My healthy living story

This post was originally written for and posted on the Geeked Out Fitness blog.

Recently, someone on Twitter asked me how I got into living healthy and making my fitness a priority. I started to respond and then I realized that my story was going to take up much more than 40 characters so I wrote something to the effect of “Long story but started to hit rock bottom and changed.”

Worst storyteller ever.

But that really got me thinking about my story and all of the stories on the Geeked Out Fitness team and I think that it’s important that we share our stories with you.

I’m not sure at what point in my life I learned that I needed to be skinny or how I learned it or where I learned it. I just remember knowing it. It was a thing that was fact. I needed to be skinny. The oldest memory about my physical self that I can remember involves softball. I played softball in fourth and fifth grade and I remember shopping for softball pants being one of the most mortifying experiences of my young life. I remember trying pants on and telling my mom that my thighs were fat and that I was fat. I don’t know if my mom remembers this adventure, I’ve never asked.


I look back on the pictures now and I can see that I wasn’t the same size as my very small framed best friend, but I wasn’t particularly fat either. My body image was distorted.

Throughout middle and high school I went through random bouts of not liking my body all that much – as I suppose young girls are unfortunately wont to do – and again now I look back on the pictures and think about how crazy I was. I was a tiny little stick person and I was convinced I was too fat. I had no real concept of exercising or eating healthy or anything. I didn’t know what a calorie was and I refused to run the mile in gym class.

When I got to college I met a boy who rode bicycles. I started riding bikes too and started to see my body differently for the first time in my life. I saw muscles in my lower half and I was proud of my curves. I was also eating ramen, chicken nuggets, and ice cream though so the change wasn’t overwhelming. After we broke up I continued to ride although not as much as before.

After my freshman year of college I left school and didn’t plan to go back. Then at the last minute I decided to go back anyway.  Sometime during my tenure at school I got a job as a waitress at Hooters (I was hired for my personality).  The tight uniforms only encouraged my self-judgment and I stopped eating as much and started working out. I was running and bought a ballet barre with an exercise DVD.  A guy I had been with off and on during my entire time at school commented on the change in my body and I felt that it was a win. I was looking good!

Fast forward to the beginning of junior year. I dropped out of school – for good this time – and stayed in my apartment with my friend. I had a job as a waitress at a small restaurant and I spent a lot  of time drinking. Sometimes I ran. Mostly I drank. And drank. And drank. The only time I remember being sober was between breakfast and driving to work.

Until one day two months after dropping out of school I called my mom asked her if I could move back home because I thought I was becoming an alcoholic. She said come on back but my parents were going to be out of town when I planned to come back so the only things I could bring back home with me were what I could fit in my 97 Pontiac Sunfire. It wasn’t a lot but that’s what I needed. It was the first step in letting go of a lot of physical and emotional baggage.

When I moved back home I started to search for a job and I didn’t have much to do in my free time so I started to work out. I started with Jilian Michaels DVDs and running and random weight lifting in the apartment gym. My mom joined me in working out sometimes, which I thought was fun. When she would join me I used to encourage her during our workouts. Helping her with her form and cheering her on. One workout she suggested I should become a personal trainer. Although I think she said actually said athletic trainer. I sort of took her advice and started looking into becoming a personal trainer (not a jock strap / athletic trainer).

Over the next six years my whole life changed. I started working in gyms. I completed my ACSM certification and later my NASM certification. I helped friends and family and strangers that became friends and family. I didn’t drink for a while after coming back home but eventually it snuck its way back into my diet.  I learned how to work out and how to appreciate my body for what it could do and not what it looked like.

I still struggle with my eating habits. I eat weird and sometimes like a bird but also sometimes I eat 20 chicken wings. I’m not always perfect. I don’t always workout and I don’t always stop at 1 piece of pizza and I don’t only eat unprocessed food. I’m still a work in progress. I would like to look back five years from now and say that Husband and I have enough money to eat only unprocessed, organic foods and that we are eating and living healthier than ever before.

Five years. That’s a long time. I’m not pretending that things are going to change over night. It took me a long time to really respect my body and stop judging it so harshly and I know my diet isn’t going to change overnight either but it’s about 400 times better than where it was before.

I work out and I eat healthy because I want to live a long and happy life. I don’t want the 1800 ailments that run in my family line on both sides. I want better for myself and I deserve better for myself. Living healthy is so important to me and I try to be there for anyone that is trying to make the steps themselves because it’s not an easy task. But it is so worth it. My resting heart rate and my blood pressure are low (in a healthy way). My body fat percentage is healthy.  I have trouble sleeping but that’s an anxiety thing and not a healthy lifestyle thing. I’m making these changes – these long-term lifestyle changes for me. Because I love me. And for the people that love me because I know they want me to stick around and bug them for as long as possible.

There are so many details and twists and turns in my story but I wanted you to understand at least from a big picture perspective where I come from. If you ever want to hear all of the sordid details I would be happy to share them with you over a cup of decaf tea sometime. In the meantime, I’ll just be here working on my own lifestyle change, helping people kick ass in the gym, and encouraging you to make the best of your own life too.


A Doctor Who inspired HIIT workout

This post was originally written for and posted on the Geeked Out Fitness blog.

How are you feeling post-Doctor-Who-Christmas-special? Sad? Excited?

Ready for a workout?

I don’t want to scare you too much so I’m going to keep it simple(ish) and throw a short (but hard) workout at you inspired by my personal favorite geekery. Although I look forward to the Christmas episode every year, this year was particularly heartbreaking/exciting as we ushered out the latest Doctor and made room for the new. Adieu Matt Smith and your perfect hair, and welcome Peter Capaldi and your new kidneys.

Using the TARDIS herself for inspiration, you are going to run through a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout. I’m a huge fan of HIIT because you work smarter. Instead of hours at the gym, your workout intensity gets raised and the length of time shortened. It’s a great way to get your metabolism pumped as you work in strength training with your cardio training, increasing your strength and stamina at the same time.

For this workout you will use an interval timer, starting with 15 seconds of rest, moving on to 45 seconds of work (the exercise). I recommend the Gymboss timer but there are also tons of free websites and free apps that you can find with a simple Google search (here’s one).  When your first 15/45 split is up, you move on to the next exercise, and so on and so forth until you have gone through each exercise twice.

Did you get that? One exercise for each letter of the TARDIS. Twice through. Hey, that’s 12 minutes! In honor of our 12 doctors!

Except – hey, remember in the 50th anniversary special when the High Council of Gallifrey is watching all of the Doctors come to save the day and they yell “All 12 of them – No all 13 of them!” ? Yea, so on that note, do a bonus round of the exercise listed (15 off, 45 on).

Oh and actually, I’m pretty sure – if I’m understanding correctly – that in the Christmas special Moffat just blew our minds and explained that with 10’s partial regeneration being a full regeneration and oh – yea that War Doctor guy – Capaldi is actually the 14th Doctor. So let’s throw a second bonus round on at the end too.

Total workout time? 14 minutes. Total Doctors? 14… maybe… I think…


All exercises can be done with or without weight so feel free to manipulate as needed for your own fitness level. If you don’t have access to a gym, get creative. Use soup cans as weights and coffee tables as weight benches. Think outside of the box! If you are a beginner, please listen to your body and pace yourself if need be. If you need to take a second to catch your breath during your 45 seconds of work, do so. If you need to do one round and work your way up to two, do that. Remember to focus on proper form, not speed.

If you aren’t sure what each of the exercises is, check out the links below for explanations.

Tuck JumpAlternating Renagade RowReverse HypersDouble Jumping JackIncline Pushup , Sumo Squat

As always, if you have any questions tweet me @thesabrinajess. Or if you just want to talk about Doctor Who too because, well, I could talk about this show until I run out of air.


New year’s resolutions

This post was originally written for and posted on the Geeked Out Fitness blog.
happy-new-year-hd-wallpaper-red-and-white-1024x640It’s a new month and a new year and you know what that means: New Year’s Resolutions! This past week I took the time to ask you on Facebook what resolutions you were  making this year and how you were planning on sticking to them.

But why? Why did I ask you about your resolutions when every year another article comes out telling us the same re-hashed information about how often resolutions fail?

I asked because I care. I want to know you. What makes you tick? What’s driving you this year? What will make you feel good? How are you going to get there? We’ve all heard the same information every year about the shelf life of a New Year’s Resolution and we all had friends spouting off resolutions on the first of January and we all had friends spouting off their refusal to give into the peer pressure to make resolutions anymore. We’ve heard it all but we just keep chugging.

Some of the New Year’s Resolutions made on the Geeked Out Fitness team this year include drinking less, reading more, eating healthier, sticking to an exercise schedule. All of the same stuff millions of people around the world commit to every year. Some stick with it, most don’t. But we made resolutions anyway. I asked you about yours – that you were making despite the odds – anyway.

But why?

Because I’m an optimist. I believe in hope and change and new beginnings. I believe in the power and excitement of a fresh start. I believe that if you set your mind to it, this year you really can accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions. How?

Make SMART resolutions.

In the personal training world we encourage our clients to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. This theory also carries quite well into marketing, project management, and just about any other aspect of your life wherein you need to set and achieve a goal. Losing weight, reading more, winning the Boston Marathon tomorrow – these goals aren’t SMART. They make a good start for a SMART goal though. Use your vague goals as a foundation to build your SMART goals. Build resolutions that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. If you need help understanding how to turn vague resolutions into SMART resolutions, the team at Top Achievement can guide the way. Give yourself deadlines and details. Give yourself all of the tools to make those resolutions to come true. And don’t you dare give up on yourself.

Throw SMART goals in with a reliable support system (your wife, your dad, your co-worker) and  losing sight of your resolutions is damn near impossible. Just remember that roadblocks aren’t a time to give up, they’re a time to prove to yourself that this is the year it’s different. You’re different. And you’re going to kick your New Year’s Resolution’s ass.