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The Move More, Eat Less Challenge


The Move More, Eat Less Challenge

A few weeks ago, something dawned on me while my girlfriend and I were strolling through our neighborhood in the Sunset. We passed by our favorite local ice cream joint (which is located directly across the street from our gym by some twist of cosmic irony) and were overcome by temptation for the second day in a row. Normally we exercise more restraint, but alas, the ice cream won that day. Jokingly I said, “Well, as long as we workout more times in a week than we eat ice cream, we'll be okay.” I then realized that for most folks, they eat out far more often than they exercise. From that, an idea was born.

Here in San Francisco - where we take our food very seriously - the old adage of ‘move more and eat less’ isn't shown enough love. A lot of people engage in some amount of regular exercise, but the amount of it relative to the volume of food consumed isn't in the best proportion. I realized that most clients I have worked with go out to eat quite a bit more than they engage in vigorous exercise. As such, this version of the ‘move more and eat less’ challenge was born: on a weekly basis, try to get in the gym and perform vigorous exercise more times than you go out to eat.

Every challenge needs some guidelines to be effective. Although I don't want to make a rule set that's overly-specific or restrictive, some structure is needed to adhere to the spirit of the challenge. I'll make some suggestions below to help guide this process.

  1. The exercise session needs to be a minimum of 45 minutes in length, and it needs to be hard. Something like walking through the city doesn't count. Honestly, many forms of yoga or pilates wouldn't really qualify either. I'm not saying they have no value, but the level of energy expenditure is simply not high enough for our purposes. The exercise should increase your heart rate significantly and make you sweat (and not just because it's outside in the heat or in a hot room). If you can't engage in vigorous exercise for some reason, exercising to the level of a brisk walk for 90 minutes would also suffice.
  2. As far as whether or not a meal is considered “eating out” is a bit more subjective. However, a good rule of thumb is if you're selecting your meal based purely on taste, then it should probably count as eating out. If the meal is selected in an attempt to make it balanced and nutritious (and reasonably portioned), then it doesn't add to that count. So, if you cook a giant bowl of fettuccine alfredo at home, that's still “eating out.” Conversely, if you get a grilled chicken breast salad at the lunch spot near work, that's not “eating out.” I think you get the idea; it's about the spirit of how the meal is composed, not the technicality of who prepared it or where it was consumed. Additionally, every 3 drinks (1 beer, 1 glass of wine, or one shot of liquor) you consume in a week is considered eating out. So, if you drink a beer or glass of wine every night with dinner, that's 7 drinks or 2 extra counts of eating out for the week. If you go out to eat and drink a few drinks, then you just ate out twice. I know this is a bit of a stretch, but I consider it so impactful that I felt it was worth using our imaginations a bit.
  3. Tally up both of these things, and try to make sure the number of exercise sessions is greater than the number of times you eat out in a week - it's really that simple. Start by trying to do this for a month, but you can aim to make it more of a long-term lifestyle choice as well.

The beauty of this challenge is that it helps you understand just how much exercise is required to counteract poor nutrition habits. For most people, the sensible choice is to change both habits a bit: exercise a few more times per week, and eat out a few less times per week. However, if eating with tons of freedom is important to you, then you do have the option of trying to balance that out with a massive volume of exercise. As well, if you really don't want to exercise much (I recommend against this option the most) or have health issues that prohibit this, then you can be very strict with your eating habits. Try it out and see how it goes!

Hopefully this arms everyone with yet another tool in the battle to enjoy the finer things in life while staying healthy. If nothing else, it will provide you some perspective on your lifestyle. That's all for today… Cheers!


#HowIPerformForLife : Gloria


#HowIPerformForLife : Gloria

How do you exercise/socialize/revitalize?

I come to P4L probably 4 group classes a week. I run a couple days a week. I had an injury recently, and I realized how much I appreciated the social aspects of working out, too. We know each other on a first-name basis. We know each other, and we know when one is missing in class. We look out for each other, and the trainers know my injuries. It’s a very social, inclusive fun place to work out. It never feels like I’m just going to grind through a workout. Everyone says hello when you come in and goodbye when you leave.

When did health and wellness become an important part of your life?

When I turned 30, I realized that I could no longer run 6 days a week, I needed to add different things to my workout. I was running about 35 miles a week, and I did that for years. I started looking around for gyms that I wanted to go to. I tried a bunch of big box gyms, and I joined and I would go, but I just didn’t like it. I kept up with running, and I would hardly go to the gym. I found Perform for Life, and it’s the first time I’ve ever been to the gym consistently - numerous times a week. You know when I would take group classes at Crunch or Gold’s , there would be like 30 people, the guy was yelling at us, and there was no quality control. It was crazy. It felt like an injury waiting to happen.

What has kept you here for the past 4 years?

Honestly, I joined because it was nearby, but I have stayed because of the community and the quality of the trainers. I love Bryant and Justine, and everyone who works here is super great. It’s super great.

At your weakest point, what kept you going?

I’d say I’m a pretty stubborn, motivated kind of dedicated person just by personality. So even when you feel like you’re not going to get better or things aren’t going to get better, you just have to dedicate yourself to the next thing until it’s over. You can get overwhelmed if you try to take on the whole burden all at once.

Song that gets you excited about working out

They always tease me, because I love 90's rap. I love working out to 90's rap! What’s that one Mary J. Blige song “Family Affair”? I cannot stand working out to pop music, because it’s like a product that’s not real. People who are working out are doing something real, and most of the 90's hip hop and rap was real. Pop music is not art, and I just feel like people who are working hard should get something authentic.

When was the last time you were proud of yourself? 

I had a serious back injury. I had to go to the doctor 4 days a week for 4 months. I had to take a leave of absence from here. I was in traction. My back is a lot better. One of my goals was to come back here and get back to my old life. I finally did it! I’m back and running again. I’m back at P4L 3-4 classes a week. It was depressing, and I missed this place. I missed working out.

What's a misconception people have about you?

I think some of the newer trainers around here think that I’m not strong because I look older. After working out with them a while, I prove to them that older people can be strong and fit, too.

What are your next goals? Where do you want to go from here?

Before I had to have all this treatment on my back probably because I was pushing myself too hard. Now that this treatment worked, and I’m back at P4L. I realize how precious it is to be able to do this. I’m going to listen to my body and pace myself. I’m not going to overtrain or push too hard. When you’re a Type A person, it’s hard to not push as hard as you can. You have to listen to your body. You have to honor your limits. I want to be able to maintain and continue this way forever.


The Woo Interview: The Life of a Bikini Competitor


The Woo Interview: The Life of a Bikini Competitor

Two perspectives of the fitness industry, from two siblings with the same goal in mind: to help others be the best that they can be.

My short story: I played sports all of my life and loved the competition aspect - maybe a little too much. My dream was to go pro in baseball and become one of the first Asian-Americans to do it. Obviously, I didn’t make it. After being cut from my college baseball team I was devastated and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I decided to pursue singing. That also didn’t happen, so I had to find other ways of making people happy.

Shortly after, I dislocated my right ankle playing basketball, one of my many injuries due to basketball - I’ve been told by multiple people that I shouldn’t play, but that’s another story. Due to my injury, I started to do physical therapy which then sparked the idea of me wanting to help others, specifically athletes, prevent or recover from injuries. My interest was to always be around sports and exercising, which is what initially brought me to P4L.

There are many paths to take in the exercise/fitness world, and my sister Marisa Woo (Nationally Qualified NPC Bikini Competitor), joined me in an interview to discuss her path and the reason why she chose it.


B: What is it that you do?

M: I am a highly ranked Bikini Competitor in the NPC, and through social media and one-on-one coaching I have been influencing others, primarily young women, on their fitness journeys! I am a fitness and health coach as well as a bikini posing coach!

B: What got you into this type of career? What was your motivation behind it?

M: Just like you, in fact probably stemming from you, I have always been competitive! I played basketball my whole life and love the thrill of pushing myself to my limits to achieve a goal! Whether it was a team-related or individual goal, I pride myself in being able to put my head down and work towards accomplishing it despite the obstacle or hardships put in my way!

B: What do you love most about what you do? Is there anything you don’t like, such as the diet?

M: I love that I can use my experiences to help others. There was a time that I didn't think bodybuilding or shaping my life into what it is today was possible. I love that I can have an impact on just one individual to show them that they are in control of their lives, that they can make a difference in their health and fitness as long as they are willing to work for it! Of course I don’t enjoy the dieting aspect, it is hard at times but I make sure to balance it. when I’m in an improvement season, I make sure to spend time with family and loved ones and make sure that “dieting” does not consume my whole life!

B: Our careers are totally different in the fitness industry, but what do you think are the similarities? Also, how have competitions evolved your knowledge of exercise and the body as a whole?

M: I think our careers differ in terms of what the end goal is - you work in a field with agility, body mechanics, and rehab/injury prevention, whereas bodybuilders focus on essentially building our body for aesthetics. This in turn comes with a lot of manipulation in foods, rep range, and weight range when training specific body parts.

B: What does it really take to look the way that you look - the dedication, the diet, the workouts that you do? What are the big challenges that affect your lifestyle?

M:I think the MINDSET is what it takes to be competitive in bodybuilding. As cliche as it sounds, MIND over MATTER plays a huge role, lifting in the gym, doing my cardio, and prepping my food has become so normal and second nature to me, so when I become tired or feel like I have 0% in the tank, I just keep telling myself that I can keep going or I can push harder.

B: How has training affected you mentally as far as trying to achieve a certain look or aesthetic?

M: I have started to really focus on my execution. You hear a lot of people preach “mind to muscle” when performing an exercise, but I have dialed into a lot of isolation exercises so that I know I am activating the correct muscle while using proper form!

B: You have many viewers. Is there a certain criteria that you want to broadcast to them and why?

M: I just want to show them what is obtainable through hard work - despite age, gender, or current life situations (being in school or working full-time).

B: To lighten up the mood... who has the better hair? Me or you?

M: To be honest, you right now… whip your pony better than me hahaha!


B: I obviously have the bigger butt which means I can squat more weight! How much is your 1RM squat because there is no way you can lift more than your brother :)

M: My 1RM squat is 245 lbs I believe. It has been a while, but I’m sure I’ll get back to that haha! But who has better abs hmm?

B: Lastly, what advice can you give to those for their diet, aesthetics, and lifestyle?

M: My best advice is to first do your research. Don’t just fall into the fad diets - understand how the body works, know what to consume to build muscle, understand portion sizes, and don’t be afraid or carbs or protein. I say everything is good, in moderation!

All in all, it’s safe to say we’re both are passionate about what we do, and we found it in our own way. Our passion allows us to create opportunities for others to push their limits, achieve their goals, and have a healthy lifestyle.


Contact Marisa:


Team Affiliation and Posing Information: www.teamctn

IG: @mwooo23











#HowIPerformForLife : Meilin


#HowIPerformForLife : Meilin

When did health and wellness become an important part of your life?

I think a little over a year ago. I realized that I had to put more emphasis on my health and just like me for my well-being.

How do you feel about it now?

I struggle with it a lot still. I grew up focusing on weight as a sign of health and so I still have to come to terms with the fact that the number on the scale doesn’t equate to healthy or fit.

Have you had any proud moments here?

Yeah when I was still seeing Amber twice a week, I had a lot of proud moments. I didn’t have any weight training prior to this. One day would just be squats and deadlifts. Every time I set a personal record, I was so proud of myself. And I eat breakfast now! I never did [before]. I’m not usually a big breakfast person. I wake up so early for work, I don’t usually have time to make breakfast the morning of.

How do the things you do in the gym translate to your life?

I think most of all it provides me with a more positive outlook. Working out is a way of treating myself better, and so that helps me be more positive and have a better perspective on myself in general.


10-Day Ketogenic Diet Challenge


10-Day Ketogenic Diet Challenge

Happy July!  I hope you all are enjoying the summer months.  As an exploration for myself this weekend, I decided to try a ketogenic diet (high fat, adequate protein, very low carbohydrate). I’m one week in and I’d like to give you a day-by-day look at my experience.  But first, why subject yourself to this?  Carbs are so tasty, how have I been able to resist?

A Brief History & Overview of the Diet

There are always new fad diets circulating in popularity, and San Francisco has no shortage of people willing to try them. Ketogenic diets are different, though, because they have then been around for thousands of years. Ketogenic diets have long been present in aboriginal cultures from throughout the world.  Indeed, many native peoples have, sometimes by necessity or circumstance, had to survive on low carbohydrate, high-fat diets. The most recent and memorable introduction of the diet to the west would, of course, be the Atkins Diet.

When first confronted with this diet, I was not very intrigued - eating high amounts of fat simply sounded unpleasant.  And I looove fruit!!!  It was only after I better understood the mechanism by which it affects the body and advantages to the diet itself that I decided to give it a try.

The goal of the ketogenic diet is this: to get the body in a state of “nutritional ketosis” in which the body is safely and effectively producing and utilizing ketones as its energy source.  Ketones are an energy source that comes from fatty acids.  Your body can run on ketones much in the same way it can run on glucose. When your body is in a state of ketosis, it's essentially in fat-burning mode, instead of the usual carbohydrate-burning mode.  Obviously, this can be a great strategy for losing excess body fat, but there are many other benefits, including increased cognitive clarity, better appetite control, increased performance in endurance related events, and the list goes on.

Sounds like a great idea to try.  So why don’t more people experiment with this diet?  Well as it turns out, your body is quite reluctant to go into ketosis!  It varies person to person, but the general consensus is that it takes weeks or more to adapt after weeks of low carbohydrate consumption.  Numbers range, but 20 - 30 grams of net carbs seems to be a general consensus.  And there can be no “cheat days.”  Eating a carbohydrate-laden meal can boot you right out of ketosis and send you back to square one.  Furthermore, one must also limit the amount of protein consumed, as it can be converted into glucose, like carbs. So, your diet must be heavy in fat – somewhere in the range of 75-90% of your daily calories.  That’s a lot of fat!

I am about 10 days into the ketogenic diet.  I’d like to share my observations:

The Good:

  1. The diet has made me very aware of my carbohydrate intake.  This awareness will no doubt allow me to make better decisions about what to eat long after the diet is over.
  2. Overall, I seem to be experiencing less inflammation in my body and less bloating after meals.
  3. There has been a noticeable decrease in fat around my belly and “love handles.”

The Bad:

  1. Eating a high quantity of fat is not enjoyable for me.  I really love the taste of fruit and I wish I could have some peaches or cherries
  2. My energy levels fluctuated a lot for the first week.  Adapting to high fat, low carbohydrate can be a difficult transition, to say the least.

The Ugly:

  1. Working out has been difficult as transitioning from glucose to ketones is a BIG jump.
  2. I could feel an overall higher level of stress in my body over the first 7 days.  I really felt off.

So far, it's been an interesting journey.  The individuals I’ve met that have adopted a ketogenic diet have all raved about its benefits (increased stamina, mental clarity, etc), but have warned me that it takes some time to get there.  So far, I can say with surety that I’m not there.  The last 10 days have been interesting, but overall, not a pleasant experience.  I figure that I’ll stay on the program for another week or so, and then most likely dive headfirst into some carbs.

A final note: everyone is built differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.  

Ketogenic diets are difficult to maintain, but do have some promising benefits.  That being said, it’s not an easy process, and for some, it will not be the right choice. Some people, due to their metabolism or physical routines, will do much better on a diet heavy in carbohydrates. Figuring out what’s best for you is always going to take experimentation, and it will almost always be a dynamic process - the metabolic demands of you today versus you ten years ago are quite different, and the metabolic demands of you when you’re stressed versus not stressed are also quite different.  When it comes to food, no diet book will ever compare to your own food logging and your own observation. I hope this helped clarify ketogenic diets for you all, and gave you all some insight into whether or not they could be beneficial for you!