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Hold Your Horses


Books, experts, programs… who hasn’t looked into one of these to live more healthfully? It is an investment of our precious time and energy. And often, the search leaves us unfulfilled:

  • an expert that didn’t deliver,
  • a diet that wasn’t practical or
  • a book touting complicated solutions.

Before you get too frustrated: hold your horses.

I’d argue that every effort in the right direction is a step in the right direction. Take a moment and re-examine what you did learn from those “failures.” Maybe there was a great snack idea, maybe you learned how to gauge your cardio exertion, maybe there was an insight that changed your perspective, maybe you acquired a contact that can get you to the right contact. Many of us are skilled at applying “learning process” model to our careers but often we neglect to give that same understanding to healthful living.

So, the next time you are tempted to “chalk that one up to a failure,” hold your horses and appreciate the very positive nature of your efforts. Every step counts.

Email to learn more about training with Blakely FIT.

Strength Training Exclusively for Women
Chicago, IL

The Futility of “Perfect”

ModelwithBallandChainBlakelyFIT“Perfect” is overrated. Waiting for “perfect” can keep us on the wrong trajectory or worse, (and quite literally) stationary. Delaying action until we find the perfect schedule, the perfect time, the perfect shoe, the perfect mood, the perfect class, the perfect trainer (I can help), the perfect test, the perfect equipment, the perfect clothing, the perfect gym, the perfect food or the perfect kitchen gadget will NOT serve you well in this healthy living journey. “Perfect” is a perfect tool for procrastination. And who needs more of that? “Perfect” is rare, fleeting and in the healthy living game, unnecessary.

Fifteen minutes of cardio, a park district gym, a trial class, overpriced, ready-to-eat fresh fruit, old workout clothes, canned vegetables, a walk while pushing the stroller of a fussy child, a lap around the office every hour or scheduling a new workout program during a busy time of year: none of these are perfect, but all of them are effective. Most importantly, they relentlessly trump inaction caused by waiting for “perfect.”

Consider for a moment if/or how long you have waited for perfect. Three months? A few days? A year? And if you hadn’t waited for “perfect” and improved by 1% a week with a less-than-perfect habit: How much weight could you have lost? Could you already have lowered your cholesterol? Increased your bone density? How much more prepared for your vacation would you be? How differently would you feel about this upcoming summer?

Furthermore, “perfect” ignores process. And process is at the heart of healthy living. Perfect implies a fixed destination, an arrival, an end. Process is an evolution promoting growth, improvement and adjusting. Listening to our bodies, understanding our mental hurdles, trying different strategies and replying with wisdom to the curve balls life throws our way are all part of living healthfully.

And for those of us who tend toward all or nothing (eh-um), remember: letting go of “perfect” still allows for high standards and ambitious goals. Awesome, enjoyable, impressive, strong and fun-filled are a few of the alternatives to striving with out “perfect.” How many Olympians took our breath away with out being “perfect?” How many of us have gained a loved one or friend through imperfect means? How many times have we been bolstered by a far from “perfect” experience?

So, my sincere thanks for your efforts toward perfection in other endeavors (surgeons and structural engineers in particular.) But in your quest to live healthfully and successfully, stop waiting for “perfect” and embrace a more rewarding path with glorious and effective, imperfect action.

Personal Strength Training for Women Exclusively in Chicago

Worried about Diabetes?

Studies have proven the significant benefits of aerobic exercise in the prevention of type 2 diabetes. The impact of muscle strengthening exercises has been unclear, until now.

A new study sheds light on the implications of strength training for women in the fight against diabetes. In short:

“Our study suggests that engagement in muscle-strengthening
and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D. Engagement in both aerobic MVPA [sic: moderate and vigorous physical activity] and muscle- strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.”

-PLOS Medicine Editor

Ladies, you can improve your odds. Incorporate resistance training into your weekly routine. This study (of 99K women over 8 years) reports benefits in as little as an hour a week. Reach out if you would like help, I’d be happy to hear from you.

Full study here: Muscle Strengthening and Type 2 Diabetes 

Diabetes is a major health concern facing the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States

  •  Overall, the risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes.

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults in the United States.

  • Diabetes is a major cause of heart disease and stroke.

Women Don’t Work as Hard


This was stated at the Illinois National Strength and Conditioning Association State Clinic this past Saturday. As an attendee, I almost jumped out of my chair to protest. Working solely with women, I had hundreds of examples of their perseverance and fortitude at my fingertips. Then, I saw the study. It was right.

Here is the research: Journal of Strength and Conditioning

In short, women will SELF SELECT a less intense load for a strength training exercise (ex. 50lb leg press instead of 80lb leg press.) This is a missed opportunity. Having the proper load for resistance training is incredibly important for obtaining all the wonderful benefits of lifting weights including but not limited to: increasing resting metabolism, improving bone density, decreasing risk of injury, increasing flexibility and adding strength.The other professionals in the room took time to speculate on why this “self select load” problem exists in women. I guessed “fear of injury,” others correctly supposed that women are driven to complete the directive. If she is asked to complete  three sets of ten, she will select a weight (ex. 5 lb dumbbell instead of 8 lb dumbbell) that will ensure that success. The unfortunate truth is that resistance training is different. It is more beneficial to lift a heavier weight (safely of course) and NOT complete the task than to complete the task with too easy of a load.I kid you not, a client the next day expressed this exact concern when I asked why she was reluctant to attempt a particularly challenging exercise. It’s amazing what you can learn when you sit still for a moment and listen.

The take away? All Blakely Fit clients will be checked and double checked regarding their load intensity. (Get ready, my beauties.) We are committed to safe and effective workouts and this knowledge is just one more tool in our belt. Email if you need help with your own workouts, I’d be delighted to learn how I can help:

I’m a Hypocrite #1

Last week, I wrote to you about the privilege of attending
Dr. Nancy Snyderman‘s presentation on women’s health. The following is what I didn’t share. Side note: Seeing as I’m certain to write more than one Friday Quickie illustrating my moments of hypocrisy, I thought I’d just dive right in and tittle this as such. Enjoy! 


Joining my husband’s work trip brought me to San Antonio. He had work commitments.  I had nothing. As a mother, business owner and household manager, “doing nothing” is glorious and rare.

Anywho, I was headed on a trip to do nothing. I was excited. My first day was 7:30am to 7:00pm of commuting. This would be a nightmare for some, but hours of alone time to read, listen to podcasts and eat food I did not prepare was again, glorious. My only responsibility was paying attention to my flights – turns out, I can do that. The second day offered more time to sit by the pool, enjoy the lazy river and small talk with other conference attendees. I actually took a Pilates class. A fitness class may not be everyone’s idea of relaxation but for me – glorious.

At this point, I have done well. I have held strong in my agenda to relax and recharge by doing nothing. My commitment to take care of myself however, takes a turn.
A few wives at the conference kept encouraging me to attend the “spouses event,” (aforementioned talk by by Dr. Nancy Snyderman.)  I was initially good about simply stating,”no thank you” but started to waiver. I rationalized, “Well, it is a great opportunity to hear a speaker that I normally would not have a chance to hear.” “I might gain some insight relating to the needs of my growing clients.” “The plane ride later today will be relaxing.” Blah, blah, blah.
So, I put on make up, dressed in non-pool attire and made pleasant small talk at a fancy breakfast until our speaker’s presentation. I mentioned last week that I attended the talk. I didn’t mention that I almost got up and left. Miles from home with no responsibilities and 90 degree, sunny weather, I guilted myself into getting back on the train – learning, working, doing what it seemed I “should” be doing – attending the talk. Instead of what I had agreed to do – NOTHING. So, you can imagine the irony when Dr. Snyderman’s key piece of advice was to reduce our stress levels and take breaks. I quietly shook my head and thought, “I should be at the pool.”
I constantly encourage clients to put themselves on their “to do” list, to make time for breaks and relaxation. And to hold firm to those commitments. Hence, the hypocrisy.
Pat and Michelle by the PoolThe good news is – I’m a quick study. Fixing my falter was easy. Instead of sightseeing down town after the talk (I’ll catch ya next time, San Antonio), I insisted on laying by the pool until my flight. It was wonderful! Best decision I’ve made in weeks.
I hope that next time you are wavering about taking some time for yourself you commit to being your own advocate, you grab your towel and sunblock and head to the metaphorical pool. Taking care of ourselves by taking a break is so important!
We can’t always head to the pool. What do you do to recharge your batteries? Let’s share our good ideas: post your favorite “recharge” on our blog or facebook page.

Secret to Success

Being healthier will present challenges. It may force you to think about and analyze experiences and decisions easier ignored. You must tackle the tough stuff in order to be successful. It is simple, but not easy:

“Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.”

360 Degree Leader by John C. Maxwell

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

I will never forget standing in front of my boss’s office looking at his year long program design calendar for his athletes. I had never seen anything like it. The idea of planning that far in advance, of working backwards from a time sensitive goal to arrive successful and prepared was foreign. Suspicious at first, It did not take long to become a believer. I have seen it time and again, having a plan is so important for success and failing to plan often leads to failure.

Below are a few questions to ponder as you look to craft a sticky and effective promise for 2013:

Recall successful past achievements. Did you have a plan?

Do you wish you were a better planner?

Do you get lost in details and lose the big picture goal?

What do you want for 2013? 2014? 2015?

What is a realistic goal achievement date?

What measurable steps can you take to arrive there?

What time constraints or commitments will you need to navigate/trouble shoot?

What is your half way mark?

How will you measure success?

Who will help you?

You can have a healthy and successful 2013. Reach out anytime. I’d be delighted to learn about your needs and wants and create and implement your plan for success.