Friday, May 14, 2010

You now have all components for a toned and strong core!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Here is your final Day Six of your 6-Day Core Conditioning program. You now have all all critical components of a solid core conditioning program with movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles. As a reminder, your core is not just your abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area. This program will hit everything!

A strong core provides strength that radiates out to the rest of your body so you can move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

Day Six Exercises include:

• Full sit –up (ascending reps)
• Holding V-sit
• Holding V-sit with Rotation
• Extension up and forward fold

Note: Today's program is hard-core so take as many breaks as needed and be sure to modify any movements that don't feel great on your body.

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

My suggestion is to complete Day One program on Monday, Day Two on Tuesday and so on. Then take one day rest and repeat the sequence the following week. All you need is about 5 minutes or so every day to really challenge your core from all angles. Follow the program for about 6 weeks and email me your results. A strong and toned core is the ultimate goal!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, May 10, 2010

Core Conditioning Combo #5 - Follow the whole program to a 6-pack!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Here is Day Five of your Core Conditioning program. By the end of this week, you will have all 6 days of your Core Conditioning program! Hopefully, you have mastered Days One-Four and are ready for some new exercises. Practice these and Day Six will come on Friday.

This 6-day program will address all critical core components and include movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles. As a reminder, your core is not just your abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area. This program will hit everything!

A strong core provides strength that radiates out to the rest of your body and you will move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

Day Five Exercises include:

• Bicycle Crunch
• Alternating Leg Lowers
• Straight Leg Extension Crunches
• Dead bug (Arm and Leg extensions)

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Practice these moves as well as Day 1-4 over the next few days and stay tuned for Day 6 coming on Friday.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Important exercises if you sit at a computer or desk all day!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Here is Day Four of your Core Conditioning program. This circuit is especially important for those of you who work at a computer or desk all day. It will help to improve your posture, elongate your spine and work those weaker posterior muscle groups. Hopefully, you have mastered Day One, Two and Three and are ready for some new exercises. Practice these and Day Five will come on Monday.

By the end of next week you will have your complete Six Day Core Conditioning workout. This program will address all critical core components and include movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles. As a reminder, your core is not just your abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area.

Remember, when you have a strong core, that strength radiates out to the rest of your body and you will move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

Day Three Exercises include:

• Back extension breaststroke
• Reverse back extension Leg Lifts
• Plank on elbows for 15-30 seconds
• Child’s Pose for 15-30 seconds

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Practice these moves as well as Day One, Two and Three over the next few days and stay tuned for Day 5 coming on Friday.

Monday, May 3, 2010

More Core Conditioning Exercises!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Here is Day Three of your Core Conditioning program. Hopefully, you have mastered Day One and Two and are ready for some new exercises. Practice these and Day Four will come on Friday.

This 6 day core conditioning program will address all critical core components and include movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles. As a reminder, your core is not just your abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area.

Remember, when you have a strong core, that strength radiates out to the rest of your body and you will move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

Day Three Exercises include:

• Side Leg Lifts
• 4 part Leg Lifts
• Double Leg Lifts
• Hold Top Leg, Lift bottom leg
• Side Plank – hold for 30-60 seconds

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Practice these moves as well as Day One and Two over the next few days and stay tuned for Day 4 coming on Friday.

Friday, April 30, 2010

As promised, here is Day Two of your Core Conditioning program

Dear clients, friends and family,

As promised, here is Day Two of the Core Conditioning program. Hopefully, you have mastered Day One and are ready for some new exercises. Practice these and Day Three will come on Monday.

As a reminder, your core is not just your abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area. So this 6 day core conditioning program will address all of these areas and include movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles.

Remember, when you have a strong core, that strength radiates out to the rest of your body and you will move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

Day Two Exercises include:

• Bridging – variable contractile speeds
• Alternating Oblique Crunch
• Hinge Crunch
• Torso rotation knee drops side to side

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Practice these moves over the next few days and stay tuned for Day 3 coming on Monday.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Core Conditioning Combo #1 - Follow the video & just give me 5 minutes!

Dear clients, friends and family,

I bet there's one thing we all have in common and that is the desire to look and feel our best. And in my experience, most people would love to have a flat, toned, rock hard abdominal region. But abdominal conditioning is about more than just vanity. When you have a strong core, that strength radiates out to the rest of your body and you will move with more grace, power, efficiency and be less likely to get injured.

It's important to note that your core is not just the abdominal region. It includes all layers of the abdominal musculature (deep and superficial including the external/internal obliques, rectus abdominus and transverse abdominus), the muscles surrounding the spine on the posterior side of the body, the hips and glutes, and the pelvic area. So a solid core conditioning program will address all of these areas and include movements and exercises in a variety of planes and angles.

I've designed a 6 day Core Conditioning program. You will complete one circuit each day for six days and each day will require about 5 minutes of your time. Then you rest on the 7th day! By following this program, you will hit all the important areas and movements each week.

So here's how I'm going to do this. I'll send you 2 circuits each week - one early in the week and then one late in the week. That will give you some time to practice all of the movements. So you'll get each of the 6 days over the next 3 weeks. Then once you have all 6 days, you'll start the 6 day program and follow it for 6 weeks. That will bring you right to the start of summer. Can you imagine how incredible your abs will look by then?! Just remember to follow a good nutrition and cardio program too for the best results!

Day One Exercises include:

• 90/90 Leg extensions
• 90/90 Crunches
• 90/90 Torso rotations
• 90/90 Reverse lift

Here's the video clip so you can follow along.

Here's a direct link if you can't see the video above...

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Practice these moves over the next few days and stay tuned for Day 2 coming on Friday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Change your Program & Change your Body!

Dear clients, friends and family,

If you really want to change your body, you've got to change your program and mix it up. And now that summer is upon us, it's the best opportunity to spice up your program. Do something different. Enroll in a new activity. Sign up for an event like a Triathlon, 10km Fun run or Adventure Trek. Try a new class. Hire a trainer. Just commit to doing something different.

Since the warmer weather is upon us, it's a really good opportunity to also ensure you're getting outdoors for some of your workouts. Take up cycling. Try an Outdoor Bootcamp program. Go kayaking. Get yourself some Vitamin D and get outside of the four walls of a gym. The fresh air will do you some good.

For those of you who are local, our new Group class schedule starts May 1st. We're offering some really fun new classes including some Outdoor Bootcamp programs. Plus you can still drop in for our Learn to Run or Triathlon programs. Call us at 360.574.7292 or 503.287.0655 for more details.

Here's the link to our new schedules that begin May 1st. Best advice we can give you is to schedule your workouts into your dayplanner - always carve the time out for yourself first!

Here's a link to the list of upcoming summer adventures we're hosting. Tons of fun stuff going on and we'd love for you to join us!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

'Bring your Child to Work-out Day!" THIS Thursday!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Thursday is National 'Bring your Child to Work Day'. We hope you take a different spin on it and "Bring your Child to Work-out Day!"

If you workout with us in Portland or Vancouver, we're hosting a special parent and kids workout day. Take your child to a class with you or bring them to your personal training session. It will be a great bonding experience and an opportunity to teach them to love to move their body! If you don't workout with us, check with your gym to make arrangements.

Bottom line - These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:

• Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
• 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
• One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
• 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
• Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk

Here’s some goals you should strive for. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise and children are as follows:

• Children should be involved in daily physical activity like walking or cycling around the neighborhood, performing household chores or running errands
• Children should exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes with activities that require moderate to vigorous levels of exertion, like brisk walking, stair-climbing, racquet sports, jogging, dance, swimming laps, skating, cross-country skiing or cycling.
• For most children, it’s fine to do 15-20 minutes of resistance or strength training sessions twice a week using higher repetitions (25 reps) and lower resistance as long as there’s proper instruction and supervision
• Children should stretch on alternative days for 60 seconds each stretch
• Vary the activities to work different parts of the body
• Involve children in deciding what to do

Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:
• Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
• Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
• One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
• It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
• One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.

Let's start 'em young folks!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why are Americans the Fattest Country in the World?

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
The Japanese drink very little red wine & suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
The Italians drink excessive red wine & suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
The Germans drink a lot of beer & eat lots of sausages and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you…

Ha ha! In all seriousness Americans work the longest hours, are the most stressed out and take the fewest holidays in the world. So use this as a reminder that we need balance in our lives. It's all about the yin & yang. You can't go hard all the time because eventually you burn out.

Take a moment to just breathe. Breathe deeply. A deep cleansing breath bringing positive energy into your body. Oxygenate your entire system. That in and of itself brings forth great health benefits.

You know best what will help to relax you and counter any life stressors. Maybe it's a bath, reading, getting a massage, hanging with your friends, going to a movie, taking a holiday, meditating, taking a yoga class, praying...Whatever it is - just do it. Your health depends on it!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, April 12, 2010

Have you ever wanted to finish a Tri?

Dear clients, friends and family,

Have you ever wanted to finish a Triathlon?! Well, if there is a will, there is a way! I've had 100% success ratio with anyone ever wanting to finish a Tri - I can definitely get you to the finish line. Don't swim? No problem. You can side stroke, back float or doggie paddle to the swim finish. Don't run? No problem. You can walk the whole thing!

Our Group Training clinic starts this Saturday at our Vancouver Training studio at 9:00am. Call 360.574.7292 to register. The cost is $199 and includes the cost of the actual Triathlon ($70) so it's a great deal. The group support is fabulous. If you can't join us but want to follow along on your own, email me at and I'll send you a copy of the training program that we will be following.

It's a fabulous way to get in shape for summer, take your fitness to a whole new level and get super toned and fit!

Happy Swimming, Biking & Running,

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Learn to Run and then Jump out of a Plane??!!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Spring has arrived! As the days get longer and warmer, we typically want to spend more time outdoors. It's also a time of year when many people get inspired to start taking better care of themselves - especially with summer and swimsuit season just around the corner!

Many people will start a running program to help jump-start them into shape. However, most new running programs don't last very long because people wind up getting injured because they've done too much, too soon. So I wanted to pass along a good Learn to Run program that will ease your body into the impact forces associated with running.

Follow this program 3x/week on alternating days.

Week One: (Run 1 min. Walk 4 min) x 4 = 20 minute workout
Week Two: (Run 2 min. Walk 3 min) x 5 = 25 minute workout
Week Three: (Run 3 min. Walk 2 min) x 6 = 30 minute workout
Week Four: (Run 4 min. Walk 1 min) x 6 = 30 minute workout
Week Five: (Run 5 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 30 minute workout
Week Six: (Run 6 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 35 minute workout
Week Seven: (Run 7 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 40 minute workout
Week Eight: (Run 8 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 45 minute workout
Week Nine: (Run 9 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 50 minute workout
Week Ten: (Run 10 min. Walk 1 min) x 5 = 55 minute workout

This program will get you in great shape and prepare you to run a 3 mile run by summer!

Note: We are also starting a Learn to Run program at the end of this month at both our Vancouver and Portland locations. Nothing like a group to keep you accountable and get you to the finish line! Call 360.574.7292 or 503.287.0655 for more details or to register.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Have you ever wanted to jump out of a plane? I'm tandem skydiving this Saturday March 27th in Molalla Oregon. The cost is $180 per person and I'm freaked out so the more people there to do it with me, the better! If you're interested, email me at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Exercise isn't supposed to be painful!

Dear clients, friends and family,

An effective exercise program does not need to be painful. In fact, there is no study to date that has found extreme muscle soreness indicates a good workout and yet, so many people gauge the intensity of a workout by how stiff they are the next day.

Most of us have experienced muscle soreness. Remember the feeling after your first day of skiing, your first spring run or your first fitness class? This sensation is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) because it takes about 1-3 days after the workout for the stiffness to kick in. The severity of DOMS is dependent on the novelty and intensity of the activity. So if you participate in a new sport and you go really hard, expect to be very stiff. Even if you are really fit, if you do something your body isn’t used to, you’ll probably pay for it unless you take it easy.

The message is, if you’re training appropriately, there’s no need to be extremely sore. It’s OK to think “Hey, my muscles feel like they had a great workout yesterday.” However, if you have a problem getting out of a chair, walking or even just moving, you’re training too hard - and not very sensibly. Calling in sick for work because you worked out too hard the previous day is not going to make your company very happy or get you the results you want!

While lifting weights you will experience muscular fatigue, a slight discomfort and a temporary “burning” sensation at the end of a set that goes away as soon as the set is finished. During cardiovascular exercise like running, cycling or fitness classes, your heart will be beating more quickly, you will be breathing heavier and you may feel fatigued at different points of your workout. These sensations are all normal.

However, during exercise, you should not feel sharp pain. This is not normal and you should stop the exercise immediately and consult a sports physician or physiotherapist. The key to exercising safely is being able to distinguish between muscular fatigue and pain.

To reduce the likelihood of extreme muscle soreness, always warm up, cool down and stretch. If you are participating in a brand new sport or activity, progress very slowly. Don’t go hard on your first day. Give your body a few workouts to adjust and then gradually pick up the intensity. For example, if it’s your first day of biking, choose a flat route, take lots of breaks and go for only a short ride.

Once you’ve established a consistent exercise routine, there are no extra health benefits from pushing yourself to be extremely sore. Pain is a warning signal that you have done too much, too soon.

If you do find yourself suffering from DOMS, back off on the intensity of your program and progress more slowly.

“No pain, no gain” is a myth. Pain is not necessary and may in fact be detrimental to improving your fitness and getting results.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Friday, March 5, 2010

When is the best time to do abdominal exercises?

Is it better to do abdominal exercises before or after a workout? A.M., Vancouver, WA

Actually, there are pros and cons to both. Performing abdominal exercises before a workout will help to warm-up and prepare the core/abdominal muscles for the actual workout which will involve these muscles in some manner. However, you must be careful not to overly fatigue these important muscles prior to exercise as they are the spine and pelvis support network. If totally fatigued for example, prior to a loaded back squat and/or deadlift, poor form and injury may result. So if you do your abdominal exercises before your workout, you would want to take it easy and train at a sub-maximal level for the rest of your workout.

If you wait to perform your abdominal exercises at the end of the workout, you can train them more aggressively because you won't have to worry about the over-fatigued state as we mentioned above.

You can even perform abdominal exercises during a workout in between exercise sets so long as the intensity does not exhaust the abdominal muscles and compromise the quality and/or safety of any of the other exercises in the workout. For example, sometimes a workout circuit I will follow will be a lower body exercise, upper body exercise and then a core exercise and repeat this template with different exercises each time through.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Join us for March Muddy Madness on Sunday March 21st.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Use your head to get results...

Did you know that Neuromuscular Facilitation can really make your workouts a lot more effective? Neuromuscular what? Neuromuscular facilitation is just a fancy term for Muscle Smart or teaching your muscles to contract more effectively. You see, your muscles are under direct control from your nervous system. In order for your muscles to work, a nerve stimulus must arrive at the muscle which will cause it to contract. So the coordination between your muscles and your neurological system is critical to maximize any movement or exercise.

Studies demonstrate that most strength gains that occur in the first month of someone starting a new weight lifting program are a result of this phenomena. It has been coined the “Learning Effect” and occurs as the nervous and muscular system learn to work together as a team.

This muscle-nerve relationship can be used to your advantage to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts. A number of studies have been done to measure this effect. One study had it subjects perform a number of standard weight lifting exercises. The subjects were hooked up to EMG’s to measure muscle activity as the exercises were performed. Stage two of the study had the subjects perform the exact same exercises with the same speed and same resistance so that they mimicked the first stage exactly. The only difference was that the second time around they had the subjects really focus on what they were doing. They had them concentrate on contracting the muscles that were supposed to be working in each exercise. Basically, they had them put their mind into it. In this second stage, the amount of measured muscle activity significantly increased. So the message is clear - the mind-body connection is critical to maximize the work a muscle will do.

On a practical level, what does this mean for your workouts? There are definitely some exercises you can dissociate from. For example, you can get up on a treadmill, plug in an 8 minute mile and then allow yourself to think about your day or read a magazine or watch TV. You will burn the same amount of calories whether you focus or not. But, with weight lifting, focus is critical. We sometimes see exercisers sitting on a leg press machine reading a magazine and just going through the motions. We feel obliged to tell them that if they put down the magazine and focused, every rep and set would be so much more effective and they’d see results much more quickly. A lot of exercisers would find that if they just concentrated while they were performing the movements, they wouldn’t have to do 2-3 sets of each exercise. If it’s a really good set, one set is often enough. Wouldn’t you rather get the same results in a shorter period of time? Would you rather spend 40 minutes or 2 hours in the weight room? Think of all the extra time you’d have if your workouts were more efficient!

An understanding of this entire mind-body scope has taken on a whole new level of interest. A lot of coaches are realizing that on any given day, there are a number of athletes who could possibly win an event. The one who stands on top of the podium, generally is not the one who is the most fit or talented but the one who tapped into the enormous amount of strength stored inside of our bodies. This untapped strength is only accessible if the mind can overcome any limitations or barriers. For example, did you know that it was once thought that a 4-minute mile was humanly impossible? It wasn’t until that barrier was broken that others were able to tap into the strength that was always there. Within one year, another 5-6 people broke the 4 minute barrier and within another year, another 50!

We would literally astound ourselves if we actually learned to really effectively coordinate the brain and the body. Our physical capabilities would be phenomenal. So although you may not be gearing up for a 4-minute mile, learning to use your brain during your workouts will definitely take them to the next level.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Friday, February 12, 2010

Is it best to do cardio before or after a weight lifting workout?

Dear clients, friends and family,

I get this question asked all the time...

Is it best to do cardio before or after a weight lifting workout?

It's actually best to mix up the sequence of your routine during your weekly
regime. For example, if you always do your cardio exercise first, next
workout do a brief warm-up, then do your muscle conditioning exercises and
then finish with your cardio. Then next workout, do your cardio first and
muscle conditioning last. It will be a completely different workout and a
new stimulus for your muscles and your heart.

Or intersperse cardio intervals within your muscle conditioning session for a killer workout. For example, you could do a Lower Body exercise, then an upper body exercise, then a core conditioning exercise and then a 3 minute cardio interval. Repeat again with different exercises.

With that said, if your primary goal is muscle conditioning and developing muscle tone/bulk, you may want to do your muscle conditioning first when you have the most energy and strength so you can really focus on this area. And vice versa if your focus is on cardio conditioning.

Hope that gives you some direction to your workouts!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Happy Valentine's Day - Remember to give Fitness not Fatness for V-Day. And if you do indulge this weekend, be sure to get your workouts in! It's all about balance!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Important Tips for Indoor Cardio Training

Dear clients, friends and family,

Since the weather in most of the country requires many of us to be exercising indoors at this time of year, I thought I'd provide some tips on Indoor Cardio training. I hope this gives you some good ideas.

• The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a frequency of 3-5 cardio workouts per week, a duration of 20-60 minutes and an intensity of 60-90% of your maximum heart rate each week to maximize cardiovascular fitness. Investing in a heart rate monitor will definitely keep you honest!

• If you are using indoor cardiovascular machines, try staying on the same machine for only about 10-15 minutes and jumping from machine to machine instead of staying on the same machine for extended periods of time. This will create better muscle balance. It's better for someone to spend 10 minutes on each of the stairmaster, rowing machine, bike, treadmill and elliptical rather than spend 50 minutes just on the stairmaster. If you are using the same machine or performing the same activity all the time, the muscles targeted with this exercise will continue to get fitter but the other neglected muscles will get weaker and muscle imbalances are sure to surface. By varying your machines you will develop a more overall toned physique and reduce your risk for repetitive stress-type injuries. And finally, mixing up your indoor machines will also help to prevent boredom. Most exercisers have no difficulty going for a 2 hour bike ride outside but after 10 minutes on a stationary bike you start to go stir-crazy!

• It doesn’t matter what machine you’re on, it’s imperative that you maintain proper posture. This includes contracting your abdominals to stabilize your spine and maintaining proper alignment by lifting up and out through your chest and keeping your shoulders back.

• Most indoor machines offer a variety of program options. Try to avoid getting into the habit of always punching in the same program and the same level each time you workout on a machine. Mix it up. One workout try the steady climb program and the next time, try the intervals. Then go for the hill or the random program. Each program will challenge your body in a different way.

Treadmill Tips:

• Make it a goal to not hold onto the rails while jogging or walking. Instead, use your muscles to balance and support your body.
• Keep your abdominals contracted, look forward and avoid swinging your arms side-to-side and crossing the mid-line of your body.
• Once a month, try a time-trial workout. Program in a distance like 5km (3miles) and record how long it takes you to complete. Next month, try it again and this time try to go a little faster. As you get fitter, you should be able to perform the same distance in a shorter period of time.

Eliptical Trainer Tips:

• If your Eliptical does not have poles, do not lean onto the rails. Instead, develop the balance and stability to use the machine without holding on. Pump your arms just like you were running.
• While exercising, make sure that you're knee caps always point forwards. Avoid allowing your knees to collapse inwards.
• While exercising, try to keep the weight of your body distributed evenly on all 4 corners of your feet. Avoid allowing your arches to collapse inwards - avoid pronating.
• Once a month, try this workout test. Program in a 10 minute manual workout. Record how far (in miles or kilometers or steps climbed) you get at the completion. Next month, try it again and this time try to go a little farther in the 10 minute time-frame. As you get fitter, you should be able to go further and further in 10 minutes.

Stairmaster Tips:
• Do not hold onto the rails while on the stairmaster. Most people hold on for dear life and take fast, choppy little steps. This technique is very ineffective at burning calories and maximizing fitness goals. Most of you will find that you’ll have to reduce the level you normally perform at once you let go of the rails, because your muscles will have to work so much harder to support your body weight. This increased intensity will get you results much more quickly and you’ll find you’ll also develop good balance and stability.
• The next important tip is to make sure that your steps are not too shallow. Think about the height of a step you would take while walking up the stairs and strive for this. Remember to work through the full range of motion. Tiny, fast steps are not effectively engaging the lower body muscles and instead, using a lot of momentum.
• Try not holding onto the rails for 40 seconds and then holding on for 20 seconds. Do this for 10 minutes.

Recumbent Bike Tips:
• The most common error with technique on a bike is seat adjustment. It’s important to position the seat so that you are positioned neither too far back or too close. When the leg is in a fully extended position, you should only have a slight bend in the knee. Make sure your knee is not maintaining a large bend throughout the entire cycle and vice versa, make sure that the seat isn't positioned so far away that you have to rotate your hips to spin.
• Because you're reclined back, it's easy to slouch while riding. Remember to keep upright posture throughout the entire workout. Keep your abdominals contracted inwards, your chest lifted and shoulders back.
• Program in a hill workout and try to keep your RPM’s (how many times your legs cycle in a minute) constant even while climbing the hilly parts of the program. This will be a leg-burner!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vegan Challenge is over!

Dear clients, friends and family,

Well, I did it. One full month of no meat, dairy or eggs. I honestly didn't want to do the challenge but it's amazing what a little peer pressure will make you do. And I'm super glad I did it. Here's the final assessment and what I learned...

1. I now have a huge respect for anyone who is Vegan. In order to be Vegan you have to be extremely disciplined. It was tough to sometimes say no when I wanted to say yes and I only did it for a month. If someone makes this choice for their lifetime, I can only respect their decision and be in awe of their will power.

2. I lost a total of 4.5 pounds on the Vegan challenge. Starting this challenge, I literally thought that I was going to lose huge amounts of weight and waste away to nothing. But fortunately, I figured out foods that I enjoyed that filled me up and gave me the energy I needed to maintain my exercise and lifestyle. The good news is that if someone's goal was to lose weight, I lost about a pound a week which is actually a really healthy and more permanent way to lose weight. The 'Biggest Loser' type losses of 10-25 pounds a week are crazy and a very short term approach with negative long term ramifications.

3. I have been introduced to a lot of amazing new foods. I actually really like Shredded Tofu cheese, Tofu Cream Cheese, Soy Chocolate pudding and Soy Ice Cream. I will continue to buy these products. I also now love Quinoa pasta - yummy! There are new brands of food that I really enjoy like the "Imagine" Soups. I've always used Rice Milk so I'll continue with that.

4. I now eat a lot more Organic fruits and veggies - a very, very good thing.

5. I can't wait to eat my veggies with Ranch dressing again. I did not like the Soy Ranch dressing - but that could have been because I had to make it myself. So perhaps more a testimony to my skills in the kitchen! Gross! Jackson tried it and gagged!

6. Eating out was super hard so I found I didn't eat out as much as usual on this challenge. So I actually saved some money this month! That was a nice added perk!

7. My energy was great on this diet. The intensity of my workouts didn't suffer at all even though my diet was so restrictive so that was a big suprise. I've been on other diets that have caused me to lose a lot of weight but I felt horrible and my workouts really suffered.

8. I didn't get sick at all during this challenge and there have been plenty of people around me sick so I've definitely been exposed to illness. So overall, I felt great on this type of diet.

So now what? Well, I don't think I'll be able to call myself a true Vegan. I think I'll be an 80/20 Vegan. I'll probably have a burger every once in a while. When I eat out, I'll probably have some dishes with cheese and meat. But for the majority of the time, I think this is a super healthy way to eat for me.

Overall, this was a fabulous challenge and I want to thank Ted, Derrick and Alison for inspiring me to try it out. It was a great learning experience.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Friday, January 29, 2010

The problem with nutrition...

Dear Clients, Friends & Family,

Do you ever feel like this - the more you know, the more you realize you don't know? I often feel like that about nutrition. There is so much information out there and so much conflicting good research that it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what to eat. This poem sums it up...

The Dieter's Lament

Cholesterol is poisonous,
So never, never eat it.
Sugar too, may murder you,
There is no way to beat it.
Fatty foods will do you in;
You just cannot avoid it.
Some foods once had vitamins,
But processing destroyed it.
So let your life be ordered by
Each documented fact,
And die of malnutrition,
But arteries intact!

At the end of the day, use your common sense. Consume a lot of fruits and veggies. Eat organic and non-processed as much as possible. And listen to your body and what it's telling you. If you're looking food, feeling great, have tons of energy and are free of disease and illness, you're probably doing the right things. Bottom line - don't stress out about what you're eating because that's not good for you either!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My positive and negative report...

Dear Clients, Friends and Family,

When you have some time, sit down and watch this clip on the keys to living long and healthy. There are some great tips!

I also wanted to share some of the resources that many of you have sent to me throughout this Vegan challenge.

One of our clients also suggested a great book 'The Vegan Table' by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

My suggestion would be to create a folder in your inbox titled "Vegan Info" and store this info there for when you may need it.

My personal journey has been interesting.

Positives: Still feeling great despite the diet restrictions. My energy or ability to workout at the intensity I like hasn't been affected. Haven't been sick (knock on wood). And I have been introduced to foods that I really, really like and had it not been for this Vegan challenge, I probably would have never tried these items.

Negatives: Despite the diet restrictions, I've only lost 3 pounds. Just goes to show you, weight loss at the end of the day falls back to calories in vs calories out. And regardless of what you're eating, if you're not burning more than you're eating, you won't lose weight. I burn a lot but I also eat a lot. If I were doing a more strict vegan diet - ie a lot more fruits and veggies and less processed foods - it would be harder to consume a lot of calories and therefore, weight loss would happen more naturally. The difference for me is I have substituted high calorie cheese products with high calorie cheese substitute products - ie Tofu cheese, Soy Sour Cream etc...Fortunately, I only want to lose a few pounds so that's not my primary motivation for trying out this Vegan challenge.

At the very least, my hope is that I've been able to share some ideas that will help each of you strive for your personal best and live your life to the fullest!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Here are lots of great recipes for you...

Dear clients, friends and family.

Still going strong on the Vegan Challenge...

I have received so many Vegan recipes from all of you and I was thinking that the most efficient way to share that information would be to post these recipes to our Website in our Client Zone. We post various articles on a number of different topics relating to exercise, health, fitness and nutrition. One of the sections is for recipes. You'll find all kinds of ideas for eating healthy in this section - whether you're trying the Vegan challenge or not. It's a great resource for you so be sure to check it out. Remember Knowledge + Action = RESULTS!

I haven't been sharing my daily nutrition lately because I was recognizing that my daily food intake doesn't vary much day to day. But that's just me - I wouldn't necessarily recommend that for everyone. I just keep things in the kitchen pretty simple and consistent. My daily logs weren't providing any additional information that could help you so I decided to cut back the daily reports so I don't overload you.

I did try something new, super easy and yummy today for lunch. So I took a Whole Wheat burrito shell and spread some SoyNut Butter on it and then cut up a banana over top and rolled it up. Loved it and I bet your kids would love it too!

Listen to this interesting workout experiment I tried. Wednesday nights I've been doing Hot Yoga. I weighed myself before the Yoga class and then again after the Yoga class. Guess how many pounds I lost in a 90 minute Yoga class - 3 lbs! Can you believe it?! That's a lot of weight. But it's all water weight and you'll put it right back on again but isn't that fascinating. I do like the heat - but I'm one who is often cold so the heat feels really good to my body. Hot Yoga is definitely not for everyone - people getting dizzy and almost passing out all around me - and that my friends is not healthy!

Stay healthy and happy,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, January 18, 2010

What does our Registered Dietitian eat?

Dear Clients, Family and Friends,

I wasn't able to blog all weekend...just too busy. After this month, I'll probably drop back to blogging just twice per week. I think that's realistic for me and easier for you to digest too. I attended a Blogging Seminar and they challenged us to blog everyday as the best way to Blog. But for me, I think that's just a little too much. So if I miss, always know it's not because I'm not thinking about you all...

The only really interesting thing about my nutrition plan this weekend was I had 2 glasses of wine on Friday night and 1 glass of wine on Saturday night - still Vegan ;). I'm a light-weight when it comes to alcohol generally anyways, but I noticed I didn't feel so hot the next mornings. I was thinking that perhaps because I've been eating so clean that my body really responded more negatively than usual. It just goes to show you that once you change your nutrition, your body doesn't like it very much if you expose it to junk, toxins or unhealthy choices!

We thought it would be helpful for you to view a daily Vegan meal plan from someone who knows what they're talking about when it comes to nutrition - our Registered Dietitian Alizon Ozgur. Let's see what she's been eating on this Vegan challenge.

Breakfast: quinoa bagel w/ Earth Balance spread, handful of walnuts, pineapple chunks and an orange, coffee w/ vanilla soy creamer

Snack: SO delicious chocolate yogurt (made with coconut milk) - this company is from Eugene

Lunch: Vegetable soup (homemade), banana, iced tea

Snack: Vegan trail mix cookie, Orange

Dinner: Oregon Harvest veggie patty (Chez Gourmet brand from Lake Oswego) edamame salad (Whole Foods) Sourdough baguette

Evening snack: Popcorn (air popped)

Alison was actually featured in the Columbian newspaper today discussing good general nutrition. Check it out below. She is also doing a talk on Turning Back the Clock THIS WEDNESDAY at our Vancouver studio from 7:00-8:30. You can reserve your spot by calling 360.574.7292.

Here's my Nutrition plan today:

Breakfast: Organic granola cereal, organic banana, strawberries, organic rice milk

Lunch; Spinach salad with balsamic, Veggie sandwich on WW bread (avocado,spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers)

Snack: Apple

Dinner: Veggies and Hummus, Quinoa pasta with melted Tofu cheese. Side note - Quinoa pasta is my new best friend. Loved it. It tasted like normal pasta, was gluten free and is an excellent source of a complete protein (contains all 9 essential amino acids). You can buy it in the natural or gluten-free section in your grocery store.

Snack: Organic granola cereal, banana, strawberries, Soy yogurt

Exercise: 1 hour Muscle and Cardio

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The world has turned upside down - the Vegan writes an Anti-Vegan report!

Hey everyone.

My Inbox is flooded with comments, ideas and tips from all of you. Thank you so much for your insight and I will be sure to share as appropriate! It's so cool that we're all just trying to help each live our best lives! There are so many emails though, I don't know if I'll be able to get it all in before the month is over - but I will try!

Now, you are not going to believe this...Ted, our in-house Vegan, has written an anti-vegan report. Here it is:

Vegan or not Vegan - the argument can go on and on and I am sure it will.

Many scholars and doctors believe one thing, many believe the other and will argue it to their graves.

Just to show how easy it is I will argue against myself.

Arguments against Veganism by Ted
1. Vitamin B12 is necessary and can not be found in plant foods.
2. Historically there has never been a Strict Vegan society.
3. Saturated fat has been given a bad name. Inuit and Native populations have been shown to live very healthy lives on diets rich in saturated fats.
4. There is a symbiotic relationship between man and domesticated farm animals. We feed them, they provide food for plants and become food themselves.
5. There are very healthy nutrients found in meat and dairy when the animals are treated correctly
6. Dr. Weston Prices studies which took place between 1920-1930 showed that populations drinking whole, raw milk and milk products were essentially healthier than their counterparts.
7. If people suffer from conditions such as anemia, a vegan diet lacks iron and may not be ideal.

I think the real attack should not be on Vegan or Not Vegan. It should be on the Standard American Diet AKA S.A.D

Can a Vegan diet be healthy? I believe so. Can a non-Vegan diet be healthy - I also believe so. If you are a Vegan eating processed food, I do not believe that is a better option than a non-vegan eating whole foods, and vice versa.

We all just need to pay attention to what goes into our bodies and how it is not only effecting our health but the health of our planet. Because ultimately they will cross paths.

Ted, well said! Thank you for taking the time to share!

Okay, team, here was my meal plan for the day:

Breakfast: Organic orange, WW bagel with Soy-nut butter and jam

Lunch: Organic, non-dairy Tomoto soup, Toby's Tofu Sandwich, Veggies and Hummus

Dinner: Big Salad - Romaine Lettuce, Peppers, Cucumbers, Tofu Shredded Cheese, Red Tortilla chips smashed up to give it some crunchiness. Megan, are you happy?! Megan is one of my clients who suggested that I needed to eat more greens and salads. When does the client get to tell the trainer how to eat?! ;)

Snack: Tofu ice cream sandwich

Exercise: 35 minute run, 3:34 1000 meter row (Kara, read it and weep!)

Seize the day, not the couch!

Sherri McMillan

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Read till you get to my rant...

Hey Team.

Tonight's Blog will get the Anti-Vegans going...notice I'm alternating back and forth between Pro and Anti-Vegan sentiments. Gotta keep it fair! :)

Pro-Vegan Input from Ted Schatz:

While I do respect the point of view of anti-Vegans, there are as many holes in their theories as Swiss cheese. HA - pun intended!

1. Junk food is Junk food -Vegan or not.
2. The small percentage of Vegans and Vegetarians could not possibly have a significant negative environmental impact. The majority of soy grown is not for human consumption at all. IT IS TO FEED LIVESTOCK.
3. Primal Diet. If you are eating a Primal Diet, you would not eat cooked food. Where do you draw the line in history that states this is a Primal diet and this is not? Along the same lines, depending on the line in history, Primal man did not drink milk of other animals and current anthropological studies show that Primal man did not consume large amounts of meat. Yes some, but out of necessity not health.
4. There are plenty of Naturopaths that argue a Vegan diet is healthy.
5. There are plenty of current studies showing that a Vegan diet is healthy when done correctly.
6. The studies most quoted by Anti-Vegans are the Weston Price foundation studies. The original study was done by a Dentist around 1911. There is so much more current research out there.
7. Yes small amounts of meat can be part of a healthy diet. But, there is not a single legit study showing a meat based diet is healthier than a plant based diet.
8. If you kill an animal humanely you still kill something and if it is not necessary, then why?

Thanks for the insight Ted! Remember everyone, all of this is to get us thinking and talking and researching...and most importantly considering what we put into our bodies.

Here's my Food Intake for the Day:

Breakfast: Organic Granola and Almond Cereal & Banana. Plus Bagel with Soynut Butter and Strawberry Jam.

Lunch: Organic Tortilla chips, Organic Black Beans, Tofu Shredded Cheese, Cut up Peppers

Snack: Soy Chocolate Pudding - my new favorite treat

Dinner: Veggies & Hummus, Sandwich (I tried that Toby's Tofu Spread which wasn't too bad and kinda reminded me of Egg Salad), Olives

Snack: Tofu Chocolate Fudgcile

It looks like I had a big sweet tooth today huh?!

Exercise: 55 minute run this morning with a girlfriend. Then tonight I drove across the city to take my 90 minute Hot Yoga class and I was 3 minutes late and they wouldn't let me in. Man, that gets me going! I'm so the opposite in my classes. Hey, if someone makes the effort to get there and they're late - I don't care how late - I want to welcome them and help them feel great about their effort and the fact that something is better than nothing! So instead of doing 87 minutes of Yoga, I got none. That just doesn't make any sense to me. So what if it's a little disruptive to the class if I'm late. Part of the practice of Yoga is your ability to stay focused no matter what distractions, obstacles, pressures, stressors etc come your way. If someone quickly slips into your Yoga class and it really bugs you, man, life is going to be really hard! Okay, I'm ranting...Breathe Sherri Breathe. Maybe this was a lesson for me to learn to just let it go and to go with the flow.

Gotta go to bed! Sleep is critical to health!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What does Ted eat?

Dear Clients, Friends and Family,

We thought it would be cool for you to see a Day-in-the-Life of a Vegan, one of our trainers Ted Schatz, who has been living this lifestyle a lot longer than me. I don't want you to think my Vegan diet is 'Ideal' - I'm definitely fumbling along as I try to figure this out and getting tons of great tips from all of you that I want to continue to share over this month. I think it will be very interesting for you to compare the differences in quantity of food intake for Ted compared to me.

So here is Ted's Food Intake for the day. Note, all fruits and veggies for Ted are usually organic.

Breakfast- 2 cups Natures Path Organic Optimum Performance cereal, 2tbs Macnarthas organic almond butter, 1/2 cup Good Karma organic original Rice milk, 2 cups of organic fair trade coffee 4tbs Good Karma Chocolate Rice milk in coffee

Snack- 2 small apples, 1 bannana and 2 clementine oranges

Lunch- Hummus Light Meal / Jeruselum Cafe (1 cup hummus, 3 peices of Pita Bread, Salsa, Red and Green Cabbage)

Snack 2- Small apple, Banana, Handfull Raw almonds

Dinner- Stir fried veggies (Red peppers, Green peppers, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots) 2 cups cooked Organic Jasmine Rice

Dessert- 1/2 cup Luna and Larry's coconut milk Dark Chocolate ice cream

Exercise- 1 hour Indo-Row plus various lifting throughout the day

Okay, now here's my intake for the day:

Breakfast: 1 cup of Organic Granola and Almond Cereal, Rice Milk, Organic banana

Snack: Organic Pear

Lunch: Whole Wheat Burrito - Rice, Beans, Veggies

Snack: Organic Veggies, Organic Tortilla Chips & Hummus

Dinner: Brown Rice, Peppers, Organic Beans and Tofu Cream - This was super simple and actually quite yummy. I got home at 8:15pm and was pretty hungry but I had to get the kids ready for bed so I didn't have a ton of time. I had purchased those Minute Brown Rice Instant Cups and all I had to do was put it in the microwave for 1 minute..hey, it was only a minute and there's really not a ton of other stuff in it. Then I warmed up some beans and cut up some peppers. I mixed it together and started eating it but it was pretty boring and bland even for me. So I grabbed a tablespoon of Tofu Sour Cream and mixed it in and it made the world of difference and instantly became super yummy! Took about 2 minutes to prepare. Quick and easy is key for me!

Desert: Soy Chocolate Pudding. This is my new favorite treat. I like it better than normal Chocolate Pudding! Delicious treat!

Exercise: 30 minute run and 1 hour Muscle/Cardio

I love how there are so many options for Organic Fruits and Veggies now. I shop at Fred Meyers and it seems like just recently the variety of Organic options is so much greater. I want to thank all of you who have been eating and demanding organic from the mainstream grocery stores for a long time because you have paved the way and made it easier for the rest of us. Soon everything will be organic and local will be the norm!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mess-up #2 - Hey, no one is perfect!

One week down, 3 to go to determine whether this will be a longer, more life-time commitment.

I've had a few comments regarding my caloric intake and suggesting it might be a little low. Well, put it this way, after one week, I've lost 3 pounds so I'm definitely in a deficit. A healthy, long-term weight loss approach is about 1-2 pounds per week so I'm close. One of the ways I gauge appropriate intake is how I feel. And so far I feel great and definitely have the energy for my workouts which is the most important thing for me. Probably where I'm lacking most is my lunches. I'm still trying to figure out what to bring for lunch. Typically I used to eat out most lunches so trying to figure out what to bring from home besides veggies, chips and hummus has been interesting. I'm sure as the month progresses, things will change and I'll get into more of a routine.

Eating out is the most difficult part of a Vegan challenge. In fact, I found out I messed up again. The BOCA Burger that I ate at Red Robin's yesterday that I was so proud of, well, I was informed that it's not a Vegan burger. I even asked and they told me it was Vegan but it's got some cheese in it. Well, here I am showing again how easy it is to screw up and a true example that no one is perfect! In fact, one of our trainers Derrick who is probably the strictest Vegan that I know told me he was eating this one food for a while and then found out it had eggs in it.

If I were to project where this will all finish for me, my guess is, since I'm more like an 80/20 girl, my diet will probably end up being strict Vegan 80% of the time and then living it up the other 20% of the time. We'll see...

My Nutrition for the day:

Breakfast: 1 cup of Organic Granola and Almond cereal + Organic Banana

Snack: Pear

Lunch: Veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery) + Tortilla Chips + Hummus

Dinner: 2 Burritos: Whole Wheat shell, Organic Refried Beans, Tofu Shredded Cheese, Tofu Sour Cream and Peppers

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Remember if you are local, we are going snowshoeing this Sunday. It's going to be a blast and we'd love to get to know you all better.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How do you do Vegan at Red Robins?

Dear clients, friends and family,

I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Here's the report for the day.

Pre-run: 1/2 a grapefruit

Breakfast: Organic granola and almond cereal with rice milk & Organic banana.

Snack: 1/2 a bagel with tofu cream cheese

Lunch at Red Robins: This was the biggest obstacle to see if I am really able to commit to this Vegan challenge for a whole month. I love a Red Robin Hamburger so I was definitely tempted but I really wanted to stick with it. So I ordered a salad with Italian dressing & a BOCA Veggie Burger. While it wasn't as good as the normal burger, it definitely provided the same type of sensation of eating a burger and was a great substitute. It was actually a little spicy for me - my mouth was on fire for a while but I'm a little sensitive to spicy foods. I'm not sure if it was the Burger itself or something they put on it. I left Red Robin's feeling pretty successful - especially because I didn't even have one Red Robin fry. Now that is quite the accomplishment!

Dinner: Surprisingly I was still full at dinner time from the Veggie burger so I didn't feel like eating anything substantial. So I ate 2 vegan chocolate/coconut cookies and that satisfied me for the rest of the night. Wasn't the healthiest dinner but I just wasn't hungry which is really weird for me.

Exercise: 30 minute run

Monday is the start of a new week. Plan to be successful with whatever your goal is!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Negative Comments about a Vegan Diet

Dear clients, friends & family:

In the spirit of transparency, I wanted you to all know that not everyone believes a Vegan diet is the healthiest choice. I've received a few emails from people who have reported that they have tried a Vegan diet and suffered issues to their skin, hair etc.

The email below from one of our clients expresses this type of concern. Fortunately, I agree with Erica. I think you have to know your body and try different things to figure out what makes you look and feel your best. That's what I'm doing with the Vegan challenge - trying it out for 30 days and seeing how my body responds and providing tips, resources and reporting my findings to all of you. I've done this in the past with various nutrition approaches. I enjoy reading the material and experimenting - I think of it as part of my nutrition education. For example, the South Beach Nutrition plan is very popular. I tried it and although I lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks, I felt horrible with such a low carb approach to my nutrition. I had no energy for my intense workouts and was dragging my butt so it wasn't the approach for me. But there are numerous other people who swear by this nutrition plan. I'm starting to believe that there isn't a One-Size-Fits-All approach to Nutrition. A Vegan Diet may not be for you or me, but trying it out for 30 days will provide a good assessment of how your body responds to this approach. I've received about 50 emails from people who have told me that a Vegan diet significantly improved their health. Vegans are very passionate about their approach to nutrition and have shared lots of great tips that I will pass on to you.

It's interesting to note that Food Inc. the documentary that started our internal challenge does not promote a Vegan Diet - just a local, organic diet as Erica mentions below.

So I will continue to record my progress with the Vegan Diet - both positives and negatives. So far, I've lost 2 pounds and I feel exactly the same as before which is great because I want to keep my energy high. It's been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I'm definitely eating a lot more vegetables and beans which has to be a good thing. Whether I will continue after the 30 days - well the jury is still out on that one.

Here's Erica's comments. By the way, I love how Erica can express her opinions and concerns in such a loving and respectful way. Thanks for being such a wonderful woman Erica!

Please don't send me anymore information about vegan diets. I don't feel that you should be sending them to anyone unless they expressly ask for it. The way things are today, telling people about your diet is like telling people about your religion. It's fine to believe what you believe and practice what you practice, but it's not for everyone, and it's best to wait until you're asked to start preaching. As for what doctors have to say about nutrition, I encourage you to visit the website below and see what this nutritional therapist/neurofeedback specialist has to say about the matter.

I have my degree in food service & minored in nutrition, and I know very well the implications of a vegan diet. It works for some people, and it can be disastrous for others. Sending out this information as a blanket statement to all people could very well guilt people who need meat to stay healthy into a diet that depletes them of energy and necessary nutrients. As for environmental impacts, the way so many vegans & vegetarians over compensate for the lack of protein with soy & starchy grains is having a crushing effect on the economy, the environment and indigenous cultures who've seen their lands bulldozed for as much for soy & grains as for pastured animals. I know your heart is in the right place, and I work every single day to make conscious choices and reduce my negative impacts on the environment & enhance my health & quality of life. Unfortunately, I am at this point mildly miffed that I turn to your business for improved health, and I'm getting advice that luckily I am smart enough not to take.

I mean no disrespect, I love your gym, and I'm about to have yet a third friend join because I rave about the life changes I've experienced there. Thank you for everything you've done to make it what it is. I just can't handle being challenged to eat a way that goes against everything my body, my naturopath, and my evolutionary history (that I share with you and every woman at the gym) tells me: Eat lots of local plants and local animals that ate the plants they were designed to eat. It's simple enough for me, and that's how I live.

Sincerely & with love,


Erica, thank you so much for your feedback and insight. It gives everyone something to think about. I'm sure there's lot of people cheering you on!

In honor of sticking to the challenge, here was my food intake for the day. To clarify, I'm not suggesting you follow my meal plan for the day. Just giving you an idea of how I'm approaching this...

Breakfast: 2 organic Flax Waffles and an orange

Snack: Apple and Banana

Lunch: Veggies, Chips & Hummus, Dried Fruit

Dinner: Salad, piece of Bread, Gnocci & Tomato Sauce, Vegan cookie (A huge thank you to Derrick's wife for this delicious treat!)

Exercise: 30 minutes of IndoRowing

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Snowshoeing is next Sunday January 17th. Join us if you can. Call 360.574.7292 to reserve your space. We are going to have so much fun!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's the first thing to put into your body every morning?

Day 5 of the Vegan Challenge

Last night, many of our clients watched Food Inc. and then had a discussion with Alison Ozgur, our registered dietitian and Derrick deLay, one of our trainers. If you haven't watched it yet, it's quite eye-opening and definitely makes you really think about what you put into your body.

Since starting this Vegan Challenge, I've had many people share various tips and recipes for Vegan dishes that I will share with you over the month. I've had a few clients email me about something called "Toby's Tofu Pate", a great alternative to Egg salad. It can be found in the health food section of Fred Meyers, New Seasons, and Whole Foods and is a great quick lunch option. I think I'll pick some up this weekend and try it out.

Here's my Vegan Meal plan for the day:

One thing I wanted to mention is that every morning before I eat anything, I drink between 16-32 ounces of water. It always makes me feel better and feels like a good flush before I start eating anything.

Breakfast: Orange & Bagel with Tofu Cream Cheese (this was my first time trying the Tofu Cream Cheese - and I swear you can't tell the difference)

Lunch: Bean, Rice and Veggie Burrito

Dinner: Veggie Nachos - Nacho chips, organic beans, peppers, tomatoes and Tofu shredded cheese

Exercise: 1 hour Step Cardio + 1 hour Pilates/Yoga

Have a great weekend!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What does Dr. Dean Ornish say about a Vegan Diet?

Day 4 of the Vegan Challenge:

Derrick deLay, one of our Vegan Trainers, sent me the following information from Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the world's leading medical doctors specializing in health, fitness, nutrition and the positive effects on cardiovascular disease. He provides some fabulous tips and two yummy recipes for Vegetarian Chili and Pancakes. Enjoy!

Here's my meal plan for Day 4:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Organic Banana, Strawberries

Snack: Organic Apple

Lunch: Veggies, 2 Rice Cakes, Red Tortilla chips

Snack: Tortilla chips and Soy Cheese

Dinner: Vegetarian Chili - Yummy and very filling!

I'm not hungry so that's the most important component for me. I need my energy! The only thing I've got to figure out is how to get more protein in my lunches but so far, things are feeling great.

Exercise: 40 minute run

Living Life to the Fullest,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you're local, join us for our Snowshoeing event next Sunday January 17th. Click on the link for more details.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I messed up and it's only Day 3

Day 3 of the Vegan Challenge

Breakfast - Organic granola and almond cereal, organic banana, strawberries and organic rice milk. Yep, the exact same thing as the last 2 days! Creature of habit.

Snack - Organic Pear

Lunch - Yakisoba noodles and vegetables. This is where I messed up. I was so pleased that I didn't have the chicken and it still tasted so delicious. I was thinking this Vegan thing was pretty easy. Then I found out Yakisoba noodles are made with eggs. Oops! Well, it was an honest mistake. I can't believe I messed up though and it's only Day 3! Next time, I'll opt for the brown rice.

Dinner - Tomato soup with baked pita chips crumbled up in the soup to give it some consistency (The brand was Imagine and the soup was awesome and non-dairy based) Yummy! Then I had 2 "Enjoy Life" soft chocolate cookies which have no dairy, egg, soy or any other common allergens. They weren't my sisters' cookies but they weren't bad and definitely satisfied the sweet tooth.

Exercise: 50 minute run with a Girlfriend and then a 90 minute Hot Yoga class with a few other girlfriends. Definitely got my girlfriend estrogen fix today which is actually a really important part of a healthy, balanced life!

One of our clients Kim Hash, sent me a link to a number of vegetarian recipes. This would be a great additional resource for those of you who like to be in the kitchen and need a little more variety in your diet.

Hope this is all helping. Whether you go Vegan or not, I think you'll be able to get some ideas to help you live your best life!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 2 - Important tips regarding Dairy

Okay, you're going to learn a little bit about me during this month challenge...

I'm super predictable - and when it comes to food some may think super boring! :) It's interesting to note that I never met my biological dad but I've been told by those who knew him that every morning he would work out, then go to the same restaurant, sit in the same booth and order the same breakfast everyday for years! I'm sorta like that. Perhaps there is a predictability gene?!

So what did my Day 2 of the Vegan challenge look like? Well, read yesterday's blog and today's meal plan was pretty much identical! I guess if I like something, I stick with it for a while!

So instead of re-reporting exactly what I did yesterday, instead I'll share some interesting points of information with you.

Those who have issues with eating dairy point to the information in the following link to support their non-dairy stance. It may provide some validation for you. So far I've been successful with avoiding dairy by using various substitutes. At the very least, go for organic dairy.

Oh yes, and of course most importantly, I moved my body for 1.5 hours today. There's nothing like exercise to make you feel amazing!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you're local, remember to come to our studio this Thursday night from 7:00-9:00pm for Movie Night. Food Inc is playing and it's FREE!

pps. Call us at 503.287.0655 or 360.574.7292 if you'd like personal coaching to help with your nutrition and/or exercise plan and provide you with the accountability that most people need to stick with a plan long enough to experience fabulous results.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Here is Today's Meal Plan

Dear clients, friends and family.

My intent for the next 30 days is to share my Meal plan and provide tips that will help you look and feel your absolute best. Feel free to follow along with the Vegan challenge or just take the tips that best appeal to you.

Day 1 of the Vegan Challenge was a success. It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Here's the meal plan for the day.

8:00am: Organic Granola & Almond Cereal with strawberries, organic banana & Organic Rice Milk

10:30am: Organic pear

2:00pm: For lunch, I brought one of those single size vegetable trays with the veggies already cut and washed. There were carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower. The hardest part of the day was not dipping my veggies in the Ranch dip but it wasn't too bad. I ate the veggies with a Rice cake and some Tortilla chips.

5:30pm: I am so impressed with this part of my day. For those of you who know me well, you know I don't cook. Well, the dinner I made tonight was pretty awesome. I almost wanted to take a photo and send to you all because I was so pleased with myself. I started with some Organic Red Tortilla Chips, then placed some Organic Black Beans over top. Then I melted some Tofu Shredded cheese over top - seriously, I could not tell the difference between this and regular cheese. Then I added some cut up orange peppers and organic tomatoes. Totally delicious - and quick and easy which is critical for me.

6:30pm: Soy Chocolate pudding. Oh my goodness - this was a highlight of the day. I can't believe how yummy this chocolate pudding was. Completely satisfied any craving for something sweet!

Exercise - 1 hour Muscle and Cardio

On a side note, I did a Guest appearance on KOIN Local 6 today discussing how to stick to your health and fitness plan long enough to experience great results. There may be some tips in here to really help you as you launch into your New Years Fitness program.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

The Vegan Challenge Begins - Here are some tips.

Dear clients, friends and family,

Today is the official start day of the Vegan challenge - a chance to flush our system and eat really clean and fresh for a whole month.

Here are some guidelines, courtesy of Derrick deLay, one of our trainers and the author of, to make vegan/vegetarian month easier for you. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might benefit from a diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains.

1. Focus on being Vegan one day at a time.
2. Plan, Prepare and Pack your food so you don't fall back into old habits
3. Instead of looking at this month as giving up something (like cheese), look at it as an opportunity to try new foods.
4. Do your best to eat whole foods. Fake meats and cheeses and overly processed foods are OK every now and then, but the bulk of your diet should be whole foods. (Note, I didn't follow this guideline. If I was going to have even a remote chance of succeeding at this challenge, I needed some cheese substitutes. So I purchased some Tofu cream cheese, Tofu sour cream, Tofu Shredded Cheese and some soy-based Yogurt. I made Burritos last night with the Tofu shredded cheese and seriously couldn't tell the difference and my kids ate them up like crazy!)

Here's a shopping list to help you.

Rolled oats
Loaf of bread (Whole-grain)
Brown rice
Whole wheat pasta

Milk - Try Soy, rice, almond, or plant-milk of choice

Black, Pinto & Garbanzo beans (canned or dried)
Dried green lentils

Berries (fresh or frozen)

Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
Spinach (fresh or frozen)
Canned tomatoes
Marinara sauce

Did you know that going vegan for this month reduces your impact on the environment as much as taking your car off the road for 1160 miles! That is the equivalent of not driving your car for the entire month!

Last but not least - remember exercise and moving your body has to part of any health and wellness program. I don't care how healthy you eat - if you're not moving your body, you're not as healthy as you could be!

Every night (okay, I won't promise every night), I will blog what I ate for the day to give you ideas. Together, we can do this! It will be interesting to see how our bodies respond.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

ps. Our 10 week Fat Loss program would be a very nice compliment to this challenge. You can get more details at

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Okay, here's the plan to completely Transform your Body & Change your Whole Life!

Dear Clients, Friends and Family,

It has been my honor to provide resources, guidance and support on your quest to be your Personal Best throughout 2009 and I look forward to continuing with you on your journey throughout 2010.

I mentioned in my last blog that I was starting to ramp up my nutrition in preparation for a more aggressive nutrition plan to launch in 2010. Let me explain how this started. First, two of our trainers Derrick deLay and Ted Schatz are strict Vegans and have challenged the rest of us to a Vegan diet for one month. So I've been seriously considering and prepping for that. The dairy will be the hard part for me so I haven't made the mental commitment to that yet but we'll see... Secondly, I watched the documentary "Food Inc" this weekend and that furthered my motivation to try this lifestyle and see how my body responds. If you haven't watched the documentary yet, I would encourage you do - maybe even this weekend - and let it be part of your 2010 nutrition and fitness plan launch (ps. You can watch it "On Demand"). If you're local, join us on January 7th at our Vancouver studio when we will show the documentary and then lead a discussion and Q & A afterwards. Call us at 360.574.7292 to reserve your space now.

If you decide to attempt a Vegan diet (or any spectrum of vegetarianism), follow along with my blog where I will post my eating plan and various tidbits to help us along the path.

Another great resource to provide excellent tips on implementing a more vegetarian diet and fabulous recipes is Derrick's website 'Vibrant Vegan'. You can visit his site at

Finally, one of our instructors Karle Wagner sent me the following list and I thought it would be wonderful to share as we ring in the New Year. Here's to the best year ever!


1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants..
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
5. Make time to pray and/or meditate.
6. Play more games
7. Read more books than you did in 2009 .
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.


11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.
14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake
17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need..
18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...

25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

32. Do the right thing! (It's the hard thing)
33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. God/the Universe heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come..
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank God/the Universe for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Last but not the least:
40. Please Forward this to everyone you care about.

I love you all and wish you the very best new year - full of lots of love, happiness, laughter, peace and your best health ever!

Sherri McMillan

ps. If you are local and would like a little extra guidance, our trainers and nutritionist are here to help you personally. Many people often need a coach overseeing your specific plan and progress. We're also hosting a 10 Week Fat Loss program starting mid January which will provide you extra motivation and tools to ensure you really transform your body and change your whole life! You can get more details at

Monday, December 28, 2009

It's time for a flush of the system...

Dear clients, friends and family.

I hope you enjoyed a fabulous holiday and are ready to focus on your health and fitness. You're not out of the woods yet - you've still got New Years to enjoy!

But if you're like me, you're ready to start a little flush of the system. Probably lots of toxins and junk in your system so time to get rid of it!

This week, I'm ramping up my water, fruit and vegetable intake. That will help a lot!

Next week, I'm starting a more aggressive nutrition challenge - I'll tell you more about it later. Maybe you'll want to join along with me.

So even though it's not January 1st yet, start taking some healthy action steps today so you'll have the momentum going by next week.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2 Tips for Looking Hot for the Holidays

Dear clients, friends and family.

Looking and feeling your best is a potent combination of exercise and healthy eating. It always has to include both! So here is your next exercise and nutrition tip to get you Looking Hot for the Holidays.

Nutrition Tip: Part of the problem leading to our epidemic rates of obesity and overweightness is people eating past the point of fullness. This will always lead to energy storage and increased body fat levels! So learning to stop eating when you're full is a big step in the right direction. Use the following hunger scale to help guide you.

The Hunger Scale – Learn to use this scale to rate your hunger and fullness

0 – Ravenous, Primal Hunger. I’m so hungry I could die!
1 – Extremely Hungry, dizzy, shaky, faint
2 – Very hungry, irritable, finding it hard to concentrate
3 – Stomach growling
4 – Hungry but not ravenous
5 - Totally comfortable
6 – Feeling like I ate too much
7 - Stomach is stretched/uncomfortable
8 – Very Full/Stuffed
9 – Very Full and Bloated/Overstuffed
10 – So Full it Hurts, Feels like I’m going to explode, Feel sick to my stomach

LEVELS 0-2: Signifies ravenous hunger. This is when you are most likely to overeat. Avoid this stage!

LEVELS 3-4: These are the best times to eat. Your body is saying that it needs food.

LEVELS 5-10: Starting to eat at these levels indicates emotional, not physical hunger.

Eating until you reach level 6 and higher may indicate that you've lost touch with your physical hunger.

Exercise Tip: Incorporate Interval Training into your Workouts. Here's why.

The benefits of higher intensity exercise are as follows:

*Expends more calories per minute

*More efficient – burns more calories in less time

*Most effective method for improving fitness conditioning

*Most effective method for raising anaerobic threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the stage of exercise where you feel very tired and feel the need to either stop or slow down. You may feel dizzy or nauseous if you stay at this level too long. By incorporating higher intensity activity into your exercise workouts, you raise your anaerobic threshold. This means that you can exercise at a higher intensity before you start to experience those uncomfortable sensations.

*Most effective method for inducing training adaptations. Incorporating this type of training into your program will enable your body to handle the higher intensities more easily. You will find that intensities that used to leave you breathless and fatigued, no longer challenge you anymore. Soon, you will be able to expend more calories per minute compared to when you first started exercise. When people first initiate an exercise program, a comfortable calorie burning level is approximately 5cal/min. Elite athletes can expend more than 20cal/min and sustain it for over 2 hours! As a result, it takes them a lot less time to burn one pound of fat.

*Most effective method for increasing fat mobilization. This means that as you get fitter, you actually get better at burning fat. Inside of your fat cells, you have enzymes called hormone sensitive lipase and lipoprotein lipase. Hormone sensitive lipase, the "good guys", are responsible for releasing fat from a fall cell to be used for energy. Lipoprotein lipase, the "bad guys", are responsible for the uptake of fat from the blood stream into fat cells to be stored. Lipoprotein lipase functions to develop our unwanted bulges. If you have lived a sedentary lifestyle and have eaten a poor diet all your life, you will have a lot of the "bad guys" and they will be very good at their job. You will have fewer "good guys" and they will not be so competent with their responsibilities. The goal is to get more good guys doing their job. But changing the internal chemistry inside of your fat cells may take years. So in the beginning you may not be experiencing results as quickly as you want because you body is actually working against you. But with consistency in your training program, your body will soon start to work for you. Soon you will have increased your ability to mobilize and use fat as a fuel. Training in a high intensity zone will make you fit quick and enable you to enjoy this wonderful training benefit. Soon you will be burning more fat during and after exercise. You will become a fat burning machine!

*Experience a higher EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). Have you ever wondered why you continue to breathe heavy and sweat after your workout is done? Why doesn't your breathing and body temperature go back to normal immediately? After exercise you consume a greater amount of oxygen to assist your body in recovering from the stress of the workout and the demands it placed on your body. It is important to know that EPOC uses fat as its fuel. At higher intensities, your EPOC is greater translating into a greater caloric and fat expenditure post activity. Although the effects of EPOC are small, if you expended an additional 100 calories post exercise as a result of a high intensity exercise session, within 100 workouts (5 months), you would have burned an extra 10,000 calories or 3 pounds of fat!

*Intervals are the best way to add intensity to a workout by adding brief, high-energy outputs followed by active recovery phases which will avoid fatigue and injury.

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sometimes you need a little 'bad' to get the 'good'...

Dear clients, friends and family,

I hope you've been enjoying the Holiday season so far. Here's my two quick and easy tips to keep you on the path of looking and feeling your best.

Nutrition Tip: I'm a big believer in doing whatever it takes to get you to eat your fruits and veggies - they are that important! I use this technique with my kids too. Envious friends are always asking how I get my kids to eat so many fruits and veggies. Well, sometimes, you've got to add some 'bad' to get them to crave the 'good'. For example, cheese melted over broccoli, celery with cream cheese, salt sprinkled on cut peppers, fruit with yogurt and granola, apples with caramel, carrots and ranch dip etc. Try this approach and watch your fruit and veggie intake increase dramatically!

Exercise Tip: Invest in the right gear. If it's cold and rainy, it doesn't matter if you've got the right clothing that keeps you dry and warm. You never want the weather to get you out of your routine - especially in the northwest when the weather is so unpredictable. Fortunately, there's lots of great specials right now. Plus you can always put your needs on your Holiday Wish-list!

Yours in Health and Fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If you're busy but still want to look and feel your best, you've got to read this...

Clients, Friends and Family.

I was just reading this great article that I wanted to pass onto you. This counts for your Exercise Tip for the Day - it's actually full of great tips!

Nutrition Tip for the Day: When you are super busy, try to eat something quick and easy so you don't go too long without eating anything. Because when you do that, we all know what happens! Your healthy eating plan goes out the window! Here's some On-the-Go ideas for even the most time-starved individuals.

*low-fat yogurt, granola and fruit
*raw vegetables and yogurt dip
*fruit and yogurt dip
*Powerbar or Harvest crunch bar
*Rice Cakes and hummus
*glass of juice or milk
*hard boiled egg
*low-fat crackers and cheese
*a couple fig bars

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I've got a little rhyme for you...

Who says you have to wait until January 1st to transform your body and achieve your goals?!

Start today - Think of this little rhyme...

One positive step here,
One little action there,
That's gonna be your Bikini next year! :)

Exercise Tip for Today: Variety is key. Try a class you've never tried before. Consult with a trainer. Sign up for a new program. Register for an adventure. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone to shake things up a bit and stimulate your body to respond positively!

Nutrition Tip for Today:
Holiday parties are starting up. Pigging out on chocolates, cookies and cakes and drinking till you see three of everything is enough to make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck! It’s perfectly okay to indulge a little over the holidays but you’ve still got to keep your health and fitness goals in check. Instead of forbidding any treats over the holidays rather, focus on drinking 8 glasses of water, consuming 5 vegetables and 3 fruits every day, eat breakfast, and consume 5 small meals/snacks each day. If you’ve still got room for your favorite Christmas cookie, go for it. But eat them slowly and really enjoy the taste. At parties you may find yourself eating a lot later than usual. Try to eat something small earlier and then at the party you’ll be less likely to overeat right before bed. And fill up on veggies at the party first - then you'll be less likely to eat everything in sight!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan