Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New article

Although I have had absolutely no time to work on this blog due to the demands of full time classes, internship, and personal training, I was contacted by Mike Manning, who wanted his article featured on this blog. He is interested in issues of wellness and wanted to share his views on staying healthy even while traveling. His blog is http://mikemanningmusings.blogspot.com. I hope you can find this information useful! Please note: I do not know Mike personally so please direct any questions to his email address below.

He can be contacted at


Be well,

Is it Possible to Get Enough Exercise While Away From Home?

Exercise is an important activity for many people, and some people feel lost when they are unable to get in their daily exercise. When traveling, a bit of planning can go a long way toward helping you maintain your exercise routine while away from home. Here are a few tips for maintaining your exercise schedule while you are traveling.

Research is Important

Thanks to the Internet, finding exercise-friendly locations has never been easier. Before booking a room, research hotels to find which offer appropriate gyms. On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a 24-hr gym by using a travel site. I scrolled through a list of Maui hotels and could see which ones were the right fit and price. In addition, it can help to find hotels that are located near running trails and other exercise facilities. Increasingly, hotels are offering exercise classes and other amenities for guests who enjoy exercise. By researching various hotels, you may be able to find one that makes exercise especially easy.

Exercise During Transit

Besides finding great hotels, you can also help yourself by taking advantage of exercise opportunities available during transit. Many airports now offer rooms designed to allow travelers to practice yoga or meditate. In addition, some hotels are even offering walking paths that take visitors through various parts of the airport. By leaving a bit early, you may be able to get in some exercise that will help relieve the stress of air travel.

Learn Travel-Friendly Exercises

A long-term strategy frequent travelers may wish to practice is to learn exercises that are easy to do while away from home. Yoga can be done in confined spaces, and yoga requires little more than appropriate clothing. Similarly, running or walking can be done without any special equipment. It is possible to run or walk in all travel destinations as long as you bring along appropriate clothing and shoes. Even if the weather is unpleasant, most hotels now provide treadmills for guests.

Try new Activities

One of the benefits of traveling is being able to experience new activities. Those who enjoy learning new forms of exercise may wish to participate in activities offered in their travel destinations. For example, large cities may offer exercise classes that are not available at home, and those who travel to smaller cities may be able to enjoy expansive running trails. Yoga students may also wish to consider taking a class from a yoga instructor they are not accustomed to; different teachers often have different methods of teaching students, and their teaching methods might grant you valuable insights about yoga practice.

Whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure, research can help you ensure that you can maintain your exercise routine regardless of where you are located. Fortunately, doing so has never been easier, and the opportunities available to modern travelers dwarf those that travelers had access to in the past.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guest Post

Hi all-

This blog has been on hiatus for almost a year now- full time classes, clinical internship, and personal training have kept me insanely busy. I'm going to attempt to update once a week or more- but no promises! My working/interning/student lifestyle has left me feeling a bit like this:

However- I want to keep this as current as possible and link to any and all relevant health and wellness information I come across!

I was recently contacted by a gentleman named David Haas who works as a cancer patient advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. He writes and performs research for the betterment of cancer patients around the United States.You can find out more about David and his work HERE.

On this blog I try to discuss a diverse array of issues surrounding fitness and wellness, so it makes sense to include a guest post regarding fitness in the face of cancer. Everyone knows someone affected by this debilitating illness, so it's a very relatable topic. I'm also a huge advocate of exercise (clearly!) for life-long illness prevention, but David's thoughtful and practical post details how exercise can be beneficial when someone is dealing with, or in treatment for cancer. Please take a moment to read this short, helpful post- and pass along the word to your family, friends, or exercise buddies at your current fitness facility. Thanks to David and the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance for their work on this important issue.

Taking Control With Fitness Despite Cancer by David Haas

Cancer and the resulting diagnosis can leave one feeling out of control. The illness itself often involves loss of some body function. For example, mesothelioma can make it difficult to breathe. The treatment for cancer can involve pain, nausea, vomiting, weight loss and more. The diagnosis can create a swarm of negative thoughts and feelings. It can bring depression and anger. One way to reassert some control in one's life after a cancer diagnosis is to use fitness as a tool.

Taking charge of one thing can make a huge difference in self-worth. Cancer patients do not have to become Olympic gold medalists to reap the benefits of fitness. They can assess their own abilities and work with them. If running is not possible, walk. If walking is not possible, stretch. Take the first step of knowing where and when your pain threshold is reached. The next step is finding a fitness activity that works and doing it. It is okay to take some time off during treatment. It is okay to forego fitness when the body refuses to cooperate. Let those things go and take what control you can take when you can take it.

Cancer can take a lot out of a person. It can leave them tired and unhappy. The great thing about taking control with fitness is that it can increase energy levels and help boost one's mood. The change might be slight, but putting happiness before the disease and not succumbing completely to its trials can help on both a psychological and physical level. Furthermore, fitness can bring about routine in a life otherwise dictated by medication doses and appointments.

Cancer patients can take even more control by joining fitness clubs and groups specifically designed for cancer patients. They can make new friends and find comfort in helping and being helped. They can encourage and be encouraged. They can take strides to being healthier while watching others do the same. The motivational spirit among cancer patients is inspiring. Taking advantage of that community enables cancer patients to be in control while being shown just how possible it is by their peers.

It does not matter if cancer has just recently become a part of a person's lifestyle or it has been beaten back; it is still important to enable oneself to feel good. Going for long walks after being diagnosed can help give one the time and endorphins to put things into perspective. Fitness during treatment can help the treatment work and treat depression. Fitness during remission can promote feelings of control and mitigate the fear of recurrence. Done responsibly, fitness is never a bad idea for a cancer patient.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Friday! Setbacks, motivation, and muscle vs. fat

I had a great week of workouts and training sessions with clients. I went to a Tabata class with Heidi at the Y, which was very humbling! I was seriously sore the next day.

On staying motivated during weight loss:

I had a client recently ask me for some inspiration: after lots of hard work with Weight Watchers and working out, not only did she not see the numbers go down, she gained a pound!

 Extremely frustrating.

It could be a lot of things: a heavy meal the night before, water retention, or a gain in muscle mass.*

My advice to her was that whenever you reach a setback it doesn't matter what you do in the following week- it matters what you do the moment after. It's okay to take a second to say "Ugh. That's annoying. I've been working so hard!"

But your next immediate thought should be a positive one "I''m doing great so far and I will keep it up." Don't let yourself waver- that's when giving up, skipping the next workout, or having an unhealthy meal will step in.

Your next immediate action? Something healthy or nourishing for yourself- take extra time to prepare a healthy and nutritious meal, for for a long walk, take a yoga class, spend time with your dog or kid.

We can't let setbacks define our progress, especially in weight loss efforts. There will always be days where we can't/don't eat healthy or skip a workout. There are vacations, events, illnesses, injuries, long stressful weeks at work, holidays. The important thing is to hop right back on the wagon- this will start to adapt your weight loss efforts into your life as a whole. For example, I never diet. I eat very mindfully and healthily 85% of the time, and "forgive" myself for indulgences. For example, this Mother's Day my mom wants to go to this yummy and amazing all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. This is gonna be a calorie fest. I know it. A serious calorie fest. But I can't wait! I am going to relax, indulge, and enjoy every second of it because I know the next day I will go right back to eating clean and putting healthy things in my body. With enough time, this kind of habit will become part of your lifestyle. The former me would have been anxious about the dinner, limited myself, not truly enjoyed it, felt guilty after, and consoled myself in a sugar or food binge. Pointless!

Weight loss and lifestyle changes are all about balance, hard work, persistence, and compassion for yourself.

 Have a happy and healthy weekend!

*Muscle does not "weight more" than fat. A pound is a pound is a pound. Muscle is, however, much more dense than fat, so that, by volume, it seems to weigh more. So a pound of muscle occupies less space than a pound of fat.That's why when trying to lose weight, it can be more helpful to focus on your pants size, inches lost, body composition, and how strong, healthy and fit you feel as opposed to the numbers on the scale. Example below: 5lbs of muscle versus 5lbs of fat, for those of us more visually-minded.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Back in action

It's been nearly a month since i've written- bad blogger! I'm happy to say it's been a result of a busy training schedule and a rigorous and exciting school workload.

In an attempt to make my blog more readable/consistent and not lame and boring, I am following the advice of my wise boyfriend Nick and will be setting a schedule for my blog posts. As of right now I will be blogging on Fridays- this is a great chance for me to reflect on my week of training and workouts and compile a list of links I've collected over the week on health, diet, fitness, and wellness to share with readers. It will also help me stay accountable to blogging- just like working out, it's hard to maintain it when no one is telling you to do it! Stay tuned.

For now check out this recent success story from Diane, one of my most badass and dedicated clients and full time working mom of 3 young kids! Quite impressive!

"I want to share a mini-success story with you.  Finally this morning after this horrible winter and being sick for too many weeks to count, I headed out for a run this morning.  I could not believe how good I felt.  I ran my "long" run in 30 minutes (usually takes me 45) this morning.  So thank you for sticking with our crew, it is making a real difference in how I feel and how good I feel during and after my workouts."

With motivated, enthusiastic and persistent clients like Diane and her group members Kayla and Amy getting in fantastic shape is fun and you see results fast!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Typically not one to toot my own horn, but..


"Rachel is amazing to work with.  She does not support the "no pain, no gain" style of workout.  Rachel is incredibly knowledgeable about current exercises and was very creative in adjusting exercises to meet our groups needs regardless of prior or current injuries.  Rachel’s energy is encouraging, upbeat and serious about getting you the results you want.  She has helped me see my potential and continues to push me to do things that I would not normally do." -Satisfied client!!!!

So appreciative of the wonderful people I get to work with, and the West Suburban YMCA for creating the opportunity.

I feel:

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I am sad to say I haven't blogged in nearly a month- between my busy training schedule (yay!) temporarily losing my cat (BOO) and managing a full time school schedule (yay....?) I've been incredibly busy.

The "Take it Off" Program at the Y has ended, and unfortunately none of my teams won. However, my teams lost A TON of weight- one group of 4 lost 54 pounds! Amazing!

Thank you, teams, for all your hard work!

Now that the program is over, hopefully I will have a little more time for blogging. I'm taking a Pilates course soon so I'm sure that will inspire lots of writing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Have no fear at the gym!

Does the idea of working out at the gym make you feel like this?

Then read THIS:


This is an excellent article from Jezebel.com that speaks to people who may feel uncomfortable working out in a traditional gym setting. I highly recommend it.

A gym can be a frightening and overwhelming place for some people at first, women in particular. Gyms are often male-dominated spheres. A bunch of men milling around, grunting and lifting, talking loudly to each other. It can bring up a lot of anxiety for both men and women about bodies- how they should look and what they should be able to perform, and how gender should be presented.

My advice for nervous gym-goers? Fake it 'til you make it. You may not know what on earth you are doing in that gym, but if you project an air of confidence, accept your inevitable ineptitudes in certain areas, and have a sense of humor, eventually the gym will become more comfortable. You have just as much a right as anyone to be there and be comfortable.

A great tip is to have a written workout. This will help from aimless wandering and eventual fleeing from the scary torture-device looking machines. Make a list of the machines you want to check out, and which body parts you want to exercise. Make a list of machines that totally befuddle you, and then ask a trainer or employee for help!

That brings me to the point of personal training to help feeling comfortable and safe in a gym environment. If you are a gym newbie, a personal trainer is your best friend. You don't have to sign your life away or pay a lot of money, just sign up for one or two sessions to get yourself acclimated to the gym environment. Ask the trainer any and all questions you may have and find out info that staff is privy to: what's the most popular equipment? what are the busiest times? etc. etc.

Many trainers want you to get "hooked" on them- you rely on them completely to get your workout. That's the opposite of my philosophy. I want to educate clients how to become comfortable, knowledgeable, and safe gymgoers who know how to exercise effectively for their specific needs. One of my greatest joys of training is seeing a client or former client performing an exercise I've taught them!

In conclusion: at the gym,

-be confident (or...just ACT confident!)
-be yourself
-be curious
-be humble
-have a sense of humor
-have FUN!

Happy exercising....in no time you'll be feeling like THIS:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feed Megan Fox

I'm certainly not going to be someone who says that "beauty" looks a certain way- thin, curvy, short, tall, whatever. I think it's all gorgeous, especially if that person is healthy and confident and takes care of their body. That being said, although I realize people think shes super sexy, I honestly can't agree.


I realize some women are naturally thin, but honestly, this is eating disorder porn. Dislike. Even her eyes look hungry!

Here's a video I DO like:
*there are some images that are slightly sexual in nature. I do not condone hypersexualizing women, this video was meant to show that women of all sizes can be beautiful. There are also images of extremely thin women so if this is difficult for you, stop at 3:07*

And another:

I'd rather see this badass chick do workout moves all day than see that underfed, pouty Megan Fox rolling around for Armani. Not healthy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gym etiquette 101

Today I thought I'd take the chance to blog about the all-important GYM ETIQUETTE. I love working at the YMCA. I love working OUT at the YMCA too. But for some reason I find that some of my fellow YMCA-goers, while they are most likely very lovely people, are very lacking in gym etiquette. Example:

Today I was doing a balance exercise with a bosu ball (see Fig. 1) on top of a bench.
Fig. 1

The bosu ball was the perfect height for the exercise I was trying to do. I was just going about my business, doing the exercise, when a woman came into the room and plucked the bosu ball right off the bench I was using. When I looked started and confused, she said "I need it to work on my balance." When I looked pissed, she said "Sorry."

Lady, I don't care if you're gonna make a damn salad on it- I'M USING IT. What's funny is, if she had considerately asked me to use it I would have gladly agreed. But the fact that she felt she could just take it from me, without asking, when I was clearly using it, is just ridiculous.

Unfortunately, things like this happen all too often.

ANYWAY: A few tips on gym etiquette:

-Always ask if someone is using a piece of equipment if they are even somewhat close. It's considerate.

-Always wipe down the piece of equipment you're using when you're done.

-Always return a piece of equipment to it's proper place.

-DO NOT walk into a room where several people are exercising, decide you don't like the music, and turn it off. Likewise, do not enter a room where several people are exercising and turn ON music. Always ask a quick general consensus of the people in the room. It takes just a moment.

-Remember that you are not the only person in the facility!

-Don't pepper personal trainers with questions, especially when they are in a session with a client! *I'm more than happy to talk to a member or potential client with specific questions, but I can't give you a free session of training when I'm trying to get my own workout in, on my own free time, or when i'm working with a paying client*

-Don't complain to a personal trainer about things irrelevant to personal training (i.e. the paper recycling system, the heat, the parking lot, the leaky radiator.)

All that being said, the majority of members I come across are GREAT! There are just a few clueless, or plain old inconsiderate, people who can make things difficult.

My motto for gym etiquette: "Always err on the side of POLITE!" You can't go wrong.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Women's Health Magazines are Bull****?


Morning Gloria of Jezebel.com explains why women's health magazines can actually make women feel terrible and overly emphasize excessive thinness. Sad.