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 https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=18686 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.


Check out this story about Betsy… can you relate?

By | Behavior Change, Fit Moms For Life Book, Fit Moms For Life DVD, Fit Moms for Life Six Week Challenge, Uncategorized

I recently spent over 9 hours in two days pouring over and responding to the 337 surveys that had been submitted about personal choices.  I’ll be sharing all the all the results from the survey soon.

Betsy is a 36 year old, married, mother of two (3, 5), who lives in a relatively small town in Wisconsin. She works part-time to help pay the bills, but is first and foremost a mom to her two young children. She loves being a mom, but also feels that she has lost a bit of who she is. She never lost the baby weight and is not happy with how she looks or feels. She has tried to make changes in the past, going on various fad diets or trying a new workout trend, but she hasn’t been able to stick with anything long term. And in her small town, there aren’t many options for her in terms of fitness centers, health-related services, etc.

She has reached a point where she really wants to change, because she is worried about her own health and her ability to keep up with her kids. She hates how she looks and feels alone and depressed–she does not love who she is right now. But she is terrified that she will not stick with whatever she tries, leaving her to fail once more. She also feels guilty about the idea of spending time and money on herself, rather than on her family. And she has no idea how to fit anything else into her insanely busy days.

Does this sound familiar? Betsy is actually a made up person based off the hundreds of stories people shared in the “Personal Choice” survey. We have created a program that meets Betsy’s criteria.

It is…

  • affordable (under $2.50 per day)
  • time efficient (20-30 min workouts)
  • convenient (can do it at home)
  • has accountability (in person and online)
  • easy to follow delicious recipes (that your family will LOVE)
  • isn’t a quick fix or diet fad (Fit Moms only teaches things that you can do the rest of your life

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The program is called the Fit Moms Six Week Challenge, and we are launching a new six week challenge locally in Madison next week, and (online) for anyone in the world starting in a couple weeks.

Click here to learn more and to invest in your challenge kit 

In December, I personally had 30 ladies in my group and they lost an average of 10 lbs in the six weeks. Some lost as much as 22 lbs and those who only lost a couple pounds still lost at least 5-6 inches.

But forget weight loss for a second and lets talk about what these ladies gained.Women

  • They gained confidence that they found a program they could stick with instead of a fad they go on.
  • They began to see changes in the way their kids and husbands ate.
  • They actually ENJOYED going clothes shopping and wasn’t confused what to get at the grocery store.
  • They found simple to make recipes that the entire family loved.
  • They discovered how effect and fun short amounts of exercise can be.
  • They made new friends and have kept in touch with them and created accountability groups.

If you are someone who wants even more accountability, join the 80 leaders from around North America who lead their own FM4L Six Week Challenge in their community and earn money. Some in the first couple months have made close to $1000. The leaders also get much more access to myself and our team dedicated to helping the leaders grow.

Click here if you are interested in being a leader

I would like to challenge you to find 3 others to do this program with you. This time of the year people are feeling guilty about what they did to their bodies through the holidays and you can provide them with a fun and affordable solution that will bring you closer together.

If you have any specific questions about the program please e-mail me at dustinmaherfitness@gmail.com, and I will answer your questions.

The #1 Best Way To Stay Accountable To Your Weight Loss/Fitness Goals

By | Fit Moms For Life Book, Fit Moms For Life DVD, Fit Moms for Life Six Week Challenge, Transformations, Uncategorized

I have thought long and hard about this question and after 10 years of research, and real-life observation I have come up with my answer…

The best way to stay accountable to is to help facilitate a group of people who are also looking to improve their health.  Other strategies might include a reward based system. For example, if you workout 4X per week, and don’t go to a fast food joint for the next 6 weeks you will reward yourself with a spa day. Penalty systems can be another way to go. For example you are a hard core democrat. You will give $1000 to the George W. Bush Library Foundation, if you don’t lose 10 lbs this month. These second two strategies play on the pain/pleasure receptors, which are both very powerful and can work well, but I believe the first option, facilitating a group is the most powerful.


WomenSimply put, we are good at letting ourselves down, but we will do anything we can to NOT let our friends and family down.  I have known this tendency in humans for quite sometime, but never has it become so obvious and powerful as in the past 3 months as we launched the Fit Moms 6 Week Challenges across North America (70 of them in total).  When meeting and speaking to many of the leaders their #1 reason for starting their group was to keep themselves on track and accountable.

This surprised me…

I thought they were going to say for the financial benefits (some can make over $1000), or the ability to make new friends, or to give back to their community. But it makes total sense, and that is why the leaders are getting such incredible results (so are the participants), because they are wanting to lead by example.

As we head into 2014, I would like to give you the gift of ultimate accountability and consider becoming a Fit Moms 6 Week Challenge facilitator. Not only will you begin the process of getting in the best shape of your life, you will be enriching and connecting many other women’s lives in the process and get paid for it.

That sounds like a win/win/win.

The best part is it doesn’t take much time on your part, and we have everything you need to promote and lead your group, plus you get exclusive access to myself and my team that is building up the leaders/facilitators.  My goal is to have 30 more leaders signed up by the end of the year so we can launch 100 6 week challenges early next year.

Click here to learn more and to get started

I know this can seem like a big and scary thing to do, but I will be here to hold your hand throughout the entire process.

Click here to learn more

If you have any questions regarding this program email me at dustinmaherfitness@gmail.com, and I will get back to you shortly. You don’t need to be at your ideal place, you just need to have a willingness to invite and to love on your community.

I Hope This Isn’t You…

By | Behavior Change, Fit Moms For Life Book, Transformations, Uncategorized

You might have heard me talk about going to Toronto. That is where my coach Dan Sullivan lives. He is helping me and about 30 others in my group become better people and help inspire and transform more lives. I have written many times that I believe we should all have coaches in our lives, and that investing in the right coaches and knowledge gives us an “unfair advantage” in our lives. That is why I invest heavily (financially and time) on hiring the best coaches.

In my latest meeting, Dan introduced a concept called the 50-person future. It is somewhat similar to the 5 closest friends exercise in my book Fit Moms For Life, and the group exercise we do in the FM4L 6 Week Challenge.

It boils down to the question: are you spending time with people who are bringing you down, or encouraging you and striving for excellence? Today, I want to share with you what Dan gives as some criteria to determine what type of people you have surrounded yourself with.

Tomorrow we will discuss what it looks life if you have supportive people in your life, but for now here are some of the characteristics of a negative environment.


Guilt: When something does go right, you feel bad because others are doing poorly—by succeeding, you’ve made things worse.

Trapped: Because of who you work and live with, you feel unable to change your present circumstances and results.

Scarcity: There never seems to be enough of what you need to make significant improvement— and it looks worse in the future.

Pessimism: In your daily conversations, complaining, criticizing, and blaming are easier than making positive plans and taking positive actions.

Failure: You and those around you have the habit of looking for what went wrong and what’s lacking in every situation.

Frustration: When things are going well in the world around you, you can’t enjoy it because things aren’t “perfect” for you.

When Dan shared these things with me, they really struck me. I have been certainly guilty of these from time to time, and there are a few people I can think of that I am around who fit some of this criteria as well. Fortunately, the vast majority of my support network and friends are what I will describe tomorrow.

I have had hundreds of conversations with clients or others and many times it becomes clear that they are living their life and hanging out with people who fit this criteria.

The great news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, and it won’t be easy, but over time you can transition and create for yourself a different set of support that continually lifts you up.

Our Program Killer Kurves comes to my mind… This is a group of about 30 incredible humans that have bonded stronger then any other group that I have worked with. There was one instance where someone said something to a K2 member that they shouldn’t have said. The support and backing this K2er received from her community was incredible.

Listen, technology is awesome, Facebook and Twitter are awesome, but we NEED connection and support. You shouldn’t feel like you have to stay motivated on your own. That takes too much work and effort, get plugged into a community that is already making this happen.

Stay tuned for tomorrow as I share the characteristics of the other side of the coin.

It has taken close to 10 years now as a fitness professional, but my team and I have been able to create a variety of programs that puts this support and community building at the forefront. We can now deliver this experience to anyone in the world, and as the next year or two progresses we will only get better at helping you get plugged in to the power source of “community and connection.” 

Don’t Try Any of My Fitness Programs Until You Read This… We Might Not Be Right For You

By | Behavior Change, bootcamps, Cardio Workouts, Mindset, Transformations, Uncategorized
1 Trans

Don’t Try Any of My Fitness Programs Until You Read This… We Might Not Be Right For You

I am going to write this from the perspective of Madison, WI, but you could be reading this from most places in 1st world countries and it will apply to you as well.

It is quite the paradox we are living in… we are sicker and unhealthier then ever before, yet have more amazing options to gyms, weight loss programs, and so on.

How can this be?

The major problem, which I am not going to focus on in this article, is that everything in our society is encouraging us to be lazy and eat quick, processed food.  Our lives are designed for comfort and convenience… this is our biggest challenge.

But what if someone wants to truly change?  What program is best suited for them?  If you had asked me this 5 years ago, I would have selfishly said “MINE!” It wouldn’t have mattered who the person was or their goals, strengths, and weaknesses.

But as I have gotten older, and hopefully a touch wiser, I know that in many cases my programs might not be the best for you.

I am going to try to make this as simple as I can and make some generalizations about the various options you have to choose from regarding your fitness.  I am going to try to make this as unbiased as I can, realizing that I am too close to the industry to make it 100% unbiased so please keep that in mind as you are reading this.

Here are 4 major options that you can choose from.

1.  Bare bones gym: This is a small, no frills gym, many times open 24 hours.  Has all the weights and cardio machines you will ever need.

Examples in Madison: 24 Hour Fitness, Snap Fitness, Anything Fitness, Planet Fitness

Price: This is the cheapest option ranging from $15-$40/month

Pros:  Extremely affordable and convenient.  Many locations and usually open all hours of the day.  Nice equipment.

Cons: Can be very crowded during peak times because they need to over-sell memberships to stay in business, no accountability (these gyms need to have a large % of people to never show up in order to survive), no nutritional guidance, and no support.

Who this is perfect for: someone who knows how to put together safe and effective workout programs, and who is self-motivated, one who already has a great understanding of nutrition and just needs a place to work out.  I would say that I fit this definition as long as I brought in a workout partner to help me stay motivated.  I can work with anything and come up with fun, challenging workouts on my own, but still need the push from a friend.

2.  Traditional gym: this is generally quite a bit bigger, with 2,000 up to 30,0000 members. There is front desk staff, it will include specialty classes, a pool, sauna, hot tub, and lots of weight and cardio machines.

Examples in Madison: Supreme Health and Fitness, Princeton Club, Prairie Athletic, Harbor, Pinnacle, Gold’s

Price: $40-$90/month

Pros:  They offer a lot of bells and whistles and amenities for the price, usually have child care, lots of available times, and different classes.  There is also great variety of equipment and instructors to fit a wide range of interests.

Cons: Many of the classes, child care, and services are add-ons so you have to pay extra for those.  The front desk staff might know your name so it is a little more personable, but still no accountability for you to show up.  Similarly to #1, if these gyms had 100% show up rate 3X per week, they would not have the space or equipment to handle them all.  No nutritional guidance.

Who is this perfect for:  this is great for families or individuals who like to exercise, might not be experts at it, but like variety and options.  They can join classes and learn the choreographed routines and maybe meet some people in the process.  This is great for someone who is outgoing and can strike up a conversation with anyone.  Since there is people there working out at the same time each day, you could find a workout partner.  You already know what to eat and have an idea of what types of workouts you should be putting together to avoid injuries and overuse. This is also nice for those who like to relax before and after workouts, because there are plenty of places to hang out and read, sit in the sauna, and relax.  Can be a great place to call their third home.

3.  Specialty programs and small group training facilities:  these charge more, but provide many more individualized programs.  There are less members overall, but more emphasis on each individual.

Examples in Madison: Fit Fun Bootcamps, MamaTone Fitness, Killer Kurves, CrossFit, Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping, Hybrid, Orange Shoe, Fit Club, Monkey Bar, Pat’s Gym, Melt Studio,

Price: $90-$250/month

Pros:  There is a high level of accountability and support and different workouts each time.  If you aren’t showing up, they will notice.  Behavior change is focused along with the workouts. Nutrition is talked about a lot and meal plans and education is a main focus.  Workouts are usually challenging, results can be dramatic, friendships are made very easily, and you get the advice of personal trainers without having to pay their fees. Proper form and breathing are emphasized.

Cons:  it is a larger financial investment, limited hours available, hard workouts that can potentially lead to injuries, waste of money if you aren’t using it, can be hard to do if you have lots of joint issues, not many extra physical amenities to use besides the workouts, the education, and the support and camaraderie.

Who is this perfect for:  a person who is wanting a place to belong and call home, where they are encouraged to meet others who are looking to improve their bodies and lives.  It is for a person who might be looking for a life change and doesn’t know what to do or where to turn, a person who lacks a healthy supportive environment around them.  On the other side, it is also great for former athletes who are use to coaches and players to train with, the camaraderie with these types of programs are similar to that of sports teams.  These are also great for people who don’t want to think about putting together their own workouts or deciding what foods they should be eating, rather they would prefer a plan that is set out for them.  Lastly this is a great option for someone who is looking to not just show up and leave, but someone who is looking to invest in their fellow peers, and to join in on the community activities and be part of a tight knit group.

4.  Personal trainers: They are one on one with a certified trainer who will work with your individual needs and create a program that is specific to that person.

Examples in Madison: Most of the gyms have this as an option and many will push it very hard to newcomers (Supreme Health and Fitness is one exception).  There are many independent trainers who rent space out of gyms, or visit people’s homes.

Price: $520-$910/month coming 3X per week or $40-$70/session

Pros:  Extremely customizable, can work around injuries, proper form focused on, high accountability, focus on nutrition and overall well-being.  Workouts can be always changing.

Cons:  Price is too high for many to consistently work with a trainer, there isn’t much camaraderie with their peers, there is a huge variety in skill levels of trainers, so pick wisely.

Who this is perfect for:  Someone who has $500 plus dollars of disposable income and who doesn’t like to work out in groups or one who isn’t comfortable with how to perform exercise or proper form or nutrition and wants someone to explain things each step of the way.  A person who wants to get pushed and challenged and open to trying new things would also be good for this program. Another example would be someone who values the consistency of having that one person they can trust and count on to be there for them when they fall off the wagon or go through challenges. Also a person who has lots of injuries or unique physical challenges that require significant modification would benefit greatly from a personal trainer.

I started as a personal trainer exclusively and most of my amazing team of trainers are also personal trainers.  I love personal training and what it has to offer.  Some people just love to train one on one, but I have found that groups bring out the healthy competition in each person and elevate the adherence to the program by seeing their peers get in shape.

I realize I have left out studios that specialize in yoga, pilates, or nutrition programs like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, but this is already quite long.

As you can see, we do not lack options, rather we might lack clarity of what option is the best one for you.  Over the past 10 years I have tried to expand my programming to reach different types of people. That is why I now have Fit Fun BootcampsMamaToneKiller Kurves,Fitness 4 Kids, and the Fit Moms For Life DVDs.

When someone asks me what my ideal client looks like I list the following.  If you feel like you meet most of these criteria my team and myself would be honored to work with you.

-Willing to take responsibility for where they are

-Willing to work hard

-Maintain a positive and supportive attitude towards themselves and fellow participants

-Desire to invest in the program and help build and maintain the community/family feel

-Doesn’t have too many severe joint issues

-Understands that investing in themselves (time and money) is something that is worth doing

-Is 100% committed to achieving results and willing to try new things

-Is completely ready to have their life and body transformed to levels that they have never seen

Read what others are saying about our programs >>>http://dustinmaherfitness.com/success-stories/

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