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 December 2016

CLASS INFO:  Free Qigong Intro Class – Thursday, December 8 from 4pm – 4:45pm. Taught by Regina Wolgel.  No charge

Basic Full-Body Tune-Up – 6- weeks, starts Wednesday, December 7, 3pm-4pm. Taught by Linda Meyer. Cost for the 6-weeks is $100.


Has anyone told you to “warm up” before you exercise or play sports? It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? What’s easy to do is also easy not to do, and the biggest mistake people make is skipping this important component of exercise. Here’s what you need to know to warm up properly (and why it’s so important) so you can be more effective with your physical activities.

WHY Most people sit for long periods of time or lie in bed before they exercise. Warming up helps you shift gears both mentally and physically. When You Warm Up…

  • The brain shifts its attention to physical activity mode.
  • Joints move through their full ranges of motion.
  • Your heart rate increases gradually instead of abruptly.
  • Blood circulates through your system.
  • The muscles practice movements to come.
  • The likelihood of injury decreases.

HOW When it comes to exercise, there are three main activities that all require different types of warm up:

  • Resistance training
  • Sports
  • Cardiovascular exercise

It’s not that there’s a right way and a wrong way to warm up, but there are better and more effective methods you can apply. Your time is valuable, so why not get the maximum benefit? To be most effective, warm-up movements should change based on the activity you’re about to do.   Warm up for one to three minutes before activity and perform each warm-up move five to 10 times. Choose from the ideas below and pay attention to the common mistakes mentioned.

RESISTANCE TRAINING– Common mistake: static stretching. This means holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and sometimes forcing a limb into a position. Save static stretching for after your workout because it signals your muscles to relax instead of activate.

Instead: Use dynamic stretches. This means moving your joints with no resistance through their full ranges of motion rather than holding a position steady (static). You use your muscles to move. Arm circles and ankle rolls are examples of dynamic stretches.

Upper Body – Do shoulder rolls, arm circles and torso rotations. Or simply go through the motion you’re about to do without the resistance (weight). Reach forward before push-ups and pull back to open your chest before rows. Don’t force it. Make your muscles do the movement. Your body has a chance to sort out the kinks and signal problems or pain before you add resistance and challenge.

Middle Body (Abs) –Inhale and exhale deeply and completely three to four times to exercise your diaphragm and activate your transverse abdominis. Kegels, which are performed by squeezing the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine, are also a good preparation for abdominal exercise.

Lower Body – Do ankle rolls and hip circles to warm up the lower body. As with upper body, go through the motion you’re about to do before adding resistance. If it’s a lunge, swing your leg up, knee to chest and then extend back behind you a few times. Be slow and controlled.

SPORTS – Common mistake: ballistic stretching. This means using a bouncing movement such as hopping or jumping jacks to warm up. It can be a good secondary warm-up, but is abrupt to your body as the first move. Ballistic stretching is better done after dynamic stretches.

Instead: Mimic the movements of the sport. For rotational sports such as softball, tennis and golf, rotate the torso without weight to warm up. For basketball, you can do hopping after you warm up with movements such as ankle rolls, high knee marches and lunges.

Think about the movements and demands of the sport you play and mimic them before you begin. Once you start playing the sport, the mind gets focused on performance and puts movement on autopilot. Focusing on the movements and muscles before you play gives your joints a preview of what is to come and creates motor patterns or muscle memory that is useful for your brain.

CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE – Common Mistake: Not warming up and jumping right into the activity. Most people view cardio itself as a warm-up. Before you start throwing your body weight around, repeat the same process discussed above: Use dynamic stretching to signal the system of what is to come.

Before you bike ride, run, swim, use the elliptical, etc., it’s best to start slow and ease into the activity. Bring your heart rate up steadily instead of abruptly. Depending on the activity, warm up your ankles, shoulders, wrists and spine with simple movements.

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.

Exercise Readiness

One of the most frustrating situations for a personal trainer is meeting a new client whose body is not physically ready to do challenging exercise, but he/she wants to lift heavy weights and do high intensity cardio training.

 In my opinion, physical readiness means the following:

1.  The client knows how to breathe using his/her diaphragm.  Improper breathing means the diaphragm (which is an inner core muscle) is not working optimally, and therefore, the other inner core muscles, transversus abdominus, multifidi, and pelvic floor muscles will not work optimally either.  These muscles must be activated to provide spinal stability and maintain a neutral lumbar spine, which is necessary for almost all exercise movements.

2.  The client has no major muscular imbalances or asymmetries while walking, squatting or standing on one leg.  While no one is perfectly symmetrical, significant asymmetries are usually indicative of overuse of stronger (sometimes tighter) muscles, and inhibition of weaker (sometimes over-stretched) muscles.  If better balance is not achieved before heavy resistance or high intensity exercise, the imbalances will be exacerbated and become worse; therefore, setting the stage for injury.

3.  The client has good (not perfect) postural alignment.  Once again, perfection is impossible (and should not be the goal); however, most postural misalignment can be improved to some extent, and focusing on postural improvement should be an early goal. Poor posture is usually a result of muscular imbalances caused by activities of daily living: therefore, a review of daily activities and focusing on ways to improve movement through modifications (i.e. limiting amount of time sitting at a computer) is a necessary step toward improving exercise readiness.

Corrective exercises, which are specifically designed to help the client attain these basic exercise readiness factors, are the best way to begin an exercise program.  Patience on the part of both the trainer and client need to be part of the first training sessions.  Many of these exercises can be simplistic and unexciting, but the longer term benefits are immeasurable.

Once all the basics are achieved, more challenging exercises can be done safely and more effectively for better results without the risk of injury.