Monthly Archives: August 2012

Coach G Fitness Boot Camp


Actually, I never really say “huzzah.” Nor do I say things like “huah” or “left, right, left” when I teach my early morning bootcamp for Coach G Fitness.

However, I do crack a lot of ridiculous jokes (keeping things lighthearted helps my bootcampers get through such an intensive workout) and I yell pretty loud because I have to compete with the Roman traffic (we train on a lil’ patch of grass by Terme di Caracalla and when it’s not so hot, we move to Circo Massimo) and I do make the bootcampers do a lot of really, really physically hard shit stuff. I promise I don’t swear. Much. Last week I said “kick ass” but no one seemed to mind.

Boot camp. Ah, boot camp. How I love thee, let me count the ways:

1) You showed me exercises I had never done before and then after doing them over and over, and about dying, I emerged like a whole new person. Wow.

2) Results came really fast.

3) Holy crap man, I thought I was going to die. And yet, I didn’t. And that gave me a really huge sense of satisfaction.

4) Fun. Lots of fun. Cool people. Really cool people. Who I could bitch with about how hard Coach G was on us, that now are bitching to each other (nicely though) about how hard I am on them.

5) Use of body-weight exercises that you can do anywhere means there’s never an excuse not to work out. These workouts require basically the space of a yoga mat and 45 minutes of your time. I did them every other day on vacation this summer in my hotel room or on the hotel grounds, without any trouble at all.

Wanna come out and join us? Yes you do! Yes!

We’re starting a new boot camp session next Monday, September 3. Sign up here! It costs €80 for the 8-class series (Mon/Wed 7:30 am to 8:15 am) or €15 per class if you drop in on different days. I don’t recommend dropping in though, because we build up our workouts cumulatively and each week gets more intensive, so when you skip days, you end up having to work extra hard. But sometimes it’s inevitable that you have to miss a class or two. The important thing is to come out as much as you possibly can.

As with most things in life, you have to be determined and consistent to get results.

Email me with any questions at shelley -at- coachgfitness -dot- com.

Hope you’ll come on out!

Here’s a former group of bootcampers on their last day of class. They kicked ass booty. Turn down your volume because I scream like a banshee and it’s a bit obnoxious. I made this for G just to prove to him that bootcampers kick ass butt even when he isn’t teaching.

G, my beloved Coach, is moving back to the US tomorrow. Sob. More on that later.

Meanwhile check this shit stuff out: (I’m serious though, low volume people, or I’ll scare the bejeezus out of you. Whatever bejeezus you may have in you.)


Eating for Results

Everyone knows that you have to “eat healthy” in order to get the maximum results from your workout regimen. But, here again, we find ourselves in super ambiguous territory. What the heck does “eat healthy” even mean?

Once again, you have to be super specific about what you’re doing if you want to see visible results and feel better. That means simply telling yourself “eat healthy” really doesn’t mean anything.

And I’m not going to lie to you. If there is one thing that’s required in order to get the results you want, I would say it’s sacrifice. I’d also add determination and consistency. But I think really the number one quality I had to accept and live as I broke into this lifestyle was sacrifice.

Sacrifice the time you used to devote to other things, in order to prepare your workout strategies, spend the time working out, and prepare your eating plans, meals and snacks. But most of all, sacrifice eating some foods that might be among your favorites, in order to provide higher-quality fuel for your body’s workouts and as a strategy to achieve visible results.

I live in Italy, where food is a major cultural component in socializing. It’s not easy to eat a regimented diet here. But, like anything else in life that you work towards for a purpose, in the end it doesn’t really matter whether it’s easy or not. In fact almost nothing worth having is easy to get, after all.

The first six weeks of breaking into weight training, I went hardcore on this diet and cut out all sugar, bread, pasta, non-water drinks, and tried to eat as much protein as possible. Now I’ve eased up a bit on that but I still maintain more or less the same eating habits.

I allow myself one splurge or cheat meal a week, in which I don’t put any barriers on what I eat or drink. Obviously I don’t go crazy, but at the same time I’m not stressing if I have a few glasses of wine and something with a cream sauce or whatever.

I’m certainly not a nutritionist, but I can share with you here the tips and strategies that have helped me to get really fast results, while combined with an intense workout regimen.

1) You absolutely have to sacrifice certain fillers that do nothing for your athletic performance or your body. Basically there’s really nothing else you need to be drinking besides water. If you can drink only water, do it. I drink mainly water, have an occasional cappuccino and like a splash of milk in my espresso. Other than that, it’s water. Sometimes with lemon, always slightly carbonated, and I always have a bottle with me.

2) There’s no reason you need to be eating bread. Honestly. Man can live without bread. And, imagine my shock and horror when my Coach told me to cut out pasta as well. PASTA?! In Italy!? But I did, and I survived. Why cut out bread and pasta? The simple answer you can probably guess is “carbs.” But again, what the heck does that really mean? Why we really want to cut out bread and pasta is because they have a high glycemic index and therefore cause your blood sugar to rise, and that can be metabolized into fat. You want your diet to be as low in sugar as possible. You don’t want to cut out carbs completely, you just want to choose them from the best sources. So the carbs you eat should be coming from fruit sources like bananas, apples, berries, etc., but not white bread and pasta. It also is more effective for fax oxidation if you eat them early in the day, or before or after a workout, rather than late afternoon, evening, or night. Here’s an article with more essential facts to know about carbs.

3) Speaking of sugar. You shouldn’t be adding sugar to anything. In an ideal world you could cut it out altogether. Try for that.

4) Cut out all processed foods. This was perhaps my biggest challenge. It basically means anything that’s gone through any sort of process in a factory. You want to be eating things as close as possible to the state they were in when they came out of the ground, off the tree, etc. I basically don’t eat anything from a box or package anymore, except I do buy frozen fish and bags of frozen vegetables. But I make sure that when I buy these things, that’s ALL there is. CHECK LABELS! A lot of frozen veg mixes and packaged frozen fish have added olive oil, spices, etc. etc. No. Just buy ones that have only natural vegetables or fish without anything else added. You can then season it yourself.

5) Snacks. Basically I eat breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner. The best go-to snacks I use are the ones most training specialists recommend: healthy fats like a small handful of almonds, or a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt (lots of protein, no sugar, low carbs).

6) Planning ahead. Obviously you have to have these things around your kitchen in order to eat them and prepare them. So do your grocery shopping accordingly. Also, don’t buy anything that you aren’t supposed to eat. Some people say “But I have kids..” etc. Ok. So do I. I have three preschoolers under age 5 at home. They don’t eat the exact same diet as I do, but pretty darn close. They do eat pasta, and drink lots of milk. But they eat very little processed food and don’t get unhealthy snacks except as a special treat. I no longer really crave junk food so it’s not a problem for me, but if you are getting a special treat for the kids, buy just enough of it so that once the kids have their snack, there isn’t anything left around the house. My kids get popsicles instead of ice cream in our freezer. We make them with fruit juice.

Those are the tips I have for you for now. More will come over time.

Where are you at in your current eating habits? Do you pay attention to the food you’re putting in your mouth? Do you absentmindedly eat whatever is quick and convenient, or do you make an effort to be conscious about the foods you choose?

Training vs. Going to the Gym

Because, in my opinion, they are two different things.

Before I started seriously training my body (and by default my mind simultaneously), I was one of those people who, if they worked out at all, would be like, “I’m going to the gym.”

People, let’s be honest here. What does that even mean? Ok, obviously, yes–you’re going to a place with a bunch of weights and machines and a whole bunch of other equipment and random STUFF that you may not have ever used or even know how to use. Fine. But beyond that?

What I’m getting at here is the ultimate question that I think anyone who wants to really get serious about physical fitness should be asking themselves each and every damn time they go in for a workout, whether it’s at home, in a park, or in the gym:

What is my plan? What am I going to do today while I’m there, and why am I doing it?

In my opinion, and based on my own personal experience in both the training and simply “going to the gym” camps, I feel quite confident when I say that if you don’t have the time, desire, or inclination to look at that question and then answer it, you probably won’t get very satisfactory results.

Why? Well, it’s simple. Working out is like anything else you spend time on in your life. You do it for a reason, right? But with most things you do for a reason, you study and learn and practice to become precise in what you’re doing, taking specific steps to achieve whatever goal or objective you have in mind. For example, in your job, if you have an important task to complete but no one ever really gave you any decent professional training on how to accomplish the task, you’d probably go online and start researching how other people have done it, or what the best practices are.

Strangely enough though, when you think about it, the average person doesn’t do this when it comes to physical fitness.

In my experience, the average person approaches “working out” like it’s something that just magically happens when you simply “go to the gym.”

Next time you’re in your gym, take a look around. I want you to really notice what the people are doing. Honestly. All those TV sets, distractions. People on the treadmills with their cell phones! Obsessively playing with the iPod to get God only knows what obscure song to play.

Meanwhile, are any of those people really sweating?

I’m not out to criticize gym-goers, by any means. God bless anyone who takes the time out of their busy lives to dedicate effort to getting physical activity. But what I want to highlight in this post is that what divides those who get serious results from those who maintain an average level of fitness without seeing any visible results, is the time put in to answering that question above.

For example, I’ve already got my entire workout planned for my trip to the gym tomorrow. It involves new exercises and lifts with the weights that I’ve never done before. So I had to look them up, read instructions about how to do them, maybe watch a YouTube video or two, and then I wrote notes about it on my workout log.

Yes, that’s right: a workout log. Maybe you’ve seen people in your gym carrying around papers and noting things down. And hopefully they weren’t those psuedo-plans that most “intro sessions” with a trainer give you when you first join a gym, because frankly those are (generally) not worth much because they aren’t custom-tailored to you and your goals. A workout log is your personal record of where you’re at, what you’re doing, and how you’re progressing. It takes planning and dedication to keep it updated and current.

I’m following a specific six-month plan right now. Currently I am on stage 4 of the plans in this book, which was recommended to me by this amazing girl who is one of my dearest friends here in Italy, and I highly recommend this book to you as well if you are a woman just coming into weight training. There is also this version by the same authors, geared towards male beginners and elite lifters. It has objectives and reasons and specific exercises, all of which are designed to produce specific results. It also includes dietary guidelines, not as in “diet” in the traditional sense (weight loss, fad diets, etc.) but as in eating the proper foods that will allow my body to perform the lifts in the most optimal way.

That, in a nutshell, is what I’m talking about. I know it’s not for everyone. But honest to God, if you keep just “going to the gym” and mindlessly walking on a treadmill without even knowing why you’re doing it other than “I want to get into shape,” I can assure you that you won’t go anywhere significant in terms of reaching goals.

Why? It’s simple. Because “getting into shape” is a non-specific goal. As in, ok, fine. You want to get into shape. But how will you KNOW when you’re “in shape”? What does that even MEAN?

Let’s think about this. And start asking yourself, what are my fitness goals, specifically? Why am I working out? What do I want to accomplish during my time working out and how will I know when I’ve accomplished it?

Let me know in the comments where you are in your workout regimen. No clue where to start? Walking the treadmill without a goal? Intimidated by the weights and scary-looking machines? Not knowing where to start? Or on a specific training program with set markers and goals? Tips to share?

Photographic Evidence

Like, you know what people just LOVE to say nowadays? “If there’s no picture, it didn’t happen.”

Which, frankly, confounds me given the fact that in today’s day and age, you could pretty much fabricate any sort of photographic evidence you wanted by using sophisticated digital tools at a moment’s notice, on your cell phone probably, and so, would that mean it “had happened”?

It’s kind of like that whole Zen “what’s the sound of one hand clapping in an empty forest?” thingy.

Anyhoo. Just so you can know that I’m not shitting you when I talk about what I’m doing on this blog, and just so you know that I’ve lost every last shred of self-consciousness because I’M THAT DETERMINED to begin preaching at the altar of fitness, I give you EXHIBIT A:


Which, up until now, only my dearest FB friends could see, and which I now reveal to you as proof that when my babies were six months old, I was rocking a really nice jelly belly. Nothing wrong with that! In the sense that, for the love of God, people, we’re only human. Don’t frickin’ expect miracles. But just as proof that if you hear a woman walking around saying that she still has “baby weight” and her kids are in college, well… it’s not the only way. And, don’t think I’m getting paid to sit around and lift weights all day, because I have a full-time job and also really try to make sure my kiddos have clean clothes and hot meals to eat. So, you know, if you want results, you have to make it a priority. I did. And so, I give you EXHIBIT B:

2012-08-25 12.15.34

The crappy quality is not due to some shady attempt to hide anything, but rather to the fact that the only camera I own at the moment is a really crappy cell phone one, and, I took this right after my workout today and so quite honestly, my hands were shaking a little bit. Because that’s what twohundredsixteen pushups will do to a girl.

And, before you fall into the clichèd trap that nearly all men and a good majority of women fall into, that of “OHMYGODDON’TGETALLMUSCULAR” which is just, bullshit, I give you, EXHIBIT C:


Me and two of my very best friends out for a drink. Because, yes. But remember low-carb drinking: vodka on the rocks. So, what would you say? Too masculine? No. Do not let anyone tell you that weight training will somehow mysteriously “bulk you up” and turn you into a scary-ass She-Man. Not gonna happen. Make you a strong and gorgeous goddess? Yes. She-Man? Nope.

Anyhoo. There you go. It happened.
But it is not over yet. Not by far.

Mad as Hell

And in that title, I want you to imagine hell as a very, very angry place.

Holy crap people. Here we go. Like I really needed two blogs in my life. Because most of y’all probably know that my sarcasm and biting wit normally find their outlet over here.

But guess what happened in the meantime? I got wrapped up in weight training as a way to channel all that repressed anger I apparently built up over the fact that I’m a newly divorced mom of three children under age 5, two of whom are non-identical twin girls rounding the bend out of the “terrible twos” phase.

Clearly, if I hadn’t found a decent outlet for my stress, I just might have launched myself gracefully off of my balcony, in an alcohol-and-cigarette-smoke-induced haze.

And yet, I did not!

No, I did not at all. What I did do, people, is start getting really strong. I started this blog at the beginning, as a personal journal. I didn’t know if I would take it public or not, or what. So I just kept writing it, and no one knew about it. Then I shut it down because it was getting super emo and all gushy and personal and I was like, you know what? Fuck it.

(Oh sorry, I forgot to put the disclaimer on swears. I say different kinds of swear words, at unexpected moments. So, you know, if that’s a problem for you, you should go read LOLCats or something.)

So anyhoo, I shut it down. But I kept working out. And then something happened in the meantime. Something really important.

People started to effing notice results. Like, as in, people started saying stuff like “Damn, you look good!” which was embarrassing for me because I wasn’t sure how to take it. Like, with my shitty-ass post-divorce self-esteem (which I promise I will try to stop highlighting, ie, “fake it til you make it” and pretend I feel all good about myself, but frankly folks, I really don’t, which makes it kind of tough), my effed-up mindframe would immediately think “Bastards. Why are they making fun of me?” because this is what the human brain will tend to do to you in the following circumstances: (at least, my human brain anyhow)

1) When you leave a relationship that broke you down emotionally to such a profoundly low level (mind you I’m saying relationship, not blaming the person I was married to in any way, shape, or form—it takes two to tango and I accept my 50%), when in your mind you become conscious of the fact that you feel like you are worth pretty much less than 10-day old garbage (believe me, it feels even worse than it sounds), well, shit, you’re not really ready to gracefully accept comments about your physical appearance. Your mind tricks you into thinking it’s some kind of evil mind fuck that people are playing on you. I know, it’s messed up. But bear with me.

2) When you start working out as hard core as I did, as in 4 to 5 times a week, one hour of very, very intense work and a radically modified diet (I cut out ALL sugar, bread, pasta, and non-water drinks for six weeks…I honest to God not joking had recurring dreams about eating cookies and sweets and then realizing what I was doing and spitting it in the garbage before swallowing…yes I realize this is not normal but that’s what was happening), clearly your psyche needs more time than your body to adjust to the changes you are making in your life.

3) When you still carry around bullshit baggage that goes all the way back to high school because you were everyone’s friend but no guy would date you, so much so that you were the effing loser girl that had to TAKE TICKETS at the senior prom because not even your GAY MALE FRIENDS would go with you, well, let me tell you, the whole self-esteem thing takes some work. Honestly. You would think we’d grow out of this crapola, but for me, it didn’t magically vanish by sinking into a cozy 10-year relationship, a 4-year marriage, and three children. Nope. Didn’t. No Bandaid-brand-bandage for that shit. It’s raw. It sounds stupid, right? “First world problems.” But so be it.

Anyways, all that to say, that starting an intense physical training program has psychological and mental implications the likes of which no trained therapist can dig out. No, people. I honestly believe that Mr. Barbell and Mr. Dumbbell have pulled out more inner psychic garbage in just 3 short months than a therapist could have done over, well, a lot longer.

Because working out has forced me to come to terms with a lot of that. Lifting weights makes me feel strong and secure, and it makes me really question why I settle for men who clearly don’t respect me or want to dedicate any time, thought, or attention to me as a person, but are more interested in whatever kind of superficial physical contact they can finagle (like that? I just used the word FINAGLE. I am a goddess.) out of me and my “pick me! choose me!” needy-ass mentality.

Well folks, no more.

NO MORE I said!

After desperately trying to cling on (not in any kind of weird sci-fi Star Trek way because those people kind of creep me out, no offense) to any man who would give me any sort of even remotely superficial compliment, which is about as easy to get as simply breathing when you live here in Italian stallion-land, I was drinking that shit up like I was a lost soul in a desert without water, I realized something so basic, that it was probably akin to that feeling we all had when we first discovered Post-Its.

You know the feeling I’m talking about. It’s that “WHY THE HELL DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS FIRST?” feeling.

I realized what everyone had been telling me all along, but I was finally ready to face it. “You don’t need a man in your life to make you a whole person. You’re already whole as you are. You’re already good and perfect as you are.”

What a revolutionary concept, right? But until your HEART understands this, you just keep going out there looking for someone else to make it happen for you.

Well, thanks to Mr. Dumbbell and Mr. Barbell and crew, I got back in touch with me and my inner and outer strength.

Back to mad as hell. So now, whenever things piss me off, like, for example:

1) Yesterday the dip-shit doctor who’s subbing in August for my normal awesome doctor who’s on vacation, didn’t want to write my prescription refill because “the sign says you have to give us one business day to do so” and when I told him I didn’t see the sign until I got there and “could you please write my prescription” because seriously people, in all the time it took him to bitch about the stupid signs he posted, it could have already been done… and he says “If you don’t leave my office I’ll call the cops on you for interrupting a public service” and then he wouldn’t even give me his name? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? (Btw, I got my damn prescription. Because I know how to throw a first-class raving lunatic fit when the occasion calls for it. And raving lunatic I do very well when called for.)

2) The realization that I have a brilliant mind (IMHO) that very few men on this great Earth of ours are capable of stimulating in the constant manner that I require, which leads me to think that I might be single for quite some time, which almost makes me feel sad and lonely and then I remember that most men are only after sex (sorry if that sounds cynical but truly folks, at least here in Rome, that has been my experience) and that at my age most men are married and squared away and the ones “left over” are left over for a reason. Shit, people. I know none of what I’m writing here is even remotely politically correct. But once you’re a single mom raising three children under 5, you become almost like one of those cranky old senior citizens who insist on continuing to drive at 90 years old, even though everyone around them knows they shouldn’t be, and guess what?! THEY JUST DON’T GIVE A SHIT. And they do it/say it/live it anyway. Life’s too short, folks. Speak your truth.

Jesus Lord where was I going with all this?

Oh yeah. So my mixture of anger, sadness, self-pity, loneliness, jealousy, aggression, and just about any old other negative emotion you want to sprinkle in the pot, led me to think that maybe, just maybe, today was a good day to try to double my push-up regimen.

As in, “normally” when I decide to do a circuit of push-ups, I do it Coach G-style in a pyramid, so starting with 8, sprint, then 7, sprint, then 6, sprint, on down to 1. Then a one-minute break before starting the whole ridiculous torture routine again. TWICE.

So today, I had just that much anger that I was like (picture me all inner mad): “YOU KNOW WHAT?” to absolutely no one. “FUCK EVERYONE!” And that, my friends, was most probably the exact precise moment when I decided I was going to do that damn circuit. TWICE.

Which came to a grand total of TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN PUSH-UPS.

And I did it.

OH YES, I most certainly did. I won’t lie to you. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be within my physical capability. But folks, can I let you in on an ancient training secret? Or, if not ancient, at least a secret discovered by yours truly just today? The mind is more powerful than you think, and it can push your body to do most incredible feats of strength. Which is why I was crazy enough to attempt and then successfully complete one circuit at the beginning of my workout. AND ONE AT THE END.

As in, one-hundred-and-eight pushups after I had worked out for nearly an hour. Full-out. No “on the knees” stuff. Which, by the way, is nothing to be ashamed of. I could barely do like five of those on my knees when I first started. Everyone starts from somewhere. No shame in the game, people! But that is another reason why this number is significant for me. Because I have come a long way, and I didn’t even need a damn Virginia Slims cigarette to confirm this fact.

So, all in all, I think that’s what I’d like to from now on refer to as “healthy anger management.” Otherwise known as HAM.


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