Exercise: Cutting Through the Excuse-Laden Smokescreen

photoI’ve heard a million of ‘em. Excuses people use for why they don’t exercise. From “I don’t have the time; I’m too busy” to “I don’t have the money” to “I don’t want people to watch me” to “I’m too tired/old/fat …”

I try to show compassion as I listen to each of these  excuses, but the truth is, it is difficult for me to have sympathy for people who don’t put themselves first, knowing they have but one body to last them for the rest of their lives. Your body is your home — the one place you will inhabit for the rest of your life.

You are, after all, in control of your destiny. You can make time in your schedule to devote 45 minutes to YOU. Even 20 minutes if done daily can make a difference. You don’t even have to set foot in a gym. Swim laps, go biking, practice yoga, begin power-walking around your neighborhood. It’s a start. Need some help meeting your goals? I highly recommend the books by top trainers: Alwyn Cosgrove, Rachel Cosgrove, Coach Robert Remedios, or Martin Rooney.  

Lack of a budget doesn’t cut it either. It costs nothing to move your body.  There are programs online, apps you can purchase for your smart phone, videos that offer safe and sane workouts, even cable TV programs that can jump-start you. One of my favorite apps is Nike Training. And if you did want to hire a personal trainer, we offer buddy programs to cut down on the expense.  Besides, add up and then eliminate those $10 daily visits to Starbucks over a month’s time (which aren’t good for you any way), you suddenly have a personal training budget! Working with a trainer even once a week or once a month will ensure that exercises are performed properly. Not only will you reap the benefits, but there will be a much lower risk of injury as well.

Self-conscious? Nobody is concentrating on you because everyone is in survival mode. Use your workout time to focus on you.  And don’t let age or size dictate squat to you. You don’t give your amazing body enough credit. Anything you do is better than nothing, and it’s never too late to get into shape.

For more information on my fitness training programs as well as yoga classes and retreats, call me at 916-715-8377 or email me at andi@elitefitnesscoach.com.  Your body will thank you.

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Strength Training and Yoga — Birds of a Feather?

It’s easy to mix up fitness terms.  For instance, a lot of my clients confuse strength training with weight training. Then they ask me if yoga counts as strength training.  So I thought I would address how all these relate, offering you a more comprehensive fitness picture.

Experts advise doing some form of strength training at least twice a week to keep metabolism running efficiently, and many doctors recommend weight training as a preventive measure against bone loss.  For many of us, this conjures a vision of becoming an eternal slave to weight machines, dumbbells or resistance cords.  Truth is, yoga taps on strength as well, since you are putting your body in positions and orientations that you ultimately have to support with your muscles, essentially lifting weights.

I don’t like focusing on how yoga can sculpt your physique.  I’d rather you focused on yoga as a way of thinking, feeling and being, versus being preoccupied with perfecting your appearance.  Yes, you can increase muscle tone and definition (and even muscle size) with yoga. But because you’re limited to “lifting” your own body weight, it may take a lot more skill, time and determination than it would simply lifting weights.

If all you’re looking to do is build muscle, it’s fair to say that weight training is a more practical approach. Basically, your muscles and bones must be constantly challenged to keep developing. With traditional weight training, as your muscles adapt to the resistance and get stronger, you have to add more weight to achieve the same results. With weight training, theoretically you can continue to grow the size and strength of your muscles forever — as long as you continue to add weight. But while “bulking up” may be the goal for many men, it’s rarely a woman’s dream. That’s why yoga is a more balanced way to do strength training.

What many of my fitness and even my yoga students fail to realize is that a regular yoga practice can reduce the risk of injury and condition the body to perform better at things they do every day, ultimately making it a form of functional fitness. This includes walking, sitting, twisting, bending, and lifting things.  It moves your body in the ways it was designed to move because both large and small muscles are used in many directions and not just back and forth on a one-dimensional plane, as in the motion of a bicep curl or leg lift.

For more information on fitness, strength training, and how some yoga poses can aid in your overall quest, be sure to call me at 916.715.8377, or email me at andi@elitefitnesscoach.com.   With dozens of fitness and yoga certifications under my belt while possessing an unending thirst for more knowledge, I have made fitness and yoga my life. I stand ready to help you achieve your fitness goals in any way I can.

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You CAN Achieve your Fitness Goals!

Human nature can be complex, but it can also be fairly predictable.  I can’t begin to tell you how often my clients sound so very committed when they begin their training with me and how often they subconsciously sabotage their own efforts to achieve their well-intentioned goals.

Once you’ve committed to getting into shape, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you’ll exceed both your short and long term fitness goals.  But I won’t stop there.  Read further and you’ll see what not to do as well….


  •  Write down your fitness goals. You’re more likely to stick with a program once you have set some specific goals.
  • Think about WHY you are exercising and eating healthy (A bit different from goal-setting). Write down ALL of your reasons and then put the list somewhere you will see easily throughout your day.  When you feel like skipping a workout or eating something that you shouldn’t, you can remember why you would rather stick to your plan than cheat.
  • Assess your current fitness level before starting an exercise program. By doing so, you’ll be able to establish goals that meet your specific fitness needs. I can help you with this.
  • Always warm-up before your workout and cool down afterward.
  • Don’t overdo it! Try doing too much at once and you’ll burn out swiftly. Slowly increase the intensity of your workouts.
  • Diversify your workout routine. If you do the same exercises day after day, you’ll get bored are more likely to skip workouts.
  • Work out with a friend or a fitness coach. Motivation can make or break a routine
  • Drink plenty of water. Half your body-weight in ounces is a good guideline.
  • Work hard, but be gentle with yourself. Challenge yourself, but listen to your body


  • Over-train. Your body needs time to recover in between workouts
  • Skip breakfast. Eating breakfast will jump-start your metabolism and provide you with the energy you need to get through the day.
  • Skip stretching or foam rolling. Stretching and foam rolling can alleviate pain and stiffness in the body and help you avoid injury.
  • Skimp on sleep. It’ll give you the energy you need to focus on your exercises. Plus, lack of sleep can raise cortisol levels which can lead to a build up of belly fat. Boo:(
  • Set unrealistic goals. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. If you have 50 pounds to lose, don’t expect it to come off overnight–you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.
  • Compare your successes and failures to others. Everyone is unique, and what works for some may not work for others.
  • Work out randomly. Work out on a consistent schedule to maximize the benefits and help you form the habit.
  • Give up. Talk to your trainer if you are feeling discouraged. Sometimes simply changing up the routine can make all the difference in the world

And don’t forget to reward yourself on occasion; just don’t use food as a reward. A massage. A pedicure. A vacation. Even a new outfit is a fun reward for having been consistent and sticking to your plan. 

Always remember to keep an open mind and remain flexible. At times you may find it necessary to change your routine slightly. Just as life is a dynamic ride, you’ll find your fitness journey is too. If you’re willing to try new things and set reasonable expectations, you’ll reap the rewards of your fitness program and successfully achieve your fitness goals.

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Yoga Retreats: A Different Kind of Vacation

What is a yoga retreat all about? Those of you who already love what yoga does for them are halfway there with the concept.  But retreating to another (sometimes exotic) location brings an entirely different perspective to it. 

If your vacations have traditionally revolved around sightseeing, visiting relatives or restaurant-hopping, then going to a yoga retreat will be a true departure.  While all Elite Fitness retreats include time to appreciate your surroundings, eat sumptuous food, take memory-savoring photos and relax, ours take things a step further. 

Our Costa Rica yoga adventure not only gives you unfettered time to “go deep” with your yoga practice; it also introduces you to new yoga concepts, new friends, new beaches and new experiences – all poised to bring you home refreshed, relaxed and more yoga-fied than ever! 

But don’t wait!  We have only a few spots left!  To learn about slipping away for an amazing Costa Rica yoga experience, click here.




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Yin Yoga: quietly going within


The room is hushed and darkened. A single candle flickers and soothing music plays as Yin yoga practitioners sprawl out on strategically-place mats. Rolled up blankets, small supporting blocks, pull-straps and water bottles are everywhere.

When viewed by outsiders, the practice of Yin Yoga may appear to be effortless. After all, people are just posing and not moving very often. Those of us who practice it, however, know better.

The challenge of Yin yoga is precisely what you don’t see, since the most challenging aspects of this ancient practice are often hidden within the time spent in each pose. Yin Yoga is a unique style of yoga that emphasizes relaxation while also providing a beneficial stimulus to the bones and connective tissues of the body to promote optimal functioning. So the emphasis is on holding the poses for long periods of time while relaxing the muscles of the body.

To some, Yin yoga may appear challenging, but unless your doctor has told you to stay away from exercise and stretching, even the least limber yoga novice can benefit. The bones and connective tissue are no different from other components of the body and will respond favorably to appropriate stretching and stressing. Just as the health of the muscles is improved when we exercise them, similarly we can improve the health of the bones and connective tissues.

Yin Yoga’s gentle stress to these tissues has far reaching positive effects. It can help to prevent degeneration of tissues by providing a counter stretch against the continual tension present in the muscles and ligaments. The mild stimulation of the bones can also promote optimal bone density, improving bone strength as well.

Do you sit a lot?  When you really think about it, we learn to sit for long periods of time when we are in elementary school and it gets reinforced our entire lives as long as we don’t work in environments where sitting is inappropriate. The dangers of a distorted posture may become real when you take into account that sitting places four times as much pressure on your spine as standing.

Yin yoga helps to protect your body from the fixation and immobilization of the joints. Sitting makes normal curving of the spine distorted. In some people the loss of the lumbar curve can be so severe that the vertebrae may actually fuse together, creating a major impediment to mobility. Yin yoga involves specific poses, such as pyramid, seal and saddle poses, that help to maintain the normal lumbar curve and can even reverse this tendency. Similarly, other poses in Yin Yoga have effects on the various joints of the body that promote their greatest range of motion.

Another benefit of Yin yoga is its ability to promote the flow of energy through energy pathways, called meridians. Recent research explores the prospect that the connective tissue may act as a conduit for the flow of energy through the body’s meridians. By activating the connective tissues, it may be possible to directly stimulate these meridians, profoundly affecting health in a positive way.

Because Yin is not a strenuous form of yoga, improving the flow of energy through the meridians can also be of particular benefit for individuals with chronic health problems resistant to standard treatments or for people who are recovering from illness. I also offer advanced forms of it within my practice sessions to those who are looking for more challenging variations on each pose. Even difficult poses can be adjusted to a relative degree of comfort during the practice of Yin Yoga.

Yin yoga also can help to promote general relaxation, the importance of which should never be underestimated. It is generally believed that stress-related health conditions can have far reaching effects on the your general health. When you are calmer, however, you are more likely to engage with your family, friends and others in a more positive way.

This form of yoga is not all physical, however. While the discomfort cause by Yin yoga poses may begin as a physical sensation, it can develop into type of beneficial psychological unease, helping to increase an awareness of personal issues and fears as they rise to the surface. The quiet nature of Yin allows you to draw your attention inward, awakening you to the way you store tensions within your body as you release physical pressure and gain access to an enhanced sense of clarity.

Want to learn more about Yin yoga and begin to implement its benefits in your daily life?  Yin is one of a number of ancient yoga practices we will be including in our exciting Costa Rica yoga retreat, to be held in June 2013.  For more information about the retreat, click here. And to find out when and where our Yin yoga classes are being held locally, click here.  Your body (and your soul) will thank you.

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Food Cravings — All in Your Head?

Did you think you had a handle on your food intake before the holiday, but now you’re feeling that old familiar affliction – food cravings? You’re not alone. Between now and the end of the year, the average American will gain approximately 3 – 5 pounds.  Now doesn’t that just send a cold shiver up your workout clothes…?

So what can you do to overcome cravings and perceived “addictions”? First and foremost, experiment with eating heftier breakfasts and lunches to abate hunger. (No, you will not “get fat” by eating more during the day. If you listen to your body, you will observe you are less hungry at night and will simply be able to consume fewer calories.)

And although it’s easier said than done, work on that attitude. Your mind is very influential. If you believe you are addicted to a food, you’ll have a hard time convincing yourself otherwise despite research that refutes the concept of food addiction and puts the focus on deprivation as a trigger to (over)eat.

If all else fails, the next time you have a craving for a specific food, relax, enjoy eating it slowly, taste it, savor the flavor, and linger over the treat. Do this several times throughout the week. Learn to enjoy the treat slowly, in moderation, without feeling guilty. Enjoy the foods you crave at every meal. For example, have a few Hershey’s Kisses day after day, at breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Eat them so often that you get sick of them. This may sound unhealthy in the short term but a week or two of excess chocolate will not ruin your health (nor your waistline) forever.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, better known as the host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” explains that, we crave food for the same reason we crave sex.  “There’s a biologically mandated desire to nourish and procreate that’s hardwired at numerous levels to ensure there’s redundancy in the system, so it can’t fail because those are the two things you need to survive as a species.”

He offers some ways to get control of your cravings so they don’t end up controlling you.

  • Know your enemy. “There are two types of craving foods,” says Dr. Oz. “Those we can occasionally eat a bit of, feel satisfied and are done. And those that have you licking the crumbs from the bag then tearing apart your kitchen hunting for more. Everyone’s craving foods are different, so figure out what sends you on a food bender, then steer clear. Knowing the foods that you’re powerless around isn’t weak, it’s smart.”
  • Banish those pieces of kryptonite!  “You’re less likely to gorge on chips or cookies or candy if they’re not readily available in your pantry or fridge, so you do yourself a huge favor by not even bringing them home from the market,” says Oz.
  • Put something healthy in its place.  If you’re something craving sweet, try a date or a few strawberries.  Something creamy?  How about a low-fat Greek yogurt?  When you need salt fix, reach for a dill pickle.
  • Cleanse your palate. “There’s a reason fancy restaurants serve sorbet between courses,” says Oz.  “It cleans your taste buds so you can enjoy the next dish without being distracted by the flavors from the dish that came before. Use this same tactic to quell a craving.  Brush your teeth, gargle with mouthwash,  or chew some gum. Why?  Because not much tastes good after you have that tooth-pasty taste in your mouth.
  • Cry for help.  You don’t have to do this alone.  Withdrawing from any addiction can get easier if you appoint a buddy to help. “Venting to a friend is a much more waist-friendly way of relieving stress,” says Dr. Oz.

By learning your body’s responses to different foods, you can at least become educated: food is not necessarily addictive and cravings are not all bad. What’s bad is trying to live hungry as well as denied and deprived of foods you enjoy. Then, like a phoenix rising to meet the sun, you just might find peace with food at last.

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Thailand yoga retreat sees changes take place both within and without…

ImageThose of you who have been following my Facebook postings might have gathered by now that my yoga retreat in Thailand has been nothing  less than life changing . Co-producing this retreat while having had the pleasure of providing daily yoga, meditation, and transformational  workshops has not only permitted me to guide others in their practices, but also experience these things as well — all in an ancient, beautiful and gentle land.

In addition to  “retreat” stuff, we’ve been immersed in Thai culture, from visiting Buddhist temples to engaging a local chef to teach us how to prepare Thai food, to shopping in local markets —  and today we will be riding elephants!

It has been an action-packed few weeks, but not so jammed with activities that we haven’t had plenty of time to catch up on rest, reading or just chilling out with both old and new friends.

If you’ve never considered attending a yoga retreat or any other type of getaway like this, I highly recommend it as a way to recharge your batteries as well as your soul.  Keep checking back for information on upcoming retreats. Next year’s agenda is currently being planned, with both serene Calistoga and beautiful Costa Rica in the works, with specific dates yet to be determined.

I am looking forward to sharing one of these powerful and life-changing experiences with YOU!  In the meantime, leaw-jor-kan-mai (แล้วเจอกันใหม่) — see you soon!

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