Three more Pumping Nothing Exercises

Today is Day 3 of your Pumping Nothing workout. Remember, you don’t need any equipment whatsoever to give yourself an incredible muscle conditioning workout. Review the last two posts for more tips.

Here are the next three exercises to add to your Pumping Nothing Muscle-conditioning workout.

Try about 60-90 seconds for each exercise for a 4.5 minute mini-circuit. You might be motivated to just follow along with this clip and get a few minutes of movement. Or you might combine the last few clips for a 15 minute blast.

If you can’t view the clip above, click here for the YouTube file:

Today’s exercises are:

Circle Squat & Jump squat
*Only reach as low as you feel comfortable
*Continue for 30-45 seconds in each direction and then finish with a Power Squat

Push-ups with Leg Lift
*Try this from either your knees or toes depending on how strong your upper body is
*Alternate Legs
*Keep your core strong throughout the entire exercise
*Try for 60-90 seconds total

Side lying Lateral Leg Lifts
*Lift one or both legs
*Keep your core strong throughout the entire exercise
*Try for 30-45 seconds each side

Yours in Health and Fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Here are your next 3 Muscle Conditioning Exercises you can do anywhere!

Today is Day 2 of your Pumping Nothing workout. Remember, your body is the BEST piece of equipment ever and you can keep it strong, fit and conditioned with absolutely no equipment whatsoever! Review yesterday’s posts for more tips.

Here are the next three exercises to add to your Pumping Nothing Muscle-conditioning workout.

Try about 60-90 seconds for each exercise for a 4.5 minute mini-circuit. You might be motivated to just follow along with this clip and get a few minutes of movement. Or you might combine today and yesterday’s clips for a 9 minute blast.

Today’s exercises are:

Alternate Leap Lunge
*Only reach as low as you feel comfortable
*Choose low or high impact
*Continue for 60-90 seconds total alternating legs

Prone Arm Lifts
*Press thumbs towards the ceiling
*Continue for 60-90 seconds

Single and Double Leg Extensions

*For stabilization – Only extend and lower as low to the ground as you can keep your abdominals engaged and your low back stable
*Continue for 60-90 seconds

Here’s the clip:

If you can’t view the video clip, go to:

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tone up with 3 Pumping Nothing Exercises

I recently conducted a workshop titled “Pumping Nothing” at the world’s largest Fitness Conference, CanFitPro in Toronto Canada. The principle was simple – that is that the body is the BEST piece of equipment ever and you can keep it strong, fit and conditioned with absolutely no equipment whatsoever! So what does that mean? No excuses ever! Muscle conditioning is critical for fat loss, posture, bone density, endurance, strength, weight management and more. If you can’t get to the gym because you’re on holidays, home with a sick child or on a business trip, you can still give yourself a fabulous workout!

The template for this workout is as follows:

Lower Body Exercise
Upper Body Exercise
Core Conditioning Exercise
Repeat multiple times with different exercises
Cool-down and stretch

So I thought it would be fun to give you some video clips of the exercises we did. I apologize for the filming – this wasn’t a professional production – just a friend taking some clips at the workshop. But you’ll get the idea.

Each day, I’ll share with you three exercises – lower body, upper body and core. We did about 1.5 minutes for each exercise for a 4.5 minute mini-circuit. So you might be motivated to just follow along with this clip and get a few minutes of movement. Or you might combine all the upcoming daily blog posts for a full one hour workout with a variety of different exercises that you can do absolutely anywhere. Even right now at your desk!

Today’s exercises are:

Lunge with Rotation
*Try a mini-lunge, intermediate or deep depending on how strong your knees are
*Keep your core strong as your rotate towards that front knee
*Do about 45 seconds each leg

Pushups with Rotation
*Try this from either your knees or toes depending on how strong your upper body is
*Keep your core strong throughout the entire exercise
*Do about 60-90 seconds total

Leg Extension with Core Crunch
*For stabilization component – Only lower as low to the ground as you can keep your abdominals engaged and your low back stable
*Do about 60-90 seconds total

Here’s the clip:

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

4 Tips to a Achieving your Dream Life

I just returned from IDEA, a convention in California for Health professionals from all over the world. I attended the keynote with Matt Weinstein, a motivational speaker and author. He said the problem with all the self help books is that they’re too hard to remember – the 8 secrets, the 7 Habits etc…So he’s come up with the 4 unforgettable keys to a Successful Life. He promises that you will never, ever forget them! I thought I’d share them with all of you in hopes that it will help you live your dream life.

#1 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘ Row, Row, Row your Boat’
This is your boat – your life! And if you want something, you’re going to have to work at it – you’re going to have to row, and row, and row some more. You’re going to have to put some muscle into it. Rowing can be a challenging activity but you can direct which way you want that boat to go! This is your life to create!

#2 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘Gently down the Stream’
Go with the flow. Don’t fight so hard. It’s so much easier to row your boat downstream rather than upstream! You’ve got to Focus on your strengths – that will make everything so much easier.

#3 Key to an Incredible Life: Can you already guess it??!! Yep – “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily”
Be positive. Be content. Focus on what you have versus what you don’t have. Look for the good in everything. Notice everyday miracles. Incredible opportunities come to those with a joyful spirit. No one wants to be around or offer opportunities to those who are negative! Why? They are just going to complain about it anyways!

#4 Key to an Incredible Life: ‘Life is But a Dream’
Life should be a dream – a pleasant, beautiful, wonderful dream – Not a nightmare. Reality happens first in your mind. Dream big for your life. Make the life that you want so vivid in your mind that it’s easier to make it come to fruition!

That’s it! Four keys that you will probably never, ever forget. Simple but powerful messages! We’ve all heard it before and now all we have to do is live it! I hope it gives you a little boost for your week!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

By challenging yourself, you challenge others!

“Do something everyday that scares or challenges you!” I love this photo of my friend Tamara as she jumps off a 20 ft cliff into Crater Lake. She inspired me to jump shortly after – a big accomplishment since I’m crazy scared of heights. That’s how inspiration works. Someone sees someone else do something cool and they think “Hey, maybe I could do that too!” So do something amazing and you’ll most likely inspire someone else too!

This thought process reminds me of this poem…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God….And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson – Read by Nelson Mandela

So let your life shine brightly and as you do so, it will inspire others to live their best life too!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

I was wrong…

I used to say “Use the Scale and Plan to Fail”. I’ve seen so many people get so discouraged by a scale reading even when they were doing everything right. So I would often tell clients not to get on the scale or to limit it to monthly to avoid any issues. But research now shows that I was actually wrong.

When your goal is fat loss or weight management, weigh-ins offer you an objective, quantitative way for you to monitor your weight loss progress. In fact, people who have succeeded with weight loss often report that they self-monitored themselves using weekly weigh-ins. The most recent research shows greater progress in those who do daily weight monitoring.

Avoiding the scale means weight gain can easily accumulate without you realizing. I’ve seen so many clients utterly shocked at the number on the scale because they had avoided it for years. Regular monitoring can provide you with the information you need and often the motivation to take action before weight gain gets out of control. This way you’ll know quickly if you’re slipping at all and can take appropriate measures to get back on track.

The only downfall to measuring progress using a scale is that it doesn’t tell you anything about changes in body composition. So for example, if you’re gaining muscle because you’re working out and since muscle is more dense that fat, this change will not be represented on the scale and you may think you’re not doing that well. Also, weight can change significantly and quickly due to factors such as water retention. This can often lead to frustrations and discouragement when in fact, you may have been doing really well.

So my only advice is don’t get obsessed with what the scale reads. Start with only measuring yourself once per week at exactly the same time and focus on the action steps you can take to move the scale numbers in the right direction. Focus on getting your workouts in and eating healthy and the scale will take care of itself. It is also helpful to use a variety of measuring tools such as girth measurements, body fat assessments, Polaroid photo shots and how your clothes are fitting. This will give you a much better view of the whole picture.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Fitness Bucket List

I’d like to encourage you to complete a Fitness Bucket Wish-List…all the fitness related adventures you’d like to do before you die.

And then start training for one of these events and/or adventures.

Many people take this approach – ‘As soon as I lose the weight/get fit, then I’ll start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do”. But we take the opposite approach. Let’s set the goal and in the process of training for the event or activity you’ve always wanted to do, then you lose the weight and get fit!

And please, promise me, you’ll put a Crater Lake adventure on your fitness wish-list. Just this weekend, we took 14 of our clients on the most unbelievable hiking and biking adventure. Watch the clip and be inspired – you HAVE to do this at some point in your life!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Posted in adventures, exercise, Fitness, weight loss by Sherri | 2 Comments

Does stress make you fat?

My fat loss blogs have sparked a lot of questions and interest. Here’s one question that I thought I’d share with all of you. I think many of you can probably relate.

“I read that it’s hard to lose weight when you’re stressed out. If that’s true, that would explain a lot in my life. My job is extremely stressful and although I eat pretty well and exercise weekly, I just can’t seem to lose any weight. How does stress affect my weight loss?” J.P., Vancouver,WA

There has been quite a bit of research recently measuring stress hormones and how they affect our fat cells and fat metabolism. Dr. Pamela Peeke has been the leading researcher in this area and she has found that our body interprets any kind of stress in our lives as physical stress and immediately responds using the “Fight or Flight” response. Unfortunately, most of the stress in our lives is not physical stress but rather, work, kids, financial etc – more of the emotional or mental type of stress. But nonetheless, as our stress increases, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released into the blood stream.

Cortisol has two negative effects in terms of fat loss. One -it causes the body to crave more fat and sugar. Consider the last time you were really stressed out. What did you grab for – a tuna sandwich or ice cream? And secondly, it causes the body to uptake more fat into the fat cells in order to store energy. Both act as a defense mechanism to enable the body to fight off the stress – unfortunately, since we’re not really undergoing physical stress and don’t require the extra energy we just get fatter.

The message is clear. People who want to lose body fat need to manage their stress better. Take baths, get massages,write in a journal, read, pray, practice deep breathing, participate in Tai Chi, Yoga or meditation classes. Do whatever it takes to either interpret your stress differently or take care of yourself so that stress doesn’t tear you down.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. We offer some amazing Yoga & Meditation classes at both our Vancouver and Portland studios. Email me at if you’re interested. I’ll forward you a Free pass so you can try out our programs for yourself.

Posted in exercise, fat loss, stress, weight loss by Sherri | 1 Comment

Part 2 – Fat Loss: Safely, Effectively and Permanently

Okay, so I hope I didn’t keep you in suspense all weekend!

Here are the last 5 tips to achieving your fat loss goals. For those of you who have been successful fat losers, please add comments at the end. The more tips from those who know what works, the better!

#6: Practice the 80:20 rule. You can’t expect to be perfect for the rest of your life and setting super impossible high expectations will definitely set you up for failure and feelings of inadequacy. Instead of saying, ‘I’m never going to eat chocolate again’, decide that you’ll eat it only once per week. Instead of determining that you’re going to eat perfectly 7 days a week, decide that you’ll eat really healthy 5 days a week and then 2 days, you’ll allow for a few indulgences. This is much more realistic and is something that you can adhere to for the rest of your life. We have to stop thinking “All or Nothing”. This just leads to failure and then the resultant binges. Remember that if you want to be 10 pounds lighter 10 years from now, then it’s not what you do over the next 6 weeks, but rather what you do for the next 10 years! So ask yourself, what type of a nutrition plan can you follow forever?

#7: Limit your alcohol intake: Alcohol poses a number of problems. It is high in calories and lacking nutrient value. Some researchers have also suggested that because alcohol is metabolized in the body first, any food consumed in combination with the alcohol will be more easily converted to fat. And finally, and probably most importantly, alcohol reduces your inhibitions. You may be more inclined to indulge or make poor choices because you aren’t able to think clearly or examine the long term consequences. Most people won’t commit to never drinking again, but instead of drinking every night with dinner, limit it to 1-2x/week.

#8: Increase your daily activity: Try to think of ways that you can be more active throughout your day without having to actually exercise. The calories expended from walking a few extra blocks, taking the stairs, or performing errands in an active fashion really add up! If we could learn to just be more active throughout the day, we wouldn’t have to spend hours in the gym!

#9: Try not to eat large amounts of food past 8:00pm. Eating late at night often goes hand-in-hand with high-fat snacks and overeating. Secondly, it never feels good to go to bed on a full stomach!

#10: Keep an activity and food log. Record your daily exercise and what and how much you eat. Some researchers have found that just the act of recording the foods you eat, result in better choices and a healthier diet. Also by writing everything out, you may also start to notice patterns. For example, you may observe that the days you don’t exercise are also the days you eat poorly. You can then take appropriate action. It’s also a good idea to set daily goals to break the long-term ultimate goal into smaller chunks and to keep your goals in the forefront of your thoughts. Be sure that your goals are behavioral in nature (ie. drink 8 glasses of water, exercise for 30 minutes, eat 5 small meals) instead of body-focused (ie. I will lose 1 pound this week, I will drop 10 inches by Monday etc.).

Last final words of wisdom are to be patient. Safe fat loss often takes months and sometimes years – definitely not weeks or days! Be persistent and consistent! Finally, accept your genetics. If you come from a pear-shaped family, you most likely will always be a pear-shape. But you do have the choice of being an in-shape or an out-of-shape pear-shape! Don’t compare yourself to other women or men, instead, try to implement these changes because they are healthy changes and you deserve to take care of yourself! We know from experience that if being thin is your goal to make you happy, you’re never going to be thin enough to be happy! So learn to be happy in the body you’re in right now!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Posted in exercise, fat loss, Fitness, weight loss by Sherri | 1 Comment

Fat Loss: Safely, Effectively and Permanently

As a Personal Trainer, the number one request I get from clients is fat loss. Since I received a lot of emails after my last post on high intensity versus low intensity exercise and how that translates to fat loss, I’m going to stay on this topic and cover the Top 10 things you can do to lose fat – safely, effectively and permanently. You’ll only get tips from me that will provide lasting, long-term results. I’ll cover the first five today and the last five on Monday.

It’s interesting to note that these days the general public is more health-conscious and the availability of low and no-fat products has increased dramatically and yet, our population continues to get fatter. In fact, the average adult weighs 8 pounds more than just a decade ago!

So why do we continue to gain weight? Some researchers have estimated that our population expends 500-800kcal less per day compared to a few decades ago because of labor-saving devices like escalators, elevators, remote controls, computers, and urban transportation. We don’t even have to leave the house for fast-food! If we do go out for dinner, Valet Parking cuts out the few blocks of walking to our vehicle. We’ve got to face it – laziness rules! Case in point – analyze this photo closely.

We also live in a society where food is in abundance. Portion sizes tend to be huge and processed foods fill our cupboards and fridges. Some researches have suggested we consume 100-300kcal more per day than a few decades ago. Expending less energy, consuming more food and a society where exercisers are a minority results in a society that is getting fatter!

So what can you do about it? You’ve got 4 choices: diet, exercise, both or liposuction. The first option will definitely result in failure. Ninety-eight percent of people who go on diets gain the weight back. It appears that losing the weight in the first place, is not the hard part. In fact, people successfully lose weight all the time. It’s keeping the weight off that’s the hard part. The problem is that when you diet you lose valuable, energy-burning muscle tissue which drops your metabolism making it easier to put the weight back on. And secondly diets are, by nature, a short-term phenomenon. You often feel deprived during the diet-stage and thus, once you’ve lost the desired weight you return to old habits and patterns and the weight is quickly regained.

The second option to lose fat is exercise. This is a good choice but unfortunately, for many people, exercise by itself is a painfully, slow process. A fat-loss exercise program may exhibit a 2% change in body-fat over a 12-18 week period which would translate into 3 pounds of lost fat. That’s equates to about a pound lost per month. When people are looking for immediate results, they often don’t have the patience to wait!

The third option is to exercise and diet simultaneously. Research has found this method to be most successful at reducing body fat and, most importantly, helping to keep it off.

The final option, surgery/liposuction, is a costly choice. Furthermore, if the diet and exercise habits of the individual are not altered, the individual will eventually get fat again. Even though they may have less fat cells, the fat cells they still have can get bigger!

Here’s the Top 10 Tips for a Fat Loss program that incorporates exercise and healthy eating that will ensure you reduce your body fat safely, effectively and permanently:

#1. Aerobic Exercise: The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise 5-7 days/week for 20-60 minutes each session to maximize fat loss. If you’re just starting with exercise you may want to take a couple months to progress slowly into this 5-7 days/week range. Aerobic activities like walking, running, cycling, swimming, fitness classes, hiking, cross-country skiing, stairclimbing and rowing will do the trick. These activities expend a lot of energy and will burn up a lot of fat and thus, should be a focus of your exercise program. The intensity of your aerobic workouts should be within a 5-8/10 on the rating of perceived exertion scale. This means you should be able to work up a sweat, feel your heart pumping and be breathing more rapidly. We also encourage you to split your weekly aerobic workouts into easy, moderate and hard days to vary the intensity and train all energy systems. High intensity interval training will definitely get you in great shape fast allowing you to burn more calories overall during each workout translating into faster fat loss.

#2: Resistance Exercise: Regular strength training workouts are also critical to maximize fat loss. Muscle is an energy-burning tissue and therefore, if you have more of it, your metabolism revs at a higher rate making it easier to burn fat both during and after exercise. You don’t need to spend a lot of time in the weight room. Pick exercises for all the large, major muscle groups and perform just one set of 8-15 reps. You should be able to get in and out of the weight room in 30-40 minutes two to three times per week. These short muscle-conditioning workouts are sufficient to achieve the results you’re looking for and are the best way to actually sculpt your body.

#3: Eat 5 small meals and snacks each day. Studies indicate that when people eat more regularly throughout the day, they are less likely to overeat or indulge in less-healthy choices. Food at regular intervals also maintains a more balanced blood sugar level which keeps your energy levels higher throughout the day. Try to consume smaller meals or snacks every 2-3 hours during the day. Be sure to include protein and high-fiber foods at each meal/snack to help keep you full longer.

#4: Drink 8 glasses of water every day. Our body is 50-60% water and when we are dehydrated, our body and it’s organs and systems don’t function at their optimal level. This limits your ability to exercise intensely and ultimately, will affect your ability to burn body fat. Many scientists also suggest that headaches, minor aches and pains, low energy, sleeping problems and injuries may be a result of dehydration! Eight glasses of water each day will replenish the fluids you lose throughout the day as a result of normal human respiration.

#5: Focus on what you should be eating instead of what you shouldn’t be eating. Ensure you consume 5 vegetable and 3 fruit servings every day. Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and water-content and low in fat and calories. It’s much more difficult to overeat when your diet consists largely of fruits and vegetables. If you fill up on your fruits and veggies, you’re going to have less room for the high-fat, nutrient-poor foods.

Stay tuned on Monday to receive the last five tips.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan