This word means different things to different people. To some, it conjures negative emotions and thoughts; to others it provides a sense of empowerment and accomplishment. When associated with health and weight management, many people struggle to gain “control” of their health and eating habits. We often look to or blame outside influences and time parameters as road-blocks or excuses for not being able to maintain the choices we strive for. When we lose this control it can feel like a slippery slope with no other choice but to keep sliding down.

Control is a strong word and should make you feel strong when you have it. Being in control can be something as simple as choosing to pack your own lunch every day, or stocking your house and office with healthy snacking options. We tend to lose control in moments of weakness when hunger hits and you cave to the candy dish full of snack-size Snickers, or over-indulge on chips and queso or bread before your actual meal even arrives.  It’s this mindless, in-the-moment-eating that can often make us feel out of control.

The key to feeling in control and taking responsibility for your actions is to be kind to yourself. There are always going to be unexpected twists and turns in our daily lives, but giving yourself the tool of preparation and planning can help mitigate some of the chaos and put the ball back in your court. Be mindful in the moment and ask yourself if you feel in control of your actions. As the holidays approach, this is a great practice to put into place in order to feel good about your health and nutrition goals when faced with overwhelming temptation.

You can help yourself make better choices by bringing healthier options to the table, such as LWBF’s favorite Fall Harvest Salad, or for a sweet, healthier offering make these delicious Raw Chocolate Carrot Balls (you don’t have to tell anyone there’s veggies in their dessert!). So, take control of your body and health this holiday season by making mindful choices. Enjoy some of the treats of the holidays, but practice moderation and think about what your body needs as opposed to what your senses think you want.

Happy, Mindful Eating!


It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I feel I owe you an apology as well as a short explanation. At least I’ll try to keep it short.

The last few…errr… six months have been life-changing to say the least. On New Years Eve I toasted friends and we said “good riddance” to 2012, as it was a rough year for many of us. As I entered 2013 I told myself, “If I can just make it through January, I know I’ll be okay.” I had no idea at that point that the month and the year ahead would hold so many wonderful things for me.

In August of 2012 we made a quick decision to sell our condo after realizing we needed to get out of the neighborhood we were in and we had a small window of time in which to do so. In November we closed on our new house in the suburbs, which was quite a change for both of us. Meanwhile I had been job searching, trying to escape an abusive workplace. In January of 2013, I finally got not just an opportunity to leave the place that was killing me inside, but an opportunity at one of the most amazing, most successful and fastest growing companies in the industry. I feel extremely lucky and blessed to be where I am today. But that wasn’t the only career change I was making.

After teaching a boot camp class, I was approached by a Trainer for Camp Gladiator about potentially training for them. Not thinking much of it, I agreed to go to an informational session to hear what it was all about. I went in fairly certain I had too much on my plate to take on anything else at the moment. I think it was about 30 minutes in and I was already sold. So began a 4 month process of auditions and internships to become the Primary Trainer I am so proud to say I am today.

So I now essentially have two new full-time jobs, a new house in the ‘burbs, but that’s not all. That’s right, shortly after I began my new full-time job and started interning with CG, I found out we were expecting a baby! We were very excited and also very surprised. Especially considering it wasn’t but a few short months ago that my OB-GYN had told us we would likely have a very difficult time conceiving without medical intervention. He’s since been “let go” as my Doctor. 🙂

So there you have it—the short version of where I’ve been hiding for the past few months. I have so many pregnancy-related posts that I’ve wanted to post, but felt like I couldn’t without first breaking the news! Since the start of 2013 (and pretty much in the month of January alone), I have an entirely new life. I’m laughing now because last summer I sat at lunch with a friend of mine, and told her in tears “job, house or baby, I don’t care what, but something had to change.” She told me to be careful what I wished for or it would all happen at once. I replied with a snarky “well if that’s what has to happen then that’s fine, I can handle it.” I guess this is me… “handling it.” I thank God every day for answering my prayers.

Our bundle of joy is expected to arrive on August 27, 2013. More pregnancy- and parenting-related posts coming soon!


It’s that time of year again…time for New Year’s Resolutions! I truly love this time of year because it’s a chance to put a plan in motion to better myself. But for others, the thought of coming up with a New Year’s Resolution is daunting. Thinking about keeping one thing going for an entire year is overwhelming and let’s be honest, by the time April rolls around, no one can remember what their resolution was!

This year, I propose something different. At first, you may think this is even more overwhelming, but I assure you it is not. Think about this—if you have a weight loss goal of 100 lbs., thinking about how in the world you are going to lose that weight is so overwhelming that it makes it difficult to take the first steps. But if you were to break it down and say “this month I am going to lose 8 lbs., losing approximately 2 lbs. per week,” it becomes MUCH more manageable! Such is true with everything in life. Breaking a large goal down into smaller goals gives us a better chance for success.

So in terms of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m going to suggest you do the same thing. Regardless of the resolution, most of the time it focuses on bettering yourself in some way, shape or form. It could be mentally, physically or emotionally. Write down all of the things you’d like to accomplish or change in the new year and divy them up between the 12 months. Maybe you have 12 things on that list. If that is the case, pick one for each month. From there, figure out how you are going to accomplish each monthly goal, breaking it down by week and even by day. Not only are you writing down your resolution, you’re writing down how you are going to make it happen as well. Setting a plan into action will help you accomplish your goal.

Maybe you have five things on that list, but two are extremely important or difficult. I would suggest repeating those two important resolutions. You can repeat them in succession, for instance, the first resolution could be for January, February and March, or you could repeat them at random times throughout the year—maybe January, June and November. Do whatever will give you the best chance at being successful with that resolution. Everyone is different.

If you’re like me, you have many goals you’d like to achieve, so this is the perfect avenue to take in order to achieve all those goals! I have many things on my list, many of which I cannot post online just yet, but here are some examples to get you started:

  1. Try not to stress over things I have no control over
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Exercise more frequently
  4. Exercise “smarter”
  5. Incorporate more movement into my daily life
  6. Make smarter choices when eating out
  7. Slow down when eating, chew my food
  8. Be more patient
  9. Stop yelling at other drivers (see resolution #1)
  10. Eat more wholesome, nutritious food
  11. Educate myself on better food choices for my family and I
  12. Try a Group Exercise class
  13. Be more kind to others
  14. Do one exercise every night before bed (side plank, swivel kicks)
  15. Give more compliments
  16. Reduce my exposure to environmental toxins (maybe try organic deodorant?)
  17. Start eating a healthy breakfast
  18. Stop making excuses for not exercising
  19. Spend more time with my family
  20. Better/more frequently communicate how important and loved family and friends are

Thank you all for a fabulous year! Live Whole Be Free has grown so much and we are just thrilled that we continue to reach more and more people every day. Here’s to helping many more people make healthier choices in 2013!

Peace, love and healthy blessings in the new year,

Melissa + Holly


We try to stay away from too many “personal posts” at LWBF, but as you all know, I spent four long months training for yesterday’s Half Marathon in Miami Beach, Florida, so a recap of the race is definitely in order! A good combination of a new training program and some nutritional tweaks made an enormous difference in my race day performance, allowing me to shave 12 minutes off of last year’s time and 22 minutes off my first half marathon time 18 months ago! Saying I got a PR (Personal Record) is an understatement!

White Rock Centennial Half Marathon (5/2011)

Rock n’ Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon (12/2011)

Rock n’ Roll Miami Beach Half Marathon (11/2012)


All meals for the past week:
Sea salt on everything, drink more electrolyte water.

Days 4, 5, 6 prior to race:
4g of carbohydrates per kg of bodyweight.

Days 1, 2, 3 prior to race:
10g of carbs per kg of bodyweight.

7:30 pm the night before:
Dinner: Kale salad with avocado, raw vegetables, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, brown rice pasta with homemade vegetable tomato sauce, basil pesto bread, water, water, electrolyte water, coconut water w/superfood and more water. We rented a condo in South Beach this year instead of a hotel so that we would be able to make our own meals, having more control over what we put into our bodies pre-race. We’ve been able to have our smoothies for breakfast, and now we are able to have Claude and Sarah over for a carb-up, relaxing pre-race meal. Totally worth it!

10:00 pm
Bedtime. I’m so nervous I could throw up. I’m doing everything possible not to think about the race, it’s difficult.

Race Day! 2:44 amMiami Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon Medal 2012
Damn, not time to get up yet.

3:30 am
Nope, not yet.

4:15 am
Rise and shine! On the menu for breakfast #1: Gluten-free organic oatmeal with 1 Tabelspoon of raw honey (transported from Dallas) and a sliced banana. Rest and watch CSI Miami. (It’s all that’s on, I swear.)

5:10 am
Breakfast #2: Smoothie with peaches, banana, spinach, blueberries, coconut water, almond milk, water, superfood powder and maca powder.

6:00 am
1,000 mcg of B12 and we’re ready to leave the house! I feel like I have a disorder. “Babe, are you ready to go, it’s time to go are you ready to go we have to go we’re gonna be late we’re gonna be late.” Yes, it was all one sentence.

6:30 am
After a short 5 minute walk/jog to the start line from our condo in SoBe, we’ve checked our bags and are ready to go. But wait, I have to pee. And where’s Claude? We always meet up before the race! I’m sweating so much. I don’t think I should be sweating this much. What if my body is overheating?! Ugh, it was probably that 1.5 mile sprint to find a bathroom before the race. Dangit!

6:45 am
Start time! We’re at the front of Corral 2, ready to Rock n’ Roll (no pun intended).


The Race

Mile 1: I can’t believe I’m here, this is great. Gosh I hope I have a good race! (Praying)
Time: 7:25

Mile 2: I’m starting out fast, but not abnormally fast. I feel like this is a good mile 2 pace. I’m feeling good as we approach the Miami Beach Golf Course. It’s pretty.
Time: 7:37

Mile 3: Did I start out too fast? What if I did? Shit. Where the hell is Claude?! I’m about to hit the 5k mark. Oh man, I have people at home watching my time via text message. I hope they’re proud of me! I bet they’re not even awake yet! Crap my left hip flexor is really tight…
Time: 7:58

Mile 4: Ugh, the on-ramp to 195. Stupid hills. CLAUDE! Oh my gosh there you are! What? What is that you’re saying? Sorry, I can’t hear you and I can’t take my ear buds out because it ruins the suction. On we go! Slight cramping in the neck, means I’m using secondary muscles to breathe. Must get that straightened out.
Time: 7:51

Mile 5: Up and down the causeways. These aren’t as bad as I remember them. Maybe I’m being optimistic. Oh well, I feel good. I’m still running at a consistent pace and I’m burning by people on the uphills. Babies!
Time: 8:05

Mile 6: Man, my pace is on point! I found my rhythm and I’m doing great! Wait, we are still running in the opposite direction of the finish line?! Darnit. Time to take the GU out of my sports bra so that it dries off enough for me to open it at mile 7. Ball of my left foot hurts, hip flexor still tight. But feeling wonderful (it’s all relative).
Time: 8:09

Mile 7: Time for GU! I get 1/3 of the GU packet down with some water and pitch it to the side. I almost immediately regret throwing it away. I’m a little tired but this race is going by so quickly! Yay Miami!
Time: 7:34

Mile 7.5: Just puked a little. Ha. I probably shouldn’t post that.

Mile 8: Relay transition point. Bastards. Oh well, I feel like superwoman! I can’t believe I’ve kept up this pace! Or can I? Ah, who cares. Foot hurts, trying not to think about it. I occasionally press my finger into my hip flexor thinking it will help. It does not.
Time: 7:45

Mile 8.5: Oh thank heavens, a GU station! Yes, give me GU and water! I take another 1/3 of the packet, but this time I keep the extra in my sports bra as my “security GU.” I feel strong and man, this race is going by so fast!

Mile 9: Whoo hoo! 4 more miles! I can totally do this! Although this stretch of road is beautiful with these huge palm trees, I am not interested in looking at them. My foot is killing me, but I don’t care. I’d run right through a fracture right now I’m so determined.
Time 8:12 (that was a rough one apparently!)

Mile 10: What the hell?! I thought I was already on mile 10! I feel like I’ve been running FOREVER! This is the longest race ever! Ugh. Well, the faster I run the faster this is over!
Time: 7:51

Mile 11: Holy shit (excitement). I’m almost there. This is the LAST causeway. I’ve got goosebumps I’m so excited! All of this is about to be over! And I still feel good! Melissa stop, stop thinking and chill, it’s not over until you cross that finish line!
Time: 8:09 (lost focus for a bit)

Mile 11.3: I’d like to be done running now.

Mile 11.5: Okay, I’m happy again.

Mile 12: Um… OH MY GOD. Is that Claude?! I’ve never finished a race with Claude, he’s so fast! Maybe I can catch up to him! Use those long legs Melissa, use them! I tap Claude, smile and say “let’s go!” 🙂 Something comes over me and I take off. I remember this point of the race last year, I tried so hard to kick it into high gear, but I just couldn’t—I had nothing left, and everything was cramping. This time, I felt great! There was a lady ahead of me, she’d been ahead of me the entire race. I wonder if I can catch her? I’m going to try!
Time: 7:59

Mile 12.2: Holy shit… (excitement)

Mile 12.3: I’m about to DO this!

Mile 12.5: Caught the lady! See ya! I’m at my highest gear and loving it. Holy shit this is amazing. I love this!

Mile 12.8: Holy shit! (I think I might actually be saying this out loud at this point). I think I just actually flexed my bicep for the last photographer. I don’t care I’m SO happy!

Mile 13.0: Are you kidding me?! I mean ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Someone get a picture of this smile!
Time: 7:33

Mile 13.1: HOLY. SHIT. I’ve done it. Is this real? Did this really just happen? I just beat last year’s time by TWELVE minutes! And I’m still alive and my body feels strong! Well, that’s all relative but in this sense, yes, I’m in good shape injury-wise. My stomach, that’s another story (that you don’t want to hear) so I’ll leave that part out.

As I write this, it’s now 12 hours after start time and I feel relatively good, considering. In fact, I feel the best I’ve ever felt after a race like this. I did everything I could in the months, days, and even minutes leading up to the race. I took water and Gatorade at every station during the race to attempt to stay as hydrated as possible and afterwards, I drank the Gatorade and ate the GU (reluctantly, but I knew it was important), coconut water, water and ate the necessary food to refuel my body. I am still in shock that I was able to accomplish such an amazing time (considering I am not a long-distance runner)! I’m getting messages about the next race I’m running and I’ll be honest…this last four months has been totally worth it, but it’s taken a lot out of me mentally and physically. I think I’m going to bask in the glory of this accomplishment and wait a bit before signing up for the next one.

Melissa RNR Half Marathon Medal Miami 2012

To all of my friends, family and supporters out there, thank you. Your kind words and thoughts helped me more than you know. Words from class members and clients rang through my head as I was running, and the phrases that I use constantly, those were loud and clear as well. I absolutely practice what I preach. The announcer made a great point as he welcomed us to the 2nd Annual Latin Music Miami Beach Half Marathon.

“You’ve already done the hard part, now enjoy your victory lap.”

And I did.

Peace, love and hard work that pays off,



“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet

I came across this quote while waiting to pick up take-out from my favorite neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant. The final line of the quote struck something so deep in my heart that I found myself tearing up then nudged my mom standing beside me and pointed to the framed quote. Once she finished reading she looked over at me and we both smiled and choked back unexpected tears.

Such a simple and beautiful statement about the choices we have in life. It reminded me that every day we are fortunate enough to live our lives and have the opportunity not only to impact ourselves and how we feel, but also those around us.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Helping those around you make healthier lifestyle choices, such as going for walks with a friend who might not have the motivation to do it on their own, or bringing fresh vegetables or fruit into the office instead of the usual baked goods or sweets are simple ways to show kindness and love for those around you.

With the coming holidays, there will be several opportunities to show kindness to your fellow human beings. You can make a positive difference by contributing nutritional dishes and snacks and taking the time to be active with friends and family.

“Let me not defer nor neglect it (kindness) for I shall not pass this way again.”


Happy Holiday Choices,

Holly Alexander

This weekend, a miserable cold front blew through Dallas, keeping me inside for most of the weekend. What can I say, I hate the cold. Fortunately, it was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to catch up on several “indoor” things I needed to get done and also forced me to spend some time de-stressing. I was able to watch two health/food documentaries I’ve been dying to see, Food Matters and Hungry For Change. Although they were both awesome, I’m going to focus on Hungry For Change in this post.

Let me start by saying this is a must-see! I know, I say that about all these food documentaries but this time I REALLY mean it. In this film are some of the most influential advocates for health and wellness, ones that I follow closely, like Dr. Alejandro Junger (author of CLEAN), Dr. Joseph Mercola (author of one of the most popular online health newsletters) and David Wolfe. I feel like I’m friends with these guys. For instance, I just found out that Dr. Mercola practices in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, where I grew up and Dr. Junger himself has commented on my blog posts in the past. I mean, come on, we go way back!

As I review the pages of notes I took while watching this fabulous documentary, I’m realizing that I have far too information to discuss in just one 700-1400 word post. So keep in mind this is a short synopsis of what this film covers.

One of the most important things that is discussed is that diets don’t work. Amen! Really, anything with the word “diet” associated with it—I want no part of. The word “diet” should refer to how you eat on a daily basis, in terms of your lifestyle, not a temporary shift in eating in order to lose weight.

Up to two-thirds of those who are on a diet regain more weight than when they started. – University of California, Los Angeles

We, as Americans, are starving. We are starving on a nutritional basis. We could eat 10,000 calories a day and still feel hungry. Let’s break it down—when your body needs nourishment, the brain sends out hunger signals, prompting you to eat. When your body has received the proper nutrients, the hunger signals will shut off. However, if you eat processed foods that lack nutrients, your body will not turn off those hunger signals. You could eat 10,000 calories worth of junk food and still be hungry!

Man-made foods like bread, sugar and table salt trick your body into thinking you’re getting those specific nutrients but your cells aren’t getting nourished. Now you’re starving at a cellular level. – Jon Gabriel

Americans are not eating food anymore, they’re eating food-like products. That’s what we try to drive home with Live Whole Be Free. Eating whole food, that nourishes your body, will allow you to break free from fad diets and other miserable habits and allow you the joy to truly just live!

Some additional things that are discussed in Hungry For Change:

  • The food industry’s role in creating and feeding your food addiction
  • The risks of consuming artificial sweeteners (aspartame) and chemicals (propylene glycol)
  • How sugar, fluffy carbs (white bread, pastries, cereal, pasta, potatoes) and high fructose corn syrup make you fat
  • What are good detoxifying foods for your body
  • The benefits of juicing
  • How stress and lack of sleep contribute to weight gain
  • How to use visualization to help lose weight
  • Why loving yourself is important for a healthy life

Hopefully this is enough to convince you to watch this film. Although I’ve discussed many, if there’s only one you watch, let this be the one! It is available for download from iTunes. Also, stay tuned as I cover more of the specifics in future posts!

Peace, love and healthy lifestyles,



It’s hard to believe, but LiveWholeBeFree.com launched over a year ago already! In the past year, this blog has served as a resource for people looking to make healthier choices on a day-to-day basis as well as long-term, providing health, fitness and nutrition tips as well as recipes and motivational insights. Through teaching group exercise classes and now through personal training, I meet so many people with so many questions as they each embark on their own unique fitness journey. LiveWholeBeFree.com is a place that everyone can go to learn more about how to make that journey the most fun and successful as possible. I’m proud to say that in the past 14 months, it has turned into so much more.

Not only does Live Whole Be Free’s (LWBF) blog serve as a wonderful resource, but we are now also offering personal training sessions in the Dallas area, online nutritional consultations, all-natural, chemical-free products such as deodorant and laundry detergent (coming soon) as well as…well…you’ll have to wait a couple weeks for the next announcement. Get excited—it’s a biggie!

Also noteworthy this year, LWBF welcomed Vegan, foodie, athlete and healthy mom Holly Alexander, who has contributed some amazing blog posts. Look for more from her in the next 12 months as she pursues her Personal Training Certification!

With all of this growth, we’re celebrating with a brand new website! Our new site is now much more than just a blog. We’ve rolled out the initial new layout, but plan on incorporating many new exciting features over the next several months.

Most importantly, I want to send a very sincere thank you to all of Live Whole Be Free’s friends, family, followers and supporters. Your support for me and my healthy lifestyle along with the desire to become healthier yourselves is what got LWBF rolling and what continues to allow it to flourish. I can’t put into words how appreciative I am of everyone’s love and support. There are some amazing things in the works, so please stay tuned! Also, if there is more of something you want to see/hear/read, please let us know!

These past 14 months have been so much fun! I’m so excited about what the future holds for us and of course, for you! If you haven’t already, but sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for motivational quotes, nutrition facts/tips and boot camp updates, product releases and more!

Live Whole and Be Free dear friends!

Melissa Villamizar, Founder of LWBF / Certified Personal Trainer / Certified Group Exercise Instructor

I decided to change the way I eat about five months ago and incorporate a mostly plant-based diet. After watching the movie Forks Over Knives (as well as other influential books and movies), I was not only inspired, but also a little shocked to discover such a different point of view when it comes to the “healthy” food I thought I had been eating all these years (i.e. low-fat dairy and lean meats).

Once I realized that I didn’t have to have all of my protein and nutrients come from animal-based products, I began my search for plant-based recipes and foods. It was exciting and fun for the first few months. I felt challenged to create new dishes and staple meals that incorporated all of the nutrients and ingredients needed to be a healthy Vegan.

However, a few weeks ago I hit a food slump. I love food and using fresh, simple ingredients in my cooking, and I realized that I was no longer cooking for love, I was cooking for fuel.

Being 100% Vegan takes a lot of dedication and time, especially if you try to avoid things like soy.  Then there are the really hard-core Vegans that don’t even use honey or oil (with the exception of coconut oil)! Anyway, it was starting to frustrate and exhaust me. The ingredients lists were getting longer and longer just to create a variety of meals that were not only delicious, but that also included the nutritional value I needed.

Then I read Melissa’s bio again and her words really hit home, “…the more “whole” I try to live, the less stressed and more “free” I feel.”

Bingo – that’s it! I’m striving to make good, well-informed decisions every day, starting with what I put into my body to spending time with family and friends, and that is what really matters when all is said and done. For me, that means incorporating a mostly plant-based diet, but also enjoying some of the simple, non-Vegan foods and flavors that I love so much. If and when I do stray from plant-based foods, I make sure that I am still eating responsibly and ethically – a smattering of fresh, creamy goat cheese from my neighborhood farm spread over a piece of warm, crusty whole wheat artisanal bread topped with the sweet, complex flavors of sliced purple, green and red heirloom tomatoes.

Now that’s a compromise I can live whole and be free with.

Holly Alexander
Photo courtesy of runograph.com

Live Whole Be Free is growing! Please join me in welcoming Holly Alexander as LWBF’s latest blog contributor!

I am extremely proud and excited to be welcoming Holly to the team. Not only is Holly one of the most genuine, loving and passionate people I know, she’s also a fantastic new mother, talented PR professional and an exceptional athlete. Exercise, cooking and healthy eating have always been a big part of her life, and now, as the mother of a beautiful baby girl, she realizes more than ever the importance of good food and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. It is through these things that Holly strives to be a positive, balanced role model for her daughter. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s touching so many additional lives along the way!

Holly believes that “whole health” starts with what you put into your body. So as a blog contributor to Live Whole Be free, her goal is to help people incorporate good nutrition as a natural part of their daily life.

I love to eat and explore new foods and flavors. Eating healthy and loving what you eat do not have to be two separate things! – Holly Alexander

Stay tuned for upcoming posts from Holly!

Peace, love and growth,


There are plenty of excuses (some may call them reasons, but I call them excuses) why you can’t get to the gym, can’t make healthier choices, etc. The truth is, they’re all a bunch of crap. If you really, truly want to make a change, you will. All the words you use to explain why you’re justified in not living a healthy lifestyle is just noise to the people that make it happen, day in and day out. So forgive me if the following post seems a bit harsh, but sometimes that’s the only way people will realize that they’re not special, they’re not the exception to the rule and they need put in the work like the rest of us.

1. I’m Far Too Busy

Really? So… you’re just the busiest person on the planet then? Throwing pity parties for yourself about how much you have to do won’t get you anywhere. You may need to take a look at how you’re utilizing your time. Make a journal, and document how much time you spend on different activities during the day. For instance, how many times do you use social media a day? It’s quite possible that if you refrained from updating your facebook status, you could get your work done more quickly, allowing you to leave work sooner and get to the gym before you head home for the day. Maybe it’s not social media that is your time suck. It could be the TV, long lunches, rush hour traffic, the list goes on and on. The point is, take a look at where you could save some time, and figure out a new solution. If you have work commitments, remember that scheduling time to keep yourself healthy is important. If someone thinks it’s selfish, they clearly don’t “get it” and we feel sorry for them. If after assessing your schedule you really, truly do not have time to hit the gym, do the stairs and/or go for a walk during lunch, but do something! Anything is better than nothing.

2. My blank* Hurts

*Insert body part of your choice here. First off, I’m not surprised. You are an adult (or at least you’re old enough to read this blog), so chances are good that at some point in your life thus far, you have sustained some sort of injury. We all have. Rub some dirt on it, and get your butt up off the couch. You’re not the only one. As a GroupX Instructor, many times people assume that I have it easy. I am somehow invincible, I have no injuries and endless amounts of energy. I’m flattered that some view me as a superhero, but sadly, I am not. I am human, just like the rest of the world. I am bruised, broken and I get burnt out. In fact, some would be surprised to know that I actually have 2 herniated discs, an inverted coccyx (tailbone) from a bad fall, I’ve had knee surgery and two ankle surgeries, including a complete reconstruction of my right ankle. They sawed off my heel bone, moved it over 10mm, and put a large screw in it to put it back together. Point being, I’ve had my share of serious injuries, but I managed to recover, and you can too. You just have to want it. No one can do it for you, it’s all you. Also, if you have been sedentary for awhile, chances are good that you are in a lot of pain, not necessarily caused by an isolated incident. The truth is, disuse of your body can actually cause pain. Yikes. Coach potatoes, you’re screwed!

3. I Hate the Gym/I Can’t Afford a Gym Membership

Millions of people hate the gym. They are divided into three categories. Category 1: They go anyways. ‘Nuff said. Category 2: They find somewhere else to work out (outdoors, yoga studio, basement, etc.). Category 3: They do nothing. If you fall into category 3, I want you to remember something — you’re not alone! No one will force you to go to the gym if you don’t want to. Nothing good will come out of that. What you need to do, however, is find another means for staying active, something that you enjoy. There are hundreds of options for exercise. You can do just about everything outdoors: Walk, run, play catch, play frisbee, play with your dog, play with your kids/grandkids, yoga, swimming, the list goes on and on. Try as many things as is takes until you find something that interests you. Try yoga. There are a ton of different kinds of yoga, try them all. There are classes that are mommy and child friendly, where you can bring your child and your stroller and walk with a group of people. Guys… flag football interest you? There are leagues everywhere! Heck google “things to do outside” if you’re out of ideas. Google solves everything!* Keep in mind too, that even if you do hate the gym, giving it a try for a month will be worth your while. You’ll either come out realizing there’s actually quite a few benefits to going to the gym (first day/week jitters will go away, don’t worry) or you’ll come out knowing that you do truly hate the gym, and you will have to resort to option 2, finding a new place to exercise.

*Note: This is not actually true. I’m just being funny.

4. I’m Too Tired

Well, I could take this in quite a few different directions, but I’ll keep it short. What are you eating? Sugar? Caffeine? That will contribute to you being tired. Are you sleeping enough? Maybe not. Many of you reading this have newborns, and are cursing me right now because you’re not sleeping at all. Okay, that might be a legitimate excuse. Still, you will feel better if you get a chance to release some endorphins and relieve some stress. So pump that breast milk ahead of time, arrange for your kids to go with your husband, mother, or a sitter, and go get your sweat on. Even 20 minutes is better than nothing! (Although ideally you should shoot for 60). However, if it’s 20 minutes or zero minutes, I’ll take 20 minutes every time! Those of you without kids… try to get to bed earlier so that you will be better rested for the day ahead of you. It will make a world of difference, I assure you. Try to find out if you’re a morning workout person or an evening workout person. Keep in mind, it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so give it a full three weeks before you decide which one you are! Try evenings for 3 weeks, then mornings for 3 weeks, and see which you prefer. Also, have a healthy snack before you hit the gym, it will fuel your body properly and you will feel better before, during and after your workout.

5. I’ll Go Tomorrow

“Yesterday you said “tomorrow”” — Nike

6. I Feel Fat

Ummmm… really? Well you’re just going to continue to feel exponentially fatter unless you do something about it, so quit whining and go for a walk! And just a quick fun fact, take a look around at all the “in shape” or “skinny” people around you, and know that a good amount of those people have likely been overweight or struggled with their weight at some point in their lives. Another common misconception, being a GroupX Instructor, is that I couldn’t gain weight if my life depended on it. Wrong-O! I gain weight like the rest of the world, I just know better than to let myself go! I’ve learned from my mistakes and I will never, ever go back! Once you get healthy too, you’ll say the same thing. I guarantee it. You will feel so good, that you will wonder who that person was… that other person… that person you are now… say goodbye to them! And if you’re self-conscious because you know people at the gym, just remember, sitting around thinking about going to the gym burns between zero and zero calories. You have to start somewhere.

7. I Don’t Feel Well

Assuming you don’t have a bacterial infection and/or something contagious or life-threatening, you will feel better after a workout. 99% of the time, after I hit the gym, regardless of my complaint (headache, stomachache, cramps, etc.), I feel like a new person after my workout. Working out, elevating your heart rate and sweating releases endorphins which pretty much make you feel amazing. Your brain actually blocks pain while you workout, so if you have a terrible headache and are looking for some relief, a workout will do you better than any pain medication.

*Note: Please consult your physician before starting a workout program. I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one.

What I’d like everyone to take away from this post is that regardless of your excuse, you’re not the only one. There is someone out there that is busier, sicker or poorer than you that is able to get to the gym, make healthy choices, etc., so stop the excuses, they are just noise. The moment you stop thinking that you’re the busiest person on the planet, you will have made a step in the right direction. Remember that anything is better than nothing. So make yourself go to the gym, and promise yourself you will give it 5 minutes on the bike/elliptical/treadmill/etc. Chances are good that after 5 minutes, you’ll stay a little bit longer. And if you don’t… remember that 5 minutes is better than zero minutes.

If you do currently go to the gym, but you’re getting tired of your workout routine, I urge you to try something new. Try a Group Exercise (GroupX) class, and try several of them. Each one will vary on the format and the instructor, so find one that you like. Even the same format will be different when taught be a different instructor. If you prefer to workout on your own, try a new routine like Tabata! Regardless, make sure you switch up your workouts every so often as to keep your mind fresh and to keep your body from hitting a plateau. Our bodies are amazing, they will adapt to whatever we do to them. That means we have to constantly push ourselves out of our comfort zones to continue to achieve results.

In closing, remember, if it was easy, everyone would be fit, everyone would be healthy. So it might take a little work and a little commitment, but it will be well worth it.

Peace, love and mental toughness,