Don’t be Scared to Change

The Coronavirus quarantine has been one of the greatest events to happen to me. Honestly, I think this could be good for all of us if we use the time wisely. A big life change is a good time to build new habits. You must change anyways, make it for the better.

I started in corporate fitness a decade ago and boy did it build work ethic. You are expected to work 60+ hours/week. No salary, all commission. Trainers work hundreds of hours for free to build up their business. The hours are long because you train people before and after work. For multiple years I would leave the gym at 9 pm and be back at work at 5 am. That’s Corporate America for you and a big reason why we’re so sick. Even though I went independent a few years ago I kept that mentality. When you’re self-employed you must always prepare for a pandemic and boy am I glad I did.

For most people cortisol problems are mental. For me and my job it’s physical. My job includes hundreds of exercise demos, pushing around heavy weights, running from place to place and stretching clients out all day every day. Then during my lunch break I workout. Then I go home, take my dog on a sprint and get whatever sleep I can.

I’ve been in complete denial about it because I haven’t been ready to change. I love my job, I love my clients, I love my life. And it’s a great feeling to accomplish so much in a day. Unfortunately, it has slowly been killing me.

Now that I’ve been forced to slow down, I look back shaking my head. I’d get so exhausted I would actually pass out. My skin would break out. I would have multiple heavy periods a month. Sleep would become close to impossible and my thyroid would go into overdrive. Enter in a depressed immune system and the Epstein-Barr Virus.

I’m happy to say that I’m 3 months into recovery and just starting to feel a little healthy. My body was so far past exhaustion that I have at least another year before I’m fully recovered. But I’ve built the new habits and life. I’ve fallen off the wagon plenty of times and I will plenty more, but at least I’m on the right path.


Don’t be Distracted by the Noise

I don’t diet. I didn’t start exercising hard 6 weeks before this picture. This is my body year round. Because I don’t do temporary, I do forever.

How do you change for forever? I tune everything else out. I don’t watch the media, I don’t pay attention to politics, I have no idea what my neighbor is doing. Why would I? None of that I can change. I only have control over myself so why waste energy on things I can’t change anyways?

Instead I spend 24 hours/day on making myself better. At work, at home, at the gym.

The plus side to this massive time consumption is i don’t have time to judge others. Because I can’t make myself better if I’m angry, sad or jealous. That’s a big step back for myself and my goals.

The reward to all of this is true happiness. And when you’re truly happy and healthy nothing else matters. When you’re happy with yourself you have the ability to appreciate people that think and act differently from you. Because the way we treat others is actually a portrayal of how we feel about ourselves.

So please let go of all the negativity surrounding us and just focus on being the best version of yourself. If we all did that, most of our problems would disappear.


Focus on your health, Not your weight

Diet is similar to exercise when it comes to being successful. You will get good results at first, but you have to keep going harder, and more frequently to keep the results coming. With diet it is eating cleaner, and cleaner, and cleaner. That sounds sad I know, but it really isn’t. Because your taste buds change as your food does. Which is why you want to make it a slow progression. Just keep eating a little bit cleaner every day. Yo-Yo Dieting doesn’t work because you just keep repeating the same viscious cycle over and over. You’re either really bad or really good with no real improvement in the long term. That’s a lot of work for very little results.

The good news: there is always room for cheating. The 80/20 rule will always apply… 80% healthy, 20% totally worth it cheats. But even that 20% ends up getting cleaner because over time your body just can’t handle bad good anymore. Fast food and processed food make me physically I’ll so I stay away from it.

I’ve spent the last ten years transitioning from the typical diet to now being a “health freak.” And I know it sounds depressing to eat mainly fruits, veggies, herbs and slices but it really can be delicious. And one of the positives is how much I can eat. Now that I’ve gotten this clean I have to eat all the time. It does turn into work which is a good thing because it takes the pleasure away from food.

And I’m not dieting. Honestly, I never have which is why I have such a healthy relationship with food. I’m just getting as much nutrition into my body as possible. And I don’t mean protein, I mean superfoods. Holy crap I had no idea how much nutrition I was missing. Food marketing has gotten so bad even I started to get confused on what our bodies actually need. Which also explains why we are all so sick. Remember, food is supposed to be our medicine. But instead, we need medicine because of our food.

I’m a few months into this meal plan and it has taken me that long to get it organized. Because this is only slightly more intense than my last I know I can maintain it. But even if you aren’t there yet, I would highly recommend going through detoxes. Don’t diet, just eat nutritious food.

Living with Ebstein-Barr

The main reason I eat healthy is because I dont have a choice. About 5 years ago I developed serious food allergies overnight. Bread, sugar, meat, dairy, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, even fruit. If I had any of those I’d have severe stomach pain and migraines. I know it sounds crazy, I didn’t even believe myself. How could I develop such bad health problems overnight?

I felt so sick all the time I knew I had to do something, so I started seeing a naturopath @onbeingwell. She helped me rebuild my immune system and see help from a completely different perspective.
The final piece of the puzzle was reading The Medical Medium by Anthony William thanks to @sunangelspraytanning. Some people would say I have an auto immune disorder but i never really bought that. That’s like putting sand in the gas tank and blaming the car.

What makes more sense to me is I contracted the Ebstein-Barr Virus. In this book William was able to nail my symptoms: thyroid cyst, migraines, nausea, sinus problems and the list goes on. It FINALLY made sense. And you know what the magical pill was for my stomach pain? Celery juice. Yes our bodies are that simple.

From my experience, viruses dont just disappear. The live inside our body forever, rearing their ugly head every time our immune system is down. It’s not that I developed food allergies overnight, it’s that viruses feed off of bad food. Every time I eat bad food I feel like crap and that’s how the rest of my life is going to go. Because even one bad meal depresses my immune system, and my body and lifestyle cant afford that.

The medical industry has done an amazing job trying to keep up with our toxic diets and they put their lives on the line for it. But all they can do is treat the symptoms and keep us alive. Are we really ok with just staying alive or do we want to actually live and thrive?

I don’t blame anybody for eating badly. What the food industry is feeding us should be 100% illegal. But unfortunately businesses will do anything for money. The only chance we have of surviving is recognizing that a good diet full of nutrition is our only option. And no medical advancement or technology will ever change that.

Building The Body

Have you noticed how most workout plans are about six weeks long?  What are you really able to accomplish in six weeks?  My goal is to help people make a lifestyle change.  Yes, I have an amazing full body program that will give you the body of your dreams.  But my goal is to help you learn how to keep these changes in your life forever.  My goal is to change your identity into an athlete.  My goal is to get you to realize that exercise is your stress reducer not your stress creator.  That you can workout hard just a few hours a week instead of spending hours a day in the gym.  My goal is to help you realize that dieting doesn’t work.  That organizing and planning your meals and eating frequently is the way to cut down cravings and bad habits.  My goal is to help you realize that you need to stop being so hard on yourself.  You aren’t perfect and you don’t need to be.  You just need to be consistent, never make excuses and follow what I say step by step.

First, let’s focus on the body and then we’ll work on the mind.  This workout program is designed for anybody that’s willing to work hard for results.  It’s written up as three 30 minute workouts a week which is all you really need for results.  Get in, kick butt, and get back to your busy life.  Every workout is full body which will increase the calorie burn and raise your metabolism.  It’ll tone up every muscle and leave you feeling great (once it’s over at least!)

The great thing about this program is that it incorporates every other program into one.  It incorporates functional training, core training, traditional cardio, traditional strength training, and high intensity training because all of them are right, just not exclusively.  You name it, that type of training is written into the program when I know your body is ready for it. By incorporating all types of training, my clients have seen the results of each of these individual programs.  Lean muscle, weight loss, full body strength, corrective exercise and coordination building all in one.

Because the program is constantly progressing you through to new and challenging exercises it will avoid boredom and more importantly plateauing.  You will constantly be sore throughout the entire program and soon enough you’ll be doing exercises you never imagined would be possible.  Because I am progressing you step by step, you won’t need modifications for exercises.  I won’t ask you to do anything your body can’t already do well.  Prepare to be amazed at what you never thought your body would be capable of.  Before you know it you’ll be moving, looking and thinking just like an athlete, which is the secret to being skinny without struggle (although we don’t want to be skinny, we want to be a lean bad ass).

No I didn’t re-invent the wheel.  I can’t take credit for creating a single one of these exercises. I just designed a progressive program that includes workouts based on incorporating as many strength exercises together in a short period of time.  This design means burning more calories through high heart rate training. This program doesn’t waste your time with any of those silly, uncomfortable exercises, I only focus on exercises designed to gain lean muscle so you can look like a fitness model.  I can’t say the workouts are easy, but I can anyone can get through them and feel great after every workout.  And you’ll see results after just a few workouts.  In a year, you’ll be transformed into a different person, both mind and body.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™

Eat Clean, Train Dirty

With rising obesity rates is fair to safe weight loss is one of the hardest challenges anyone will ever face, with a very high rate of failure unfortunately.  So why is this?

Here are some tips that you probably won’t want to follow but let’s face it, what you’ve done in the past didn’t work:

  • Stop focusing on results.  Worrying about a pound or two isn’t going to help.  Instead focus on the actions necessary.  And have faith that if you consistently workout and eat healthy it’s going to work.  Maybe not in a week, but if you stick to it for a year I have no doubt that it will.
  • Match your eating habits to your workout habits.  If you are working out a lot, you’re going to need more calories.  Calories is energy to your body so the more you move the more you need.  Calories is also the way your muscles recover and build which means exercise is the way to raise your metabolism to constantly be burning more calories every day.  If you aren’t working out or barely even moving for that matter, your body really isn’t going to need very many calories at all.  Unfortunately it’s our natural thought to starve ourselves when we’re working out and binge eat when we aren’t. Constantly be adjusting your calories to your activity level to avoid any big weight gains.
  • Don’t ever take more than a couple of days off of exercising or dieting.  We all know how hard it is to lose a few pounds, the trick is to make sure you never gain.  That means there are no excuses to skip your workout.  Trust me, if your life depended on it you’d figure it out.  It doesn’t have to be your best workout, it doesn’t have to be a long workout.  Just 20 minutes here and there will really add up.
  • Don’t diet.  Otherwise there’s just a matter of time before you fall off the wagon.  Let’s face it, when you are dieting you’re looking for any reason to go off of it.  Instead we just want small and moderated cheats here and there so that you never go off of the diet completely.  Plan it ahead of time and make sure it fits into your calories for the day.  Just make sure it’s never a lot of calories at one time.  Your body will always gain weight if you eat more than a few hundred calories, it just doesn’t need more than that at any given time.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™

Patience, It’s Gonna Take Time

One of the number one things I see working in a gym all day is the amount of people who come in and out of there.  So often I see someone killing it two hours/ day for six weeks and then never see them again.  They injured themselves, burnt themselves out or just didn’t see the results they expected.  There’s no program out there that can get you to the perfect body in six weeks.  It’s gonna take that long just to get your body’s pH level back in balance from all of the damage it’s had in the last year.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll look way better in six weeks, but the fitness models you see in ads, ya that took years of hard work.  And that hard work is gonna feel amazing during and after I promise.  But only make the changes you think you can truly maintain for at least a year, but pretty much forever.  That’s why I designed a program with 30 min workouts 3-4 times per week.  That’s realistic.  You can maintain that.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™

Change Your Attitude On Food

Have you ever noticed that you can be perfect for two weeks and lose 1 pound, and be bad on 1 day and gain 5? Umm yes it really is just that unfair. So how do people do it? You don’t see them as much anymore, and you probably write them off as some kinda genetic freak with all of that muscle and so little fat… but in reality they are people who have figured out how to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise. If you see a lean (not to be confused with skinny) person you can bet that they eat really well 95% of the time. And the more muscle they have the more chicken and potatoes they eat every day. So how do they do it? Do they just not like cake or what?!

In reality, these people have figured out how to think of food as a means of survival, not happiness. Yes, of course sugar/fat/salt combos taste delicious to them… and they most likely eat some kind of cheat every week, these days that’s only realistic. But 95% of the time they base their food choices on what their body wants and needs, and has very little to do making themselves instantly happy. Instead, they find their happiness in their body feeling their best, which is exactly what healthy food does. Healthy food helps provide them with the energy they need to do the things they love, easily and frequently. Their happiness comes from them choosing to be the best version of themselves. Just think about how much easier it would be to concentrate on your dreams if you weren’t too busy dreaming about your next meal.

They get their food organized so they can eat small amounts of healthy food throughout the day. Because they allow themselves to eat all the time, eating becomes more work than pleasure. And when you aren’t addicted to the taste of processed food, the healthy food actually tastes amazing. Because they have 95% of their meals prepped and committed to, they never have to feel guilty about going out with friends once or twice a week. Depending on how bad was bad, they work a little harder in the gym the next day to burn it off before it settles in their most problematic spot already. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it actually saves time by cutting out the guesswork of what to eat throughout the week. And the less you think about food in general, the less food controls you.

They also have their food organized a week at a time and never make an excuse for missing a meal. Do they count their calories? Probably not, but they are so in tuned with their bodies that they know by how they feel. I’m starting to get a little hungry = eat, I’m starting to feel full = stop eating. When they give in to the social stigma of partying around food they naturally moderate because they know they will feel bad if they eat too much. They naturally choose healthier meals because their bodies are sensitive to sugar, salt and fat and once again feel sick. They know their body feels great after any paleo based meal. They are addicted to feeling good and healthy like others are addicted to processed food. The problem with the processed food addiction is the happiness is only temporary… until the food is gone. Immediately after hits frustration, sadness and sickness. But the addiction to being healthy never has a “comedown.” You only feel mentally and physically better each time. There is no struggle, if they do eat it here and there it’s not a big deal, they just throw in some extra cardio and workout a little harder til they can feel the extra pound is off. They stop before it gets out of control because they know just how hard it is to get each cheat back off… and just how addicting junk food is. It only takes a second on the tongue for sugar to send a signal to your brain saying “must eat more.” They don’t like the struggle with food. Instead, they get their food organized so they only have to make decisions and cook once a week. They turn it into food as a method of need, not of want. They don’t get pleasure from food, in fact it ends up being a pain in the butt with how much you have to eat, all the time. When you have a healthy relationship with food, you honestly think eating is a pain in the ass, and that’s exactly how we want it to feel.s

Realize that dieting doesn’t work. Instead, take baby steps to eating cleaner. Instead of fast food, you’ll choose a sandwich and chips. Instead of chips and a sandwich, just a small sandwich. Then add in pita chips and hummus as a snack. Count out only a very small serving of chips with a decent amount of hummus that will actually fill you up. Once that starts to be a norm, you can start taking out the sandwiches and meal prepping. Instead of the pita chips you can change to carrots. Instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, just a banana with a serving of peanut butter. If you make the changes slow enough, you will never really revert back to the initial junk food because the new you will honestly be disgusted with the old decisions. Now, does that mean that eventually you will never enjoy a piece of cake? Oh hell no, but they see food from a different perspective–this cake is yummy but it makes me feel sick, it doesn’t fill me up and it’ll take me two days to lose the extra pounds.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™

Drop Your Ego

Drop your ego.  Don’t worry about looking silly.  Don’t worry about lifting as heavy as possible.  It’s ok for the weights to be a little lighter, they’ll get heavy fast I promise.  Don’t think you’ll ever conquer a workout, you’re doing it right when you feel like the workout conquered you.  Otherwise, you probably didn’t go hard enough.  Don’t be scared to try new things.  Don’t be scared to be bad at something at first.  Be up for the challenge, it’s just a matter of time before you’re good at it.  Always be focusing on how to make something harder.  Trust me, when you do it right any bodyweight exercise can be challenging for anyone.  You know your body will look good when your body can do anything you want it to.  And no age doesn’t matter.  Just hard work, determination and consistency.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™

Why Do I Keep Gaining Weight?

Can you not figure out why you keep gaining weight? Let me guess, you don’t eat that much. It must be because you are getting older, right? Or is it because you eat more junk food than you’d like to admit and your workout regimen is either inconsistent or just better classified as activity, not exercise. No judgment, I think you look great. But I bet that you don’t. If you do or just truly don’t care than you can stop reading. If you do care, then there’s a good chance that you are at least mildly depressed too. I’m so sorry, you don’t deserve to be. But good news, you do have the power to change the way you look and way more importantly, feel. Start by googling sugar and depression.

If you really want to feel better, you need to start by decreasing your sugar intake. I’m sorry, I know you so deeply want to believe that it’s ok to eat sugar. No, it’s not. Sugar is poison.  But don’t just take my word for it, watch this fun short video from Dr. Robert Lustig and you’ll be convinced! Please stop poisoning your body. It will reward you by dropping some quick pounds. Unfortunately, as soon as you add it back in, your weight will go back on. It’s that simple. I know that sounds scary, but not as scary as actually realizing how addicted to sugar you are. Why would you want to be consuming something that has that much control over you anyways? I know it makes you happy for a second, until it’s gone. Then you want to cry because you want more but know you can’t. Or maybe you do… and then you get so mad at yourself once you finish. What a vicious struggle… why would you put yourself through that? Nothing is worth that struggle. So stop it now. Don’t do it to be skinny, do it to be mentally and physically healthier.

The trick to cutting out sugar? Realize that this is your ticket away from dieting. Stop thinking that you need to almost starve yourself to look good. Yes, if you eat 500 calories a day for 6 weeks you will lose weight. You will also lose all of your muscle tone, your sanity and your metabolism. Congratulations, you’ve just lost 20 lbs, only to gain 30 back within months. What’s the point?

Instead, eat the calories your body needs to be healthy. No not some of the calories your body needs… all of the calories your body needs. Figure out that number and start following it. Your body will start losing weight when you let it stop stressing out. Dan John has a bunch of great books and this awesome quote comes from Can You Go? and really sums it up well: “Eat Like An Adult!” Eat real food that you cooked yourself. Eat vegetables. Eat fruit. Eat lean meat. Yes, you can have a potato, no you can’t have a potato chip. Why? Because it’s crap! We eat to provide our bodies with nutrition, not for happiness.

Food does not equal happiness. Yes, you can awkwardly laugh and say it does, but let’s go back to the depression statement…. no it doesn’t. So how do we stop relying on food for happiness? Stop dieting and start actually letting yourself eat WHEN you want to eat. Oh my God I know you just gained weight just by reading that! Lol, no seriously. Eat a small meal every few hours. It’s the fastest way to speed up your metabolism. But you have to eat healthy food your body can actually do something with. Your body can’t do a damn thing with junk food except store it as fat. Stop eating junk food. Start eating real food. Yes, you’ll go through withdrawals of sugar. More reason to get off asap. In a few weeks, fruit and veggies will start tasting amazing.

Your energy will sky-rocket and your mood will improve. In a few months you won’t even remember your old habits, just stay strong and embrace your new identity of being healthy. So start finding some yummy recipes for every meal, that have natural ingredients and start eating like an adult 5 times a day. Yes, eat. And all of a sudden food isn’t nearly as exciting. But sorry, you have to eat anyways, because your body needs it to build muscle and function properly. The other thing it needs? Hard exercise. It used to be called manual labor but now we just sit behind a computer. So now we’ll call it high intensity exercise. Not inappropriate exercise, that term is relative to you and your fitness level. Don’t lift weights that hurt your body, that’s counterproductive. Use weights that your body can lift semi-comfortably 12x. And use every muscle in your body. If you don’t have muscle you have fat, doesn’t matter what your scale weight is. And realize that your heart is a muscle. Your heart rate needs to get up. Don’t go to a gym and sit on the machines for over half the time you are there. You can sit the other 23 hours a day. Go sweat, like really sweat.

Soon enough it’ll be your new addiction. And good news, that addiction does not cause depression, quite the opposite actually. Then when you can squat two times your body weight well, lift half of your body weight over your head several times, do 10 pushups, 5 pull-ups and 50 sit ups you will start looking very very healthy. Not skinny, just oh so healthy and inspiring. These days that sounds crazy, in caveman times that wasn’t an option. Don’t fall in line with our times… we are heading in a very unhealthy and unhappy direction, please don’t be part of it.

by Kristen Cole, Owner, Skinny Without Struggle™