Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Where Your Fitness Meets the Outdoors


It’s my true pleasure today, to introduce you to Melanie Webb; Founder of Sol Fitness Adventures. When I first met Melanie I noticed her incredible energy, not to mention super strong body, and I thought, I want to be like her; tough but cool, successful but down to earth. Jury’s out as to whether I’ve succeeded in this, but she’s amazing, of that I’m sure.

Melanie has a fascinating career. She has been on Good Morning America, has received numerous industry awards, and formerly trained the Secretary of the Department of Defense. Contrarily, Melanie isn’t about the glitz and the glam. She cares most about getting people reconnected with their bodies through outdoor adventures. I encourage you to read this interview with her and to learn what Melanie’s brushes with death taught her. She will also walk you through the science behind how our bodies are connected to the earth and so much more!


1) Why did you start a career in fitness?

I get so much enjoyment from being active – playing sports, exploring amazing outdoor places around the world, and working out. Helping others discover the joy of being in their own body and unleashing how powerful that energy can be – that’s the intention behind my fitness career.

I’ve always had an interest in the human body. My Dad taught high school Anatomy and Physiology and was a big proponent of women in science, so from the time I was little I was surrounded by textbooks and skeletons. On top of that I was an athlete and played every kind of sport. I was a 16-year-old volleyball player the first time I watched Tamilee Webb’s Buns of Steel and Kathy Smith’s Aerobox workouts – and I was hooked! (I think I just dated myself!). I wanted to be just like those ladies.

Somehow, I lost sight of my dreams after college. I traded one passion for another and took a job as a wildlife biologist for the State of Utah and worked to help save endangered fish species. Five years later I was an environmental consultant to the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. I was a Certified Personal Trainer with ACE during that time and saw a few clients, but I think I was worried about my ability to support myself full time as a trainer. Finally, I traded the government cubicle for the training studio and made the leap to train full time.


2) What’s the most powerful or life-changing experience you’ve had as a trainer?

Rather than any one moment or experience, it’s the overall personal growth I’ve experience as a result of interacting with people from so many diverse ages and backgrounds. I think it’s a mistake to think that the trainer is the only one who has something to teach in this dynamic. Especially when our older clients have so much life experience and wisdom to share.


A few of my clients have become surrogate “parents” who’ve provided nurturing and emotional support during the good and the bad times. Others are irreplaceable business mentors and friends. A rare few have challenged me and pushed my buttons, causing me to have to weigh how much I want to suck it up in the name of being “professional” versus surround myself with people I like to be around. As I’ve gotten older and more sure of my own worth, both as a professional and a person, it’s become easier to walk away from those clients or situations that aren’t healthy for me.


3) Why did you decide to pursue starting your own business?

It took a number of years before I really committed to doing my own thing. I started leading fitness retreats several years before I quit training full time. My clients at The Sports Club/LA (now Equinox) in Washington, D.C. are the ones who gave me my start. They wanted to see their training applied to real life experiences, and they wanted a type of active vacation that nobody else was offering in 2007. Clients started hiring me to plan and guide their own private active trips. My first trips were to and Deer Valley and Zion National Park in Utah, and Machu Picchu, Peru.

Then something unexpected happened. I’d fallen into the trap of trading my lifestyle for making money. I was training six days a week, at least eight clients a day, and I finally burned out. I felt myself beginning to stagnate, feeling that I’d learned and accomplished all I could there.

After seven very successful years in D.C., I decided it was time to leave the East Coast and reclaim my lifestyle in the West. I ended up in Santa Barbara, California, a paradise of a place for an outdoor lover like myself, but quite possibly the most challenging work environment I’ve ever encountered. The place was still reeling from the market crash of 2008 and it was a difficult town to break into as a trainer. Nobody cared that I used to train the Secretary of Department of Defense or that I’d been on Good Morning America, they just wanted to know how cheap they could get a training session from me. There were too many “gatekeepers” to get through.

Sol Guide Title Page

Concept met reality. I was going for broke as a trainer and I had to do something different. Through word-of-mouth referrals, clients started hiring me to help them train for their big bucket list adventures – like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and competing in the Baja 1,000 off-road race. Suddenly, I was able to take advantage of my surroundings and all of my career experience. My client’s training programs included hiking 14,000 foot peaks in the High Sierra’s and stand up paddling on the Pacific Ocean.

Around this time, an elderly client from D.C. checked himself into rehab in Beverly Hills so that I could be part of his team of healthcare professionals. On my first visit, he told me to give him my business plan because he wanted to give me money to start it! I was dumbfounded. I wasn’t even clear what that business should look like!

There’s no question in my mind that I owe my start in business entirely to my amazing clients who led me down this path. It’s because of them that I’m in the right place at the right time now.

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4) What is Sol Fitness Adventures all about?

Sol Fitness Adventures is my response to what I see as a big problem for a lot of us – we’re losing that wild, instinctive, very necessary connection to the outdoors. The clients I work with are looking for an experience that helps them live a lifestyle of activity. Something that makes them a better human being for having taken the journey. It’s a very niche space that we occupy, but it’s one that I think bridges that gap between the fitness and outdoor industries.

We create customized fitness retreats anywhere in the world, but primarily in Park City where I live and in southern Utah’s spectacular National Parks. Everyone wants to come here. My clients look 10 years younger when they leave than when they arrived.


5) What’s the coolest thing you’ve done with a Sol Fit group?

That’s a hard one! There have been so many fun trips. But I have to say, the cycling fitness trip Sol led last year to the Central Coast of California was pretty fantastic. A group of eight women from Colorado – all over the age of 60, I might add – spent six days road biking, working out, and enjoying the culinary and cultural highlights of the Santa Ynez Valley and San Luis Obispo. Everything went off without a hitch, nobody got injured, and the ladies pushed themselves. I enjoyed every minute working with them.



6) How do you motivate people towards healthy living?

I try to live by example. The fact that I’m the happiest when I’m exercising or playing outside makes it easy. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. I think I’ve also overcome some physical injuries and illnesses that help me relate to people. They realize that I’m not just a skinny girl who this comes easy to, and I think that helps them believe that they can do it too.

Being so active can come at a price. I’ve had shoulder and knee reconstructions. I’ve been stitched up a number of times and last year I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I fell prey to the same stressors my clients face and I was just pushing too hard. It was the reality check I needed to remember to prioritize my self-care. Good nutrition, rest, and setting limits on my workload and travel have helped me heal, but it’s something I have to stay on top of. Inside Tracker online helps me keep track of my nutrition, now that I’m no longer under a doctor’s care.


7) Have you ever had any moments that scared you or that pushed your body to its limits?

…How much time do you have? I’ve had so many encounters with physical harm it’s hard to pick just one. My Grandma used to joke that I’m the cat with 15 lives, because I’d already passed the nine…

Some of my scariest moments have been with water encounters. I love playing on the water, but it’s also this element that you just can’t control. Until you’ve spent enough time around it, it’s just really easy to make the wrong judgement call and make mistakes. It’s something I really envy of my “watermen” friends; those people who grew up on the coasts and have spent their lifetimes on the water.


One of the most memorable of those encounters with death was a boat trip to Lake Powell during college. An afternoon storm blew in so quickly that we weren’t able to get off the water in time. The wind was blowing so loud that I couldn’t hear what the person next to me was screaming. White caps came over the bow and swamped the boat. We had to abandon ship and swim to shore. Once I washed up, I looked out to see the boat go under water and get swept away, stranding us. It was terrifying.

Another close encounter with “death by water” happened once while I was hiking the backcountry in Zion National Park. I ignored the dark clouds and got caught in a deep slot canyon in a torrential downpour. I’ve spent enough time in the canyons to know that rain that heavy can bring a flashflood within minutes. I was convinced that I’d said my last prayer, and I ran faster than I ever thought possible for about 4 miles before I felt the canyon walls were open enough. Minutes later, the flash flood came through, churning the color of dark chocolate milk and tumbling rocks and logs as it went.

Those were good experiences, for me to come that close to death. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you get tested like that. You learn that you have a strength that can get you through anything.


8) What’s next on the horizon for your career and/or goals?

I’m glad you asked! I just launched Sol Guide: Online Training for Your Next Outdoor Fitness Trip. Not everyone can afford to take a fitness retreat with Sol. But with Sol Guide, now you can learn how to harness the active outdoor lifestyle for yourself – anytime, anywhere.


The online course teaches you how to plan your own fitness retreat, no matter where you live. There are 40 exercise videos, stress-reduction techniques, games for kids, outdoor safety and gear tips, and so much more. There’s even a business module for those who want to add a new revenue stream to their fitness or yoga practice.

By late summer we plan to host our first two-day teacher-training course here in Utah. The course will offer real, practical experience planning and leading a fitness retreat for individuals who want to get certified and/or take their leadership to the next level. Please feel free to sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on the dates!

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9) What evidence is there that the outdoors is good for our health?

Science is discovering so many amazing new things about our body and the human connection to the outdoors! Japanese scientists discovered that walking in a green forest drops systolic blood pressure six points, while walking in an urban environment elevates systolic blood pressure six points!

When you approach a large body of water, your brain releases large amounts of the “feel good” hormone oxytocin, the same hormone babies release when they see their mother’s face. A fantastic new book called Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols reveals the many ways that water is good for us.


Also, did you know that the Earth has a magnetic frequency of 7.83 Hz? And the human alpha brain wave, associated with relaxation, is – get this – 7.83 Hz! I don’t think this is just a coincidence. In fact, I believe it’s part of the evidence that we come from this Earth, that we’re part of it, and that we need it for optimum health. You can do a search on the Schumann wave on NASA and read all about it.

There is so much more! Part of what I share in Sol Guide is how to harness these earth elements of Green Mind, Blue Mind, and Red Mind. You learn how to design a fitness adventure that leaves you not only more “fit,” but helps you tap into Earth energy for maximum health. This isn’t woo-woo stuff I’m talking about. The science is proving it and I see it in my clients on every trip. I’m excited to share this with more people. Thank you for reading!


If you’re feeling inspired, please stay connected with Melanie and Sol!

Instagram: @SolFitAdventure

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SolFitnessAdventures

Twitter: @SolFitAdventure

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/solfitadventure/

Sol Fitness Adventures: www.solfitnessadventures.com

Sol Guide: www.melaniewebbsolguide.com

Melanie – thank you for sharing with us! Now, when can we go backpacking?! Just a warning, if we run into bears, I will need your protection!
Yours in health and wellness,
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Mindfulness; It’s Not Just for Celebrities

I’m pleased to introduce you to Sarah Pike, our contributor for today’s guest post! Sarah and I share a lot of the same passions – women’s health, writing, health technology, volunteering, and working with children. Please enjoy the wisdom she has to offer. We’re SO happy to welcome her to WellnessWinz! 

mindfulness  only takes a moment

One thing you won’t find in a typical list of healthy “do’s,” is the use of mindfulness/meditation practices.

Before you roll your eyes at another “out-there” quack extoling the virtues of meditation, know that I too was once one of those eye-rollers. It’s hard to understand the benefits of something as intangible and difficult to measure as mindfulness. But after hearing Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Arianna Huffington preach about the difference it made in their lives, I started to pay attention.

After all, if such successful people are advocates of this practice, then maybe there’s something to it. These days everyone from Katy Perry to Kobe Bryant sing the praises of meditation and mindfulness practices. But I wasn’t one to simply take a celebrity’s word for it. Neuroscientists have proven that there are real, positive effects to engaging in meditation.

Beyond a sense of calm and general well-being, a group of neuroscientists from Harvard were able to measure improvement in learning, memory, emotion regulation, and sense of self. They found that regular mindfulness practices can actually change your brain and increase overall well-being and even improve quality of life.

practicing mindfulness

Meditation for Beginners

Testing the waters of meditation can be intimidating. I had images of sitting cross-legged for hours, chanting strange words while Eastern music played in the background. But mindfulness doesn’t require uncomfortable positions or unfamiliar words.

The main goal is to practice focusing on one thing at a time. Usually the easiest way to start is to pay attention to your breath. You can follow Huffington’s advice and start with just a few minutes, and then work up to longer durations as it feels more comfortable. If your mind tends to race with non-stop thoughts, you can use that to your advantage in meditation as well.

Instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your thoughts. When you catch your mind wandering, instead of getting caught up in each thought, simply let them go. Over time, this practice will help improve concentration and your ability to be present in the current moment.

10 apps for mindfulness

The Top 10 Apps to Improve Mindfulness

The good news is that you don’t have to jump into meditation all by yourself. If the thought of counting your breaths or figuring out how to let your random thoughts go is intimidating, try an app to help you get into a mindfulness routine. And, contrary to what you might think, using technology to help you meditate isn’t contradictory. In fact, it’s been found that there’s a correlation between connectivity and happiness.

Here are my 10 favorite apps to help jump-start your meditative life and get you on the road to feeling more holistic, healthy, and happy.

  1. Emojiary

If you’re not quite ready to sit quietly and breathe, this app can help you get into the general mindset of meditation, which is increased awareness of how you’re feeling at any point in time. This app checks in with you throughout the day and asks you how you’re feeling. All you have to do is pause, consider, and answer with the appropriate emoji—a great way to get your mindfulness practice started.

  1. Stop, Breathe & Think

This is the perfect app for beginners. The whole idea is to teach you how to meditate with customized programs that help you identify how you’re feeling before you start. It also tracks your progress over time and helps you easily expand and extend your mindfulness practices as your comfort with the process grows.

  1. Centered

Another great resource for beginners, Centered helps you manage stress and increase mindfulness with daily reminders and meditation timers. It even syncs with Apple Health to help you track all of your healthful activities in one, convenient place.

  1. Lotus Bud Mindfulness Bell

If you’re ready to expand your meditation practices, this app is a great tool. In order to bring mindfulness to all of your daily activities, the Lotus Bud Mindfulness Bell sends you reminders in the form of bell tones throughout the day. When you hear the bell, you are reminded to breathe, pause, and take in the current moment.

  1. Calm

For those whose meditation level is intermediate, Calm offers a variety of guided meditations lasting anywhere from two minutes to half an hour. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, this app can also offer help to get you that restful night you’ve been craving.

  1. The Now

This app offers another great way to bring mindfulness into all of your daily practices. The goal is to help you live in the present moment. Using push notifications as cues, this app helps you remember to take in your environment, focus on what is currently happening, and look at people and situations with compassion and empathy.

  1. Athlete Minder

If you’re looking for a way to track the health of your mind, body, and spirit, this app might be your new best friend. Athlete Minder helps you keep track of your exercise habits and state of mind before, during, and after workouts. What you learn will let you make the right tweaks and changes to your routine to maximize the benefits.

  1. The Mindfulness Diet

Exercise isn’t the only aspect of your health routine that can benefit from mindfulness. This tool helps you add focus and awareness to your eating habits. And, thanks to helpful reminders, you will be encouraged to slow down and truly savor each bite.

  1. Guroo

For mindfulness pros, this app sends you random reminders to catch you off-guard and give you the chance to re-set your perspective throughout the day. Whether you need to knock their socks off in a presentation or be calm during a parent-teacher conference, this training app will help you fine-tune your mindfulness to make sure you’re at your best in every situation.

  1. Meditation Experience

This 21-day experience is designed for everyone. Whether you’re a beginner or have been meditating for years, this interactive program designed by Oprah and Deepak Chopra will quickly move you to a more tranquil state of mind.

With so many easy-to-use resources at your fingertips, now is the time to add meditation to your daily health regimen. Give one of these apps a try and see the difference a few minutes of mindfulness can make!

Thank you again, Sarah! I can’t wait to try a few of these out and I’m sure readers feel the same! Good luck being mindful, ladies! ~Maggie


Contributor Bio:

Sarah Pike is a Community Outreach Coordinator for BusinessBee and a college writing instructor. When she’s not teaching or writing, she’s probably binge-watching RomComs on Netflix or planning her next vacation. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

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Skinny Girls Who Eat Junk

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered how other girls can get away with eating junk, while also retaining a slim waistline. I’ve had dozens of women complain to me that their friends can seemingly nosh on cheeseburgers and fries, down a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, or indulge in the bread basket on girls night out, without putting on a single pound. It’s time to solve the mystery! Here are a few ways that these girls-we-love-to-envy keep their weight in check.

Skinny Girls

1) They are burning calories through activity 

I can easily recall my super skinny days, back in high school, when I could chow down nachos, eat two plates of pasta, and a big bowl of Breyer’s chocolate ice cream every night, but this was only thanks to playing sports all year round. I was exercising for several hours every single day, and I was still growing. Could I get away with this now? No. Can I still get away with indulging here and there? Yes, because I exercise and practice portion control when eating. Good news, you can too!

It’s the same, simple answer we keep returning to: Calories Consumed = Calories Burned, for weight control.

2) This may just be a snapshot of their diet, not the way that they routinely eat

As I mentioned above, no one…and I mean no one, can get away with eating junky foods 24/7 that are calorie laden and fattening. Over time, it results in weight gain. If your skinny friend isn’t gaining weight, then she must be exercising portion control at other, less social and less visible, times of the day. She may be vocal in social settings, saying how she loves eating chips or hot dogs all the time, but she’s probably just being theatrical, or perhaps she’s trying to justify her indulgence out loud. It’s probably not meant to shame you or make you question your own weight and eating habits. Laugh it off and stick to the choices you want to make for yourself. If we tell teens to avoid peer pressure about drugs and alcohol, then certainly we can exercise a little self-control about food in social settings, right?!

3) They don’t beat themselves up for eating what they want

I have coached lots of women to stop self-shaming when they eat foods they desire. It’s one of the most important things that I help with women with, and many of them tell me that being easier, not harder, on themselves has helped them manage their health for the first time in years. Ironically, emotional reactions to food, and feelings of shame, often lead to MORE eating, not less.

An article from MyFitnessPal’s Hello Healthy blog states that “we usually end up getting mad at ourselves for overeating. This sets us up for a vicious cycle of stuffing feelings with food (and thus not dealing with them), possible weight gain or excessive exercise and self-recrimination … until the cycle starts all over again. How frustrating!”

So, if you have a late-night of eating the whole bag of popcorn, when you intended to only scoop out two handfuls, move on from it. Tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and that you have the power to make good choices each with each and every meal and snack.

But, maybe your friend isn’t getting away with as much as you think…

“Smoke and Mirrors”

Although some girls enjoy their greasy and sugary foods without immediate weight gain, there may still be health consequences to their actions. They may not be getting all the essential nutrients that their bodies need. For example, if “Kelly” tends to eat instant oatmeal and a banana in the morning, a turkey wrap and chips at lunch, and a small dish of pasta at night, she is probably not getting enough protein in her diet.

Although Kelly’s portions are modest, allowing her to remain slim, she may have brittle hair and nails because of the missing protein. This, combined with a lack of fruits and vegetables, may also cause Kelly to have skin problems (skin that lacks luster, breakouts, is aging quickly, etc.). Additionally, if she isn’t getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that her body craves, then Kelly may not have good energy throughout the day.

In short, what’s happening on the outside of our bodies (i.e., how we look) is not always reflective of what’s happening on the inside…

So, is it okay to eat junk or is “clean eating” the best practice for weight control?

what to eat

It depends. It’s important to figure out what is going to work best for you. While clean eating, i.e., focusing on a natural diet full of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, is definitely a step towards a healthy lifestyle, WebMD explains that certain diet protocols for clean eating, like The Eat-Clean Diet, are “so structured, restrictive, and unrealistic” that they “may be difficult to follow long term.”

WebMD further suggests that any diet plan that is based more on opinion, than on scientific evidence, must be taken with a grain of salt. Although people love to share their personal triumphs, we should all be wary of professionals who base their dietary recommendations solely on their own experiences. We’re all a little different physically and emotionally, and that changes how we eat and what we want to eat.

If you feel like you’re only eating healthy because you “should” be, then you’re in a deprivation mentality, missing out on the experience of pleasureful eating. When kept in check, pleasureful eating can be a part of a healthy eating plan.

Once you’ve recognized that there is not a “good” or “bad” food persay, you can start to break the chains of a dieting mentality. As I alluded to in my Detox Diets: Do They Work? post, “including foods considered unhealthful in a healthful eating plan can foster satisfaction to ensure a healthful eating pattern over the long haul.”

Here is one defintion of normal eating provided by Human Kinetics:

“…being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasureable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored; or just because it feels good.”

Note: This is different from chronic emotional eating.

We’ll discuss that another day. 

This perspective implies that eating mostly nutrient dense foods will be helpful for your body, and that there is room to eat “forbidden foods” for pleasure here and there. An ice cream on a Friday night won’t spoil your waistline. Enjoying your favorite bubbly on a date night doesn’t mean you’ve ruined a healthful eating streak. If we stop fearing foods, we may just find that we don’t crave them as often, and we can start enjoying them in moderation alongside a balanced eating plan.

So, eat clean all the time if it works for you. If it doesn’t, don’t shame yourself. Just try to balance your intake of indulgent foods, and find ways to eat mindfully at every meal. The greens that once tasted bitter or repulsive can and will taste better once you take the time to think of ways to prep them to fit your palate. And, well…chocolate cake will always manage to taste amazing.

it's okay to indulge at times


Me + Lava Cake = Love

Yours in health and wellness,


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Hudnall, M., & Kratina, K. (2005, January 1). Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals.




Is Stress Bad…or Good?

We long for straightforward answers, and so rarely get them. What will my future look like? What job will make me the happiest? What exercise and eating plan will make me feel the healthiest version of myself? So many questions that demand a black and white answer. But, most answers fall into the grey. Even the impacts of stress fall into the grey.

It seems that stress can be both bad and good, but since the scenarios of when and how stress can cause us to stumble are more abundant, we will look at a few profound examples of how stress can actually benefit us. These are what I like to call “slingshot” scenarios. They are challenging times that cause us to move backwards and presumably, lose ground on our goals.

If you understand the simple principle of a slingshot, then you know where I’m heading with this…a slingshot pulls an object back to maximal tension before subsequently propelling it forward faster and farther than it would have traveled on its own. The slingshot effect is awesome. Truly, awesome. Unfortunately, it’s not always fun to be approaching that maximal point of tension…and, if that point of tension is held for too long, the slingshot will likely break.

Is stress bad or good

So, is stress bad or good? Below we look at two examples from nature and human experience that suggest that stress in moderation doesn’t fit neatly into a good or bad category. Stress in moderation is a necessity. It helps us become more resilient. It helps us thrive.

Scientists decided to examine the life cycle of trees grown in a fully protected environment, “Biosphere 2,” compared with trees encountering the varying forces of nature. The scientists found that the trees in Biosphere 2 grew more quickly than the other trees. This seems great – remove environmental stress and the trees flourish. Well, not quite.

Although the trees grew quickly, they fell over after reaching maturity. In an article called The Necessity of Stress, Travis Brownley explains that the scientists came to realize the following:

“…a lack of wind in Biosphere 2 caused a deficiency of stress wood. Stress wood helps a tree position itself for optimal sun absorption and it also helps trees grow more solidly. Without stress wood, a tree can grow quickly, but it cannot support itself fully. It cannot withstand normal wear and tear, and survive. In other words, the trees needed some stress in order to thrive in the long run.”

We see a similar phenomenon when we move from nature to human experience. Alison Levine, team captain of the first ever American Women’s Everest Expedition, encountered the forces of nature on Mount Everest and shared her experience with the world in a profound Tedx Talks. The 20 minute talk is absolutely mind boggling. You will take away far more than you imagined in that short time. Alison brings our attention to the fact that an expedition up Mount Everest actually consists of a lot of time climbing down!

the summit

 One of Alison’s many amazing quotes.

Alison’s team had to hike ten days just to make it to base camp. After several days acclimating to Base Camp, her team hiked up the mountain to Camp 1 and then back to Base Camp. After this, they hiked to Camp 2, before returning once again to Base Camp. Then, they hiked to Camp 1, Camp 2, and at last, Camp 3. And then? Yes, they hiked all the way back down the mountain to Base Camp. Hiking back down after each moment of triumph, reaching a higher altitude, was necessary to acclimate, recover, and climb higher.

While hiking back down the mountain is an obvious example of the aforementioned slingshot effect, Alison also brings up another form of stress; slow progress.

Alison takes us through what happens at the Death Zone on Mount Everest. The Death Zone is at 26,000 ft. altitude, where life can’t be sustained. Thanks to important gear, and taking five to ten breaths for every single step taken, Alison’s team continued to climb towards the summit. Think about it – in order to survive, you have to take ONE step, and then FIVE to TEN breaths, before lifting the other leg. Alison jests in her Tedx Talks presentation, “so…if you ever think you’re having a slow day…” For real, Alison. For real.

Clearly, a slow application of stress can be vital for success. If Alison’s team had tried to face to the top, they would have experienced certain defeat. As it turns out, Alison was just 300 ft. from the top of Mount Everest on her first expedition when she had to turn around due to weather conditions. She returns and conquers the mountain, but she remains more changed from the climb than actually reaching the summit. 

Stress, powerful force

So, how do you deal with “stress in moderation” when it feels tedious and frustrating? Alison suggests what worked for her; focus on what’s directly in front of you and just try to reach that milestone. Once you reach it, find the courage to tell yourself that if you made it that far, then you can try to reach the next milestone, and go for it.

For Alison, and many of us, it’s hard to understand the future. And yes, that can be stressful. But, as Alison says, “Sometimes, I think, you don’t have to have total clarity in order to just put one foot in front of the other.”

Yours in health and wellness,


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Women’s #1 Question

The #1 question women ask trainers all the time is “how do I get more toned?”

Whenever a woman asks me this question, I take a deep breath and prepare to answer. I cross my fingers and hope that all the “2 weeks to a tighter core,” “top tricks for toning,” and “5 best exercises for a sexy butt, etc. articles haven’t completely clouded her judgment and made her think that there is a single magic bullet out there in the mystical beyond of the exercise heavens that will get her the toned body of her dreams. Thank goodness, we don’t have to search the world and 100,000 fitness articles for the holy grail of toning – there are endless ways to achieve this goal. Below is a summary that you can take with you for life…

WW Women's #1 Question (2)

The exciting reality is that anything that stimulates your muscles will help them achieve good tone. There is no single and superior exercise prop or movement that fits every body’s needs or even a single person’s needs in different seasons of life. You can use exercise bands, dumbbells, stability balls, body weight, machines, cables, bosu balls, kettlebells, TRX, and many more pieces of equipment to achieve your toning goals. You can even use a toddler or a bag of heavy groceries…wink wink. Actually, it’s true! Again, anything that stimulates your muscles with resistance can improve tone! The secret to seeing results from all this “stimulation?” Answer: CONSISTENCY! 

Incorporating weights or resistance training to work all major muscle groups in your body is sufficient for toning if you do it a few times a week (again, you can use any of the props mentioned above). If you don’t exercise very often then twice a week for a half hour might be a good place to start. If you exercise regularly then you already know that more intensity is required to stimulate your body the same amount, so the aforementioned prescription probably won’t be enough for you. Ohhh, the mountaintop is always just another few steps higher and higher. 

WW Group Exercise

This brings me to the next point; for those who are new to exercise and those who are seasoned, you can take a deep breath and rest assured that you don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time in the gym hitting the weights for good toning. The secret to being efficient for toning purposes is….drumroll please…..lifting HEAVY. 

Using more intense resistance or heavier weight on any number of exercises means you’re stimulating your muscles and hormones at a higher level and can reap greater results in fewer sets and reps. This saves time and helps you look and feel fantastic. Once you experience this firsthand there will be no desire to go back to the cute little weights! Now, before you panic about heavy lifting because you think it will make you “bulky,” I want you to look at the picture below….

WW Women Don't Get Bulky

Okay, now please look back up at the picture again for an additional 10 seconds…

Did it sink in yet, ladies? I can’t tell you all how many times I have had to quell a woman’s fear that weight lifting will make her look bulky. I’m prepared to offer a small sample from the overwhelming evidence of why this just doesn’t happen to women. Read on! 

  • Testosterone is one reason women don’t get bulky. We don’t have a ton of it. Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in 20x greater amounts by men than women and helps with muscle growth. Frankly, this is kind of disappointing news!
  • On the flip side, research suggests that some female dominant hormones may actually prevent protein synthesis which again, aids muscle growth.
  • Women have fewer muscle fibers in their upper bodies compared to men. Hence, it’s harder to acquire that “bulk” women are so afraid of.

Parnell Dean with Body Transformation Fitness wrote:

“Although it is understandable that women are worried that weight training will make them overly muscular, there are many physiological and coincidental reasons why it is highly unlikely that women are going to become too big and bulky from weight training. Unless they take anabolic steroids, eat more calories than they need, and train intensely for years, women will not get too big and bulky from weight training; instead, they will build the strong yet sleek, trim, and toned physique that they desire.”

WW Women at Gym

And why wouldn’t you want to lift weights when you know how much they can transform you? Take for example, Adam Campbell with Women’s Health Magazine who wrote an article titled “12 Reasons You Should Start Lifting Weights Today,” and cited that lifting weights can help women lose up to 40% more body fat compared to just doing cardio exercise or no exercise.

To sum, consistency and lifting heavier as your body becomes stronger will help you achieve the toning you’re after. Trying out a variety of exercises and props will help you hone in on which ones you feel confident performing and which ones you enjoy and want to do more often.

I promise, I could write articles on the top 5 exercises for your gluts, upper arms, calves, inner thighs, lower core, upper back, chest, etc. all darn day long but here’s the thing – I’m interested in giving you so much more than a short list of exercises to take home. Wellnesswinz is here to help you understand how to make living fit and well a lifestyle.

Yours in health and wellness,