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No Flashy Resume Needed

I’ve been working on my resume lately.  It’s not as full as I would like it to be.  At times it feels lacking.  I look at it and feel a sort of regret.  The places where awards, honors, publications, and organizations are supposed to be appears sparse.  I wonder what it would have looked like if I had not worked part-time and mostly stayed home all these years, if I had pursued a career more.

But then there is so much not seen on that flat piece of paper.  So many hours poured into 5 children’s lives and into my marriage.  So many gatherings with friends who needed to talk or hours put into serving my church.  Long hours on a business.  Things no one sees, but I know are there.  I sort of choke up thinking about how easily I let what the world values as accomplishment squeeze out the unseen goodness of the past 15 years with my children.

It’s the same with my fitness resume.  I may not have “marathon” or “tri-athlete” or “pro” next to my name, but I get to the gym 5-6 times per week despite the fact that I’m tired, I have errands to do, I have 5 kids who need help with homework, and the laundry is piled high.

I’m not wearing my fitness like a flashy neon sign.  It’s an unseen, foundational part of my life.  I may not be a stick thin Victoria’s Secret model and Paris may not be calling me to walk down their runways (but one can try at home, right?!), but I’m committed to my overall health and fitness.  I am stronger than I was 3 years ago.  I am braver than I was 3 years ago.  I am a little more confident than 3 years ago.  Maybe those things aren’t seen on the outside, but the unseen work that I have done on myself has produced good things.

I know that many of you are the same.  You do things each day to help others.  You work hard, and many of those things are not seen.  The same goes with your fitness.  You are faithful getting to your personal training sessions.  You come to the gym even when it is snowing or bitterly cold outside.  Maybe the world doesn’t see you as fit, but you know that you are stronger.  You are doing more.  You are more confident.  The work that you have done is worth it.  It’s paid off!

I hope that I can focus more on the good things that I’ve worked for and not worry about what the world sees on a black and white resume.  How about you?  How has your quiet persistence paid off?  How are you stronger?

P.S. Paris, if you do call, I might get on a plane.  Maybe not a runway, but I’m pretty sure I could still get my French on. Mais bien sur!



dave before2

Three and a half years ago I started a journey that has changed my life. I thought this would be a perfect time to share my story.

I was a regular 37-year-old guy. A little soggy around the middle from a few too many beers and Nutter Butters, but I believed I was in reasonable shape. I felt like the exercise I got from drumming and doing wedding photography was keeping me in above average shape, but I felt like I could stand to lose a few pounds.

When my friend Dan Ritchie from Miracles Fitness asked if I’d be willing to train one-on-one in exchange for a before and after photo, I said, “Sure, why not?” I figured 8-10 weeks of training and a couple of photos couldn’t be too hard, and I’d lose those couple pounds I was bothered by.

Turns out that at 260+ pounds, I was pretty overweight even for my 6’3″ frame. Worst of all, I couldn’t do 5 pushups or run for 60 seconds. Uh-oh. This was

worse than I thought!

dave mason after

I’ll be honest with you, those first few sessions were… rough. I nearly had to be carried to my car at the end. But then an interesting thing happened – it started getting easier. By the third or fourth week I wasn’t struggling to do 5 pushups or run for 60 seconds. Along with a reasonable meal plan the workouts had me seeing real results in 6 or 7 weeks, and by week 8 I needed new, smaller jeans and pants! Whoo-hoo!

Fast forward a few years. That guy who couldn’t do 5 pushups or run for 60 seconds can now do 15 pushups and has even run a 5k race! My jean size in down from 40 to 33, and I can wear clothes from nearly any store I want, including Express or H&M! No way that was gonna happen before!

The best part is that I now have energy in reserve where even guys half my age can’t keep up with me. I turned 40 this year, and I like to often ride my motorcycle at the racetrack. This is an expensive hobby, and every minute at the track is precious because of it. Imagine a 105 degree July day, covered head to toe in black leather and a helmet, atop a motorcycle putting out 200 degree temperatures, and you can start to see why physical conditioning comes into play for “just riding a motorcycle.” Many guys couldn’t finish the sessions they’d paid for that day. I was happily one of the ones able to ride every minute of my paid track time.

I’d love to see more of my friends find themselves where I’m at today. My workouts are my daily routine, and I look forward to them. This is a way of life now, and I’d never go back.

Dave Mason is the founder and owner of ISPhotographic, which he started in 2004 here in Lafayette.  You may have seen him shooting a wedding, taking photos at Purdue, or working out like crazy with Dan Ritchie at Miracles Fitness.  When I first looked at Dave’s website, I asked Dan why Dave didn’t have any pictures of himself on it.  I was actually looking right at Dave on the screen but he had lost so much weight I didn’t even recognize him.  He has had great success on his fitness journey and is proof that you can, too.  Thanks, Dave, for sharing!



IMG_0693Before I met my husband Dan I naively assumed that all “trainers” working in fitness clubs had degrees in the field.  I’ll never forget a conversation we had in Janesville, Wisconsin, that changed my perception.

Dan trained clients at a facility there while getting his Master’s degree, and one of the perks was that we both got to work out.  It was a great facility framed with big windows facing the Rock River and stocked with the right amount of machines and space.  A number of trainers were on staff, and one in particular seemed to have a following of his own.   He was fifty-ish, worked at GM full-time, and did personal training on the side.  I observed him doing small group training with clients almost every day.

One day Dan and I began talking about him, and I was shocked when Dan told me that this popular trainer had no formal training or education in the field. I was baffled.  I thought that if I walked into any health club, they would have to provide me with an educated, certified trainer.

Not the case.  Not even close.  It’s quite the opposite.  It seems anyone with the right personality or gym experience can call themselves a trainer (Look up some of the celebrity trainers and see if you can find their degrees).

I can’t help but ask:  Shouldn’t people be educated in anatomy, physiology, and exercise science before working with something as intricate and important as the human body? Do I really want to entrust my health to a weight-lifter with no training and/or no certification?  Does winning a weight-lifting contest, playing football in college, and/or just being pretty and fit qualify you as a trainer?

For me, the answer is a firm “no.”

So how does one find a qualified personal trainer?  One you can trust?  One that can prevent injury?  How can we raise expectations in our local gyms and in the fitness industry as a whole?

Here are 5 things to ask before deciding who you want to trust with your body and health:

  •  Does the trainer have a degree or degrees in the field?  If so, what are they?
  •  Does the trainer have certifications from reputable organizations like American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), American  Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)?  Not all certifications are equal!!
  •  Does the trainer have experience?  How many months/years?
  •  Does the trainer have a mentor?  Is he or she be coached and advised in the field?
  •  Lastly, is the trainer continuing his or her education?  Is she working on a Master’s degree?  Is he attending conferences?  Is she getting on-line training or reading top journals in the field?

To some people, this may seem a little extreme, but why do we expect so little when it comes to this field?  Why do we look up our plumber or electrician on Angie’s List, but when it comes to our own bodies, we don’t ask questions or raise our expectations?

If anything, raise the bar for yourself.  Ask questions.  Don’t settle for less.  Your health, fitness, and well-being are worth it!

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I was from a small town in Southern Illinois.  I grew up in a beloved Craftsman home right next to my Dad’s funeral home and had endless games of kickball and freeze tag in its big parking lot.  We had lemonade stands, big trees, and lots of friendly neighbors.  Spring Street was certainly a great place to call home.

A few years ago my Dad retired, and he and my Mom built a house in the country.  It is spacious and warm, built with kids and grandkids in mind.  It is starting to feel like “home” away from home more and more.

We got to visit for a week in early July.  I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t have a place to work out, and I also knew that there would be plenty of options in the “Sugar Shack” (as my Dad calls the pantry).  I realized I faced an uphill battle most of the week.  Espcially when I encoutered – Twinkies.  I hadn’t had one in years.  I tried . . .  Ok, I admit, I had one!  It was screaming at me from the Sugar Shack!

I also got to have some of my Grandma’s homemade blackberry cobbler.  How can you say “no” to your wonderful 90-year-old matriarch?!  Well, it wouldn’t be a trip home without treats so to counter balance that I ate a lot of garden-fresh veggies and cut back on carbs.  Also, I knew I had to find a way to get movin’.

My Dad suggested we walk a path around one of the lower fields that his neighbor owned.  They together try to keep a mown path all the way around for walking.  We headed out in the evening to beat the heat and hoped the bugs wouldn’t “carry us away.”  We went around three times, and I got a good workout, drenched with sweat helped by the heat and the humidity (so thick down there!).  The track proved beneficial the rest of the week; I got to walk/run it a few more times (dodging a watergun carrying go-carter at one point!).

We also got to jump hay bales-now that’s a new one to add to my fitness toolbox!  The kids love to jump from row to row with the dogs following along while waiting for their turn on the go-cart.  Can you see Izzy?  She is a hay bale champ!

Our summer trip ended up adding some new workout experiences to my story and building sweet memories of a new home away from home.

This post was originally posted on Aug. 1, 2012.  











Some Initial Reactions to Club Industry (and Reading Shape magazine)

IMG_0720Have you been in a situation where you feel totally out of place?  We all have;  it’s a part of life. Walking into the Club Industry Show (one of the biggest conferences and expositions for fitness professionals, btw) last Thursday in Chicago,  I had that feeling almost immediately. My initial reaction was to turn to Dan and say, “Wow, this is exactly what intimidates people about health clubs.”

First, everyone was in work-out clothes.  Head to toe.  Exercise equipment of all types filled the booths.  People were riding on bikes with touch screens, stretching cables, hanging from jungle gyms, and leading work-outs on the live stage (in tiny outfits).  Some 6′ 5″ guy strolled by me in head to toe spandex right as we walked through the exhibit hall doors.  This owner’s wife, mommy-of-five in her jeans and sweater could have almost turned back around and gotten in a cab!

All the initial hype of the exhibit hall was a little overwhelming to the senses (and comfort zone).  It made me realize that I am spoiled to be a part of a personal training studio that scales back on the spandex, grunts, and fads.  I know there are other gyms and owners who are trying, too.   But what about the rest of the fitness industry?

Fitness Industry, what about me?  Have you forgotten about the regular people?  Do you think that we don’t want to be healthy?  Do you think we don’t want to age gracefully?  Do you think we don’t want to be fit?

Fitness Industry, let me tell you what I don’t want.

I don’t want to wear Reebok CrossFit socks.

I don’t want to hang clean 135 pounds or barbell bench press 150.

I don’t want to wear a sports bra as a shirt (or see anyone else doing that, btw).

I don’t want a trainer to hand me his business card with a picture of him with his shirt off on it.

I don’t want to eat chicken breasts everyday.

I don’t want to eat clean every minute.

I don’t want to hear about your cleanse.

I don’t want to hang from a jungle gym.

I don’t want to go anywhere near a place called Rage Fitness.

I don’t want to hear about how you ate a salad and you were so full.

I don’t want you to market to me like I am a twenty-year-old.

I don’t want to hear about how you got up at 4:30 a.m. and got a 2-hour work-out in.

I DO want you to hear me!

I am not old and washed up.  I am only 39.

I am a mom of 5 kiddos who wants to be strong and brave and fit.

I am a girl who owns her own boxing gloves and loves to hit stuff.

I do want respect.

I do want to push myself.  I want to sweat.  I want to meet my goals.

I want to hike in the Rocky Mountains.

I want to lift more.

I want to read labels and eat right.

I do want to have chocolate every day.

I do want to be heard and asked what would be best for me.

I am just like a lot of people in this country.  Regular, want-to-be-fit, could-lose-a-little, trying-hard people!

So take your earbuds out and listen to what we want.  Open the conversation and make room on the  mat.

We do want a place in the fitness industry.

PFP1Wow, it’s been a great (and exhausting) last few days!  On Thursday Dan and I headed out for Chicago to attend the Club Industry Show.  As many of you know Dan was in the final 3 for the PFP Trainer of the Year (out of around 600), and HE WON!!!  I think we were both a bundle of nerves as he waited on stage with the other 2 finalists, and after what seemed like 20 minutes of sponsors talking, they got to the winner.

When editor of PFP Lindsay Vastola finally said “Dan Ritchie,”  it was like everything went into slow motion.  I just couldn’t believe it.  After all the struggles over the last 15 years -Masters and Ph.D with little kids, starting a small business, long days and nights, money being super tight, awards given to other people-I just couldn’t believe they said his name.  And of course, then came the tears.

Let me just say, friends, I am proud of my man.  He has worked so hard in this field and specifically on fitness and aging.  He was a winner to me already, but to see him get national recognition for what he believes in and works so hard for meant a lot.

Over the next couple of posts, I hope to share a little more about Club Industry, and if you get a chance, make sure to give Dan a big pat on the back.  Thanks to our Miracles Fitness family for all the support!



Murdock1 THANKS to everyone who made this project successful!  The principal, teachers, and students were very excited and super appreciative.  We heard the kids were especially thrilled about all the new books.

We are so thankful for the opportunity to help and for our Miracles Fitness family.  You all know how to step up for the community!  Thanks again!








Miracles for Murdock!

miracles for murdock2In August we asked you if you were interested in helping with educational opportunities for kids in need, and we got a lot of positive response!

We know that many schools in our area could use support, but because we already had a contact person through CovenantChurch, we have chosen to help Murdock Elementary this fall.  Murdock serves many students dealing with generational poverty, substance abuse, moms and dads in and out of prison, physical and sexual abuse, and little parental involvement at school.  We decided we would help support the teachers and their classrooms.

Dan contacted the principal and asked her for “dream” lists from her teachers.  The needed items range from staplers, glitter, and books to many technology needs like headphones and microphones for iPads (they are embarking on a 1:1 iPad project in several classes).

This is where Miracles Fitness comes in.  We are excited!! In each location we will have apple sticky notes with needed items on them.  You can PICK an apple, DONATE the item at one of our locations, and help SUPPORT Murdock.  It’s easy, it’s important, and it impacts the lives of kids in our community.

We kick off  “Miracles for Murdock” today so come on in and get pickin’!

fit4_thumbYep, I made it!

Two weeks ago I took a no-dairy challenge from my husband, and yes-I made it.  I went a whole 7 days without milk, lactose, cheese, whey, yogurt, cream cheese, milk-in-my-tea, and CHOCOLATE.  It actually wasn’t that bad; I had a few positive take-aways.

One of the first things I noticed was that I had more energy.  I literally still had energy at 10 o’clock at night instead of feeling drained and worn out.  Also, after about 4 days my husband mentioned that my skin seemed clearer.  With my fair skin I can have issues at times (boo!) and my face did seem to lose some redness (yeah!!).   I noticed that I ate more fruit and vegetables, also, instead of sweet snacks.  On the 7th day I bought some almond milk (I needed my before-bed bowl of cereal, people!) and I loved it.  Seemed like an easy transition for me.  I also lost almost 2 lbs for the week, and that’s always a positive, right?  And the best news-I didn’t end up with my face in a bowl of triple chocolate brownie ice cream. ; )

On the negative side, I did find myself scavenging at times for something sweet in the house and found not-quite-worthy chocolate substitutes.   I even resorted to opening a can of vanilla icing and smearing it on graham crackers.   Let’s just say that the one last lone Dove dark chocolate miniature that I hid from myself at the beginning of the week was well received and much appreciated after 7 days.

So what now?  Well, I think for the future it would be good for me in terms of calories, energy, and weight to eat or drink dairy in limited amounts.  I am not going to have a strict rule that I will NEVER consume it again, but I am switching to almond milk, and I am cutting it back even more.    If anything, it just makes me more conscious of food labels and what I am putting in my body.  What could be so bad about that?

Now if only I had hidden one more chocolate . . .


P.S.  Come into Miracles and join us for the Share and Shop Thirty-one Party, September 4-6.  Buy some great products for yourself, enter to win a great Purdue bag, and donate a bag to a teacher! This is one way we will be helping teachers at Murdock Elementary this month.  






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