Being Fit Happens Now!

As winter begins, like clockwork – it’s time for me to deliver the “no nonsense” pep talk as we head into 2019. I’ve been writing this column for nearly ten years and have been a proud member of the fitness industry for two decades now (yikes!). I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of witnessing a plethora of fitness gadgets ranging from the cardio glide to god help us – the shake weight. All promising instant results with virtually no effort. And if you order now we’ll throw in a bottle of “instant six-pack abs” cream for free! I have no doubt we’ll be bombarded by the next craze come January. WARNING: Don’t believe the hype! If it looks and sounds to good to be true I have news for you – it is! Besides, shouldn’t we care a little more about the journey of our transformation? We get so caught up in wanting it all NOW that we often look past the most gratifying part – the path in getting there. All great stories that captivate and inspire others involve overcoming challenges and adversity. And if you adopt the following principals, you too can write your own epic journey in 2019.

Embrace the Challenge!: Most people think that exercise is an adversary, keeping a sharp focus on either the perceived suffering it may bring and/or the desire for it to be easy. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase as often as I have – “If it were easy everyone would do it.” Perhaps, but honestly how boring would that be? Brushing your teeth and washing your hair is easy, but beyond good personal hygiene does it bring tremendous personal pride? No! Physical and mental strength is built through challenge. Embrace it! Nobody shouts “LOOK AT ME” and beats their chest the top of a mole hill! They do it from the mountain top. So stay diligent, dedicated, and challenge yourself – it will keep driving towards the mountain top.

Have “Inspired” Goals: Take a quick guess at what most people’s (maybe yours too) top three workout goals are for next year. “To lose weight…” “To tone up…” “To get lean and/or lose fat.” Two problems with this. One, those are all essentially all the same thing which makes it only one goal. Two, they aren’t “inspired” goals. Here’s what I mean by inspired. It takes something extraordinary to keep you on the path. Having a goal like doing the 50k Frenzy, completing a Spartan Trifecta, running Robie Creek, doing a triathlon, competing in a body building show, are extraordinary feats that require true commitment to accomplish. Taking on something a little more profound than what the scales says will catapult you further than you ever imagined for yourself. It goes without saying, my clients that reside and train in this domain are the ones killing it and get results! Those who come in simply want to “get toned” will most likely be beating their head against the same wall again next year! So go within, take a deep dive, and find your inspired goal.

Stay in the present: There is a Rivers to Ridges trail that I absolutely love called “Five Mile Gulch.” It’s primarily a three mile climb with a soul crushing vertical gain of 2000 feet (most of that is the last two miles). Okay – maybe it’s more “love/hate” but I certainly lean more towards love and here’s why. It keeps me present. The hill simple demands your attention – the entire time. Which in turn keeps me focused on the task at hand which is to continue to chip away at the hill. I can only do this by maintaining my running form (what’s left of it), keeping my intensity where I need in order to improve, all while getting immediate feedback if my pain threshold is improving. Specifically, I love the process because I’m grounded in the moment and know in the back of my mind I will come out mentally and physically stronger than before. So get your mind right and remember to stay “in the moment” each and every workout because that is when you level up.

There is no “next year”: Above all, you have to go all in and start now! Under no circumstances will “life” put itself on hold, clear your schedule, or manage all your personal matters to make working out a convenient thing you have the luxury of doing. Not in November, not “next year” period. It must become a non-negotiable part of what you do and who you are. Once you truly commit, you stop finding reasons to put it off and finally “resolve” to find ways to always get it in, 365 days per year – till death do you part.

Plan today for good habits tomorrow

It’s no surprise that many of you are resolving to improve your health and maybe shed a few pounds this year.

How to Align Yourself for Success

I’ve had the pleasure of being a personal trainer for over 14 years now.  I’ve seen all walks of life during that time. Despite everyone’s differences, when I ask people what their goals are the vast majority will answer the same things, to “lose weight” or “tone up” or “lose fat.”  Not surprising considering 70% of the American population is overweight with nearly 30% of them being obese. The who, what, when, where, why, and how is a complicated, multi-faceted issue that we’ll save for discussion another day.  On a superficial level I understand.  We all want to look good.  But honestly, more than anything we want to feel good and we think by achieving the ideal body it will do just that…make us feel good.  Unfortunately, most won’t allow themselves to feel good in the present moment until the body fat goal is reached.  This is a double edged sword and where a lot of people can get stuck seeing little or no change.  In order to see the change you have to become the change and this requires you to align yourself energetically and emotionally with the feelings you are after.  If you are constantly in a state of dissatisfaction with how you look and not achieving your goals in light speed that’s exactly where you end up staying.  Essentially the process becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  However, the good news is that we can utilize the same principle by embracing the process and emerging ourselves in the journey towards our goals.  How you may ask?

The first thing that you can do is change your approach to the process.  Rather than having all of your happiness ride on how much the scale says, begin to focus on the benefits and feelings that exercise produce.

More energy – Despite what you may think, energy begets energy.  By working out consistently your physiology changes to the point where your body is able to deliver more oxygen to the body, this increases it’s efficiency to produce and utilize more energy, which of course allows you to handle the demands of the day to day grind with ease.

Mentally clarity – Life can feel like an absolute shit storm sometimes, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and paralyzing you to the point of being unable to think straight.  Working out eradicates this feeling almost immediately every time.  The fog lifts so to speak, answers to questions you have suddenly come to you, and your problems seem to shrink exponentially by the time you’re done.

Empowerment – Nothing can help you gain confidence more when you begin to realize your true strength and potential in the gym.  Having the strength to do a pull-up, bench press your weight, running a personal best in the mile, or simply being in the best shape of your life is HUGE for your self esteem.  And it carries over to every other area of your life as well.

Getting high – No I’m not talking about drug use!  I’m talking about the natural high from the feel good hormones that are released during exercise…specifically endorphins.  These babies are what give you the euphoric feeling from a workout.  J. Kip Matthews, Ph.D, a sport and exercise psychologist explains, “Endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort.”  So getting in and getting your “natural” high on will certainly have you feeling good more often.

Increased libido – No explanation necessary! 🙂

The second step is to develop solid “fitness goals” that empower and fulfill you.  If you have personally read even a fraction of my writing you’ll know that I’m big on finding a fitness event to train for.  It produces greater purpose to our workouts and puts us on the track for long-term success. It could be anything from running your first marathon, doing a Spartan, or participating in a triathlon. As long as it’s an activity you find enjoyable and is within the realm of physical fitness, you are on the right track.

Always remember this…the scale can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next, but the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after months of preparation and training is something that will stay with you forever.  And more often than not, the pounds will come off as a result of your training. So in addition to creating good memories and getting into fabulous shape, you become lean and mean in the process.

Here are three tips to getting started on your fitness quest:

1. YOU ARE ALWAYS READY: Does this sound like you? “I need to get into better shape before I can do that.” Quite the contrary! At any given fitness event, there will be a range of participants with various fitness levels. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. So set the goal. You will get ready in the training process.

2. CHOOSE AN EVENT: This may seem obvious, but too often this simple step continually gets put off. Until you make the commitment and actually sign up, it’s only an idea. After you register, you will have an official training deadline. You will be less likely to skip workouts because you’ll want to do your best for the big event.

3. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS: Why do it alone when you can have buddies be a part of the process? There is added accountability and a tendency to strive for better results when you have the positive support of your friends. Plus, people create a special bond when they sweat together, and you will just have more fun!

And last, find other activities and hobbies that get the good vibes going.  These can be fitness or non-fitness related.  As long as they aren’t counterproductive and/or destructive to the path you are on.  Physical activities could include hiking, yoga, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, sports.  Some non-fitness related ones, meditation, hanging out with friends/family that help lift you, playing a music instrument, reading things that inspire you, etc.

All in all, the objective is keeping yourself in alignment with feeling good…NOW!  This is the best way to ensure that you achieve your goals without being at the mercy of the outcome and realizing that the journey itself is the ultimate reward.

Free your mind and the body will follow

Every year people attempt to make improvements but with little to no success. How can this be in the information age we currently live in? There are thousands of articles, magazines and websites at our fingertips that provide us the information we need regarding the most effective exercise programs and healthiest ways to eat. And yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 percent of American adults remain overweight or obese, with no immediate signs of significant decline.

There is little doubt that most people have the desire to make positive changes, but often the most important area that is overlooked is the mindset. Desire simply isn’t enough. You have to believe in order for the change to take place, and believing will ultimately make or break your success.

We see this all the time in professional sports and business. Fitness is no different. Visionary automaker Henry Ford said it best: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Simple and true. The battle is won or lost long before you even set foot in the gym. Perhaps we have to strengthen our minds before we strengthen our bodies. After all, we can go only as far in life as our minds will allow. So we will begin by “breaking a mental sweat” with a combination of mental housekeeping and positive programming.


It’s easy to lose sight of what a powerful tool we have to work with. In the classic self-help book “Psycho-Cybernetics,” Dr. Maxwell Maltz talks in depth about how the human brain is an automated goal-seeking machine in which the individuals are at the controls. He uses a baseball centerfielder as an example.

“In order to compute where the ball will fall, or where the ‘point of interception’ will be, he must take into account the speed of the ball, its curvature of fall, its direction, wind, initial velocity and the rate of progressive decrease in velocity. He must make these computations so fast that he will be able to ‘take off’ at the crack of the bat.

“Next, he must compute how fast he must run, and in what direction in order to arrive at the point of interception at the same time the ball does. He doesn’t even think about this. His built-in goal-striving mechanism computes it for him from data, which he feeds through his eyes and ears while comparing it to memories of other successes and failures in catching fly balls. All necessary computations are made in a flash, and orders are issued to his leg muscles … and he ‘just runs.’ ”

The point of the example, and the book for that matter, is that we naturally set out to achieve goals in life, and our thoughts, whether positive or negative, will determine our actions and our outcome. The trick is to utilize everything we have learned to achieve the desired goal.


Too often we let past failures prevent us from going after our goals, whether we failed at losing weight or went through the process successfully only to gain it back years later. We become conditioned to view failure as a bad thing and get too caught up in what others will think. The reality is this: The only person you need the approval of is yourself. So get up, brush yourself off, and check your ego at the door. Rather than viewing failure as a death sentence, let it serve as a learning tool in your next attempt. Analyze and make a list of which things you did right and wrong previously. From there, utilize what worked well and eliminate the factors that kept you from your goal the last time.

Eliminate negative self-talk: Making self-defeating statements such as, “I’ll never be in shape” or “I can’t lose weight,” ultimately sets you up for failure. Negative self-talk sabotages any chance of self-improvement right out of the gate.

The first step to getting control of our thoughts is developing awareness of them. Here’s a challenge to you: Wear a rubber band around your wrist for one day. Every time you make a negative comment or have negative thoughts about yourself, snap the band against your wrist.

This won’t necessarily inflict great physical harm, but it serves to remind yourself that essentially you are hurting yourself. The goal is to create awareness of our thoughts, so we can minimize the bad only to bring in more of the positive.


A lot of times when we are making changes regarding our health and wellness, we focus on what we are losing in the process. Whether it’s the guilty-pleasure foods we are eliminating or spending less time watching our favorite shows, we have to keep focus on what we are gaining in the process. Better health, more energy, more self-esteem, becoming stronger physically and mentally, increased vitality, etc. When we do this, we naturally stay on course toward our goals and make what we gave up seem even smaller in the process.

Begin with the end in mind: More specifically, create a vision of how you want everything to look once you accomplish your goals. Use pictures of yourself when you were looking and feeling your best, or find images of the recreational activities that you want to pursue and look at them daily. This is a powerful tool, and having the image puts your subconscious to work toward your goals. Try it – you’ll be amazed at how effective it is.


Strong desire matched with the belief and expectation of greatness in yourself will make your goals become a reality. Live “as if” you already have the qualities and characteristics necessary to achieve your goals, and all the details will fall into place along the way. This is the same approach that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to become Mr. Universe and one of the top actors in Hollywood in the 1980s and ’90s. Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat. Free your mind, take control and expect success – and everything else will follow.

Lessons Learned from Spartan

041Two days removed from the Spartan Race, I sit here and write with a respectable amount of confidence that I’ve finally washed away all the mud from those “difficult to reach” spots.

However, I’m still left with an insatiable itch for more. As I reflect on all the filthy goodness the Spartan brings, it got me thinking that there are many valuable lessons that can be learned from the madness of it all. More importantly, lessons that can be applied to one’s fitness journey.

All too often, our approach is backwards. We focus on and obsess about what the scale says and how our clothes fit. Don’t get me wrong — having weight loss goals are important and should be taken seriously on a certain level, just not to the point where our whole success and purpose boil down to what an inanimate object like the scale says. Besides, the scale is the master of cruel and unusual punishment. It can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next.

Instead, why not switch to a “fitness first” approach? It’s no coincidence that the greater the fitness level, the leaner and meaner the body becomes.

So what does Spartan have to do with it? First of all, let’s begin with the end in mind. There is a great amount of exhilaration and a sense of accomplishment crossing a finish line. It’s where all of your hard work and dedication come to fruition. This is experienced at all fitness levels. Whether you’re just beginning your quest or are a seasoned (slightly aged) veteran like me, the satisfaction is always there — everlasting.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget about the journey! And here’s where the Spartan reveals what the process should involve for true success.


Does this sound like you: “I need to get into better shape before I can do something like that.” Quite the contrary! There’s always a wide range of participants — men, women, all with different fitness levels — every year. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate. The only obstacle you have to overcome is the decision to do it. But once you do, an amazing thing happens. Your training purpose changes automatically. Instead of worrying about mastering the scale, now your focus is on mastering your fitness.


Nothing worth accomplishing in life is void of challenge. And believe me: Trucking up Thomas Pence Ranch repeatedly will test your limits. Add mud, walls, rope climbs, bucket brigades, and elevation to the madness and even the fittest runners are reduced to slowing down to catch their breath. But continuing to push through and embrace the challenge only makes the accomplishment at the end that much more gratifying. Remember this: The greater you challenge yourself, the greater the results you will receive.


You may not be aware of this, but life will always be filled with obstacles. Some will be small while others greater. Throughout the Spartan there are countless obstacles to overcome — walls to climb, muddy pits to crawl through under barbed wire, hurdles to jump, and walls to climb. Depending on where your fitness level is, how you overcome these obstacles will vary. Initially, an 8-foot wall may feel more like 80. But the more obstacles you have, the better you will get at overcoming them. Rather than viewing obstacles as a hindrance, look at them as a guide. And in time, that same wall will appear more as a small hurdle.


You don’t need to overcome obstacles alone. Most people run the Spartan with a team. Throughout the course, everyone is positive and cheers one another on. Sometimes we need a little boost getting over the walls of life, and having a solid support group will only make the journey easier. So recruit like-minded people and friends for support — a little help from friends can go a long way.


Any great accomplishment deserves a reward. And guess what was waiting at the finish line? A medal, some tall cold ones, and most importantly…the satisfaction of knowing you are now a better person physically and mentally after it’s all done!


I am always amazed at the kid-like nature races like this brings out in everyone. It truly is the best part! Costumes are donned, mud wrestling may ensue, and everyone is time-warped into an ageless bliss. Remember growing up in a world where there were no deadlines, meetings, errands, etc? We simply played. Whatever your motivation for getting in shape, I encourage you to find your fun.

Life always comes with responsibility, but we can still take the time to reconnect with that timeless part of ourselves. Whether it’s the Spartan, going on a scenic hike or simply playing with your kids, take the time to do it every week. Follow this formula and you’ll achieve results greater than imagined and enjoy the journey along the way.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or