Weight Loss Surprise !


My friend Bellyn had a SURPRISE weight loss. On a recent physical she found that “without trying” she had lost thirty pounds in one year. By not obsessing or following an extreme diet,  she found a middle place of making small lifestyle changes that were realistic and sustainable.

Now Bellyn and I are working to sculpt and tone by  adding  daily movement to her routine with exercises that can be done at home or office.

What are some of Bellyn’s lifestyle changes?

Add fuel that nourishes! 

Bellyn has added lots of veggies to her diet by juicing. She brings her hand held juicer to work and blends beets, cucumbers and other veggies.

Notice how your body FEELS after eating.

Bellyn noticed that certain food choices lead to a headache or fatigue. Pausing to notice how the  body FEELS may help with choosing snacks and meals.

Positive self talk.

Bellyn gives herself her own pep talk using positive, kind language reinforcing habits and reminding herself of her goal: improved health. “You can have money or a nice home, but really my health is the most important thing to me.”

Drink more water.

Pure and simple. Hydrate and drink water over non-beneficial beverages with added sugar, preservatives or other ingredients.

I am so happy for Bellyn and her health journey! Incorporating lifestyle and habit changes little by little really pays off!

TRACKING for Weight Loss!

Just to age myself- back in the day when I struggled with my weight by yo-yo dieting,   there was no google or cell phone app. I had to read labels, add in my head (and anyone who knows me knows math is NOT my strong suit).  Frustrated with losing and gaining weight I tried an over the-counter dietary supplement. Wooohooooo – why not accelerate the weight loss?

I passed out at the health club at age 19 and woke up to a defibrillator with  pads attached to my chest and and a team of people staring at me. The doctor asked my friend if I took any drugs. She grabbed the supplements from my gym bag and he shook his head.  “She could have died. Throw these away.”  Ephedra was legal at the time however doctors knew how dangerous it was for the heart.

It took me two years to lose thirty pounds in a safe, healthy long term way but I have kept it off for over 20 years.

(Left pic age 19/  Right pic age 39)

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I know-not very glamorous and super boring. There are no short cuts. And if there are-they are likely to backfire. Obviously my passion for health and lifestlye balance led to a career in fitness and wellness.

Sensitive to the emotional component and frustration of dieting and because I am not a nutritionist I discourage clients from extreme diets and fads. I encourage clients to  find a realistic, long term, sustainable plan that they create based on foods they like.

With all the apps available to track food, I have used tracking as a beneficial tool to check in on what the current eating habits are as well as awareness of what choices are available.  I have had clients lose weight just by switching their lunch choice and adding breakfast in.

Tracking food may seem like a laborious task but thankfully the apps are so savvy that they are prompted with the ease of a google search or Suri anticipating your next word.

Here are my tracking tips:


The key to coming up with a sustainable program is to do an honest check in of your current situation. If you start tracking after you “go on a diet” you will lose out on that honesty look. Take it one day at a time. Track at the end of the day midweek and then don’t track for the rest of the week.


Once you have your honesty look, be kind to yourself. As you can see below I consumed 100 grams of fat. I have no intention of cutting back to 60 grams of fat -however what if I reviewed my food log to see what non-beneficial food items I consumed and try for 80 grams next week?



Buddy up with a friend or a coach! On My Fitness Pal you can chose to share diary with friends. If it is useful to you, have a coach check in on your food weekly or monthly.

Pick one Goal a Week 

Instead of trying to change everything all at once or “eat perfect” what if the focus was on one goal a week? Notice the sugar choices one week and how the body feels with a balanced intake of sugar.  Another goal might be to not skip meals or be calorie heavy at one particular meal.


Tracking is a great tool to stay on track with choices and accountability. Create the best program that serves your lifestyle and needs and consult a doctor and or nutritionist for longterm health and wellness!

Feel free to friend me on Fitness Pal this month if it will help for motivation! I don’t promise to not be boring-but I will cheer you along!

Group Class Review: Orangetheory Fitness!

I consider myself an Old School-Expert-Diva Queen of fitness classes. I was fitness class obsessed before there was YouTube and Instagram. I had it way harder back then …I mean I  had to play the same video over and over again from a VHS!


Needless to say this obsession led to a career in fitness. I have taught over 20,000 classes during my career ranging from yoga, cardio step, cardio dance, toning.  I love to see how the industry has changed over the last 25 years using technology to motivate participants to reach their fitness goals and stay motivated.

With so many studio choices I have decided to try out the latest fitness classes reviewing what classes are results oriented, motivating and safe!

First on my list…

Orangetheory Fitness 

If you are bored with the same old workout and want to spark your routine with energized, attentive coaches and positive community, I suggest checking out Orangetheory Fitness!

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Class Style: 

60 min Metabolic HIIT workout, consisting of endurance, strength, and power exercises. Uses heart rate monitors and coaching for a safe, effective results oriented workout.

Recommended for:  performance-based cross-training, weight loss, maintenance, social, community.

SuggestionsBe sure to arrive 30 minutes ahead of time as it’s beneficial to meet the staff and coaches and to learn about the workout. This ensures a higher level of familiarity with equipment and the class itself.

What to expect: 

  • Energized instructors with awareness of all participants in class, ready to give modifications when necessary as well as correct form. 
  •  Burning calories!
  • How to pace yourself with your heart rate. You have your choice of three heart rate monitors based on preference.
  • Clear workout goal with safety measures and modifications. 
  • Emailed results of each workout.

Exercise Breakdown 

In Action Studio Photo

  • Exercise breakdown with pics and videos during class/modifications from instructor.
  • Television screen showing workout status with heart rate, calories burned and color coded push level
  • Explanations of exertion levels with color coded descriptions encouraging body awareness with heart rate monitor.


  • Very clean and smells clean (not all studios do) with wipes during and after class to  wipe down equipment. 
  • Positive atmosphere -zero snob with encouragement to focus on personal goals!
  • Open to participants of varying levels and goals.
  • Mirror placement and atmosphere encourages self focus.


  • Peer group support
  • Testimonials on wall and encouragement /positive messages


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I love that the first class is  free! Check it out!

Founding Rates apply at the Streeterville location (211 E Grand, 312.778.8998). Mention the blog to obtain reduced rates before they open!



No EXCUSES! Gym bags-Blow Drys and Vanity Products!

Before we can find the “best workout” or ideal class there are still come obstacles in making working out a part of  our lifestyle. Here are some of the biggest obstacles I have heard over the years-and also used as excuses myself.


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EXCUSES: I forgot my gym clothes, my bag is too heavy to carry to work, I have too much to do in the morning.

SOLUTIONS: Do LAUNDRY.  Find a bag you like. Pack the night before.

Packing a gym back is kind of like step one in committing to a workout- especially if you are working out early morning or during the work day.  A packed gym bag says-ok fine I pretty much committed to the workout.  I sometimes have four outfits in a day between all the locations I go. One tip is to bring a plastic bag for sweaty clothes. Workout clothes can fold pretty compactly. I love Marie Kondo and her tips on folding clothes. Check out her tips below!


               THE HAIR DILEMMA


EXCUSE: I don’t want to mess up my hair.

SOLUTIONS:  Headbands and banana clips are great for blowouts. A good blow-dry will withstand a workout with a few touchups. This blow dry I got at 9am -taught 4 classes and attended my sons graduation at 7pm.  I have some fabulous ladies in my group classes that look amazing even after a sweaty workout. And if you know you want a hot yoga class or super sweaty run-plan the blow dry for after. If you have long hair plan out your hairstyles for the week. Ballet bun, braid, blow dry, etc.. Get a hair wrap, bandana-and keep it MOVING!

SKIN BREAKOUTS and Makeup Application 

Excuse: I don’t want to ruin my makeup. Sweating makes my skin breakout.

Solution: Plan out your skin routine and see a skin care specialist. A new lipstick, lash tint and brows brightens up any look!

We all have different skin types. In my twenties I had very bad acne and too many workouts and  harsh scrubs and washing exacerbated the condition. If I know I am going to sweat at noon, I save my face wash for after the workout as well as any makeup such as moisture with tint or mascara. In the morning I use clear balance pads for a basic clean, apply toner,sunscreen and lipgloss. After my workout I use a gentle foaming cleanser and moisturizer or moisture with tint if I want a more polished look. ( I love Laura Mercier).  If I sweat a bit more in the afternoon I will use the Clear Choice face pads again or oil control  blotting paper (Sephora) if I applied a moisture with tint. See a skin specialist, and find the skin care program that works for you. I love Clear Choice products for gentle non abrasive and clearing up breakouts. Eye lash tinting (at a spa)  is a great way to brighten the eyes and you don’t have to wear mascara for a few weeks!  If you are in Chicago I love Ambra Salon in the Gold Coast for brows and lashes.




Making workouts a part of LIFE STYLE is a great way to stay on track.  Yes, it takes preparation but the rewards are worth it!


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Bride: Paula Moreno

One of the things I love so much about my job is sharing life events with people I work with. Bridal workouts are one my favorite programs to design because it is such a special day and allows workouts to show the body in a feminine, graceful way. My grandmother was a fashion designer so I am very familiar with measurements and the making of a dress that fits well, and looks beautiful for the special day. Sculpting a feminine, sleek physique for an elegant dress is such a joy!

Here are some of my wedding dress workout tips I have learned over the years!

Don’t Lose Too Much Weight!

Crash diets are NOT the way to go. Absolutely do not go on a drastic diet. Whatever program you choose-ask yourself if you can maintain it realistically for the next two to three years.  I have have worked with brides who have gained weight back in one week on the HONEYMOON. It is easy to gain weight back quickly but it takes much, much LONGER to lose it again.


If a client calls me and says-I did not sleep last night so I will be a little tired for our workout my response is:  No you won’t because we are not working out. Sleep is so important for health.  Planning a wedding takes lots of time and energy. Sleep first-workout second.


As the time gets closer to the big day there may be more festivities with family and old friends. Spend time with family and friends over an hour workout with a trainer. It takes ten minutes to do some arm sculpting push-ups-that family member who flew across the country to see you is way more important.

Workout with your Groom!

I have so much fun training couples getting ready for their big day! If time is crunched and maybe a little stressful-why not plan some movement together? Go for a walk, take a class or workout with a trainer!

Vanity Sculpt

So we have to get to the vanity talk. Dresses are expensive and tailoring is an art form. I have gone to bridal fittings to talk with the seamstress about all the details of the dress. 1/8th of an inch gained or lost in certain areas can ruin how the dress lays. In my experience-do not build up the  upper back area with heavy lifting such as maxing out Lat Pull Downs-unless this has been a part of your consistent training program.  My technique is a mixture of yoga, pilates and dance technique for a sculpted, sleek back. (Exercise blog to follow).

Have FUN!


Get a good music playlist, a group of friends and HAVE FUN! I love choreographing wedding dances or just working out with the bride in high heels to break in the shoes!

Mindfulness in the Moment 

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment without worrying about the past or future. Savor the experience of the wedding day by being full present and embrace your new life AFTER the wedding with the same moment to moment awareness and joy!


Designing your BEST Program


With so many studio classes, diets, fitness apps and “expert” formulas choosing your best program can be overwhelming. It can also be frustrating if you are not seeing results and investing time and money. One thing I have learned over the years is there is not one formula that will fit everyone. The best program is the program that motivates you, is balanced and realistic. Having a sense of community and accountability is a key component to stay on track with goals.

Here are some tips I have come up with based on different programs that are available to stay on track and compliment varying  lifestyles. 

Know your goal

Think about what your motivation is to start a program and write it out so you can find the best program for you.

If you follow a program because you want to look like a fitness star or celebrity or you like before and after pics on Instagram then I would classify that goal as: to look like a fitness model. And that is great! Just know that means: eating clean, meal prepping and maybe even going to bed at nine pm.  It is a lifestyle choice and it is very attainable. Choose a program based on your desired outcome. For example, Kayla Istines is more sleek and sculpted whereas Lyzabeth Lopez is curvy and strong.



Advice: Talk to your doctor to get medical clearance and also for medical advice if programs encourage supplements or artificial food. Find someone who has followed the program for over two years and maintained results. Get support from a community of others with  like minded goals.

Personal Training

There are so many different styles of personal training. Personal Training studios have the best of the best in the industry with different styles and genres of training. Referrals based on common goals and success results are the best way to go. If you are in Chicago- Hi Fi Personal Fitness (820 N. Orleans) is absolutely the best studio to find a trainer. 

Advice: Studio owners are great at matching up clients with trainers based on results and personality. Several of my colleagues share clients and collaborate with designing well rounded programs. If the trainer is over booked-ask the trainer who they would recommend.


Long Term Athlete or Art Form Training

If you choose a long term life style program such as adult team sports, martial arts, marathon running or dance -it is important to understand the mechanics of your training. Do some muscles get overused? Does one side of your body work harder? Is  injury prevention a part of your program?

Advice: Invest in private sessions with a sports physical therapist or Integrative Movement Specialist. The investment will be money well spent for long term athletics and health.



Studio Classes

Cross Fit Schedule a private session to go over technique if you are new to working out. Daily recovery stretches and  monthly sports massages may also be beneficial.  Take a week off every few months for recovery, and injury prevention.

Barre Classes  Take a beginner  ballet class at a professional  dance studio and learn dance posture and breathing dance technique before taking a barre class or as a compliment to a barre class. Ballet is good for the brain and breaking down the actual art form takes time, so be patient and kind to your body.If the Barre studio offers private classes, find the most experienced instructor with a dance background.  If certain muscles get overused or tight, be sure to add daily stretches. Professional dancers are always stretching and foam rolling.


Interval Classes Shred 51, Orange Theory

Warm up before class and check in with your body to be aware of soreness. The atmosphere can be fun and motivating so be sure not to over do it. Listen to your body and communicate with the instructor ahead of time about any form questions.

Spinning and Rowing Classes  Go Cycle, Go Row, Soul Cycle

Be aware of muscles that may get tight from over use or which muscles might overcompensate. A strength training routine to target muscles that do not get used may be beneficial.

Hot Yoga

105f  Variety is the way to go to avoid stagnation! I love the variety and availability of classes  at 105f. The Yin Yoga class at 105f is great for recovery and body awareness. Smart 60 is a great offering if you have less time and Nidra is an amazing practice for calmness and clarity.


Core Power If you are new to yoga, I suggest scheduling a private session to go over the break down of the moves. The heat may make muscles feel more malleable so it is important to have body awareness in each pose as well as understanding the mechanics especially if the class is moving fast.  Several yoga studios have free beginner level community classes. This is a great place to start! When you are ready to go for it-Core Power offers a free week of Yoga!


Free Yoga Community Class


COMMUNITY and Support

After you have defined your goal and researched available programs-why not buddy up with a friend for motivation, join a studio or a sports team! Many find support from online communities with fitness and yoga contests and daily motivation. Whatever your goal is-there is a community and support available. Go for it!!!

define your GOAL define your BODY define your LIFE 

Journaling for Weight Loss





For this exercise you will need a timer, pen and paper.  If possible set aside fifteen minutes.  Do not read the prompt questions ahead of time. Be ready to write responses without thinking or STOPPING. See if you can write for two minutes non-stop. Just let the pen keep moving-even if it seems like non-sense or you can’t read your own writing.

There are no right or wrong answers!

Journal prompt questions. 

What are your reasons for wanting to lose weight?

How important is it for you to make this change and why?

If you decide to make this weight loss change how might you go about doing so in order to succeed?

Is there anything getting in the way of executing your plan?

How will losing weight change your life?







How I lost 30 pounds….and kept it off!



Nothing can be more frustrating than counting calories, working out and STILL not losing weight. There was a time in my life that the more I dieted the more weight I gained. The more weight I gained the more depressed I got. I finally achieved the results I wanted when I focused on long term results instead of fad diets and quick fixes.

The secret to weight loss is: there is not one magic workout that will give you results. The key is finding ANYTHING you like to do and moving every day preferably at the same time and redefining your relationship with your body.

There is not one diet plan that will give you results. The key is eating with moderation and consistency foods that your body responds to with energy and nourishment. Watching your “self talk ” while you eat and making the best, enjoyable choices that work for you while listening to your body.


Don’t cut back too much too fast

Take an honest look at you current habits. Tools like Fitbit, Fitness Pal or Lose it are great apps to honestly look at your current situation.

Write out your daily eating for one week WITHOUT CHANGING ANYTHING. Going from 4,000 calories a day to 1500 calories a day is the quickest way to  feel deprived and lead to binge eating as well as storing fat and slowing down the metabolism. Instead of saying: I’m never eating sugar or carbs again -what if you cut back by 20% and added in fuel foods that give you energy?

Sparks of movement with Consistency

I have had clients find success with 10 minutes a day  of movement at the same time every day versus than sporadic hours here and there.  Building to longer periods is fine but CONSISTENCY is what is most important. Can you realistically maintain your program for one year? Two years? Five years? Or is it a fad that will burn you out or leave you feeling deprived?

Phase two: Build Lean Muscle

Once the consistency habit is built you can move on to the next phase: building lean muscle. Again the key is balance, not extremity. Adding on to the 10 minutes a day  is the option to add 1-2 body parts a day of strength training.

Don’t cut back too much too fast

Honestly look at you current habits. Write out your daily eating for one week WITHOUT CHANGING ANYTHING. Going from 4,000 calories a day to 1500 calories a day is the quickest way to storing fat and slowing down the metabolism. Instead of saying: I’m never eating sugar or carbs again what if you cut back by 20% and added in fuel foods that give you energy?

Watch your Environment and Thoughts while you Eat

When I was caught in the yo-yo cycle of dieting my thoughts while eating were: I’m so fat, How could I have eaten that, Why can’t I control myslef? Mindful eating is about pausing and savoring food. Turning off electronics. Noticing textures, smells. Listening to how the body responds.

Make a Grocery list and plan Meals 

First I make a list of: foods I love, foods I eat because they nourish me, and non- beneficial indulgences. Then I make my grocery list with columns of each food group using the good old fashioned food pyramid:Protein, Veggies, Fruit, Grains, Fat, Dairy.  My balance check is making sure I eat all of my nourishing foods BEFORE indulgences. So for example if I love deep dish Chicago style pizza with hot peppers, I make sure I eat 6 servings of veggies for the day BEFORE the pizza as well as enough protein.

My last thought of weight loss advice is if the focus is on how we feel BEFORE how we look everything will fall into place. Motivation that comes from intrinsic motivation versus just external may resonate on a neurological and cellular level leading to long lasting results. That’s the nerd in me. And the vanity in me says: hey Nerd thats great because I ended up looking how I wanted! 

workout season CHANGE

As the weather changes I like to change things up to evaluate my workout program. Here are some self evaluation check ins  I use to design well rounded programs for myself and others!

What are you doing for STRESS-RELIEF?

One of the benefits of working out is STRESS RELIEF! What type of movement makes  you feel energized, smile, laugh, let go?  What makes you feel relaxed , restored, calm? If you love being outdoors, take a walk outside at lunch. If you have not had enough sleep  grab an eye mask and take a nap or  a quiet time out. Pick your favorite song and have a daily dance party to let go!  Try a new class  with a friend!


My fall fun stress relief:

MSA CIRCUS ARTS  Adult Handstand Class



Checking in with how your body is feeling each day is important to prevent injury as well as be able to push muscles safely in an athletic or strength program.  Spending 10 minutes every day surveying the body head to toe with joint rotations, stretching and range of motion will bring awareness to the body and improve overall alignment.

STRENGTH to build lean muscle

As we age we lose lean muscle and bone density so we have to do MORE not less strength training.

My fall strength change it up: Choosing a body part each day to push to fatigue with STATIC HOLD STRENGTH increasing time in holds.


Heart Health 

We often think of cardio as a way to burn fat. Working the heart with cardio is important for heart health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Interval spurts, brisk walking, cycling are all great ways to work the heart!


My fall change it up cardio: See how fast I can run a mile at the end of the month and training with cardio intervals. Trying a new class!



Daily core work is important to improve posture. Once the core is activated and turned on, being aware of how we use the core during the day will also be beneficial.

Always remember to listen to your body and use modifications when necessary.

My parents started this 30 day plank challenge. Having a goal and accountability is a fun way to stay motivated and get results!

30 Day Plank Challenge

Smile..you are beautiful

At the start of this year I began teaching Mindful Yoga in a three week intensive outpatient program to veterans with symptoms of PTSD . While I have taught yoga and exercise to many people from different backgrounds and abilities over the years, this would be much different.I would meet new participants every few weeks from all over the country.  In my previous work I would work with the same participants for years- some for up to 15 years and have shared share meals, celebrations and even travel.

After two months of teaching Mindful Yoga I found myself very  emotional, upset and even having symptoms of  increased heart rate and panic.   One day I was so upset I started crying on the train. The tears wouldn’t stop they were closing up my throat and making me pant and hyperventilate. I can’t do this anymore, I  won’t even make a difference I said to myself. As I got off the train a young woman handed me a note.

” I wasn’t sure if you want to be approached, but you look like you’re having a really bad day. I don’t know what’s wrong, but I know you have every right to be upset because emotions are always real and valid. I hope things work out or you’re able to overcome your struggle and I want you to know that you are beautiful and this stranger is thinking about you.”


I paused after receiving the note. Took a breath. I brought myself to the present moment just as I invite participants to explore in the Mindful Yoga that I facilitate. I realized in order to do my job that NEEDED to be done I had to live 110% by the tools I was teaching and that indeed I could make a difference by being present and offering support just as this stranger had done for me.

Earlier this month a client who had become my very good friend passed away. In shock I found myself  once again crying, panting, hyperventilating. Why did this have to happen to her at such a young age?

She often thought about others before herself. One year she encouraged me to further my education taking a Kihara Stretch Technique workshop (which all my clients benefited from) as I learned ways to help people release knots and tension while activating muscles. We went to see Alvin Ailey Dance together and she pushed our group workout class to try the Alvin Ailey professional dancers ab workout routine. She organized my group workout classes with sign ups and spread sheets and made me a better business woman.   Often when I worked with her she would ask me what I would be doing in 20 years. Could this career sustain me when I got older or would it be too hard on my body to be moving and stretching others all day? She suggested perhaps I could study acupuncture or Chinese medicine. As all the wonderful memories of my friend came to mind the streams of tears ran less and I found myself smiling as I thought of her. She was the kind of person that would make sure a crying stranger was okay.

As the stranger wrote to me…emotions are real and valid. As the stranger showed me: caring about other people 100% in the moment CAN make the world a better place.

Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful- Thich Nhat Hanh

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