W.I.S.E. Success!

Michelle's 1st 39th - trimming hedges

I was a big fan of the show Dirty Jobs for a while. Have you seen it? Personally, I had a bit of a crush on the host, Mike Rowe. Anyway, one episode was all military. They illustrated how a few soldiers leveraged winches and pulleys to pull a multi-ton military vehicle out from being stuck in the sand. The winches and pulleys were their mechanical advantage. The winches and pulleys provided leverage in a seemingly impossible situation.  

That’s how I see exercise. I firmly believe, exercise can be your mechanical advantage. With all that you have to accomplish, exercise will give you leverage…

It was an honor to be a part of the Industrial Supply Association’s, Women Industrial Supply Executive’s Summit this week in Tempe, Arizona. An incredible group of women and outstanding fellow panelists / committee members made it an exceptional event. One of my favorite exerts from the talk above…  detailed follow up coming soon.


Michelle and Patrick Silly at Wedding

Conversation between my husband and me:

Michelle: “I don’t really like it when people assume I only eat low fat foods.”

Patrick: “Well, it’s kind of a compliment. They’re indirectly assuming that you practice what you preach.’”

Michelle: “It’s not the misconception about me that’s upsetting, it’s the misconception about how to live healthfully.”

The path to consistent exercise and healthy living are (at times) misunderstood. Infomercials, elevator talk, misinformed friends or family, and poor reporting have left some of us mistaken about the effective and accurate guidelines for healthy living. Like the new kid in class, I hope you make the time to get to know the truth about effective ways to live healthfully. Below are the top three wellness misconceptions repeatedly crossing my desk:

Misconception #1: Healthy eating for weight loss is primarily about fat and calories.
Food is more to our bodies than weight management. Nutrients are an important part of the equation. Focusing solely on fat grams and calorie intake will leave you unsuccessful (and very unsatisfied.)

Misconception #2: Lifting weights will make me big and bulky.
I have met VERY few women in my line of work that are genetically predisposed to “bulk up.” Lifting weights has tremendous benefits for your health, longevity, injury prevention and weight loss. As long as you are with a skilled trainer, there is nothing to fear.

Misconception #3: Faster, harder or more intense is better.
Unless you are a serious athlete or training for a VERY specific event, faster, harder and more intense is NOT necessarily better. Moderate exercises performed on a regular basis is generally an excellent exercise prescription for individuals wanting to lose weight and improve their wellness and health.

Connect today to start your change: 773-680-6824

Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL

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

Do Others Sabotage?

This might be a little uncomfortable. I’ve seen plenty of articles on sabotaging our own workouts but, I’m going to address how we sabotage each other (and how to fix it.)

“Really, you’re only eating that?!”
“Yeah, I’m trying to watch what I eat more carefully.”
“Come on, it’s only once a year. Live a little.”Who are you in this dialogue? The person encouraging the indulgence? Or, the person trying to make a positive change? If your familiar with this kind of dialogue, read on. Tough love below, heavy on the love.“Encouraging others to indulge” People:
OK, maybe you have the best intentions, but, maybe not. I have heard these stories time and again, friends and family that subtly (and not so subtly) try to sabotage someone else’s healthy living efforts. Unless you are worried about extreme behaviors (bulimia, body dysmorphia, obsessive exercise, etc.) the truth is most often uncomfortable. Maybe you are jealous, maybe you like your friend being heavier/less healthy than you, maybe you feel unwanted pressure to be healthy now, too because your friend is changing, maybe you’re struggling and their succeeding and that hurts, maybe your worried that if they are healthier they will leave you. I empathize. It’s very difficult to be stuck/envious/worried. And it’s hard to realize we are being unhelpful. First, the tough stuff, your unhelpful comments don’t make you look good nor do they really serve you well. Any outsider can see the sabotage, however indirect. More importantly, you are hurting your friend/family member and that’s not your intent, right?

Here’s the “love:” if you own your feelings and stop trying to sabotage, there is some great news waiting for you. The friend or family member that seems to be a threat/annoyance could be a resource – a sounding board, a source of strategies that are working or a piece of good news. (It feels good to celebrate our friend’s success.) Own where you are at and what you are feeling. Resist the urge to deal with your own feelings by trying to limit/sabotage your friend/family member. Living healthfully is challenging, consider being an advocate for your loved one and you just might foster a better relationship and healthier lifestyle because of it.

“Trying to make a healthy change” People:
You have the right to change your life in the way you see fit. I see no reason why some one trying to reduce their cholesterol, enjoy their clothing or improve their body’s ability to facilitate their life should apologize about their goals. Sabotaging comments/behavior make a challenging task even harder. Embrace your right to live your life as you see fit. BUT, I do encourage you to initially bring some understanding to push-back from friends and family. Some may truly not realize they are sabotaging. (This takes a lot of “love.”) If you suspect that is the case, have a private conversation. Explain that the discouragement is making it harder and allow them room to change and be supportive. On the other hand, (here comes the “tough” part) you may have to realize that some people will insist on being unhelpful, inappropriate or unaware and that requires you to pull on your inner strength and maybe even distance yourself from them. Don’t let them steal your success or make you feel bad for making improvements. Keep your eye on the prize and find people that do support you. (As an aside: Anyone can ALWAYS tweet, post or email your positive steps to Blakely FIT. Clients and readers do it all the time! We’re always elated to hear good news and moments of success.)

Bottom line: I wish both sides the best in living positively and managing their desired life while respecting each other’s choices. Good luck!

Email to learn more about training with Blakely FIT.

Strength Training Exclusively for Women
Chicago, IL

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: train@blakelyfit.com

Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL

You Might Have It All Wrong…

TortoiseI’d like you to question if you have a fear of success. I’d like you to consider if you are afraid of achieving and arriving at a healthier state. Maybe your fear involves maintaining that lifestyle once you’ve arrived? I wonder if you mistakenly believe that said journey is a lot of work.

Because the truth is, it’s not.

The actual work of living healthfully is not hard. If you believe differently, maybe the problem is not your work ethic but your understanding of the path to success. I am rightly concerned that too many people out there believe that they have to turn their whole lives upside down to improve their health. For most of us, that is untrue. Because here is the secret so many of us keep missing: it is simple, habitual behavior that delivers, selected carefully and implemented consistently. It is not sexy. It does not grab headlines. And it is not great cocktail party chatter. (I should know.) But it works. It delivers. And it pays dividends.

So as New Year’s resolutions begin to enter your mind, I most sincerely ask you to consider the small, daily, habitual habits as your secret to success. Because after ten years of Blakely Fit, witnessing success and failure time and again. My money will always be with the slow and steady, unsexy, hard-shelled tortoise at the finish line, not the hare.

150% Is Not the Answer

A client shared her dilemma: “When working toward a goal, I can give 150% and I can give 50%, but I’m not able to find that balance of giving 100% that allows for a more sustainable pattern and balance in my life.”

Listen, an all or nothing work ethic has it’s benefits. But in the game of habitually, healthy living, it will leave you wanting. Why is 150% so bad? Why on Earth would you want me to hold back, Michelle? Isn’t “more” better? Not if it isn’t sustainable and not if you haven’t progressed into it. Why? Because each of us can only sustain that level of intensity for so long and often we end up performing at 50% for weeks (or even months) afterward as a means of recovery. So, instead of a steady, consistent, doable work out regime, we end up with one really intense period followed by lackadaisical weeks or months. This does not deliver the benefits you seek. If you have trouble with moderation, here are a few suggestions:


Modeling: Whether real or fictitious, imagine how a person with a good sense of life balance would handle it. Put them in your scenario and copy cat. Know someone you would like to emulate? Ask them for suggestions.
Hindsight: Analyze what seems to have worked for you in the past. I appreciate that your really intense healthy living venture worked for a time. I ask you to look at the months that followed, did you gain all the weight back? Did you stop exercising all together? Did a more moderate plan provide longer term success?
Dare to Be Different: All or nothing people and Type A personalities tend to surround themselves with others like them. I wouldn’t suggest you find a whole new circle, but I do suggest you embrace being different in your efforts toward healthy living moderation. Different might just be your key to success and success, afterall, is the whole point.
Good luck! Email me if you need help.

Scared of Being Silly?

Do you shy away from being silly or noticed? Does self consciousness limit you? Are you sometimes “too cool for school”? You might be losing out on a great opportunity. Many studies indicate that short bursts of activity throughout the day can have a significant impact on improving our health.Leaping in Bouncy HouseI recently attended a friend’s child’s birthday party at a bouncy house facility. Knowing I wouldn’t have time for a workout that weekend, I joined in. There were colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while and probably some other parents that could have been potential business connections, but I knew I needed a boost and I’ve learned to care less and less about being judged.

Not only did I fit in some movement and goof off, it legitimately counts as an easy work out. Are there times you could move more? Moments you could jump in? get dirty? or play? I encourage you to test the waters. Because allowing fear to get in our way? That’s just silly.