5 Critical Things To Change When Trying Get In Better Shape

The thing that most people come to me for and ask the most questions about is mainly in regards to how they can lose more weight and get leaner. More than likely what most of my clients aren't normally present to is how much exercise they really need and what in their nutrition needs to be adjusted to get the scale moving in the right direction. Our clients recently got a chance to see how they measure up in the area of their fitness during our fitness testing challenge. Participants got to test their endurance, strength, stamina, and their body composition. The results were mixed and we all got to see the correlations between how much exercise you do and how it relates to our present results. Another more surprising thing was how our nutrition not only plays a role in how we look but also in our performance. Now what was really cool about it is that we got to distinguish some of the practices that were consistent with people who had a low body fat percentage and performed at a higher level versus those who were at a higher body fat and didn't perform as well. I'd like to share with you the 5 main practices that you could start incorporating today in this FREE downloadable hand out that will make difference in how you look and feel. The best part of it all is they're all pretty simple.

For Better Grades, Students Should Exercise Their Minds and Hearts

It’s time to banish the stereotype of the dumb jock. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation with how much exercise a kid gets and how well they do in school.

Researchers recently found that adolescents who have a higher level of cardiovascular fitness and motor ability did better in school than their less fit peers. They also had better memory and larger hippocampi. Students with lower cardiovascular capacity and motor skills tended to have lower grades.

Cardiovascular exercise can be anything that gets your heart pumping, from swimming to running to playing sports like basketball. Motor fitness includes exercises which require agility and precision, like ice-skating and skiing.

This just goes to show you the impact that movement has not only on our bodies, but our minds too. The good news is that starting a healthy lifestyle as an adolescent greatly increases the chances that they will sustain it well into adulthood. Just like it’s easier to retain certain skills learned in youth (like speaking a language, learning to ride a bike, or playing an instrument), having your kids adopt healthy habits early on will help to ingrain it into their minds; even if they fall off the wagon, it’s something they’ll have an easier time picking up again. So for better grades, be sure your child gets equal study and exercise time.

Further reading:

1.       http://www.medicaldaily.com/new-study-finds-children-who-exercise-get-better-grades-school-288920


With most programs here at Empower HFS we like to finish things off with what we call a completion exercise. This allows you to move forward in what you're up to and provides you with a fresh perspective other than the one that we usually have when we "feel" something didn't go as well as we liked. A negative perspective of something can have a lasting impact on the future of that situation. Like people who constantly fail at losing weight and never learm from their failures. It only takes a few minutes and its so worth the time.

What is completion?

Completion is the opportunity to leave a situation whole and complete. Restoring and bringing integrity back to what is broken and unresolved. Completion is when there is nothing left to say or do. To be complete you have to be responsible for how things are and how they've gone. 

Said another way you must acknowledge where you had a hand in how things went. For example: Saying that you're not able to exercise because of not having enough time but still being able to stay up late to watch television is an opportunity for getting complete.

Take out a sheet a paper and  answer these questions as honestly as possible.

1. What are you incomplete with around your participation or your experience around participating fully?

2.What are you incomplete with around the results you have accomplished or failed to accomplish?

3. Is there anything about this or challenge that you're upset or disappointed about?

4. Do you have any resentments or regrets?

5. Are there any failures you haven't acknowledged or completed for yourself?

6.Do you have some accomplishment that didn't get acknowledged or shared?

Being complete begins with being committed to being complete. Continue to answer as honetsly as possible.

 1. What is it that your holding on to that keeps you from being complete? (Ex. Being right, not wanting to be responsible, blaming something else, etc.)

2. What is it that your not being responsible for? (Ex. Managing your time, planning, going to bed on time, making better choices etc.)

3. What haven't you acknowledged that needs to be acknowledged? (Ex. I wasn't committed, I cheated more than I should've, I didn't push myself, I didn't do everything I said I was going to do)

4. What do you need to give up? (Ex. The belief that I don't have time, Being righteous, Taking things on one foot it one foot out)

5. What can you forgive? (Forgiving in this case is giving up the right to make others or yourself wrong)

6. What can you take responsibility for? (Responsibility is not taking blame raher it's taking ownership of how things go.)

7. What can you acknowledge for yourself? 

8. What is an action that you can take to be complete? It can be a declaration, promise, giving something up, forgiving or taking responsibility for an incident.

This program is only a stepping stone for the future you are now living into. It does not stop here, it begins here.

What are you do see for yourself for the next three months that will be a triumph over the past?

What is the commitment that will have you fulfilling on that future?

In a year from now what will you have if honored your commitment?

This is what’s next for you.


Caramelized Onion and Sausage Stuffing

Prep time: 25 mins       Cook time: 15 mins      Total time: 40 mins           Serves: 4


  • 1lb ground lean sausage
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1 sweet potato or yam
  • 1 container of mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 free range or cage free eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fat of choice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil, throw diced sweet potatoes/yams on it, sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender, then set aside.
  2. While those cook, pull out a large skillet, place it under medium-high heat and place a tablespoon of fat along your minced garlic clove and your mushrooms in it to begin to cook down. Add a bit of salt and pepper and cook until soft. Once they are done cooking, add to a large bowl.
  3. While your mushrooms are cooking down, add a tablespoon of fat to another large skillet over medium heat and add your sliced onions. Continuously move onions around to help coat and caramelize. The caramelization will take about 10-15 minutes. Add a bit of salt and pepper, to taste.
  4. When your mushrooms are done cooking, add your pork sausage to the hot mushroom pan (the mushrooms have been removed at this point). Use a wooden spoon to break up sausage and cook until almost cooked through.
  5. Once the sausage is all done, add mixture to your mushroom bowl to cool. Now beat your eggs, add to your sausage mixture, and add your chicken broth and vinegar, along with your sweet potatoes, pecans, and chopped herbs. Mix well.
  6. You can now either use a 9×13 baking dish to place your stuffing in OR place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Either way will work.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes, then add your caramelized onions and cooked for 5 more minutes.
  8. Eat it up!!!! OMG OMG, its so good.

Exercise and Good Nutrition For Better Relationships?

One of my favorite things to see here at Empower is when couples come in and workout together. Not only is it great seeing two people taking an interest in improving there health and the way look, but it's incredible the way that it creates bonding and it strengthens their relationships. Very inspiring!

Aside from couples working out together, I've been noticing an interesting phenomena within the members that do not exercise with a significant other. Mainly how it impacts their relationships with their kids, their spouses, and the other relationships in there personal lives. Many of the moms have told me that they have noticed that they have been more patient with their kids and seen more intimacy within their relationships with their spouse. Some member start new relationships and some cases even get married.

Ultimately what I've gotten is that once you start working on the most important relationship you have (the relationship with yourself) you start to feel better and you depend less how other people make you feel. Also when you exercise and eat cleanly a number of important things begin to occur:

  • You start to notice an increase in energy.
  • You boost your stress tolerance and keep your cool longer.
  • You sleep better.
  • You notice less aches and pains.
  • You experience a boost in your libido.
  • You become a better problem solver.
  • You surround yourself with positive like minded people.
  • You feel a boost in confidence and self-esteem.

So even though we never connect fitness and nutrition with the shape of our relationships, I hope that you can see how important living a healthy active lifestyle can be not just for your health and for how you look, but also for the things that are so important to us. It really does impact so many things that at first seem unrelated but ultimately are linked. Because its about you and the way you feel about yourself. How you see yourself and you relate to yourself will always  have a direct impact on how you interact with the world around you.

Daniel Martinez Hixson CPT, FNS