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The Skin You’re In

Do you love your skin?

Of course you do! May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month…

Do your skin, beauty and health a favor by staying in the shade, wearing sunblock and donning sunproof clothing. Not that fair? Doesn’t matter. As one dermatologist insightfully stated: “Bob Marley had melanoma.”

IMG_8577My two daughters have very different skin tones. I wondered, if I need to be as vigilant with sun protection with both children? (I realize this question sounds horrible on the surface, but you may not have ever had to slather lotion on two elusive toddlers while trying to get out the door.) The short answer: “Yes.” So whatever your skin tone, protect your health and beauty. Be smart in the sun this weekend.

Sun proof clothing site we love: (hat pictured below)
Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing​

No time to shop? Dark denim will provide sun protection. And what fabric is more American than denim? Be safe! Have fun!

#skinsmart #skincancerawareness #fridayquickie

Need a dermatologist? We love Dr. Peter Lio of Medical Dermatology Associates of Chicago​ and Dr. Emily Arch of Wicker Park Dermatology and Aesthetics

One Minute to Calculate Your Strength

As promised this week on Facebook, here is a tool to get a sense of your strength and nervous system changes in the gym:

Am I stronger? Let’s see…

Take one exercise from your workout and multiple your load (weight of dumbbell or stack) by the number of repetitions, by the number of sets. This will give you your volume for the exercise.

Load x Reps x Sets = Volume

For example, you complete 10 repetitions per set in the single arm overhead press, your load averages to 16.6lbs* and you complete 3 sets.

16.6lbs x 3 sets x 10 repetitions per set =498

Two months later…
You’ve made some serious progress, you are now up to 32.5lbs** and you complete 4 sets of 6 repetitions.
32.5lbs x 4 sets x 6 repetitions per set = 1,495

That is a 300% improvement!

It’s a joy to see the positive changes we are making in our effort to live healthfully. Try this with your workout – enjoy!

Need help with your healthy living? Email. I’d be happy to hear from you:

*you move between 15 and 20 pounds on the weight stack – 16.6lbs is the average
**you move between the 30 and 35 pounds on the stack –
32.5lbs is the average

At last!!!

It’s finally here my beautiful readers! The first day of Spring has arrived! It’s still chilly our there but let’s plan for brighter, warmer, lighter clothed days ahead. Here are some of my favorites.
Forward to a friend and put it on the calendar now.
Get ready for the big bloom: Chicago Botanic Garden



Can’t wait, need it now: Garfield and Lincoln Park Conservatory



Free and easy: Walk by the lake front…


Lake front


Walkin’ on sunshine (and OK with falling in the water): SUP Yoga…
Michelle Blakely SUP Yoga headstand
Have fun and let me know if you enjoyed it!
Send me a picture on facebook or via email.

“Dare the difference.”

In The Confidence Code, Christine Lagarde offers a brilliant call to action: “Dare the difference.” Dare to define your own path to exhibiting confidence in your life. Dare to break through women’s statistical habit of not exercising confidence as often as we could.

I, of course, love this.


So much so that I suggest you apply it to your strength endeavors as well. Strength training is gaining significant popularity among women right now and for good reason. The benefits are incredible – improved metabolism, bone density, fat loss and muscle mass increases just to name a few. However, with in this trend, we, as women must “Dare the difference.”  We are anatomically different from men and that awareness is integral in effective strength training program design.

You are unique. Select a plan and definition of strength that speaks to you. Create fitness goals that bring you to what you really want, however different or unpopular. And, like our unique brand of confidence, this might also be different than a man’s.  Maybe you would love to be able to do a handstand, a pull up, to dance the tango, to carry your toddler up 3 flights with out being winded, or to simply feel strong again after a time of placing your health on the back burner. If you are enticed by the idea of strength training (and I hope you are), dare to move forward and dare to choose a workout that speaks to your preferences and your anatomy. It is a delight to define our own kind of strength. Dare to do it. Your body and mind will thank you.

Rekindle an Old Flame

BlakelyFITBlackWidowHalloween2014Last Thursday afternoon, I found myself getting excited. Really excited.

Growing up, I loved Halloween as much as the next kid: bags of free candy, late night celebrating, costume fun, what’s not to love? This, of course, transitioned as a young adult. Halloween afforded me the excuse to party, dress up and partake in other indulgences. My partying days are now less frequent and my enthusiasm had waned for this beloved holiday. Until, last week.

My daughters rekindled an old flame. Their relentless anticipation of the parties, the candy and spooky, haunted, fun was contagious. Their joy and energy pulled me in and I found myself enjoying the preparations that otherwise (I’m embarrassed to say) would have felt like “one more thing to do.”

Isn’t this possible with living healthfully? It’s a stretch to compare candy to kale. Let’s remember, enthusiasm is contagious. And enthusiasm for healthy living is possible and probable when we surround ourselves with the right people. Do you have anyone in your life that seems to have struck a healthy living balance? Could you hang out with them more? Ask them to coffee? Listen to their story of arriving at said balance. Let it inspire you. Being around people on a healthy living journey can be a powerful source of inspiration. Look around, listen and let their energy spark a change that could last a lifetime.

Forty Is the New Twenty

I am turning 40 on Tuesday. Gulp.

Michelle with birthday cakeFleeting moments of “midlife crisis” emotions have overwhelmed me in the past few months as I’ve considered aging and all that it entails. This came as a surprise. Age rarely matters to me—but this milestone feels different. The statistics on what happens to a woman as she ages aren’t great. I have access to this data on a weekly basis, and I found myself going down a rabbit hole until I realized it wasn’t helping.

After some contemplation, I directed my thoughts to my life and my health, specifically my post-40 trajectory. Clients have shared some pretty inspiring and unique goals in recent years, and I decided to take my inspiration from them. What matters to me? And where am I headed? In terms of my fitness and health, I set out to tackle a few specifics. On Tuesday, I’m going to put myself to the test.

1) Squat my body weight: 1 rep minimum

2) Handstand hold for four seconds (This might take a while.)

3) Pull up from a dead hang: 1 rep (Overly ambitious for such a long-armed woman, but I neurotically suspect it’s a skill I will need someday.)

4) Front support hold with perfect form for 90 seconds (Two pregnancies inspired this one. One expert insists 4 minutes is the sign of a healthy back. One thing at a time.)

5) Run 2 miles (Might seem like I’m padding the test, but I am a slave to heart rate range and rate of perceived exertion, and running for 2 miles straight is not my thing. Really want to see if I can do it.)

Like our Facebook page to see the results:

And if all this fails, to calm myself, I will repeat Jack Donaghy’s quote: “Forty is the new 20.” It makes me laugh and reminds me to think young to be young.

Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts

Here are a few healthy gift ideas

for the mom that has been asking for a little help:


  • Pedometer and a Promise -if she has expressed an interest in exercising more, why not schedule a weekly date to go for gentle walks together?
  • Activity tracker: consider her needs and mobile devices to find one that fits best
  • Class – pay for and gift a water aerobics, fitness class or dance class to take together
  • Picnic in the Park – pack a Sunday morning picnic and enjoy it together in a beautiful park, fresh air, time to talk and walk, few distractions
  • Advocate to Mom – attend her next doctor’s appointment with her, exchange contact info with her doctor, ask questions when appropriate and take notes so your mother can feel supported
  • New Kicks – a great new pair of walking shoes or workout clothes can help with getting moving again
  • Mix Tape – inexpensive and heartfelt -why not make Mom a new walking or workout CD of all of HER favorite music
  • Fun with Flowers – buy your mom flowers for her outdoor spaces and plant them together (remember use proper body mechanics)
  • Basket of goodies – reusable water bottle, dried fruit, dark chocolate, homemade banana bread (use apple sauce instead of oil), and any other small items that would make healthy snacking or exercise easier for her.  Spring Flowers

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