2016 diet tip: think MORE not LESS


photo by http://www.facebook.com/Melissafaccini

As we start off 2016  we hear about new years resolutions, holiday weight gain and what is the best program to follow. My answer is the same any time of the year I am asked : what is the best program to get results?

The best program is balanced, realistic, consistent and one that you can follow for the rest of your life.

We are immersed in a culture of labeling food good and bad followed by extreme, unrealistic diet programs to follow such as: No carbs. Juice detox cleanses. Cutting out major food groups. All of these programs set us up for failure and lead to more binge eating and yo-yo dieting because they are so hard to maintain and make us feel deprived.

Here are some DO MORE tips that will SPARK your body to feel better and help create consistent, healthy lifestyle habits.

do more: Form-FOCUS-Frequency 

If you can’t add more workout days-make it a goal to add more frequency to your workouts as your form of each exercise improves. For example,  if you are doing 3 sets of 12 reps in 15 minutes, see if you can do 3 sets of 20 reps or 4 sets of 12. Get the most out of your workouts and really focus 110% with the time you are dedicating to yourself.

do more: SHARING at meals

When eating out, why not share a meal? Order more veggies such as a salad before the meal or a side of steamed veggies.

do more: WALKING

If you don’t have a fit bit, many phones have health  apps that track the amount of walking you do in a day. Add  more steps to your day!


do more: Buddy Workouts

Plan more fun active activities with friends or make new friends with a sports league! Register for a 5k,  go ice skating, walk to a restaurant and cab home, take a dance class! Movement is more fun with friends!

do more: EATING!

Eat more: green veggies and antioxidant foods.


Try a couple do more tips, make up your own and see how your body responds. Balance and consistency will get results!

Happy 2016!



SPARK your Metabolism 2016!

Christina and I designed this six week workout program keeping in mind that time and results are very important. Each week we change the genre of exercise to SPARK the metabolism while building on exercises with proper form, and efficiency. We encourage participants to listen to their bodies making the exercises their own and allow increased body awareness to carry over into daily life with consistency.


Alignment and Strength 

Alignment exercises such as the one below allow us to assess our body positioning after long hours sitting, standing, traveling, working out or playing sports. It is important to know how our bodies are feeling before we build strength by lifting weights or body weight bearing exercises.




Balance Strength Stability

Strength is not just about lifting heavy weights. Exercises that include balance and resistance will challenge our muscles resulting in TRANSFORMATION!




Lengthen and Sculpt

We want our muscles to be strong and healthy. Body sculpting exercises that include lengthening and stretching give desired aesthetic results and also feel really good!




Total Body Shred

Once we have built a healthy foundation of strength, alignment, and lengthening it is time to push our bodies with dynamic total body movements!





Building each week with consistency, allow your body to be challenged by holding balance poses longer. Notice how your body feels before and after exercise.





Lengthening allows our bodies to recover from strength exercises quicker. The more we add movement into out daily lifestyle the better we feel the more energy we have.







How to get a Dancer Body

Dance technique  and barre inspired workout classes have become very popular- and understandably so as dancers are known for lean muscles and strength.  There is however one very important ingredient in achieving the ultimate dancer physique….




the ingredient is…


Workout toning classes inspired  by dance technique cover a very small element of dancing. If you wish to achieve a dancer body by attending such a class you will also have to add: low fat dieting, lots of cardio, stretching and massage to relieve tight muscles from repetitively  working the same “vanity” muscles over and over again.

Professional dancers practice and practice routines sometimes over 20 hours a week contorting the body in different positions so the body is strong, flexible, fluid, balanced and aligned becoming a fine tuned tool to express a choreographed, expression-ate art form-similar to how a guitar creates music and paintbrushes create paintings.

Dance practice is over and over and over again until muscle memory is created and the dance becomes as second nature as breathing. Dance is an art form and technique- exercise is only one element involved which allows the body to become a tool to create the visual art.

That being said, if we are to follow dance inspired workouts they must-must-must include a well rounded repertoire of balance, range of motion,cardio conditioning and of course PASSION and LOVE for movement and dance! We can’t just do a million thigh pulses- we actually have to move across the floor and DANCE!

I say this not to discourage dance inspired workouts, of course I am biased and believe dancing is the best workout for life.  The secret though is to focus on actually dancing not HOW the body will look.  I have many dancer friends in many shapes and sizes and the best dancers practice with  discipline, love and passion respecting their body as a tool of expression.

Here are some  Chicago area dance studios offering great cardio dance and  conditioning classes!


Latin Rhythms

Summer Slim Down


Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center

Adult ballet and Trampoline


Ruth Page

Afro Cuban, Be Moved, Adult Hip-Hop


Hubbard Street 

Be Moved, Club Cardio, Pialtes






Hangry. That kind of hunger that makes you super cranky, irritable unpleasant to be around until you get that first bite of satisfying yum! I consider hangry a level one hunger. Meaning you didn’t get that extra snack after lunch and you are late for dinner.

And yet my friends, there is another kind of hunger. It is a 12 on a scale of 1-10. The ravenous hunger that comes from taking your workouts up a notch. Running faster, lifting heavier, adding an extra day. This type of hunger goes under the RRRrrrANGRY category. It is so intense that you can actually GAIN weight from binge eating when adding that extra intense workout. The justification from the RRRrrrANGRY eating is that growling voice in your belly telling your head that you deserve it, you deserve eat! Eat whatever you want. You are a ravenous athlete! GGGGrrrrrrr!!!!!

So what is the answer to dealing with this ravenous, workout beast appetite?

Pre-empt the RRRrrrANGRY!


Consume flavorful fuel before and after your workout

Let’s face it, powdery shakes and protein bars don’t taste like real food. Even though you might be physically getting the nutrients you need from supplements, mentally you will want more because it is not satisfying. Non-flavor foods can lead to over eating.

If protein bars and shakes aren’t cutting it, try non-processed, whole grain, healthy snacks.

Some of my faves: almonds, banana, chocolate milk, peanut butter sandwich, avocado drizzled with oil.

Hunger or craving?

Take an honest survey of your food intake. Are you genuinely hungry or having a craving? If you are hungry can you add more food at another meal? Try adding extra meat on your sandwich at lunch or add a protein at breakfast. Are you skipping any meals? Are there long periods of time that you go without eating?

Are you craving sugar, fat, fried food? Sometimes a craving can mean you are not getting enough of something in your diet. Take an honest overview of your food intake. Are you getting enough greens? How is your hydration? Are you filling up on processed or starchy food? Make small changes and see how your appetite responds.

Plan ahead

Having a scrumcious meal to look forward to might make you put down the box of cookies and save a couple for after the meal instead of eating the whole box and skipping the meal all together. I speak from experience of course. There are so many healthy meal options to go and even delivery right to your front door!



Cold weather comfort food

For those of us in cooler climates, the cold weather might mean wanting to snuggle in front of the tv and snack. Chili is a great high protein warm meal, as well as soups and stews. Warm milk with cinnamon may satisfy a cold comfort sweet tooth. Know your cravings, plan ahead, be prepared!





A well rounded workout will include aligning the body as well as recovery so muscles can be pushed safely encouraging transformation. If you don’t have time to spend over an hour in the gym, see if you can break your daily movement up throughout the day or mix up the type of workouts you do from day to day.

Below is a sample sequence for a 75 minute workout.



Taking time to align the body head to toe will ensure better strength workouts allowing muscles to push to the max! A wall is a great place to align the spine with hips and shoulders serving as resistance and awareness of body position.





Pushing the body in a safe way with proper alignment is the key to transformation! Using your own body for weight bearing exercises can push the body to new levels! Some great weight bearing exercises are: Push-ups, pull-ups,tricep dips, walking lunges, wall squats. See where you are today and on more reps every day!







Workout bands add resistance which will increase range of motion allowing for flexibility creating sleek muscles. Executed with the right form and precision will also get the heart rate up! Try light, medium, and heavy resistance to mix up your workouts and challenge the body! Also great for travel workouts!


Recovery Stretch

15 minutes

Your body will thank you for taking time to recover with yoga postures, assisted stretching or rolling out with a foam roller, tiger tail or tennis ball. Adding recovery exercises to your workout routine will allow you to workout more and feel better!











Get your DAILY DOSE!


DSC03941Many people tell me they prefer to take a break from workouts and goals this time of year and “start up again in the new year”. The reason? Time. Too much temptation with parties and festivities.

While working out with a trainer 2-3 days a week is great, my clients get MORE results if they workout on their own consistently 10-15 minutes a day. Daily spurts of exercise  set the precedent of health for the day, boost the metabolism, increase energy and mood.

Of course the right combination of exercises is very important as well, which is where  I come in! I love designing customized 10 minute workout spurts to meet each individuals goals. Many are surprised at how efficiently you can work the body when you carve out the time to do so!

Below is a sample custom workout focusing on alignment targeting the glutes and core. For more information on designing your DAILY DOSE workout email : rebekahmarcano@yahoo.com


Learning through Movement …Teaching by Listening

I was not a sit still kind of kid. Thankfully I had young, energetic parents that allowed me to literally climb walls, walk on my hands and jump off furniture. I remember the first time I saw older girls doing perfectly straight cartwheels. I tried and fell. Instinctually I knew I had to break it into smaller steps.

First I would just place my hands down. Then I would itsy -bitsy swoop my feet around. I told myself its ok if its not perfect, each one will get better, straighter, than the next. Then I will practice with my other hand first. Then I will practice with one hand. Then I will place down pillows and practice with no hands.


I am an auto-didactic learner. This my younger sister told me last year and so I looked it up and why yes I am ( self taught, self education).

Of course being 14 years younger than me she watched my road less taken life that from the outside looks serendipitous and magical but truthfully I just learn differently and at my own pace. My education in body movement started as soon as I could walk which was at nine months my mom will tell you. My obsession and education with exercise was in full force by age 14. I told all of my teachers that I would be a fitness instructor for a career while they encouraged me to not aim so low -after all I could be a doctor or scientist.

My parents bought me a Reebok step and I did the same video over and over every day until I began to make up my own routines. I video taped Olympic Gymnastics routines studying the balance beam movements until my father bought me a plank of wood from home depot to practice on in the basement where I taught myself advanced back bends, handstands walkovers. I had my mom video tape my favorite show: Body Electric on public television so I could do the mat exercises as soon as I got home from school.

I was easily bored in school if I was not studying a subject that interested me. In college I studied dancing and writing and got certified in personal training. Learning what my body could do was not the same as teaching others how to move their bodies. Quickly I saw that to help others I had to put myself in their place and start with incremental movements.

My first month as a personal trainer at a franchise gym, I was assigned to train a young woman with cerebral palsy. She  could walk but had less movement with the left side of her body and would sort of drag her foot as she walked. She was getting married in three months and wanted to be able to walk down the aisle without drawing attention to her left side.

I listened to what she had to say about how her body felt, her emotions. I thought back to  when I would teach my younger siblings to walk.I asked questions. Lots of questions. I listened intently. I imagined I was her and mimicked movements. How can we improve posture. Pace the stepping. Where should the eyes be focused when walking. How long was the aisle? Together we came up with exercises that would help her reach her goal. Walking down the aisle with confidence!

My personal training managers encouraged me to carry a clip board and pre- write out workouts. How could I even write out a workout when I don’t know how the person is feeling? Each workout had to come from listening in the moment.

I often got my pay docked by not following directions such as selling supplements. After a few years at the franchise gym I found an amazing studio with a coterie of trainers the best Chicago had to offer. Everyone was an independent contractor and excelled in their area of study. I was quickly be-friended by a trainer with 15 years more experience than me. He was a professional dancer and had MS. At the studio was also a Doctor of Chiropractic work and physical therapy who had taught my friend how to move again. Quickly I was taken under the wing so to speak where I learned things you just  don’t learn in books.

Again I asked questions and I listened. I observed how the Doctor would work with clients. I saw people go from wheel chairs to canes to walking. I saw people leaving smiling. I saw pain. Healing. Pain. I learned that being present and listening is the best way to design workouts and through my gift of body movement I could help others listen to their own bodies.

I am grateful for each person I have been able to work with passing on what I may learn to the next.



Lower Fat Fast Food Options!

Similar to balancing a check book, taking the time to look up lunch choices can save you fat grams by simply being aware of what your options are.  Sure, it’s not fun, but once you get the hang of it you may find that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or fun!

I made a list of a few of the fast food places I frequent  and my fave choices along with a link to the very user friendly nutrition pages with each restaurant!


My goal for the month is water before coffee!

Starbucks Faves!

Egg and Cheddar Breakfast 

280 calories, 13 grams fat, 12 grams protein

Thai Style Chicken Wrap

430 calories, 20 grams fat, 11 grams protein



Tuna Salad Sandwich, avocado, no cheese, hot peppers

532 calories, 19 grams fat, 32 grams protein

Chocolate Banana Smoothie (not the malt or shake-the malt has over 30 grams of fat)

573 calories, 2 grams of fat, 14 grams protein



Sofrito Bowl with brown rice, corn salsa, lettuce-no cheese

565 calories, 18 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein

with cheese:

665 calories, 25 grams of fat, 29 grams protein



Grilled Chicken t.b.m. lighter side

443 calories, 16.4 grams fat, 38.2 grams protein


Protein Bar

Buffalo Barrito with avocado no cheese

480 calories, 17 grams fat, 43 grams protein


Balanced Beauty

DSC02281 (2)Yes, I have a six pack. I also have stretch marks.

Yes, I smile when I look in the mirror. I also smile when the wind is blowing against my face and the sun is shining.Working in the fitness industry I find it very important to have a balanced perspective on beauty. It is so easy to be influenced by others’ perception of beauty – be it from family,friends, or the media.

Raising my son at the gym since birth, I always felt proud of the “healthy” environment I provided him. At age six, one of the male trainers jokingly told him he jumped like a girl.He quickly came back with, I don’t get it. The trainer hemmed and hawed trying to explain the joke and my son continued: My mom’s calves are bigger than yours. What’s wrong with jumping like a girl? Everyone laughed and we quickly turned the joke into a calf contest, which I won. The real victory, though, was my son’s wit and confidence.

By the time my son was ten, I realized his perception of the world was influenced by his environment (the gym) – this small Chicago microcosm of societal beauty defined by the most fashionable and fit, with a sprinkle of plastic surgery. Now he asked me, Mom when are you getting breast implants? He observed many women at the gym going from “no boobs” to BIG boobs. Boob jobs in our world were as common as dental visits and vacations.

I was shocked… I’m NOT getting a boob job, it’s not my thing. I like to run and dance – I’m more of an athlete-dancer not a bikini model.


Already feeling l said wayyy too much (and completely freaked out by this conversation with my ten-year-old son), I wondered how time passed so quickly. How did he go from my mom’s calves are bigger than yours to hey mom when are you getting a boob job? What would his perception of women and beauty be in another five years? Would he expect women to be the media’s definition of beautiful-flawless-and-ageless and get surgery if a body part wasn’t up to par? Was I doing my job as a parent to encourage self-esteem and confidence?

I thought back to when I was five and ten and fifteen and how my parents had such a balanced view of beauty. I pulled from my parents’ example to determine how I would parent my son to find his own healthy self-confidence. Fast forward and my son is now16. These are the rules we live by.

Balanced beauty is healthy and feels good.

There is nothing wrong with feeling beautiful or admiring beauty. Accept what you were born with and do your best to accentuate what you have – shake what yo mama gave ya!

We are souls living in a body.

My parents encouraged us to define ourselves based on what made us laugh and smile and what we worked hard for. If strangers commented on “how beautiful” us kids were,my father would say thank you and then throw in a non-appearance based achievement. Rebekah is also good at gymnastics.

Be a flower in a bouquet.

A single flower is beautiful, but in a bouquet of flowers each flower compliments the other and they are beautiful TOGETHER. There is never a reason to be jealous of another person’s beauty. Appreciate others and also yourself, like a bouquet of flowers.

Meanies are ugly.

I never once in my life heard my parents criticize anyone’s appearance, yet I heard many other adults saying mean things about other people’s appearance. This always baffled me. The most beautiful person saying mean things about anotherperson’s appearance becomes very ugly.

Unconditional love is totally better than beauty queen (or king) titles.

During my teen years I went through puberty and gained 30 pounds, which came along with stretch marks and hormonal acne. I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror. Dressing rooms were equivalent to torture chambers.  My poor mother endured many tantrums with me crying how fat and ugly I was and how she didn’t understand because she was so thin and pretty. My parents constantly told me how strong I was athletically, how I had muscle not just fat, and took me to the doctor for acne creams. My father got me books on nutrition and took me on jogs.The unconditional love I was given by my parents, plus constant care and attention, was the most important gift and guide in shaping my values on beauty in a world where it can sometimes be out of balance. Surely my son will be okay if I can pass on even half of what my parents taught me.

Get FLAVOR Out of Your Fuel!

photo 1 Many people don’t know that I actually struggled with my weight for many years. I began yo-yo dieting at a young age which lead not to weight loss but instead weight GAIN and emotional frustration. How could I eat so little and keep gaining weight?

(click below for weight loss story)


Research and putting into effect healthy lifestyle changes allowed me to get my metabolism back, and increased energy leading me to a career in fitness!


While I don’t promote dieting, I do encourage research, and healthy lifestyle choices that serve each individuals best self.  I have developed a class with Christina Fischer on How to FUEL your body with FLAVOR!

Week one we will cover:

  • What is our process for choosing meals?
  • Why we eat what we eat
  • What FUEL will give us nutrients and energy
  • How to make practical flavorful choices with fast food and on the go!

I am super excited to provide balanced information that can help others reach their health and fitness goals and GET FLAVOR out of FUEL!

define your GOAL. define your BODY. define your LIFE.