Where are we at here?

A question worth answering…where are we at here?

We’re standing on the precipice of spring.  Everywhere trees, shrubs and flowers are making their presence known.  Question is…are you?

If you read my last post (I know it was a ways back–February) I asked a question which may have challenged your beliefs.  More to the point, it was a statement; asking you to step beyond believing that your body governs your life.  You govern your life; not your body.  So if you had time to think about this, it’s time for the next question–where are you at?  Changes you wanted to make–have you made them?  Are you still looking at food as the enemy? Was exercise a beginning practice, but now seems to have come to an end?


This is the motto on everything pertaining to my business.  From business cards to banners to the sign on my SUV, this is the mantra I infuse into everything I teach, train, & do.  And while in the previous paragraph I ask questions which look at physical aspects, it initiated with changes you wanted to make.

Yet all too often, those changes are more like wishes.  Wishes & changes are not always synonymous.  Change comes from the root; something within you says it’s time.  And no matter how often you fall, fail, deviate or disappoint, resolve picks you up.  It plants your feet firmly on the path again.  Wishes are desires. While they may put you on the path, they seldom keep you there.  Wishes won’t wake you 90 minutes earlier in the morning to work out.  Wishes will say–maybe someday.  Someday my prince will come…..perhaps he will.  But even if he does, a wish won’t keep him.


I’ve been writing this blog for over five years now.  My focus has expanded, hence LIFE TRAINING W/CRYSTAL from PERSONAL TRAINING W/CRYSTAL. I’ve tried to inspire, and along the way explore what few in this field do.  Yes, partially because of my nursing background.  But mostly because of the difficulty many face disseminating the volumes of narrative out there.  Some of it is worthwhile, some, not so much.

As someone who has been writing for some time, I’m pleased to announce I’m doing my 1st health & wellness expo.  So in person meet & greet, here I come…

I will be at HOUSE OF HOPE on April 29th.  752 E. 114th St, Chicago, IL.  The Health & Wellness Expo runs from 4:30-6:30, followed by a Gospel Concert.  Attendance is anticipated to be anywhere from 500-800+.  And that’s just for the expo!

If you are in or around the Chicago-land area, stop by.  Even if we don’t meet, there will be a wealth of information and demonstrations on hand to captivate your attention.


All for now,  keep up and keep at it.



Feed or Fast?

eat it up  Recently, a client asked about intermittent fasting.  “Do you think it’s a good idea?”  My reply was “that depends.”

I’ve read some of the literature on fasting as a way to curb appetite, and of course lose weight.   I’ve also seen some conflicting programming on this topic.  There is a school of thought which believes you should eat within an hour of getting up.  Conversely, there are those which believe you should tighten your window of eating.  According to this, breakfast should be somewhere between 11am and 12pm.  Your last meal should be no later than 5pm.  While neither of these approaches represent a real fast, they may hold some promise for those struggling with weight.


I’m not convinced this is for everyone; especially if you are taking insulin or on an oral diabetic agent.  If you must take medication with food, again, I don’t think this is your option.  My own delve into this however, taught me a few things.  One insight was this:  as children we are taught to control bowel and bladder.  These are base functions; and there are many a time we put off using the washroom at the first sign of urgency.  Appetite is also a base function.  And yes, often we cannot eat when we want.  If we can though, is it possible to delay that desire?  It is, and can be a teaching tool as well as an exercise in mindful eating–as opposed to the mindless eating many of us indulge.  Controlling an appetite can be likened to controlling bowel and bladder.  Though you may not have thought about it that way (or wanted to), they are both an exercise in self-control.


Maybe.  I’m not a psychologist.  So this is purely my perspective.  From what I’ve seen there is a link.  More to the point, I believe once there is a change in consciousness, a change takes place in your life.  However, you have to start somewhere.  For those New Year New You believers, know that all the exercise gurus and personal trainers online, in person, or on DVD, will do nothing for you–until you REALLY WANT IT.  Really wanting something involves sacrifice, introspection, and cultivation.  Many of us have in some form or another, wanted to further our education. What did that involve?  Staying up late, even though you had to work the next day?  Saying “no” to a splurge, maybe even what seemed like a necessity, at the time?  Perhaps parties, bridal and baby showers passed you by.   The list could easily go on.   The introspective part of you may have questioned your decision.  Yet if you persisted and really wanted your aspirations, you cultivated–you nourished your desire.  Hopefully you saw it come to fruition.  Again, the question had to be “How bad do I want it?”  And it had to go beyond the New Year New You cliches.

So whats my take on intermittent fasting?  It’s a tool, like anything else in your weight loss toolbox.  Again if you are on medication, diabetic, or have any questions, you should check with your nurse practitioner or MD.  However, experimenting with what makes you full, keeps you fuller longer, or simply asking yourself “do I need one more bite?” are part of the introspective process.  Yes this takes time to cultivate; and involves a bit of self-sacrifice.  You are making an investment.  But just like education, once you have it, no one can take it away from you.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com















Be like…

fitness model male  Chiseled cheeks, bulging pecks, core to die for.  Who doesn’t want that?  For women, a slender and small waist is what most want. Definition is on everyone’s wish list.  Many of us differ, and I would most definitely decline the newest rage; big bass.  Never desired the apple bottom–but to each her own.  Getting my sweat on at my favorite gym, I notice a few things.  Most of the trainers, male for female, really show little differential.  Not just in the way they train, but in the way they look.  Now that for me, is a problem.  It should be for you too.


How many of you, if working with a trainer, found that most of their routines focus on machines, ropes, burpees, free weights, and a litany of other torture tactics they favor?  This is fine, if you’re looking to be a reasonable facsimile of THEM.  Which in many cases, not all, means CONTRACTED.  Your forte doesn’t have to be fitness to understand. Have they ever talked about lengthening, or ECCENTRICS?  CONCENTRIC exercises shorten and strengthen; which is needed to build muscle and burn fat.  BUT ECCENTRIC exercises–those which lengthen and strengthen, is equally important.  And this goes for men as well as women, but it’s the latter who usually desire longer, leaner muscle.  Men focus on power and strength.  But how many of you really want that hunched, shoulder elevated look, when standing? If there’s no balance in your routine between eccentric & concentric exercises, that may be your future–if not your now.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

VARIETY–not just the spice of life, but essential to your routine

We all have routines we enjoy.  For some this means running, others the gym, others still yoga, Pilates, ballet, or a combo platter of the all of the above.  I’ve always loved running, but there came a time when it didn’t always love me back.  Enter in my delve into the world of Pilates, ballet inspired exercises, and ESSENTRICS.  If you’re unfamiliar with the latter, take a look-see.  Originally billed as CLASSICAL STRETCH w/Miranda Esmonde-White, these exercises do more than just lengthen out contracted muscle.  They can help you do & do more of what you enjoy.  Another tip?  BIKRAM yoga.  Bikram yoga for many, is considered the original hot yoga.  How does it differ from other types of yoga?  The room is heated to about 105 F.  The same sequence of 26 postures is repeated in every class.  While this may seem counter-intuitive to variety being the spice of life, it really is a “reset.”  A reset which like Essentrics, can enable you to continue with your favorite form of exercise.

While it is true a body in motion tends to stay in motion, it is equally worth noting this.  Repetition without re-calibration can breed contempt.  And not just your contempt for the exercise, but your body’s contempt for it as well.  This can manifest in a number of ways.  From overuse syndrome, to some muscles becoming more tense while others are underused, it all adds up the same–too much of one thing, and not enough of the other.

So if your personal trainer, favorite form of exercise, or New Year’s resolution has become battle fatigued, set it or him/her aside.  Do your homework, and rethink your training techniques.  If you’re not seeing the results you want, it may be your exercise guru doesn’t know how to get you there.  Or perhaps your routine will not yield what you long to see.  Either way, “being like,” isn’t being you.  You can be your own worst enemy or best friend.  If the latter, investigate these suggestions.  You will find your routine less routine, with energy and refinement you believed were from a bygone era.

As always, check with your nurse practitioner or MD before you make that commitment.  New Year New You is overrated.  The Old You may need some adjustments and fine tuning, but that’s what people like me enjoy doing.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Need help?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Listen to your heart…

meditating beauty  In order to renew a license as a registered nurse, you are required (at least in the state of Illinois) to complete CEs.  This refers to continuing education.  While completing this requirement, a topic surfaced I confess, I thought little about–WOMEN & HEART DISEASE.

As most of you know by now, my career has taken a different turn.  I started out as most do, working in a hospital.  From there, caring for chronic renal failure patients, is where I headed next.  In this field, I’ve worked as a staff nurse, charge nurse, educator, and clinical liaison.  I have taught and written classes.  To students, fellow nurses, and physicians I have explained the ins and outs of dialysis, as well as the possible causes of CKD (chronic kidney disease).  All the while reminding those who needed it, that dialysis is not a cure–or substitution for functioning kidneys.

Now my full-time endeavors are geared towards prevention.

Renal nursing taught me two things–very early on.  Diabetes & hypertension are the #1 and #2 contributors to CKD.  They both wreak havoc on the kidneys; but the latter is particularly heinous–and rampant among women of color.

Women, and particularly those who share my background, are almost non-existent when discussing symptoms, and undergoing clinical trials.  If you are discussing heart disease, men are always the standard. Ladies, if your symptoms don’t match up to your male counterparts having a heart attack–you may be SOL.

With that in mind, keep these questions in mind.  Hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes–a little extra weight–what’s the big deal? I exercise, but the weight (and the scale) just aren’t moving.  Now what?  Can’t I just pop a pill to fix it?  For the answer, stay tuned.   But fair warning, it’s going to be a bumpy and startling ride.


I once had a boss who coined this term.  She used it often; when our cup was overflowing with work–yet she was about to fill it more.  “CHUNK IT OUT,” she would say.  Well, that’s what I’m going to do here.

This material wasn’t easy for me to assimilate; or even hear.  Yet I believe it relevant enough in which to devote a few posts.  I hope you agree.

Depending upon how this goes, I will be addressing other topics like this; but fitness and nutrition remain my focus.

The intention of this blog is not to diagnose, or serve as a substitute for medical advice.  My main objective is prevention through lifestyle intervention and modification.  As a nurse, personal trainer, and educator, I do believe however, it is my duty to inform.  In upcoming posts, I will be doing just that.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com


When common sense isn’t so common…

recovery needed  Promises, promises.  I’ve heard them; so have you.  Shoes built on an incline to strengthen your calves and help you burn more calories.  Another with minimalist support, to enable you to run “like you were meant to.”  Well if I was meant to run barefoot, why do I need to spend money on a shoe?

Then there’s my personal favorite.

Sprinkling this item on your food, will help you push yourself away from the table.  Will keep you on track, and of course, lose weight.

I admit, I almost tried the five-fingered, rather “toed” shoe.

However, the sprinkles from the get go, I thought was pure farce.  I don’t know why this ad left me with such a bad taste; maybe it was the B-celeb promotion.  It still didn’t ring true for me,  even when it made its way to QVC.  Home shopping by no means is my litmus test for fact filled products.  As many do though, I assume it has some credibility and underwent their rigors of testing, before being put before their audience.  In my opinion, QVC has had its gaffes before–but probably no more than any other channel carrying infomercials.  The difference being is now, they personally assume the risk.  Translation?  Loss of profit and customer confidence.

This post is not intended to slam home shopping, or companies which are truly trying to make our lives better.

But if take a look at the link, you will see a host of products.  While the gist of the article is fraudulent claims and reimbursement, it underscores something more endemic to the consumer.  Once you read it, it’s not hard to figure out.


In the quest for better living, let’s not forget this.  Weight loss, beauty, and better sex have one resounding theme–the majority will stop at nothing to get it.  Therefore the minority, with these so-called improvement products, will stop at nothing to sell the majority what they want.  Think about that the next time you reach for your colonic, male enhancement, or even mascara.  Though the three combined might make for interesting conversation, i”m sure you get the idea.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com





Working out isn’t working…part four

hair out of H20  This post originated over the summer; however, I believe it’s integral to any exercise routine.  If your workout isn’t working, lack of down time between workouts may be the reason.

You’ve been hitting the gym, pavement, and/or the DVD workouts 5-6 days a week.   If this statement falls into the category of “things that make you go huh?” this post is not for you.

However if you are working with a high intensity routine most everyday, you may be wasting your time.  UNLESS you are inserting a recovery day.

Recovery days are essential.  They are the “pause” if you are in a state of constant “play.”  Exercising everyday at moderate to high intensities, you will burn caloriesYour body will also demand more calories.  Translation?  You will want to eat more food.  Yet this isn’t unusual, nor does it necessarily mitigate your workout.  It simply means your body requires additional fuel for additional work.  It can become a problem though, if you are overdoing either.

Sore muscles or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) may be an expectation if you haven’t worked out consistently.  If you have overextended yourself or tried a new routine, it also maybe the price.  Yet if you have trouble staying awake by midday, achy muscles are a constant companion, and headaches are becoming a part of your post-exercise routine–you are overdoing it. Yes, these symptoms can be attributed to dehydration (more common than you realize among the diligent).  Hydration issues aside, if these sound familiar or persist–slow down.   A check-up may not be bad idea either, if you have not had one.  Your body at this point, is not making a polite request.

RECOVERY–What does it really mean?

Recovery days run the gambit–just like sports.  They mean different ideas to different athletes.  If you are an avid runner, a recovery day may be a “recovery run.”  Check out http://running.competitor.com.  “Workout of the Week: Recovery Runs.”  I found this article very useful, providing insight into recovery as well as running past fatigue.

If the thought of running makes you run the other way–recovery could be that “day off.”  Working towards constructing that chiseled physique?  Check out http://2buildmusclefast.com. “Importance of Rest and Recovery in Muscle Building.”  This should be of particular interest to bodybuilders.  Why?  In part, the article stresses the need for rest, if you want to become sculpted faster.  No rest, no gain, appears to be the theme here.

What if your workouts are here, there, and everywhere?  Not a problem–here are a few suggestions from my “toolbox.”

If you’re a consistent follower of my posts, you realize my workouts vary:  running, INSANITY, gym, hot yoga, as well as ballet inspired.  Because of this, my recovery needs vary as well.  Therefore, a day off for me, literally is “a day off.”  While my teenage son may be into recovery runs (he runs cross-country & track), running is no longer my only form of exercise.  It once was–and still remains my favorite.  However, because my body started to “maintain an even strain” unless I upped my mileage, I had to find something else to get the results/weight loss I once derived running.

Recovery first and foremost–has to entail adequate hydration as well as nutrition.  You will not achieve your goals without either of these.  Yes, eating to fuel “your habit,” is a balancing act.  If you take in more calories than you’re burning, you will gain weight.  And, it may not be the muscle hypertrophy for which you are striving.  My advice?  Start with adequate hydration.  See my post “Not enough? Too much?  A little guidance please…”  Once these needs are met, realize your body is going to demand–not request–higher quality food.  While potato chips, ice cream, and French Silk pie may not be totally eradicated from your thought process, they will not fuel your transformation.  Therefore, be prepared.

On my high intensity days (hard/long run, INSANITY, hot yoga) my drink of choice is electrolyte replacement, supplemented by H20.  My meal?  ONE–not all, of these days includes a meal I really really like.  Otherwise, I make sure I have plenty of salads, fixings for fresh tostadas, chicken breast, & roast beef around.  I am not a fish eater or a vegetarian; nor do I have any plans to become either.  Therefore, my meal plans/snacks include protein in the form of chicken, roast beef, some pork, legumes, or protein bars.  Vegetables, especially snow peas, green onions, mixed frozen, broccoli, and carrots are usually found in my fridge.

Lower intensity days (ballet inspired workout, light run, run/walk) H20 is my drink of choice.  Meals are lighter; and usually DO NOT include a splurge on these days.  My philosophy is lighter workout, lighter food.  While I haven’t the scientific data to purport this rationale, it works for me.

Whether you lift, run, dance, kick a soccer ball, walk, or are a diligent chair exerciser–keep it up.  Keeping it up however, means keeping your body from giving up.  Giving it the rest, hydration, and nutrition it requires are ALL part of RECOVERY.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Be sure to check out my ABOUT page.

Questions?  Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com

Working out isn’t working…part two

happy apples  This appeared on my blog originally May 11th this year.  However, it is a helpful uncomplicated way to figure calorie expenditure. 

This aired on the Dr. Oz show on May 10th; at least here in the Chicagoland area.


Click on Chris Powell.

Few of us are interested in what works for someone else.  We want to know what works for us.  This method takes the guess-work out of what is already challenging enough.  Based upon your body weight, this equation will tell you exactly how many calories you should be eating.  How few or how many more (if you are looking to gain weight) you choose to consume, is up to you.

Body weight x 12 = amount of calories you need to maintain your weight

Most of us consume 20% more than we need–that for me was not surprising.  What was however, was the amount of fat & calories supposedly “healthy” foods contain.  If the show is still up on the site, you wil be too.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Questions? Comments?  Contact me at serrenity.c@gmail.com