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#HowIPerformForLife : Gloria

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#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.

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We're All Human, Too

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We're All Human, Too

As a trainer, I often get asked by others if I love exercise. Now, the answer to that question can be tricky. Speaking for myself, I’d answer it with a yes and a no.

Yes, because I love the feeling after a hard workout of knowing that I finished it. Yes, because I love the feeling of knowing that I’m getting stronger after each workout when I see my numbers go up. Yes, because after I work out, I feel as though I’ve sweated out all of my anxieties and have a clearer mind.

On the other hand, no. No, because I often feel pressured by social media and the people around me to look a certain way. No, because even as a trainer, I get intimidated by some people at the gym - there is always someone who is stronger and more fit than I am. No, because sometimes, the reality of the day takes over and working out just won’t cut it.

Now that doesn’t seem like an answer you might hear, right?

I’m only human, and sometimes choose my bed over the weights. I, too, like to indulge in Salt and Straw’s newest holiday flavors. I, too, am like every other person on this planet, so when I feel a little self-conscious about how I look, I want to change it.

I am by no means saying that I’m perfect. What I am saying is that it’s okay to take time off of exercise because you don’t have, and can’t find, the motivation to go. It’s okay to take time off of exercise because you’re bored with your current routine. It’s okay if you sometimes feel weaker than you did during the previous workout. All of these things are okay, they’re normal, and they happen to everyone.

But what can you do?

Should you quit? NO. Never.

You can keep moving, keep striving to be a better version of yourself, and lastly, know that there is always tomorrow - the weights will still be there.


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#HowIPerformForLife : Meilin

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#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.


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10-Day Ketogenic Diet Challenge

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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!



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Why You Should Watch Your Habits Not Your Weight

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Why You Should Watch Your Habits Not Your Weight

I started my foray into exercise like many of you: in response to frustration with body image. I was around 210 lbs. at the age of 15, and this discontent resulted in dieting and exercising my way to about 160 pounds. Unfortunately, after settling into my first real relationship, the good habits didn't stick. Luckily, I was able to keep the weight off despite my lack of motivation once I reached this goal. As research suggests, and many of you can attest to, regaining lost weight is very common.

Now let's look at my second attempt at structured exercise a couple years later. I decided that I really enjoyed getting stronger, which was something I experienced in a resistance training class in high school. I made my mind up to focus on that aspect of self-improvement this time around. I had found something somewhat disconnected with my body image, yet with time my confidence was improved to a new level. As well, this time it stuck, and I have been regularly exercising for nearly 15 years now. 

I have worked with a lot of clients over the years, and everyone finds different things to ignite that passion for activity. I would say that it is a slim minority who find long-term results who only focus on training for looks, weight, and body composition. For everyone else, performance does more for motivation and confidence. The most trainable physical quality we have is strength. It is not uncommon for people to double or triple their strength with proper training. Furthermore, if you really train to improve this quality, body composition is very likely to improve as well.

One of the major downsides to training for looks is the subjectivity of your self-perception. Have you ever “felt fat?” This feeling doesn't only exist for folks who are obese, it is something that folks with healthy body fat levels also experience.

Our body image is incredibly fickle, and trying to set yourself up for a lifetime of success with exercise built on a foundation so volatile is a recipe for disaster for most of us.

Another advantage to training for strength is that it promotes regular progressive overload. You have to continually challenge yourself to pick up heavier weights to spur adaptation. Once again, this practice is very likely to lead to improvements in body composition. This basic tenet of exercise science is often ignored but is certainly one of the most important components of a successful exercise program.

I know it's hard to care about strength for some of you, but I'm willing to bet you will encounter moments in your life where you truly appreciate it. I have heard tons of client stories about being empowered by their newfound performance capabilities. Often times I hear stories of things people did with their children, how they were confident enough to try something they wouldn't have otherwise tried, or simply how many things they notice in everyday life seem easy when it used to be hard.

I'll share with you the first moment I truly appreciated my increased strength. I was on the island of Capri in Italy. My grandmother, who was terminally ill, sold her house and used some of the money to take one final dream vacation. Thankfully, I was included on this wonderful journey. Beyond her illness, she also had serious arthritis problems and a fairly recent hip replacement. When we finally got to the Blue Grotto, which was the central activity around which she planned this trip, she was crushed. There was a set of what seemed to be a couple hundred stairs to get down to the boat that would take us inside. She couldn't do it and told us to go on without her.

Photo Credit : Khachik Simonian

Photo Credit : Khachik Simonian

I wouldn't accept this; I picked her up and carried her down and up those stairs so she could realize her dream. The folks waiting at the bottom even clapped for us when we made it down. She must've told that story 100 times before she died. It was one of her most memorable experiences, and one of her most proud moments as a grandmother.

Photo Credit : Will van Winergerden

Photo Credit : Will van Winergerden

If I had never started trying to improve my strength, I would not have had the confidence to even attempt this, let alone the physical capacity to do so. This is the kind of thing that provides a lifetime of motivation to continue exercising. I have days where I feel like skipping my workouts too, but recalling this moment, among many others, can be very powerful for keeping consistent. 

I urge you to experiment with this mindset. It may not be for you, but as stated, a ton of my clients have found a lot of joy, pride, and confidence by focusing on this aspect of their transformation rather than body composition. Sometimes viewing things through a new lens can lead to an appreciation that wasn't there initially. Now go: be strong, and be beautiful.



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