February 2017 – Student Spotlight

Marilyn is the reason we’re doing the 2017 Challenge… we all want to “Be Like Marilyn” & be Younger Next Year. So we asked her a couple of questions because we want you all to know some things YOU can do to be more like Marilyn, Pacific Strength’s Student Spotlight for February.

Pacific Strength: As you know, Marilyn, you’re the inspiration for this “Younger Next Year” challenge. Not only do you act younger (in a good way) than most people half your age, you have more energy too! What’s your secret?

Marilyn: Compulsivity. Like it or not I am a tightly wound ball of endless energy, not really accepting limits to what I can or should do.

PS: You brought me an article on the “Younger Next Year” book and then talked to me about it several times. You were so excited about it that I HAD to read it! Why do you think this book resonated with you so much?

M: The book and their subject just fits my psyche. It is how I have felt about exercise and food for quite some time but needed to see it written in a fantastic, intelligent, book format.  I have always needed to feel like I should exercise all the time but most of my friends and acquaintances would tell me I was “nuts”. I know that most food is full of preservatives and is poison to our bodies, (my favorite quote is “the whiter the bread the sooner you’re dead”) but when I would tell others they would roll their eyes and of course I would talk about the deadliness of white flour and sugar and on and on and on.  So with this book I feel somewhat normal. Along with my many quirks I am a compulsive overeater, white flour and sugar are a serious drug to me, I am a recovering alcoholic, sober 47 years. So I understand obsessive behavior, of which I possess.

PS: In our 2017 Challenge, February’s focus is on getting Exercise Six (6) days every week. In the book, he says that actually 7 is preferable, but they don’t want to scare people away. We know you have been committed to your exercise routine for a while now. How long have you been exercising 6-7 days/week? Is it ever a challenge to get it in? Or is it just your routine now?

M: Not sure how long, I have always been compulsively (there is that word again) active. Once I decided to enter the first LA Marathon in 1986, I was 47 yrs old at the time, never ever running, I walked and thought I would die, my feet were bleeding and I was a wreck, so I decided to run (jog slowly and walk quickly) 10 marathons by the time I turned 50, I did in fact I went on to do 7 more after turning 50. So daily exercise, if possible became a habit in my busy life, working full time and caring for my family and husband.

The total freedom to really dedicate myself to exercise every day happened when I retired from a full time job in Dec. 2016,  I know that doing this and eating correctly and less portions will carry me on to a very long lifetime.

PS: You started at Pacific Strength back in 2009. What has made you come back all these years and if I can quote you, “Actually pay for this kind of torture!?!”.

M: Val, Gina, Sharon & Gabby make me come back for MORE.  I have found a place where I fit in and belong and that is the secret of Pacific Strength. My children are grown and gone, my husband has gone, hopefully to heaven, my grandchildren and great children are mostly grown, so the family I have found at Pacific Strength makes me feel complete.  I am waiting to achieve more and more and possibly grow up with all of you.

PS: For someone who is intimidated by kettlebells or thinks our classes might be too challenging, what would you say to them?

M: There is no limit to what you can accomplish when you bring “strength training” into your lives, it is what will keep you fueled as you age (a word we don’t like) but so true.  Any age you enter into a strength training program is the right age!! I began at 70 . . . in April I will be 78 (good grief)


Marilyn is truly one of my favorite people on earth. I’m glad we asked her these questions and I hope you all picked up on her honesty and sense of humor. There are gems in there that I highlighted so that we don’t skip over them. To be like Marilyn:

  1. Do not accept limits.
  2. Do what you know you need to do to feel better and be stronger, no matter what other people say.
  3. Face your fears and challenges head on and don’t give up because it’s tough.
    After doing her first marathon at 47-years-old where she “walked and thought (she) would die, (her) feet were bleeding and (she) was a wreck”, she decided to run 9 more marathons in the next 3 years. She IS NUTS! But that’s why we love her. She doesn’t accept limits and no challenge is too difficult for her.
  4. Find something you care about and do it with people you care about. We are family here at Pacific Strength.
  5. Every age is a good age to start strength training!

Thank you, Marilyn! We love you!

Go Green in 2017

Guest Blog by our friend, fellow-kettlebeller, & Registered Dietitian Melissa Mathes


Eat More Plant Foods for your Health

Your parents were right… “Eat Your Vegetables!”. It’s no surprise that eating more plant-derived foods in your diet like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried beans and grains are healthy for you.   Consuming a predominately plant based diet, or being a vegetarian (consumes plant derived foods, dairy and eggs and avoids animal flesh. Vegan is strict avoidance of any animal derived products), can improve your health substantially.


  • Springmann et al, found that eating fewer animal products could result in 5 million preventable deaths per year globally, while a vegetarian or vegan diet could prevent 7.3 -8.1 million deaths/year.
  • The long-term Seventh-day Adventists study shows that they remain healthier into an older age, in fact they tend to live 10 years longer than most Americans. This religious group practices age enhancing behaviors like, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and consuming a vegetarian diet and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
  • Research has shown that the therapeutic use of a vegetarian diet is effective for treating overweight and obesity in both the short term (< 1 year) and the long term (> 1 year), and may be a better alternative then an omnivore diet (not conclusive though, since eating fish has high health benefits). The range of weight loss ranged from 3.2%-9.3% at 12 months across several studies
  • Type 2 diabetes: A vegetarian diet has shown to decrease hemoglobin A1c as well or better than omnivore diets. A predominately plant based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In the Seventh-day Adventist vegetarians’ risk of developing diabetes was ½ the amount of non-vegetarians.
  • Cancer: Hundreds of studies suggest that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, and there’s evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than non-vegetarians do. But the differences aren’t large. A vegetarian diet can make it easier to get the recommended minimum of five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, but a purely vegetarian diet is not necessarily better than a plant-based diet that also includes fish or poultry. For example, in a pooled analysis of data from the Oxford Vegetarian Study and EPIC-Oxford study, a plant based diet with fish (pescetarian) had a lower risk of certain cancers than vegetarians.
  • Vegetarian and vegan diets are a valid therapeutic way to decrease total cholesterol and improve LDL (bad) cholesterol. In fact there is a 7.2% – 26.6% range decrease in total cholesterol and 8.7%-35% range improvement in LDL cholesterol. There is strong evidence of this.

Consume a diet that is predominately plant based for your overall health. You don’t have to become a vegetarian of vegan to reap some of the health benefits above. However, I haven’t listed all the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian diets have economic and environmental benefits as well. Nutritional deficiencies CAN be common in vegetarian diets, seek help from a registered dietitian to help you become educated about those nutrients and their food sources to alleviate those potential issues.

Fill your pantry and refrigerator with these convenient healthy plant derived staples:

1) Always choose ORGANIC when you can!

  • Nuts and seeds unsalted, raw organic put in jars so you can see them. Add to salads, oatmeal, or a snack. Use ¼ cup measuring cup to keep calories low
  • Canned beans, variety of types. Rinse them out of the can before you use them to get most of the sodium off. Quick and easy to add to salads, or as a side dish, or a main dish in burritos, etc.
  • Dried fruit in glass jars. Use in moderation because they are high in calories but packed full of iron, fiber, and other nutrients dependent on the type
  • Whole wheat or brown rice pastas
  • Fresh organic fruit, keep in a bowl on the counter to remind you to eat. Frozen fruit can be used in a healthy smoothie.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, millet, you can get these frozen for quick convenient use for meals. Instant plan oatmeal (you can get the rolled or steel cut, just using a convenient source), corn tortillas, rice chips, whole wheat crackers
  • Vegetables: Cut up pre bagged and washed fresh vegetables to have on hand. Frozen vegetables without sauces, steam quickly in a microwave or pan.
    • Pre bagged lettuces, arugula, spinach, kale, etc. place in bowl with some cherry tomatoes and already shredded carrots and you have an instant salad!
    • Buy low sodium V8 or some of the Green juices like Suja or Naked juice. Watch the calories!
  • Starchy vegetables: Sweet potatoes , quick cooking options below
    • Quick way to cook, is cut them vertically in ½ inch slices, place on a Panini grill, cooked in 15 mins.
    • Shred up, add and a beaten egg to bind and shape into hash brown pancakes, with a touch of olive oil in a fry pan, cook until golden brown and cooked through
    • Regular potatoes, boil and eat.
    • Corn, peas buy frozen organic and steam quickly
    • Squashes, like butternut, buy cut up in chunks for easy prep and cooking

Daily Goal for Plant derived foods:

  • At least 5 vegetable servings/day, you can always have more!
    • Get 2-3 at dinner, make ½ your plate veggies and a salad
    • Snack on veggies throughout the day to keep you full and get your servings in
    • Serving sizes: ½ cup cooked, 1 cup raw and 2 cups of greens all equal 1 serving
  • Fruit 3 servings/day (varies/individual if you are an athlete, more may be needed)
    • 1 serving= 1 tennis ball size, 4 oz. juice, ¼ cup dried fruit, 1 cup of chopped fruit, ½ cup of canned fruit (in it’s own juice!), 1 cup of berries, ¾ cup of blueberries, 1 ½ cup of strawberries
  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables
    • Keep it at about ¼ of your plate at all meals. Again this varies with individual, athletes who train almost daily will need almost a ½ plate!
  • Nuts, nut butters and seeds: servings /day 2-3
    • 1-2 tbsp. of nut butters
    • 1-2 tbsp. of seeds
    • ¼ cup of nuts unsalted
  • Legumes, dried beans 1-2/day
    • ½ cup of beans or legumes = 1 serving

Eat your greens in 2017! The rest of the rainbow as well! The high fiber content will keep you full and displace opportunities that you may take to eat junky food, thus you may see weight loss. Most people experience some without trying.

Melissa A. Mathes, MPH, RDN, CSSD

Am J Clin Nutr. Mortality in vegetarians and comparable non vegetarians in the United Kingdom, 2016 Jan;103(1):218-30. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.119461. Epub 2015 Dec 9

Harvard Womens Health Watch Newsletter Becoming a vegetarian updated March 18, 2016

National Institute of Health Newsletter Linked to lower mortality? June 2013

Obesity Review 2016 Nov;17(11):1067-1079. doi: 10.1111/obr.12439. Epub 2016 Jul 13.

Effect of plant-based diets on obesity-related inflammatory profiles: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention trials.

Eichelmann F1, Schwingshackl L2, Fedirko V3, Aleksandrova K4.

TSC Time Again – April 8, 2017

Seems so far away but it’s time to start training!

January 28th is 10-weeks away. We should start training sometime before February 11th (8-weeks from the TSC).

Training Plan Options:
(1) Use one of your previous plans & train on your own or during regular class times ($0)
(2) Use one of your previous plans, I will change the numbers to reflect your current goals, adjust what didn’t work, & you’ll have access to more training times set aside for TSC ($50)
(3) Totally Personalized New Plan – Two 4-week Plans at my Program Design rate ($100 for each 4-week plan) + get the extra training times too!


Just ran across this gem! Loved these two training together & pushing each other for their first TSC last year!

2017 Challenge

I tried and tried to make this challenge a pretty 6- or 8-week thing, but I just couldn’t.

Every time I was trying to work it out, I thought… we need more time with this stuff!

So, we’re going to spend all year focusing on the 7 things that YOU can do to make sure you’re Younger Next Year. First, grab the book – I like the hard copy, but the kindle version is available and it’s with you all the time.

Here’s the list of things we’ll be doing all year (and for the rest of our lives):

  1. Exercise 6 days/week
  2. Strength Train 2 days/week
  3. Cardio 4 days/week
  4. Eat Less Crap
  5. Spend Less Than You Make
  6. Care
  7. Connect & Commit

How will this challenge work?

A. To have a great challenge, we need an official T-Shirt. These will be long-sleeved and really cool (and a little bit of a surprise). Can’t wait for everyone to sign up so we can get them ordered and delivered!

B. The best way to make sure you’re sticking to the plan is to write it down! Everyone in the challenge will get a training calendar with instructions on how to plan, execute, and complete great training weeks every week for the whole year!

C. Included in the challenge will be 6 skills clinics throughout the year to help you achieve your fitness goals.

D. To keep everyone on track, we’re going to break the habits up and focus on one each month.

February – Exercise 6 days/week
March – Strength Train 2 days/week
April – Cardio 4 days/week
May – Eat Less Crap
June – Spend Less Than You Make
July – Care
August – Connect & Commit
September – Re-Visit ‘Exercise, Strength, & Cardio’ – How are we doing?
October – Re-Visit ‘Eat Less Crap’ – How are we doing?
November – Re-Visit ‘Spend Less Than You Make’ – How are we doing?
December – Re-Visit ‘Care, Connect, & Commit’ – How are we doing?

E. We’ll also highlight someone each month. They’ll tell us what they’re doing to be younger next year and how they’re doing it. What they’ve changed and how they’re doing with the changes.

We really want EVERYONE to participate in this challenge. It’s going to be great & I’m really looking forward to a communal focus.

There are Two Options:

  1. T-Shirt, Calendar, Monthly Emails, Six (6) Skills Clinics, & Community Events
    $175 – Sign Up Here!
  2. Just the T-Shirt, Calendar, & Monthly Emails (purchase skills clinics separately, at the the time of the clinic at $35-50)
    $60 – Sign Up Here!

Sign Up Today & Send us an email with your tshirt size!

January 2017

Happy New Year Everyone!

We had an awesome training session on January 1st…

And then a dip in the ocean immediately following!

It was such an awesome way to start 2017! Thank you to all of you who showed up! (and to all of you who were there in spirit =)



I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions…

On the one hand, I love a fresh start. A new beginning. A time to reflect on last year and look to the future to decide what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

When I think about the New Year, I think about Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala in Capistrano Beach. They celebrate the Indian New Year (Diwali), then our January 1 New Year, as well as the Chinese New Year. Diana, the owner, says she “loves new beginnings” and will celebrate every new year she can. I also like to use my birthday as my very own New Year. I use all of these “New Years” as a time to look back, take a moment to reflect on the things that I did or things that happened last year that brought me to where I’m at today, appreciate my current position, look forward and set intentions. It feels good.

After all…

On the other hand, I hate that as a gym owner, I’m kind of expected to do a weight-loss challenge that starts Jan 1. Blech!

If you know me, you know that I hate weight loss challenges. I’m more interested in setting a different goal – 5k or deadlift or press – something physical. Something you can work on every day. Something you can come to the gym and physically do and see progress. If you have a weight loss goal, we can talk about things that will help (strength training, cardio, healthy eating, & smaller portions), but if you focus on a physical goal, and you have weight to lose, you can lose that weight without focusing on it.

The other reason I’m not a huge fan of the January 1 random day to start something you’ve been wanting to do is because… WHY WAIT? Why not start December 10th or January 27th or any random Wednesday?

If you want to lose weight, don’t start January 1st or the next Monday that rolls around. Start NOW! Eat YOUR NEXT MEAL slower and pay attention to when you’re feeling satisfied with your meal, and stop there. Don’t mindlessly eat until you’re stuffed full.

Want to decrease your alcohol intake? Drink less TONIGHT!

Want to start an exercise program? Go for a walk TODAY!

BUT…. Seeing as how it’s the beginning of January, we’re going to get on the New Years Resolution bandwagon because TODAY is a great day to start feeling better and take steps to being Younger Next Year.

That leads us to our 2017 Challenge: Younger Next Year aka Be Like Marilyn

Marilyn is our favorite septuagenarian who out-trains most of us. We all want to be like Marilyn when we grow up. So when she came in raving about the book Younger Next Year and happily told me, “These guys are as crazy as I am!”, I knew it was going to be great.

The Challenge is to do THESE SEVEN THINGS… for the rest of your life.

  1. Exercise 6 days/week
  2. Strength Train 2 days/week
  3. Cardio 4 days/week
  4. Eat Less Crap
  5. Spend Less Than You Make
  6. Care
  7. Connect & Commit

Just those 7 things. FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Now, this book is written for people in their 50s & 60s, heading into retirement. But I don’t see one thing on that list I couldn’t improve.

And it’s better to get started early. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it’ll be a much easier transition if you cement these habits early on in life.

Get the book. Join the challenge. We’ll be working on it all year. (…and for the rest of our lives)


–> Info on how to join the challenge coming soon! Get the book now and start reading!

December 2016 – News & Events

Military Appreciation Month – Extended

In November, we gave away a month of unlimited classes to all Active Duty Military, Dependents, Retirees & Veterans at Pacific Strength is Military Appreciation.


Getting into the holiday spirit, we decided to extend that offer into the last month of the year. So please email me at trainwithval@mac.com to get your free month of classes!

December Goal

MOVE EVERY DAY! December gets crazy with holiday parties, events for and with the kids, shopping, baking, etc. We’re encouraging everyone to find time to MOVE every day. Specifically, we’re asking people to get at least 100 swings in every day!

You CAN make time to get 10 sets of 10 swings in. Or 5 sets of 20! Or (my personal favorite) 4 sets of 25!

Get It Done!

Schedule Changes

We will have a modified schedule from December 24th – January 7th. Please be sure to check the schedule AND SIGN UP for classes you plan on coming to. There is a possibility that, during those 2 weeks, if the instructor checks the calendar an hour before class start time and no one is signed up, we will cancel the class.

If you have any questions or issues with this, please call, email (trainwithval@mac.com) or text. I will be in town the entire time with family visiting. You all know that I love to teach and I’m happy to be here for people who plan to come to class. I love seeing your smiling faces and getting you the training you want and need! I just don’t want to be there, away from my family, if there’s no one there! Thank you!


Christmas Eve Training

We WILL be training on December 24th. Come for our annual 12 Days of Christmas workout!


New Year’s Tradition!

Don’t miss this year’s POLAR PLUNGE! We started this last year, and plan to continue every year. We’ll be having a workout at 9:00am on January 1 (it’s a Sunday this year!) and then we’ll head to North Beach and jump in the ocean.*

Your favorite trainers (Gina, Sharon, & Val) will have hot beverages & yummy breakfast treats for everyone so please sign up ahead of time so we know how much to bring!

*new rule… you may wear a wetsuit in the water if & only if you do the entire workout in your wetsuit! 😉

Polar Plunge – January 1, 2016