Don’t look at failing as failure, look at it as learning.

Failure is part of life. Everybody has failed at something at one point in their lives. If we let that get us down we wouldn’t accomplish anything. I look at my 10 month old daughter. She is currently attempting to stand on her own. She can pull herself up if there is a table, chair or leg around for her to hold on to. Once she is up she will let go and try stand on her own. Right now she falls down after a few seconds, cries a bit and a few minutes later she is trying it again. According to the definition of failure, a lack of success, she failed.

As my daughter gets older and is learning life skills she will fail at things. We often see failure as a bad thing. My daughter will learn from those failures and hopefully be able to correct what went wrong and continue to progress.

If my daughter gave up after the first time she failed at standing then I guess she would never stand, or walk for that matter. That is a fairly extreme example but if we all gave up after we failed at something many of us wouldn’t be walking, driving, have a significant other, have a job or possibly have an education. Especially if what we have stopped was just one step in a progress to get us to an ultimate goal.

When it comes to health and fitness as adults we often fail. That by itself is not a bad thing. The problem arises when we give up and don’t try again. What is just as bad is when we try again we do so without making any changes from why we failed the last time. Can you imagine doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein


If we failed a school test or a driving test we hopefully sit down and look at what we got wrong, think about  the correct solution and learn the information so that the next time we will get it right, or at least don’t repeat the same mistake twice.

As a society we need to take that same mentality and apply it to weight loss.

If you tried a diet, pill or potion and it didn’t work. Don’t try it again until you figure out what went wrong in the first place.

I don’t recommend fad diets or weight loss pills in the first place, but whatever intervention you tried and didn’t have success with you need to analyze.

What was the reason you stopped your diet or exercise plan?

What the diet or diet change to restrictive?

Was it not working to your standards?

Were you hungry on the diet and just decided to stop?

Was the exercise sessions too hard?

Were the exercise sessions too long?

Were things too expensive?

Did you not have the support you needed?

Once you think about why you stopped, think of solutions that will help you overcome that if you happen to run into it again. Make a plan to deal with the reason for stopping.

Think about why you stopped and what you are going to do next time to prevent the same thing from happening.

Take everything you do in your quest to burn off those excess pounds as a science experiment. It’s not failure, you are just learning how not to do something.

Imagine if Edison stopped when he failed at building the light bulb.


If you do the same thing over and over again you are doomed to fail. If you change a small thing and fail you didn’t really fail, you learned something.

Health and fitness are very new sciences when compared to math, physics and chemistry. And with weight loss and fitness there are many variables and factors to take into account. As well everyone is different with different like, wants, needs, tastes, physical abilities, allergies and goals. You know you better than anyone else. You know what is going to work for you and what is not. Health and Fitness is important but the information out there is not a one size fit all.

Any programs, diets or routines need to be adjusted to fit the individual. That is why it is called personal training and not copy and paste / one size fits all training.


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Choosing a Personal Trainer


If you are looking to hire a personal trainer there are several different things that you should take into account before handing over your hard earned money. Most trainers are worth their weight in gold in helping to achieve results.  One big question that is coming up more frequently now a day when hiring a trainer is what certification they hold. The same is true for those wanting to become a personal trainer, what is the best certification to get?

When looking for a personal trainer or fitness trainer what certifications are you looking for? Is there one certification that is better than another? Why hire a trainer that is certified anyway? Why not just someone that looks like they know what they are doing?


Remember the old adage “you get what you pay for”?

Let’s apply that to personal trainers. Do you want someone with training and a certification? What kind of education? Should they have a weekend course or a University degree? Do you want someone with experience? What kind and how much experience with what kind of population you looking for? How much are you willing to pay for a trainer?

Many trainers specialize in a certain area. It may be specific sport training, weight loss, post rehab, or something else. Most certified trainers are well versed in all aspects of health can fitness and can train outside of their niche and can work with clients of all natures if a trainer for your niche is not close by.

Currently there are no national standards when it comes to personal trainer certification. This means your “certified personal trainer” could have taken a weekend course or have spent 2 years in collage, or 4 years in University, they may have done their course online and they may not have actually touched a person (no practical or hands on component of their course)  when obtaining their certification.

Some trainers get hired and have no place being in a gym training people.


I don’t even know where to start on how ridiculous this video is. There is no circumstance on earth where these two exercises should be paired together like this. Individually the incline chest press and leg press are two exercises that require a lot of concentration to make sure they are done properly. The odds of this women hurting herself have greatly increased doing this.

I could write a whole blog post just on this short video, but I will stop now.

If you are working out at a health club check to see if they have bios of their trainers? Some clubs have different levels of trainers. This is very helpful because usually the trainers with less certifications or those with less experience charge less than the upper level/elite trainers. The upper level trainers have more certifications, courses, conferences, self directed readings and experience that the lower level trainers.

That is not to say those lower level trainers are not good. Everyone has to start somewhere. Those trainers would take clients that have a less complicated fitness goal. If you have no health issues and are just looking for a general fitness routine than the lower level trainers will more than likely work for this application. If you have some physical limitations or some other health conditions or you are a serious competitive athlete then you may want to spend the little extra money on an elite level trainer.

I look at hiring a trainer the same way I look at doing my taxes. I could do my own taxes. I could work my way through it, take a lot of time, become frustrated and spend a lot of time researching trying to determining how much of a return I am entitled to get. Or I could take all of my tax info to my accountant who has been doing this for years and knows exactly what he is doing. He will most likely do a better job on my taxes than I, getting me more money back in less time. Sure it will cost me a few dollars but I save that in time. Remember your time is worth money too.

My accountant could just be a friend of mine that knows a lot about taxes or he could be a Certified General Account, registered with a governing body. This was quite helpful a few years ago when my wife got audited by the government. Because my accountant is certified he knew exactly what to do and took care of everything. If I had done my taxes, or gotten a friend to do them things may not have turned out the same way.

For those that want to know everything turned out fine.

Certification means knowledge and accountability. Anyone that has actually become certified had to pass a test that at least challenged their knowledge base and has passed. Other testes by other organizations challenge both knowledge and practical skills.

In many of the organizations to remain certified trainers need to obtain continuing education credits every year. This ensures your trainer will continue to expand their knowledge base through courses or other conferences.

Some organizations will provide the trainers with insurance. Trainers that are not certified may or may not carry personal liability insurance. I couldn’t imagine training without insurance; you never know what could happen. I wouldn’t drive a car without insurance, even though I am a good driver.

Trainers with certifications also work within their scope of practice that is laid out in their certification.

Is someone that has only read muscle magazines and worked out like a bodybuilder themselves qualified to work with you if you have high blood pressure?

Can the trainer that just won the local bodybuilding show train you and help you recover from a torn ACL? Maybe he can, maybe he can’t.


If they are not certified or do not have the experience working with someone that has those specific issues will they try to develop a program for them anyway? Would they admit when something is beyond their level of expertise? Would they refer you to a trainer that has experience that area?

There are some exceptions to the rule. I have seen a few really great trainers that do not have any certifications.  They do a lot of reading and research themselves to gain the knowledge to help them perfect their craft. They know their limitations and when they are over their head. These are a rare breed and typically don’t  work in commercial fitness clubs.

Here is a short list of some of the Certifying bodies out there along with a link to their website.


Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

The Provincial fitness unit of Alberta


 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

International Dance & Exercise Association (IDEA)

International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)

Certified Professionals Trainers network (CPTN)

American Council of Exercise (ACE)

National Strength and Conditioning Association

Many to the above organizations offer more than one type of certification. They will offer certifications for pre and post natal, older populations, Group Fitness, indoor cycling, post rehab and many other specialty areas.

If you are looking to hire a personal trainer, think about your specific circumstance. Are you looking at losing weight or building muscle? Do you have some past or current injuries you need looked at or taken into consideration when a program is designed for you.

If you are thinking about becoming a personal trainer, I recommend talking to some of the trainers at your local club. Ask what certifications they have and what type of cliental they train. You can look for local certifications courses being run in your area. Often time’s gyms can point you in the right direction for the certification you are looking for, especially if you want to work in their club. Some gyms have standards that their trainers must meet in order to train there.

I have turned down many “trainers” that look the part but don’t have any certifications or courses at all. We have a lot of clients that ask what certifications our trainers have and I am happy to tell them that they are all certified and have a lot of experience in different areas.

The last thing I would want would for someone to get hurt in my gym under the supervision of an uncertified, uninsured trainer.



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Does the media have it right when it comes to weight loss?

I was at a personal training conference this weekend, taking in all kinds of new information in the field of health and exercise. There were a lot of very smart (PhD level) presenters there giving us the lowdown on what is new. With all the scientists there I got thinking about how the public get information on health and wellness and why they choose to believe it.

The majority of the population knows that exercise is good. Many know that eating fast food, processed food and junk food is not good. Nothing mind blowing about that I hope.

I heard a lot of people this weekend talk about getting the information out there to the general public. Honestly it is there. People just don’t care or can’t adhere to what they start.

Look at the number of people that join a gym after New-Years or start a diet. Here is a link to the top 13 New Year resolutions in the US. Lose weight, get fit and eat healthy food all make the list with lose weight at the top.

Other health related goals like stop smoking, reduce stress and reduce alcohol all make the list as well. From the top 13, six are health related. People want to be healthy and fit; they know that it is a good thing. The scientists and the trainers know how to get people fit and healthy. So why is there such a disconnect?

As a society we look for the easiest way to do things. We try to be as efficient as possible. It maybe laziness or it may be a trait we inherited from our ancestors trying to conserve energy and conserve food stuffs when times were tough and we had to hunt and scavenge for our next meal. That is not a problem now a day with a pizza delivery just a phone call away.

People want to believe that the “quick fix” solution they see on TV to help them get fit. You didn’t put on that extra weight in 10 days, what makes you think it will come off in 10 days? We want to believe the fad, the gimmick, the pill or the easy way out. We listen to those on TV, the celebrities, who may or may not have any formal training in fitness or nutrition.

Dr. Oz was even pulled in front of a US Senate hearing because of the pills and diets he pushes on his show.

Dr. Oz was also criticized for giving “non-scientific advice” to his viewers. I don’t want to pick on Dr. Oz too much but it is a good example. He is a Doctor, an MD, so I am sure he is quite smart. His research interests include heart replacement surgery, minimally invasive cardiac surgery, and health care policy. I am sure that he is great at all of those things but he is not an exercise or nutrition specialist. He may know a lot about it but he is not an expert in it. He is an expert in cardiac surgery.

I don’t get my expert plumber to do my taxes, even though he is cheaper than my accountant and claims to know a lot about filing taxes.

We like to listen or believe in people like Dr. Oz and the gimmicks because we want hope. Exercise professionals, the researchers, don’t get TV shows because we are not selling a quick fix. We are selling a lifestyle change. Our solutions are not quick, not easy and not sexy so they have no real sales appeal.

quick fix

Getting in shape, burning off those few extra pounds is hard.

I am going to be brutally honest and tell everyone that losing weight (burning off extra fat) is probably one of the hardest things there is to do.

How do I know? If it were easy everyone would be at the ideal weight they want to be at and this blog would be a waste of time. Don’t get discouraged. I am just telling the truth. Every little bit counts and it will come with adherence.


Post your comments below. Do you think the media and advertisers sell false hope and their own weight loss pills more so then they sell answers or solutions to weight loss problems?


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Choosing a Personal Trainer

I am spending the weekend at a personal training/exercise physiology conference getting up to date on what is new and happening in the industry.

One of the lectures yesterday there were some serious knowledge bombs being dropped. I saw minds being blown in the room all around.

There was one presenter in particular that mentioned something in passing, more as a reminder than as a shocking new point that got me thinking.

He said that personal training needs to be personal. Not rocket science for most trainers (hopefully). But it may not gel in those out there looking to get a personal trainer.

Getting a fitness program should be like shopping for a car. There are top of the line, high end cars, cheaper versions, you can have the base model off the lot or you can pick up the Cadillac of cars with all the extra cool things.  You go grab the base model off the lot and be happy with that or you can make it your own.



When many people pick up a new vehicle they are compelled to customize it to fit their needs, wants, likes and style. Even if it is just fuzzy dice in the window.

fuzzy dice

You can get a personal training program from a book, magazine or off the net but it is not very custom for your own needs. If a personal trainer gives you a generic program then they are not really personal training. They are just doing the same thing the internet can do, they just cost more than the one on the net.

If your trainer is not making adjustments to your program based on your needs, likes and abilities then they are not doing their job. You wouldn’t by a standard transmission if you couldn’t drive a standard transmission. Just like your trainer shouldn’t make you do something if you can’t do it, especially if you can’t do it because of an injury or restriction.

Hopefully your trainer is assessing you and basing your program off you assessment as well as your goals. As Paul Chek  says “if your are not assessing, your guessing” If they are a good trainer they are asking how you are feeling and are always assessing and making changes to your program on the fly.

Try your trainers out and feel free to get a second opinion or try a different trainer from time to time. It is like test driving a car. if you like the features and what you are getting from the car, or the trainer you will enjoy it more, get more out of it and not feel so bad on spending all that money on it.


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5 Easy ways to reach your fitness goals.


Setting goals are easy. Achieving goals is hard.

Goal 3

Many people set all kinds of fitness goals every year, yet many of the goals are not met. Here are some sure fire ways to help you reach your fitness related goals.

Set a Goal

To start off you need a goal. Many people choose weight loss at a standard fitness goal. But it can be anything, build muscle, run a marathon, do a chin-up, anything you want.

For our example we will choose the goal to lose some weight.

Goal: To lose weight!

Once you have the idea you need to refine it.

Refine goals

To refine the goal you should use the SMART principle

S – Specific

M- Measurable

A – Achievable

R- Realistic

T- Time based

By applying those principals to our goal it changes to:

Refined Goal: Lose 10 pounds by February 1st.

Our refined goal is very specific and measurable and realistic. The time line from now (Nov 5th) until February 1st is quite realistic. When losing weight you want to shoot for between 1 and two pounds a week. Any more than that and it gets harder to take off and even harder to keep off once the goal is met.

Set Short Term Goals

Goal 1

Set up to 3 short term goals that will help you get to your long term goal. Setting process orientated goals will make achieving the goals even more easy. For example, many people would set the goal to lose a pound a week as a short term goal. While that is a good goal, what happens if you don’t achieve it? Will you be discouraged? There are so many factors that involved in that even if you do everything correct you may not achieve that goal because you don’t have ultimate control over it.

The best type of short term goals to set at first is the small processes that you have complete control over. For a short term weight loss goal I may encourage my clients to do 15-20 minutes of cardiovascular activity 2-3 times week.  This totally achievable and it will make you feel so good once you accomplish the goal. you have complete control if you go to the gym for some cardio, go for a walk, take class or whatever.

A few other examples of short term process oriented goals would be:

– Decrease the number of times you eat out per week

– Increase the number of vegetables you eat each day

– Increase the length of your workouts

– Limit something non-healthy from your diet

And the list goes on. As long as you have complete control over the goal and it will help you get to your long term goal than it can be added in.

Short term goals should use the SMART principal when refining them to meet your specific situation, as well and be revisited, evaluated and modified every few weeks


This brings me to the 4th principle

Evaluate and change short term goals

Every few weeks sit down and look at the short term goals you set. Did you achieve them, why or why not? How did you feel when you achieved them? Now that you have seen what has worked you can change, modify or increase your short term goals for the next few weeks.

Small changes or increases here are going to work best. Try increasing your cardio by another 5 minutes or add in an extra cardio session that week. Or you could increase you veggie intake even more, decrease junk food a bit more and so on, the list is endless.


Continue to tweak

Evaluate what is working and what is not working. Make any small changes necessary to keep yourself on track until you reach you goal.

Never Give up!

If you stop working towards your goal you will never get there. If you are not working towards your goal than it isn’t really a goal, it is more like a dream.


Goal 2

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