Monday, June 24, 2013

"It doesn't get easier, you just get better"

During Zumba class today I was looking around at all of the people that have been doing Zumba with me for quite awhile.  Some since I began 3 1/2 years ago.  I see them on a pretty regular basis and have grown to love each one.  This includes those who were not present at this particular class.

We were having fun and sweating when it occurred to me just how good and how far they had come.  I wish that I had a video of them when they first began coming to class.  I see them move more in unison and with emotion and agility.  I don't even think that they know how much better they are.  I am so proud of all of them!

I have an age range of mid 70's down to 20's.  I like to say that this is the fountain of youth!  Moving and exercise and eating a well-balanced diet  is the fountain of youth and I am seeing it first hand.

As the class progressed I was reminded of the quote I used in my e-mail this week "It doesn't get easier, you just get better".  This is very powerful and true.  While my dance fitness songs and routines change, it doesn't get harder per se.  They have just gotten better, and in turn it starts to feel easier.

Some people are paralyzed with the fear that they won't be good at something so they don't even try.  Maybe they have failed before, and think they will fail again.  The only way you can fail at something is to give up.  What is wrong with starting over every day?  Doing the best you can do with what you have is success.

When we are born, it is not an easy journey into the world.  From then on we are struggling to move and learn.  As we practice, we get better.  Rolling, then crawling, then walking etc... None of it was easy as we started out, but we didn't give up and it got easier.

There is a gal in the Zumba Fitness organization who has no legs.  She does Zumba from her wheelchair.  She moves and grooves with everyone.  What a great feeling to know that everyone can move with their own abilities. 

I guess my point is that it is never too late to decide to improve your life, your body, your health, your wealth.  Step outside your comfort zone, and see what happens.  It may not be easy at first, but it will be worth it!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Little Rant about Gastric Bypass

Well, it's been since September 2012 that I have posted anything.  I'm going to use my blog as a platform to vent a bit about an article that I recently read. 

Starting out a new year, almost everyone is into resolutions for health and fitness. The fact is that seventy-five percent keep resolutions for about a week.  That figure drops to about 71 percent after two weeks, and after a month only about one-third are still maintaining the promises to make positive lifestyle changes.  By the summer, fewer than half can even remember their resolutions, let alone keep them.

For most things in life, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be successful at accomplishing a goal.  Whether it is a career, ministering, acting, losing weight, exercising...all take a lot of planning, organizing, discipline and constant goal setting.  Most things in life that are worthwhile are worth working toward.  So why is it that the one most important thing that we have to take care of gets neglected the most?  Why do we fuel our bodies with mediocre, or worse, food and let them sit idle and collect life-threatening diseases?  We are our own worst enemy, and want an easy fix.  Well, I'm sorry, there is no easy fix.  However, there is a lot of help out there for people to lose weight, gain more energy, become younger and enjoy life longer.  But in my opinion, Gastric Bypass is NOT the answer.

I just recently read an article in our local newspaper about a 54 year old woman who had Gastric Bypass surgery.  One of the main headline's says "Local woman's journey to health provides pointers."  As I read the article, I kept waiting to hear how HARD the journey had been.  How sickly this person was for months and how much of a struggle it was.  Not once was that mentioned.  I happen to know that she was very sick for months!

The people that I personally  know who have had this surgery have had to lose 40-50 lbs before even getting the surgery.  Once having it, they cannot eat hardly anything, and I mean less than what a bird would eat.  Each one has been in and out of the hospital near death throughout the first year.  One person that I know died from the surgery!  For the rest of your life you are going to have to eat a certain way and exercise or the weight will not stay off.  So not only do you still have to change your lifestyle, but you have the added bonus of being horribly sick and risking death on top of it.

Does this sound like an easy journey?  I ponder this question because so many people think that eating healthy and exercising is hard.  Well, I would say it is a lot easier than what you go through with the surgery.  We always have things in life that we don't want to do, but we do them because we HAVE to.  i.e. cleaning the bathrooms, going to work, shoveling snow, raking grass, doing chores...why not treat the best thing you have like you want to keep it? 

I have a friend who has lost over 100lbs this last year WITHOUT surgery.  There were no pills, shots or drastic diets.  This is someone who has a thyroid problem (used to be an excuse), high blood pressure and other health issues.  Her doctor, many times, tried talking her into the gastric bypass surgery, but thankfully, she didn't do it.  One day she just decided that she would start eating healthier.  Not diet. Not try to lose weight (because she had tried everything), but just eat healthier.  Guess what?  The weight started coming off.  She then became more aware of what she was eating, and added exercise.  She did this for her, and the results started to spread into other areas of her life.  You see, when you take care of yourself it becomes easier to take care of others and other things in your life.  She is now way down on her thyroid and blood pressure medicine.  One of the surprising results she has gotten is how many people have asked her what pills she was taking or wouldn't believe that she didn't have some sort of surgery! 

Has it gotten that bad, that people think if you are morbidly obese you cannot lose weight and be healthy without surgery?!

Here's the thing that I don't get, when people choose bypass they have to lose so much weight before even proceeding with the surgery.  If you are losing 40-50 lbs already, why not keep going?  You are losing the weight without the bypass...something you thought that you couldn't do in the first place.

Another thing that bothers me is why are so many doctors recommending the surgery?  There are a couple of things that I thought might be the case.  My first thought was money, but I still believe most doctors are in their profession to help people not just make a buck.  Therefore, my next thought was that they have probably told their patients over and over that they needed to lose weight and exercise. Maybe they've said it so many times that they are worn out.  The morbidly obese will only have a short time to live so doing the surgery may force them into a healthier lifestyle and give them some more years to live.  The Doc may be at a desperation point to save a life.

Here are a few guidelines to follow this year on a healthy journey without surgery:
1.  Start small
2.  Change behaviors one at a time.
3.  Talk about it.
4.  Don't beat yourself up.
5.  Ask for support.

In closing, I would just like to say that for 2013 don't make a resolution.  Make a lifestyle change so that you can enjoy every aspect of your life.  May you be full of energy, happy and around for a long time!

Thanks for letting me vent:)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Oh the Possibilities!

Today was the first time that I can remember in my life that I'm not trying to lose weight.  This is a huge step for me.  I was shocked at how relieved and content I have been all day.  That is what I want for everyone in my program!

Total Life Fitness explained:  My hope for you:)

Welcome to the rest of your life.  Ask yourself if you want to be happy with yourself, your family, your friends and co-workers.  Do you want to be content and see the world through eyes that are free of the burdens that stress puts on your body and mind?  Do you go through your day constantly wanting to feel better, deep down knowing what you should do, but really not sure how to pull it all together to fit your lifestyle?  Always trying a fad diet, magic pill or the latest thing you should or shouldn't eat of a certain food group?  I've been there and done that!!   

I want to explain what Total Life Fitness is all about.  The main goal and my main mission is to help people live life to the fullest and be happy.  I don't have a magic pill, I don't have every answer to every problem (although I would try to find out), I can't do the work for you.  I will find out what you want in life to be the strongest, happiest and healthiest that your body and mind can be.  This can be as simple as playing with your children or grandchildren, to getting off certain meds, to just enjoying each and every day that you are given.

Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to not be burdened constantly with the worry of what you are going to eat every minute of the day?  What you will do for exercise?  When you should exercise?  How you will get everything done?  Nothing will be perfect, but figuring out the lifestyle that is best for you and enjoying the rest of your life by living that lifestyle is what I can help you with.

As far as the nutrition portion of Total Fitness goes, I enjoy food.  My goal is to teach moderation in everything you eat.  There is not a lot that is banned in my plan, but I push healthy food.  Healthy food can be very tasty especially nowadays with all of the wonderful recipes flying around on the net.  Restaurants have lots of great tasting choices on their menus now.  There are many things that we go over as to what is healthy, and I make sure that you know what a balanced eating plan is.  This is for life, not a few months and then go back to your old eating ways.  There are plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, water, etc...  This is a realistic approach to living healthy for the long term (meaning something you will stick too).

I hope that this clears up some questions as to what my whole program is about.  Of course, I fell in love with Zumba so if you need a first step then be sure to come to a class!  Fun and fitness that doesn't feel like a workout.  A huge stress buster, what more could you ask for?

You may call me (816) 262-7037 anytime to set up a consultation or e-mail me at  The web site is where I can also be contacted.

Make this a step toward your future for a stronger, healthier, happier life!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zumba is fun & works! Here's proof!

 Article by ACE Fitness

By Mary Luettgen, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Carl Foster, Ph.D., Richard Mikat, Ph.D., and Jose Rodriguez-Morroyo, Ph.D.

 Zumba fitness has quickly grown to one of the most popular group exercise classes on the planet. In fact, the Latin-dance inspired workout is reportedly performed by more than 12 million people at 110,000 sites, in 125 countries around the world.

“Ditch the Workout – Join the Party!” That’s the marketing slogan for Zumba fitness, which attracts exercisers with a fun fusion of dance moves from styles like Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton and Flamenco, and the sort of choreography you might see in a nightclub.

“Historically, aerobic dance was always like paint by the numbers,” says John Porcari, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science. “I think sometimes people get frustrated if dance steps get too intricate and complicated. But Zumba fitness leaves more room for interpretation. And it’s non-judgmental. You don’t have to move exactly like the instructor. It’s more like dancing in a club—people can just move the way they want.”

Just because Zumba fitness is fun, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an effective workout. Despite its immense popularity, to date very little research has been done to document the potential benefits of this form of aerobic dance. So the American Council on Exercise, the nation's Workout Watchdog®, commissioned Dr. Porcari and his team of exercise scientists to determine whether Zumba fitness provides a workout, a party or both.

The Study

Led by Porcari and Mary Luettgen, M.S., researchers from the University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science set out to determine the average exercise intensity and energy expenditure during a typical Zumba fitness class. First they recruited 19 healthy female volunteers, ages 18 to 22, all of whom had previous experience participating in Zumba classes.

To establish a baseline of fitness for the study subjects, each performed a maximal treadmill test that measured heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption VO2. This test also enabled researchers to develop individual linear regression equations for each subject to predict their VO2 based on HR readings. This was key because standard metabolic testing gear is bulky and wearing it would encumber the subjects’ ability to dance and properly participate in the Zumba class.

After the treadmill testing, each subject participated in a single Zumba session while equipped with a heart-rate monitor. While the class length varied from 32 to 52 minutes depending on which day it was conducted, the same Zumba-certified instructor taught all of the sessions.

The Results

After crunching the resulting data, researchers found that participating in a single Zumba fitness class burned an average of 369 calories or about 9.5 kcal per minute.

The average HR was 154 beats per minute (bpm), which is roughly 80 percent of the average predicted HRmax for the subjects. Accepted fitness industry guidelines suggest exercising in the range of 64 percent to 94 percent of HRmax to improve cardio endurance, so Zumba meets those requirements.

“If we look at the heart-rate monitor strips from the Zumba fitness session, they kind of look like interval workouts, going back and forth between high intensity and low intensity,” says lead researcher Mary Luettgen, M.S. “Because of that, with Zumba you burn a lot of extra calories compared to a steady-state exercise like jogging.”

As for the average estimated percentage of VO2max, the subjects averaged 64 percent of VO2max, which is well within industry recommendations of 40 percent to 85 percent of VO2max for improving cardio endurance.

Of particular note is that HRmax and VO2max responses for all of the subjects fell within the range of industry guidelines, despite the fact that there was a wide range of fitness levels among the subjects.

The Bottom Line

Zumba fitness may feel like a party, but this research suggests that it’s also a highly effective workout.

“It’s a total-body exercise—a good, high-energy aerobic workout,” explains Dr. Porcari. “Zumba fitness is also good for core strengthening and flexibility gains because there are lots of hip and midsection movements.”

With subjects burning an average of 369 calories per class, Zumba fitness is also a fine choice for those who are looking to drop a few pounds or maintain their current weight levels. In comparison with other exercises tested in the past by the University’s Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Zumba burns more calories than cardio kickboxing, step aerobics, hooping and power yoga.

“The surprising thing is that it doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re at—our research shows that in Zumba classes everyone is working out at the zone that’s recommended for improving cardio health,” says Luettgen. “Both fit people and less-fit people are going to get an equally good workout.”

Bottom line, Zumba fitness is an effective interval-style, full-body workout with built-in variety because every class and every instructor is slightly different. Equally important is the notion that Zumba classes are entertaining, which means exercisers are busy burning calories and getting fit while enjoying the fun of Latin dancing.

Sounds like our kind of party.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fitness is not just for looks

Eating right, exercising and staying healthy are the things that we know we should be doing.  There is proof at every turn about how much it helps us in life.  I have said it before and I'll say it again that exercise is the fountain of youth.  Aging is inevitable and most people resolve that they should feel a certain way by the time they get to a certain age and accept it.  That's just not for me.  I have had the healthiest body in my 40's than I did in my 20's and 30's.

That being said, I found out just how good taking care of yourself can be when I went to a Quick Trip in Lee's Summit the other day to get gas for my car.  This situation is on the list of my most embarrassing moments, but I am going to share it because it shed some light on the benefits of a healthy life. 

I had been driving for about 2 1/2 hours straight when I stopped.  My legs are usually a little stiff, and I have a knee that doesn't completely bend the full range of motion (that's another story).  I proceeded to connect the gas hose with the car and clean my windshield while trying to stretch my stiff muscles.  Walking to the back of the car (remember that QT's are full of cars and people) I tried to step over the hose and caught my right foot which then caught my left foot on the hose.  There was no slow motion about this.  The next thing I knew  I was on the ground.  I immediately jumped up as people were horrified and asking if I was alright.  I told them that I was more embarrassed than hurt.

I finished gassing up and pulled the car to a parking spot.  It was then that I started assessing the situation.  My left shoulder muscles hurt, but not to where I thought anything was torn.  My hands hurt, but no scrapes.  The way that I landed was on my hands just like someone who was doing the worm would land.  Hands, stomach, legs, feet.  When I went down I just landed like I was going to do a push up. I did a Zumba class that night and felt great after.

Here is my point.  I am in the best shape of my life since high school.  I truly believe that if I weren't where I am today that I would have surely hit my face or busted my head.  My reaction was fast without thinking and my body was strong enough to take the impact.  Plus, the recovery time for when I do get injuries here and there is much faster!

Remember that fitness and eating well are not just for looks.  As we age we need to take care of ourselves so that we can have the best life possible.  That means all of the little things that can be taken for granted, such as, playing with our grandchildren, walking, standing, sitting, going on fun trips etc...

Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!

Stronger, Healthier, Happier and Loving Life

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why do I stick with Zumba?

How is it that Zumba has not run it's course with me yet?  The cycle of skipping around from one fad to the next has seemed to vanish since Zumba came along.  The music, the dancing, the fellowship and bonding with friends and family.  What makes you move and stick with an "exercise"?

Zumba has made both athletes and couch potatoes sit up and take notice.  It's sexy, mind/body working, anyone can do it fun!  It really is a party that will work all parts of the body.

The music is what connects us to the whole experience and keeps up coming back for more.  It's runner's high many songs in a row.  Zumba makes you care about yourself and those around you.  You can feel like a dancer when you may not be so coordinated.  Your inner sexy goddess comes out, and because it helps so much physically many aspects of life improve!  Communication becomes easier, you walk around with your head held higher and self-esteem rises.

The hardest step is the first.  Just like a baby taking their first hesitant step each one gets easier as they keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Confidence grows and the body gets stronger while the mind becomes clearer.

Everyone should have a chance to feel this happy and healthy!

                                         "Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Catching up with May & Ironmen

Wow, I missed writing in my blog the entire month of May!  It's been a very crazy month for me and my family. For the last several months I have been studying for the ACE Group Fitness Certification.  It was a much larger undertaking than I had imagined.  I wanted to expand my knowledge of the human body and how exercise plus nutrition shapes our bodies.  The knowledge gained would help with the choreography that goes along with Zumba as to what moves will help tone certain muscles.  I am proud to say that I passed the exam on May 10th, and even surprised myself because it had been 26 years since my last exam in college!  I learned so much and want to keep gaining more and more knowledge.

Right on the heels of the ACE exam was a trip to Houston to see my brother Jon-Paul Shores ( and both of my brother-in-laws Scott Sharp ( and Brian Sharp (a 3 time Ironman) compete in the Ironman on May 19th.  The day before was my Birthday so it sweetened the deal! 

I don't know if words can describe the event.  An Ironman is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and a full 26.6 mile Marathon.  There were 2800 entries of combined men and women.  The training for something like this event is like having a part time job.  The starting time was 7am and they had to finish before midnight to avoid being disqualified.  I am happy to report that all three finished the race!  Our family followed them the whole way, and I felt like I had run a marathon by the time it was over. 
The swim was the craziest sight to start off this most amazing and long day.  As you can see from the picture everyone was just about on top of each other.  Truly the survival of the fittest.
The biking portion ran in the 6-8 hour range and we would only get to see them once.  The family went to breakfast, and then took the children to the mall to play for awhile.  In my head I kept thinking "they are still going". 

The Marathon portion would allow us to see them at various stages.  For awhile the family was spread out, then we all settled in one area where the children could play in the fountains.  Houston is very hot and humid. 

Finally, the victory of finishing the Ironman.  Scott finished 12:48, Brian 12:55.39 and Jon-Paul 14:58.30.  To say that I am proud of all three of them would be an understatement.  Hard work and dedication pay off if you can have the patience to go the distance.  There are so many life lessons in the stories of all who participate in the Ironman. 

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.
Christopher Reeve
Congratulations to all three of my Heroes!!