All Posts By

Dustin Maher

Meet My Daughter Maple and a Lesson I Learned That Might Help You

By | Fabulous Over 50, Health, Killer Kurves, Lifestyle, Mindset

I am writing this 21 hours after my wife Tessa gave birth to a girl, who we named Maple.

Tessa was in bed, and at 10 pm her water broke. We called her dad to come over to spend the night with our 19 month old son Bo. Once he arrived we headed off to the hospital and Maple was born at 11:30 pm, only 3.5 minutes from the time Tessa started pushing.

The experience of the first day with a new baby is so much different the second time around. There is a familiarity.

Maybe you can relate to taking home baby #1 and leaving the hospital asking yourself the question, “What am I supposed to do–they can’t possibly be just letting me take this human home and expect me to keep him/her alive?”

Everything is new, it can be uncomfortable, scary. After Bo was born, we lacked confidence in our own ability and questioned whether we were doing things the “right” way.

We wished we could have spent a few more nights in the hospital under the expert guidance of the nurses and doctors, but nope, there we were bringing a human back home.

Fast forward to today and it is so different. Changing a black tar diaper didn’t phase me, cleaning up puke twice didn’t even make my blood pressure rise, and swaddling/holding Maple felt so natural.

What changed?


I have spent the past 19 months immersed in being a dad.

So how can this help you?

At the Transformation Center we mostly work with people who know they need to work out and become healthier but they are scared for one reason or another.

The fear most likely comes from the unknown and not knowing what to expect or how they are going to do.

The magic happens when someone joins DESPITE the fear, DESPITE the scary unknowns and puts his/her trust in our expert trainers, and the programs and systems that we have created.

There is no other substitute for just jumping in and doing it.

Tessa and I took dozens of hours of hands-on baby classes, read books, listened to hours of podcasts on parenting, and talked with so many friends, but until we actually brought that baby home, very little of it mattered.

We learn as we go.

Action builds consistency.

Consistency builds familiarity.

Familiarity builds confidence.

Confidence gets results and the positive feelings associated with it.

That is why those who never take that first step, who never get past the contemplation stage to taking action, are the ones who are guaranteed to fail.

Those who tell themselves: I will start tomorrow. Next week my schedule will get better. I will be more motivated next month. I am going to wait until I retire to start taking my health seriously.

These are just stories we tell ourselves that keep us away from the results in our life that we want and deserve.

The beauty of having a baby is that nobody is truly ready for that responsibility. But once we bring that baby home we have no choice. We figure it out, and it all works out.

I wish we could have Maple home already. There is a confidence that comes with familiarity and I want that for you when it comes to your health!

Keep moving,

Dustin Maher

PS We have our next Killer Kurves and Fit over 50 sessions starting soon. Contact us if you are done putting off this area of your life and ready to take action. I look forward to hearing from you.

What’s Possible in Just 5 Months???

By | Behavior Change, Health, Killer Kurves, Lifestyle, Mindset, Nutrition, Transformation Center

People sometime ask how I can work so hard, be so persistent, and be so passionate about what we do.

Simple… every bone in my body knows what we do at the TC matters and makes massive personal transformation.

At this point it’s not about me anymore but rather our incredible staff of 20 at the TC and all the courageous clients who play full out.

Below is the story of one of those clients, Swanson, who has had an amazing transformation inside and out over the past 5 months in Sweat Fit and Killer Kurves.

Check it out here –>

Take it away, Swanson!

“It is now towards of the end of the last week of my K2 session. I worked with Mary and Brent in K2 on Mon/Wed nights. They are super amazing, fun, supportive and encouraging. Thank you both so much for all you do! Love you guys and love my Mon/Wed night people! You guys rock!

It has been a very insightful, fun, challenging and exciting journey over the past 12 weeks. I first joined the TC in Feb 2019 and started with Sweat Fit for two months and lost 25lbs. Then finally I was able to transfer to K2 in April 2019 when it opened again. Upon finishing K2, I’ve lost 30lb additionally. In total since Feb, I’ve lost a total of 55lbs over the course of 5 months.


Although Sweat Fit and K2 have truly been life changing for me, K2 is a little special to me because it really opens you up to face your vulnerabilities. Every week at the end the work outs, we have meditations and group discussions on the weekly readings from the K2 journal guide. I felt that’s where it really helped me and where I really grew. It really opened my mind to really reflect on things and that’s what motivated me to work harder not only in the gym but outside of gym—the daily choices I make.

I followed the K2 journal guide. I used the recipes and learned to control my portion size. I drank lots of water and planned my daily meals/snacks. I read labels when buying foods. My only sweets are fruits. I’ve learned to work with my setbacks and always start right back again. I give myself 1 hr a day to be active/workout for self-care. I made sure I always showed up to class, took what I learned from the weekly lessons/discussions and apply them where it’s needed. The more often and consistent you continue healthy habits you learn, the easier it will get. I’ve come to a point where I don’t have to think about what I’m doing or forcing myself to do something anymore. It is now a routine and I enjoy it.

Through K2, it has just helped me grown so much not just physically stronger but mentally as well. I’ve gained so much knowledge, courage, self-love, strength and endless support through this program. It has truly been an enlightening journey. Looking back I can still remember how I felt when I first thought about joining. I was nervous, afraid and self-doubting, but I knew I wanted to lose weight and even more I wanted to be healthy. I knew I had to take that first step and start taking a chance on me. I am so glad now that I did. You will never regret loving and taking care of yourself. You also will never really know your true capabilities and strength until you try. You may be surprise at all things you can do that you thought you couldn’t.”

Swanson Savaan Thao


Here were some questions and answers I asked after her first two months in Sweat Fit before starting Killer Kurves.

1. How long have you been coming to the TC?

I first joined the TC in February 2019 and have been coming in for 2 months now.

2. What has been your experience so far and specific results you have achieved?

My experience so far at the TC have been great and challenging. I haven’t exercised for many years and being overweight at 220lbs and 5 feet tall, coming in on my first day to sweat fit was nerve wrecking. However, the trainers and everyone were so friendly, helpful and encouraging that I never once felt out of place. Day 1 and the first few weeks were the hardest. I remember how hard it was just to do jumping jacks or a push up. However, week after week, I slowly started to feel stronger, able to do more of the exercises and noticed an increase of flexibility. Within these 2 months along with healthy diet changes, I’ve lost a total 25lbs.

3. What were the biggest nutritional changes you have made to lose the 20 lbs?

The biggest changes I’ve made with my diet was cutting completely off junk food/processed foods, soda, sweets, and eating out. I switched my regular carbs to all whole grain carbs such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain bread. I’ve also incorporated healthier fats like avocado, nuts, chia seeds, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil into my diet. When I’m craving for sweets, I eat fruits. If there are days, I’m craving for something, I just make a healthier version and keep the portion small. I watch my carbs intake, eat moderate protein and increased my veggies along with drinking lots of water daily. I’m also using MyFitnessPal app to help journal my foods and calorie intake. It helps keep me on track.

4. What are you most excited about for the next few months?

I never expected to lose weight nor enjoy exercising so I’m excited and curious to see how I will feel in the next few months continuing with Killer Kurves. I’m excited to learn and grow at the TC to meet a stronger and healthier me.

5. Anything else you would like to share?

The unknown and changes can be scary because it is intimidating and scary. I remember a quote that resonate with me, in taking my first step to take care of my health “If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Don’t be afraid of failing before trying or afraid to fail. Take that first step, keep going and keep trying, no matter your pace, with time, you will eventually get to where you want to be.

~Swanson Thao

My Top 10 Mindset Shifts for True Transformation

By | Behavior Change, Food For Thought, Health, Mindset

Mindset is so important to success that I decided to do a bonus post this week. 😉 Click here if you missed the last post on mindset. And here is where you can find the first post of next week’s series on fitness.

This is a long one, but easy to skim if you want to see what I view as 10 key beliefs/mindset shifts that can help to keep you on the road to success even when life gets difficult. It is often the behavioral and emotional sabotaging we do to ourselves that takes us off course.

Belief #1 – I fully forgive myself and others.

In order to be successful at major lifestyle changes, you must forgive yourself & others in order to move forward, focused on your best possible future. Forgiveness is powerful; it will feel like removing a heavy weight from your heart. Without all that pain, shame or fear you have been holding onto, you will be so much lighter, ready to take action, ready to make real lifestyle changes and open up that space for optimism and determination to keep moving forward toward your best life.

Belief into Action

“Adopt a mantra that you say to yourself the moment that a guilty memory or feeling arises. The following phrases are particularly effective: “I’m not that person anymore;” or “My attention belongs in the present;” or “I am not here to suffer anymore.” Choose the appropriate phrase and repeat it, without fail, every time you feel guilty. In this way, you are not only telling yourself the truth, for you aren’t the person anymore who committed a past misdeed, but you are also giving your brain a new, more positive input. This will help to wean it off the old wiring that keeps messaging guilt long after guilt is deserved.” – A suggestion from Deepak Chopra, The Huffington Post

Belief #2 – Exercise is a gift, not a punishment.

If you are serious about a physical transformationyou must change your mind about exercise. Exercise is a gift you must give yourself, in some way, every day. Moving your body can no longer be a punishment for poor eating choices. It is a true gift to your heart, mind, muscles and more that will keep “giving” the rest of your long life. Will it still be hard, physically? Yes, it should be if you are doing it right. Will it be so much easier when you have the right attitude about it? Yes, definitely. You will push yourself, lovingly, into workouts you never knew you could do.

Belief into Action

Make exercise an enjoyable experience. Work out with friends. Don’t know anyone in class? Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation with a friendly face. Do the exercises that challenge you, but bring you energy, not drain you of it. Buy new shoes and a workout outfit. Set your alarm with some soothing or inspiring music to get up early and get your workout in right away, before you can make any excuses to not do it.

Belief #3 – Food is meant to serve my body.

Your nutrition will affect every aspect of your life and will improve your chances at any type of transformation. To be successful for life, you must change your mind about food. When you decide to view food as an energy source to serve your body, your choices will reflect your physical needs: slow-burning carbs for extended energy, muscle-building proteins for increased strength, healthy fats to keep you satisfied, vitamin and mineral rich foods to support a strong immune system and healthy body functions. You will no longer choose artificial and convenient foods. You will no longer reach for food to soothe a feeling other than hunger.

Belief into Action

When you eat, ask yourself the following questions. “How will this food serve my body?” “How will it give me energy?” “Will it make me stronger?” “Will it make my body function improve?” and “Am I actually hungry or am I bored or trying to avoid some feelings?” If you aren’t sure of the answer, Google it. There is so much nutritional information at our finger-tips, it is much easier to make better choices.

Belief #4 – I will no longer compare myself to others.

Any transformation will come with doubts. Maybe you’ve lived a certain way for more than 30 years. The best way to quiet those doubts is to stay focused on moving forward. You must keep your eyes on your own paper, stay in your lane and decide how YOU will measure YOUR success. You can no longer use others as a ruler to judge by.

Everyone is doing their best, all the time, including you. Your best can only be appreciated when you judge it against your best, yesterday. Our bodies, our lives, our relationships are all different and can’t be compared or judged as successful or not, since we don’t know all the facts about everyone else’s situations. You do know the facts of your own and you can take full responsibility for the actions and the feelings you have about their outcomes.

Belief into Action

If you wear a wristwatch or bracelet (if you don’t, put a rubber band on your wrist), any time you find yourself comparing, feeling inferior, feeling superior or being judgmental of yourself or others, switch the band to the other wrist. You might be surprised how often you switch.

Belief #5 – Stop compiling problems

Successful people have problems too. They just have a great skill of tackling problems or obstacles one at a time. It is easy to get overwhelmed and not address easily solved problems, because we’ve added them up with all the rest into something that seems insurmountable. Successful people look at problems separately, objectively, and they consider them challenges, not problems. Each hurdle can then be added to your “proud” list once you have solved it.

Belief into Action

Ask a trusted friend or partner to listen to a single obstacle or problem that has been on your mind. Don’t have someone to talk to? Ask a friend in your workout group or your trainer. You don’t have to ask for their opinion on what you should do, but you will find that as you are explaining the problem out loud, alone (meaning without all the other problems you have swimming around in your head) and without emotions, you will have made that problem seem to be less of a problem, more of a challenge and certainly manageable all on your own. It will be a lightbulb moment – try it.

Belief #6– Speak and think only in truths.

On the transformation journey you must decide you will no longer generalize and you will speak and think only in truths. How often do you hear yourself say, “I always fail” or “I never get it right”? Are those statements REALLY true? No, you don’t always fail. You have successful moments all the time, every day. You can no longer generalize about yourself or others. If you are only speaking in truths, it might sound more like … “I didn’t lose all the weight I wanted to, but I did lose inches off my waist and made several new friends.”

Belief into Action

Be mindful and totally aware of generalizations when you speak and think today. Focus on it all day. Any time you think or speak a generalization, quickly write it down in your phone or on a notepad. At the end of the day, take those generalizations to a friend or family member and ask them if they are true about you or your situation. If you don’t have anyone to chat with, ask yourself and be totally honest. Are those generalizations fully TRUTHS? I bet not. It will really improve your attitude and enthusiasm.

Belief #7 – Busy is not better.

Successful people have learned that busy is NOT better. Our culture tells us to judge our lives by the quantity of things we can accomplish in one day. To what end? We are a sick, stressed out, malnourished, overweight population that continues to get sicker. Reject that thinking and judge your life by the quality of your time. Create space around your activities to make memories and relish in the small pleasures.

Belief into Action

Sit down and write down your three most time-demanding activities and decide what needs to go or can be decreased. Do you need to cut down on your hours at the office or in the car carting kids around? Would the kids be okay if they only played one sport and one instrument? Could you reduce your social commitments for FREE time, just for you and your family to enjoy the fun of daily life? Boundaries can and need to be set in a positive way to protect this precious time. Your life needs to be manageable and you need to create space for self-care now—there is no time like the present to take action.

Belief #8 – Expect more of myself and others.

Visualize yourself transformedYou know what you want and in order to get there, you must raise the bar for yourself and others. When you make commitments to yourself and others, you hold them, even if it’s not “comfortable”. Kick “comfortable” to the door and continue to challenge yourself in all kinds of ways. Be brave. Take responsibility for how you treat yourself, others, and how others treat you. Set an achievable short-term goal today. As you do, you will inspire others and you will begin to expect more from them too. Make this a monthly habit.

Belief into Action

Work some accountability into your transformation. If you want to get more serious about nutrition, try food journaling or pre-packaging your week of meals/snacks. Sign up for an achievable exercise challenge or be vulnerable to enough to say you’re sorry or ask for an apology from someone concerning an incident you might be feeling bad about. Sign up for a seminar or class that will help you learn more about your specific goals.

Belief #9– Reduce screen time.

Find a way to reduce your screen time. It’s NOT just our kids who are addicted. Studies show that our sedentary lifestyle is as dangerous as smoking.

Belief into Action

Instead of watching a family flick on Friday night, head out and take the dog for a walk. In the winter, you could shovel the neighbor’s drive or bundle up and go ice-skating or sledding. In the nicer weather, enjoy a fire pit in your back yard or explore a new park. Get out a board game or take a drive to a neighboring downtown to check it out.

Do NOT take your phone, iPAD, computer or TV into your bedroom. Facebook ISN’T THAT interesting and is not worthy of risking your health. Up late surfing for deals? No more – shop during the day and GO TO BED!

Belief #10 – If I need help, I can ask for it.

This transformation is a big deal to you. Those who love you most will understand and be there for you. All you have to do is ask for help if you need it. These are real lifestyle changes that are difficult to start and even more difficult to maintain. Reach out to family or friends who have been successful in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ask them to support you in your efforts. If you don’t have anyone in your circle to ask, you will have to find a mentor, or coach, a stranger in class for help. People are more willing to help you than you think. Just have the courage to ask.

Belief into Action

Ask your partner to join you in your new pursuits. Ask your partner and kids to support your choices, join in the fun of making new healthy habits and be okay with getting rid of the old. Ask a friend to watch the kids while you take an hour to exercise/cook/or learn a new skill. Ask a trainer how to modify an exercise you don’t feel comfortable doing yet. Ask a teacher for extra help or a respected mentor to grab lunch and give you their best advice.

These types of habits are what we focus on and discuss in all our programs at the Transformation Center. So if you are already part of our community, continue to dive deep into these areas. If you aren’t yet, what are you waiting for?

Two Habit Hacks for When Change Feels Hard

By | Behavior Change, Food For Thought, Health, Mindset






In your third and final installment of the Mindset portion of our Transform You 2020 series, I’m sharing a couple of habit hacks that may make it easier to “fake it ‘till you make it”… to start getting those small wins so that you can shift your identity over time.

(Click here if you missed our second mindset post, about identity…)

2 Minute Rule

The first hack is to start small, with the 2 minute rule.

Any time you are trying to start up a new habit, keep it simple and small. Commit to just 2 minutes per day of whatever it is you are trying to do.

This may not work for every habit, but, for example, if you want to become someone who regularly eats healthy, perhaps you commit to just 2 minutes of meal planning per day.

If you want to become someone who exercises more, maybe it can start with just 2 minutes of core work per day.

Thinking about the person you want to become, what is one simple thing that you can do each day that could be a small win for you, that will start reinforcing that new identity?

When we start with something small that takes just 2 minutes, the task doesn’t feel so huge so we’re more likely to stick with it each day. But over time, as that small task gets ingrained, we often start to naturally expand it and do more, without having to think too much about it.

Habit Stacking

Another great hack is the idea of habit stacking.

We are definitely creatures of routine, so if you can tie whatever it is you want to start doing with something that you already do, you may find it much easier to succeed.

For example, maybe you need to stretch your calves each day to fend off plantar fasciitis. So every time that you brush your teeth, you do a standing calf stretch. By associating it with brushing your teeth, something you already do each day, you make it much easier to remember to do those stretches.

If you want to be someone who eats better, perhaps you can incorporate prepping your lunch for the next day into your wind-down/bedtime routine.

Thinking about the key habit that you want to start, is there anything that you can tie it to–something that you already do each and every day?

Moving forward from here…

A few final thoughts as we wrap up this week’s focus on Mindset.

If you find yourself stuck (and you will at some point!) take a step back and try something new. Maybe come up with 5 different ways to handle whatever it is differently. People often get stuck because they keep trying the same thing expecting different results.

Also, be honest about your capacity at your current stage in life. Sometimes people get stuck because they try to take on/change too much at a time when maybe they have a demanding job or young kids at home, or they are caring for a sick parent.

I’m not saying do nothing at times like these–in times of stress, self-care is more important than ever. But it’s key to scale it to what is doable in the context of your life. So don’t try to change everything when you are also dealing with many stressors that you cannot control. Ask yourself what is your capacity right now, so that you don’t set yourself up for failure.

Finally, make sure that you are aiming for progress, not perfection. So many people never start because they are waiting for the “perfect time”. Or they start but don’t stick with it because they are not able to meet their goals. Remember that progress is productive. 😉

I hope that this has given you some food for thought. Mindset is perhaps the single most important key to our overall progress in most things in life.

The great thing is that our brains are always evolving. We can improve our mindset and change our beliefs about ourselves and our situation with a little conscious effort. And that can lead to some amazing results.

Stay tuned as we focus on fitness next week–an area where my thoughts have evolved more than any other. 😉

And click here for a bonus post on my top 10 mindset shifts for true transformation.


Answer to WHY it is so hard to stay consistent…

By | Behavior Change, Food For Thought, Health, Lifestyle, Mindset

In my most recent post, I shared a story highlighting the importance of our peer group in defining what is “normal” to us. Click here if you missed it.

Today, I want to dive a bit deeper into WHY the people around us can so strongly influence our actions and the way we live our lives.

First, check out this video (below), which recreates and explains a famous behavioral science study on social conformity.

You can also find a short video about the original experiment here, which goes into more detail about the different ways in which this plays out.

I’ve written a lot in the past about the social circle you surround yourself with and the social norms of our society and how they are so important as to whether you live a healthy life or not.

The above video, showing the various types of conformity, tells us part of the reason WHY it can be so hard for us to keep maintaining lifestyle changes after the initial burst of motivation has left us.

You see, we have a human desire to be part of a group and to conform to others around us, even when we know it isn’t right.

If our lifestyle changes but our community doesn’t, then there will be a clash between the norms of our social group–our community–and our new healthy habits.

Over time, it’s going to be really hard to hang onto those healthy habits if they are at odds with the lifestyle habits of those in our social group.

Let me share an example with you. Maybe your friends drink a few glasses of wine on a regular basis and they seem just fine so you convince yourself that it is ok to do the same thing, because it doesn’t seem to be bothering them.


Maybe you know it isn’t the best for you and you want to say no, but you know that your friends are going to give you a hard time and make fun of you, so you conform to what they are doing.

The alternate scenario can also be true.  Most of my close inner circle doesn’t drink any alcohol.  If we all go out to eat and someone who would normally order a glass of wine or a beer sees us only ordering water, their tendency is to not order alcohol.  Many times they will say, I don’t want to feel like the only one who needs to be drinking.

This is a simple example but could be carried over to any area of life. Emily, the TC Manager, shared how her co-workers at her last job would regularly get together for drinks after work. It was a crucial part of the team bonding at her old job and it was what most of her social circle did.

After joining the TC as a client, she started to expand her social circle and to find people who wanted to meet up for a run or a bike ride, instead of a drink. 

Now that she works here, team bonding happens when Emily and many on our team get together for tough workouts, lol. And she joined a triathlon team, meeting more people whose lifestyle matched her own.

This is why the Transformation Center will continue to grow even though there are so many ways a person has to get in shape. In our daily lives, we have endless information and really great tracking software but until we change our environment and community, we will constantly be battling human nature.

Human nature almost always wins.

We strive to build that healthy, supportive environment and community here at the TC and in our programs. Like the study showed, even one person on your side can make a big difference on making the right or wrong choices so at the very least, find 1 person to be on your side who can support you.

So, I ask you… Does your peer circle motivate you to be healthier or sicker?  

Think about that, then click here to visit the final installment in our Transform You 2020 series.

What’s Your Normal??

By | Adventure, Behavior Change, Health, Lifestyle

Welcome to Week 4 of our Transform You 2020 series, where we’re diving into how the environment and community around you can shape your beliefs and your future. (Click here if you missed the final post in Week 3. And click here to find the second installment on the topic of environment/community.)

This story is from a few years ago, but it still stands out for me as a vivid example of how the community around you impacts your perspective on things.

A few years ago, I climbed Longs Peak, a 14,250 plus mountain in Colorado. The 15 mile, 5,500 vertical feet climb is listed as a 12-14 hour round trip.  I had just gotten off the plane and had not yet acclimated to the altitude, which made for an even more challenging hike.

I got up at 2 AM and started the journey with headlamps on.

Past the 13,000 foot mark, the wind was blowing in excess of 30 mph and the 1-2 foot ledges with 700 foot sheer cliffs below became very scary.  Thankfully, I made it up in 5 hours but was overcome with altitude sickness at the top and had to descend after spending only one minute at the top.

Once I descended past the treacherous parts, I had a 5 mile run downhill.  My total time was 8 hours. Not bad considering that this was prior to my Ironman journey, so I didn’t run or do tons of cardio at the time.

Why do I share this story with you?

Depending on what your experience is, depending on your peer group, depending on your circle of influence, you might look at what I did and say one of three things.

  1. You are crazy, I could never or would never want to do that.
  2. That sounds cool, I would love to have the opportunity to do that!
  3. Yeah, that’s an awesome hike. You should come join us–we’re going to attempt to climb 10 14ers (14,000 ft mountains) in 24 hours!

(Side note, check out for an amazing trip report from a Michigan guy who climbed 10 of Colorado’s 14ers in a day!)

I will make some generalizations here but this is what the thinking of these three types of people might look like…

The first group probably has never hiked, hasn’t exercised very intensely for many years, and has low confidence in their ability to get in shape.  They don’t know anyone personally who does activities like this and so they just don’t understand.

The second group is most likely quite active, they have achieved many of their fitness goals throughout the years, and have had experience pushing their bodies past levels of comfort.  They have friends who go on active adventures and are looking for new ways to push themselves. I would put all of my clients who have been with my program for at least a year in this category.

The final group would be long-distance hikers and climbers who have access to mountains on a regular basis.  They are part of hiking clubs or groups and they read and study about hiking. They are endurance athletes that surround themselves with friends who are also high level athletes.  For them, my climb up Longs Peak was just child’s play. They have moved on to bigger and more challenging things.

I am using hiking as an example here, but this type of thinking can play out in any area of your life, fitness or otherwise.  What your peer group considers “norm” is generally what your norm will be, as well.

This is what really scares me about our world today.  Society’s “norm” is now to be 30 lbs overweight, to sit most of the day, to use food to celebrate almost everything, and to eat and drink to numb the pain and conflict life can bring.

It is no wonder our world has so much sickness, disease and depression.

I want to leave you with one final story.  I had just run/walked the final 5 miles of my Longs Peak journey.  The feeling I had at the bottom was of pure exhaustion and joy.

Right at the end, I finished with a guy who I saw on the way up.  I started chatting with him. He was a physical specimen of peak fitness.  I discovered he lives in Boulder, about 36 miles away.

He left his house at 2 AM, BIKED 36 miles, ran/walked Long’s Peak in 5:15 (almost 3 hours faster than me), and was getting ready to bike back to Boulder.

In shock, I told him he was crazy and that I was incredibly impressed and inspired.

He smiled and said, “it’s not crazy when everyone else you know does it too.”

He was right. His peer group does things like that on a regular basis and what I considered crazy, unbelievable, and incredible at the time, is just an ordinary day to this guy and his peer group.

Now that I am deeply involved in triathlon and endurance sports, my peer group has evolved. I’m now around people who exercise 2x/day and for whom a 20 mile run or a 100 mile bike ride is no big deal. It’s shifted my view of what’s normal yet again.

So the question is, what does your peer group look like?

What do they do on a regular basis?

Are they healthy?

Are they positive?

Are they happy?

If the answer to these questions is no, and you want to be active, healthy, positive, and happy, I would like to challenge you to start to shift your peer group.  This doesn’t need to happen overnight, but a shift in peer groups will be necessary if you want to live the life of your dreams.

Your peer group—the community that you surround yourself with—is my fourth pillar of success.  It will make a huge difference in your ability to make and stick with changes in your life.

Throughout the years I have received hundreds of emails and messages from people who feel alone and isolated.  They don’t have the support they want and need to live the healthy, happy lives they deserve. They don’t have a peer group that is inspired to make each day as healthy, and positive as possible.

That is why the Transformation Center team works tirelessly to find creative ways to build communities that support each other and keep each other accountable, motivated and inspired.  Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to live a happy, healthy life.

If you are local to Madison, WI, we encourage you to come and check us out. If not, find a group or a place in your area that embodies the values and traits that you want in your life and join them.

You have two choices, you can continue to do what you have been already doing and expect to get the same results, or you can take a leap of faith and try something new. That leap of faith might just change the trajectory of your life.

It is your choice to make.

We are committed to supporting you when you are ready to take that leap.


Walking is NOT Exercise

By | Balance, Fabulous Over 50, Fit and Fabulous Over 55, Food For Thought

Welcome to the third and final fitness-related installment of our Transform You 2020 series! Click here if you missed our most recent fitness post. Today’s article focuses on maintaining health and fitness as we age.

Over the past few years, I have had hundreds of people 50 years and older fill out our short application to learn more about our small group training program.

I have called every single applicant. One of the questions I ask is, “what are you currently doing for exercise?”

At least 80% of the time, they say “walking”.

Some might disagree with me, but walking is NOT exercise.

In the NYT best selling book Younger Next Year, they define exercise as something that gets the heart rate up high enough so a normal conversation is unable to continue.

Walking is AWESOME and we should all do more of it. Any movement is better than sitting on our butts. So I am not knocking it.

But, if we want to age and function at a high level, we MUST do more.

We MUST focus on strengthening the muscles, which will lessen our risk of falling and allow us to continue things like hiking, biking and playing ball with our grandkids. It will also strengthen the bones, lessening the chances of osteoporosis.

We MUST get our heart rate to higher levels to increase circulation of our blood, strengthen the walls of the heart and give us those “feel good” hormones.

We MUST focus on core stabilization exercises that will keep our spine safe and upright and generate power for things like tennis and golf.

We MUST focus on proprioceptive (definition below in the PPS) exercises that teach our body to balance and recover from near falls.

You see, walking won’t do much of any of this.

Now, if you are extremely overweight and walking gets you breathing hard, then it IS exercise, and please do it. Fast walking up a hill would be another example that could be considered exercise for most. I know when I power walk up a steep hill, I am out of breath.

The challenge when we age is to find things that get the heart rate up without putting knees and other joints in a high impact state. This is why we love to do things like rowing, bikes, skiergs, battle ropes, and step ups as great low impact tools in our Fit Over Fifty classes.

Whatever your age, I want to encourage you to make sure you have all the above components in your workout routine.

And above all else, please keep moving! As we age, we start to lose more and more muscle mass each year, which lowers our metabolism and makes it more difficult to do the things that we want to do. Exercise–and strength training in particular–is the ONLY way to counter this trend.

With muscle and aging, it really is true that you must use it or lose it. The good news is that even if you’ve lost it, you can turn things around and regain much of what you’ve lost through smart training.

If you are over 50, and near Madison, and looking for small group training with top-notch trainers that specialize in this, we have a class for you. Please fill out the contact us form on this website and we’ll get in touch with you ASAP.

If you aren’t local, I encourage you to find something like the programs that we offer that is near you. Or start playing pickle ball, golf, or some other sport or activity that you enjoy. Find some friends to get moving with you.

However you do it, just keep moving. 😉

PS. One of my favorite quotes that I came up with for my clients is: “Train hard now so that when you are out and about in the world things will become so much easier.”

PPS. Proprioception: The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body. (from

Finally, stay tuned as next week we’ll tackle environment/community, which is absolutely critical to the ability to make lasting change.

Running is the Worst Way to Get Fit

By | Cardio Workouts

There’s an article with the above title that periodically goes viral on Facebook.

Read the full article here ->->

This is basically the premise of my book, Fit Moms for Life: How to have endless energy to outplay your kids.

The irony is that over the past four years, I have become a dedicated runner.  I ran about 1700 miles over the past year and now can honestly say that I truly enjoy it.

I’ve been running 70 miles a week recently, training for a marathon next month. Five years ago I’d have told you no way would I ever do such a thing, lol.

So how have my views evolved?

Well, I still believe if you are looking to get leaner, toned, and more athletic, then running isn’t the best form of exercise to start with.

What changes metabolism, more effectively tones the body, and is much more time-efficient?

Strength training and interval training combined.

This is the cornerstone of all our programs at the Transformation Center and all 50 of my workout DVDs.

It just works. Check out Monday’s post here, if you want more details on my fitness formula.

However, since I wrote my book almost 10 years ago, I have warmed up to the idea of running as a good addition to a foundational strength and interval training program. 😉

There are plenty of benefits to running.  Here are a couple that I have personally experienced.

  • It gets me outside and exploring new areas of my community
  • It has caused me to have a lower resting heart rate
  • Mentally it is powerful to know I can go out and easily run 10 miles with little effort
  • I have enjoyed seeing my progress of getting faster and having more endurance
  • Running has helped clear my mind and reduce stress. It also makes me sweat a lot
  • ”Runners high” is actually a thing, and it can make you feel amazing

So running can be a great addition to a well-rounded program.

Just don’t start doing nothing but running because you want to lose weight.  In many cases I see it doing the opposite, especially if running is the only form of exercise that someone does.

Want to get started with running but not sure where or how to start?

I highly recommend checking out Jeff Galloway and his run-walk training method. His premise is that starting off slow and combining intervals of walking and running will prevent injury, build endurance and ultimately make you a faster runner.

I have been using a similar training method that forced me to slow down to keep my heart rate under a certain threshold.

Initially it was frustrating and it felt painfully slow. But it enabled me to build up my endurance and avoid injury. And now, I’m running some of my fastest times ever and my heart rate is staying low.

So my advice, if you want to add running (or some other kind of steady cardio, like biking, skiing or rowing), is to start and build slowly… slower than you think you should. Going slowly now will make you faster in the end and keep you injury free.

If you are a member of the TC, I’m super excited to share that we’ll be doing an informal, fun 5k run-walk event for members later this spring. It’ll be a safe, easy way to try out running if you’ve never done it before. We’ll be supporting the event and helping you train for it if you want to join in.

Stay tuned on Friday for my top tips to build or maintain your fitness as you age… when it becomes more important than ever!

The Best Thing You Can Do to Get or Stay in Shape

By | Cardio Workouts, Strength

Welcome to week 3 of our Transform You 2020 series!

This week is focused on fitness… where it all started for me.

If you missed any of the previous weeks’ installments, you can find the very beginning of the series here:

I want to kick it off this week by sharing what I still believe to be the single most effective fitness formula for just about everyone, especially if you have limited time.

Later this week I’ll share the the key things you need to do/keep doing to stay fit as you age, along with the ways in which my views on certain kinds of exercise have changed over the years. 😉

What is my fitness formula?

It’s pretty simple, really. And it’s the foundation of what I’ve always done to stay in shape, when I’m not training for a specific event. 

Build strength first.

My top priority is strength training 3x/week for a minimum of 30 minutes. 

Strength training is the single best way to build lean muscle, keep your metabolism going, increase your energy, and generally help you feel better. It also builds a strong foundation that will help keep you injury free and make it easier for you to do the things you want to do, whether that’s keeping up with your grandkids or climbing a mountain.

I recommend compound movements that will work many muscle groups at the same time. Deadlifts, squat-to-press, cleans, lunges with a press, pull-ups and rows are all great examples of this type of movement. Even if you don’t have any weights available, you can do single-leg squats, bulgarian lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, etc and still build plenty of strength.

Incorporate core work as well, using movements like planks, hollow holds, glute bridges, etc. You can easily add core work as part of either your warm up or cool down.

Add interval cardio next.

If you have time in your week for more exercise, add 20 minutes of high intensity interval training 2x/week.

You’ve probably heard of HIIT… it’s all the rage, for good reason. Combined with strength training, it is an amazingly effective way of increasing fitness, building lean muscle mass, and putting your metabolism in overdrive. It’s also a very efficient way of improving your heart and lung health, as long as you do it at the right intensity.

The key is to work HARD during your work intervals, then rest during the recovery intervals. A classic HIIT session would be :20 intervals of all out work (treadmill sprints, battle ropes, burpees, jumprope, etc), going as fast/hard as you can, then :10 rest. Repeat that cycle for 4 or 5 minutes for one round of HIIT. Recover with light movement for a few minutes then do another round. You should feel totally gassed at the end of each round.

If that is too intense, simply increase your recovery time. So instead of :20 on, :10 off, maybe try :20 of hard work and :40 seconds of recovery. But I would still go as hard as you can during your work intervals.

Add steady state cardio next.

If you have still more time for exercise in your week, then add in some steady state cardio, like running, biking, even a brisk walk.

I’ll talk more about this later this week, but things like running and biking really help build your overall endurance and can give you a big dose of endorphins… the runner’s high. Plus, if you do it with a friend, it can be a great social outlet. Overall, it is an awesome complement to strength training and interval work.

So that’s it–my fitness formula. It’s simple, and it works.

  • 3x/week of 30 minutes of strength training
  • 2x/week of 20 minutes of high intensity interval training, if you have time
  • 2-3x/week of steady state cardio, if you have even more time

Keep moving,


PS Stay tuned as later this week I’ll touch on some commonly held misconceptions about fitness. Click here to find the next installment of our series!

The MOST Important Factor in Getting Long Term Change

By | Behavior Change, Mindset

Welcome to your second Mindset installment of our Transform You 2020 series.

On Monday, I talked about how you can’t rely on willpower if you want to make a change. (Click here if you missed it…)

I talked about a highly effective hack to overcome our limited willpower, by changing your environment, which can force a change in your habits.

But what if you don’t want to rely on environmental changes long term? How do you become the sort of person who can drive by McDonalds and never pull in, or who won’t eat the package of Oreos sitting in the cabinet?

The answer is to go deeper and really look at your beliefs and identity.

Our sense of identity (conscious and unconscious) drives our choices and our actions every day. Our actions are a reflection of our current beliefs about ourselves.

James Clear describes this brilliantly in Atomic Habits, where he talks about three layers of behavior change: outcomes, process, identity.

Image credit: James Clear,

Outcomes are the goals that we want to be able to achieve, like running a 5k.

Processes are the habits that will get us to our goals, such as running or walking 1 mile every day.

Identity is made up of our deepest beliefs about ourselves, our world view, our values, our judgments about ourselves and others. It is our identity that drives many of our daily choices and actions.

We usually try to change by figuring out what outcome/goal we want (ie, lower blood pressure, improve health, run a half-marathon, lose 20 pounds) and then identifying the processes/habits that will get us there (ie, eating more veggies, exercising every day).

But James argues that the deepest, most sustainable way to change is to actually change our sense of identity, our beliefs about who we are, which will then drive a shift in habits and help us achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve.

When we focus on who we want to become and the type of person we want to be, every action we take becomes a vote for the type of person we wish to become.

The converse is also true. When we don’t consciously decide the type of person we want to become, our actions tend to reflect unconsciously held beliefs about ourselves. Maybe our unconscious belief that we’ll never be a morning person keeps us from staying consistent with early morning workouts, for example.

So how do you change your identity?

First, be aware of the stories that you tell about yourself. Do you see yourself as someone who will always struggle with __x,y,z___? Do you believe that you aren’t worthy of putting yourself first? Do you see yourself as not athletic? Or not capable??

Identify the narratives that may be hiding in your subconscious.

Would you say these things to your best friend if he/she were looking for advice? If not, they aren’t things that you should say to yourself.

Replace those narratives with a positive focus. Decide on the type of person that you want to be–who do you want to become? What is most important to you to focus on first?

Do you want to be the kind of person that takes care of their health and their body? Do you want to be the type of person who never misses a workout? Do you want to be someone who is always there for their family? Always on time? Organized? Obviously, this is not limited to health and fitness.

Once you have an identity that you want to focus on, think about how you can prove that identity to yourself with one small action every day. What is one small win that is doable but that can reinforce that identity?

For example, if you want to be someone who takes care of their health, perhaps a small win could be eating one veggie-based meal or snack each day.

Or, you could buy a pedometer and aim to increase your step total by 50 or 100 steps per day.

If you want to be someone who is tidy and organized, perhaps you start by making your bed each day.

Over time, these small, identity based habits will both help you achieve the results you are looking for, while also more permanently shifting your beliefs about who you are. And that is how you can truly achieve lasting change.

Stay tuned because on Friday, I’ll share two habit hacks that can really help you get these small wins that will reinforce your new identity.

For now, carve out some time to think about an area of your life where you want to become a different type of person. What is that new identity? And what is one *small* thing you can do to start proving that to yourself each day?

Why you don’t need (and can’t rely on!) willpower!!

By | Uncategorized

This week, I’m going to focus on mindset. This is perhaps THE most important factor in the success or failure of any long term change.

(If you missed last week’s focus on nutrition, click here to see the first in the series.)

Some of it is related to our identity and beliefs–to how we see ourselves and thus what drives our actions. I’ll talk about that later this week.

But a lot of our success or failure is related to willpower… although not in the way that you’re probably thinking. That’s what I’m going to talk about today.

You are NOT weak or lacking in willpower if you’ve tried and failed to make a change.

So why, then, when we KNOW it’s good for us, is it SO hard to change our habits?

Why is it hard to get to the gym consistently if we’ve never really gone?

Why is it so hard to stop drinking soda or to start eating healthier meals if those aren’t our current eating habits?

And why do some people seem to have it together so easily?

How is it that they can make it to the gym every day and bring salads to work for lunch and it looks like they’re not even trying?

The answer is NOT that they have some unlimited reservoir of willpower.

No. Recent research has proven, without a doubt, that you cannot make changes like this–changes that last–with willpower alone.

In fact, research has also shown that our willpower is a finite resource. We have only so many decisions that we can make each day before we run out of willpower. Researchers call this “decision fatigue”.

So, while we may be able to exert willpower to do something once or for a limited period of time, it’s not a good strategy for the kinds of long term change that a healthier lifestyle requires.

Rather, the trick is to change your environment in ways that make it easier to succeed–that remove as many decisions from the equation as possible, so that you don’t have to rely on willpower.

Let me give you an example.

Emily, the TC manager, had never gone to a gym or a group exercise class before she joined us as a client 8 years ago. Plus, after back to back pregnancies and the exhaustion that came from having two kids under 2, she felt very out of shape. And the only class time that worked for her schedule was 5:30 am… but at the time she was not a morning person.

So coming to our classes was a BIG leap for her.

She realized that, in order to get herself out the door, she would have to do some things that made getting up as easy as possible (and unavoidable!). Here’s what she did:

  • She moved the alarm clock so that she had to get out of bed to turn it off, lol.
  • She laid out all of her clothes and shoes, along with her wallet, keys and water bottle, the night before.
  • She made a smoothie the night before and put it in the fridge, so that all she had to do was get dressed, brush her teeth, grab the smoothie and walk out the door.

With these actions, she made it easy for herself to get up and going by having everything ready–she didn’t have to think about what she was wearing, or what to eat beforehand, etc. She also made staying in bed hard, by moving the alarm clock across the room.

She became a regular at 5:30 and, before long, she started to not only see the benefits of the workouts, but she met people and found herself enjoying both the community and the classes. Working out became easy and, ultimately, part of who she is.

There are other examples of clients who have changed the route they use to drive home from work so that they don’t pass any fast food restaurants that might tempt them to stop.

Many purge their house of all sweet and/or salty snacks, soda, or maybe even alcohol.

I fall into this category–Tessa will tell you that if I have certain things in the house, like M&Ms or chips, I’ll eat the whole bag. The only way for me to avoid that is to not have them around at all.

So what habit do you want to start?

What can you do to make it easier… to smooth the path?

Conversely, what can you do to make it harder to slip back into your old ways? Can you do the equivalent of moving the alarm clock or changing your route home from work?

How can you get your willpower out of the equation and instead program your environment so that you make the decisions you want to make?

If you can figure that out, you will unlock your potential for lasting change.

Check out our second mindset installment here!


5 Ways to Go Beyond the Basics with Your Nutrition

By | Health, Nutrition

Hopefully by now you’ve thought about how to level up your nutrition game, perhaps using one of our two most important healthy eating habits.

(Click the links above if you missed either of those articles…)

Today, I’m going to share my 5 favorite ways to go beyond the basics, for when you want to do everything you can to feel your best.

One: Hydrate!

Drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. Listen to your body and do what feels right to you. But most of us are walking around with some level of dehydration, which is like putting the brakes on both your metabolism and your ability to do a hard workout.

Try upping your water intake and see how you feel. If you don’t like plain water, add lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices or even add some berries to an infuser bottle.

Two: Don’t drink your calories!

Soda, alcohol and juice are the major culprits here.

I’m not saying that you can never have a glass of wine again, but be aware that your body treats soda, alcohol and juice as straight sugar. Not only will they add excess calories with zero nutrition, but they cause inflammation in your body. Go for moderation here as much as you can.

Three: Don’t eat after 7 PM.

That simple guideline will work for most people, but what I’m really saying is to treat food as fuel and time your meals for when your body needs fuel!

For most of us, this means not eating late at night, when we’re about to go to bed. Simply shifting your dinnertime earlier, to 6 or 6:30, and perhaps eating a lighter meal at dinner can make a HUGE difference!

You don’t need a ton of calories overnight, unless you are a shift worker and on your feet all night. You also don’t need a lot of carbs.

Most of my clients find that they feel best with an early dinner of protein and veggies, then nothing more until the next morning.

Perhaps try front-loading your calories and carbs earlier in the day–in breakfast and lunch–so that you have enough energy for your day, your workouts, etc!

Four: Try a sugar detox

This is a big one for most people, myself included. I have a huge sweet tooth. Just ask my wife, Tessa. If there’s a bag of M&Ms around, it will be gone by the end of the day. 😉

So I know what I’m asking can be hard.

But every time I or any of my clients have done this, we’ve felt AMAZING after just a couple of weeks.

Plus, there is more and more research suggesting that sugar is a major culprit in increased inflammation in our bodies, and is behind our high rates of heart disease, along with high blood pressure and diabetes.

This link is the last in a 7-part series, and it provides links to the previous 6 parts. The video provides scientific evidence presented by experts describing how damaging sugar is:

Given the evidence, try a 7 or 14 day sugar detox. See how you feel. Then think of what you could do to more permanently reduce your sugar intake. It can make a major difference in your health.

Five: Plan/prep your meals

This sounds simple, but it’s probably the thing that is most challenging for many people to do regularly, given the pace of life these days.

However, if you can manage to carve out some time on a weekend to cut up veggies, prep your lunches for the week, make a healthy casserole or soup that will give you leftovers, etc, you will be WAY ahead of the game.

Planned and prepped meals make it so much easier to avoid going out at the last minute or eating quick and convenient but often unhealthy packaged foods.

That’s it–my top 5 tips for leveling up your nutrition even more, and going beyond the basics.

I know that none of this is rocket science, but the truth is that being consistent with these simple strategies will do more for your health over time than will any crazy-restrictive 30-day diet.

I aim for 80% compliance all of the time, rather than 100% perfection for a few weeks. 😉

Next week, we tackle mindset, which is arguably the most influential of our four pillars of health and fitness. Click here for the first article in our mindset series.