Creating Customized Plans

If you’ve never worked with a trainer before you probably have some questions about customized training plans.

Let me start by sharing my training philosophy with you…

I want to educate my clients on the components of a healthy lifestyle (nutritional, physical, and mental), provide coaching and encouragement to help them achieve their goals and ultimately to help them gain independence in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

One of my primary goals in working with any client is to educate them on healthy living so that in the many hours of the week they aren’t with me, they have the knowledge and tools to make good choices about diet and exercise. There’s a great quote by Maya Angelou that says, ‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’

See the thing is we can’t change our ‘starting point.’ The choices we have made are what brought us to our current situation, however, through education on exercise and nutrition, every person has the ability to make better choices each day moving forward.

A person can only make better choices if they are seeing results from their decisions AND if they remain motivated to keep on, keepin’ on! This is why a customized plan is essential. No two people are alike so it can never be a one-size fits all solution. Goals and preferences vary and these need to be taken into consideration when creating a fitness plan. Things I consider with each client are:

  • What activities do they enjoy
  • What activities do they not enjoy
  • How often are they going to exercise
  • How long will they exercise during each session
  • What are their physical limitations
  • What equipment do they have available
  • What is their ‘ideal’ picture of a healthy lifestyle

Once I have a better understanding of the client and their needs we begin working on developing goals. These goals will be the foundation for their customized plan and the basis for progress measurement.

I work with each client to consider their goals for the three essential components of a healthy lifestyle: nutritional, physical and mental.

There is a great connection between being nutritionally healthy, physically healthy and mentally healthy. It’s possible to have one or two without the third, however, true health involves a balance of all three. To achieve a healthy lifestyle all three areas need goals.

Check back tomorrow for more information on setting goals.

Personal Training with Jenn is Coming ALIVE

A friend recently shared a quote with me that I can’t seem to get out of my head.

Don’t ask what the world needs, fine out what makes you come alive, and do that. Because what the world needs id more people who have come alive.’ – Howard Thurman

This quote has me evaluating how I spend my days and thinking about what truly makes me come alive. I’ve been reflecting on my own journey to adopt a healthy lifestyle and my desire to help others find their path.

As a wife and mother of three I’ve been juggling life, healthy eating and exercise for over 14 years. I know the struggles to interest children in eating healthy foods over junk, I know how it feels to be exhausted and have no energy for a workout, and I remember looking at myself after my third child and wondering what in the world happened.

When I was young I was active in sports and many physical hobbies. As I grew older and had more responsibilities I became more of a sideline fitness junkie – sometimes only reading about the things I should do, or watching transformation shows. I knew time had come for me to get off the sidelines.

My children were one day away from me having three under the age of three so believe me, carving out time for myself was no easy feat. But I made a commitment to myself. Every day during nap time, when I desperately need to do laundry or clean or maybe even get a short nap myself, I put on my workout clothes and did something.

It started with basic workout DVDs and progressed to training for my first half marathon. I spent many hours on that ‘dreadmill’ but in the end I completed my first half marathon before my son was a year old. I wasn’t going to break any records with that time, but I set a goal to do a half, and I did!

I think that’s the time that I realized I had a whole lot more in me than I ever gave myself credit for. I didn’t need to rely on those DVDs, I had learned enough about form and varying exercises I started creating my own routines using free weights in my garage. Before long my body wasn’t the only thing transforming. I was shedding pounds AND stress. I was exchanging disappointment for accomplishment. I was pausing at the mirror rather than rushing past it.

Then the thought struck me that I wasn’t the only woman who was going through this. I wasn’t the only one who had complete independence and total control over my life and my body to have everything change. Now I want to pause here and make it clear, I wouldn’t exchange a single thing to have those things back, but what I needed to figure out was how to regain what I thought was ‘lost.’ It wasn’t lost, I still had the power to make choices and I still had control over my body.

So I began looking into the process of becoming a trainer. I knew that I could identify with my clients because I had walked in their shoes. I could be that trainer that didn’t intimidate their client by their ‘perfect’ body and ‘controlling’ expectations for diet and exercise.

If I was going to help others, I had to meet them where they were. Find out deep down what they wanted to achieve and help set a plan for getting there. Not everyone wants to lose a ton of weight, not everyone wants to build muscle, not everyone wants to train for a marathon – the key is deep down we all want to achieve something and my job as a trainer is to pull that out of my clients and coach, inspire and keep them accountable to their goals.

Over the past few years I have trained college students to retirees and everything in between. Each of my client’s has had unique goals and varying athletic abilities. Together we’ve battled through plateaus, setbacks, injuries and sometimes even failures, all to also experience breakthroughs, achievements and milestones.

I have a passion for healthy living and nothing makes me feel more ALIVE than passing that passion on to others.

I feel challenged to get better at sharing my passion so I’m making some changes…

  • A re-commitment to blogging. Not everyone will be able to work with me as a trainer, but I do have the ability to encourage, educate and inspire through this blog. I encourage you to request blog topics on your biggest struggles/questions about exercise, healthy living, clean eating, etc. and I will do my best to respond to them.
  • E-mail updates – I promise not to clutter your inbox with nonsense, instead you can expect a monthly newsletter with training tips, sample workouts and healthy recipes. Sign up for my newsletter today!
  • Virtual training – can’t meet me in the gym? Don’t let that stop you from working with me! I’m putting together virtual training packages for clients. You can purchase a set of workouts for a one time fee, or pay a monthly fee for weekly workouts and continued support. Check out the basic virtual packages available or contact me and we can structure a program based on your needs.

I hope these changes will not only benefit you in your quest for healthy living but that they will also inspire you to find what makes you come alive.

Top Five Reasons Shakeology is Worth It…

I’ve been an ACE certified Personal Trainer for over 4 years. During that time I have been approached by many people who used Shakeology and wanted me to give it a try. I always said no. Sometimes it was because I felt like it wasn’t worth the money when I could buy other protein powders for much cheaper, other times I said no because I never wanted to associate myself with a product.

About two months ago that all changed. I finally said, ‘Yes, I’ll give Shakeology a try.’ In the back of my mind I thought, I’ll try it for a month and then just cancel, no biggie. But I didn’t cancel. Instead I signed up as a BeachBody Coach and Shakeology is a regular part of my day. Here’s why…

1. I need the nutritional benefits of Shakeology to start out my day.

I’m always running two steps behind in the morning trying to get the kiddos out the door for school and me on my way to work. Partially because I don’t like mornings but also because, as we all well know, things happen. As a result I found myself constantly skipping breakfast. What made it worse was most days I would get caught up with projects and find myself leaving the office late afternoon famished because I hadn’t eaten anything. I don’t deny it all revolved around poor planning on my part, however, things weren’t changing and I was really messing with my metabolism.

Introduce Shakeology. I now had a very quick and easy solution to breakfast that was packed with nutrients. On most days I choose to add a fruit to my Shakeology for a delicious breakfast treat that I can easily drink on the way to work.

2. Shakeology keeps me full during the workday.

As I mentioned above, most days I don’t take the time, or have the time to eat lunch. I work a shortened day so that I can be off in time to pick my children up from school so I have to make the most of the 5 hours I have in the office. By drinking a Shakeology on my way to work in the morning, I stay full until I get home in the late afternoon. Sure, there are times that I have a light snack during the day (if I remember to pack it), but my Shakeology holds me over until I get home. No more leaving the office famished and ready to eat anything that is within arms reach when I get home.

3. Shakeology helps me to avoid bad choices. 

Again, my failure to plan or take the time to eat was working against me in a big way. I would have just enough time to grab a quick bite before picking my children up from school and many days that meant the quickest, easiest thing – not necessarily the most healthy choice. Because I’m no longer ‘starving’ when I get home I logically look at my choices and select things like a turkey breast sandwich, or carrots and hummus, or a salad. I’ve also found that because I am eating more during the day I’m not as tempted in the evening to mindlessly enjoy unhealthy snacks.

4. Shakeology tastes yummy!

When I worked full time as a personal trainer/group fitness instructor I often drank protein shakes at the end of the day for my recovery. I used a variety of powders throughout the years but got to the point that I just couldn’t stand the taste of any of them anymore. They all seemed to have a weird aftertaste and I just couldn’t get passed it. So before long, I dropped them completely. I was hesitant to try Shakeology because I assumed it would have the same gritty taste. I was wrong. Whether mixed with water or milk, I find all of the flavors to be rich and flavorful and lacking in a bad aftertaste.

5. I’ve lost 10 pounds and been able to maintain the loss.

Just like many others I have ten pounds that over the years I have lost and found multiple times. By adding Shakeology, and all of the other benefits mentioned above, I have also been able to drop the ten pounds and keep it off. I’m not starving myself, I feel adequately full throughout the day, and I know I am ‘nutritionally full’ by starting my day with a Shakeology that is packed with quality vitamins and minerals. I balance that out by eating healthy portions at both lunch and dinner and minimizing my intake of ‘junk.’

So why not give Shakeology a try and see what your top five reasons are? I resisted for years and wish that I hadn’t. Questions? Want to give it a try? Contact me! I can even help you get signed up as a BeachBody Coach so you can start helping others too!

Reflections on the Spartan Sprint

So it’s no secret that I love doing adventure races. Partially because I love the challenge, but more that my husband is willing to do them with me. It means the world to me because I know that he seriously hates running, but does it because he loves me and knows how much I enjoy the challenge that these races set forth.

I once convinced him to do a half marathon with me. Despite a very lacking training schedule for both of us, we still took on the Indianapolis Mini Marathon. I remember not being able to laugh at walk at the same time following that race. I don’t think I will ever be able to convince him of doing a straight mini again but over the years I have been able to get him to do multiple adventure races.

It started with the Warrior Dash, then on to a local Marine Mud Run. Last year I took on my first Tough Mudder and he was a trooper enduring the hour shuttle ride to the race and keeping our 3 kiddos occupied during the race as they waited for me to arrive at certain spectator checkpoints. For my birthday last year he granted my wish to participate in the Men’s Health Urbanatholon.  This past May he and a number of our friends joined me in another Tough Mudder race and the team will be gathering again this coming weekend in Dallas to take on another TM.

Yesterday Don and I completed our first Spartan Sprint race. I’ll be honest, he wasn’t too keen on the idea of racing two weekends in a row but somehow I convinced him, the things you do for love, right? The race itself wasn’t too bad – just over four miles winding through the woods and mud but what stood out to me was the ‘individuality’ of the race. Don and I worked together as a team when we could, which for the most part meant him boosting and hoisting me up over walls. But overall, the obstacles were designed as individual challenges rather than ones requiring teamwork.

I realize the thing I love most about most of these adventure races is working with those running it with me to accomplish the feats. Personally I know I can push myself, I know I can push past certain limits, but I also know there are things that I need help to accomplish. I didn’t feel like the Spartan allowed us the opportunity to work together as a team. It was much more focused on the individual.

Don’t get me wrong, my bruises, scrapes and sore muscles remind me of how hard I worked yesterday and how much I pushed my limits, but I missed the camaraderie that normally comes along with these races. I feel like it bonds you to those you are running with and looking back you can say, “We did that!” After yesterday I can say, “We did it side by side, but not necessarily together.”

In short, would I do another Spartan? Maybe. Now that I know it’s more about the individual, my expectations might be a little different. But thinking ahead to this weekend, I have to say that I can’t WAIT to accomplish all the Dallas Tough Mudder has to hold for me and my teammates to accomplish TOGETHER!

Dessert For Breakfast? Yes, Please!

Breakfast can be one of my most challenging meals of the day. I struggle to find the time to fit it in and when I do I often struggle with trying to build a breakfast that has a good balance of the necessary nutrients.

Then along came the perfect solution for me, Shakeology. It solved both my time issue and my need for a balanced nutritional breakfast.

In less than five minutes I have a smoothie that I can take with me out the door and drink on the way to work – so that solves my time issue.

And my smoothies pack more nutrients than I could ever consume on my own. What do I mean by that? Check out this short video on Shakeology:

Now I know you want to know how I can have dessert for breakfast. Shakeology is actually tasty and you can experiment with a ton of different recipes!

Here are my some of my favorite recipes, which for me, taste just like dessert!

Banana Split

Chocolate Shakeology

10 oz. milk (you can use water as well)

1 banana

1/2 cup strawberries

Peanut Butter Cup

Chocolate Shakeology

10 oz. milk

1 tbsp peanut butter

Blueberry Pie

Vanilla Shakeology

10 oz milk

1 cup blueberries

dash of cinnamon

Apple Pie

Vanilla Shakeology

10 oz milk

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 tsp of cinnamon

Believe me, I’ve tried my fair share of supplements and protein shakes and this one by far tastes the best, especially when adding the right mix of fruit. But you don’t just have to take my word for it, give it a try yourself!

Contact me for questions or details on ordering!

Shakeology, I’m a Believer

Over the past several years I’ve had a number of people approach me about trying Shakeology. I always find a way to gracefully turn the offer down.

About a year ago I started making smoothies for my husband and myself in the mornings. They were full of nutrients and all good things but took a great deal of time to prepare and like most of you that are reading this, mornings are hectic enough as is, without trying to wash, chop and blend a breakfast drink. Most mornings I simply ran out of time, which often left me totally skipping breakfast and Don grabbing a piece of fruit or breakfast bar.

Needless to say, days turned into weeks and before I knew it, I had completely fallen back into my bad habits of running out the door with no breakfast and often nothing planned for lunch. My metabolism was out of whack, I was bloated, and I was at a complete plateau with weight loss (even gaining a few pounds over the course of time).

Now if you know anything about me and my philosophy about eating and exercise, you know I truly believe there are no shortcuts. There is no magic to becoming healthy and fit.

The equation is simple: Eat as clean as possible, keep your portions in check, drink water, and stay active.

Believe me, I know the equation is easier said than done. And being a person who isn’t really tempted by many ‘bad’ food choices, I’m left with the truth that the reason I have problems maintaining/losing weight all revolves around me not getting enough quality nutrients in my body. While all along I’ve been eating quality foods, I’m simply not eating enough of them at the right times during the day.

Fed up with myself and my progress, I was ready to try something new. It was the perfect time to go ahead and give Shakeology a try. And just like with anything, no one wants to go at it alone so I pulled my husband in too. ‘We’re going to give this Shakology a try. Just for a month. What do we have to lose?’

He was a bit apprehensive at first but the convenience of something that nutrient-rich early in the morning was definitely appealing to him. He hits the gym very early in the morning and his body needs the refuel to start a productive day in the office.

So we took the plunge and ordered – he got the Chocolate Shakeology and I opted for the Vanilla flavor. Over the past several weeks we have experimented with a number of different recipes – adding various fruits, peanut butter and even cinnamon.

Neither of us can imagine starting our day without it now so let me tell you the top five reasons I’m a believer:

  1. This is the most efficient way for me to get the nutrients my body desperately needs. Check out this video on the nutritional value of Shakeology.
  2. Drinking Shakeology for breakfast keeps me full throughout the morning. Most other breakfast choices leave me looking for a snack or hungry for lunch early.
  3. I love the taste! The choices for adding fruits and other flavors to your shakes are endless – or they taste great on their own!
  4. It’s convenient – takes me no time at all to blend a shake in the morning so even if I am running late (which is most days) I don’t have to miss out on breakfast.
  5. I no longer feel bloated and icky. Despite my efforts to eat a quality diet, I constantly felt bloated. I believe the combination of nutrients and fiber is just what my body needed.

As I said, I was once a skeptic. I am no longer…I’m now a huge fan and would love for you to try it too.

If you are looking to buy Shakeology in Lombard, Glen Ellyn, or Elmhurst, you should buy local direct from me! You’re just one click away:

If you have any questions, please reach out to me at and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have.


The Reality of Calories and Portions

realityLast night I had two women approach me at my Boot Camp Class at Glass Courts asking about what they needed to do for weight loss. Both regularly exercise, but are discouraged by their results.

My first question to anyone interested in losing weight is, “Are you tracking your food?” Now I know I myself have gone back and forth on this issue. There are times that I have become so obsessed with the calories, portions and the breakdown of my nutrients that I’ve had to walk away from tracking. I get how it can become more unhealthy than productive. However, if you’ve never tracked your calories and portions before this can be a very eye opening experience.

I’d like to use my husband as an example of the eye opening experience. I finally convinced him to start using MyFitnessPal with the promise that I would also track my intake. Last night he had several calories still left in the evening (not exactly what I would recommend, since you want to consume your calories early in the day) so he was of course still hungry. It started with salted shelled peanuts, “I can have 14 peanuts.” To which I asked, “Did you ever know before what a portion of shelled peanuts was?” His response, “No, I’d just pour a bowl and eat what was in there.”

Still a little later he was still hungry and made a small plate of cheese, sausage and crackers. As he sat down with me on the sofa he said, “Man, over 400 calories for this little bit.” His eyes are opening to the value of calories for both meals and snacks, as is his awareness of portion sizes.

As someone who does personal training and group fitness, it’s a bit of a professional hazard for me to say this but weight loss and management is 80% about diet and only 20% about your activity levels.

As an example for you, I regularly wear a FitBit Flex. My Boot Camp class was curious how many calories it logged for me while teaching the hour long class which is a combination of exercises with dumbbells, high and low intensity cardio and of course, some abdominal exercises. Last night I checked at the end of the hour long class and it had logged a whopping 282 calories – less than 300 calories for an hour of an intense, sweaty workout! They couldn’t believe it, but I did.

We have to stop believing that an hour in the gym gives us freedom to eat what we want, when we want, with no true regard to portion sizes. Exercise WILL help you build muscle and burn fat, exercise will NOT erase poor choices.

Now I’d like to flip the discussion to those who maybe aren’t necessarily consuming the wrong things, but those who aren’t consuming enough. If you want to lose weight you cannot starve your body of the calories it needs to function. Cutting your caloric intake below your estimated minimum requirements can result in weight loss, however, cutting too many calories may result in your body hoarding all that you eat and storing more fat to prevent ‘starvation.’ Now you know you aren’t starving, but your organs don’t know that and they are designed to do everything they can to keep you alive.

Eating too few calories can be just as damaging to your weight loss goals and metabolism as eating too many.

So what should you do?

  1. Start tracking your intake to get a baseline for where you are. There are tons of free apps and websites, you don’t have to pay money for these tools. Commit to at least a couple weeks to understand your eating habits and caloric consumption.
  2. In tracking your food, check the nutritional breakdown of your overall day. You should be consuming about 50% carbs (these are fruits and veggie carbs – not breads and pastas), 30% healthy fats (avocado, hummus, olive oil, nuts, etc) and 20% protein (lean meats, egg whites).
  3. Start an exercise log. Now I caution, some of the caloric burns that the tracking apps and websites give seem inflated to me. Use these with caution, but again, get a baseline for your true activity levels.
  4. Keep in mind that to lose one pound you must create a deficit of 3,500 calories. That means in a week you need to eat less, burn more or a combination of the two to equate 500 calories a day. Losing 2 pounds a week would mean a 7,000 calorie deficit = 1,000 calories/day!! So stop beating yourself up if you only lose a pound in a week – you’ve done it the right way.

Once you have a sense of where you are, you will have a more realistic idea about how to get to where you want to be. There is no single magic formula that will work for everyone. I personally have found what works for me. But it’s taken some trial and error, I’ve lapsed into bad habits along the way, and I’ve rebounded into healthy eating as well.

Let’s face it, none of us like a reality check, but without one, you could be sabotaging your own efforts for a healthy body.