Week 3 of the ‘New Year, New You’ fitness and nutrition program

We are now at Week 3 of the “New Year, New You” health and fitness makeover program. Each week, I will add to the program and provide you with more exercise and nutrition tips to advance your program and ultimately reach your goal of looking and feeling your best. Click below to review the entire program and photos of all the exercises.

One important point….with fitness, sometimes you have to change your mindset. For example, I tell our clients that the wrong question to ask yourself everyday is “Should I workout today?” The answer to that question is almost always “Yes!” Everyday you should do something active and move your body. So instead, the correct question should be “What exercise am I going to do today?” Bottom line, you should always try to do something to move your body.


Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Week 2 of the “New Year, New You” health and fitness program

Last week we started your eight-week “New Year, New You” health and fitness makeover program. Each week, I will add to the program and provide you with more exercise and nutrition tips to advance your program and ultimately reach your goal of looking and feeling your best. Click below to review the entire program and photos of all the exercises.


Yours in health and fitness,


8 weeks to a New You!

On Jan. 1, many of us resolved to make some major changes in our lives. Maybe we decided to start an exercise program, stop eating junk food or lose a substantial amount of weight. Perhaps you invested in a gym membership or personal trainer, started an at-home exercise program or purchased P90X to get you started and help you meet your resolutions of looking and feeling better this year.

Well, consider me your own personal coach overseeing your entire program. Over the next eight weeks, I have partnered with the Columbian newspaper to provide you with a fitness program to help you achieve your health and fitness goals and compliment whatever else you may or may not be doing.

You can do this workout anywhere and it will definitely transform your body. You will need hand weights, an exercise tube and a bench (all which can be purchased inexpensively at your local department or sports store). Each week will include cardiovascular and muscle conditioning segments, a stretch and a nutrition and lifestyle tip.

Click this link to review the entire program.


Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Nutrition logs to maximize weight loss and enhance results!

Research indicates that just the action of recording nutrition causes people to make better choices and enhances results.

So if your goal is to lose weight, tone up and look and feel your best, try one of the online options for logging your nutrition and activity.

My favorite program is http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

Please try it for 3 months and let me know what happens.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps.  If you want to have even greater accountability, have your personal trainer review your notes.  Knowing that someone else is going to be reading your nutrition logs, will cause you to make even better choices!!!


Key health and fitness tips for achieving life-changing results

An optimal health and fitness program has many components all with critically important benefits.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and have found that if you want to look and feel your best, make sure you’ve addressed each of the following areas:

  • Exercise aerobically 3-6 days each week for 20-60 minutes each session at various levels of intensity.  Use a Heart rate monitor to keep you honest.  Activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, hiking, stair-climbing, or Group classes will do the trick. Be sure to incorporate some short, high intensity intervals one to two times per week to really boost your fitness level.
  • Condition your muscles with resistance training workouts a minimum of two times per week. One set of 8-12 reps of a variety of exercises for 20-60 minutes is perfect!  Or just workout with your personal trainer and they’ll make sure you meet this requirement.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is high in fiber content.
  • Eat 5 vegetable servings and 3 fruit servings each day.
  • Drink 10—8ounce glasses of water each day.  Drink water before and with each meal and snack.  Purchasing a Jumbo size water bottle will help you adhere to this tip.
  • Plan your meals so that you eat 3 small meals and 2 small snacks each day.  Try to eat every 3 hours.
  • Avoid eating anything high in fat or calories 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Control portion sizes.  If you need more assistance regarding exact caloric requirements, visit our website at www.nwpersonaltraining.com.  Click on the “Client Fitness Info”.  Then click on “Cool Tools”.  There is a calculator that you can use to more accurately estimate your calorie and protein needs.  You will also find various articles that will help you on your journey.
  • Eliminate any unhealthy temptations from your environment (work, home, car) and replace with healthy alternatives.
  • Grocery shop at least once per week to stock up on healthy choices and fresh fruits and veggies
  • Maintain a more active daily lifestyle.  Move your body as much as you can in addition to your exercise program.  The International Journal of Obesity released a statistic that reported we expend an average of 500-800 fewer calories than we did a few decades ago because of our more sedentary lifestyle.  At Northwest Personal Training, we believe that all you have to do is start moving more in your life and then you won’t have to spend hours in the gym every week!
  • Get enough sleep (7-8 hours per night).  Sleep is when your body recovers and repairs.  If you do not sleep enough, you will not be prepared for each workout session and you will not function optimally. Lack of sleep is also a key factor in weight gain.
  • Control and manage your stress levels.  Identify your stresses.  Outline methods that help you to reduce your stress and practice them regularly. Stress is also a key factor in weight gain.
  • If you are just getting started or need some solid accountability, complete Activity and Nutrition logs every day and submit to your trainer or a friend every week.  Just the act of writing things down and showing to someone causes better choices and quicker results.
  • Monitor your progress through weigh-ins, measurements, clothes fit etc.

Note:  Have someone witness your commitment who will guide and support you through this process.  It will hold you accountable to your commitment and everyone can benefit from their own personal cheerleader!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

New Year Resolution Solutions

Well, now that the Christmas rush is over, many of us have begun to turn our attention to the New Year. Typically, at the end of a calendar year, people will look back at the previous year and assess the highs and lows, the accomplishments they’ve achieved and the things they wanted to do but never got around to. Generally, we’ll examine aspects of our lives that we’d like to do better next year and establish personal goals for making those changes.

For many it might be weight loss, starting an exercise program, quitting smoking, healthy eating, climbing the corporate ladder, spending more time with your kids…Whatever it is, at this time of year many of us get motivated to pursue our dreams for the life we want to live.

Did you make promises last year that you didn’t keep? My guess is that you did because 80 percent of people set the same New Year’s resolutions year after year and within a few months, most have thrown in the towel on their original ambitions. With that kind of failure rate, I’m convinced that it’s not a problem with the person but rather the process.

I’ve been in the fitness industry helping people look and feel better and live life to the fullest for over 20 years and I can tell you this, most people set themselves up for failure before the clock even strikes midnight! Regardless of the goal, have you ever wondered why?

Most people attempt to do too much too quickly. They don’t do any planning and they have no idea how to monitor their progress. Your chances for success will improve dramatically, however, if you break the process into a few simple steps. Click on the link below and review some common resolutions and how you might approach them differently this year:


Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan


Holiday Fat-Buster

Are you the type to sing-a-long with all the carols, get your cards out before we see the 1st day of December, and look forward to the crowds at the malls?  Or do the joyous songs start to get on your nerves and the endless responsibilities from getting your cards out, decorating the house inside and out and finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones offer enough stress for you to break into hives?  Whether or not you buy into the holiday season, we all probably experience some level of stress at this time of year.  Plus most people gain 5-10 pounds over the holidays so here’s some ideas to ensure the holidays don’t get you down and the scale up:

Exercise: Bet you guessed this would be at the top of my list.  As I enter the holiday season, I try to ramp up my workout intensity and/or frequency to account for the fact that I’m probably going to be indulging a bit.  Sorry, I’m just not one to completely forbid myself of the holiday treats.  For me, it’s all about balance!  Plus exercise is the best de-stressor at any time of year and this still holds true during the holidays.  But don’t get yourself worked up if you can’t keep up with your regular fitness regime or can’t imagine ramping things up.  Instead set some minimums.  For example, instead of following your regular 5 workouts a week, over the holidays allow yourself to drop back to 2 really good, solid workouts a week to maintain your fitness.  This will keep your energy levels up and you won’t feel like you’ve got to start all over in the New Year.

A quick workout is all you’ll need to help make you feel better when you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with everything you’ve got to get done.  The endorphins that are released during the workout will give you the energy to tackle errands with a more positive attitude.  You’ll also find that committing to your workouts over the holidays helps to keep your nutrition in check.  For one, when you’re exercising you seem to have more self-control to pass on some of the holiday extras and even if you do decide to indulge, it helps to know that you can afford a few extras because you didn’t skip your workout.  In fact, on Christmas or New Year’s morning  I love to workout.  It really sets the day up nicely.  I feel great and am less likely to overeat at dinner

Nutrition: Pigging out on chocolates, cookies and cakes and drinking till you see 3 of everything is enough to make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck!  It’s perfectly ok to indulge over the holidays but you’ve still got to keep your health and fitness goals in check.  Instead of forbidding any treats over the holidays rather, focus on drinking 8 glasses of water, consuming 5 vegetables and 3 fruits, eat breakfast, and consume 5 small meals/snacks each day.  If you’ve still got room for your favorite holiday cookie, go for it.  But eat it slowly and really enjoy the taste.  At parties you may find yourself eating a lot later than usual.  Try to eat something small earlier and then at the party you’ll be less likely to overeat right before bed. Try stocking up at the veggie and fruit tray first so then you’ll have less room for the ‘extras’.

Daily Activity: When you’re running around like crazy and can’t commit to your normal fitness regime, try to incorporate more activity into your days.  For example, go for a walk with your family and friends, in the mall take the stairs instead of the escalators, and park at the back of the lot.  The little bits of extra activity will help you feel better.

Say No! Remember you’re in control of your life and how much you’re going to enjoy the holidays.  If attending every single party you’re invited to frightens you, choose only the ones you know you’ll have a great time.  If seeing each of your relatives during the holidays will leave you feeling exhausted, perhaps set up a rotation system for each year or schedule one large party where everybody gets together and there’s no need to drive to 3 different locations. If the thought of cooking dinner for the whole family makes you want to cry, delegate responsibilities and enjoy a buffet dinner. If purchasing presents for everybody in your family or all your friends is enough to break the bank, draw names or instead, spend your time planning how you are going to enjoy special, quality time with them.  In fact, my favorite holiday memories are not of gifts – I can’t even remember what I got last year – but of long walks, hikes or sitting around with friends and family talking in front of the fireplace.

Manage your stress: Get enough sleep.  If you’re tired, stress appears worse than it is.  If you do feel stressed, take a number of slow, deep breaths and try to relax.

Remember the spirit of the holidays – Do something nice for someone.  Go out of your way to be kind.  Schedule time for your family to recognize and appreciate all the things you should be thankful for.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Look 10 to 20 years younger!

Each of us is getting older right now, minute by minute. But the good news is older doesn’t have to look older. If you could look 10-20 years younger than you actually are, you’d be all for that correct?!  Okay, well there’s no question that a healthy and fit lifestyle guarantees a more youthful appearance.

You should have these memorized by now but here are the five critical areas to an anti-aging program:

1.  Aerobic cardiovascular exercise

2.  High-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular exercise

3.  Muscle strength and conditioning

4.  Flexibility training

5.  Balanced nutrition and lifestyle

In addition, today’s exercise specifically will have an anti-aging effect.  As we get older, we lose muscle mass and this loss is predominantly in our fast twitch muscle fibers. This seriously impacts our reaction time, speed, power, agility and overall ability to move our bodies effectively. If you don’t use it, you lose it!  However, if you continue to train in a way that forces your body to move quickly, it will help you preserve these fast twitch muscles and maintain that youthful ability to ‘spring’ into whatever it is you’re doing.

“Rectangle Drill” – Place 4 cones in the shape of a rectangle or square with each cone about 30 feet apart from each other.  Start at one corner and sprint to the top of the square.  Then shuffle across the top of the square.  Then back-shuffle.  Then laterally shuffle back to the start.  Do this 5x one way.  Take a break and go the other way.

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Set up 4 cones for Rectangle Drill

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Sprint laterally, forwards and backwards to maintain your agility

Look and feel your best at any age!

Forty doesn’t look like forty anymore…or at least it doesn’t have to!  One of our staff recently attended her high-school reunion and sent me a photo of her and her classmates.  The difference between her and her peers was startling.  They had all put on a ton of weight and looked at least 20 or 30 years older than her…like they could have easily been her mother! Because she exercised daily and ate well, it dramatically affected the aging process.  So it is very clear what you do or don’t do today, with either have a positive or negative effect on what you look like now, 10 years, 20 years, 40 years or more from now.

As a reminder, there are five critical areas to an anti-aging program:

1.  Aerobic cardiovascular exercise

2.  High-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular exercise

3.  Muscle strength and conditioning

4.  Flexibility training

5.  Balanced nutrition and lifestyle

In addition, I want to provide you with a specific muscle conditioning exercise that counteracts the aging process.

Today’s exercise will focus on strengthening your weaker posterior muscles, help to keep your spine elongated and help to maintain a youthful posture.Stay tuned next week for more anti-aging exercises.

Tri-Pod Training: a)  Start by getting down onto your hands and knees.  Position your arms directly under your shoulders and your knees directly underneath your hips.  Keep your abdominals contracted inwards and your spine completely stabilized.  Your back should be completely neutral and it should feel like a straight line from your tailbone to the top of your head.  Start the exercise by lifting one arm from the shoulder and reaching it out in front of you.  You should attempt to really stretch the arm forwards and lift upwards while maintaining the abdominal contraction and spine stabilization.  Return to the starting position and then repeat on the other arm.  Then perform the same movement with one leg.  Then the other leg.  While you lift one leg, be sure to not shift all your body weight to the side that is supporting you.  Try to stay completely stabilized.  Do this entire set 5x.  b)  If you want to intensify this movement, lift the opposite arm and leg at the same time.  Do this 10x each side.  Remember the key reference points for this exercise are that you must keep the abdominals contracted inwards and the back should be completely stabilized.  Try to avoid arching your back as you lift the arms and/or legs – think more about reaching the arms and legs rather than lifting so high that you have to arch your back.

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Tripod Starting point

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Tripod Opposite Arm and Leg option








Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan


Maintain your youth….

There is a whole generation of people fighting the aging process – myself included – and doing a very good job at it.  Aging is not a chronological issue…it’s a factor of disuse and inactivity! I feel just as good as when I was 20 so this stuff totally works!

As I mentioned last week, aerobic and anaerobic cardio exercise, muscle conditioning, flexibility training and balanced nutrition are the four critical components to a healthy mind and body.  But to be even more specific, there are certain exercises that I feel directly counteract the aging process.  Last week, I reviewed an exercise to work your posterior muscles which helps to keep your spine elongated and maintain a youthful posture.

Today’s exercise options are more of a stretch but equally as critical as last week’s exercise. Try any of these at the end of a long day or anytime you’ve been sitting for too long.  Stay tuned next week for more anti-aging exercises.

  1. Pillow arches – Place 2-3 pillows on the floor.  Lay on your back over the pillows so that the pillows are at about the level of your shoulder blades.  Stretch your arms to the side and up over your head.
  2. Stretch over the Stability ball or BOSU -  Start by sitting on a stability ball (or BOSU) and then slowly walk your feet outwards until you are lying comfortably over the stability ball with your head, neck, shoulder and back comfortably supported and arched over the ball.  Extend your arms out to the side.  You should feel a great stretch in your chest, shoulder and back.

These are great stretches for all of you who spend a great deal of time at a desk or at a computer.  It places your body in a position that counteracts the strain on your back that you experience from sitting in a flexed position for an extended period of time and will help you maintain a long spine and a youthful posture.  Hold this stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

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Try this pillow stretch at the end of a long day

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Try this Stability Ball stretch to counteract a 'hunch-back' posture


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Try this BOSU Back Stretch to elongate and maintain a youthful posture