The Best of 5 Years of Blogging from Thrive Personal Fitness

The Best of 5 Years of Blogging from Thrive Personal FitnessGraphic by W Brian Duncan

I didn’t want to start blogging. When we started Thrive Personal Fitness 5 years ago my husband made me do it. Perhaps “made” is too strong of a word. He highly suggested it. We didn’t have a marketing budget of any kind for “traditional” advertising. Blogging and social media were essentially free. I had the time and a story to tell.

I always had dreams of being a writer in a high school. A college professor, the teacher of my freshman English class, offered to help me rework a story I had written. She thought it was good enough to be submitted to a literary magazine. I never took her up on it because I lacked confidence in my abilities and myself. A year later, with a bit more courage, I took a creative writing class. Any confidence I had managed to develop was quickly shredded during class critiques. I stopped writing until 5 years ago when I started the blog.

As I said, I did so only under duress. I claimed I wasn’t writer. I said I needed to spend my time crafting programs, meeting people and also working my regular job (banking at the time) on top of it all. My husband, however, is a persuasive (and smart) man. I made a commitment to two posts a week, no more, and started to learn about the art of blogging, social media and self-promotion.

Not to give him more “I told you so” ammunition but I love it. I love Tuesday and Thursday mornings when sit at my desk with my tea to write. I love that I get to help more people than I could ever see in a day. The blog helps me fulfill my WHY. It’s also pretty cool to get fun stuff to play with and review.

I realize many of you may be new to the blog. After 5 years, I’ve got quite a catalog of posts. I don’t expect you to go back and read every single one. In celebration of 5 years of writing I would like to share with you the 5 posts that are my favorites. Perhaps one or two may be new to you.

  • You Can’t Out Run Grief
    I never know how much to share about my personal life. When my “furry child” passed on, sharing our story really helped me.
  • How to Do a Pushup
    I grin like a fool when a client does her first push up on her toes. I love breaking down things that seem impossible to manageable steps.

Those are my favorite posts from the last five years. I would love to hear which posts have been the most meaningful in your life.

Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal Fitness

Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal FitnessOne of our First Informational Tables
Photo by W Brian Duncan

A couple of weeks ago a new client asked me if I did what I do for money or to help people. I answered him honestly – for both.

Money is a necessity of life. I have a mortgage to pay. Diabetes supplies and food require money. I am grateful to have a way to earn money that also lets me help people.

When my husband and I started Thrive Personal Fitness five years ago neither of us knew if it would make money. I kept my day job and trained evenings, Saturdays and even over my lunch hour. I wrote programs and blog posts when I could, never really taking a day off. I did this for almost 18 months before I could finally pay myself and take the leap of faith to training full time.

Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal FitnessThrive Personal Fitness at SXSWi
Photo by W Brian Duncan

At the time even I wondered if I was crazy. Was I nuts to give up 4 weeks paid vacation? Was it wrong giving up a steady 8-5 schedule at the height of the Great Recession? What would happen to the retirement plan Brian and I had worked so hard to create? Would I regret this decision?

Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal FitnessPamela Hernandez Health and Fitness Speaker
Photo by W Brian Duncan

As we celebrate the five year anniversary of Thrive Personal Fitness this week, I can tell you emphatically NO. I wouldn’t change a thing about deciding to follow this path. Perhaps I might have made a few different decisions but maybe not. Our mistakes are how we learn. I still don’t make as much as I did at my bank job but the money isn’t what keeps me doing what I’m doing.  I need to pay the bills like everyone else and we still have a retirement plan to fund.  But Money isn’t what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What drives me is the moments of pride, strength and joy that I get to be a part of every day. I am excited about getting out of bed each day because I have a plan to make the world a better place – one person at a time. I am in charge of my own destiny each day and feel a great sense of purpose each day in sharing that with others. Even on days where I might be feeling a little less than motivated (yes, it happens) I have  moments that I hold on to that help me remember WHY I do this.

I’m lucky to have more of these moments than will fit into a manageable blog post. I would like to share the ones that currently fill me with the most pride from my five year career of coaching and blogging.

My BetterU teams! I will not pick a favorite year because I can’t. Each team has been different but that’s what makes each one special. Watching each group of 10 women transform before my eyes every summer is an amazing experience. It’s hard to imagine I almost didn’t say yes.

Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal FitnessBetterU 2012
Photo by W Brian Duncan
Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal FitnessBetterU 2013
Photo by W Brian Duncan
Celebrating 5 Years of Thrive Personal Fitness BetterU 2014
Photo byPamela Hernandez

Being nominated as one of the most Influential Women in Springfield. I wish I could thank the person who nominated me but I have no idea who they are. (If you’re reading – THANK YOU!) The fact that someone sees me as an INFLUENTIAL thrills me and lets me know that I am truly living my WHY.

Having a workout published in Oxygen Magazine. I have stacks of Oxygen in my office and Tosca Reno is one of my heroes. When I found out one of MY workouts was going to be published in the March 2013 issue I cried. Click here if you missed it.

Training THREE generations of women from one family. It started with one woman, Stephannie. Next thing you know I am working with her mom and her twin daughters. They even had grandma eating clean. That’s when it really hit me how much of an impact I could really make. When one woman gets it the way Stephannie did it spreads to the whole family, to friends and colleagues. It’s the beginning of a revolution.

Every THANK YOU. It could be from a client whose stress from a hard day melted away after her workout. It could be from someone who sees me at the farmers market and tells me about an especially helpful Fit Friday. It doesn’t’ matter because every thank you is like gold to me. I hold it close and save it for a rainy day.

Thank you so much for letting me do what I do. I could not do it and would not be here without you.

What Your Personal Trainer Can’t Fix

At BlogFest, Jillian Michaels made a statement in her almost hour long Q&A with us that spoke directly to my heart. Someone asked her what do you do with the client who just won’t do what you ask. The one who professes a heart felt desire to get fit but won’t do their exercise homework or keep a food journal? The audience member asked how do you, as personal trainer, overcome that?

Her answer?

You don’t.

She went on to say that most fitness professionals on some level have to be co-dependent. While I am sure she meant this in jest, she got close to my truth when she explained her lifelong need to “fix people” in both her personal and professional life.

Most of us get into this business (hopefully) because we have a passion for health and for fitness. We feel COMPELLED to share what we know, to help every unfit body that is reaching out for something better. We are good at what we do when we care and connect on a personal level. Sometimes that makes it hard to leave the emotional part of the job at the gym when the day is done. Sometimes that means we take the clients’ frustration and make it our own.

This is why I sometimes feel like a failure. I can’t “fix” everything and I take it personally. I don’t question the principles I hold dear. The 4 Keys to Real Fitness are solid. When this happens, I question my coaching skills and my ability to fix the problem the client has come to me to solve. Each time a client doesn’t “pick up what I am putting down” I feel like I am failing.

What I need to remember in these times is her explanation of why I can’t help them overcome. It’s because they aren’t ready to hear what I have to say. I can have the best plan. I can break it down into the small and manageable pieces. I can assign homework, send workout text reminders and email food tips after reviewing a food journal. None of it works if the client isn’t ready to make real changes. And that is OKAY.

I need to focus on the things they are achieving. I need to HEAR the positive things that they are saying.

  • I feel so much better after this workout.
  • I opened the jar without my husband’s help.
  • I did a one mile fun run with my granddaughter.
  • The doctor says whatever I have been doing KEEP DOING IT.

I too forget that success does not always lie in the end result. I have lapses where I forget to enjoy the process. I too get so caught up in THAT NUMBER that I forget getting a good workout may be the client’s only goal for today. I need to remember that everyone on this journey moves at a different pace. I forget how many rookie fitness mistakes I made in the beginning and how slowly my journey began.

Luckily, along with my need to fix people I also have a great amount of stubbornness. I don’t mind saying the same thing over and over again. I don’t have a problem preaching the basics each and every day because I know one day YOU will be ready. I know WE will get there. I know failure is nothing to actually be ashamed of. It just means we are trying. As long as we are trying…

Failure is Impossible.

– Susan B. Anthony.

A Heart Attack at 31? Meet Fitness Success Story Laura

A Heart Attack at 31? Meet Fitness Success Story Laura

One morning, about a year ago, I got a text from a client. She told me wasn’t going to be able to make our training session that night. She said she was at the ER and would send me details later. Laura had a newborn and a young son so my initial thought was one of them was ill or injured. Laura was just getting started and I worried that if this issue was serious, it might set her back a few weeks. I could not have imaged that we would not work together again for almost 9 months. When I received this text message later that day I was in shock.

A Heart Attack at 31? Meet Fitness Success Story Laura

In Laura’s words, here is what happened that night her world turned upside down.

I felt like I was being crushed by a huge amount of weight and no matter how I moved to get away from the crushing pain, I could not…I went back into my bedroom and asked Andrew (my husband) to get up and get (our son) some juice and then come back and call 911 because I was having a heart attack.  Andrew jumped out of bed, and started listing all the symptoms of a heart attack.  I had all the symptoms that he listed: my chest felt like it was being crushed, my left arm had a pain down it and felt strange/numb, I was having difficulty breathing, I was sweating, I was disoriented etc.  Andrew told me to wait right there while he went to get the juice.  Instead of just sitting there, I got up and washed my face, brushed my teeth, put on different clothes, picked up some toys etc.  I was too embarrassed to have the first responders see me in my nightgown and toys on the floor.

Thankfully someone had shared the Just a Little Heart Attack video with Laura. Without that knowledge she might never have suspected what was happening to her. Being a woman in her early 30s she certainly didn’t fit the profile of someone at risk for a heart attack. She came to me originally to feel better and lose weight post pregnancy. Nothing in her health history indicated anything that would be a red flag for a heart attack. What neither she nor I knew at the time was she had a hole in her heart that she had been born with. It just chose that moment in time to make itself known.

I helped connect Laura with one of the past BetterU participants who had faced a similar situation and with the local American Heart Association office for more information and support on her road to recovery. She and I kept in touch via email. I could tell she wanted to come back to training but was also scared to push her body again.

I also signed up for Cardiac Rehab, which is a program for people who have heart attacks, heart disease, etc.  In Cardiac Rehab, nurses supervise your workout program while you are connected to a heart rate monitor.  This helped me to feel really confident and comfortable as I learned to increase my exercise level.  After going through something so traumatic like a heart attack, I was very nervous about something like that happening again.  Even though I knew that my condition was rare and a congenital heart defect, the thought of a heart attack taking place again was ALWAYS on my mind at first.  It was very mental and emotional for me.  Cardiac Rehab helped to ease some of these concerns.

Her doctor was also very cautious with exercise. He did advise her to lose weight but other than cardiac rehab he provided little help on the specifics of how to achieve that goal. Laura kept in her mind the things we had discussed about nutrition during the short time we had worked together and kept waiting for her body to be ready for exercise again.

I knew, as we began to plan for GoRed and BetterU 2014, that Laura was to be the Survivor Story for the GoRed for Women luncheon. I was, however, a bit surprised when she applied to be on the BetterU team. I was excited to have her back in the gym and help her achieve those goals that had been put on hold.

You couldn’t tell that Laura had worked her way back from heart surgery in the gym. She worked as hard and sweated as much as anyone else! She ENJOYED the Metabolic Circuit workout! She also enjoyed camaraderie of our Saturday morning meetings and workouts.

Being an athlete all my life, I loved the idea of being on a team with like-minded women who are all on a path to good health.  I wanted that connection, support and encouragement.

Laura did have a bit of a head start on her journey. She came into the program having lost 30 lbs. since January. Despite a hectic summer she lost another 20 lbs with the BetterU program. Perhaps what is more important, however, is what she gained.

BetterU has changed my life and in turn the lives of my children and husband.  Every Sunday, we plan what we are going to eat for dinner throughout the week.  I make my grocery list based on this plan.  It helps us to stay focused in busy, stressful times.  If I’ve had a stressful day at work, my husband knows the plan for dinner so he can help me out if needed.  We do not deviate from the plan because the food is in the house, and everything is pretty well laid out for us to follow.  This has helped tremendously!  In the evenings most days, my family also goes for a walk together.  It is a nice time where we can talk and spend quality time together.  It is also important for me to show my children patterns of healthy living and to include them in exercise and healthy eating.  This way, it will be normal for them and they can hopefully incorporate these things into their lives someday when they are adults.

Laura admits that her journey has just begun. She told me that BetterU was a start, a way to gain consistency and “to feel like myself again – happy and healthy”. Based on her glow today at the GoRed Luncheon I would say Mission ACCOMPLISHED, Laura!