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. []

Article Source:



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!

Exercise and Goals

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Man aiming bow and arrow

Aim at a big goal but break that goal down into smaller targets that are closer and easier to hit.

A number of issues become more of a concern as you age. But the overwhelming majority of those issues stem from overuse or lack of use.  This is why exercise and goals are so important. If you sit on the couch snacking on chips and exercising little, you deprive your body of the nutrition it needs and the movement it craves. However, if you run five miles every day for eight years on concrete, you beat up your joints and pound your muscles and wear them down. Balance is the key. If you are a competitive runner, then there are things you can do in the off season to heal and restore your body. But that’s an article for another day.

It is never too late to start an exercise program and the health benefits are worth the effort and consistency. You joyfully fit your clothes or drop a size and you shore up your immune system and, as a result, get sick less often.

At times, regular exercise may feel like a chore. If you don’t make it a priority, you can easily lose track of why you actually need to do it. If you are new to a regular exercise schedule, surrounding yourself with like-minded people will boost your commitment and focus. A friend or family member can create a little competition and make the exercise process more fun. You can participate in a boot camp or join a running club. In all cases the support will make you look forward to the sessions.

Any exercise regime needs health goals or fitness goals to be successful and yours is no different. Is it, like mine, to maintain? If so, you need to mix it up because maintenance can be boring. Personally I toss in P90X sessions in the colder months and park workouts and track workouts in the warm months. I also run the stadium steps, preferably college stadium.

For others, a fitness goal can be as simple as running an five minutes or at a faster pace every week or skipping a reality tv show in favor of a healthy walk. Having a monthly or weekly goal will help you maintain your commitment. Small health and fitness goals build to large goals. Having an end goal of  “I will have washboard abs” or “I will lose 20 pounds” may be too daunting if that’s the only goal you have. You reinforce yourself when you break that goal into more achievable and trackable components that make you feel like you are on track. For example, the 20 lb. weight loss goal could be broken down into a 2 lb. weight loss each week. The washboard abs goal could be broken down into a waistline shrinkage of 1/2 inch every 2 weeks or more definition in other body parts.

Just remember, if you have to battle to achieve your health goals, you WILL lose. If you structure your goal achievement so that you RECOGNIZE and build on your success, you will succeed. Success begets success. So structure your exercise program and achievement tracking accordingly.

How Women Can Enjoy Vibrant Health at 40+

Saturday, February 15th, 2014
Woman treading water

Have fun in the water! You can swim, do water aerobics, use a kickboard and/or fins.

Regular exercise is crucial to maintaining a toned physique and vibrant health as you grow older. If you have not been exercising regularly, then choosing to engage in an enjoyable activity such as swimming, walking, or running provides a good start. If your flexibility is not where it used to be or you’ve been engaging in high impact exercise for years, when you pass forty, high impact exercise routines such as aerobics may not feel as good. This is because the connective tissue becomes less elastic with disuse or misuse.

Because of this,  more women are switching to or taking up yoga and Pilates. To maintain my vibrant health, I incorporate a 10-minute yoga routine into my pre-work morning and do an hour of yoga twice a week because yoga helps greatly with flexibility but also with calming me and minimizing stress. Just as much as yoga and Pilates are good for flexibility, they also aid significantly with balance.

It is vitally important to keep the heart healthy with cardiovascular training as well. Power yoga can have cardiovascular benefits. In addition to walking/running/swimming, you can use the elliptical machines at the gym or head to a state park with cross country trails and do some cross country skiing or hiking. (For the skiing, you of course need snow which definitely has not been a problem in the northern states this winter!! Shucks, even some portions of the south had days where you could cross country ski on the streets!)

Resistance training and weight bearing activities not only strengthen and build your muscles but they also increase your bone strength. Muscles atrophy without use and your bones lose density without use. These two are related. You can pop extra strength calcium pills but, unless you have an ailment which causes calcium deficiency, nothing will impact your bone density like the simple act of doing weight training exercises. And that’s training with enough weights to make the last couple of reps difficult to lift, NOT just swinging weights or cables which, unfortunately, I see so many women do.

To reiterate, a well-rounded exercise program that keeps you in vibrant health and gives you a toned physique targets your cardiovascular fitness (your heart health), your muscle tone (and bone density), and your flexibility and balance. Do some type of aerobic exercise you consider fun and mix it up! Your body adapts to the same activity and becomes efficient at doing it so you won’t burn as many calories after you’ve “mastered” that exercise. For example, do a 45 minute weight workout followed by a 15-minute yoga practice. Or dance around the living room for an hour.

Here’s to your health!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you have as much fun today and tomorrow as I will. I will enjoy my New Year’s Eve and then spend my New Year’s Day watching BCS (Bowl Championship Series, for those who do not watch college football) college football all day long.

Lack of Use or Overuse Gives Symptoms of Aging

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
I am proof that muscle loss is inevitable past 40.

I am proof that muscle loss is not inevitable past 40.

Regular exercise and sensible eating are crucial at any age. However, while for some it might be relatively easy to maintain a well-toned body when in your 20s; passing forty is a whole new ball game. Of course, as seen by simply checking out many in their 20’s at the mall or at the gym, “youth” does not equal fitness!! Many start to lose their fitness, especially if they do not exercise. If you keep this up, your muscles atrophy from lack of use, meaning your muscles begin to shrink and your metabolism slows.

This muscle atrophy is what many attribute to aging. However, that’s just not so. If you do not use it, you lose it. If you sit on your butt most of the day, your butt will get soft and jiggly! There’s nothing magic to it. Let the years pass and this process picks up speed! You want a nice toned butt even though you are now 45 and haven’t had one in 18 years? Well, you must get off it and move it, use weights, walk the steps, preferably two at a time. But take heart. Muscle atrophy and the resulting weight gain is NOT a given.

Your body starts to gain weight faster and faster as your muscles shrink and your metabolism slows down. Without any weight bearing exercises, your tendons no longer pull on your bones. Because your bones are not subjected to this “stress” and movement, they also begin to weaken over time.

If you’ve been the reverse – active your entire life – you may have overly stressed your joints and built up a great deal of oxidative stress from all the exercise. This physical stress also wears your body down. Physical stress also results from the foods we eat. Eating a lot of calories via low nutrient foods that take days to make their way out of our bodies wears our bodies out. Put all this together and you have what many call the aging effect, but what I call the “bad food, no exercise or over exercise effect.”

The essential question as these body changes take place is whether you can control or reverse this? As I’ve already alluded to, the good news is that you can! With some major changes in lifestyle, or if you are already in pretty good health, some tweaks,  women (and men) can remain or become fit and fabulous when they hit their 40’s.