PFTL NEWS April 2018

MOMENTUM OR NO-MENTUM  (from ACE Healthy Living 3/28/18)

It’s easier to continue doing what you’ve been doing most consistently. If you have been successful with health behaviors, it easier to keep eating healthfully and integrating enjoyable physical activity and exercise into your life. You’ve got momentum. Likewise, if you have been in a pattern of moving less, skipping workouts, and eating poorly, it is also easier to keep doing that. You’ve got no-mentum—an increased likelihood of continuing to not follow health behaviors.

Blame it on inertia—expressed as resistance to change—which means a body at rest tends to stay that way while a moving body tends to keep moving. It’s Newton’s first law of motion, and it’s just as applicable to a ball rolling downhill as it is to your life.

Further, the law says the body will continue in its present state until it is acted on by an outside force. An outside force is like an external motivator, and could be anything from bad results from a blood test, a spouse or partner who wants you to lose weight, or someone making fun of you for being out of shape. These external factors might get you started, but they almost never keep you going over the long-term. To do that, you need to use your internal force. It’s your inner motivation and strength.

Gather Your Inner Forces  –   Answer these questions to help identify the internal forces that keep you motivated:

Identity: What kind of person are you? What do you stand for?  Your sense of who you are as a person and what you stand for gives you a connection to what is truly important to you. For what matters most, you often find it easy to do what you need to do. When you care enough, the effort becomes almost effortless. Whatever your best qualities are, consider using them in the area of health behaviors. When health is something you “should” do—a chore, task or obligation—you will be more likely to struggle. When you make health a part of your identity, you will more easily follow through on it.

Strength: What is something you excel at doing?  You’re awesome at something. Perhaps even multiple things. All of the qualities that make you a terrific parent, manager, business owner, hard worker, community leader, etc., can also be used to ensure success with health. It is not unusual to meet people who own successful businesses, work in very demanding fields and successfully manage family needs, and yet are crippled when it comes to following through on a health plan.

You already have a lot of skills and abilities to organize complex and challenging tasks and achieve them—just use those same skills to improve your health instead of compartmentalizing them to the areas in which you are successful.

Meaning: What do you most care about in life?  Why bother? Why do any of it? Why work hard at anything? What and/or who truly motivates you in this life? Whatever you care most about in life, you will enjoy it more and do it more effectively if you do it in a healthy body. Whoever matters most to you in life—your friends, partner, spouse, pets—whatever time you spend with them will be richer and more enjoyable when you live in a healthy body.

Health has an almost magical ability to elevate almost all other experiences you have and to expand your view of the world. As the saying goes, “A healthy person has many goals; an unhealthy person has one.”

Enjoyment: What is something you have done (or would like to try) that puts a smile on your face while you are exerting yourself physically?  Stop engaging in forms of exercise, physical activity or classes that you do not enjoy. Just stop. Forcing yourself to do things you don’t enjoy because you think you should never works. Haven’t we been trying this for long enough to know this? No one naturally hates physical activity (or vegetables). We learn it. There are no fish born that hate swimming in water.

Find healthy foods you enjoy and don’t eat the ones you don’t enjoy. Try different forms of physical activity until you find some you enjoy. Consider getting back into a sport or activity you used to love but stopped when you got married/had kids/got busy at work (i.e., lost yourself in other things and people) or try an activity that you have always wanted to.

The hardest part of health is getting started. If that’s where you are, let’s make this the last time you ever start again and turn “no-mentum” into momentum.


Researchers say they may have worked out why there is a natural loss of muscle in the legs as people age – and that it is due to a loss of nerves. In tests on 168 men, they found that nerves controlling the legs decreased by around 30% by the age of 75. This made muscles waste away, but in older fitter athletes there was a better chance of them being ‘rescued’ by nerves re-connecting. The scientists published their research in the Journal of Physiology.

As people get older, their leg muscles become smaller and weaker, leading to problems with everyday movements such as walking up stairs or getting out of a chair. It is something that affects everyone eventually, but why it happens is not fully understood.

Prof Jamie McPhee, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said young adults usually had 60-70,000 nerves controlling movement in the legs from the lumbar spine. But his research showed this changed significantly in old age.

“There was a dramatic loss of nerves controlling the muscles – a 30-60% loss – which means they waste away,” he said. “The muscles need to receive a proper signal from the nervous system to tell them to contract, so we can move around.”

The research team from Manchester Metropolitan University worked with researchers from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and the University of Manchester. They looked at muscle tissue in detail using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and they recorded the electrical activity passing through the muscle to estimate the numbers and the size of surviving nerves.

The good news is that healthy muscles have a form of protection: surviving nerves can send out new branches to rescue muscles and stop them wasting away. This is more likely to happen in fit people with large, healthy muscles, Prof McPhee said.

Although it is not known why connections between muscles and nerves break down with age, finding out more about muscle loss could help scientists find ways of reversing the condition in the future.

Happy Spring!  Soon you can get outdoors again, and enjoy all the things that nice weather allows.

PFTL News January 2018


Have you hit a plateau in your fitness journey? Do you feel like you can’t lose any more weight, no matter what you do? If so, don’t despair—you are not alone. Many people struggle to meet their fitness and weight-management goals.

In many cases, the root of the problem lies in not knowing enough about how the body works. It can be easy to focus only on external results rather than pay attention to the internal functioning of our own bodies. The human body is a fascinating creation and, if we understand our own physiology just a bit better, we have a better chance of being able to conquer these frustrating plateaus.

Having a good understanding of one’s own metabolism is a great place to start. The term metabolism simply refers to the chemical processes that occur within the body to maintain life. There are two categories: catabolism, which refers to the breaking down of organic matter to obtain energy; and anabolism, which refers to the building up of components of cells. These processes require energy, burn energy and produce energy, which significantly impacts each person’s fitness and weight-management outcomes.

Interestingly, each person’s metabolism is different in terms of speed and effectiveness. Your age, sex and genes can contribute to your metabolism, but lifestyle choices related to eating, physical activity and sleep also play significant roles. While you can’t change some of these factors, you can make better lifestyle choices, which will help increase the effectiveness of your metabolism, which will, in turn, help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Here are some basic things to consider when preparing to make fitness and body weight changes:

  1. Know your basal metabolic rate (BMR).This is the amount of energy your body needs to keep functioning while at rest throughout the day. You can find a basic calculator hereto get a general idea of your BMR, but note that this is only an estimate based on factors like age and weight.
  2. Know your body composition.It is possible to weigh a “normal” weight and yet still have an unhealthy body-fat percentage. A body composition assessment can give you a better idea of your body-fat percentage and total muscle mass, and even a breakdown of visceral fat percentage. Some fitness facilities and medical offices offer this type of service. Devices are also available for home use, but tend to be somewhat less accurate.
  3. Know your daily total caloric intake, including the specific breakdown of major nutrients, such as fat, carbohydrates and protein.
  4. Keep a two-week journal of your actual exercise, eating, drinking and sleeping habits. This process can help identify the areas where you’re doing well and those that may present potential problems.

To use the metabolism factor to your advantage to reach your fitness goals, here are some basic tips to consider implementing:

  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration may slow down your metabolism.
  • Eat regular meals. Having smaller meals or healthy snacks every three to four hours helps keep your metabolism burning calories throughout the day. Studies show that people who eat smaller meals regularly are less likely to overeat.
  • Build muscle. Even while at rest, your body burns calories. Every pound of muscle uses about six calories a day just to exist, whereas each pound of fat requires only two calories a day.
  • Be physically active. The more active you are throughout the day, the more energy your body burns.
  • Add some aerobic workouts with a higher intensity. This provides a steady and more long-lasting rise in resting metabolic rate.
  • Eat balanced meals. It is essential for overall health and better fitness to balance your meals and eat good, organic and nutritious food. In particular, include healthy proteins, such as tofu, nuts and beans, as your body burns more calories digesting protein than it does while digesting carbohydrates or fat.
  • Do NOT skip meals or lower your caloric intake to below 1,200 calories for women or 1,800 calories for men (these numbers are basic guidelines and may vary for each person). Skipping meals and fasting for long periods of times slows down your metabolism.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast. 
  • Sleep seven to eight hours per night.

Turning these tips into daily habits is a great way to give your metabolism a boost and enhance your ability to meet your health and fitness goals. You may also benefit from working with a personal trainer, who can design a specific exercise regimen that your body responds to positively. Regardless of where you are in your health and fitness journey, don’t despair—get up, get moving and give your metabolism the boost you need to start seeing result


Brain-training programs and games have blossomed into a competitive industry with direct consumer spending on digital brain-health software products expected to reach $1.52 billion by 2020. Companies such as Lumosity, Posit Science, Cogmed and CogniFit advertise the brain-boosting benefits of their software platforms.

But do these products really work? The scientific evidence is somewhat scattered, but several recent reports conclude that brain-training games do not reduce the risk of cognitive decline or dementia. They can significantly improve specific cognitive processes—but not much else.



PFTL News February 2016


Basic Full-Body Tune-Up” – 60-minute – 6-weeks – Starts Wednesday, March 2 from 4pm-5pm.

Taught by personal trainer, Linda Meyer, CPT, this group class (min. 4; max. 5 participants)  focuses on flexibility, stability, strength, balance and endurance. It is designed as a full body workout with the aim of helping each person improve their overall fitness level.

Beginner level of fitness: this is a perfect class for motivated individuals who currently lack the strength, balance and flexibility they once had, and want to regain these qualities.

The cost for this 6-week class is $99 per participant.  Call or email Julie Cohen, 847-251-6834 or .


Brace yourself.  According to Rod K. Dishman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Fitness Laboratory at the University of Georgia, nearly 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out within the first 6 months.  The question is, “Why?”  What is it about sticking with a fitness routine that causes so many people abandon it?

The answer?  Motivation.  They don’t want health and fitness badly enough.  It is a simple fact of human psychology that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do everything we can to get it.  Your challenge is to find out what motivates you to get serious about fitness and stick with it.

You do not have to be part of that 50 percent who quit.  You can stay committed and finish strong.  It is all about finding what motivates you personally.  Here are some possible motivators for you.

  1. Do it for your health. Consistent exercise and healthy eating are the two very best things you can do for your health. You will develop a strong, healthy heart, reduce your chances of many cancers, prevent diabetes, keep a sharp mind and resist dementia and avoid many of the common ailments that come with aging.  It is possible to age without decay, and the key to this is exercise and eating well.
  2. Do it to look better. Appearance isn’t everything, but most of us care how we look. A strong and healthy person just looks good.  And it isn’t all physical.  Your demeanor will change as you develop the confidence that comes from the discipline of fitness.  You will appear more energetic and confident because you will be more energetic and confident!
  3. Do it to relieve stress. Really!  It isn’t a cliché.  Exercising really does cause physical changes in your brain and nervous system that results in feelings of calmness and well-being.  In fact, you may get so hooked on the mental benefits of exercise that you will crave it!
  4. Do it to be strong. If you have never done focused weight training, then you literally have no idea of the total transformation that you will feel after just a few weeks.  There is nothing like bending over to pick something up that normally results in discomfort, strain and even pain, only to find out that it is a piece of cake!  And by getting strong now, you reduce your risk of age-related falls and fractures because you have the core strength and balance to keep yourself stable.


Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” And each of us knows from our own experience that he is right.  The general flow of human life tends to be toward ease and comfort.  One day flows into the next, and many of us never quite get around to turning our good intentions into reality.

Those ‘good intentions,’ while no doubt admirable, tend to remain unrealized mainly because they are too vague.  Vague ideas are impossible to focus on and aim for; they are moving targets.

Do you have moving targets in your life?  Perhaps you want to eat a more healthy diet or lose the winter weight that has crept upon you.  Maybe you just want to establish a regular workout routine and stick with it this time.

The keys to your success are two-fold:  steady the target and create momentum. 

You Can’t Hit a Moving Target – Without setting specific goals, your good intentions are exactly like a moving target.  You would like to lose some weight, feel a little better, make a change in your diet–but without clearly defined goals and methods, you can’t focus and make it happen.

The way to steady the target so you can finally hit the bull’s eye is to define your goals and write them down:

  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • What kind of changes do you want to make in your diet?
  • How many days per week do you want to exercise?
  • Which article of clothing do you wish would fit your body again?
  • How much weight would you like to lift while strength training?

Once you know where you want to end up, you are much more likely to get there. But you have to start moving toward your goals.  That is where momentum comes in.

Create momentum to reach your goals – Sometimes, the hardest part of reaching a goal is just getting started.  That first day of doing things differently or the first experience of bypassing an unhealthy treat in favor of a food that will give you more energy can be daunting.  It isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t fun.

So how do you get that momentum?  How do you start moving?  Accountability is the answer.  Having someone else involved in your efforts can be the most important factor in your success.

It is hard to change lifelong habits on your own.  You need radical motivation that comes from involving others in your efforts.  Setting deadlines, making commitments and entering contests all provide an external motivation that will carry you through even the toughest temptations. And once you get started, you will find that the momentum principle kicks in and it becomes easier and easier to keep going.

Start NOWYou can make that moving target come to a screeching halt and blast the bull’s eye right out of it by taking a few minutes to write down what you want.  Don’t make it your goals too broad; be specific.  And then begin brainstorming ways to get others involved with you; that will provide your momentum.  Success is within your reach.  You can do this!

Oh, and remember, our trainers are here to help you the entire way!

PFTL NEWS October 2015

NEW CLASS – PILATES MAT  – 60-minute – 6-weeks ; starts Tuesday, October 20 at 1pm

 Former ballet dancer, Ellen Krafft, will be teaching this new class.  She has been teaching Pilates since 1996; Ellen blends traditional Pilates with ballet training to create a movement class which addresses alignment, core strengthening, balance and flexibility.  Cost for the 6-week class is $120.   Contact Julie to register for this class; 847-251-6834.

NEW CLASS — BASIC FULL-BODY TUNE-UP – 60-minute – 6-weeks – Starts Wednesday, October 21 at 3PM.

Taught by personal trainer, Linda Meyer, CPT, this group class (max. 5 participants) This class will focus on flexibility, stability, strength, balance and endurance. It is designed as a full body workout with the aim of helping each person achieve his/her fitness goals.  Beginner level of fitness: this is a perfect class for motivated individuals who currently lack the strength, balance and flexibility they once had, and want to regain these qualities. Call to register 847-251-6834.


“If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”
– Joey Adams

 “Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes. “
– Robert M. Hutchins

You know you should exercise, since it’s good for you. So why is it so hard to stay active? Turns out, the reasons might not be what you think. Here’s a look at what may be preventing you from sticking with an exercise routine — and suggestions on how to keep at it.

  1. You’re Working Out for Weight Loss – This is a surprisingly bad motivator when it comes to getting you to lace up those sneakers. In one study, some women who exercised to lose weight, exercised less, while other women, who exercised to feel better and curb stress, worked out more.

The fix: You should remind yourself often of all the ways exercise makes you feel good, like having more energy and getting better rest, that have nothing to do with weight loss.

  1. You’re Overdoing It – There’s no doubt that exercise can be a big life change, but at the beginning the change shouldn’t be drastic. Pain and exhaustion are de-motivators.

The fix: Ease into an exercise routine and start slowly.

  1. You Feel Bad About Your Body – Maybe you’re self-conscious about your stomach or you don’t like the way you look in yoga pants. Or maybe, exercise conjures up unpleasant memories of school gym classes.

The fix: Working out in the privacy of your own home is an option. Find a workout that’s right for you on a DVD, YouTube channel, and/or hire a personal trainer to get your started.

  1. You Chose the Wrong Workout – If you hate the type of exercise you are doing (walking on treadmills, lifting weights, etc), rethink about what you enjoy doing. Chances are physical activity was fun at some point in your life: ask yourself why you enjoyed it.

The fix: If you’re stumped, think of trying something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the chance to do, or something you enjoyed in the past. Biking, roller skating, dancing, yoga are activities that you may have enjoyed doing, but somewhere along the line just forgot.

  1. You’re in Pain – A bad back, sore knee, or arthritis can make getting fit a challenge. But if you’ve got a chronic condition, you probably need exercise even more.

The fix: Ask your doctor for a prescription for physical therapy. It can help so much, and it’s often covered by insurance. The physical therapist will teach you safe ways to get fitter and stronger.


Sugar-sweetened beverages are currently the largest source of added sugar in the diet — accounting for about 50%. The World Health Organization and 2015 US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommend limiting intake of all added sugars to no more that 10% of total energy intake (equivalent to about 12 tsps of sugar). One 12-oz serving of soda alone contains about 10 to 12 tsps of sugar!

The new study provides an analysis of data for potential replacements of sugared beverages: water is best, and unsweetened coffee or tea are acceptable, while fruit juices and artificially sweetened beverages are less ideal, but still better than sugar-sweetened drinks.

Fructose, naturally occurring in whole foods such as fruit and vegetables is generally not a problem. Such fructose is absorbed more slowly due to the fiber content of whole fruits and vegetables, whereas fructose in beverages is absorbed rapidly.

The most important information is that sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and gout, and that to reduce risk of these conditions and to promote health and overall well-being, they should be replaced with healthier options.

Beverages containing added sugar contribute to weight gain because they do not promote satiety, leading to increased food intake. And because of their high amounts of rapidly absorbable sugar, they induce rapid spikes in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Fructose in these beverages — from any sugar or high-fructose corn syrup — also promotes the accumulation of visceral fat, elevates LDLs (bad cholesterol), and accumulates fat deposits under the skin. Fructose also increases production of uric acid, which has been linked to gout and insulin resistance.


The Rotary Club of Wilmette has its annual Book Drive from October 1-November 16.  If you have any books to donate, in good condition, suitable for children from pre-school to high school, please bring them to the studio.  We have a box for collecting the books. The books will be distributed to children in inner-city schools in Chicago.

PFTL News September 2015

DOES DRINK TEMPERATURE MATTER? (Excerpt ACSM Sports Medicine bulletin, Aug. 2015)

While some studies have indicated that drinking hot water may help cool the body, a recent finding shows that ingesting hot or cold water does not influence body heat storage, and thus temperature regulation during exercise.  In other words, it does not matter whether you ingest hot or cold water during exercise, as the consumption of water is more important than the temperature of the water.

WHAT ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT?  (Excerpt from Susie Moore, NY writer/confidence coach)

You know the saying, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It’ll give you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere”? Well, it’s true: Worrying is a complete and utter misuse of our energy, power, and imagination. All of us have fears, “what if’s,” and incessant mental chatter about what could go wrong in the future. These thoughts do nothing but paralyze us.

The good news: The things we worry about, even if they actually happen, wouldn’t be nearly as terrible as we think. Our fear of consequences is always worse than the consequences themselves.  Here are some common worries that plague far too many of us that deserve to be debunked.

1. “I can’t take time off.” – If we take two weeks off work to have a little time out or to travel, so many people think: Catastrophe! Disaster! But what we think might happen is often so far removed from reality.

The truth is, if a bus hit you tomorrow, the company would still go on without you. Taking a break is fine. In fact, it’s better than fine: It restores you and helps you work better. Even top CEOs and the president of the United States take vacation. Don’t let this year pass you by without a break!

2. “People will judge me if…” – …I get a divorce. …Quit my job. …Decide not to have children. …Blog about post-feminism.

Here’s the good news (and the bad news). One third of people will like you, one third won’t, and one third won’t care about you. This applies to your work, your opinions, anything. My advice: Focus on the third that counts! No matter what you can’t please everyone. So stay real and please yourself. It’s your life. What people think about you is not your business. At the end of it all, you only have to answer to yourself. Others judge you way less than you think.

3. “I’m not ready for the next step.” – Success, however you define it, brings responsibility. Becoming a parent, a manager, a business owner—whatever your next step is—will require hard work, self-belief, and strength. Our reservations can be a good thing as they prove to us that we care enough to want to feel prepared for the next step in our lives. But the truth is nothing can truly prepare you for many of life’s experiences until they actually arrive (just ask any parent or entrepreneur!).

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Almost no one feels ready for something new (recall your first kiss, moving out of your childhood home, starting your first job). But we still do it. We feel the discomfort and move forward anyway. And as a result, we become ready. New challenges reveal to us our capacity for growth.

The Bottom Line – In moments of real worry, remember a time in your life when something went horribly wrong. Maybe you were fired, dumped, or harshly criticized. What happened? You probably made it through OK in the end. So let your past experiences inform your current fears. You are stronger than you think. Worry prevents nothing at all—it just robs today of its joy. Use your imagination wisely. Your self-talk and mindset is what deserves your attention.. When you next confront a worry, don’t wonder “what’s the worst that can happen”. Instead ask yourself: “What is the best that could happen?” And be prepared for it to come true.


Dietary fat has gotten a bad rap in recent decades, but the right fats are essential to a healthy diet and can even help support weight-loss efforts, which make this a nutrition myth to ditch.

Health experts recommend including adequate “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) such as canola oil, olive oil, fatty fish and soybean oil in any healthy meal plan, while also limiting “bad fats” (trans and saturated) such as margarine, commercially baked goods, meats and full-fat dairy. A little goes a long way with this high-calorie nutrient, but the benefits speak for themselves. Adequate fat intake in a healthy diet is associated with:

  • Vitamin absorption: The proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K depends on adequate dietary fat.
  • Appetite control: The most effective strategy for managing appetite is to incorporate moderate amounts of fat into balanced meals and snacks as part of a sensible eating plan.
  • Healthy mood: The brain relies on fats to produce feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of fats and feel-good chemicals can result in depressed moods, fogginess and the inability to concentrate.


We’ve all been told to drink milk for strong bones. While it’s true that milk, cheese and other dairy products are rich in bone-building calcium, they are far from being the only sources of this essential mineral, making this a nutrition myth to leave behind.

The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily dietary allowance of 1,000 milligrams of calcium for adults between the ages of 19 and 50, and 1,200 milligrams for women over 50. The best way to meet these recommendations is with a variety of calcium-rich foods including:

  • Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines
  • Soybeans and tempeh
  • Low-fat dairy such as milk and yogurt
  • Foods that are calcium-fortified

Including several sources of calcium in your daily meal plan, avoiding excess alcohol and smoking, performing weight-bearing exercises and maintaining a healthy weight can all help support bone growth and prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.