Foolproof Your Workout…

Here are the four top mistakes I witness (and help correct) as women embark on a new exercise regimen. Take a glance and avoid them yourself.


1. The Extreme Dream: Some of us are attracted to the extreme. And, some of us bring that to our workouts. Embarking on an extreme workout regime at the start of your program only works in the movies. I love GI Jane as much as the next gal. To embark on a marathon, boot camp or high intensity program with out proper progression is asking for an over-stressed system and injury. The body does not respond well to drastic changes in movement, load and impact. It is a malleable, miraculous wonder but it also belongs to a very powerful union that will go on strike when pushed to far. If extreme workouts are your ultimate goal, let go until you have created a foundation of consistent, habitual, and moderately intense exercise.

2. Data Dodger: Some of us don’t like to look at the black and white of things. We feel strongly that we have a sense of our behavior and reject the suggestion to log, tally or track. Cue mistake number two. I completely empathize with the tedium of logging our behavior and have made this mistake myself. But look at it this way, if after monitoring yourself you learn you have a correct sense of your food, exercise, stress, etc., you will have the joy of confirming your self awareness. If your sense is inaccurate, you just saved yourself months of wondering why success is eluding you. Food logs, activity trackers, heart rate monitors and pen and paper tallies are essential tools to understanding where you are so that you know exactly what needs to change.

3. She Stops Short: Having goals is great. Writing them down is awesome. Stopping there is mistake number three. Goals are a start, tasks take you to the finish line. For example, “I would like to feel as healthy and fit as I did before having children” is a wonderful goal, but you must articulate the tasks that will get you there. Big picture goals don’t do much for our daily choices and that is where the real power lies. Tasks need to be specific and measurable. Here are a few strong examples:

  • walk on the treadmill at the gym every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday after personal training for 20 minutes in a heart rate range of 22 to 28 beats per ten second count
  • find one, new, non-food related stress reliever every week for the next two months
  • schedule and enjoy one hour per weekend to do something for myself
  • complete three sets of ten pushups, squats, rows and RDLs twice per week

4. Goals Glutton: Taking on too many changes at once is a quick way to derail your program (and become very frustrated very quickly.) Do me a favor, fold your hands like this:   FoldedhandsBlakelyFITNow, fold them with the fingers laced the other way. Change is hard. Too many changes at once is futile. I have no interest in holding you back, quite the contrary. You can succeed at every single one of your goals, however long the list, just not all at once. Prioritize goals and habits by meaning and importance, then chip away at them one at a time.

Good luck! You can do this! Email to gain even more of my help:

Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL

The Truth Will Set You Free…

Michelle Blakely Headshot

How do you mislead yourself?  How do you think, talk or behave in untruthful ways regarding your health habits?

Maybe you don’t complete cardio for the full 30 minutes, maybe you don’t eat the same way in front of others as you do alone, maybe you ignore what your body is telling you when an injury recurs because it’s better to be tough than care for the problem, maybe you have a gym membership with automated withdrawals that you haven’t used in over 6 months, maybe you are a size 14 but hold onto your size 8 clothing, maybe you say negative things to yourself about your body when the truth is your body does an incredibly effective job and generally looks quite nice.

Did something immediately pop into your head? When we strive to be healthier, slimmer, or more athletic we only stand in our way when we avoid the present truth. The fact is – if you don’t REALLY know where you are you can’t get where want to be.

This is not a guilt ridden suggestion. Having been privy to hundreds of individuals’ stories and struggles with weight loss, food and fitness programs, I want to help you see your habits clearly. When you truly see where you are you will know HOW to get where you’d like to be. Clearly seeing where we omit, exaggerate or (most popular) ignore healthy or unhealthy habits is an incredibly liberating experience. You will find room to celebrate how well you are doing in some areas and a clear perspective on the habits that are standing directly in your way.

How does one get honest about the big healthy habits?

Hire an expert or write it down. I inadvertently did both – and even as a fitness professional for almost ten years with plenty of great healthy habits – I had a moment that wasn’t pretty. About a year ago, while seeing a chiropractor, I was asked to keep a food log. No problem I thought, I have clients do this all the time – had the form already in my files and was almost proud to share my diet. In the prior two years, although good to begin with, I had revamped our household’s cooking and eating patterns. We had fruits and veggies coming out our ears, variety on the plate, seasonal foods incorporated, lean meats and fiber gracing every dinner and occasional indulgences to keep the balance. So, I was shocked and a bit more than embarrassed to see that in one day I had consumed four cans of Orange Fanta. Yes, FOUR. I might as well have been injecting high fructose corn syrup and Yellow Number Three. I’m not oblivious. I know the importance of diet much more than most but, even an as an expert in the field, I had slowly developed a bad habit.

How do you develop a bad habit?

Take a look at the first habit that popped into your head. Usually, rationalizing and no self monitor facilitate untruthfulness. In terms of my experience, when I quietly noticed that the pop seemed to be


gone rather quickly, I thought: “someone else must be drinking it too” (nope – hubby, babysitter and toddler are not to blame) or “it was OK because I had such an active job” (ignores the detrimental effect on my teeth, bones or organs), or “it wasn’t really that much because I have no other vices or indulgences” (that’s akin to: “I don’t have to change the oil in the car because I always rotate the tires.”) I share this with you to remind you that it happens to all of us and to offer my support and encouragement.

What you can do

I invite you to take a look at your habits – see where you really are and you will absolutely be better suited to get where you want to be. Do you remember the thought that popped into your head at the start of the article? I suggest this is your starting point. Keep a log for one week; whether it’s exercise, taking your medicine, negative chatter about your body or what you are eating. Follow the steps below:

  • Focus on your immediate thought to “How do you mislead yourself?”
  • Write down that habit/thought pattern honestly for one week
  • Take look once the week is up
  • Decide how you could best help yourself (remove the candy jar from your desk and buy yourself fruit for break time, complete your cardio during your favorite show, see a physician regarding that injury and really follow their advice, donate the “skinny clothes” to a charity, replace the urge for negative chatter with thoughts about the assets your body has)
  • Implement and record the new healthier habit and/or enlist the help of a professional
  • Celebrate your new, heathier habits

Give yourself that sense of perspective and accountability. My sincere hope is that you find success by being willing to take an honest look because even in healthy habits, the truth will set you free.

Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL