Don’t set the goal as weight-loss. Try this approach instead!

Many people take this approach – ‘As soon as I get fit and lose weight, then I’ll start doing the things I’ve always wanted to do.” We suggest you take the opposite approach.

Set the goal and in the process of training for the event or activity you’ve always wanted to do, then you will get in great shape! It puts purpose to your workouts. And it’s such a positive, motivating focus.

For example, let’s say you set a goal of finishing a 10km fun run. Setting this kind of goal, because it has a deadline, provides a compelling reason to stick to the program and not miss workouts. In contrast, if the goal is to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, if you get off track, you can negotiate with yourself and say, “Well, I guess I can wait an additional week or two to achieve my goals.” But if you get off track with your training program while preparing for an event, you can’t call the event organizer and ask them to postpone the event because you aren’t going to be ready. Every workout or skipped workout will either positively or negatively affect your performance and your ability to achieve your goal. In addition, once you cross the finish line, that’s something no one can ever take away from you. You will always have your medal, t-shirt, and photos crossing the finish line. Whereas, with weight loss, you could lose the weight and then gain it all back next month and feel like a failure. Plus there is a lot of status associated with conquering a tough challenge or finishing a event, so your self esteem receives a huge boost providing you with the belief that you can achieve the next goal. We have also found when someone succeeds at a goal such as this, they then inherently look towards the next goal – it’s just human nature. So after you finish the 10km, then often you’ll decide to attempt a half marathon, full marathon, a challenging hike, a triathlon, etc. It’s a positive spiral. Whereas, with weight loss, it’s often a negative spiral. You may lose the 10 pounds but may still not be happy. Some people who have the most ‘perfect’ bodies are those that struggle with their body image the most!

For all these reasons, we suggest you keep the focus away from Body Image and instead focus on behaviors, events and actions. The end result is that you actually will start to lose weight, tone up and get in the best shape of your life en route to the finish line!

So grab a piece of paper and write down all the fitness goals you would like to achieve. This is your personal fitness wish list. Write down anything you have ever thought of achieving with regards to your own individual health and fitness. Which goal, if you achieved it, would make this year unbelievable? Have you ever wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, complete a marathon or triathlon, cycle through Italy, learn to Scuba Dive or inline skate or rock-climb, cycle the Oregon coast, or would you just be happy with working out 4x/week consistently? What are you health and fitness wishes? The only rule with this wish list is that none of your goals can be related to your body size, shape or weight. Stay away from listing a goal such as losing 10 pounds or 4 inches off your hips. Let’s keep this list positive, action-oriented, and focused away from body image. Then circle one item on this list, that you will focus on completing in the next 3 months. YES YOU CAN!

Yours in health and fitness,


ps. On that note, if you’re not doing anything this weekend, join us for our annual 6mile Run/Walk, Live Concert and community fundraiser for the Kearney Breast Center.

pps. Or perhaps you’d like to try our Girlfriends & Dudes Triathlon on July 19th. It’s a short distance so you can do it. And if you’re not feeling up for the whole thing, inspire a few friends and form a relay team!

You’ve got to watch this video – it may be life changing…

Father’s Day is one week from today. Before you decide what to do for that special guy – dad, hubby, brother, son – watch this inspirational video first. It is one of the most incredible stories of all times! It’s 6 minutes long but trust me, absolutely, totally worth it. I’ve watched it at least 20 times and I am still in awe! I have competed in triathlons with this father-son team and it is one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences ever! So click on the link, sit back, relax and be inspired…

Your dad will probably never remember the tie you bought him. Your husband will probably never recall the backyard BBQ kit you got for him. Your brother will probably never remember the gift-card.

But they will forever remember the hike you took them on, the bike ride with a lunch stop, the golf game, or perhaps an event you enrolled each other in. The best gifts are those that involve time being spent together doing something you both love and/or doing something that offers a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

So you’ve got one week to plan an active, fun day with that special guy in your life. Create a memory that will last a lifetime!

Yours in health and fitness,


ps. On Saturday June 20th, we are offering a Dad’s Bootcamp at both our Vancouver and Portland studios from 8:00-10:00am. That could be the start of a very special weekend. Call 360.574.7292 or 503.287.0655 to register.

No Excuse for Excuses…

If you’re a consistent exerciser and never struggle with sticking to it, you can skip today’s blog. But if you’re like most people, and let work, the kids and other responsibilities get in the way, read for some tips on how to overcome these obstacles so you have the energy for work, kids and other responsibilities…

Not enough time: If you have trouble finding time to exercise, you’re not alone. A perceived lack of time is one of the most common excuses for not starting or for quitting an exercise program. But it really doesn’t wash. We have clients who manage large businesses, clients with 6-8 children and clients who seem to do it all. How do they do it? They make health and fitness a priority in their life. When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when, in fact, it should be the last. Exercise is the glue to mental sanity when life becomes chaotic. Somehow, when others need you, your needs tend to end up on the back burner. Someone at work asks you to complete a project, your spouse needs your attention, the kids need some quality time, your friends are asking you why you haven’t called, and you’ve got a to-do list that extends well into the next 6 months. You can see how easy it is to convince yourself that the morning workout can wait until lunch and then until after dinner. Or maybe tomorrow and finally, “I’ll get back on track next month!” Commitments, responsibilities, and the demands of work, family and social life are always going to be there. When you allow yourself to put your own needs second to everything and everyone else, you’ll end up the loser. Research, in fact, shows that exercisers are more productive at whatever they’re doing. Translation: You’ll be able to do more when you’re in good shape. As for believing exercise is a huge time commitment, even 10-30 minutes a day, if done consistently, can result in health benefits. Here’s some tips to help you fit exercise in your day:

• Make an appointment with yourself, just as you would for your doctor or dentist or a meeting with your boss. That way, when someone asks if you can meet at 5, you can honestly say, “Sorry, I’ve got an appointment. How about at 4:00?”
• Stop putting it off! “I’ll start exercising right after New Year’s…in the spring…right after I’m finished with this huge project…once the kids get older…once the kids leave home…after I’ve retired…” Stop making excuses. Now’s the time to start because there will always be things competing for your time. You can choose to make exercise a priority in your life now or wait until you’re forced to make it a priority. We take our health for granted until we get sick. People who swear they don’t have a minute to exercise, then find themselves hospitalized for bypass surgery and out of commission for weeks, soon recognize that the extra time taken to exercise would haven been well worth it! The message is clear. Unless you take care of yourself now, one day you may find yourself unable to take care of your business, family or any of your other interests.

No energy: Those who exercise regularly know from experience that exercise actually leaves you with more energy!

Too old too exercise: No, you’re too old NOT to exercise! Every decade a 30 year old sedentary individual will suffer from a 10 percent decrease in muscle mass and aerobic capacity and a reduction in flexibility. Bone density deteriorates starting at age 35. By the time you’re 68, you’ll have experienced an 80 percent decrease in strength. By age 80, an individual will have lost half of their muscle mass. The good news is that if you exercise, these stats will improve dramatically. Even people as old as 90 have experienced the positive benefits of exercise, so it’s never too late to get started.

Hate exercise: In the beginning, exercise may feel like a chore but eventually it’ll become a need for both physical and mental health. It’s important to find activities you enjoy doing so that you’ll participate regularly, see the results and get hooked. Use music, try hiking or walking and add variety to your program to make it more fun. Exercise with friends. Studies show you tend to achieve better results that way because it’ll become more difficult to skip workouts plus you won’t get lonely during your workouts. There’s also no evidence to suggest that exercise needs to be painful. If it hurts that much, you may be doing too much, too soon.

Too out of shape to exercise:
One survey found the top reason why people choose not to join a gym is because they want to get into better shape or lose weight first. This backwards approach may never get you to your goals. Find a gym that’s not intimidating and where members seem comfortable going at their own pace and wearing whatever they want.

Gym scene isn’t your thing:
Sorry this won’t wash. There are literally hundreds of things you can do at home to get in shape. Your local book store will have books on designing your own program. Rent a fitness video. Hire a personal trainer to come to your house and design a program for you.

Health Woes: The health benefits of exercise always outweigh the risks. Certain conditions may make exercise more difficult but you can work around most problems. Consult with a professional who can design a program that addresses your specific concerns.

No or slow results:
One of the biggest hurdles new exercisers face is that the effort often doesn’t match the result. They’ve been exercising religiously for five weeks and jump up on the scale. Ugh, no change! They feel the program must not be working and give up. Unrealistic expectations can be a real downer. Instead of measuring your success by the scale, measure it by your energy levels. Monitor how many more repetitions you can do of a particular exercise. Keep track of how many more minutes you can do of a given activity. You may be making more progress than you think.

Yours in health and fitness,


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Learn how to stay motivated from someone who exercises everyday and has been consistent for over 30 years!

Happy Monday.

I wanted to wait and send this out a little later in the afternoon so you could assess whether you’ve started the week off on the right foot or not. By now, you should have a plan for the week – Which workouts will you do when? Leaving it up to how you’re feeling on any given day doesn’t tend to work very well and can easily lead to an inconsistent effort.

Instead of me preaching my message, I thought I’d introduce you to one of our members who has been a consistent, everyday exerciser for 30 years. She has obviously figured out what she needs to do to stick to her workout program. She’s got some great tips that I believe will help you if you have a hard time keeping the commitment to yourself. Click on the link and enjoy.

Posted in exercise, Fitness, health, Motivation by Sherri | 1 Comment

What’s the #1 thing you need to do to stick to your exercise program?

You’ve got to make the experience fun and enjoyable!

The biggest problem I face as a fitness trainer is that I’m offering a product that most people hate. Unfortunately, the majority of people do not like to exercise! So it’s my job to make the exercise experience as enjoyable as we possibly can.

Here’s some ideas:

• Participate in a program that you enjoy. Check out this 2 minute clip above of my Outdoor Bootcamp program. You’ll notice I’m giving my clients a great workout but also notice how they are laughing and joking around while I’m kicking their butts! If you like what you see, you can get more details and sign up at the following link. If this is not for you – figure out what is. Maybe it’s dancing or cycling or beach volleyball. Whatever it is, it’s got to be something you enjoy enough to want to do regularly enough to achieve great results.

• Participate in fun active events so you develop strong relationships which will ultimately create an awesome working out environment. It’s always easier to stay consistent when you’re doing something you love with other really fun and cool people!

Check out this photo of me and my clients participating in a 5km Fun Run and finishing second in the costume division this past weekend. We enjoyed a fabulous workout and had a TON of fun! Can you believe we ran 3 miles in this thing!

Keep it fun people and you’ll want to stay consistent!

Yours in health & fitness,

Sherri McMillan

The best thing we can do for our kids!

If you have kids, you’ve got to help them learn to love to move their bodies and eat well at an early age. Then it will be easy to continue as they get older!

I had the opportunity to work with some Vancouver kids today to teach them that working out and eating healthy can be a ton of fun. Check out the video above. It’s so cute!

Here’s the reality…

These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:

  • Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
  • 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
  • One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
  • 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
  • Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk

As the school year winds down, parents can plan ahead to ensure your kids get lots of activity this summer.

“Go outside and do something” or “Go ride your bike” you yell to your kids as you watch your favorite daytime show or football game. The “Do as I say, not as I do!” approach doesn’t have a very good track record. Children tend to mimic the actions of their parents so, if the extent of your daily or after-work activity consists of channel surfing and munching on chips, guess what fitness rituals your children will develop. The lifestyle habits you’re developing in your children today will determine how much junk will clog their arteries 30 years from now.

There are tons of activities that you could easily be doing with your kids. Cycling, inline skating, walking, hiking, a trip to the local pool, a pick-up game of basketball or soccer, … You could even design your own workout together including walks to the local park and calisthenics using the available equipment. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s some goals you should strive for. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise and children are as follows:

  • Children should be involved in at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity like walking to school or cycling around the neighborhood, performing household chores or running errands.
  • Children should exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes with activities that require moderate to vigorous levels of exertion, like brisk walking, stair-climbing, racquet sports, jogging, dance, swimming laps, skating, cross-country skiing or cycling.
  • For most children, it’s fine to do 15-20 minutes of resistance or strength training sessions twice a week using higher repetitions (25 reps) and lower resistance as long as there’s proper instruction and supervision.
  • Children should stretch on alternative days for 60 seconds each stretch.
  • Vary the activities to work different parts of the body.
  • Involve children in deciding what to do.

Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:

  • Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
  • Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
  • One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
  • It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
  • One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.

So start them young and be a great example for them!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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What to do when you conflict?

Yesterday on my morning run, I saw the oddest thing. This man was riding his bike while smoking a cigarette. My first thought was “What an interesting combination!” It made me think that many of us may have conflicting behaviors that don’t align with our ultimate vision for our lives.

For example, maybe you exercise regularly but your eating habits are horrible. Or maybe you eat well, but never workout. Perhaps, you’re really successful in your career but are really overweight and out-of-shape. Maybe you’re in great shape but you’ve got huge amounts of debt. Maybe you’re filthy rich but have been married and divorced five times and can’t seem to maintain a solid relationship.

It seems that happiness, what we all ultimately strive for, can only be attained when we have a balance in all realms of our life – physical, work, mental/emotional, relationships/social etc. When we are struggling in one area it seems to inhibit our abilities to be at our best and live our dream life.

No one is perfect but it does help to recognize which areas of your life are not lining up with what you want your life to be. Recognition and awareness allows for positive actions in the right direction.

Also, keep in mind that making positive action steps in one area can lead to positive actions in other areas. So don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be yet. Take it one step at a time. For example, my cycling smoker may learn to love biking so much that one day he decides to stop smoking because it inhibits his ability to progress and continue a more fuller enjoyment of cycling. It has been shown that smokers that take up exercise are more likely to quit smoking so cycling smoker is on the right track!

Are there any parts of your life that need to be put on the right track to your Personal Best? I’ve got a few redirections myself…

Yours in health and fitness,


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What will you do?

“A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison..” F.B.

If your body truly hosts your soul, what will you do this week so it functions at it’s best?

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Avoid the Most Embarrassing Situation of your Life…

My little guy Jackson is taking a nap right now so I thought I’d take the time to fill you in on a lesson that was affirmed for me yesterday.

Started the morning off with a brick workout with my Triathlon Group. We did an 11 mile cycle followed by a 3 mile run. A perfect workout on a perfect day. Afterwards, I had about 1.5 hours to get home, showered, grab some lunch and head to our Portland studio for a 2 hour meditation course that we were hosting. My little girl wanted to hang with me so we decided we’d grab a quick sandwich at Rosemary’s café, a quaint little deli in downtown Vancouver that we both love. When we arrived at Rosemary’s, there was a note on the door saying “Closed for Memorial Day weekend”. So I blame what happened afterwards on Cheryl, the owner of Rosemarys! At this point, we didn’t have a ton of time, she was hungry and I was starving due to my earlier brick workout. She pleaded to go to McDonalds and I said absolutely not – something to do with the fact that I worked at Micky Ds for 5 years when I was younger (a separate topic for another blog!) So we compromised on Burgerville – the route that any Northwesterner trying to be healthy will take while trying to justify eating fastfood. Afterall they do use local ingredients…And isn’t it all organic?! Not to mention they are very community-oriented and environmentally friendly. Yes, they do make it very easy to justify…

So needless to say, I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I had to eat so quickly to get to the meditation course on time, or whether it was because it was a fast food burger or whether it was because I ate so close to the start of the meditation course (what was I thinking – aren’t you supposed to meditate in a fasting state?!)…Anyways, I’m sure you know where this is going…Right as our meditation instructor was leading us through the most tranquil visualization technique…As we were focusing on very slow, deep, cleansing breaths. As we were imagining our breath inhaling as a pristine white light purifying our entire system and thoughts…As we could hear nothing but the tick and tock of the clock in the distance, we were all startled and I mean ALL-the entire room-startled by a loud eruption, a monstrous, groaning and moaning as if something was being tortured and enduring a slow death. I literally jumped. And then a sense of complete mortification engulfed me as I realized that that sound was coming from me – deep inside my belly as if something was trying to escape. I nervously murmured a low apology to all those around me. A few giggled.

The next 2 hours became a constant struggle between trying to focus on tightening my core to control my inner mumblings, whispering a few apologies when squealing sounds would loudly emerge to disturb and distract all those around me and at the same time, trying to personally benefit from this meditative session. Once I realized that it was going to be impossible to actually truly achieve a meditative state in my current situation, I contemplated leaving. I’m sure many around me wished the same. But I decided to endure after feeling a sense of hope when a number of minutes would pass where my intestines would calm down and I could almost relax only to be rudely awakened by a ‘cat in heat’ screech. I was mortified to recognize that the instructor knew what was happening even though I was at the back of the room and she at the front when numerous times she mentioned cues such as “No matter what else you hear, acknowledge it but then refocus back on your breath” or “Regardless of what your body is experiencing, recognize it but then return to your meditation.” I could only imagine some of the other gals around me smirking. Or worse, being annoyed by my involuntary gurgles!

Finally, the meditation session ended and I could escape. I offered a few light-hearted apologies to those around me. One gal mentioned, “Wow, that must have been some good lunch you had!” I laughed at myself and mumbled something in response but then quickly retreated.

So where is the lesson and why am I telling you all this?! At the very least, I’ve ruined your appetite so you will consume less calories at your next meal! ?

• Grab & Go. I could have avoided this whole scenario by having some quick food options available that we could have grabbed on our way out. Fast Food isn’t really faster than pulling together a quick sandwich, raw veggies with dip, fruit, granola and yogurt, hummus and pita, crackers and cheese…I could have had some energy bars in the car to tide us over until after the course. We think Fast Food is fast but often it takes longer, costs more and can obviously lead to some pretty significant short and long term health concerns!
• Eat Slowly. Your food will digest better, you’ll feel full more quickly, be less likely to overeat and avoid the most embarrassing meditation session of your life!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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How to stick with your fitness plan no matter what…

“Thomas Edison was asked why he kept going when he failed at creating the lightbulb 2000 times. Edison replied that he did not fail but learned that making the lightbulb was a 2000 step process.”

If you haven’t quite found your fitness rhythm, never give up. Sometimes you got to start and stop a number of times before it sticks forever!

Over the years, I have noticed a number of characteristics separate those who succeed with fitness and those who do not. Those who succeed buy into the “Four Laws of Success”. You’ve got to get your head around these thought processes.

First Law – The law of possession. You need to understand that if you are going to achieve results, it is going to be up to you. The phrases “If it is going to be, it is up to me” or “If I think I can or think I can’t, I’m right,” ring very true. You have to take ultimate responsibility for success or failure. You must be willing to make and stick to the changes. You can not completely rely on someone else like a personal trainer or workout partner to make it happen for you and likewise, you can not blame the kids or your partner for any failures.

Second Law – The law of effort. Anything worth achieving is worth working for. Exercise and healthy eating takes discipline, will power, character, persistency and a commitment to delayed gratification.

Third Law – The law of consistency. A month-long effort is not going to get you where you want. In order to achieve any goal, you must stick to your game plan on an ongoing, long-term, consistent basis. Getting off track for a week is no big deal if you are consistent in your efforts. But if you are regularly tempted away from your program, you will not succeed. Consistency and persistency are the keys to manifesting any goals. Remember that if you want to be 10 pounds thinner 10 years from now, it is not what you do over the next eight weeks that matters, it is what you do over the next 10 years. Fitness is a life-long thing! There are no short-term, quick-fix solutions. Safe and permanent fat loss often takes years – not weeks or months!! Researchers have found only one characteristic common to those who succeed with exercise. All such people move towards their goal one step at a time. They are committed to constant, never-ending improvement. In practical terms, it means that regardless of anything else – busy work schedules, lack of energy, lack of time, feeling old, feeling lazy, hating exercise – they made no excuses! They kept exercising, taking their long-term goals and splitting them up into smaller goals. They took it one day at a time.

Fourth Law – The law of self-efficacy. If you are already questioning whether or not you can actually make the required changes, you are going to have a difficult time with your program. You must believe you can do it! Think of self-esteem as a bank. Each time you keep a promise to yourself, the store of self-esteem gets bigger, making it easier to keep the next promise to yourself. Each time a promise is broken, however, your self-esteem goes down, making it easier to break the next promise. Reinforce this belief in yourself by surrounding yourself with others who are doing or have accomplished what you’re attempting. After all, if they can do it, so can you!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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