Archive for November 2012

Friday Fitness: Finding Your Washboard

If you are serious about taking charge of your body, start by focusing your attention on your core and spine. The key word being “core. ” I’m not talking about just your abdominal region but all the muscle groups that support your pelvic girdle, including the deep muscles of your spine.  Today’s “Friday Fitness” will be focusing on core training simply because I cannot emphasize the importance of strengthening your stabilization muscles.  Strengthening the core helps with posture, stability and balance, prevention and treatment of low back pain, and the list succeeds.  Did you know that about 80% of individuals develop low back pain at some point in their lifetime? We can work to reduce this statistic just by engaging in a regular core strength regiment, which minimizes the long term breakdown of your body and spine, therefore promoting better health and body sustainability! 

So what can we do to build better core strength?

The simplest way to work your core is to introduce instability into every exercise you do. For instance, when doing squats, attempt to do them on the bosu ball. When engaging in upper body strength exercises, try performing them while standing on one leg.  If you have worked with me in the past, you may have already been gracefully handed this core-tastic challenge. If not, your challenge begins today. In honor of Friday Fitness I would like for you clean your dirty laundry (aka. stop being lazy).  Start by integrating instability into your current workout regiments. Whether you opt to utilize available balance tools (BOSU balls, indo boards, fit-balls, balance plates, etc.), and/or you simply attempt to stand on one foot when working out or while performing everyday tasks (brushing teeth, cooking, folding laundry, etc.)… your chore of core cleaning starts TODAY!



Re-Energize your Motivation for Weight Loss in 2013


Over the course of a year, much can change in terms of our motivations, priorities and time for commitments. Sometimes we are taken off course by unforeseen circumstances, but others we see coming from miles away, or are even a regular occurrence. For 2013, focus on what you can control and plan ahead to prevent or manage those sidetrack moments.

1. Target dates. Choose your birthday, a vacation, a special event, a fitness challenge… something with a definitive date that you can use to prioritize short term goals and boost motivation to reach that stepping stone. Choose more than one in a year.

2. Personal history. Reflect on your past for a bit. What has propelled your success with weight loss before? An exercise partner? Journaling your food? A friendly competition within corporate wellness program ? What has derailed your commitments in the past? A seasonal change in the weather? “Depriving” yourself of a specific food? Brainstorm what you can do differently this year and set some ground rules.

3. Pick one. Just pick one change to get yourself started. Whether it’s 20 crunches every morning when you wake up, eliminating fried food or getting on that scale once per week… starting something will give you a better chance of doing more and creating change than doing nothing.

4. Tell a friend. Share your aspirations with someone else. Even if unspoken, the accountability of a shared goal is much stronger than an unsaid commitment.

5. A bias for action, a sense of urgency. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Life is crazy… but it never truly gets “uncrazy”. Take your crazy life and live it healthy and happy!



When Others Think You’ll Fail, Believe in Yourself

This video seems to be circulating amongst the H3Family. Several of you may have seen this video while browsing online, through the H3@Home group or even on your friends’ newsfeeds. I thought I’d share it here since it seems to have touched so many people.

This is the amazing story of a war vet named Arthur who doesn’t take no for an answer. Using Yoga to help restore his health, Arthur finds that the strength within him is actually stronger than the strength of his body. Please watch this inspirational story and share with your friends and family. The next time you’re feeling weak in the mind, just remember Arthur and how he never gave up.



Sharing Success: Matthew Brown

Matthew before visiting Hilton Head Health

During 2011, my weight took on new highs, my health sunk to new lows and my doctors had me go through the preliminary classes and tests for bariatric bypass surgery. I had been repeatedly told by everyone I spoke to that this was probably my last chance for a healthy life. Without a radical turnaround in my lifestyle, my diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, venous insufficiency, edema and morbid obesity had me facing an early grave. My wife and I had accepted the surgery as my only option, and we began planning a nice get away to Tortola before starting the final pre-op stage.  The week before Thanksgiving, depression set in as I figured it might be my last holiday season. Then out of the blue, my wife Donna informed me that she had changed our vacation plans and we were going to a place called Hilton Head Health, a weight loss spa. She told me I needed to have a check-up and get clearance from my primary physician to go. When I told my doctor about our plans, he said “Diet and exercise? Go!”

We arrived at H3, greeted by our personal concierge, Keila. Keila told me that not only was I worth it, but she could see it in my eyes, I could do this. She was a constant support throughout our stay, helping us schedule everything we needed, even giving us rides when we couldn’t find one.

We were weighed in – I was 490 pounds and Donna was 268 pounds.

We went thru the H3 schedule and decided we would split up for the lectures to make sure we took advantage of everything we could during our ten-day stay. All the classes were informative, but Lisette Volz and Bob Wright stood out the most, with “Mindful Eating”, “Reading the Labels”, “Having a Plan”, “Writing a Menu”, “How to Deal with the Food Talk and Slips” being just a few of the topics they tackled.

The exercise classes were amazing – I didn’t think it was possible for someone my size to do this stuff, but I was willing to try, and here it is one year later and I’m still trying and succeeding. We set up personal consultations, my wife Donna with Lisette and I with Executive Chef Jen Welper. Both gave us the knowledge and motivation we needed to take home with us to make the H3 Healthy Lifestyle work in our lives.

When I was told how many calories I would eat a day I didn’t believe I could survive, but I was willing to try. How wrong I was! The food was excellent in my professional opinion (I have been a chef for over 25 years, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1988).  Even the wait staff took a personal interest in us, making sure we had not only what we needed, but making us feel pampered too. We made sure to take advantage of the pool as often as possible, for free time as well as exercise, and as a reward, we ended each day with an amazing massage from either Mark or Whitney.

Leaving was not easy, but thanks to the staff of H3 we had the tools we needed to succeed.

When we got home we cleaned out the cupboards and refrigerators. The very next morning we shopped from the list we made in Lisette’s class. We’ve had our slips and have learned that’s OK – it’s natural considering our lifestyle before H3.  We are both healthier, happier and lighter than we’ve been since we got married in 2002.  Neither I nor my doctors can believe the results I’ve had thus far – WITHOUT weight loss medication or gastric operations. I saw my Primary Physician on June 22nd, six months after leaving H3. Incredibly, I was told I was no longer diabetic, although the diagnosis will be left on my chart for two years before being taken off. My weight is now 297 pounds, down 193 pounds since leaving H3.

When I arrived at H3 I struggled to walk from the taxi to the building. Now, my wife and I walk and jog on a regular basis. My edema has reduced significantly. I no longer feel that this may be my last year, but that this is the beginning of many more to come, with opportunities that I did not and could not dream of before. H3 is truly a life changing and lifesaving program that I will never ever forget.

Matthew after visiting Hilton Head Health

Update: In Januray 2013, Matthew was pleased to announce that he has now lost 193 pounds since his initial visit to Hilton Head Health.

Read the rest of this entry.



Healthy Recipes: Split Pea Soup


½ each Onion, chopped
1 each Bay leaf
1 teaspoon Celery seed
Spray oil
¾ cup Split peas
2 Tablespoons Barely
¼ cup Lima beans
4 cups Water
1 teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
½ each Carrot, peeled, chopped
2 each Celery stalks, chopped
½ each Idaho potato, washed, and chopped
¼ cup Parsley, fresh, chopped
¼ teaspoon Basil, dried
¼ teaspoon Thyme, dried


  • Preheat medium sauce pan. (Make sure your pan is large enough to hold the soup before you begin cooking.)
  • Lightly spray sauce pan with oil.
  • When the pan is hot, add onions and sauté. Stir frequently.
  • Add bay leaf and celery seed.
  • Stir in split peas, lima beans and barley.
  • Add the water and simmer for about 1 ½ hours.
  • Add salt, pepper, carrots, celery and potatoes.
  • Cook for another 45 minutes.
  • Thin with vegetable or chicken broth if soup is too thick.

Number of Servings: 6 cups
Serving Size: ½ cup
Calories: 140
Sodium: 550 milligrams
Carbohydrates: 27 grams
Fiber: 9 grams
Protein: 9 grams



Coaching Corner: Thanking Your Body

This is the season of giving thanks and what a fantastic practice that is! Studies have shown___________. So why not be thankful?!

I have a special healthy challenge for you this week and it  is giving thanks for your body. Our bodies are truly incredible things. The way  so many working pieces come together for us to function is nothing short of a miracle. How easy it is to lose sight of this when we are on a journey of change. It can be very tempting to focus on the change that we want to see, that we can lose sight of the value before us. One of my favorite quotes is: Be happy with who you are now, and let that positivity inspire your journey into tomorrow.  Let us take some time to celebrate what we have and who we are.

I challenge you to make a list of 25 things that you like about your body and what you are thankful that your body allows you to do. They can be items big or small but do not stop until you hit 25. And then I encourage you to read the list all the way through, slowly. Think about each thing and how incredible you are.



From the H3 Vault: Minding the Gap

My days of late have been busier than I could have imagined. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. They are days full of gratifying work, connecting with people and sharing my experience, strength and hope. Lately, however, I have had to increase my personal commitment to practice what I preach. Most notably, I’ve had to mind the gap.

In the midst of these busy days, I have had to recognize and take advantage of the small moments when the universe is asking me to slow down and get present. You may not be aware of what these moments are but they look a lot like this…being on hold with the cable company, sitting at a long red light (otherwise called a GOOCHER by my kids), standing in any line that doesn’t seem to be moving, or being stuck in traffic on the highway. These are usually moments when our jaw clenches, we repeatedly look at our watch and expletives are freely forthcoming.

These are the precise moments when it’s time to acknowledge that we are being asked to slow down or stop. We can’t seem to find time for it ourselves, so the universe steps in. They are little gifts waiting to be acknowledged with a small meditation, a prayer of gratitude, a mindful exercise involving the senses or getting out of our head by being of service to others.

These moments, or gaps, can add to our stress levels or can help us to “reboot.” When we focus on things we are grateful for while sitting at a long red light, we experience joy instead of anxiety. When we focus on our breath while sitting in traffic, we sooth our spirit and feel peace in a situation we have no control over. When we call a friend in need to inquire about their wellbeing while waiting in line for Black Friday shopping, we trade our frustration for compassion.

With the holidays quickly approaching, many new gaps await. Just think of all the mindfulness exercises you can do while waiting in line during Christmas shopping! Tis the season to focus on gratitude during the hustle and bustle. Don’t forget to receive the gift of the gap.



Fitness Friday: New classes coming to H3

With the New Year only one month away, we’re shifting gears and adding even more variety to our already extensive fitness class lineup. Earlier in the fall we added Body Balance, Bosu Ball Basics and Kettlebell 101 Training, but we’re not stopping there. Watch the video below to hear about the first two new classes of the season entering the mix and we’ll keep you updated as more hit our daily schedule.



Bob’s Basics on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you and your family have the best Thanksgiving you have ever had. As we all know, holidays, especially Thanksgiving, can pose some real challenges to staying on track with your program. In her post yesterday Lisette, with David’s help, discussed the concept of progress not perfection. I’d like to focus on the same theme.

Think about previous Thanksgivings, how you have eaten, the level of activity you had, and look for ways to improve. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to set yourself up for a good day is to start the day with doing something positive. Take a few minutes to reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving and acknowledge what you have to be thankful for; take a walk first thing in the morning, it doesn’t have to be long, even a short walk can lift your spirits; have a good healthy breakfast—it is easier to sustain the momentum of a good start than change the moment from a bad one. As clinical psychologist Howard Rankin, Ph.D. says, “it is hard to rebound from a double bacon sausage biscuit.”

For some, the problem isn’t only that it is difficult to manage portions during a holiday, it’s that you have a license to eat as much as physically possible. Thanksgiving is the poster child event for eating until the point of physical discomfort. Some even take pride in being able to out eat other members of the family. Maybe it is time to let someone else earn that honor. But the goal isn’t to stay on an aggressive diet either. Eat what you want but pay attention to the amount. Ask yourself, “is this really going to be worth it?” If so, eat slowly and mindfully and most importantly savor every single morsel.

If in the past, you spent hours upon hours watching football, or the Thanksgiving day Law and Order marathon, you could plan some fun family physical activities. Take family thermal walks or at least get up every half hour or so and take a few laps around the house.

If you tend to be more liberal with your alcohol intake during the holidays, you can save some calories by cutting back a bit. Keep in mind that it not just the calories from alcohol that you need to be concerned about, it the impact alcohol has on staying focused and motivated in a very challenging food environment. Remember the phrase “resolve dissolves in alcohol”. Enjoy a glass of wine, a beer or mixed drink with the meal if you would like, but having a couple of drinks before you sit down will make it all but impossible to make healthy choices.

Finally, if you happen to eat or drink a bit more than planned. Don’t fret it, you haven’t blown it. Don’t try to make up for by skipping meals on Friday or trying to exercise for four hours. If you start Friday with a healthy breakfast, make sure you get a good exercise session in sometime during the day, and plan some fun physically active things to do over the weekend. The impact of going a bit overboard on Thanksgiving day will be minimal.



20 Ways to Improve Your Mood

As we take a moment to reflect on all the blessings in our lives we have to be thankful for, ask yourself if you’re getting the most out of each day. We often look to others to brighten our spirits but what can we do to make each moment even more vibrant? We all know that as the days get shorter and cooler our moods tend to do follow suit. Each day, try doing one of the items on the list below to help better your mood.

1. Take a warm bath or shower.
2. Get a good night’s sleep.
3. Listen to music (and don’t be afraid to sing along—loudly).
4. Get some fresh air. Don’t let the cool air scare you from enjoying the outdoors. Enjoy your Sunday morning breakfast and coffee on the deck or go for a stroll through the park.
5. Do something generous for others. There are plenty of opportunities to help others. Whether donating to a toy drive or helping a neighbor rake leaves, no act of kindness goes unnoticed.
6. Think positively.
7. Compliment others AND yourself.
8. Pull up the blinds or open the curtains and let the sun shine in.
9. Light a candle to fill the room with a warm holiday scent.
10. Bring life to each room with a fresh bouquet of flowers.
11. Give your home an easy facelift by changing out the light fixtures and chandeliers or hanging new artwork on the walls.
12. Eat more foods that grow on plants than are manufactured in them.
13. Stretch before bed a couple nights each week.
14. Watch or do something silly. There are few things more contagious than laughter and a smile.
15. Pamper yourself. Take the time to do something special just for you. Schedule a haircut, get your nails done, purchase new undergarments, or block off some “me” time to catch up on the book you’ve been dying to finish. Do something that makes you feel better about yourself.
16. Stick to your exercise routine. Even if you find it hard to fit in fitness this time of year, focus on what you are actually able to accomplish and not on any missed targets. Remember Lisette and David’s song, “progress, not perfection.”
17. Spend time with others. Don’t skip the holiday party or game night because you don’t feel like leaving the house. Surround yourself with good company and laughter and fond memories are sure to sprout.
18. Let go of any negative energy you’re holding onto and forgive.
19. A friend always encourages me to live with the three E’s – energy, enthusiasm and empathy. Keep the three E’s in the back of your mind throughout the day.
20. Pray and give thanks.



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