Archive for August, 2019

I have a few friends over 50 who get up every morning at 4:30. One of them heads to her freezing cold garage and hits the treadmill. Meanwhile, another group of women arrive at the gym around 6 for a powerlifting lesson. These women hardly ever complain. They appear to be at peace with their discipline, just sort of floating easily through their day, accomplishing all they’ve set out to do. They’re hard workers too. They make good money. They smile easily and often. We exchange morning greetings and as we do, I secretly hate them. Not really hate, but more like envy. They’re doing 155 pound squats for reps at 6:30 in the morning, and I can barely keep a thought together in my head. For some people, having the discipline to succeed comes naturally. For others like me, we have to “trick” ourselves into being achievers. Call it “habits of success” if you will. I prefer to call it “mind games.” One “master mind-gamer” is Jane Hann. Jane is approaching 60. She is a high-functioning, well-respected environmental manager. She oversees 25 employees. She makes a roundtrip to Denver nearly every weekday. And get this … she LOVES her job. She is one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever met. Not in a crazy way, but in a healthy, well-balanced way. The only difference between people like her and people like me is the “A” word. Go ahead and laugh. It’s okay. I’m actually talking about “attitude.” Attitude towards life, exercise, the world, people … even herself. Jane makes it look easy, but it doesn’t come naturally. She has to outthink herself. Consequently, she has developed amazing insight about how to deal with people, how to problem solve and how to stay disciplined. I recorded an audio podcast with her, and I want to share some of the highlights here. Because let’s face it, some of us need to be tricked into getting in shape.

Jane Hann

VICKI: Would you say that one of your main responsibilities at work is to motivate those people to do their best?
JANE: My job, as I see it, is to help people do what they need to do in order to do their jobs well.  Sometimes it’s as basic as getting them funding or removing obstacles in the workplace. But this could also mean helping them be appreciated by their customers by teaching them how to add value to their customers’ daily life.   And helping people feel appreciated actually results in motivating people to do their best and to be their best.
VICKI: So I’m thinking this can be applied to fitness.  How long have you been exercising?
JANE: I’ve been exercising all of my life, but I actually started exercising on purpose in college following surgery and skin grafts from a malignant melanoma.  I was restricted from activity for months while the skin grafts were healing.  At the end of that time, I found myself breathing really hard after climbing a short flight of stairs.  And that was not an acceptable condition to me. Later in life I’d been doing hiking, biking, backpacking, snow sports and that kind of thing. 
VICKI: But then just recently you had an injury that left you unable to exercise.  Talk about what that was like. What did that do to your motivation?
JANE: About a year and a half ago, I was hiking Pike’s Peak and broke my lower leg bones and dislocated my ankle on my right leg.  And I was about a mile and a half from the summit.  So a helicopter ride and two surgeries later, I found myself weak, and even though I tried to keep active, it was very discouraging.  I couldn’t hike mountains and ride bikes like I used to.

I did a little here and there, but the strength and the balance just wasn’t there. And when my high-school age niece wanted to go backpacking with me last summer, I had to tell her no.  I wasn’t strong enough.  So I wanted to do something to change that.  The things I was doing weren’t getting me there. 
VICKI: How were you feeling overall — health-wise?
JANE: I was finding that slowly over time, as I was getting older, I was getting weaker in other places.  My muscles were getting kind of flabby and overall — it snuck up on me.  And I think it was this broken leg that made me realize that it was an overall health problem.
VICKI: And hiring a personal trainer was one of the things you had to do to get moving again.  But more than that, you had to play some mind games with yourself to help you stay motivated.  Do you want to share some of those with us?
JANE: Well, I’ve got quite a few strategies in both exercise and in business.  Hiring a personal trainer was twofold for me.  I was walking and jogging, sometimes up to six miles on the weekends, but still feeling weak.  I needed some new ideas on how to get stronger and where I wanted to be.  I also needed weekly accountability.  I knew it was really important that I do something consistently in order to get to where I wanted to be. And the weekly training helped that happen.  As I got stronger, I became more motivated.  You can do this with a personal trainer, a coworker, a spouse or a friend.  And when you translate that to business, the more value you add to yourself, the more you’re appreciated. The more you’re appreciated, the more you want to do the work to get you to appreciate it again!
VICKI: You talk about strategies, but then you also mentioned some tricks that people can do;  just little things to help them, to remind them, or to propel them to get in shape.
JANE: One is — just give it a try.  I mean, you can have so many excuses, but did you really even try it?  I mean, in your head, you’re thinking about the reasons why you wouldn’t want to do something.  If you just give it a try, you may find that it isn’t so bad, and you might actually have fun.  So that’s one. Another is, visualize what success looks like.  What do you look like?  What are you eating/wearing?  Who are you with?  What does your typical day look like when you are at your “ultimate you?”  Don’t wait until you’re there.  You can get started now. Doing exercise and watching my diet is part of getting to where I want to be. Another is, listen to the excuses you give yourself and address them. I didn’t want to do planks because my carpet was itchy.  So I put a yoga mat on the carpet right by my bed. When I got off my bed, I had to step on the mat. So not only is it not itchy, but it’s right by the bed, so I can do it before my day gets busy. You make up excuses, so listen carefully to what those excuses are and then remove the excuse. Another one is — bribe yourself.  I love bagels.  They’re not good for me.  But I can allow myself a half-toasted bagel after I do a three mile run.  And sometimes that’s what gets me into my running shoes because I want that bagel!  In business, I make myself finish the task at hand before I can get up and get another cup of coffee.  So for me, bribing really works. Before I broke my leg, I used to make excuses about bad weather.  I didn’t want to go out and do my runs.  So I had got a membership to a nearby gym and at lunch I would go and run on the treadmill looking at the snow outside the window.  No more bad weather excuses! I’ve learned through leadership in business, be brave enough to make the change you need for a better future.  In business it might be that I need to change how my team is performing, whether it’s through training or reorganization or communication.  And you can do the same. You can train people how to treat you, if you don’t like how you’re being treated.  So the key is to focus on what gives you joy in your life.  What brings you joy? Everyone wants joy.
VICKI: Everyone wants joy, but it’s difficult for people who feel like they’re trapped.  I know a lot of seniors feel trapped in either their bodies or their houses or their living situations, or whatever it happens to be.  So what about the seniors who feel like they can’t make a move, or they can’t get motivated, or they don’t even see the point?
JANE: You don’t have to look at the big long-range goal and say, “I’m doing that.” You can look at the short little ones that are right in front of you.  For me, it was getting out once a week and getting some exercise and doing something.  There is always something you can change.  It may take time, but eventually you will see a progress towards that goal.  The goal doesn’t have to be a big grand one.  The goal can be, “I can get up off the floor a little easier.” Or, “I can pick up my plant to put it in the sink a little easier.”  The value of persistence is about not backsliding, but in doing what brings you joy.  Maybe you need to hire somebody to help you with part of that.  Or maybe you’re just going to have to accept that it won’t happen overnight, but you still keep going.  At the end of the day, you need to try to believe.  You need to bring joy to your life. If getting outdoors and being around nature brings you joy, you need to do that as much as possible.  Everyone wants joy in their life.  You’re not alone in this, and you’ll find people along the way to help you.

About me: I am an A.C.E. Senior Strength Trainer at Flex Gym & Fitness. You can reach me at or call 719-445-8566. Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary. 

A client of mine shocked me with a confession while on the Elliptical one day. She said, “Sometimes when I see an overweight person struggling to walk, huffing and puffing, I judge them. I can’t help it. I know I shouldn’t look down on them, but I do.”

     After thoughtfully considering what she said, I went to my locker and emerged with a 25-pound weighted vest. 25 pounds of dead weight is not light, by any means. She grunted audibly as I placed it over her small frame. Her eyes got really wide when she realized my evil plan … I would make her do the remainder of her workout with the vest on. The pull-ups, goblet squats and deadlifts that she executed with prideful ease were suddenly challenging in ways she could never imagine. Just walking around the gym was a challenge. The weights wobbled to and fro, forcing her to use her core to keep from toppling over. Everything was a struggle. Even sitting on the toilet took a sort of concentration and exertion she’d never known as a small-framed person.

     I didn’t chastise her for her guilty confession. Some people, whether they realize it or not, judge the big guys and gals … not knowing what being large actually feels like. If you’re an obese individual, you know the very depth of what I’m referring to.
     But here’s the good news: While you’ve been living with obesity you have actually been working out much harder than we skinny folk. You’ve been lifting more weight, doing heavier leg lifts, and burning more calories.  So believe it or not, when you set your mind to it, you’re going to lose weight much faster than your thinner friends. Here’s why:
     As a bigger person, you have a higher metabolic rate naturally, which means you need more calories to maintain your weight.  When you go into caloric deficit (on a diet, for instance) you have more options for calorie reduction.  So if you need 3000 calories per day, you can cut that by a third and lose weight without too much difficulty. From a physics standpoint, a heavier object will require more “work” to move than a lighter object. Work equals calories burned. Let’s say you weigh 200lbs and your buddy weighs 150. If both of you work out at the same intensity for the same amount of time, you will burn more calories. If you both decide to eat 500 fewer calories a day, you will lose more weight initially, much faster than your buddy.  As you gain muscle, your metabolism will get a boost, resulting in even higher calorie burns and a healthier/leaner you.
     And here’s the best news of all … underneath all that adipose layering, there is a beautiful set of well-developed muscles waiting to be revealed to the world. As an obese person, you’ve already been working hard for every step you take. Which means your muscles are already surprisingly developed. In fact, bodybuilders go through what’s called a “Bulking Phase” before they get “shredded” for competition. The Bulking Phase isn’t glamorous. You won’t see bulking pictures in GQ Magazine. But know this – in order to get competition-style muscles, you need to bulk up. So for those of you who are overweight, you now can tell your friends that you have been in a “Bulking Phase” and are getting ready for phase two.

Not everyone wants to look like a bodybuilder. Don’t worry … you won’t. Most competitive bodybuilders use anabolic steroids (and other drug cocktails) in massive amounts to achieve that look.  But know this … as you lose weight, you don’t have to be afraid that you won’t have any muscles at all. The muscles are there, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to carry yourself around. The larger you are, the more developed your muscles are likely to be.

Tim Bell is a perfect example of a healthy weight loss transformation. After encountering some family tragedies over a four-year period including loss of lived ones, financial distress, bankruptcy and many other challenges, he hit bottom.  

“I had not been taking care of myself. I was a daily cigar smoker and had put on a lot of weight. I did not exercise, I was growing old fast. The Peach Tree Road race was being held on the 4th. It is the biggest 10K race in the world. My brother said to me, “Next year we should commit to running in it.” I said, “I am in”. The goal had been set. This was my opportunity to work on me. That was it. It was my calling. As I am writing this, I have lost 40.4 lbs., more important, I feel and see the change. It has been a difficult task but very well worth it.”

Tim Bell – Overcoming four years of tragedy with a new fitness goal.

If you are a large person in a “Bulking Phase” and you’re considering a journey back to healthy weight, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. By being large, you’ve developed a thicker skin, a tolerance for failure and a determination to keep moving no matter what. These are necessary traits for athletes. The journey will probably take you between two and seven years. Get ready for the long haul.
  2. For every 5lbs of muscle you gain, you burn 500 more calories per day. You will need to burn more calories than you consume each day. It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1lb. To do this safely, see a licensed nutritionist.
  3. When losing weight it’s important not to focus on the success of others but only to measure your progress based solely on yourself. 
  4. The closer you get to your goal the harder it will be to lose the weight. There will be times of plateau and even times of setback.
  5. Finally, some words of wisdom from Craig Ballantyne: “The harsh reality is that most people do not want to see you succeed. People will try to hold you down. Find others who share your goals to lose weight, and so that you can leverage their knowledge, commitment, support, and success. Research shows that when you hang around others who succeed that you will also succeed.”

So bottom line, don’t knock the big folk. They’re working out harder than most of their peers just by being big. With the right weight loss and exercise program, they have a better chance of maintaining attractive, healthy muscle development than the rest of us.

REFERENCES: Troy Taylor, NASM Elite Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine, Ann Prokenpek, NASM Elite Trainer,,, FOX8 Cleveland,,

Vicki Morgan CPT ACTION is a Senior Strength & Fitness Instructor at Flex Gym and Fitness. You can reach her at 719-445-8566. Remember to consult a physician before beginning any diet or exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary.