Fitness Success Story: Meet Terri

Fitness Success Story: Meet Terri

I agreed to be the Health Coach for the BetterU Health Makeover challenge because it wasn’t a weight loss competition. I’m not a fan of “Biggest Loser” type competitions that incentivize people to focus on short-term weight loss at the expense of long-term health and happiness.

That doesn’t mean most of the women who apply don’t want to lose weight. Who doesn’t want to look good in their favorite pair of jeans? Maintaining a normal body weight is also a part of long-term health but it is not the ONLY number that matters.

Overcoming the emphasis on the scale is sometimes a frustrating challenge during the first few weeks. The BetterU ladies are highly motivated and do a great job of applying the 4 Keys to Real Fitness. They start to feel better and stronger right away but they sometimes get discouraged because THAT NUMBER doesn’t move much initially.

There are, however, other numbers that DO make big moves in the first few weeks of the program. Terri’s story is an excellent example of how we can redefine success by shifting focus from one number to another.

Terri applied for BetterU for many reasons but her family history was the biggest. She lost both parents to heart attacks. Her sister passed away just over 3 years ago after having a massive heart attack in her sleep. I remember our first meeting was on the anniversary of her sister’s passing and how she described everything she had been through since. She was ready for a new beginning, to come out of her grief and start living again. She wanted to be there for her kids and grandkids, to be for them what she was missing in her own life.

She had lost weight in the past with a popular Very Low Calorie diet program. For anyone coming off these types of program, the weight loss is incredibly difficult to maintain. When you are grieving it is nearly impossible. With a metabolism that had slowed down due to severe calorie restriction, Terri’s weight didn’t really change much at first. She knew she felt better but she shared with me one day after a personal training session how discouraged she was because THAT NUMBER wasn’t moving. We discussed the probable causes and I did my best to reassure her that while the scale didn’t show much progress I knew she was making big progress in her daily habits and how her body was functioning. It was just going to take some time to get her metabolism moving again.

We didn’t meet for the two weeks before and after the Fourth of July weekend. When we met the following Saturday for our BetterU group workout I could tell something was different. When I asked for “Went Wells” Terri shared how success had manifested itself with a different set of numbers.

My (initial labs) at Mercy were high, but not what I considered awful.  My cholesterol was 251 with my LDL being 149 and HDL 52. My triglycerides were 253. A health issue sent me to the doctor (during our break).  The doctor ordered blood work and the results completely shocked me.  The blood work this time showed my cholesterol was 185 with my LDL 106 and HDL 57.  And triglycerides had dropped to 109!  I was ready to do the happy dance.  I was shocked that everything could change so much in less than 30 days.

Losing weight was still important to Terri but an important shift had occurred. It was only part of the goal now, one of many numbers that could define health and fitness in Terri’s eyes. She now felt the success I was seeing the whole time! She was as proud of herself as I had been since day 1!

As predicted that other number also started to move as well. As we move toward the Go Red for Women luncheon I know Terri is still thinking about how she will look in her red dress. But I also know she is looking at her health beyond the dress size. She is looking forward to a life were she is there for those who love her and whom she cares about. That optimism, that inner strength and health, will make her glow as she walks the runway.

Nominate Pamela for The Best Personal Trainer in 417 Magazine!

Vote for Me! Best Personal Trainer in 417-land!

I want to ask for your vote for Best Personal Trainer for the Best of 417 Magazine. Since most of you have not had a chance to know and work with me one on one this request might seem a bit unfair. I hope my blog, Facebook posts and Instagram photos have given you a good idea of who I am and what I do but I understand if you have questions. While I would love to sit down with each one of you and talk about what I do in order to win your vote, I don’t have enough hours in the day (or week) to accomplish this. Instead we can do a “virtual” interview. I have provided answers below to standard job interview questions. Image you and I are in my office (or yours) sipping green tea and chatting as you review my answers.

  1. Tell me about yourself (and your fitness philosophy).
    I am a natural introvert who came to fitness late in life. I was the fat kid in class and a bookworm who was often teased. It wasn’t until about age 24 that I started to get it together and get in the gym. I know what it’s like to take those first scary steps. That’s why I try to create a safe and non-intimidating environment for women to start (or restart) their fitness journey. My mission is to empower them with fitness and give them a solid foundation upon which to build a fitness journey that will last a lifetime. I want to help them become strong, inside and out.
  2. What did you do before this (or why did you leave your last job)?
    I worked for one of the biggest banks in the country for over 15 years. One day in 2009 I got a call from my manager that started with “You still have a job but…”. I don’t know how many people were given severance that day but it felt like we lost half of our team. We lost a lot of valuable people with more experience than I who certainly enjoyed their job more than I did. I had serious survivor’s guilt. It made me examine my life and what I was doing with it. Thrive Personal Fitness was born that year with me training part time while I still held a full time job. Starting out in the worst year the fitness industry has ever seen gave me no place to but up. In 2011 I was able to quit my banking job and pursue my fitness passion full time.
  3. What experience do you have with (people my age, people my size, people with heart conditions, etc.)?
    I have worked with all ages, shapes and sizes. I have worked with clients who are post heart attack, have type 1 and type 2 diabetes and post gastric bypass. I don’t turn anyone away because they are “hopeless”. No one is beyond hope if the desire is there. Every client is treated as an individual. If anything concerns me, we will turn to your doctor for guidelines. If there is something I don’t know, I’ll tell you. If I think you need a physical therapist and a sports specific coach, I will tell you. I want you to be happy. This is about your journey, not mine.
  4. Tell me about your strengths?
    I’ve been there. I get what it’s like to not feel comfortable in your own skin. What you see is also what you get. I am the only personal trainer at Thrive Personal Fitness. While it does limit the amount of clients I can see, I get to know my clients better. It allows me to spend more time per client reviewing food logs, planning homework or providing support outside of the gym.
  5. What’s your favorite movie?
    I used to ask this of perspective bank tellers because it can tell you a lot about someone? Can I have two? The Breakfast Club and Never Been Kissed.
  6. What questions do you have for me?
    Where do YOU see yourself in five years? Are you in charge of your destiny or are you letting someone or something else define your journey?

I hope this interview helped me make my case for your vote. If you do have a question you want to ask then please do! Tell me what’s missing if I haven’t convinced you yet that I am the best in 417? Leave it in the comments or email me at I want to win your respect, your trust and your vote. I am an open book. Ask away and nominate me in the Best of 417!

This is just round one by the way. If I am lucky enough to make it the second round, you can interview me again.

Thank you!

The 5 Things You Need to Know From IDEA World Fitness 2014

Do you ever wish you could attend a conference with over 12,000 exercise professionals? Do you wish you could sit beside them as they learn what’s new in weight management science and fitness technology or as they learn new exercise techniques and tools? I wish each one of you could have been by my side as I did TRX Atomic Pushups and walked the Expo sampling new protein bars while checking out the latest shoes from Ryka at IDEA World Fitness. Since my budget wouldn’t allow me to buy badges for everyone, let me share THE five things you need to know from IDEA World Fitness 2014.

  1. Did you know 50 percent of people who buy activity trackers or wearable fitness technology no longer use their gadgets? Many of those who do wear them use them ineffectively. They don’t review the data to look for habits or they use numbers to help rationalize unhealthy behaviors. Have you heard about the study that showed FitBit users actually gain weight? Participants were eating all the calories their device said they burned. What they were unaware of is how large the margin of error is on activity trackers. Trackers are about creating awareness not providing statistically accurate data.
  1. Forget SMART goals and go SMARTER. Hopefully you are familiar with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Based. I want you to add E for Enthusiastic and R for Revisable. Working towards a goal should make us feel good and should always be open for adjustments.
  1. The Affordable Healthcare Act could really make a difference if the prevention provisions were activated. In the balancing act of improving quality of healthcare and keeping costs under control we know exercise does both. Yet Congress hasn’t done it’s job to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid patients get access at NO COST to things like health coaching and diabetes prevention programs. Medicaid in particular is a challenge because it is a state managed program, not a federally managed one. No state wants to go first in providing health coaching benefits. I plan on writing my state representatives and governor to ask them to take the first steps. I encourage you to do the same.
  1. Even fitness professionals fall prey to the fads. I saw SO many trendy exercise programs and questionable supplements at the Expo. It’s easy to get caught up in the NEXT BIG THING but we, as professionals, need to keep our heads in the game. We all need to stick to what is proven to work for long-term health and fitness.
  1. Fitness can and should be fun. I had a great time learning about fitness games and the value of play. We should all stop taking our workouts so seriously and laugh a little. Wouldn’t your office be a better place if you played a game that made you get up and move during a team meeting? Wouldn’t you have a better retreat if you got outside and played Human Bowling or Shark Island?

What do you think you could learn at a conference like IDEAWorld Fitness? What would the name of your favorite session be?

Farmers Market Finds for August 2014

One of the benefits of long summer days is the extra daylight to do more outdoor activities. I have more energy when I leave the gym because it’s not dark out yet. Brian and I can go for evening walks, even if we have errands we need to run first. I can also take advantage of Party in the Park.

Party in the Park is the Thursday night happy hour at Farmers Park. While the farmers market isn’t as robust as it is on a Saturday morning, you still have plenty to choose from including samples from local wineries and brewing companies as wells as food vendors. I visited the market after I finished my Thursday sessions, once again showing up not long before closing. I wasn’t interested in partaking of the drinks or food but instead I was on a mission for fresh produce to accent my latest haul from Costco and Trader Joe’s. I had some specifics I hoped to find as well as a curiosity on what had change since my last visit to the market.

I can’t say if it was my timing or the fact that it was in the evening, but the crowd was much smaller on Thursday night than the weekend market. I REALLY liked this. I didn’t feel like I was in anyone’s way as I slowly meandered past the stalls. I wasn’t hurried in my analysis of who had the best kale for the best price. The trade off for this is a smaller selection. There are fewer vendors at the evening market and, since I came in late, they were out of or had a very small selection left of certain items. I almost had to duke it out with another lady for the last green onions at one booth. Luckily the dispute was settled peacefully when we discovered there was more than one bundle on the table.

Me efforts were rewarded with white peaches! If you’ve never experienced the goodness that a white peach is you are missing out! They are a perfect blend of peach and pear that has a way too short growing season here in the Midwest. It’s been a few weeks since my last visit to the market so I am not sure if I am catching them at the end or the beginning of their peak. I hope the beginning.

I also loaded up my bag with kale, leeks, zucchini and basil. Knowing I would be on the road again soon I didn’t want to load up too much. I didn’t partake of some of the other great goodies in season right now: peppers (of all varieties!), yellow squash, potatoes and green beans. Tomatoes are everywhere right now too but we are not tomato eaters. I think it’s too early for the spaghetti squash I was hoping to pick up but perhaps on the next trip.

What did I make with this small load of goodies plus the staples in my pantry? The zucchini along with red onions and carrots I already had were paired with tofu (I bought 2 cases at Costco) made a wonderful vegan frittata that I served with NEAT Breakfast Patties. The kale and leeks made a crustless quiche and the basil ended up in the spaghetti squash that I purchased from Mama Jean’s Natural Market. Kale is my new favorite smoothie ingredient too. I never need as much as I buy for a given recipe so I’ve started adding it to my post workout shake. Thanks to my new NutriBullet, I can add the kale to my regular shake of:

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 Tbsp PB2
  • 1 Scoop Designer Whey Gourmet Chocolate Protein Powder

Nothing goes to waste and I get a little help eating meeting my veggie quota for the day.

Does the bounty of summer help you get your 5 servings a day of vegetables and fruits? How do you make sure the fresh picked farmers market produce doesn’t go to waste?

Quick Cardio With No Equipment Necessary!

This week I am in Anaheim for IDEA World Fitness Blogfest. One of the many GREAT things about going to a fitness conference is I don’t have to worry about getting my workouts in! Fitting in fitness on the road otherwise can be a challenge. In case you need a workout for travel (or just something quick for at home on a busy day) here is a workout I did with Paul Adler on KY3 Ozarks Today. It’s four moves with no equipment required.  Let me know what you think!

Personal Trainer Pamela Hernandez takes you through a 4 move circuit workout, quick cardio with no equipment.