Gratitude on the Fourth

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I reflect on this celebration of independence, freedom and all things great and worthwhile about our country. I am a woman, mother, wife and small business owner. As imperfect as our young country may be, being a U.S. citizen has afforded me the opportunity to build a business of my own accord providing a valuable service for my clients and income for my young family.

None of it would be possible with out the readership, social media support and patronage of you, my clients and readers. My utmost thanks for your support, feedback and trust.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday together and a moment of reflection for the freedom and independence we each hold dear.

Hold On, Baby…


Are you feeling it? That urge to let it all go? The temptation to indulge at every turn during this holiday, end-of-the-year obligation melee.

Well, maybe you did derail at Thanksgiving. Maybe you wish you didn’t eat the pastries left in the conference room every day this week. Maybe you haven’t finished your workouts as planned. So what. Letting less than ideal choices guilt you into additional indulgences is adding insult to injury. Let them go. Move on.

Taking a ten-minute walk, passing over an extra piece of candy or getting an extra hour of sleep will serve you exceedingly well in this holiday frenzy. Don’t let setbacks deter you; you’re too smart to throw in the towel. Hold on to what is important: your health, your livelihood and your loved ones. All your small decisions in the end WILL make a difference in your continued success.

You can do this. Keep your chin up. I’m rooting for you!

An Unexpected Gift

Reading the Little Blue Engine Blakely FIT 2014After dinner and a warm bath, we snuggle and read before bed like many young families. Sometimes I’m a model parent: animated, engaged. Other times, not so much — going through the motions and struggling to stay awake as the day’s chores still loom.

Recently we read, once again, The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper’s tale of perseverance and grit that has lasted for more than 80 years in print. On this particular evening, I’m attentive — and suddenly struck by an enlightening passage.

Mr. Piper writes: “Some of the cars were filled with all sorts of good things for boys and girls to eat — big golden oranges, red-cheeked apples, bottles of creamy milk for their breakfasts, fresh spinach for their dinners, peppermint drops and lollypops for after-meal treats.”

Apples, oranges, spinach and milk depicted as precious treats for children? How often do we see good food as a treat?

Thanksgiving is at our doorstep. Yet before all the harried preparations subsume our lives, we might take a moment to recall Mr. Piper’s words. Remembering life before we had such abundant produce departments could provide perspective for the feast ahead. Recalling a time when health was not so easily remedied with pills or surgery could inspire us to take more care with our bodies. Maybe this is the other lesson in Mr. Piper’s timeless tale.

Today, we have so much food in our grocery stores and restaurants that one third of it goes uneaten, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, food is the biggest single source of waste in this country, more than plastic or paper, the EPA finds.

Thanksgiving provides time with older generations. Let’s ask about their experiences. Do our older relatives and friends recall a time before our era of plenty? When vegetables were not available year-round? When a “golden orange” was a coveted gift? And when candy was a special treat? What about a time when resolving pain did not include MRI, physical therapy or ultrasound? When walking to and from work or school was not a chore but part of daily life?

No question, we’re truly fortunate to have access to so much food and state-of-the-art healthcare. As we celebrate through this holiday of gratitude, a broader perspective might let us appreciate and enjoy our food and health all the more. It could be an unexpected gift hiding in a familiar place.

Let Them Eat Cake

1243My husband and I just celebrated our 9 year anniversary on Tuesday. Client feedback coupled with reflections on the last nine years of marriage afforded me a small insight. Just as each of us have relationships with other people, we all have a relationship with ourselves. And, like a marriage, our self-management skills play heavily into our struggles and successes.

Part of our wedding process ten years ago, involved pre-cana (a Catholic tradition involving time to reflect on the marraige journey.) Our course was led by a couple married 40+ years, who suggested a banking paradigm involving metaphorical deposits and withdrawals. Too many deposits and few withdrawals leaves one individual feeling depleted. Too many withdrawals and no deposits, the bank will eventually close your account (eh-hum). I wonder if we can’t extend this analogy to our healthy living?

The holiday weekend is upon us. Many of us are going to make some withdrawals on our healthy living account: increased indulgent eating, high alcohol consumption or stressful travel. And, many of us are going to make some deposits: sleep, rest, quality time to socialize with loved ones or time finish personal projects. We can’t have too much of one or the other and expect to have a healthy state. All work and no cake makes Jane a dull girl.

Strive for balance in the big picture. A holiday weekend of indulgences is no big deal to a person the consistently takes great care of herself. On the flip side, one great weekend of sleep cannot undo months of deprivation and stress (although, it is a step in the right direction.)

Enjoy your long weekend as you see fit – eat a piece of cake, sleep longer than usual, have an uninterrupted conversation or take time to cook your favorite recipe. Consider your healthy living bank account and applaud yourself if you’ve struck a fulfilling balance. Not quite there yet? Today is a great day to start.

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Strength Training Exclusively for Women
Chicago, IL

True Love

BlakelyFITFruitHeartAs part of a wedding invitation, guests were asked to write “what does love meant to you” on their response cards. This was/is an adorable couple: warm, loving, sincere, down to earth and each hilarious in their own right. I hesitated to contribute anything. My notion of love tends toward the practical and I suspected it might seem mundane. Nonetheless, I wrote: “Love is caring enough about another person to take good care of yourself.”

Being the couple that they are, they included these quotes into their ceremony. I told them later how touched I was to hear it. They shared that my particular quote had motivated the groom to quit smoking. Wow. What a beautiful idea.

As you enjoy Valentine’s Day this year, may I be so bold as to pass along the same advice. Consider caring for yourself as an expression of your love for those dear to you. When we proactively care for our health, we have more energy to give to loved ones, fewer reasons to burden others and a happier disposition making us more loveable.

I wish you and yours a day full of kindness and love!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Want to take care of yourself, so that you have more to give?
Call or email to start: 773-680-6824
Strength Training Exclusively for Women, Chicago, IL

WomanInSunhatGoing to be out in the sun this weekend? 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 Dr. Emily Arch of Aesthetics and Dermatology of Wicker Park (love her) insightfully stated: “Bob Marley had melanoma.” I recently spoke with Dr. Arch. My 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 sites: Coolibar   Athleta

No time to shop? Dark denim will provide sun protection. And what fabric is more American than denim?

Be safe! Have fun!

Happy Fourth of July!!!