Category: Weight Loss

Working on setting goals not resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work, get this:

  • 25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after one week.
  • 60% of people abandon them within six months. (The average person makes the same New Year’s resolution ten separate times without success.)
  • Only 5 percent of those who lose weight on a diet keep it off; 95% regain it and a significant percentage gain back more than they originally lost.
  • Even after a heart attack, only 14 percent of patients make any lasting changes around eating or exercise.

But while New Year’s resolutions don’t work, goals do! If you have not yet filled out your goal card at the Seattle Athletic Club perhaps you should think about doing it; studies have shown that goals that are written are more likely to be accomplished.

If you need some help completing your goals, just follow the SMART goal setting rules:

    • Specific: make a detail oriented goal.
    • Measurable: make sure the goal and an amount or time associated with
    • Attainable: make sure the goal can be realistically attained.
    • Reward Based: treat yourself to a present for completing your goal.
    • Time Based: make sure your goal has a realistic start and end date that gives you the best outcome.

The goals and time frame are entirely up to you. You may want to focus your long-term goals on improving a specific health condition or your goal may be to simply play tennis again. Your success depends on setting goals that are truly important to you—and possessing a strong desire to achieve them. Everyone is capable of achieving well planned health and fitness goals. Making small, consistent changes often brings about lasting results. If you would like to discuss your 2015 goals with a personal trainer please contact Fitness Director Jacob Galloway or find a trainer at a fitness desk and start a conversation with them.

February welcomes Valentine’s Day and Heart Awareness Month.

Heart disease is a major problem. According to the CDC every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year—that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), which occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias.

Plan for Prevention

Some health conditions and lifestyle factors can put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, visit CDC’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site and
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, you can calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI) or you may also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person’s body fat. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. For more information, contact any of our fitness staff.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office and even here at the Seattle Athletic Club.
  • Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
  • Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
  • Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your doctor about this simple blood test.
  • Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If you want to get off you medications or lower them naturally start an exercise regime here at the Seattle Athletic Club and see the dependence on pharmaceuticals disappear.

How many Sets/Reps?

By Fitness Intern Quinton Augusto, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown. 


One of the most common misconceptions among gym goers is the proper number of sets and reps to do during a workout. The answer is very dependent on your individual goals. Before venturing into the gym and aimlessly meandering around until you find a machine that looks cool, take some time to reflect upon what you want to get out of your precious time spent in the gym. Ten minutes spent thinking about your fitness goals prior to starting a program will allow you to have purpose in your training.


As far as training goals are concerned, there are 4 options; first is strength (you want to lift heavy things), second is power (you want to be as explosive as possible), third is hypertrophy (you want to look like Arnold), and lastly it endurance (you want to run a marathon). For each one of these training goals there is a guideline set by the National Strength and Conditioning Association for how many sets and reps to do and what they say may actually surprise you.

If you are someone who wants to increase your overall strength and be able to bench press your mini van while changing the oil, then you need to be doing between 2-6 sets of a given exercise for no more than 6 repetitions with heavy weight at about 85% of your 1 rep max. Make sure you get a full 2-5 min rest between sets to allow your body to recover enough to finish out the lift. Someone with a 1 rep max of 225 on bench press should lift 2-6 sets of 5 reps at approximately 190 lbs if the goal is strength



If you are someone who wants to jump out of the gym or throw a car engine a quarter mile, then you need to incorporate explosive lifting into your program. This would be done by doing 3-5 sets of 1-5 repetitions at 75-90% of your 1 rep max; moving the weight as efficiently and fast as possible while maintaining control. Rest is very important for these movements because of how explosive and taxing they are so get a full 2-5 min rest between sets. Someone with a 200 pound power clean one rep max should do 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps at approximately 150-180 lbs if their goal is power.

If you want to turn your nice dress shirt into a cut off simply by flexing then you have to increase your total volume of work (Sets x Reps x Weight= Total Volume). Hypertrophy programs have a much higher amount of weight lifted in total and therefore expose your muscles to more adversity which promotes an increase in the cross sectional area of the muscle (size). You will need to do 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps with anywhere from 67-85% of your 1 rep max with a considerable shorter rest time of 30 sec-1.5min. You basically want to spend as much time under the weight as possible and by your last set you should be struggling to get your last few reps. Someone with a 315lbs max squat should do 3-6 sets of 6-12 reps at approximately 210-265lbs if hypertrophy is their goal.

If you want to be an honorary Kenyon and run hundreds of miles a week then your lifting program is going to be shaped a bit differently. First of all you are only doing 2-3 sets of greater than 12 repetitions at less than 67% of your 1 rep max. The kicker here is your rest time between sets is no longer than 30 seconds. As an endurance athlete you are doing very repetitive movements for long durations of time with very little rest. You want your resistance training to be the same. A squatting exercise for an endurance athlete with a 200lbs squat max would be 3 sets of 15 at approximately 130 lbs.




Overall, I hope these guidelines will help shed a bit of light to the people out there who are confused or looking for some clarity on what to do in the gym. Before starting a new lifting program take the time to think about what results you truly want, then implement these sets and rep ranges to reflect your goals. Your training should mimic the movements of the goal. Whether you want to lift heavy things, jump out of the gym, look like Mr. Olympia, or run a marathon, cater you workout to echo your goals.

Find a Meal Plan you can Live With

I’ve rarely met a client that has “arrived” in terms of meal planning. Our schedules, lives, family preferences and tastes are constantly in flux. The only constant in all this seems to be that we need to eat dinner tonight.   We need to remind ourselves that meal planning and getting dinner on the table is a noble effort…a habit we work on and refine constantly that can have huge pay-offs.   But while always an effort, perhaps we can lessen the load by taking a look at some different and new ways to meal plan. A meal plan you can actually live with and sustain is healthiest. Here are some guiding questions you can ask yourself as you look for some new momentum.


1)       Do you like to grocery shop?

I’ve met some clients that abhor shopping. If this is your main roadblock, don’t fight it! Acknowledge it and use some of the grocery delivery options such as Amazon Fresh or Safeway.   The time spent avoiding that which you hate will pay big dividends as you focus on preparing your meals. If you’d like three meals worth of ingredients delivered to your door each week with recipes check out Blue Apron meals take 30 minutes or less to prepare.


2)       Do you enjoy cooking?

Some people have a passion for cooking but they feel timid in the kitchen. If this is you…keep at it by experimenting, trying recipes and perhaps taking a cooking class or two. If this is not you and you just don’t enjoy cooking at all consider some healthy meal delivery or ready-made meal purchase options. In the Seattle area, check out “Eat Local” for freshly prepared, organic and sustainably packaged meals for two, four or more. Shop at PCC or whole foods and bring home freshly-made deli or hot case options. If you’re shopping on a budget check out Trader Joe’s for plenty of short-cut ready-made sides and entrees. For easy recipes that use some of the specialty items at TJs check out All of these “no-cook” or “cook very little” options, while having more sodium, use quality ingredients without preservatives or additives.


3)       Do you need some new inspiration?

We can all get in a rut. One of the ways I get out of a meal planning rut is to buy a new cookbook. I was at Costco the other day and snagged a copy of the new America’s Test Kitchen “The Make Ahead Cook”. This cookbook has some great recipes that allow you to freeze or refrigerate meals that are fully done or almost done beforehand and finish them off the day of eating. I love that their recipes for make-ahead casseroles are double-batched. I also appreciate some of the new methods in their crock-pot recipes that add more depth of flavor. One chapter is devoted to three meals of groceries in one bag – ingredients than can be used over the multiple recipes that week. All-in-all a great cookbook for those of us that enjoy cooking but are just short on time on the weekdays.


I wish you well as you continue to make meal planning a priority in your life. It’s a noble effort that can provide a bedrock of health and energy for yourself and those you care for.


If you’d like more inspiration and tailored ideas to create a meal plan you can live with, please email Club Nutritionist, Kathryn Reed at

Can’t Hold Me Down

In April I said, “It’s time to lose my last 5lbs of baby weight”.  In May I said, “No, seriously, it’s time”.  In June I’m saying, “Only 2 or 3 more pounds…”.  Well here I am, half way through June still trying to lose the last bit that back in April I was envisioning being gone by now.  What’s holding me back?  A few things, and I’ll put them out there right now to be honest with myself.  One, not devoting enough time to me.  It’s the same old sob story, two kids, a job (if you can call working 4 hours a day a job), a husband, a house, etc. etc.  But I’ll be darned if the weekends come and I don’t trade a 20 minute hill running workout for family bed time and yard work during nap time.  So, every weekend comes along and I tell myself, just 20 minutes for me and I somehow manage to find other things to do with my “free time”.  Second, Plantain Chips, those dirty dirty plantain chips.  I love them, my 2 year old loves them, it’s my one and only “treat”.  It has to stop, no one should eat Plantain Chips or any kind of chips every day or every other day.  I must break the habit!  Lastly, obsessing.  It’s a real killer and as a woman it’s just what we do.  I obsess over how my stomach looks, how much sleep I’m not getting, about raising happy healthy kids, about cleaning up the house, about actually cooking a meal, about what we are going to do this weekend, about getting anywhere on time, about sending out birthday cards before said birthdays actually occur, about remembering to pay that medical bill, about getting groceries, about doing the laundry, about the workouts I’m doing (or not doing).  If I give myself too much time I’ll obsess, stress, and get anxiety over just about anything.  It’s like I always tell my husband, “Once you become a Mom you just can’t turn Mom off… ever.”  It’s my job to worry, plan, care for, and put forth my best effort on all fronts for my family.  But that also means I lose much of myself in being things for others.  It’s about balance and I should probably find mine!

Any who, those are just my excuses.  I’m sure I could come up with many more but those are the ones that are the big cripplers, not just in losing my last 3lbs but in just relaxing and living my life.  Let it go, live in the now, just be.  If only I could listen to myself.

So what holds you back?  What holds you back from achieving your goals (fitness or otherwise)?  What holds you back from feeling successful?  What holds you back from being happy with yourself?  What holds you back from feeling content?

Here is my advice on getting past it all one step at a time.  Although, I’m obviously still working on it all myself so perhaps I’m not the guru you should totally invest in : )


1.  Outline your goals.

2.  Don’t make goals just to make goals, make goals that mean something to you.

3.  Don’t let yourself off the hook, be accountable, failure is not failure if you try.

4.  Be honest.  Be honest with yourself, be honest with your family, be honest with your friends.  If you really care about your goals the only way to get there is to be honest.  NO MORE EXCUSES  5.  Understand what it is holding you back and how to either cope with those things or come up with healthy ways to move past the road blocks.

6.  Look on the bright side.  We are always looking at the negatives but maybe instead of saying, “I didn’t run 20 miles every week like I planned, I’m a loser”  you can say, “Well I didn’t quite get 20 miles but I got 15 and that is pretty good.  Next week is a new week.”

It’s not easy to feel like you are losing the battle, like you’ve failed, like you are never going to accomplish something.  But not trying, being complacent and living in a way that does not make you happy is much worse than the possibility of failing.


So while I stare at the scale (I’m not even a scale person for crying out loud) and think, “I’m so far away from losing these last few pounds, I’m never going to be able to do it” I instead will tell myself, “Good job, good effort, I traded my normal looking stomach for two beautiful children and that was the best trade ever!”.  I’ll remember the positive and continue to work at my goals.  Perhaps I’ll stop obsessing about my wobbly bits and start obsessing about something a little more healthy and worth my time.  I’m open to suggestions here!

In the end, life is too short to obsess over stupid things.  Life is too short to hold yourself back.  It’s time to stop sitting on the sidelines.  It’s time to join the game, you don’t have to be the best player just getting on the field is a great start!  So get out of your comfort zone, try something new, break the cycle, form a new habit (a good one please), you can do it, don’t hold yourself back!


Are Your Glutes Fired Up?

Are your glutes sleepy? The “glutes” are made up of four muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). Of these four, the gluteus maximus is the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the body but underactive and overlooked in training. Having active glutes will improve athleticism, hip stability, appearance and quality of daily activities. These muscles are so powerful; one could wonder how and why they become inactive.

Most of us find ourselves sitting for a good portion of the day. We sit at work, in the car, we sit when we eat and for some of us, we even sit in the machines here at the gym. Let’s take a look at what all this sitting does to our muscles. Your hip flexors (the muscles at the top front of the thigh) are a primary mover in raising our legs. When sitting all day, they are in a constant shortened state which makes them very tight. Now let’s roll over to the back side of the body. With shortened and tight hip flexors,the opposing muscles, your glutes, are in an overstretched and INACTIVE position.

There are many reasons why your glutes are not firing the way they should be but the two most common, are inactive and overshadowed glutes.

Inactive glutes:
This is simply; your glutes not firing correctly or being engaged. Imagine your glutes in a constant state of shutdown or the term “sleepy”. Oftentimes this is due to inactivity. Doing low level activities like getting up from a chair, or easy walking only minimally engage your glutes.

Overshadowed glutes:
This is when other lower body muscles like the quads or hamstrings become much stronger than your glutes. This will cause them to become dominate and take over the exercise. For example, exercises like lunges that should be targeting and strengthening the glutes end up being powered by other stronger lower body muscles. In this scenario your glutes are working and firing correctly, just overshadowed. Even the best athletes can have overshadowed glutes.

Now what, how do I fire up my butt?
Getting the glutes to wake up and fire is a multi-dimensional approach through loosening, lengthening, and activating the correct muscles. Below are some suggestions on how to go about this.


  • Loosen up the tight muscles.  Self myofascial release (most people will know this as foam rolling) is a great way to loosen your tight muscles. Try using a lacrosse ball on your hip flexors and foam roll on your quads.


  • Try static stretching on your hamstrings, hip flexors, quads and muscles surrounding your ankles.


  • Hip thrust

hip thrust 2 - sylvia hip thrust 1 - sylvia

  • Single leg hip thrusts

Single leg hip thrust 2 - sylvia

single leg hip thrust 1 - sylvia

  • Monster walk


Banded knee squat 1 - sylviaBanded knee squat 1 - sylvia


  • Banded knee squats

Learning to activate your glutes will help athleticism, improve daily activities and give you a fresh start on exercise. Implementing these activation exercises into your warm up before you exercise will help ensure that your glutes are “awake” during your workout. Keep in mind that every person is going to be different and have their own set of specific needs. Doing just one single approach may not be the correct prescription to waking up your glutes. If you need assistance on figuring out which approach would be best for you, consult with a personal trainer.

Boost Your Endurance Training Program

One of the most popular modes of exercise inside and outside of the gym is endurance training. Whether you enjoy running, rowing, stair-stepping or any other endurance training machine available in the SAC, chances are your training program could use a boost. Varying your endurance training program not only breaks up the monotony of working out but will also lead to improved performance. Utilize these types of aerobic endurance training to boost your workouts and performance.


Types of Aerobic Endurance Training:


  1. 1.    Long, Slow Distance Training (LSD)

This is generally what people do when they “go for a run.” The intensity should be about 80% of maximum heart rate or, if you don’t have a HR monitor, simply test if you can talk without undue respiratory distress while running; if so you are most likely at the correct intensity. The distance should be greater than race distance, or the duration should be at least 30 minutes to 2 hours. Frequency should be 1-2 times per week (NSCA).


  1. 2.    Pace/Tempo Training

For this type of training you need to be at an intensity at or slightly higher than race competition intensity. Duration should be ~20-30 minutes performed 1-2 times per week. This can also be referred to as threshold training. You should not be able to talk comfortably during this training (NSCA).


  1. 3.    Interval Training (Aerobic)

Interval training involves exercise at intensity close to your VO2max or maximum heart rate. Your work intervals should last between 3 and 5 minutes with rest intervals equal to work intervals (1:1 work to rest ratio). With this type of training you are basically working at an intensity you can only sustain for the prescribed work interval. Interval training should be used sparingly as it is very stressful, about once per week (NSCA).


  1. 4.    Repetition Training

Intensity for repetition training should be greater than VO2max, with work intervals lasting between 30 and 90 seconds. Longer rest periods are needed for this type of training so a work: rest ratio of about 1:5 is recommended. If you don’t have a way to accurately measure your intensity, simply work at a pace you can only sustain for the prescribed work interval. This technique will greatly improve your final kick or push at the end of a race (NSCA).


  1. 5.    Fartlek Training

This is a combination of several types of previously mentioned training. A Fartlek run involves easy running combined with either hill work or short, fast bursts of running for short time periods. Fartlek training challenges all systems of the body and helps reduce the boredom and monotony of training. This can be done once a week for ~20-60 minutes (NSCA).


For questions about designing your endurance training program please contact;

Sticking with your New Years Routine

Yo-yo dieting does not work and neither does yo-yo exercise. A lot of people start out the New Year with good intentions but quickly fall out of a new exercise routine shortly after the year starts. Most fitness gains are cumulative. For example: the more you lift weights, the more weight you can lift; the more often you walk or run, the farther you’ll be able to go and the stronger your heart and lungs will become.

So if you typically go gangbusters every New Years with a new fitness regimen, only to stall out within weeks, here are some tips for sticking with it:

1. Pick something you really enjoy. Hate running? Don’t do it! There are lots of fat-burning aerobic activities to choose from. Try the rowing machine for low impact but great calorie expenditure or a spin class with inspirational music.

2. Make it a date. Treat your power walk/ kickboxing class/ weight circuit session as an appointment. Write it in your calendar or plug it into your smartphone, and you’ll be more likely to follow through. If you need more reinforcement, schedule a few months’ worth of these dates, so that you’ll have to make your other plans around your exercise. Forming a new habit will take at least 3 to 6 weeks so plan your exercise as far out as possible.

3. Buddy up. Commit to a routine with a friend or two. Whether you’ll be embarking on a regular bike ride, splitting the cost of a personal trainer, or planning to meet up for a yoga class, it’ll be harder for you to make up excuses to get out of your workouts if your friends are counting on you to be there. The Seattle Athletic Club has a variety of fun and inexpensive fitness classes that you and your friends can join together and keep you all on track. Finding a fun class like Will Patons’ Circuit Training class or Amber Grugers’ Insanity class will allow you and your friends to have fun in a group setting with lots of other energetic people.

4. Keep it fresh. Make it a goal to try a new activity every six weeks or so to keep from getting bored. Think of the different areas of fitness you would like to improve and when it is time to try another activity make the switch to something your body needs. If you feel you’re strong but not as flexible as you would like to be then a Pilates or Yoga class once or twice a week may improve your overall fitness level. Come into the Seattle Athletic Club to see what new and exciting classes fit your New Years goals. Trying a new class just might be that extra piece of motivation to keep you going this New Year!

Super Bowl of Cereal

It’s National Nutrition Month so my word play is not quite as timely as I’d like it to be – but it’s a good time to talk about one of the most popular carbohydrates in the American diet, cereal, those processed flakes some of us wouldn’t readily admit we’ve eaten for dinner on occasion.  It’s certainly a popular breakfast and late night snack.  I remember waking up to the the familiar sounds of clanking spoon, slurp and crunch as my father ate his midnight bowl of cheerios before bed.

I’ve often talked to clients who’ve professed they’re “cereal addicts.”  I suppose anything can be addictive – and we do know that refined sugar is certainly so.  But these clients aren’t eating the likes of Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch.

The most popular varieties I see on food logs are Honey Bunches of Oats, Honey Nut or regular Cheerios, Special K, Chex, Raisin Bran, etc.  While these don’t have a ton of sugar it’s certainly true that they’re processed and lack protein and fiber so they break down very fast in the bloodstream.  All highly processed carbohydrates do that.  Luckily, when we use dairy or soy milk we add some protein to the mix, but, unfortunately, beverages are digested quickly, too.  Bottom line is that any processed cereal digests quickly and can create a rise in blood sugar and for some a dopamine-induced pleasure response.  This can lead to an addictive response and cravings can escalate, which can certainly make it challenging to maintain or lose weight.

There are other reasons cereal can be alluring.  We usually have it around, and it’s easy.  The crunch of cereal before the unfortunate sog can also be highly rewarding as we seek to chew our way out of the day’s stress.

I’m writing all this not because cereal is “bad” and you should avoid it.  What is very bad is skipping a meal – having something is always better than nothing.

But, when confronted with your next bowl of processed flakes, consider adding some whole foods that carry a nutritional punch.  You’ll likely feel fuller longer and avoid some of the physiological responses that lead to being hungry sooner or craving more.  Try swapping half your bowl with the following add-ins:

    • Raw rolled oats (full of fiber and protein)


    • Dried fruit


    • Frozen blueberries (keeps the milk cold)


    • Sliced banana


  • Sliced almonds or chopped nuts (full of fiber, protein and healthy fat)

If you’d like to start with a higher protein cereal, try any of the Kashi Go Lean varieties or Special K Protein Plus.  (Kashi Go Lean also has added fiber.)  I still think the whole food add-ins listed above are better choices as their nutrients take longer to digest and enter the bloodstream.

So, my advice is to experiment with ways to make your cereal less flaky.  With half your bowl whole food add-ins you’ve turned your average bowl into a super bowl.

Pilates Exercise of the Month: Pike on Floor or Stretch Pumping Arms on the Wunda Chair




Purpose: This exercise increases flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back, plus  challenges the powerhouse.  It’s a great prep for the Mat exercise, Teaser.


Starting Position: Sit on the floor facing the chair, weight just back of sit-bones.  Place your feet on front edge of chair with legs together.  Arms long, reaching forward, palms on raised pedal.  Shoulders down and stabilized.


  1. Inhale;  Prepare.  Exhale; Nod your chin, increase spinal flexion to maintain C-curve.  Engage abdominals as you press the pedal down (arms can be slightly bent).


  1. Inhale; Lift the pedal back up with control, keep abs engaged.  Lengthen the spine  and release the pedal.  Exhale.


3.  Repeat 3-5 times.


Head to Toe Checklist:

*Maintain scapular stabilization to avoid neck, arm or shoulder tension

*Keep abdominals engaged throughout exercise

 *Keep arms in same position relative to torso so the pedal is depressed by abdominals, not      by pushing with the arms



Sit on a foam cushion or platform extender to decrease gripping in hips.