Redefine Yourself

This simple addition to your bedtime routine could make a huge difference in your sleep

Unfortunately, my personal training clients, like most people, often sleep poorly because of their demanding personal and professional lives. You're probably affected, too! Lack of sleep can affect your levels of productivity at work, alertness, and your weight loss/fitness goals. Try incorporating the snoozing step below to improve your slumber time.


Heat and humidity zap our energy levels during the day, but when it's time to hit the hay, a slightly elevated body temperature — paradoxically — may keep you awake.

Turns out there's a quick and easy way to sidestep this issue, as New York Magazine wrote back in 2014, which doesn't involve expensive supplements or time-consuming smart phone apps.

Their trick? Poke one or two feet out from under the covers to ease your way into snooze town.

I can attest that this actually works — but why?

The truth is that scientists don't really know. Researchers haven't designed any studies looking at why or how an exposed foot can help someone sleep better; but they can muster a guess.

Natalie Dautovitch, a spokesperson for the National Sleep Foundation and a psychology professor at the University of Alabama, told New York Magazine that it's likely tied to regulating body temperature.

Right before you fall asleep, your body begins to power down by shuttling heat away from your body. In fact, your sleeping temperature is about one to two degrees Fahrenheit cooler than when you were awake. Scientists think this allows us to conserve energy during slumber so that you can wake up energized and refreshed. Keeping our bodies warm takes energy, after all.

There are two reasons why feet are a good way to cool down the body. First, your feet are relatively hairless appendages, Dautovitch told New York Magazine, which makes them better at conducting heat away from the body.

Second, they contain special types of blood vessels called arteriovenous anastomoses that shunt heat away from the body. These types of blood vessels are most prominent in the pads and nail beds of our fingers and in our toes, but are also spread across our ears, noses, eyelids, lips, cheeks, and forehead. That's why your fingers, toes, and nose get coldest when it's chilly out.

We've known for a while that in addition to the inability to regulate body temperature, various other factors including our genes, exposures to certain lights from laptops and smartphone screens, and exercising or eating close to bed time can worsen sleep. But as a whole, scientists still aren't quite sure why the estimated 5 to 15% of people suffer from insomnia.

Either way, next time counting sheep or dousing your eye mask with lavender essential oils isn't working, try sticking a foot outside the covers.

Happy slumbering!

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Article Credit:
Author: Julia Calderone from Business Insider
This simple addition to your bedtime routine could make a huge difference in your sleep
How to improve your sleeping habits.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Age of 45

I think there's a point in everyone's life in which he or she asks "What does my life mean?". You've worked in your career for several years. Maybe you've started a family, too. These things define you, but you still feel a little sense of unfulfillment. Why? Perhaps you haven't been asking yourself the right questions. Here is a list of 6 questions to ask yourself before the age of 45. Get a head start on making the most of your life before retirement is even thought at your dinner table.

1.) How have your fears and insecurities steered your life? How would your life be different if they didn't influence your behavior?

2.) How do you handle stress and what's the effect on your physical, mental, and emotional health?

3.) Do you feel in control of your life? If not, why? How can you control the negative and destructive influences in your environment?

4.) Are you willing to accept the mistakes in your past?

5.) What's your purpose? What are you passionate about in your life? What's your mission statement?

6.) What's on your bucket list and why haven't you been checking it off? What have you always wanted to be? What have you always wanted to accomplish? Where have you always wanted to travel? What have you always wanted to see?

*****I'm extremely thankful for the friends and personal training clients who have forced me to ask these questions over the last 10 years as a personal trainer in Chicago. I hope these questions prod you to start creating the life you want and achieve the happiness you deserve.

Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the Age of 45
Create the life you want by finding your purpose.

The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures

Fear is a very powerful influence, and you should question how it affects your approach to weight loss or personal training in Chicago. How many times have you avoided a session with a personal trainer? Have you ever backed out of a weight loss plan? Have you ever taken a different path to avoid another personal training client at the gym? What were your reasons? Fear of failure? Fear of commitment? Fear of judgement?

Although fear can lead you to avoidance, is it always a bad thing? No. Fear can protect you from potentially harmful situations. The mind automatically triggers its efficient response system when it recognizes a learned threat. This system of fear has grown inside of you based on past experiences or what you’ve learned.

If an experience or something else has built a strong enough association, the mind will make it tough to forget and will consequently hide it in our subconscious like a protective mechanism. It usually takes repeated experiences before you internally say to yourself, “Maybe I shouldn’t drive erratically because I will hit another car,” or, “Maybe I shouldn’t work 10 hours per day in a stressful job because I’m at risk for a heart attack.” Either way, it can help you avoid destructive or stressful situations. This inner voice is quite essential when we need a wake-up call from life’s distractions.

We need to remember that our minds thrive on reinforcement and don’t always effectively decipher between good and bad or rational and irrational. The fear of flying is a common example, and one which I can relate to.

Rocking back and forth by the open door of the plane, I looked down 13,000 feet on a still landscape of cornfields and a distant Lake Michigan. Three seconds later my tandem partner pushed me out, and we free-fell 5,000 feet before my parachute popped open. That was the first and only time I ever skydived.

Funny enough, I wasn’t scared while crouching on the edge of the doorway. The experience was surreal; however, I didn’t feel that way 30 seconds earlier.

Most people have a fear of heights, and I can’t blame them. The higher we travel, the less likely we’ll survive in the case of an accident. This fear is a survival instinct.

On that day, though, the height didn’t scare me (or the fear of dropping 13,000 feet with a parachute, which is safe, but still crazy). Above all, the plane ride scared me the most.

The plane was a ten-person, single-engine plane. As it rose up into the sky, you heard the engine roar through the cabin as the wind knocked the plane back and forth like a pinball. I looked down at my new altimeter wristwatch and saw the steady climb in elevation. I had never been more nervous in my life. At the same time, I couldn’t wait to jump.

Why was I more scared of the plane than the actual jump? If you think about it, being in a closed cabin seems safer and more controlled than a free-fall with plastic strapped to your back.

That thought never crossed my mind, though. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the small planes I had seen on the news, including the plane carrying JFK Jr. that had crashed and killed everyone on board. I had a constant newsreel showing me these horrible images and bylines of those fatal crashes playing in my head.

My fear is an excellent tool for survival —when it’s rational. I finally understood why many people fear flying. Despite this fear, though, I still flew up and jumped after debating whether or not I should. I finally realized that it wasn’t rational to fear flying on that day. The weather conditions were sunny and warm, and the airline had a perfect flight history. It’s hard to believe that fear almost steered me from an unbelievable experience.

It truly is a problem when irrational fears overtake our being. Despite our efforts at times to repress or erase them, they tend to scratch and claw their way out like a cat trapped in a bag. They pop up in our minds as thoughtful, rational monologues that appear in our best interests, but are actually self-sabotaging pushes to maintain our current culture, like a familiar job or relationship, even though it causes us stress or leads to weight gain.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would we allow these things to ruminate within us? Why would we allow them to take over our being when we’re not paying attention?

For you, it may manifest itself in an underlying voice telling you “Don’t do this!” Despite your best efforts to eliminate the message, it continues to torment you as an unfiltered guided voice; much like it did to me as I was preparing to board that small plane.

We carve our experiences and our interactions into a writeable disc that plays the background music to our life. Unfortunately—and fortunately—fears are written on the disc along the way, too. They make a deeper groove, and it takes more repetitions to change them.

You need to face your fears by defining their influence on your perspective and behavior, and by repeatedly reinforcing a positive message. Don’t feel the pressure to figure out the root of every fear. It may take more work than you’re willing to handle.

It’s time to redefine the legacy of fear within you.

Reflection Section:

1.) Awareness: Name three fears that steer your behavior (e.g., avoidance, projection, isolation, etc.). Where have these fears stemmed from and what evidence do you have to justify listening to these fears?

2.) Acceptance: Are you prepared to face these fears again with a new self-confidence? If not, what positive message can you repeatedly reinforce? How will you carry this out?

3.) Adaptation: Which fears are unjustified and how will you no longer allow them to change your approach? What positive messages can you reinforce repeatedly to convince yourself that these fears aren’t rational?

Article Credit:
The Underlying Influence on Your Weight Loss Failures
Discovering the underlying reasons why you can't lose weight.

Determine Your Boundaries to Achieve Weight Loss

I think it’s symbolic of our true human nature to want to push our boundaries. We have a knack for pushing the limits.

It’s the kid inside of us that still touches the oven after our mother tells us not to turn the knob. It’s the “let’s see if we can get away with a little more” syndrome. With this in mind, we occasionally need to protect ourselves from, well, ourselves, and define the most appropriate boundaries.

When redefining yourself, it’s very easy to tell you to live a perfect life, and then you’ll achieve ultimate happiness. You’ll be safer if you drive the speed limit all the time. You’d reach your ideal weight if you eat just a little bit less than you normally do. Unfortunately, we have too many distractions in life and also enjoy the freedom of doing what we want.

Instead of the all or nothing approach, I employ the following analogy as a way a life. I found through trial and error that I don’t receive tickets when I drive no more than nine miles per hour over the speed limit. How fast can I drive without getting a ticket? Nine seems to be the answer for where I live.

Once I hit ten, though, it’s a different story. Many police officers consider speeds of ten miles per hour or more over the speed limit more dangerous, and you are more likely to receive a ticket. There is a legitimate reason for this assumption. The state has determined the speed limit for a particular road as the most ideal based on the conditions. As you speed further from this number, the likelihood of an accident increases. For this reason, the court system assigns higher penalties for this class of ticket.

I’m taking a risk by acting beyond these limits, but I’m also mindful of an appropriate boundary. I refer to this behavior as "living in the gray." You may say, “But I don’t want live by any boundaries or a rule system!” Although many books will sell the idea of life without rules, it isn’t possible. All of us need boundaries or a rule system. Without them, we would probably harm ourselves or others.

Besides, you already live by a set of boundaries and rules. Now you only need to redefine them. Would you eat a piece of candy lying on the wet alley pavement? Let’s assume you and everyone else wouldn’t. You have established this rule about food as a safety precaution.

The behavior of my weight loss clients is another example. Their weight always tends to fluctuate between the same high and low numbers. It’s as if they retreat to their old habits once they reach a particular weight loss low. We learn that these figures are their tramlines, or boundaries, for their weight. Unconsciously, my personal training clients in Chicago modify their behavior when they reach a specific high or low number, for better or worse. These boundaries mark their patterns of behavior, and the tramlines must be redefined in order to achieve a healthy weight range.

What is your rule system? Is it good for you? Are you a healthier person physically, mentally, and emotionally for it? If your system and behaviors aren’t in line with what you need, there’s a chance you’re causing yourself stress. It should be in line with your homeostasis —your philosophical, efficient state of being. It’s whatever you do for your mind and body that make it work best. If you don’t know what this perfect state of being is for you, then you’re living a life of chance, pushing random boundaries. Any choice you make is a risk.

Up to this point, I hope you have been learning about YOU. Now, you must stop choosing boundaries that work for someone else and begin determining what works for your own body and mind. It doesn’t matter if it works for someone else. It doesn’t mean it will work for you.

When you know yourself well enough, you deserve the occasional slack to live a life outside the strict daily regiment. Disregard the teachings of many popular philosophers, pundits, and anyone else that has thrown their opinion at you. They may tell you to live this way or that way. But no matter what they say, you need to determine your boundaries based on what you discover about YOU. There isn’t a perfect way to live, after all.

I greatly encourage you to “live in the gray” a little bit. It will lead to valuable lessons about your spirit. Never forget, though, that you need to base your new boundaries on your needs instead of your wants. Test your limits but keep your true self in mind. You’ll be thankful when you KNOW why your weight increased while meeting with a Chicago personal trainer, why your spouse is upset with you, or why you received a speeding ticket.

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Determine Your Boundaries to Achieve Weight Loss
Determining your boundaries with your personal trainer in Chicago.

Q&A: What’s the biggest change you’ve made in your personal training business?

Nearly ten years ago, I began my personal training company with the intent of ruling the fitness world (or at least Chicago). I wanted a 10,000 square foot personal trainers' studio and a handful of fitness instructors working for me. The name of that project was Revival Fitness Personal Training, and it was built to bring the success and happiness I've always desired.

Little did I know that the root of what I wanted could be achieved in far simpler measures. I needed to change personal training business plan.

I pursued this career as a personal trainer in Chicago because of my interest in human behavior, the physical body, and the necessary steps to help people achieve their best selves. As I expanded my business, my focus quickly shifted to managing a staff of personal trainers, assistants, and interns. While they were unbelievable employees, my time was dedicated to administrative tasks, marketing, and troubleshooting. I found myself dissatisfied with this business path. I was juggling a workload that not only caused me quite a bit of stress but drove me further from my purpose: Helping people understand themselves and other people.

Most pundits will tell you that a business is unsuccessful if it isn't growing exponentially. What if this growth compromises your initial philosophy? Why expand a garden if it already grows enough fruit? Although I invested a lot of money in my original path, there wasn't anything more satisfying than when I adapted my plan to reflect what it was originally based on: My interaction with personal training clients.

With this being said, I am no longer worried about expanding the size of my company. Instead, I am focused on the needs of my clients again. I meet with them weekly without the distraction of managing other people (besides myself).

While there are limitations in growth as a one person company, I can never trade the fulfillment I feel daily in this new plan. Although I will always encourage people to pursue their dreams, I will also encourage them to constantly check-in with themselves and their path to determine if they're truly carving out the life that's most ideal for them.

Article Credit:
Adapting Your Personal Training Business to Your Wants
How modifying my business plan for my personal trainer company led to my happiness