Saturday, November 24, 2012

Look Delicious by Christmas!

Now that Black Friday is over, it's time to do something for you!

On Monday we start 4 weeks of fun, challenging and invigorating workouts to help you look and feel spectacular for Christmas.

In fact, the theme we have coming up is "Look Delicious By Christmas!"

Here's what's in store:

  • Bonus 90 minute workouts on all 4 Wednesdays to burn up the holiday calories and have you busting through stress!   
  • Weekly accountability reports to help you THRIVE, not just survive, and actually ENJOY the holidays!
  • Weekly holiday treat on Fridays after camp!  These tastes great, AND are GREAT for you! Pumpkin Pie Shakes are coming ...
  • Some fun (and killer) workouts - a new version of an old game we used to play as kids, and our traditional "12 Days of Christmas" as a couple of examples. 
  • Holiday door prizes!  Random drawing on random days - you have a chance to win just by being in camp.

This time of year, it's too easy to get caught up in everything else.  The tension builds, the stress accumulates.  Cortisol (the stress hormone) is at an all-time high with obligations, rushing around, lots of food and drink, and not enough down time.

Yet, when you start your day with the number one thing that counters stress, balances emotions, and helps you feel mentally crisp, you  get to really enjoy this special time of the year!

And in the spirit of holiday savings, when you purchase the Look Delicious By Christmas camp session (November 26-December 21) and the New Year, New You Challenge session (January 7 to February 1), you get them BOTH at 15% off!

The January camp session always sells out fast due to limited registration being indoors, and everyone will be looking to shed the stress and holiday excess in the new year.  Why not show up in January ahead of the game, and feeling GREAT that you looked and felt better than ever for the holidays!

To register, go to:

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Health experts have long been aware of a strong mind-body connection between people's emotional state and their physical health.

Research shows that happy people tend to be more active and burn more calories than their depressed or unhappy counterparts.

Of course, there's also considerable research that suggests depression contributes to obesity.  Many people eat more unhealthy foods when confronted with anxiety or depression.

The Happiness Institute

Professor Timothy Sharp from The Happiness Institute (can you believe there's an entire institute dedicated to happiness study? That's pretty cool!) believes that happy people lose more weight.  He points out the growing scientific literature also supports his belief. Positive emotions can help your body be in a slightly alkaline state, which aids in weight loss. Positivity, according to Dr. Sharp, can reprogram the automatic negative food messages that your brain gives your body. It can also minimize chronic diseases and improve the function of your immune system.

Happiness and Weight Loss

Happiness can aid weight loss more significantly than dieting, according to Dr. Joe Vitale.  Vitale believes that a happy state is the key to losing weight. "The truth is happy people tend to take more actions in the direction of their goals," Vitale maintains. He states that weight gain is part of a vicious cycle and people must improve their emotional state to lose weight.  Makes sense.

Obesity and Depression

There is a strong correlation between obesity and depression that has been well-documented in numerous studies. According to a study published in the journal "Clinical Psychology," people suffering from depression have changes in their hormones that contribute to obesity. Their symptoms also make it more difficult to exercise and eat right. A study conducted in 2002 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that adolescents in the Cincinnati area with depression symptoms were more likely to become obese in the next year.

Stress and Unhealthy Eating

Stressed out children and adults will eat more unhealthy foods, according to research. The journal "Health Psychology" published a study that reviewed the eating habits of 11-year-olds. Stressed out kids eat more unhealthy food than their less-stressed out peers. "Children in the most stressed category ate more fatty foods and more unhealthy snacks, but they were also less likely to consume the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables or eat a daily breakfast," says Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK's Health Behaviour Unit, who led the study. Similar results have been found in studies with adults.

So, how do we be happier?

Well, I'd be preaching to the choir to announce that working out first thing in the morning improves your mental, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing, all leading to enhanced happiness.  You already know that through first-hand experience.

Exercising daily is a big contributor to happiness.  But I think there's even more to it.

Here's a formula that explains happiness:  Your Reality minus Your Expectations = Your Happiness.

Let me explain.

We all have certain expectations about how our lives "should be".  I remember in January 1980, laying in my bed trying to fall asleep, thinking how cool starting a new decade was.  I starting thinking about next decade and how by the 90's we'll all be flying personal spaceships in lieu of driving cars.  And then I thought about the year 2000 and thought that I would be REALLY old by then, at age 31.  I'd have that perfect house that I was supposed to have, be married, and have 2 kids.  I have no idea where this expectation came from, but I was pretty certain that by year 2000, those things would be my reality.

Well, I struck out on all of it.  Life was sure harder at age 31 than I imaged it back when I was 11. 

I got to spend some time with a good friend recently in Austin.  He was telling me (and 7 other guys) about his life, and his business.  We were all stunned by how incredible the past 2 years have been for him.  By every measure, his growth was unbelievable.  Yet, he was in a HUGE funk, borderline depressed.  Simply put, although his reality was AWESOME, it didn't match his UNBELIEVABLE expectations - he'd "only" achieved 97% of his goal.  It took about 90 minutes of intense dialogue to get him to actually SEE how phenomenal his progress has been.  Crazy!

I also remember my 25th birthday.  I "celebrated" by working 12 hours at a restaurant.  At 3am I was checking out servers, and closing the business down.  I had this overwhelming sense of depression - it wasn't just the restaurant work, it was a horrible place to work.  Meanwhile, many of my friends had "great" corporate jobs, were either married or engaged, were driving the cool car, etc.  I was working EVERY weekend, and every holiday, driving a crummy car, and living in a tiny condo, and trying to get along in a horrendous, backstabbing, cover my butt, work culture.  My reality again didn't match my expectations for where I was "supposed" to be at age 25, and I was very unhappy. 

So, if our reality doesn't match the expectations we hold, we're going to be pretty unhappy.  And sometimes we create some pretty CRAZY expectations.  Maybe the expectations came from our parents.  Maybe from our culture.  If you're like me and your expectations are that you should have 2.3 kids, be married, live in the dream house, drive the nice car, have the "perfect" job, weigh X number of pounds, etc, etc ... maybe it's time to re-evaluate those expectations, especially if they make you feel bad or unhappy.  Sometimes it's simply the time frame on the expectations that is out of whack.  Sometimes we may not get what we think we should.

The fastest way to feel happy is to feel grateful.  Have gratitude for what you do have.  Some may think that's some silly pie in the sky, esoteric exercise.  Maybe so.  But when you TRULY appreciate all the great things around you, I can guarantee you will feel intensely happy!  Why not feel that every day?

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Walkman versus iPod

Do you remember when you were out on the road and needed to make a phone call ... you actually had to stop at a gas station and hope you could find a quarter? 

What about when you booted up your first computer that ran on windows, you had to type in WIN/ (and hit enter) at the DOS prompt?

(Maybe you don't remember ... and I'm just getting old.  :)

Or you'd actually have to drop off your 110 or 35mm film at PhotoBug in order to get your 12 or 20 pictures back 3 days later?  

And if you wanted to listen to your favorite music, you needed make sure your 9 volt batter was fresh in your Sony Walkman Auto-reverse cassette player with the BIG yellow wrap around your head earphones (actually called headphones back in the day).

For some of us this was a fun trip down memory lane. 

But for those that are still working out like it's the 1980's or 90's (or even the 2000's) ... it's time to leave that old school approach in the past.

Just like payphones, gone are the days of slow cardio and starvation for weight loss.  

Using traditional strength training machines today is like snapping a photo with a Kodak 110 camera - very slow, and very poor results at best.

Welcome to 2012.

Now, exercise is exercise.  I'm VERY happy when people move their bodies.  You can still listen to some GREAT old school music on the Walkman ... but it's just not as current, as functional, and as effective as the iPod.

For example, the leg extension machine isolates the quadriceps mucle ONLY.  And it's done in a seated position.  Nowhere in life to do actually do that movement (except for a gym, or sometimes in rehab).  It's a very low return movement.

The Squat, on the other hand IS highly functional, we squat every day in life.  The squat uses the quadriceps, the glutes, the hamstrings AND the core to perform.  And it elevates the heart rate.  It's a much more effective movement and gives us a high return on our exercise time investment.

Then when we add a squat and an overhead press together ... now we're REALLY taking it up a notch.  Lots of muscle, and even MORE heart rate elevation.

And we can go even further by adding the Squat/Press to pushups ... and then burpees, ... back to back to back to get the BIGGEST BANG for our EXERCISE BUCK!  That's what we call Metabolic Training, much like anticipated iPhone 5 - it comes with all the bells and whistles and the latest technology.

Here's one of the KEY reasons why Metabolic Training is so important ...

As we use multiple functional movements (squats, lunges, single leg exercises, sprints, etc) the body continues to require oxygen at a higher rate than before the exercise session began.

And when we sustain oxygen consumption for a period of time, once the workout is finished, we then experience excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) ...  or the different events that occur as the body restores itself to homeostasis, (or works to get back into balance).

During EPOC the body is restoring itself to its pre-exercise state, and thus is consuming oxygen at an elevated rate. This means that energy (calories) is being expended at an elevated rate.

The following occurs during this process:

1) Replenishment of Energy Resources:  I'll spare you the boring science, but the phosphagen system, lactate, and muscle glycogen (a stored form of glucose) all needs to be restored to pre-workout levels. 

2) Re-oxygenation of Blood and Restoration of Circulatory Hormones:  During exercise metabolism, large amounts of oxygen are used to break down food substrates for energy. Therefore, the body continues to expend energy after exercise to re-oxygenate the blood. In addition, in the postexercise period, the body restores the levels of circulatory hormones, which increased during exercise, to normal.

3) Decrease in Body Temperature: As energy is liberated from the exercising muscle tissues of the body, heat is produced. Thus, during EPOC, the body must expend energy (calories) to return to the normal core body temperature.

4) Return to Normal Ventilation and Heart Rate: Energy expenditure is greatly elevated as the body returns to a normal breathing rate. Heart rate is also returning to a pre-exercise rate.

Because the body continues to expend energy after exercise to resore the body back to balance, EPOC plays a key role in calorie expenditure, and body fat reduction. 

The evidence suggests that high-intensity strength training and high intensity cardiovascular intervals have a significantly HIGHER effect on EPOC than lower intensity strength training and steady state cardio.  In a nutshell, the more intense you work, the more calories you burn AFTER the workout.  And this can last for 12 - 24 hours AFTER the workout is finished. 

Essentially high-intensity exercise disturbs the body's homeostasis to a MUCH greater degree than low to moderate training.

The Bottom Line: We know so much more today about the most effective protocol to get fit and healthy, and to develop a lean body.  The more intensity that we bring to a workout, the more fit we become, and the more calories we can burn, up to a point.  I say, "up to a point" because there's always a balance.  If we were to go "all-out" every day, eventually the body cannot restore itself to balance ... and we stay in the fatigued state, and then we see negative returns. 

The Take Home:  Workout at your personal best, while listening to your body.  On days that you feel very sluggish, and the workout doesn't feel like it's energizing you, dial it back to a moderate or low intensity.  Lower intensity days (in this case) are just what the body needs to rebound and get stronger!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Cleaning Kitchen Makeover

Welcome to Spring! 


This is the PERFECT time of the year to reset, and clean up some habits that may have crept in over the long dreary winter.


Today, the focus will be spring cleaning to create a Healthy Kitchen!


Of course you’ve heard that one of the BIGGEST keys to eating healthy starts with your environment. 


It’s hard to eat a donut if it’s not in the house, right?  Sure, you can run out and buy one, but that takes work. 


When it’s staring you in the face, it’s a tough temptation to beat. 


Are you ready?  Okay, let’s go …


Part One - The Refrigerator

The heart of your kitchen. If you find something in your fridge that is on the "Purge this" list, then you know what you have to do. Get that garbage bag ready.

Purge this: Fatty meats. Be selective about the meats that you eat.  We might say that that chicken is a great source of protein, but if you take that as a license to eat fried chicken then the benefit of the protein will be lost in all the extra highly saturated fat calories.

Replace with: Lean meats. Skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, tuna, white fish and seafood - there are numerous choices when it comes to lean meats.  

Purge this: Fruit-flavored yogurt.  Those cute individually packaged yogurt cups are going to do more harm to your waistline than you think.  More than 50% of the calories in fruit-flavored yogurt come from sugar. Check out the ingredient list and you likely find both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar.

Replace with: Plain low-fat yogurt, Fage Greek yogurt, or low-fat cottage cheese. If you love yogurt, then get the low-fat plain version. You can mix in your own fresh fruit or granola.  If you haven’t tried Fage, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how great it tastes (and how awesome it is for you).  Another option is to have a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese with fruit on top. 

Purge this: Rich dairy products. I know that cream cheese tastes amazing, but fat-filled dairy products are extremely high in calories and should not reside in your fridge.  Eliminate high-fat cheese, milk and yogurt from your kitchen.

Replace with: Fresh Vegetables. The produce drawer in your fridge should be overflowing with colorful nutrient-rich veggies.  In fact, your fridge should hold more veggies than the drawer can hold.  Veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and are a REQUIREMENT for a healthy well-rounded diet.  If you want some cheese, try some lower fat options, and/or limit the quantity ... and always opt for the harder cheeses over the softer ones.  Switch from 2% milk to fat free and make sure your other dairy products are low in fat.  

Purge this: Beverages with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to add body fat, so quickly rid your fridge of any beverage that lists HFCS or sugar on the ingredient list.  And yes, even though 100% fresh squeezed orange juice doesn't contain HFCS, you should minimize your consumption of this as well (eat oranges instead - much better for calorie control, and getting the whole fruit benefit).  The average American consumes 450 calories through beverages.  The simple shift to calorie free beverages will result in nearly a pound of body fat lost PER WEEK.  Imagine would could happen in 52 weeks!

Replace with: Water.  Again, probably old news to you ... but the fact still remains that most people are dehydrated, a condition that is harmful to your health and wreaks havoc on your weight loss efforts. Keep plenty of water on hand for proper hydration.


Making over your kitchen is really all about setting you up for success.  We all know that if the tempting stuff is in the house, it'll eventually gets eaten.  We all have weak moments: stress, fatigue, kids screaming, late nights at work/school, etc., that can break down our resistance to the high fat, high sugar addictive foods.  

Part Two - The Freezer

Anyone who has walked the freezer aisles at the store knows how plentiful frozen temptations are. How does your freezer measure up? 

Purge this: Ice cream.  We may as well get this one over with.  Hiding a gallon or two (or even a pint) of your favorite ice cream "for a rainy day" is NOT a great idea.  Save yourself from that temptation and don't buy it!  

Replace with: Frozen fruit.  When your sweet tooth starts acting up, throw your favorite frozen fruit into the blender with a little fat-free milk, vanilla protein powder and whip up a healthy fiber-filled smoothie.  Tasty and 100 times better for you. 

Purge this: Frozen Pizza. This is another one of those items that is just too tempting to keep around.  Why would you bother to make a healthy dinner when a frozen pizza is calling your name?  Ban frozen pizza from your home and watch as your waist starts to shrink.

Replace with: Turkey, Veggie Patties, Amy's Organic frozen Burritos, frozen slow cooker meals that you can drop into the crock pot in the morning that’ll be ready for dinner. For quick dinners keep your freezer filled with lean meat and vegetable based patties. Serve on a bed of brown rice or on a whole grain bun.   

Purge this: TV Dinners.  The next time that you are tempted to buy a pre-packaged frozen meal, please turn the package over and read the nutritional facts.  You will be shocked by the staggering number of calories and less-than-healthy ingredients.

Replace with: Home-made Portioned Meals. Spend some time on the weekends to cook up healthy meals, and then freeze them in portioned containers. Then throughout the week you simply need to reheat and enjoy.  Click here for the BBC Veggie Burger Recipe or go here for the slow cooker recipes.

Purge this: Frozen Breakfast Food. French toast, waffles and pancakes are popular items in the freezer aisle. Don't fall for the pretty photos and tasty-sounding names. These items are highly processed and contain loads of unnecessary sugar.

Replace with: Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Muffins (Ezekiel Bread found in the frozen section is one of my favorites). It is just as easy to throw a slice of sprouted, whole grain bread into the toaster as it is a frozen waffle. Spread it with some natural peanut or almond butter and pair it with a piece of fruit.  Now that's a much healthier breakfast.  If you do opt for the frozen waffles, go with 100% whole grain.

Part Three - The Pantry

For some, this may be the most painful part of the kitchen raid, since most junk food ends up here.  So take a moment to give yourself a pep talk before grabbing that garbage bag and opening your pantry. And remember, the Pantry is where you REALLY want to focus on the 5 ingredients or less rule. Triscuits = 3 ingredients. Wheat Thins = 25+ ingredients.  Tricuits are made from grains, and the better choice here.  Pretzels have lots of ingredients, Baked Scoops = 3 ingredients, the better option!

Purge this: Sugar-filled cereal. If sugar or high fructose corn syrup are listed as ingredients on your cereal box, it's got to go. Sugar-filled cereal is basically another form of junk food, and will only add inches to your waist. If there's a cartoon on the box, purge it!

Replace with: Whole Grain Oatmeal. There is a huge difference between instant, sugar-filled oatmeal packets with 20+ ingredients and whole oats.  Quaker Oats in the cylinder container = 1 ingredient!  Shredded Wheat is another GREAT choice for cereal.  Mix in some fresh berries, or a scoop of protein powder for flavor, and you'll start your morning off on the right foot!

Purge this: Refined/White Bread/Rice/Pasta. These highly processed products promote weight gain and a plethora of other health problems. Do not buy "white" bread, rice or pasta - especially if you want to lose weight.  Rid your pantry of bleached, enriched or processed ingredients. 

Replace with: Whole Grain Bread/Rice/Pasta. Whole grain is the best choice you can make. It is filled with healthy fiber, and is less likely to contain harmful, waist-expanding ingredients.  Again, ideally you're looking for foods with 5 ingredients or less.  With bread, look for “grain” or “wheat” as the first ingredient, and 3 grams of fiber (or more) PER SLICE.  Don’t eat it if it says “bleached” or “enriched”.  If you need quick and easy rice, try Uncle Bens whole grain rice you can microwave in 90 seconds – there are plenty of flavors and options to choose from. 

Purge this: Chips/Crackers. While refined chips and crackers are fun to munch on, the extra calories will quickly add up. Do yourself a favor by not allowing these into your pantry.

Replace with: Almonds. The key to making this snack a winner is to practice portion control. Place a handful of almonds into individual bags for pre-portioned snacks. Or stick to the Triscuits with a little low fat cottage cheese on top.  Or again, Baked Tostitos Scoops - they're low in fat and have 3 ingredients, with corn being the primary ingredient. 

Purge this: Packaged Sweets. Cookies and cakes and candies shouldn't be a regular part of your diet if the goal is a lean body, so keep them out of your house to avoid the temptation.  It's one thing to enjoy a dessert once in a while, it is quite another to routinely eat processed sweets at home.

Replace with: Fresh fruit. When you want to munch on something sweet, turn to some delicious fruit.  Another option is to make your own chex mix by adding dried fruit, nuts, and whole grain Chex for a healthy snack!

That completes your self-guided springtime kitchen clean up!  I encourage you to raid your kitchen this weekend, and then every couple of months afterward as a way of keeping yourself on track.  And as always, let us know if you need more information!


Your friend in fitness,


Brian Calkins



HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665 |


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

18" Makes All the Difference ...

Could we get any luckier with this early springtime weather?

I love this time of the year.  More sunlight at night, "longer" days, and it seems like people's energy levels pick up a notch or two.

This is also the perfect time to do some "spring cleaning" and purge clutter from your life.

Old shoes, old clothes, paper-work, cleaning the garage, or the trunk of your car. 

The rule of thumb is if you haven't worn it in 12 months, get rid of it.  If you buy new clothes, give away one "old" piece for every "new" piece you buy.  Spring cleaning cleanses your mind and frees up your energy.  This week I've been attacking my closet (my wife is thrilled), and my office (which was a MESS).  Ahhh!

Spring is also a time for renewed connection.

Reach out to someone that you're missing and "renew" or re-charge that relationship.  This could be a friend you've lost touch with lately, a family member ... or maybe someone you see every day but you're missing the quality connection the relationship deserves. 

There's nothing more powerful and energizing than human connection. 

Take advantage of the energy and reset springtime provides.

And speaking of energy, today I'm going to share an article by a friend who's energy is over the top contagious, Todd Durkin. 

Anytime I'm around TD, and it's been a little while (time for renewal), my energy, spirit and enthusiasm for life easily doubles.  This guy is a fireball!


18" - The Difference Between Success and Failure
By Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS

I heard a quote a few weeks ago from a pastor friend and client of mine, Gino Mingo. We were doing a Bible study with our NFL Combine guys when he said, "The difference between heaven and hell is 18 inches. That's the distance between your head and your heart." Deep stuff. Great stuff.

I spoke with Gino afterwards and said it's no different than success or failure in life. 18 inches. The distance between getting "your mind right" and getting your heart right. Whether it's business, sports, family, relationships, career, or just life, you have to have your heart and your head in the right place. And you must be deeply committed to both. And that's not always easy.

What about you? Are you all-in? Are you fully committed?

There are lots of times when you struggle to get your mind right. When you just can't get your HEAD around what you're doing. Fear. Self-doubt. Procrastination. Bad environment. Something's holding you back.

Or have there been times when your HEART has just not been fully committed? No passion. No energy. No love. No spirit. No nothing.

Each one of us knows deep inside that great things don't happen at half-throttle. Life is way too short to not have your mind and your heart fully committed. It's time to live life to the fullest, and if something has to change, TODAY is the day.

Check out some of the BEST ways to "Get your MIND right":

  • Avoid negative self-talk. Wear a rubber band or "IMPACT" bracelet around your wrist and flick it when a negative thought comes to mind (Thank you Dr. Jack Singer). Banish negativity!!!
  • Drive a positive attitude. Be proactive with positive energy. Seek it out with regular course corrections... take the "flick on the wrist" a step further and replace the negative thought with something positive. Remind yourself: You are 1% better everyday!!!
  • Conquer FEAR. Fear is "false expectations appearing real." Fear is poison. Say "YES" more often to things that once scared you (And those that still do!). Take ACTION on the things that scare you the most. Face your fears. Conquer them. Remove them from your life.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. The most successful people have an inner circle that empowers them, inspires them, supports their character, encourages them through the wins and the losses, and reminds them who they really are! Choose your friends and acquaintances carefully.
  • Eliminate garbage. Garbage in--garbage out. Everyday we have a million media choices available to us. Be careful what you take in... it might be polluting your mind.
  • Write. In my book, I shared a "decree statement" exercise in which you write about your life purpose. The only difference is that you write as if it's 5 years from now and you years from now and you have succeeded. Try this yourself. Writing is powerful and one of the greatest tools to help you get and keep your mind right.

... And your HEART:

  • Commit. What do you love to do? When you can't truly commit in your work life, it might be because you aren't in the right place doing the right thing. So, if you don't love what you are doing, move on. Passion breeds passion. No doubt, personal relationships are more complicated. Nothing in life deserves more attention, more patience, more forgiveness, and more HEART than your relationships because you get what you give. Before you can commit, you gotta show up.
  • Write in a gratitude journal. Yes, more writing. Gratitude fills the heart and makes it stronger. It allows you to live with more compassion and to be truly thankful for all that you DO have. Write down 10 things you are thankful for every night and watch how this simple task improves your sleep and your attitude.
  • Quiet time and prayer. Nothing replaces the power of prayer. Take 10 minutes a day (minimum) to pray, to have quiet time, or to meditate. I love to do this early in the morning. But the bottom line is: DO IT and put your inner life in balance. Try it for 10 days and see the difference. Try it for 30 days and you'll be a new person.
  • Music. Music moves the soul. Create an inspirational play list of your top tunes and listen early in the morning, during a workout, or when you need a shot of inspiration.

So, what's holding you back? What needs to change? What's the one thing you can start doing today that will get you kicked into gear with the full-throttle power you need to succeed?

Remember, it's only 18 inches, but it's the difference between success and failure. Heaven and hell. Because if you really want something, you've got to go all in. 

Head and heart. It's all or nothing at all.

Peace and love, Todd


Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, we're talking about the benefits of CHOCOLATE!  :)

Chances are pretty good that you'll run into some today, or over the coming week ... over $1 billion is spent on it for Valentines Day.

Research published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and others have looked at the health benefits ... and there is something to it.

It starts with the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate.  Antioxidants can be thought of as scavengers in the body that gobble up dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules. 

Think of antioxidants like Pac-Man - and the destructive molecules as the Ghosts in the game that Pac-Man gobbles. 

Of course antioxidants aren't just in dark chocolate - they're plentiful in fruit and veggies, tea, and loads of other foods.   But dark chocolate is one of the highest sources of antioxidants called flavonoids and catechins, two powerful ones. 

Of course other foods are better sources of other antioxidants, so variety is key.

A recent study published in the Southern Medical Journal examined the effects of dark chocolate on inflammation, lipid levels, and the stickiness of the blood in 28 individuals.

They fed the individuals 1 oz of dark chocolate daily for 7 days. 

The results: 

  • LDL (the bad cholesterol) dropped by 6%
  • HDL (the good cholesterol) increased by 9%
  • hsCRP (inflammatory marker) decreased

While this was a short study, it can be combined with the other positive data to support the inclusion of dark chocolate into the diet.  Other studies suggest including dark chocolate into a varied diet lowers blood pressure too.

Bottom Line

  • This isn't a "free pass" to gorge on chocolate daily - it still contains lot of calories, fat and sugar ... so if you want to include chocolate, keep those calories in check by reducing your intake elsewhere.
  • Aim for chocolate that has at least 70% cacao (it will tell you this on the package).
  • Dark chocolate does not mean a Snicker's Bar, King Size Twix, Heath Bars, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, etc.  It means quality chocolate, without the added junk.

Limit that intake to about 1 oz once in awhile (not every 10 minutes).  But today, if you want the milk chocolate a special someone shared with you, by all means enjoy it!

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |


Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Big Mac Isn't Bad for You

Last night I was talking with a really good friend who was all upset with herself.

"Brian, for the first time in 14 months I had a hamburger at McDonald's, and I feel horrible about it!"

I tried to reasure her that a Big Mac every 14 months is TOTALLY AWESOME! 

But, she just felt like she let herself down. 

I explained the 90/10 principle that works exceptionally well when striving to look and feel your best.

When we eat well, and even more so when we add consistent exercise into the mix, it gives us a license to "let our hair down" and ENJOY LIFE a bit more.  And that's the key to sustainability.

My dear friend is worried about her health, having a sister with breast cancer, and a dad with heart disease.

"Brian, our health is the most important thing we have."

I couldn't agree more.

For most of us, when we're healthy, we tend to forget about how important health really is.  

When we get sick, however, we QUICKLY remember its importance. 

Some people would say, "well, Brian, relationships are the most important thing in my life."  Or maybe it's success, or the kids. 

I can't disagree ... those are critically important things!

Yet the truth is, when health fails, we lose the foundation for relationships, for the kids, spouses, parents, career, success, etc.

The tricky part is ... too many people take their health for granted.  

It's not like someone eats a Big Mac and large fries one time and their health falls apart. A Big Mac everyday is the issue. 

 We lose or gain our health overtime.  The daily feedback to let us know if we're on the right track (or not) is not readily apparent.

Sure, we can go see the doc and she says that our blood pressure is high, LDL (bad) cholesterol is high, HDL (good) cholesterol is low.  For some, that'll get them to change lifestyle behaviors.

For far too many, though, unfortunately it doesn't.  Over time, the body weakens.    

And even more heartbreaking to me, by the time the outward signs are there, poor health has taken a firm hold.

So, the key is to stay after the pursuit of sound health.  It's not a 3 week gig.  It's constant pursuit.  Consistent daily steps. 

And the key to making that happen is to fall in love with the Cause (in this case, the things that lead to sound health, like exercise, and eating a balanced, healthy diet).  

I don't know one healthy/fit person who consistently gets up in the morning, works out, and hates it.  

Rather, healthy and fit people love workout out first thing in the morning.  Granted, they may not have started out loving it, and maybe every single little thing about working out before the day begins (like Burpees) is not their most favorite thing in the world, but big picture, they love what they're doing.

Healthy and fit people tend to fall in love with pleasing results, while unhealthy people tend to fall in love with pleasing moments (sleeping in, eating desert every night, Krispy Kreme donuts in lieu of fresh fruit in the morning, putting off exercise, etc).

When we don't like the Cause (in this case, working out, eating a balanced diet), we wake up every morning dreading doing the things that will result in the Effects we desire, and I don´t know anyone who can sustain themselves doing what they hate for more than a couple of weeks.  

Yet, falling in love with the Causes produces the Effects you want, leading to YOU achieving your goals much faster and with seemingly greater ease ... because we all perform better when we enjoy what we´re doing.

It may take 3 weeks, 3 months, or 9 months.  But the cool news is, research shows when we exercise consistently for a period of time, we develop an enjoyment for it.

So Kudos to you for keeping after the cause ... many of you are amazingly fit and exceptionally healthy today.  Others are on the right path, and the effects are just a matter of time and consistency.

Your friend in fitness,

Brian Calkins

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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fast, Intense = Best Results!

Metabolic circuits are the way to go in 2012!

Fast, intense, and 100% results producing.  Slow, long cardio has its benefits, but it really is the SLOW, LONG route to a leaner, firmer, more fit and better functioning body.

(Google "long cardio versus hard circuits" ... the science is undeniable.)  

We've received a ton of emails since the new year ... 

... and I really liked the consensus that just because we buy a new calendar, doesn't mean that's the only time of the year for reflection, and creating a new plan. 

Too many start the year so fired up and sprint off into the marathon of diet and fitness resolutions only to drop out of the race after the first mile.

The key is, in my opinion, we need to guard against taking on too much at one time.  Many of us fall into this trap (me too!).

Sure, you want to kick the processed sugar habit, start to train for the Flying Pig, workout 4-5 days per week at 110% intensity and lose 10 lbs by the end of the month ... we understand the urgency to make things happen and the importance of having goals.

Just not so many in such a short amount of time.  Focus your efforts on one or two things.  There will be time to add more later.

Remember this, quantum change does not require quantum action - it's the result of a few basic things repeated daily. 

Master the basics, and you master success!

Instead of a massive overhaul to every behavior and EVERY area of your life, pick just one or two.

For some, maybe it's making exercise a consistent habit.  Your goal may be to work out consistently 3, 4 or 5 days per week for 2012.
Maybe it's a total number of workouts you'll do, say 200.  Then you just break it down by month, and then weekly.  You'll be working out about 4 times per week.  Chunking it down makes the big goal manageable.

For others that have been in the exercise routine for a bit, perhaps you'll target something relative to your diet. 
Again, rather than trying to eliminate everything in your diet and not being able to maintain it for longer than a few days, pick one or two behaviors that will stretch your comfort zone and produce big results.  Things like:
  • Ditching all liquid calories like soda, sweetened tea, sports drinks.
  • Eating foods with 5 ingredients of less.  Boy, if you can do that one alone ... holy smokes your health, energy and body will change substantially!
  • Cutting out snacks after dinner
  • Refusing to eat out (including convenience stores, fast food, and sit down restaurants) 
  • Eating 10 fruits and veggies EVERY DAY
  • Eliminating processed foods (following the 5 ingredients or less rule above will take care of this one)
Because you are only selecting one or two behaviors to attack, overtime (like over this year) they are all very achievable.  You master one, move on to the next.  The stacking effect is unbelievable.
No more crazy liquid cleanses or silly deprivation tactics that don't work long term.  Having to take a special "juice" or crazy concoction, or eliminating a food group isn't productive, and ALWAYS has a rebound yo-yo effect on the body.  It's a marketing ploy (scam really) done by a company that doesn't really care about your long term well being.  They're just hoping you fall for the latest slick commercial so they can separate you from some of your money.

So pick your "thing" for the balance of January - something related to diet and exercise and hit that goal.  And be well on your way to an even healthier, fitter, leaner you in 2012.
Your friend in fitness,
Brian Calkins
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HealthStyle Fitness, Inc. | 4325 Red Bank Rd Cincinnati, OH 45227 | 513-407-4665, x-105 |