• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 21 other followers

Sleep it Off, Literally!

Have heard how stress and lack of sleep makes you fat?

Let’s face it, it’s common for people to be running from appointment to appointment, deadline to deadline or kids event to kids event always feeling behind on everything.  Whatever happened to the days where you actually got home at around 5:30, had dinner and sat on the front porch talking with your neighbors?

Most of the stress we all experience is self-imposed because we are trying to achieve something we believe will bring us happiness

It reminds me so much of the classic film “Citizen Kane”…for those old enough who have actually seen this.  If you remember the story, it was about a young boy whose mother came into some money and sent him away to the best schools.  He grew up to be one of the wealthiest, influential men on the planet.  He had everything that money could buy.  But he also had two failed marriages, no solid friendships, and lots of enemies.  On his deathbed, he whispers one word “RoseBud”, the name of his sled he used to play with when he lived with his mom.  The camera fades away with a clip of his estate and all his possessions being burned.  In that instant the message is clear; he spent his entire life trying to make money to collect the things that all burned in the end.  And the only happy memory he has when he dies is not of the money or the things or his business or his multi-million dollar estate.  It is that of him playing in the snow when he was a young child – when life was simpler.

We can take the message to heart and ask ourselves, do we have our priorities in order?  Are we doing the things in our life we want to be doing?  Why do we let the little things get to us?

Successful stress management happens first by taking a different perspective on our life and adjusting our attitudes and actions accordingly.

There has been quite a bit of research recently measuring stress hormones and how they affect our fat cells and fat metabolism and as boot campers, you have heard the other coaches and I talk extensively on this, remember?

A prominent researcher, Dr. Pamela Peeke, has been a leading the charge in this area and she has found that our body interprets any kind of stress in our live as physical stress and immediately responds using the “Fight or Flight” response. Unfortunately, most of the stress in our lives is not physical stress but rather, work, kids, financial etc – more of the emotional or mental type of stress. But nonetheless, as our stress increases, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released into the blood stream.

Cortisol has two negative effects in terms of fat loss.

  • It causes the body to crave more fat and sugar…sorry but true!
  • It causes the body to uptake more fat into the fat cells in order to store energy.
    • Both act as a defense mechanism to provide the body with energy to fight off the stress. Unfortunately, since we’re not really undergoing physical stress instead, we just get fatter.  Plus high levels of stress have been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.  The message is clear.  If you want to obtain optimal health, you need to manage your stress. Take baths, get massages, practice retail therapy, write in a journal, read, pray, practice deep breathing, participate in Tai Chi, Yoga or meditation classes.

Do whatever it takes to either interpret your stress differently or take care of yourself so that stress doesn’t tear you down.

In addition, more and more literature is touting the importance of sleep in terms of optimal health and fat loss.  We now understand that….

….when the body doesn’t get the 7-8 hours of sleep every night that it needs to rejuvenate/repair/heal, it finds ways to compensate for the lower levels of serotonin or dopamine caused by lack of sleep.  It does this by increasing appetite and craving foods with sugar and fats that instantly give you the immediate release of serotonin and dopamine. 

It also causes you to store more fat as a defense mechanism to provide you the energy to help manage the longer days.  So get to bed early and get some good R & R!  Plus if you’re in bed at a decent hour, you’ll be less likely to be munching!

So all you boot campers who roll your eyes when we talk about getting your sleep, stop it and just arrange YOUR schedule so YOU get the sleep YOU need.

I hope this has been a good reminder to you our clients, friends and family about the REAL priorities in your life and what really matters. Only YOU can change your life!

Yours in health,

Coach Catherine

Camping Workout? Yep, Even When You Are Camping! No Excuses!

It’s the season to camp but it doesn’t have to be the season to slack off on your workouts! C’mon now, you have lots of summer left. Many people decide to take a 1 to 2-month sabbaticals during the summer because they can’t seem to find the time to get to a gym or to boot camp but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can give your body an amazing full body workout with no equipment whatsoever. There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do to target all muscle groups. So, as we tell our clients and other campers, no excuses gang! Here are some ideas to help you stay on track; many of which Coach Mike and I do when we travel…


If you want to maintain your aerobic fitness and keep on burning calories to prevent weight gain during your travels, use the outdoors as your playground.  A hike, run, power walk, cycle, or swim can be done pretty much anywhere.  Get up early and take the time for yourself before your kids, friends and family start demanding your energy. You’ll feel so much better for it. And remember, it doesn’t have to be an all-out time consuming workout. 10-20 minutes may be all you need.  Every little bit counts and something is better than nothing. Take time to enjoy the scenery, listen to the sounds and smell the beautiful fragrances of the outdoors.


The exercise choices are limitless. Lunges, step ups, pushups, tricep dips on park benches and wall squats/sits are favorite exercises while away from the gym or boot camp because they are so efficient, effective and don’t require any equipment. They target all your lower body muscles and train your balance as well. If you can purchase an exercise tube with handles at your local fitness department store, your choices are so much greater.  You can wrap a tube around a pole, tree, fence or deck and perform back rows and pull-downs and tricep kick-backs like we do at boot camp. You can also sit and wrap the tube under a chair and perform overhead shoulder presses. You can stand on the tube and perform bicep curls and side shoulder raises. Your options are numerous and a tube isn’t going to take up too much space or weight in your luggage.  Your abdominal work, of course, can be done anywhere using planks, v-sits, crunches etc.


Stretching, a component that should not be neglected while away; can be done anywhere. There’s nothing better than stretching or performing some simple yoga exercises (think downward dog and child’s pose) by the lake or river. What a great way to finish a workout and start or finish the day.

Yours in health & fitness,

Coach Catherine

How to Best Recover After a Race

The boot camp “Extra-Fitness Challenge” has inspired a lot of campers who typically do not do “races” to lace up there sneaks and get out there to burn calories, to have fun doing something different than boot camp on the weekend and to enjoy time with fellow campers. Because there are so many races going on throughout the summer in Milwaukee, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to discuss how to recover quickly after a challenging physical endeavor!


The best way to treat extreme muscle soreness is to prevent it in the first place. So if you are super stiff, you may not have put in enough training to manage the effort effectively. Next event, consult with a running coach to assure your training protocol sufficiently prepares you for the race, or check out a proper training schedule online, there are tons of options.

Cold treatment, elevation and anti-inflammatories

We experience stiffness due to the body’s inflammation response. If you’ve done a little too much, your body will send blood flow and nutrients to the affected area to help heal the tissues.  The problem is typically the body overcompensates and you get too much fluid in the area causing pressure and pain. So whatever you can do to decrease the inflammation response will help with the amount of associated painIce or cold treatment will constrict the blood vessels slowing down blood flow to the area and therefore decreasing the inflammation response. Some athletes will sit in an ice bath or cold river, or hose down their affected muscles with cold water or just use ice packs. Elevating the affected areas will also decrease the blood flow and the inflammation response. While others will use ibuprofen or Aleve or a topical anti-inflammatory like Traumeel or Arnica; don’t overdo it though! We still want to assure adequate blood flow to aid the healing process.

Move that body

The last thing you want to do when you are really sore is workout. But if you sit around, you actually get stiffer.  So it’s better to get moving and help flush some of those fluids out of the tissues. Just make it easy like a gentle walk or bike ride and that should do the trick!


Book an appointment with a therapist that can do some reflexology, acupressure or cupping techniques to help release some of the tissues. I’m a firm believer in the importance of body-work such as massage as well as daily foam rolling if you are extremely active. It’s the support your body needs to be able to continue doing what you want for years and years! And don’t forget, Elements in Whitefish Bay offers our boot campers a nice discount for massage and/or massage with stretch.

Proper nutrition & hydration

Be sure to drink lots of water, eat tons of fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources to adequately fuel the healing process!

Congratulations on your accomplishment! Crossing the finish line definitely changes you!

Yours in health & fitness,

Coach Catherine

Pump Up Your Willpower!!

Hey campers, ever wonder where willpower goes after the sun goes

down? Our morning “iron will” seems to deteriorate by evening, and we

start feeling defenseless against temptation right? You know what I

mean— that donut you didn’t think twice about at 9:00 a.m. tries to seduce

you at 9:00 p.m. Why does this happen?

I used to think that sticking to a fitness/figure regimen was just a matter of

wanting it badly enough, especially as a competitor. Yes, a strong desire

will help push you through tough workouts and restrain you from the

peanut butter jar (most days), but it isn’t always enough.

Most researchers agree that willpower is like a muscle. It can get depleted

from over work and can be strengthened with practice. One theory is that

willpower is depleted when one is forced to use it all day long. For

example, having to dodge donuts & cookies all day at work may lead you

to finally give in at the end of the day. Think about it like performing an

exercise until failure.

Another theory is that willpower is depleted from mental fatigue. If you are

making lots of decisions all day, you become mentally exhausted, making

it difficult to continue to make good choices.

Either way, knowing that willpower can be variable and exhausted on any

given day, there are a few things that I do and that you can do to


Eat protein frequently. Research by social psychologist, Roy F.

Baumeister, concluded that willpower wanes when one’s blood glucose

levels are low. This leads to a contradiction for dieters: you need willpower

to restrain calories (i.e., diet), but you need to eat to have willpower. This is

yet another reason why having small meals containing protein (rather than

fasting) is one of the best long-term weight-loss goals and weight

maintenance strategies. My favorites are protein powder and egg whites;

they are quick and easy.

Set it & forget it. Considering that resisting temptation and making

decisions may deplete your daily willpower, have a specific plan that you

follow without question. This will minimize the opportunity to act


Make it fun. Researchers have found that when a goal is perceived as fun,

it’s much easier to consistently exercise willpower. Frame your goal as a

happy, amazing accomplishment and think of the path as an exciting, fun

challenge. Don’t allow yourself to focus on the pain and obstacles, as this

will deplete your willpower. Also, try infusing fun into your diet and boot

camp by inviting friends to boot camp with you, incorporating new

challenges into your program and making small tweaks to your diet (i.e.

switching up your salad toppers) to keep it interesting.

Stop looking for trouble. After you’re done eating, leave the kitchen. If it’s

not mealtime, stay out of the kitchen. If you poke around looking for that

one little thing to satisfy you, you’re just looking for trouble, as your

willpower may not hold up.

Refuel with rest and recreation. Mental fatigue drains your willpower, so

make sure you are giving yourself sufficient rest and relaxation every day.

This means 7-9 hours of sleep per night and short breaks throughout the

day to refuel your mind and body. From experience, keeping a consistent

frantic pace will catch up to you.

Watch your words. Believing you have willpower will help you manifest

more willpower. Creating this belief begins with our thoughts and is

reinforced by action. Repeating seemingly innocent comments like, “My

weakness is candy” or “I just can’t resist cookies” reinforces and keeps us

repeating bad habits. Instead, strengthen your willpower by saying

statements like: “I make decisions that align with my exciting goals.” This is

a great item to add to your goal sheets!

Push Toward Your Best
: As you continue to flex your willpower,

especially during those times when you feel like you have none, you are

strengthening your resolve and forming habits. Habits make sticking to a

fitness program feel like a necessary and natural part of your daily routine

like brushing your teeth. Once your goals become a series of habits, you’ll

free up your willpower for use in the pursuit of new and exciting goals.

Keep pushing— your best is waiting.

You can do it!

Coach C

How to be Efficient & Effective!

How to be Efficient & Effective!


The number one reason people don’t exercise is because they say (complain) they’re too busy. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day to get everything done as people are juggling work, kids, social, personal tasks and more. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we specialize at boot camp in helping really busy people commit to their health and fitness so they can look and feel their best.  So here are some quick and easy tips to help maximize your time while working out so you can get more done in less time!

Move Your Body:

Focus on increasing your overall activity more throughout the day.  If we all just took the stairs more than the elevator, parked further from our destination and walked to do errands, we wouldn’t have to spend hours in the gym!

Avoid Distractions:

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen gym-goers zoning out while watching TV or reading a magazine. It is one of the reasons we do not go to the gym much any more…J  If you want to maximize your workouts, put away the books, magazines and distractions while working out so you can focus on what you’re doing and get in and out of the gym more quickly. Oh and good point, no magazine reading at boot camp!

Go for Intensity: 

When you don’t have a ton of time, replace long duration and easy intensity cardio with short and hard interval training.  You can accomplish the same workload in a shorter period of time, PUSH HARDER!

Use Your Whole Body: 

When you’re strapped for time, start combining muscle-conditioning movements.  For example, instead of doing one set of squats and then one set of overhead shoulder presses, try doing a squat with an overhead shoulder press.  Or instead of a separate set of lunges and bicep curls, do them at the same time.  You’ll save a ton of time.

Less Rest: 

Sequence your exercises so you don’t need any rest periods.  So for example, instead of doing 3 sets of DB chest press with a minute rest in between, try doing your core training in between your press sets.  Or perform lower body and upper body exercises back to back with no rest in between.

Fewer Reps:

Instead of doing high-endurance muscle conditioning, which takes longer, increase your weight load and keep your repetitions between 8 and 12. GO HEAVIER!

Have a Plan:

One of the biggest time-wasters is not really knowing exactly what you’re going to do so you find yourself just wandering through the gym seeing which equipment is available.  If you want to be efficient and effective, know exactly what you’re going to do and stay focused.  That’s why personal training ( or boot camp coach) is so popular – you don’t have to worry about anything.  Just show up and the workouts are ready to go. J

Manage Your Chit-Chat: 

It’s good to have friends to workout with because it helps with adherence.  But if you notice half of your time is spent gossiping, you’ll get a lot more done in a shorter period of time if you keep the conversations short.


Early Morning Workouts:

Really busy people have a much better time adhering to a workout program if they do it first thing in the morning – before other responsibilities get in the way!

Quality Time With Others

Schedule workouts and active adventures with friends and family so you can get in your workout while spending quality time with your loved ones – it’s positive multi-tasking!

Unfortunately being too busy is never an excuse that holds any weight with us boot camp coaches!

In fact, exercise will actually give you more energy so you can be more productive. 

Instead of exercise taking up too much time, it will actually give you more time and energy.  And we could all use a little of both!

Yours in health & fitness,

Coach Catherine

Are You Still Struggling to Lose Body Fat and Keep it Off?

Are You Still Struggling to Lose Body

Fat and Keep it Off?

We always have campers that come to us and say that they have

been struggling to lose weight and keep it off for a long, long time. It doesn’t

have to be that way! Here is what I suggest and it really does work!

A common scenario: I want to lose 20 pounds but have not been able to lose

more than 8 pounds and am struggling because the weight is starting to creep

back on! I exercise 5-6 days per week walking on the treadmill. I was advised to

walk at a lower intensity for a longer time – is that good for weight loss? I try and

life some weights one to two times a week for 20 minutes. I try to eat

approximately 1200 calories but often sugar is my downfall. Any suggestions on

what I can do lose the 20 pounds and keep it off?  Please help!

As a Personal Trainer and Boot Camp coach, the number one request I get from

clients is to help them lose fat. It’s interesting to note that the general public is

more health-conscious and the availability of healthy products has increased

dramatically and yet, our population continues to get fatter. So why do we

continue to gain weight? Consider the amount of calories we no longer expend

everyday because of labor-saving devices like escalators, elevators, remote

controls, computers, and urban transportation. We also live in a society where

food is in abundance. Portion sizes tend to be huge and processed foods fill our

cupboards and fridges. Expending less energy, consuming more food and a

society where exercisers are a minority results in a society that is getting fatter!

So what can you do about it? You’ve got 4 choices: diet, exercise, both or

liposuction. The first option will definitely result in failure. Ninety-eight percent

of people who go on restrictive diets gain the weight back. It appears that losing

the weight in the first place, is not the hard part. In fact, people successfully lose

weight all the time. It’s keeping the weight off that’s the hard part. The problem is

that when you diet using excessively low calories you lose valuable, energy-

burning muscle tissue, which drops your metabolism making it easier to put the

weight back on. And secondly diets are, by nature, a short-term phenomenon.

You often feel deprived during the diet-stage and thus, once you’ve lost the

desired weight you return to old habits and patterns and the weight is quickly


The second option to lose fat is exercise. This is a good choice but

unfortunately, for many people, exercise by itself can be a painfully, slow

process. When people are looking for immediate results, they often don’t have

the patience to wait!

The third option is to exercise and eat healthy simultaneously. Research has

found this method to be most successful at reducing body fat and, most

importantly, helping to keep it off.

The final option, surgery/liposuction, is a costly choice. Furthermore, if the diet

and exercise habits of the individual are not altered, the individual will eventually

get fat again. For example, with liposuction, even though they may have less fat

cells; the fat cells they still have can get bigger!

Boot Camp training is a program that incorporates exercise and healthy

eating that will ensure you reduce your body fat safely, effectively and


Aerobic Exercise:

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends aerobic exercise 5-7

days/week for 20-60 minutes each session to maximize fat loss.  Aerobic

activities include exercise like walking, running, cycling, swimming, fitness

classes, hiking, cross-country skiing, stair-climbing, rowing and any activity you

can do for an extended period of time. So…is low intensity exercise for a longer

duration is better for fat loss? If you’re a beginner, this is a good starting point

because if you try to go too hard, you will fatigue too quickly and won’t expend

enough energy. But as your fitness level improves, I recommend varying your

intensity and duration for maximum fat loss results.  For example, one to two

days per week go long and easy (45 plus minutes about 50-60% of your

maximum heart rate), one to two days per week go for a medium duration and

intensity (30-45 minutes at 60-75% of your maximum heart rate) and one to two

days per week go short and hard (20 minutes at 75-85% of your maximum heart

rate).  To fine-tune your program, you need to vary your intensity and duration as

noted above and incorporate a different activity to compliment a walking

program.  Remember this; if you always do the same activity, duration and pace,

your body gets used to this program quickly.  You’ve got to mix it up to maximize


Resistance Exercise:

Regular strength training workouts are also critical to maximize fat loss. Muscle is

an energy-burning tissue and therefore, if you have more of it, your metabolism

revs at a higher rate making it easier to burn fat both during and after

exercise. You’re currently spending 20 minutes twice per week on muscle

conditioning. I would like to see you gradually increase the duration up to about

40-60 minutes twice per week. This should produce some great results.

Eat 5 small meals and snacks each day:

Studies indicate that when people eat more regularly throughout the day, they

are less likely to overeat or indulge in less-healthy choices. Food at regular

intervals also maintains a more balanced blood sugar level, which keeps your

energy levels higher throughout the day. Try to consume smaller meals or

snacks every 2-3 hours during the day. So I encourage you to start planning out

your meals and your day better.

Drink a gallon of water every day: JUST DO IT!

Our body is 50-60% water and when we are dehydrated, our body and it’s organs

and systems don’t function at their optimal level. This limits your ability to

exercise intensely and ultimately, will affect your ability to burn body fat. Many

scientists also suggest that headaches, minor aches and pains, low energy,

sleeping problems and injuries may be a result of dehydration!  Drinking a gallon

of water each day will replenish the fluids you lose throughout the day as a result

of normal human respiration.

Focus on what you should be eating instead of what you shouldn’t be


Ensure you consume 5-9 servings of vegetable and 2-3 fruit servings every day.

Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and water-content and low in fat and

calories.  It’s much more difficult to overeat when your diet consists largely of

fruits and vegetables.  If you fill up on your fruits and veggies, you’re going to

have less room for the high-fat, nutrient-poor foods.

Practice the 80:20 rule:

You can’t expect to be perfect for the rest of your life and setting these types of

high expectations will definitely set you up for failure and feelings of

inadequacy. Instead of saying, I’m never going to eat chocolate again, decide

that you’ll eat it only once per week. Instead of determining that you’re going to

eat perfectly 7 days a week, decide that you’ll eat really healthy 5 days a week

and then 2 days, you’ll allow for a few indulgences. This is much more realistic

and is something that you can adhere to for the rest of your life. We have to stop

thinking “All or Nothing”.  This just leads to failure and then the resultant binges.

Remember that if you want to be 20 pounds lighter 10 years from now, then it’s

not what you do over the next 6 weeks, but rather what you do for the next 10

years!  So ask yourself, what type of a nutrition plan can you follow forever!

Limit your alcohol intake:

Alcohol poses a number of problems. It is high in calories and lacking nutrient

value. In addition, and probably most importantly, alcohol reduces your

inhibitions. You may be more inclined to indulge or make poor choices because

you aren’t able to think clearly or examine the long-term consequences.  Of

course, many can’t commit to never drink again, but instead of drinking every

night with dinner, limit it to once or twice per week.

Increase your daily activity:

Try to think of ways that you can be more active throughout your day without

having to actually exercise. The calories expended from walking a few extra

blocks, taking the stairs, or performing errands in an active fashion really add up!

If we could learn to just be more active throughout the day, we wouldn’t have to

spend hours in the gym!

Try not to eat large amounts of food past 8:00pm:

Eating a lot late at night often goes hand-in-hand with high-fat snacks and

overeating. Try to eat the majority of your calories earlier in the day. PLUS NOT

eating about 60-90 minutes prior to bed allows Growth Hormone levels to

increase while you sleep…can you say FAT BURNING and MUSCLE


Keep an activity and food log:

Record your daily exercise and what and how much you eat. Some researchers

have found that just the act of recording the foods you eat, result in better

choices and a healthier diet.  Also by writing everything out, you may also start to

notice patterns. For example, you may observe that the days you don’t exercise

are also the days you eat poorly. You can then take appropriate action.

My last final words of wisdom are to be patient, persistent and consistent!

Know that every positive action you take will ultimately make you a fat

burning machine! You got this campers!

Yours in Health,

Coach Catherine




Mother’s Day is approaching quickly!  Although flowers are a wonderful gesture, how about stepping outside of tradition and going with something that really shows how much you love your special lady!

Here are some great suggestion of gifts for a healthy mom…

So whether it’s your mom, wife, daughter, sister, grandma or BFF, celebrate the beauty of who she is by offering the gift of health, energy and vitality. Better yet, if you choose gifts that are experiences you can share together, you can both get fit while spending quality time together! Plus, most studies report that working out together is more fun and will help each of you stick to the program – it’s harder to cop out when you know someone is counting on you.

Boot Camp Membership:

Anyone would benefit from and appreciate a little expert guidance towards their fitness ambitions.  It’s a terrific way to help a loved one with their health and fitness goals. Call us at 414-416-1622 or email at bootcamp@achievepersonalfit.com if you would like us to prepare a Mother’s Day Gift Package for your loved one. We are happy to do so and have 2, 3, 4, and 5/day a week packages to fit all schedules!

Race Entry:

Register you and your special lady for an upcoming fun run, no pressure.  It will jump-start your fitness program and it’s something you can train for together! Here are some local ideas for 3K, 5K and others:

May 9th….http://www.thecolorvibe.com/milwaukee.php

May 10th…http://www.runlikeamother.com/events/milwaukee-wi/

May 16th…https://www.facebook.com/RuntheBay

May 23rd…http://www.silvercirclesportsevents.com/memorial-day-run-minooka-park

June 13thhttp://www.rocknsolerun.com/

July 10thhttp://thecolorrun.com/milwaukee?gclid=CL7UlPWnnsUCFabm7Aod5XcArg

Or check out MANY, many more local 3K, 5K and longer races through the fall 2015 at http://www.runningintheusa.com/race/ListByCityRadius.aspx?City=Milwaukee&State=WI

Fitness Program Registration:

Has she always wanted to join a running clinic, try a Yoga program, Barre or a Pilates class or learn ballroom dancing?  Maybe she’d be interested in a ski or snowboarding camp, a paddle boarding course, a kayaking or whitewater rafting trip?  Why not surprise her by picking up the cost of registration?  Better yet, enroll both of you in the program and show her how much you want to spend time with her.

Athletic Gear:

Any newbie or avid athlete is in need of new workout clothing.  But remember this – quality is important.  Most exercisers would rather have one really good piece of gear than a number of poor-quality items.  Shop at any local specialty sporting goods store (Performance Running, In Step, REI, Sport Authority, LuluLemon, and Athletica) and they will provide you with high-quality options for women.  Keep in mind that keeping warm or cool and dry is critical to performance, so this may help guide you on what she would like.  Here are a few suggestions:  running vest, wickable shirt, bra-top, skorts, tights, specialty socks, exercise glasses, water bottle, or sports watch. And don’t forget to pick up your 20% off running shoes for Performance running this May! If money’s no object, buy a large gym bag and stock it full with the above items.

Gift Certificates:

Safer than buying clothing or footwear is to give a certificate to her favorite sporting-goods store OR Boot Camp…J – that way she can choose what she needs and you won’t risk buying the wrong size, style or color. Please contact us to purchase a personalized gift certificate.

Sports Magazine Subscription:

Purchase a year’s subscription to a favorite magazine based on her interests.  Oxygen, Shape, Self, Fitness, Women’s Fitness, Women’s Health and Runner’s World and are some of the more popular options.  You’ll be happily remembered every time an issue arrives at the mailbox.

Fitness Equipment:

A workout is always much more effective with the right tools.  New and heavier dumbbells stability balls, medicine balls, exercise tubing, foam rollers and Garmin heart rate monitors are a must for the serious exerciser or maybe the new Fit bit Surge.  You could pick up most of these items at local sporting goods or department stores.

Sports and Fitness Books:

Head to your local bookstore and browse the books on her favorite sport or general books on fitness, health and nutrition. Younger Next Year (for women) is still my favorite!!!


The best thing in the world after a tough workout or 3-week boot camp is a massage so this gift will be greatly appreciated.  You can pick up a gift certificate at most local spas and most offer special holiday packages.  If you’re feeling a bit generous, consider purchasing a day-at-the-spa package for her that often includes massage, body wrap, facial, manicure, pedicure and steam bath. Trust me – she will LOVE it! Most women work their butts off trying to juggle kids and life so a whole day where she gets pampered…let’s just say this will give you HUGE points! And don’t forget, Elements Spa in Whitefish Bay gives our boot campers a NICE discount on services!

“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln

Yours in Health & Fitness,
Coach Catherine


by Coach Catherine



Well I turned 45 in December.  The good news is besides a few extra wrinkles and smile lines, a few more aches and pains and having difficulty reading small text, I feel as good as when I was in my 20s.  That can be a true testimony to the benefit of exercise! Use it to reverse the aging process!

Aging is an inevitable part of life. One can expect certain changes, such as graying hair and wrinkled skin, to accompany aging. In fact, the cosmetic industry preys off our attempts to reverse some of these changes. But many of the changes commonly attributed to the process of aging, specifically within the musculo-skeletal system (the bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and cartilage) are in fact, a result of physical inactivity or disuse.  The old adage “use it or lose it” appears to ring true.  Muscle tissue, strength, bone density, cardio-vascular fitness, energy levels and functional performance appear to be preserved through exercise. There seems to be no magic pill or drug that holds as much promise for sustained health as a lifetime program of physical exercise and good nutrition!  Many of these age-associated changes can be prevented, reduced in their severity or managed!

Follow the following tips to ensure you stay “forever young”:

Top Exercise Strategies:

  1. Strength train 2x/weekincluding 1 set of 8-12 reps of a variety of exercises, like we do in boot camp
  2. CardioVascular exercise 3-5x/weekfor 20-60 minutes with activities using variable impact like walking, stair climbing or fitness classes
  3. Perform postural training exercises– perform exercises that strengthen your core and back
  4. Perform balance training– include 1 leg exercises into your program and life
  5. Incorporate stretching, mobility and release exercisesinto your program to maintain your flexibility as you age
  6. Register for Mind-Body Relaxation programslike Tai Chai, Pilates, Yoga or Meditation
  7. Manage your stressthrough various techniques including massage, reading, vacations, and prayer.
  8. Perform pelvic floor exerciseslike Kegels
  9. Enroll in active social programs like running clinics, ballroom dancing or gardening courses – Being part of a fitness community can help exercise adherence and a promote a sense of well-being.
  • Participate in programs that provide somebrain traininglike choreography classes, hip hop, funk or take some personal growth and development courses – Your brain is like your muscles – you don’t use it, you lose it!


Top Nutrition Strategies:

  1. Eat a lot of fruits & vegetables– Make this the staple of your diet
  2. Eat a balanced diet that is rich in fiber
  3. Drink 10++ glasses of water per day, or 1 gallon
  4. Consume 5 smaller meals/snackseach day
  5. Manage salt, sugar and low quality fat intake
  6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettesand other drugs
  7. Control portion sizes


Yours in Health, Fitness & Business 
Coach Catherine

You Can Change Your Life, By Changing Your Attitude – Attitude is EVERYTHING!

As much as some of us (me included) would like to be able to control every aspect of our lives, we can’t! But what we can control is our attitude toward what does happen to us. We all experience and continue to experience “trying” times in our lives. The WHAT in these situations is less important than the HOW.

How we react and move through these particular situations will determine their effect on our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. I thought this was the perfect time to remind all campers for the power of attitude as we prepare to head outside for boot camp. If you have been fighting a less than optimal attitude this winter, now is the time to embrace the change!

Studies say that up to 40% of our happiness comes from how we choose to approach our lives. Especially during “trying” times, we focus on all of our problems. We then get in the habit of focusing our attention on all the negative things happening in our lives. What would happen instead if we switched that focus to all of the good things that happen to us each and every day? What if we took time daily or weekly to reflect on things we are grateful for in our lives? 

Increasing Happiness 

Gratitude is the forgotten factor in happiness research.

Grateful individuals

  • Report higher levels of positive emotions
  • Have greater life satisfaction
  • Experience greater vitality
  • Are more optimistic
  • Are healthier
  • Build strong relationships
  • Handle adversity better
  • Experience lower levels of depression and stress

People who have a strong disposition toward gratitude have the capacity to be empathetic and to take the perspective of others. They are also rated as more generous and more helpful. Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods, are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated, and are less envious of others.

Gratitude is Good for your Health

A study done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami showed that those individuals who practiced weekly gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. During the study, one group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week, a second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had upset them, and a third group wrote about events that had affected them in neither a positive or negative way.

The first group who wrote about what they were grateful for also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who focused on daily irritations, hinting at the power of gratitude.

Ideas for Promoting Gratitude

  • Write a thank-you note ( I love doing this!)
  • Thank someone mentally
  • Keep a gratitude journal (Yes, Oprah was right!)
  • Meditate
  • Count your blessings (everyday)

Coach Mike and I try to take a few moments each day to reflect to each other things we are grateful for and small blessings that we forget about. It is especially helpful when it just seems like nothing is going your way, or you are having a particularly bad day or stress levels start to creep up on you. Try it, it works!

Some campers keep gratitude journals. After starting a gratitude journal, people begin to look at people and things differently, seeking out the positive in each situation or interaction. They appreciate the “little things” and don’t take them for granted. A shift in mindset happens and they notice when they are not as consistent with journaling; they can easily fall back into a mindset focused on all that is lacking.

Examples entries from a gratitude journal:

  • I am so grateful for my knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle and help others do the same…
  • I am so grateful that I devoted time to my yoga practice today…
  • I am so grateful for the AMAZING weather we have been having!

A simple step and my coaching suggestion as we plan for a super season outside is to try your own Gratitude Journal listing five things that you are grateful for each day and you will start to see an incredible shift in your life to one of positivity, improved health, less stress and life satisfaction. Oh yeah, plus the added bonus of invigoration of spring and outdoor boot camps with your friends!

Have an awesome day!

Your Friend and Coach, Catherine & Michael

Four Common Obstacles to Weight Loss

Everyone who loses weight successfully overcomes a set of similar challenges. But let us be honest: successful weight loss is relatively uncommon, making many of these challenges unheard of. Consequently, when they arise, you might think you’re doing things wrong. But you’re not, and here’s why.

#1: It’s More Like Learning a Language Than Training For a Marathon

Four Things Nobody Tells You About Successful Weight Loss

If you’re overweight, chances are that you feel some guilt about it. You may feel like you’ve been lazy, gluttonous, or lacking in self-control. Not only is this untrue, many of us try to quash the guiltiness by extreme behavior and fast fixes, such as juice fasts, teatoxes and hours of cardio a day. The goal of getting fit becomes a form of self-punishment, rather than a way to improve your wellbeing.

Contrastingly, those who have successfully lost weight and kept it off (i.e. no one from The Biggest Loser) know that weight loss success looks nothing like this. Both extreme diet and exercise are recipes for failure. They know that successfully losing weight looks more like learning a language in a foreign country.

Biggest Loser: Basically Killing Fat People for Your Amusement
Most obese Americans, meaning most Americans, have given up hope of ever losing that weight unless…
Read more gawker.​com
When you’re in a different country and learning their language for the first time, the overwhelming temptation is to revert to your native tongue. Of course, you can’t do that if you want anyone to understand you. Instead, you clumsily stumble over foreign words to deliver your message.

It’s difficult at first, but over time, you get better at it. You become accustomed to pronouncing things in the correct accent, and everything becomes second nature. It may become so intuitive that you have trouble teaching the language to beginners, because you’re no longer aware of what goes on when your brain translates.

Weight loss is no different—you need to learn the language of calories and macronutrients. You’ll need to translate that skim latte into numbers, using a translator at first (in this case a calorie tracking app), then fit things into your daily nutritional targets. Not unlike continuously referring to a foreign language dictionary, it’s tedious. But if you stick with it, it becomes second nature.

Five Best Food and Nutrition Tracking Tools
Keeping track of what you eat helps you eat right and make healthier food decisions, that much is…
Read more lifehacker.​com

This is what the path to weight loss success looks like: learning fitness like you would learn any other skill. Literally running yourself into the ground by training for a marathon straight off the bat won’t help you. Nor will copying the actions of Rocky Balboa or someone already in shape. They are the subject of survival bias, and their routines probably won’t work for you.

#2: You Will Face Numerous Crushing Setbacks

Four Things Nobody Tells You About Successful Weight Loss

You’ve probably seen the image above before. It holds true for all of life’s challenges, including weight loss. In fact, even if you do everything perfectly, weight loss shouldn’t be linear at all, thanks to the way our physiology works.

But that’s a moot point, because no one does everything perfectly. Not only will you make mistakes in your journey, you’ll face crushing, psychologically-defeating blows. Perhaps you injure yourself, or experience an emotionally devastating event. Whatever you’ve been throughemotionally is then amplified worse when you step on the scale and see your progress has been erased.

For Better Fitness Success, Stop Using the Word “Mistake”
What if I told you that if you dropped just one word from your vocabulary, you would instantly…
Read more
But here’s the thing: from a fitness perspective, these blows are rarely as bad as you think. Overeating may cause you to gain weight, but it’s unlikely that’s all fat—the body retains water in mysterious ways.

Five Steps to Get Back into Your Fitness Routine
We’ve all failed to keep up our exercise routines at some point. Weeks without training,…
Read more lifehacker.​com
When this happens to you, repeat after me: “I’m okay. This is normal. I just need to keep going.” Crushing blows are a part of every single major transformation I’ve witnessed. I asked a former client of mine who lost upwards of 100 pounds, Jeremiah Bright, about his experience:

Losing weight in a healthy sustainable fashion includes pauses and setbacks. I’m part of a large extended Italian family and my weekends are filled with family events, and of course a ton of food. I’d often make a ton of progress, only to undo months of work by the end of the holidays. The same with vacations and cruises (aka floating buffets.)

Some things are in your control, some aren’t. And of the things that are, some are more than others. Injuries may be in your control, perhaps I pushed a little too hard at a deadlift when I wasn’t positioned properly or not feeling up to it and strained my back, putting me out of the gym for a few weeks. I’ve had months where the scale didn’t move… or times when I looked back at my weight half a year ago, and it was the same.

But I quickly understood this was all part of the process, kept pushing on, and am now down 140 lbs.
Every setback is not only a learning opportunity, but also a self-fulfilling prophecy: whether or not you think your progress is ruined, you are right. So stay optimistic, realize it’s not ruined, and get back on that damn horse.

#3: Other People Will Annoy the S#!t Out of You

There are some of the remarks that every single person will hear during their transformation.From unsolicited remarks on your dietary choices, to snide comments about how you’ve changed, they’re an inescapable obstacle in the weight loss rite of passage.

“Why can’t you just enjoy life? You should just be happy with who you are.”

“Why do you eat so much chicken? Should I be eating this much chicken?”

“I don’t think your body type was ‘meant’ to be skinny.”
So how do you deal with these little shi…errr…those who are “concerned” about your well being? The first step is to separate them into two buckets.

The first bucket consists of people who are genuinely curious. Sure, their comments might seemoff-the-cuff or affronting, but they probably don’t mean it. Remember: losing weight is a very personal experience, and it’s easy to be sensitive if people are questioning your choices. For example, when someone asks you about your exercise regimen, then compares it to their CrossFit WOD (because if they do CrossFit they will tell you, guaranteed), they may just be trying to build rapport through your mutual love for exercise.

Then, there are people who are genuinely trying to sabotage you. The issue with any kind of personal change is that it threatens the status quo–something that most people, consciously or otherwise, will try to fight. This is no different for weight loss.

​How Loved Ones Can Sabotage Your Fitness Efforts
It happens to everyone. You start to make progress, you feel good about the changes you’ve…
Read more
Understanding the reason above will greatly help you reframe and empathize with saboteurs. For example, let’s say your spouse says:

I don’t know why you’re doing this to yourself. It’s like you’re not happy and you want to become someone different than the person I fell in love with.
Here’s what it might really mean:

I’m worried that if you lose weight, you’ll no longer love me because I’m still overweight. I love you and don’t want you to leave me after your newfound success.
Empathy turns the once-impermeable emotional barrier into something you can work through. If that’s not enough, Greatist has an amazing list of specific ways to respond when people attempt to undermine your health.

#4: Your Journey Is Never Over

Four Things Nobody Tells You About Successful Weight Loss

The phrase “going on a diet” is a bit misleading. It implies a journey, with a defined beginning and an end. In reality, there is no end.

This insight stems from a very dark, personal experience. My first fitness “transformation”relied on pure willpower to get through. My spartan regimen was made up of perfectly timed meals consisting of chicken and broccoli, as well as an hour of cardio every morning. I did this for four months, lost 45 pounds, and placed in a bodybuilding competition. I thought I was finally finished dieting…and things began to unravel.

Like most competitors, I celebrated by a (perhaps excessive) dinner. I woke up the next day 20lbs heavier. While I knew it was water, the overwhelming sense of guilt created a vicious cycle: I would console myself with food, then feel worse, eat more and begin the cycle again. Within a mere two months, I regained all 45 pounds (and then some) and was back to my original weight.

The above is a cautionary tale, because it’s not uncommon for those who think that diets have an “end.” In fact, most people who lose weight return to their pre-diet weight within three years.

If you rely on willpower, rather than learning the “language” of fitness, sure you’ll reach an “end”—but it won’t be happy or sustainable. Everything you do should be sustainable and pass the litmus test of “Could I live like this forever?”

That’s because if you’re successful, there is no end. You’ll always have to work to incorporate fitness as a part of your new life—one where fitness is as important to you as eating, sleeping, and sex. But you won’t regret a minute of your journey, because it’s a better life.

Vitals is a new blog from Lifehacker all about health and fitness. Follow us on Twitter here.

%d bloggers like this: