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What the Today Show and New York Times Missed

During my warm-up at the gym, the Today Show caught my attention. Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Joy Bauer, RD were discussing the results of a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine that addresses the hormonal implications to dieting. They gave some good suggestions and validated the incredible challenge that overweight people experience in the efforts to lose weight. After my work out, I went to my computer and read through the New York Times article referenced. Columnist, Tara Parker-Pope discussed the topic in detail in her article The Fat Trap. The overwhelming data states that we are more challenged after losing weight via intense dieting. Our hormones change and cravings alter. When you cut back on your calorie intake significantly your body tries to save you from the famine (because why else would you reduce your food intake so drastically). It alters protocol and holds on to body fat. This coverage COULD be demoralizing to another reader, but my hope is that you know better. What the well intentioned authors missed was strength training. Not only does strength training have significant positive implications for your bones, brain, hormones, pregnancy, physique and weight maintenance it is the only method that I know of to increase the number of calories you burn while at rest. And that is a message that needs to be delivered.


Call it what you like, resistance training, lifting weights, toning, strengthening, adding muscle. Whatever the term, the idea is to add muscle mass to your body to increase your metabolism (calorie expenditure).  This is still being overlooked in the mainstream media as an important part of the weight loss / being healthy solution- I want you to know better. Whether it’s joining me for personal training or push ups and resista-band squats in your living room, we can enjoy the tremendous benefits of strength training. Hopefully, success will spread the word, one person at a time.

(Well, maybe a few at a time, I did email NYT author – will keep you posted if I receive a reply)

Do NOT Buy This Gift

Do NOT Buy This Gift

Unless you are in need of a very expensive dry cleaning clothes hanger please do not buy yourself a piece of cardio equipment for your home this Christmas or Hannukah. I have been a personal trainer for over ten years and I can count on one hand the number of people that actually use their home cardio equipment. Your money and home are too important. Pieces of cardio equipment are expensive, space consuming and when unused, guilt inducing.

I do understand why you want to purchase these items for you or your loved one. It is the promise of health, beauty, energy, a slim physique, convenience and accomplishment. Who doesn’t love all of those things? But the truth of the matter is – these machines go unused. It is not the piece of equipment that delivers success. It is the habit and the action. The act of consistantly exercising over weeks and months changes our bodies and our energy level. A piece of equipment can only deliver such changes if you’re on it.

If you are still unconvinced, I invite you to take this test for one month. Decide a cardio schedule as if you had purchased new home equipment (i.e. “I will exercise on my cardio equipment every M,W,F at 6am for 40 minutes”.) And every time you were planning on working out – use a work out DVD (rentable form Library for free or use the one that’s been sitting on your shelf) or dance in your living room or walk outside – remember this is just for four weeks. If after four weeks you have completed all the cardio sessions – maybe you are the exception to the rule but if not – you just saved your self potentially thousands of dollars and a big guilt trip.

I realize it’s disappointing to have the curtain pulled back. Know that there are solutions and tools that can help. Give me a call if you would like to see what personal training can offer. I am the closest thing available to “habit delivery” and would love to help you feel all that the infomercial is promising.

Blakely FIT
Strength Training Exclusively for Women  773-680-6824

 Training out of Symmetry Center: 401 West Ontario, 4th Fl., Chicago IL 60610

Must Read Muscle Basics

Must Read Muscle Basics


Why a photo of a high fashion model chewing bubble gum? Because I needed to get your attention. There are too many smart women out there confused or misinformed about muscles. Below, I debunk some muscle myths and shed light on some fascinating facts regarding your beautiful and possibly neglected power houses. I hope these tidbits help you stay motivated during workouts and keep you from wasting your precious time.

Myth: “I can spot reduce by lifting weights.”

Advice: Get off the inner/outer thigh machine and stop doing crunches! It’s not helping like you think it is.

Fact: You CANNOT spot reduce “fatty” areas with site specific muscle training. IF this were true, everyone who chewed gum would have skinny faces.

Myth: “If I lift weights, I will bulk up like a man/body builder.

Advice: Let go of the fear and get your fine self over to the free weight area (or call me to make an appointment.) There are tremendous benefits to weightlifting for women. 

Fact: VERY few women have the genetic tendencies required to make significant muscle mass increases. Body builders devote an incredible about of time and very specific training regimes to look as large as they do.

Myth: “Lifting weights will make me less flexible.”

Advice: PROPER strength training technique actually increases flexibility.

Fact: In one sport comparison study, Olympic Weightlifters were second only to figure skaters and gymnasts in terms of flexibility.   

Myth: “Muscle weighs more than fat.”

Advice: Think it through, which is heavier – a pound of feathers or a pound of lead? 

Fact: The truer statement is “Muscle weighs more per square inch than body fat.” This explains why two women weighing the same amount will wear different dress sizes. The woman carrying more muscle and less body fat may wear a size six, whereas the woman carrying more body fat and less muscle might wear a size eight or ten.  

 As always, feel free to connect with me if you would like to come in and get those lovely muscles working for you in the way they were intended. Drop me a line with any questions. Have a wonderful weekend! All my best, Michelle 773-680-6824

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