Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

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Leaps of Faith: The First Step is to Jump

leap-of-faithThe inspiration for this post came to me from an unexpected source: My dentist (whose dental practice is awesome, might I add). During my routine cleaning this week I was updating him on my recent career endeavors, and how psyched I am about finally taking the steps to start my own personal training/counseling practice and immersing myself in the world of fitness, at present. His response continued to echo in my brain long after I left the exam chair: “You just made my day by sharing that with me… Taking a leap of faith… you just don’t see people do that anymore. It’s so good to see somebody going for what they love”. (Aw, thanks dentist!)

Whether it be in therapy or exercise (or life, in general), he’s right: I’ve come across many people, from all walks of life, who stare out from a door of opportunity, stick one toe out, and immediately retract to the comforts of their “status quo”. Maybe the goal seems too lofty, too big, too risky… Maybe with change means letting go of an old identity, saying goodbye to relationships that no longer work, or “closing a chapter” that a lot of effort was put into. I get it. I’ve been there. In fact, I think I can count numerous times in my life I’ve had to go on blind faith, hoping that if and when I land, the impact won’t break me. Well, in the worlds of the great Elton John: “I’m still standing! (Yeah, yeah yeah)”, and I’ve learned that listening to your heart (and that ever-nagging gut feeling) always ensures you land softly… even if it’s a bumpy ride down .

Let’s bring this back around to what tends to happen to clients I’ve worked with in the past, and how I use “leaps of faith” to push people out that aforementioned door of opportunity. This is why I am so passionate about fitness and emotional/behavioral work being so connected: Both involve taking a risk with yourself, and both involve taking ownership over your life to create change. Committing to a healthier you – whether mental or physical – requires a critical, inward look and a readiness to be honest with yourself and what no longer works for you. “But Caitlin! That’s TOO SCARY!!! I’d rather NOT!”, you say. Of course! And enrolling yourself in a fitness or counseling program doesn’t mean you show up for session one and your life is forced to change. Hey, I always say that the first step is just reaching out for help (that takes bravery in itself! And heck, that’s the first part of a leap!)

The next step is breaking down your “leap” into something more manageable and less scary. When somebody says to me “I want to lose 50 pounds in 30 days and feel better about myself”, you can best bet my answer is something like, “Wow! I love your ambition. But, let’s start small – how would you like to feel in, say, two weeks? More energy? Increased positivity?” I didn’t jolt myself awake one day exclaiming, “TODAY I START A PRIVATE PRACTICE!!!” I developed small goals that were a means to an end – from trying to get one new client a week, to exploring where to set up shop, to figuring out how in the world “tweeting” is effective… There were probably multiple times in the last 3 years I could have left my job, but I didn’t “make the leap” until more pieces came together. And, my gut and heart said GO. So that being said, a “leap” can be made up of many small “jumps” that eventually make up your overall goal. That being said, you gotta jump to begin with. 

Having support, guidance, friendship…whatever… along the way is very important, too. My leap of faith felt far less scary when I knew I had oodles of support from loved ones, colleagues, new business connections, etc. It’s important to remember who isn’t going to leave you feeling alone when you begin to create change. I frequently preached this in my family therapy work: Who is going to help you when you start to feel scared or overwhelmed? As a personal trainer and a therapist, I constantly feel blessed to be put in this role for people time and time again.

In sum, recognize that leaping is scary, but listening to what’s best for you and OWNING THAT (even when it looks ugly) is far worth the jump. And, go see my dentist, because apparently if you share the fact you’re embarking on your dream with him, he’ll be your first supporter 🙂

Happy Leaping, everyone!

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Hot Weather Training – How to Keep Your Cool During Warm Workouts

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun... Please don't ruin my run!

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun… Please don’t ruin my run!

You know, back when I was training the Walt Disney World Marathon in November and December, I would think to myself: WHY did you pick a WINTER marathon to train for?! If ONLY it was warm out! Suited up head-to-toe in my running tights, beanies, and warmth-trapping jackets, I’d trudge along Kelly Drive in the chill of 15 degrees and wonder what it may feel like to train in the comforts of summer. Is this an instance of “be careful what you wish for”? Because summer training, so far, has proven quite the challenge.

That being said, I’ve had the chance to brush on some warm-weather tips that are helpful not only for us crazy distance runners, but for safe summer exercise, in general. There are numerous complications that can occur when heat takes its toll including but not limited to: dehydration, heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, and (at its worst) heat stroke.

I have a few tried & true tips that have saved my life during these heatwaves (and no, I’m not being dramatic.. without following these guidelines, my body could be in serious trouble!):

1.) Train early (when possible) and late (when safe): I used to think 5:15 was an ungodly hour to arise in the morning, but since many of my clients like to get a workout in before rushing off to work, I have the benefit of being awake early, therefore being able to train before the temperature rises. It goes without saying that morning and late evening (if there is a cool down at night) are the best times, temperature wise, to put in work. Be safe, though. If you have to train after dark, use your best judgement and run somewhere populated and safe. Being down in Philly, I’ve been on Kelly Drive as late as 9:00 PM and felt totally safe (and had the company of numerous other exercisers).

2.) Wear loose, light clothing: There really IS something behind those “moisture-wicking” clothes you see so often in the stores. Cotton, while comfy, gets heavier when wet. Choose light, comfortable clothing that breathes and moves easily. Think of your clothing like air vents for your body heat. They need to be open to get the air where it needs to go!

3.) Listen to your body. Rest/stretch when you need to: If you’re anything like me, I get all in my head when I run. There’s a little Jillian Michaels in there yelling “IS THAT ALL YOU GOT? YOU’RE NOT TIRED! DON’T BE WEAK!!!” Well, Jillian, I hate to yell back at you (and would be fearful to do so in real life) but on warm days you need to KNOCK IT OFF! If you need to stop and take a drink, take a drink. If you need to walk for a few feet/miles, do so. 100 degree days are not made for PRs. Save your intensity for a time your body doesn’t have to combat heat!

4.) HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! (And when you think you’re hydrated, check your pee, and hydrate more just to be safe…) I’m going to defer to this link for the major guidelines behind fluid intake, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to abide by “Moisture is the Essence of Wetness” (thanks, Zoolander) when exercising in the heat. Frequent peeing (albeit annoying) is good. Stick to good ol’ fashioned water (sports drinks come in handier when you’re exercising 60 minutes+) and monitor fluid loss by weighing yourself (guidelines in the aforementioned link). Dehydration is a NASTY thing to have to deal with and can really mess with your body.

I hope this helped provide some easy-to-follow tips for warm weather exercise. Summer, although hot, is also a BEAUTIFUL time to be out and about. So, stay smart about it, and happy hot weather workouts, everyone! 🙂


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The Next Chapter

I apologize for the lack of posts in the past two months, readers. Things have been a bit hectic as I’ve transitioned from full-time CGRC employee to self-employed personal trainer & private practitioner! I’m happy to say, however, that “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” has received a lot of support as it’s begun it’s growth (including nominations for Be Well Philly’s “Health Hero” Award!: ) and I’m looking forward to all the news clients out there to be helped!

I’d like to take a moment to recognize, however, the agency that helped shape me as a clinician and is majorly responsible for the development of my therapeutic skills. I spent a wonderful four years at Child Guidance Resource Center ( and cannot say enough about the director, supervisors, and fellow therapists involved in my program, “Family First”. I was fortunate enough to meet and work with some amazing families and see what I believe to be real healing of emotional and relational concerns in parents & their children. I highly recommended reaching out to CGRC at 484-454-8700 to learn more about services or to schedule an intake if you feel you or your family could benefit from therapeutic services.

The idea I took away most from my work, and something I will continue to pull from as I treat and train individuals from here on out, is that we operate from within a system (and in that sense are never alone). What do I mean by that? Our environments – family, school, work, relationships, etc. – have an important influence on the way we behave and think every day. This is important to consider when beginning a personal training program just as much as it is when one enters therapy. I have come across people who feel “unhealthy” largely due to environmental reasons (from something as simple as what’s served at school lunch, to something as serious as emotional abuse) and it’s amazing how change is created once people are able to take action and ownership in regards to their environment (such as removing oneself from an abusive situation, or choosing to pack a healthy lunch). This is the very concept I use in my training – YOU have the ability to manipulate and change your world – the way you think, feel, and act. With the right supports and the right intervention, growth is possible.

I am so excited for what my next chapter with “Healthy Mind, Healthy Body” will bring. I know that my family/child therapy work is a huge part of the knowledge I bring to the table as a trainer, and look forward to continuing to hone my skills in this new endeavor! In sum, YAY CGRC!!! 🙂

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