Five Steps to Fitness Success – Part 2

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Step 3: Define Your Fitness Goals

Start with YOUR definition of fitness. What does it mean to you? It could be reaching and maintaining a more healthy body weight. It could be lowering your blood pressure, gaining lean muscle mass, or being able to walk a brisk mile without getting overly winded. Your goal could be being fit enough to carry your grandson up the stairs. For some, it’s bench-pressing 400 lbs. or running a marathon. It doesn’t matter.

Define what you want out of a fitness program.

It might be helpful to talk to people you know who are already actively engaged in exercise, or to have an assessment consultation with a Personal Trainer/Fitness Specialist at a local health club.

Make sure your goals are realistic, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Keep in mind that fitness is REALLY about one thing: feeling better!

So, when you define your goal, be sure to think about how reaching this goal will make you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. That will make the goal feel more “real”, and give you a motivational tool you can use throughout your fitness journey.

Hard vs. Soft goals:

It really pays to establish “hard” goals. That is, goals that are as specific and measurable as possible.

“Soft” goals on the other hand are more vague and general.

For example…

Soft Goal:

I want to get in shape. (how will you measure your success? What does “in shape” mean?)

Measurable, Specific Goal:

By June 30th, I want to lose 10 lbs, and increase my endurance to the point where I can jog two miles without stopping.

Setting specific fitness goals is also a great motivator, because you can track your success and see progress as you move toward your goal.

Step 4: Lay Out Your Road Map

You’ve decided to make a real commitment to take action, and to start taking better care of yourself. AND you’ve taken the next important step by defining your fitness goals.

For many people, those first steps are the most difficult. It’s important to understand that without a real commitment (Step 2) and clearly-defined goals (Step 3), there is no way to develop a plan. That would be like building a house without a blue-print!

But once you’ve completed these crucial steps, you are ready to develop your road map.

Your fitness road map must answer the BIG THREE questions:

What is my goal (where am I going?)

What is my plan (how do I get there?)

How to I track progress (how do I tell where am I now?)

It is absolutely critical that you lay out a road map that addresses these BIG THREE questions. The road map should outline the actual exercise routines to be performed, the scheduling of workouts, and a procedure for measuring progress at prescribed intervals.

The best approach is to start with a high-level outline, and then fill in details as you gather information. The outline should include:

workout frequency (e.g. 4 times per week)

approximate mix of flexibility, strength and cardio training (based on goals)

actual exercise programs (*)

check points (e.g. weigh-ins every 3 weeks)

The more specific you are in this planning phase, the BETTER your chances for success!

(*) There are many sources for help in designing your exercise program. Workout programs are available over the internet or in book stores. Our best advice is: GET HELP. Whether it’s from a fitness-minded friend or trained professional at a health club, by getting skilled assistance you can easily build a road map that includes enough variation to ward of the potential boredom of a fixed routine.

Also consider whether you’d like to enlist someone as a workout partner. Some people find it motivating to have a partner; it might even occasionally “guilt” you into working out when you know your partner is counting on you. And two heads are usually better than one!

Once you have your road map, you can determine what workout venues will make sense. Depending on your goals, there may be several effective paths for you to follow. You might join a walking club, or sign up for dance lessons. You might begin an independent exercise program at home, or join a friend who jogs regularly.

Remember: You should consult your physician before beginning an exercise regimen.

Step 5: Feel Good!

Fitness is, above all, about FEELING GOOD!

Once you have designed a fitness road map, the best way to succeed is to enjoy the challenge. Our bodies WANT to be fit! And once you start your program, you will feel the exhilaration that comes when you get moving.

Nothing is more motivating than knowing that you’ve defined a goal, have an action plan, and are WORKING YOUR PLAN. While you’re working your plan, always remember to:

Enjoy the ride

Track progress

Set challenging new goals for yourself.

That last point is important: you’re not “done” when your reach your goals. Fitness is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle. So, when you reach a goal, congratulate yourself and raise the bar!

You’ll find that you will look forward to workout days, and even on those rare occasions when you have to “force” yourself to work out, you’ll be glad you did. Enjoying the ride is the biggest key to success in fitness.


It’s also important to mix in some patience with your enthusiasm. You might miss a workout or two, or get side-tracked for a week. This happens to even the most dedicated fitness devotees. If and when you slip, or your progress slows, it’s important to remember how much long-term benefit you will get from your fitness program. And even after a “slip up”, nothing feels better than getting right back on track.


By following the FIVE STEPS TO FITNESS SUCCESS, you can realize IMMEDIATE improvements in your overall fitness jump-start your journey toward your fitness goals ENJOY getting the most out of your fitness program



1) Make Changes TODAY!

2) Decide & Commit

3) Define Goals

4) Design Your Road Map

5) Feel Good!

About the Author:

Pete Bellisano is a certified personal trainer and owner of Peak Performance Fitness in Berkeley Heights NJ. Peak clients are achieving outstanding results losing weight and improving overall fitness, through our unique approach to Fitness For Real People. Visit our site to see what our clients have to say about their success, and to pick up your free fitness info.

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Five Steps to Fitness Success – Part 1

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Here is a guest post by Pete Bellisano regarding the keys to fitness success, as he sees them. In general, I agree. Read on and be the judge. – TW

Five Steps to Fitness Success

Despite what you might see on TV infomercials or in newspaper ads, there is no magic bullet or miracle pill that will get you fit overnight. No matter what any glamorous hard-body spokesperson says about the newest “revolutionary” exercise machine, diet, or supplementation program- the fact is that achieving fitness success takes time and energy. You can bet that the spokesperson did not get his or her physique by using the “new, amazing de-fat-alizer” machine for 30 seconds a day! He or she is undoubtedly engaged in a fitness program that includes sensible diet and lots of exercise.

On the other hand, we believe that achieving fitness success is well within everyone’s reach. This article will provide you with powerful, effective steps you can take RIGHT NOW that will jump-start your fitness program and get you on track to fitness success.


1. Make Changes TODAY!

2. Decide & Commit

3. Define Goals

4. Design Your Road Map

5. Feel Good!

Step 1: Make Changes TODAY!

Achieving FITNESS SUCCESS is all about making consistent incremental improvements over time. Like the power of compounding interest, implementing even small improvements can result in a cumulative snow-balling effect that generates momentum, enthusiasm and results!

There are specific, immediate changes you can make that will deliver meaningful results:

Move, by whichever means works best for you.

Move, by whichever means works best for you.


It sounds obvious, but it’s truly amazing how much potential is in this simple step. Park at the far end of the parking lot; take the stairs instead of the elevator; chase your grandchildren around. Our bodies were built for movement, and the simple act of moving more is a great way to start your fitness program. Walking is a vastly underrated form of exercise. So is dancing!


You’ll hear different target quantities from different experts, but a good rule of thumb is to drink 8 glasses of water per day. It’s a good practice to drink a glass ½ hour before and after meals. Substituting water for less healthy drinks (like soda) will cut calories and reduce intake of artificial flavoring, coloring, etc. Also, increasing water intake will help curb your appetite.


Studies have shown that our bodies operate more efficiently when we spread our food intake our over five or six smaller meals per day, versus the three larger meals to which we’ve become accustomed. And what grandma told you about eating your vegetables was right on target! Most Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables regularly. It’s surprisingly easy to shrink the size of meals when you increase your water intake and include more fruits and vegetables.

plastic water bottle

Track your water too!


Another simple yet very powerful tip! Whether you go “all the way” and actually maintain a log of everything you eat, or simply try to do a mental recap periodically during the day, this is a great way to manage your diet. For example, when you get ready to eat dinner, doing a quick review of what you’ve eaten so far that day will help you make intelligent menu choices.


Flexibility is a very important component of overall fitness. A daily routine of basic stretches can greatly improve your mobility in a very short period of time. Just remember: stretching movements should be gentle and gradual, and never jerky or bouncy.

Once you’ve made the simple lifestyle changes listed above, you will begin building the positive momentum that will empower you to move aggressively toward your fitness goals!


It’s not about big, sweeping changes: the fact is you CAN NOT become fit in one day. But you can decide TODAY to make a commitment to incremental, consistent improvement that will get you on track IMMEDIATELY.

Step 2: Decide to Take Better Care of Yourself

You probably know someone who has experienced health problems that could have been avoided if the person had taken better care of him or herself. How many times have you resolved to begin taking better care of yourself?

Drawing of people stretching

These are all stretches you can do to enhance or maintain your flexibility.

But what does that mean?

Ask virtually anyone what it means to “take better care of yourself”, and undoubtedly you’ll hear something like “Get more exercise and eat sensibly”. Everyone seems to know that exercise is important to overall health and well-being, and is a big part of taking better care of yourself. We’ve all seen the reports on TV, in magazines, on the internet: it’s an irrefutable fact that people of all ages and fitness levels can reap compelling physical and psychological benefits by engaging in a sensible exercise regimen.

So…Why are so many people neglecting to engage in an exercise program, when they KNOW that this behavior will improve their health, appearance, attitude, and overall quality of life?

The answer is simple. They have not yet DECIDED TO TAKE BETTER CARE OF THEMSELVES.

You already know many good reasons to begin an exercise program. You have probably heard (or even used!) at least one of the most common excuses for not beginning a fitness program:

“I don’t have enough time”. (probably the number 1 excuse)

“I won’t feel comfortable working out with a bunch of “hard-bodies”.

“It’s too expensive”.

Let’s BUST these mythical excuses right now!


No excuses!

“I don’t have enough time”.

There are plenty of busy people who are fit, and plenty of fit people who are busy. The fact is that people who DECIDE to make the time, make the time. It’s hard to imagine there are many things in your life more important than your physical well-being, which is what enables you to enjoy all other aspects of your life.

“I won’t feel comfortable working out with a bunch of “hard-bodies”.

This is an easy one. If you’re not comfortable working out in any particular health club, THEN DON’T! There are so many different venues in which you can exercise that you are certain to find the right one with a little homework. See “Should I Join a Health Club”.

“It’s too expensive”.

The expense associated with a fitness program can vary from a multi-thousand dollar investment in home exercise equipment to a zero-cost program that includes walking, jogging and/or calisthenics. If you decide to join a health club, or seek out the services of a personal trainer, then there are of course associated costs. But once again, there are many health clubs with varying fee structures. Do some comparison shopping!

Consider the following:

a) What is the ROI (return on investment) for an effective fitness program? How much is it worth to you to improve your overall health and wellness; to have more energy and stamina; to feel better? What is the long-term price of NOT engaging in a fitness program?

b) What constitutes “expensive”? A health club costing $60 per month breaks out to roughly $14 per week. That’s something like $3 per workout, or what most people spend on coffee every day.

c) Perhaps you fall into a category that qualifies for a discount at a local health club. For example, many clubs have discount membership programs for seniors, employees of local companies (“Corporate Memberships”), referral discounts, etc. Again, doing a little homework can really pay off!

Now it’s just a matter of making the decision that you will Take Better Care of Yourself. That means making a commitment to take action.


We’re using the word “commitment” here for a reason. The dictionary defines “Commitment” as “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future”. A commitment is a PROMISE. We’re talking about making a promise to yourself that you will begin taking better care of yourself. And nothing is as gratifying as fulfilling a promise!

(Get the remaining 3 steps in the next post.)

About the Author:

Pete Bellisano is a certified personal trainer and owner of Peak Performance Fitness in Berkeley Heights NJ. Peak clients are achieving outstanding results losing weight and improving overall fitness, through our unique approach to Fitness For Real People. Visit our site to see what our clients have to say about their success, and to pick up your free fitness info. []

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The Benefits of a Sauna Session

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
Traditional sauna

This is the typical interior of saunas found at your local gym.

Many of you have likely heard that sitting in the sauna for as long as you can reasonably stand it, but for even 5-10 minutes, confers noticeable health benefits. How does a sauna work to provide you with those benefits?  Keep reading to find out.

Heart rate

When you sit in the sauna, the high temperature, which can reach over 180 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius, causes your heart rate to speed up. Your heart rate, aka your pulse, can increase rapidly by more than 30% in 5 -10 minutes. This rate increase can almost double the flow of blood pumping through your heart! This is why you will always see warnings regarding heart disease outside of all public saunas in the U.S.

Perspiration’s Purpose

This increased circulation of blood flow goes to your skin, away from your internal organs. As your body begins to sweat to cool your body down and more blood flows to your skin, the existing toxins in your skin exit your body through your sweat. That’s the purpose of perspiration: to cool your body and get rid of waste products.

Your Skin

Your blood always remains slightly alkaline, so your body continuously pushes toxins out of your bloodstream into your organs, muscular tissue, nerves and bones. In addition to being the barrier to the external world, your skin is your body’s largest organ. Therefore, your skin often absorbs a high percentage of external and internal toxins. Pushing toxins out of your body through significant sweating in the sauna clears the path for even more toxins to exit your body each time you sit in the sauna.

Preferences and Warnings

I love to have the sauna at its hottest (180 – 185 degrees Fahrenheit). I can now sit on the top bench of the sauna for 45 – 60 minutes at this heat with only a limited break to refill my 24 oz. water bottle. However, this is what I can do. You may only be able to stand the sauna’s lowest bench at 160 degrees. If you feel faint, leave immediately. Make sure you hydrate before, during and after a sauna session as you could potentially sweat out so much water, you can significantly dehydrate yourself if you do not replace that water!


Here is a very brief video of me during one sauna session.

What has your sauna experience been?


Lack of Magnesium Can Cause Major Health Issues

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Magnesium is critical to many bodily functions.

Here is a blog post by Rich Carroll that discusses an issue I’ve been dealing with recently. I think it’s highly informative and provides a number of insights. I believe you will think so too. – TCW

Lack of Magnesium Can Cause Major Health Issues

One of the most important minerals that our body needs is magnesium. It is used by every organ in our body, and specifically, the heart and kidneys must have it to function normally. Although it is known that magnesium is a mineral for the heart and bones, fairly recent research has found that it plays a much greater role in overall health. Among other things, this includes in detoxification. If you have difficulty with muscle spasms, these are often caused by magnesium deficiency.

For as important as this mineral is to us, it is not easy to detect whether we have a deficiency, and there are estimates that say that 80% of Americans are not getting enough. A blood test alone will not reveal magnesium deficiency, as only about 1% of our total magnesium levels are in the blood. Having an understanding of magnesium’s importance and knowing the difficulties in detecting its deficiencies, how do we make sure we are getting enough magnesium? Here we will point out some of the difficulties involved in ensuring we get enough of this vital mineral.

1. Our food sources are no longer loaded with magnesium.

Obviously soil quality has a lot to do with the yields of magnesium-rich foods. It is estimated that an average diet from 100 years ago had yields twice as high in magnesium and other minerals as compared to an ordinary diet of today. Magnesium is one mineral that can be farmed out of soil, so eating food that normally yields high amounts of magnesium grown in depleted soil will obviously not yield as many benefits.

2. Herbicides can block absorption.

Another excellent reason to buy organic food is because certain herbicides can act as chelators to block minerals such as magnesium from being absorbed into the system. So even if we do consume foods that are magnesium-rich, they might be blocked by these chelators. Magnesium can also be effectively eliminated from foods by the way the foods are cooked or processed.

3. Other foods can inhibit magnesium absorption.

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or eating a lot of sugar can cause the body to pass magnesium through the system before it is absorbed. In addition, elderly people, especially those that take medications, can also have problems absorbing needed magnesium.

Man in shorts on bike.

Insufficient magnesium can cramping during physical activity.

4. Supplements aren’t always the answer.

Many people look to supplements as the answer to a mineral-deficient diet, but there are a lot of complications to taking supplements. Not all supplements are absorbed the same way as vitamins and minerals from natural food. In addition, there is the issue of the synergistic relationships with other vitamins, specifically vitamin K2 and D3. When you supplement, you should know exactly the reasons you’re using the supplements, and you should keep them to a minimum.

5. There must be a good balance between calcium and magnesium.

When you get those muscles cramps, it could be that you have an imbalance of calcium and not enough magnesium. It is important, especially when you exercise, to not only drink plenty of water but to keep your calcium, magnesium and potassium ratios in mind. Otherwise you will likely have cramping issues.

About the Author:

We are learning that when you eat is as an important factor for losing weight and gaining muscle as what you eat.� Read more about creating delicious meal using garlic and other spices on our website.� �Rich Carroll is a writer and avid health advocate now living in Chicago.

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An Over 50 Olympic Athlete

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

I watched the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Admittedly, I wasn’t glued to the television like I was during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but I was definitely interested and entertained. I watched as much of the speed skating as I could. (Yes, as a former sprinter I am partial to well-developed thighs and glutes and the men definitely have them in speedskating! Because I am 5’7″ and 150 lbs, I prefer the long track because those guys are bigger than me. I have maybe 2-3″ and 15-20 lbs. on the short track guys!) I also watched some of the downhill skiing events. I ski and watching the athletes in the luge, downhill skiing, the Super G, and other events shows me why I’m not a better skier. Shift my weight and remain only 2-3″ above ground on the right or left. Hah! I’d fall over before I ever got close. The only time I get that close to the ground when exercising is when I’m purposely doing floor exercises! And to get that close while traveling at speeds in excess of 60 mph without benefit of surrounding steel or aluminum. No thank you. But kudos to them.

The 54-year old slalom skier

The 54-year old prince in all his pre-competition glory at Sochi.

Which brings me to why I’m writing. I have my theories on why more “older” athletes do not compete. It has more to do with what athletes and their coaches and trainers believe and the wear and tear a body is subjected to than just one’s age. One day I’ll share them, but not here. (I’m sure you’re holding your breath.) Anyway, I was quite excited to see an Olympic athlete who was not just over the age of 40, but over the age of 50.  He was from Mexico! (Actually, he has German and Mexican citizenship but he competed for the country that’s somewhat less of a winter sport powerhouse! Mexico sent just one competitor to the Winter Olympics – him.) His name? Drum roll please. Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, 54 years of age, competed in the slalom. Yes, he skied down the hill on the slalom! One of those events that make you take your body close to the ground at high (excessive!) speeds. Kudos and congratulations to him! Felicidades! (That’s Spanish for congratulations.) Gluckwünsch! (German) He has participated in six Olympics, but hadn’t participated since the 1994 Winter Games. (This lends credence to my not-yet-discussed theory of why more older athletes do not compete!) The articles I read about Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe focused more on the broad range of his interests and pursuits (i.e., “the most interesting competitor in the Winter Olympics”) than on his training and skills. The prince qualified for the Olympics, which was his main goal. He came more to enjoy himself and provide PR for his country than to actually try to win. But he was there! So your takeaway should be: It’s never too late! Have you had visions of returning to the competitive arena in a sport you played or participated in two decades ago? If Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe can make it to the Olympics after a 20-year absence, you can join your local tennis league or road runners group. Go for it! Just remember to do the necessary ground work before you jump back in! Here’s to your health!

Rejuvenate and Revitalize with Smoothies / Juices: Video

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

Smoothies can help you rejuvenate and recover from holiday festivities.

Are you worn out from the holidays? Eat too much, eat the the wrong stuff, or both (too much of the wrong stuff)? Don’t despair! You can rejuvenate, revitalize and restore by drinking juices / smoothies packed chock full of nutrients. And they’re delicious too!

Watch the video below for photos of how these smoothies positively impact the Wright Family (Me – Tiffany, Toccata, and Trevor).

 10 Smoothies for Energy & Health

Here’s wishing you athletic success and superb health and fitness in 2015!! To order the recipes, visit Worn Out??

OSU’s Sugar Bowl Victory and My Mental Health

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
Ohio State University logo

The logo of my alma mater, The Ohio State University.

In lieu of workout videos, I thought I’d share some exciting video footage (ha ha!) from January 1 at the Sugar Bowl. I’m not sure it will be good for your emotional health, but the game and the outcome were definitely good for mine! Remember, part of creating and maintaining superb health is to have fun and enjoy your life. Well, that’s exactly what I was doing when I filmed this.

Good luck in the National Championship in Arlington, TX on Jan. 12, 2015, Ohio State! I will be there!!

Happy New Year from the Sugar Bowl!

Sunday, January 4th, 2015
happy new year banner

Happy New Year to All!


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!! My 2015 began fabulously, with fireworks in New Orleans, Louisiana. Then, it was REALLY fabulous because my beloved Ohio State (my alma mater!!) Buckeyes beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in an exciting, close game at the Sugar Bowl.

Here is how I spent my first day of the New Year, 2015: Watch this very brief video of the celebration at the Sugar Bowl following Ohio State’s victory over Alabama on January 1, 2015.

Happy New Year to all OSU alumni and fans!!

Video: Recharge with Smoothies

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Check out this video from FabFit40!

Have you been eating lots of food, perhaps too many sweets? Do  you need to recharge and rejuvenate during/after the holidays? Watch this video, then click on the link below! Members of the Wright family use these smoothie recipes to help maintain excellent health and fitness. These complex juices (easy to make, but nutritionally complex) are a great way to rejuvenate and restore, anytime, but definitely during and after the holidays. Watch this video for an overview of what you too can achieve.


Why Do People Think Those Who Meditate Are Saints?

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

I meditate on a regular basis. I find that I am the most calm and centered when I meditate first thing in the morning after I wake up and right before I go to bed. The morning meditation gets my mind right for the day and the evening meditation allows me to release any issues or tensions I may have surrounding how my day went. I am fortunate to never have had a problem with sleeping. But now I go to bed relaxed and content instead of just tired!

I have a friend who meditates on a more regular basis than I do. Whereas I may meditate 30 minutes a day, she typically meditates one hour in the morning and another 20-30 minutes at night. (She gets up an hour early to do this.) Just as for me, meditation has helped her move from a Type A personality. However, unlike me (I’m a reformed Type A, not fully laid back yet!), she exudes calm and coolness, even beyond that of a laid back personality. Because of this, people attribute all of her calm and coolness to the fact that she does yoga and meditates. She occasionally complains that people think those that meditate are saints.

Meditators are not saints

My Dad saw this quote on the Dark Goddess’ Facebook page and thought it sounded like me!

My friend, K. (name abbreviated to protect the innocent!), says people refer to her as a “meditating yogi.” I had a good laugh at that one. K. does not teach classes nor does she have a following but that’s what some people call her. When she shows the slightest bit of anger, people look surprised. She’s not a Buddhist monk! She doesn’t pretend to be, but apparently some think she is.

I must not yet exude the same level of calm because people don’t have the same expectation from me! I radiate confidence but sometimes I think my calm comes across as the calm before the storm. People don’t run from me but they never expect me to be a saint. So I shall count my blessings. People who know me appreciate that I am calmer as a result of meditation but understand that I am a work in progress. And they’re happy for the progress instead of wondering why I’m not a saint!

Back to K. The purpose of meditation is to calm and center you, relax your mind, drastically reduce and eventually eliminate, with practice, the continual stream of thoughts that stress you. By emptying your mind or focusing on one or a few positive thoughts you de-stress and detoxify your mind, which helps your mental health and your physical health. Meditation is a spiritual practice, working above the level of pure thought. So I can see where people get visions of saintlihood for those who are avid practicioners.

But note, a morning meditation or evening meditation practice is there to make you a better you. NOT a saint. You and K. are still human. You become less reactive, typically significantly less reactive over time, but you still react on occasion. So, if you know someone who meditates and you treat her like she should be a saint, relax your judgment. Just let that person be and be happy that she is typically calmer than most around you! If this is you, relax! Who cares what others think? Appreciate how you are compared to how you were and commend yourself on your continued growth.