  The good news?  Change your eating and exercise habits and you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim of the number one cause of death.

Now, here is where it gets controversial.  First off, I am glad that the U.S. decided to coin February as a month where we bring awareness that cardiovascular disease is a serious epidemic.  My concern, however, is how the general medical establishment recommends we go about preventing and treating the disease.

Remember, I am the Aha! girl.  I am all about using smart science and analysis to find out what works for people, and if we look at our nation as a collective, something is not right.  The public continues to receive information on “the right way to eat and exercise” yet obesity and Heart Disease continue to rise.   The big question is does the general recommendation for preventing and treating Heart Disease work for everyone?

Please forgive me if it sounds like I am criticizing our American medical establishment.  Actually, I am very grateful for the AMA.  Because of modern medicine, other fatal epidemics such as tuberculosis, polio, and typhoid fever have been eradicated.  I am strongly suggesting, however, that the AMA needs to reexamine their “cure” for the Heart Disease epidemic. Instead of continuing to give the same information on how to end Heart Disease and seeing the public’s nonadherence as the problem, they need to go back and confirm their recommendations are appropriate.  I hope they consider we Americans are not just indifferent and lazy; at least, not when it comes to life and death, and especially not when it comes to the life and health of our children.  I wish they would consider that maybe there is something inherently incorrect about the mantra of low-fat, whole-grains, and just get on the treadmill more.  They keep telling people to do it, and it simply IS NOT WORKING.

Maybe it does work in the chemistry lab.  Maybe without the complexities of a human life (or the human body for that matter) the hypotheses prove correct.  But here is an analogy:  a teacher gives a test and most of the class fails (Let’s say 1/3 of the class since that is the number of obese people in the U.S.).  Now, who is to blame?  Is it more likely that 1/3 of the class is too dumb or too lazy to pass the test?  Or, could there be something unsuitable about the test?   Is it that we as a society are just too dumb and lazy or is it that the information we are being given is wrong or at the very least, just not plausible to follow?

There are two ways you can practice Heart Health Awareness this month.  One way is you could completely disagree with what I am saying.  You can continue to try to do what all the experts say.  If this works for you–great.  Really, that is great.  If it hasn’t been working for you though, consider that the best predictor of the future is the past and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Another option is you could be open to the possibility that what I am saying may be true.  You could start educating yourself more on the history of Heart Disease.  You could find out when it began and what people were eating and doing for exercise before and after it started to get bad.  Then, find out what people were eating and doing for exercise when it really got bad.  You could read books that perhaps counter what the mainstream is saying.  (Remember, the best scientist looks for what will refute their hypothesis, not what supports it).  Then, when you have empowered yourself with knowledge, you can stop following advice “just because you should” and commit to taking care of yourself in a way that you know in your heart is best for you.

As the Aha! girl, I leave it up to you.  I believe you know your body, heart, and life better than anyone.  I would love to know your thoughts on attacking Heart Disease.  What will you do this month to take care of your own heart?  Please share your comments below:

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The Sugar Monster

I don’t drink.  I’ve never smoked a cigarette.  I’m not into drugs, gambling, or even impulsive shoe shopping.  But…I am addicted to sugar.

People just don’t understand why I choose not to eat sugar.  “But you don’t have a weight problem…anymore,” they say.  “You can get away with a cookie every now and then.”

But they don’t get it.  I am the Sugar Monster.  I can’t have ONE cookie.  A cookie for me turns into the plate of cookies and it’s just not worth it.

I am so grateful that finally more and more research is coming out about why some people like me are truly addicted to sugar.  Sugar, like heroine, cocaine, nicotine, or any other drug, stimulates the pleasure chemical, dopamine, in our brain.  Some of us can eat a little sugar, satisfy our dopamine, and be fine.  Others, however, find that our dopamine has an undesirable response to sugar.  We eat sugar and we feel good, but then our dopamine level drops.  We need more sugar to feel good and the more sugar we eat; the more we need to keep feeling good.

Dr. Mark Hyman explains, “In our brain, a little receptor, the dopamine receptor D2 or DRD2 for short, must be activated or switched on for us to feel pleasure. The amino acid dopamine triggers this response. Sugar and other stimulating addictions increase dopamine in the short term.

The only problem is it appears that those with sugar addictions, compulsive eating, and obesity have DRD2 systems that need much more stimulation to feel pleasure. Those who have sugar addiction, it seems have fewer D2 dopamine receptors and they need extra stimulation to make them “turn on”.

You can also read the study from Princeton University here and from NCBI here that conclude sugar causes addictive-like behavior.

So if you think you have a sugar addiction like me, what should you do?   Well, I think the Aha! E.A.T. protocol would really help you.

First you need to Experiment.  Are you someone who can have a little sugar or do you need to avoid it entirely?  Would you be willing to try a Sugar Detox?  Note:  you may be surprised just how much sugar you’ve been eating.  Four grams of sugar equals about 1 teaspoon.  Read the nutritional labels of the foods you are eating.  Many “healthy” cereals have between 3-4 teaspoons.  A can of soda has about 10 tsp of sugar.  Also, watch out for sugar disguised by another name such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, and corn sweetener.

Next, Analyze how you feel.  Do you feel better when you cut sugar out of your diet?  Do your cravings disappear?  Do you do okay with natural sugars like honey or molasses?

Finally, make sure you are Tracking your results.  It may be good to enlist the support of a friend, loved one, or a Nutrition Coach like me to help hold you accountable to your Anti-Sugar Plan.

As for me, I know I feel better when I don’t eat sugar.   I struggled with binging on sweets and the hangover and withdrawal symptoms that come afterwards for waaay too long.  I prefer to keep my cravings low by keeping my sugar intake very low.  Occasionally, I might have a taste of a dessert I cook for my husband made with natural honey or maple syrup, but I usually don’t.  I don’t need that little chemical in my brain grumbling that it needs more.  I don’t like it.  It makes me feel like…a Sugar Monster.

Now how about you?  Are you a Sugar Monster too?  How do you handle your sugar cravings?  I’d love for you to leave your comments below.