This interview series is one of the most important thing you can get a hold of, and it's free, so make sure you listen to every single one.

To get more interviews with our contest winners, just go here: Transformation Contests

About John Barban & Vaclav Gregor

This interview series is brought to you by John Barban and Vaclav Gregor, it's one of the most important thing you can get a hold of, and it's free, so make sure you listen to every single one.

To get more interviews with our contest winners, just go here: Transformation Contests

Naomi’s Recovery Experiment; Her Version Of “Bulking”

DXA scans are used primarily to evaluate bone mineral density. DXA scans can also be used to measure total body composition and fat content with a high degree of accuracy comparable to hydrostatic weighing with a few important caveats.

Naomi used a DEXA or DXA scan to measure her results. DXA scans are used primarily to evaluate bone mineral density.

Last time I shared that I had some health setbacks; I started 2012 in the best shape of my life and ended it in much worse shape.  In December I had a DEXA scan which showed my lean body mass (LBM) as 114 pounds and 20% body fat.

I had a second DEXA done to check progress after four months of doing the Venus Index Workout.  My goals were to have increased LBM and to maintain body fat.

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA, previously DEXA) is a means of measuring bone mineral density (BMD).  DXA scans can also be used to measure total body composition and fat content with a high degree of accuracy comparable to hydrostatic weighing with a few important caveats.

What is Bulking?

In body building circles, people throw around the term “bulking“.  It’s generally accepted to be part of a bulk and cut process whereby one eats in excess, lifts heavy at the gym, makes huge LBM gains, and then strips away excess body fat to reveal larger muscles.  Men in particular pile on a lot of fat all in the name of bulking.

The truth of what is possible with bulking varies depending upon a variety of factors including gender, training age, genetic potential.

In my case, I am a 48 year old woman with a long history of training who simply needed to regain lost strength.  So right there, it is somewhat misleading to even be talking about bulking, and yet many people would claim my results indicated a successful bulk.

The truth about gaining muscle is that once muscle tissue has been built, it is a much faster process to get back to previous levels of strength.  I still pushed myself very hard.  For example, I could barely do a body weight squat in early December and now I am back to being able to squat 135 pounds and on track to increased loads over time.

How I “Bulked”

You have likely figured out by now that I did not “bulk” in the traditional sense of the term in body building circles.

Instead, I used the tools as laid out to carefully eat enough to allow my strength increases to continue to unfold and I constantly monitored my waist and belly button measurements.  Every time the waist or the belly button increased, I increased my caloric deficit via the principles in Eat Stop Eat until I saw my baseline numbers.  I tend to loosen up a bit more on weekends.  While undergoing this experiment, I carried slightly more body fat than I am comfortable with, but not much.

The Scale Scared Me!

I admit it! The entire four months I trusted John Barban and Brad Pilon on this little experiment, I watched with horror as the scale bounced around.  Admittedly, it never strayed more than about 10-12 pounds higher than my contest photos, so not at all a traditional bulking cycle, but it was a little scary to see bigger numbers when I am trusting that I am living the Venus lifestyle.

My Successful Bulk Results

This is not the ripped levels you see in my contest photos but rather a very livable, maintainable, every day level that still keeps me on my toes.

Naomi after her experiment at 20% body fat.  On the left fasted, on the right fully fed and hydrated.

Naomi after her experiment at 20% body fat. On the left fasted, on the right fully fed and hydrated.

My LBM last December was shockingly low.  In fact, it came in well below the levels predicted for my height. I am 5’11” and with a LBM of just under 114 pounds, I was possibly a genetic outlier on the low end of the scale.  Venus Index predicts my LBM could go as high as 126 pounds.

Fear not, I thought. I had just lost all my strength so presumably bulking would bring my LBM right back up to within a predicted Venus Index Ideal range.

Sure enough, my DEXA scan showed my LBM at 118 pounds, 7 oz which was a gain of just over 4 pounds.  That averages out to about 1 pound per month.

Not bad, right?  Remember that I was actually getting back what I’d lost after illness; this is not a realistic rate of gain for a trained woman my age.

So What’s Next?

While I am not expecting realistically to gain much more LBM in my lifetime, I do expect to see a little more growth before I get older and as more decline sets in.  Going forward I expect to see some more improvement.  I would also like to get leaner.  Perhaps not as lean as I was in the 4th Venus Transformation Contest, but possibly similar to the 1st Venus Transformation Contest.

Changing body composition

I was surprised to see my android (above the belt) vs gynoid (below the belt) fat ratio slightly improved.  Considering how much time I’d spent sedentary before the last DEXA scan, I was carrying 20.1% android fat as compared to 19.7% this time around while gynoid fat went from 29.5% to 29.4%.  While these numbers seem quite similar, it is worth noting that since the total percentage remained the same at 20.2%, clearly there was a change in body composition.

This is solid proof that a well-designed weight lifting program like Venus Index positively affects both physique and health.

Other reasons to have a DEXA

As John realized in his DEXA scan, it is possible to have muscle imbalances.  I was surprised to note that on both of my DEXA scans the entire left side of my body is stronger.  I will be tailoring my workouts to address this issue according to the guidelines John talked about.  For example I will do fewer reps or sets on the left to allow the lagging right side to catch up.

My bone density actually went up in the last 4 months!  I can only guess that weight lifting caused this happy result.

Ladies, pick up those weights if you want to maintain or increase your bone density!  Bone density is the most common reason most women my age have a DEXA scan done.   It can also be used to monitor body composition and is a useful tool when choosing goals and designing your workout.

If you’ve had a DEXA, what did you learn and how did it affect your training program and goals?

Poison Persuasion

Most of us are familiar with the kind of substances that are dangerous to ingest.  As a mother I kept all those cleaning supplies locked in the cabinet away from little fingers.  We wouldn’t dream of rubbing some cleaning chemicals on our face or pouring floor cleaner into our coffee.

No way!   Why would we keep something in our bodies that could harm us or hold us back?  This may sound ridiculous, yet when it comes to what we will put into our minds, or what we leave there unchallenged, we are all too comfortable with our poison.

Let me explain:

What do you really believe about what you can achieve?  When you face a failure do you think that you are worthless? Do you think that you are different from others and that you just can’t lose fat?  These are some examples of poison ideas that will hold you back.  In my opinion these false beliefs are just as harmful as some cleaner in your morning coffee.

Don’t get your hopes up

I would like to share a poison belief that almost kept me from ever trying out Venus Index.  When I first heard about the program from Brad Pilon’s blog, I felt it wasn’t for someone like me. I’d been overweight since I was 7 years old.   I have struggled with extra weight for so many years and was desperate at the time to even lose 30 pounds.  I didn’t think I had any hope of working toward a goal of ideal measurements.

I was almost 300 pounds at the time and felt hopeless.  I had tried over and over with so many complicated diets to lose weight.  I was starting to think  I should just accept being the fat girl. Honestly, it was probably just easier for me to see the weight as unmovable than to realize that I had gotten myself into that mess.  I needed to face the reality of my own responsibility to take care of my body.

In spite of the negative thinking I kept listening to the PhiLife and Venus podcasts with John Barban and Brad Pilon.  I was so impressed with what they said and believed they knew their stuff. What did I have to lose, besides a lot of extra weight?  I finally decided that I would never know unless I put it to the test. To begin with I bought The Anything Goes Diet and started following it.

Once I lost about 20 pounds I bought Venus Index.  Then I nervously went into the community to lurk around.  Once I saw how wonderful the women in the community were I jumped on in and found the support I needed.  I kept on losing weight.  The support of like- minded people is so important in keeping a positive mindset and clearing away false or negative ideas that can drain your motivation.

Speaking the truth

It is possible that you don’t think you have any poison beliefs floating around in your thoughts. It is tough to spot them since we are so comfortable with what has become so familiar.  Have you ever thought that you just can’t do what someone else has done?  Maybe you think you are too busy to work on a fitness goal, have a messed up metabolism, have bad genetics, or just don’t have the willpower.   Take a closer look.  Sometimes our behavior says much more about what we truly believe than what we say.

If you really believe something is true it will show up in your actions.  Sometimes those negative thoughts spill out when we view ourselves in a full length mirror, when we are uncomfortable receiving a compliment, or in what we say to ourselves when we mess up.

If I have a day when my thoughts tell me that I can’t change or that I can never look like that sexy girl at the gym, then it’s time for me to talk back.  I can ask if that is really true.  It’s not.

It’s not easy to think of myself in new ways.  That is a big reason I have loved the Venus podcasts.  The Adonis and the Venus podcasts helped me to turn my defeated thoughts into determination and fight  for my weight loss goals.  Now they help me to keep my mindset positive and powerful so I can keep going strong as I continue on the journey.  I had so many old diet rules and mainstream fitness ideas that had gotten me nowhere.

I like to use the podcasts, and the other Venus resources to keep my thinking clear of all those distractions.  If the old familiar diet myths didn’t work for all those years I certainly don’t want to fall back on them.  I have found some books to be very helpful but I am very selective.  I make sure that what I read won’t pull me away from what I know works for me.  I have gone back to read The Anything  Goes Diet more than once.  It’s been the guidebook  for turning my years of weight loss mistakes into steady steps forward to my goal.  I like to joke that I am AGD for life.

Remember the victories

When I run into setbacks or make big mistakes I’m tempted to fall into old thinking and habits.  I might wonder why I bother or do I have what it takes to succeed.  I may be tempted to go and try some crazy restrictive diet with all kinds of fancy rules.  It’s what I would have turned to in years past; a strict program with lots of food rules, excessive cardio workouts, or some special trick that will finally help me lose those stubborn pounds.

I know better than to go back to what was so punishing and useless.  This is the time I most need to remember my victories and the tried and true methods that I can count on.  I choose to take courage from the goals I’ve set and have achieved; the times my hard work paid off in progress. Each little victory along the way has made me stronger.

Victories feel wonderful, but to tell the truth failure has often been an more valuable teacher.  Failures can be a perfect opportunity to learn more about myself and what might help me to succeed in the future.  They show me my weak spots and are a great map for avoiding pitfalls.

If  used wisely those setbacks and mistakes will help me to succeed in the long run.  It’s a waste of energy to beat myself up for what I could or should have done.  I can choose to use that energy to focus on what have learned and what I want to do next.

You are not alone

No matter what the situation or challenge I find so much strength in support from others the same challenges.  It makes me feel stronger when I know that others have conquered the same challenge, felt similar emotions, or made some of the same mistakes I have.

The stories of other women who are transforming their bodies and learning new habits inspire me to keep working.  Their stories reassure me that I can indeed reach my own goal.  If someone else has walked the path before me it makes me even more determined that I can walk it too.

I can’t tell you how many times during my weight loss journey I have turned to the ladies at the Venus Index community and found just what I needed to push me forward.  It’s a wonderful thing when someone says just the right thing to encourage you, or gives you a dose of reality when needed.  I am stronger as part of this community… a part of team Venus.

We are in the journey together and it makes the process much more fun.  Yes, the challenge of losing weight becomes fun with a little help from some friends. Even if you aren’t part of the Venus community I challenge you to find the support you need wherever you can.  It’s priceless.

Going, going, but not gone

I’ve lost more than 100 pounds from my highest weight of 320, but I still find myself thinking like the woman I used to be.  I am still learning to master my mindset.  I want to learn to think in ways that charge up my motivation and push me to overcome obstacles.  I am making progress. I will use the tools I just wrote about.  Where there are lies I will talk back with the truth.  When there are failures I will remember the victories.

If I feel alone in a challenge I’ll seek out a little help from some friends. I have come so far from the woman who almost would not try Venus Index because she didn’t want to get her hopes up only to fail again.  I am so glad I took that chance on the program, but ultimately on myself.  What did I have to lose?  What do you have to lose?


Are You Running To Stay In The Same Place?

Are you running to stay in place?

Are you running to stay in place?

Life sometimes gives us setbacks

How many times have you heard someone say that they got sick and so inevitably the weight started to pile on? Yup, we all nod in agreement. It’s not your fault. It’s too bad about that but of course you became over weight when you:

  • broke your leg
  • had to take care of your sick relative
  • traveled 7 months of the last 12
  • <insert your situation>

Life will throw you curve balls. Regardless of the reason, just because you’re not able to exercise, gaining weight is not inevitable.

Because in order to maintain how much you were eating you exercised.

Since you had a valid excuse for why you could not exercise, you had every right and reason to gain weight. Right?

Do you tell yourself this story? It’s hard not to. Anywhere you turn, including the news, movies, fiction, even supposedly scientific books, you will find the perpetuation of this myth: You have to work it off.

The flaw with this logic is the minute you hit a setback, if you habitually eat the same amount, you will gain weight and you will believe it’s out of your control.

Illness is no excuse

Your next setback is waiting to happen.

It happens to all of us.  It’s a matter of when.  What will be your plan?  You can learn to handle the situation and maintain your weight.

How fast are you “running”?

Have you read “Through the Looking Glass”, the sequel to “Alice in Wonderland”, by Lewis Carroll? A famous quote from The Queen has always resonated with me:

“Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

The fact is that simply maintaining is work.

You can’t over exercise too many calories, but you can learn to eat within your correct maintenance calories which are dictated by your height, gender and activity level.

The sooner you learn how much your body actually needs each day to maintain with your current lifestyle constraints, the better prepared you are for life’s setbacks.

This year I was broadsided by illness that set me back for two months, I could not work out at all. After that, I began the arduous process of regaining my strength.

Do you suppose I piled on pounds of fat?

No indeed, I did not.

And why is that?

Because I have a very clear idea of how much I need to eat to maintain my weight.

When I was forced to drop the gym habit, I simply cut back a bit on calories. I didn’t cut back as much as you might think. I just made small changes. A little less here, a few missed breakfasts, ice cream less often.

I made simple changes and I watched my waist metric. Without the ability to lift weights I simply had to eat less.  Every time the tape measure started to increase, I made a few adjustments to keep it in check. I rested, got well, and got the mental mindset to get back in the gym.

Every single time you have to start the gym habit again, it does require some discipline. The good news is habits don’t ever go away; they lie dormant.

The first week I was very sore. I had to talk myself into showing up for the first 3 weeks.  I eventually built up the strength to do the Venus Index Workouts.

We all have illness now and then

In November, my whole family got broadsided by a virus that was sweeping the town. I lost 10 pounds in one week.

I’ve never been more grateful for the simple fact of health and a strong body. To honor this body, I will not overfeed it or overwork it.

I will instead eat what I need. No more, no less.

I found myself faced again with the need to build strength in the gym. I “ran” to stay in the same place (not overeating in order to maintain) when I was sick. Now I am “running faster” (lifting heavy) in order to get my muscles back into the shape I like.   I follow Brad Pilon’s “Fat Loss Divide and Conquer” rule.

What about you? Are you making excuses or are you “running” towards your goals in whatever way you are currently capable?


Married to Adonis

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is the god of beauty and desire.   Venus is the Roman goddess of love, beauty, fertility, prosperity and victory.  A match made in heaven.  Mostly that is.

I think many women will admit that when they see a man in Adonis shape they get a physical and visceral reaction.  A frisson of energy and interest.  I have heard it is the same for men when they see a woman at her Venus metrics.



There is a lovely symmetry when you can say that your soulmate is intellectually equal, emotional connected and physically matched.  However, there are a number of gender differences that can make this journey of togetherness a little challenging.

The truth about calories hurts

As an average height woman in Venus shape at just a shade under 5’4”, I am married to a 6’2” Adonis at his golden ratio.  At maintenance I get to eat about 1,400 calories per day……Adonis gets about 2,400 calories per day.

This really is a big challenge for me.  Portion sizes are made for big men.  Even a snack like a chocolate bar, a fru fru ‘grande’ sized coffee or a muffin can be 30% to 50% of my daily calorific intake.  Not for my Adonis.

We have all been trained over a lifetime to eat these portions.  For many women it is not just a matter of having a muffin less frequently.  It is a matter of both frequency and half sized portions.

I will give you a case in point.  My Adonis holds his maintenance at about 9-11% body fat (by DEXA).  When he decides to drop a little flab he stops his ice cream and chocolate intake and just start shedding pounds.

I hold my maintenance at about 15-17% body fat (by DEXA).  When I want to shed a little, I have to cut meals, portions, weigh everything and have no treats.  Then maybe the scale will move a little.

In general women just have to watch calories and portions more and cut a higher percentage of their daily calories to lose weight.

The truth is you cannot eat like a man and be Venus.

Muscle magic

Why is it that men just seem to look at a dumbbell in the gym and visibly start growing muscle.

I weigh about 60% of what my Adonis weighs.  Pound for pound I out-lift him on almost every move.  Yet my results pale into comparison with what he can achieve.  It is gender genetics and hormones but I find it really frustrating.

In addition a man in Adonis shape will have a body fat that is probably 8-10% less than a woman in Venus shape.  It is genetic, women just have a higher essential fat percentage.  In a man essential body fat is recognized as 2-5%, for women it is 10-13%.

This is important because on a like for like basis men will just be more ripped.  You will be able to see the muscles, striations, and more vascularity.

As a Venus you need to lift like a man but never expect the same results.

Ironman Mag Nov 2012

That crazy testosterone

That magic hormone that not only gives amazing muscle growth but also is responsible for that male courage and machismo to go and do crazy things.  Or to just be bigger and stronger.

I go to the gym with my Adonis but we also do all our adventures and sports together.  For us this includes skiing, mountain biking, hiking and sailing.  We typically do difficult and expert levels of these sports.

I know when I am standing on top of an extreme double black ski run that often times I am scared.  I worry about my physical strength and endurance.  I overcome this, but my Adonis just jumps in and off he goes.  When I look around it is quite rare to see another woman.  It is mainly men skiing together on this stuff.  Or some man trying to talk down his terrified wife.

Am I the only woman that feels like she is the weakest link in these physical pursuits?

Where are “U”?

Brad Howard’s “Attention U” explains how when we are at the top of our physical game we get attention and reactions from others.

It is true.  But I do think there is a gender bias.  When you are in Venus shape and maintaining more or less in fitness model shape, you will likely find you are an exception.  When you go to the gym you will likely be the only one with the mix of feminine shape, leanness and muscle.

For a man it is different.  At most big gyms across the world you will see 5 or 10 men in Adonis shape.  It is uncommon but not exceptional.

There is also a difference in the type of reactions an Adonis gets versus what a Venus gets.

I have spent the past 12 months working with my Adonis.  He is tall, in amazing shape and obviously strong and fit.  He just gets respect and instant leadership credibility.  People listen and believe him.

I too get a reaction but is more a recognizable spark of attraction.  I get my respect and leadership credibility, but I have to work it the old fashioned way.

Even at the gym, my Adonis gets asked about his program and results.  I on the other hand am much more likely to be told I look great.  No questions about how I got there.

An Adonis gets respect, a Venus gets attention.

Making the Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da VinciDoes Mona Lisa Smile For You?

Confession time. When I first learned that the famous Mona Lisa was smiling, I was surprised. Maybe this will sound odd to some, but I’d honestly never perceived her expression as happy when I was growing up. Now, obviously, this statement reveals more about my childhood than it does about the Mona Lisa.

Growing up as a latch-key child with an emotionally absent alcoholic father and a physically absent mother doesn’t do a whole lot for creating an atmosphere of joy. So yes. I totally missed that she was smiling.

The Creation of Happiness

I am happy to report that she does indeed smile for me now, but sometimes it’s work; sometimes I need to consciously fish around in my mental storage bin for my virtual rose colored glasses.

I accept responsibility for my emotions now but with that responsibility comes the requirement that I study and learn techniques that might be obvious to those with a solid foundation in early childhood happiness. It’s one of the reasons I strive to create as full and happy a childhood for my children as I can; perhaps they won’t have to work as hard as I sometimes do to create happiness.

Love and Accept Your Body Before You Transform

You may be wondering what all this jibber-jabber about art and attitude has to do with transformation so bear with me while we take a little journey.

One of my early active steps towards my transformation was plunking down a wad of virtual cash for an eBook. I’m not a relic but it took me some years to come to terms with my failure to transform on my own and be willing to part with cold hard cash for something seemingly intangible.

I eagerly “ripped open” my shiny new transformation program, only to be hit with a lecture and some airy-fairy exercise on loving my body. Now while I’m as airy-fairy as the next person, the guy who wrote this particular program wasn’t. I’d been watching his videos online and had even met him. I know one thing and that is that he had no business trying to get all woo woo on me.

However, I put that aside and went on with the exercise. (And by exercise, I mean writing crap on paper, lest you think I was doing something physical.) As expected, it fell flat. I’ve done intensive personal growth seminars and made great positive strides. Sitting with a piece of paper doing some contrived mental exercise wasn’t going to do a darned thing for my belly fat. In losing faith in the exercise, I lost faith in the program.

This dude and the mainstream fitness mafia can pile on all the guilt in the world that I have to lurve my body and accept as it is before I can successfully transform. I call bullsh*t.

In hindsight, I’m so glad I did! I stand by my conviction that anyone who pretends to hold expertise outside their actual field of expertise loses all credibility with me. And in giving up on this program, I was able to continue seeking out the answers and ultimately find my way here to Venus Index where information is research based.

I Hated My Body and Transformed Anyway

This may be a hard pill to swallow but when I finally began the successful stage of my transformation journey, it was without feelings of love towards my body shape and size. I was quite clear about who I am as a person and that I am a person of character, and I am also clearly blessed to be gifted with a functioning body complete with working parts, but at the same time, I was hiding my body away by choice to avoid humiliation. This was not who I was. In avoiding social situations, I was depriving both myself and my children of a chief source of joy in life.

It turns out, there’s research to back me up on this; it turns out that depressive episodes are strongly linked to excess adipose tissue and inflammation.

Online Socializing is a Poor Substitute for the Real Thing

Realizing that I was doing us all a big disservice was one of the driving forces behind my successful transformation. I wanted joy for us and I wanted to be comfortable enough in my own skin to be pleasant around other people. The bulk of my socializing had moved to online. Many studies are saying this is a good thing but it’s interesting that the timing coincides with the obesity epidemic. Perhaps others hide away for reasons similar to my own?

One of the reasons winning a transformation contest was attractive to me is that it involves a clear deadline. The focus I’d be putting into the necessary work would soon come to an end and I could move to the next leg of the journey. The whole point of the exercise was to create more joy in our lives. With that in mind, you can bet I became a student of maintenance early on in the journey; every tool I added to my toolkit got stored away for use at any future time. I regularly rotate through these tools now.

Creating Joy

Would it surprise you to learn that once I reached my goal, I wasn’t actually completely happy all the time? Some of this had to do with having been hit with a few extreme life challenges and still doing internal work to ascertain what my part I’d played and how I could grow from the experiences and move on with my life. But the bulk of my failure to feel happy more of the time was just due to still not knowing how to be happy.

Enter Transformation as an Ongoing Journey

It was at that point in my personal journey that I realized that simply achieving the physical body I’d always dreamed of was not going to be the biggest achievement of my life, nor should it be. (Perhaps that sounds silly but I went for it with that much tenacity.)  There are so many things I am capable of doing and that bring me joy. I found myself energized by the open book my life had suddenly become at the age of 47. I find myself more able to be the parent I wanted to be, but also wanting to return to my personal life journey that had been put on hold during my earlier years of parenting.

Sometimes, it’s overwhelming. There are so many ways in which I’d like to improve and they simply cannot all happen immediately. And in fact, it is not possible to ever achieve the level of success that I dream of in all endeavors simultaneously. This is an area in which I am learning to shift my thinking. I am choosing a few priorities and setting goals. I used to set too many goals and fail across the board. Now I strive to set what I call “mini-missions” that I am sure to complete and get a feeling of accomplishment that propels me to further success.

Stop and Savor the Espresso

What makes even small successes worthwhile is consciously thinking about them. I am tired of missing out on the joy as if I move about head down with blinders, getting it done but not enjoying the process. There is joy in the process!

One way in which I keep being able to enjoy the success of maintaining my Venus body shape and size is by having just an espresso for breakfast whenever the mood strikes me. I’ve learned from Brad Pilon that breakfast is not a requirement and that if you stop and listen and find you’re not hungry, there is simply no reason to eat. But I still pop out of bed eager for that espresso! In fact, the last thought before my head hits the pillow is tomorrow morning, I get to have an espresso! Along with this simple ritual comes a reflective morning peace that might lead to a bit of weeding in the garden or reading in the morning sun.

Creating my Happy

As life constantly changes, so must one work at the formula for creating happy today. I use many techniques, most of which you’ve likely heard of. Here are a few techniques I cycle through:

  • Take time regularly to be truly grateful for things. Get creative on this one so it is not done by rote.
  • Truly connect with people. I mean in person. Yes, even you introverts. Make some eye contact!
  • Get present and simply remind yourself to enjoy the moment.
  • Unplug completely on a regular basis.
  • Get out in nature.
  • Pay it forward: help someone with no strings attached. Or do volunteer work.
  • Declutter and simplify.
  • Keep up with chores.
  • Feed your mind daily with interesting and challenging new information.
  • Put an event on your calendar. Simply anticipating it will bring you untold hours of joy!
  • Feed  your soul with worthwhile brain candy.
  • Use color, scent, music, art, etc for mood enhancement. Taste is not our only sense! Don’t neglect the others!
  • Take up an old hobby or join a group that does something you love.
  • Hang out with dogs, cats, children – whatever energizes you.
  • Challenge your body (within reason).
  • Dress well!
  • Don’t expect too much of yourself. We have been led to believe we should own more and accomplish more than is reasonable.
What do you do to get  your happy? It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

When Is the Best Time to Work Out?

Here’s your new interview with one of the contestants from the 5th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Today John talks to  Teresa Shaner finished forth in the contest and earned herself a spot on Venus Index Calendar.

Check out her transformation pictures from the 12 Week Contest:

Teresa lost 13lbs and 2 inches off her waist!

While most people chose to submit their transformation pictures at the 20 week contest deadline, Teresa decided to take her pictures after only 12 weeks.

This decision has now motivated  Teresa to push through the full 20 week transformation.  She’s “All-In” and ready to take it to next level!

Prior to  this contest, Teresa had difficulty gaining momentum needed for her to finish a transformation contest.

One obstacle she and several mothers encountered is that once she had done everything for her kids, she had very little energy and time for herself.

However, as we’ve seen before with our previous Venus winners, if you want to take care of other people you need to take care of yourself first.

Teresa wanted to feel  better and live a healthier lifestyle. Having a history of family health issues made her even more determined to start focusing on this. She didn’t want be placed in that risk category as she grew older.

Before she would always try to do the workouts in the evenings, which has a lot of disadvantages.

She made the decision to perform her workouts and cardio in the the morning.

The turning point came one day when she woke up and wasn’t  feeling dizzy. She decided to do her workout early in the day, which was a brand new experience.

When she got home later that day she didn’t have the stress to push herself to do the workout, because she’s already done it.

Working out in the morning is not only beneficial in terms of more energy throughout the day, but it also removes the pressure to do the workout and eliminates the opportunity to skip the training.

The longer you wait to do the workout, the greater your chances are of not going.

After two weeks Teresa realized that working out in the morning was the best thing to do.


Because the last time she missed a workout was 4 weeks ago, and that way only because she was out the night before.

She thought she would end up with less energy, but the opposite came true.


Pick the Smartest Diet Approach for Successful Weight Loss

For the diet we usually don’t give any specific rules, just one rule – you gotta eat less calories than you burn in order to lose fat.

However, there are a few things that can help you with it.

One of those is making smarter choices that have fewer calories – fruits and vegetables. Especially vegetables are very dense and filling and have almost no calories at all and if you are a good cook you can make some tasty meals.

That’s what Teresa did, she chose a diet that consisted mostly of vegetables and lean protein rather than burgers and refined products.

There is really nothing wrong with eating “processed” stuff, but they aren’t volume food, they have a lot of calories and won’t satisfy a lot.

Food Is Just Like Alcohol, It Connects People…

In times past Teresa weighed 118 pounds, then she got married and had her first child.

She started getting away from the health and lean ideal and began to gain a couple of pounds.

She gained 69 pounds after her first child and never lost it all.

She also revealed to us that it was very uncomfortable and that there was a lot of pressure on the back.

After a second child she gained 72 pounds and again, never lost it all.

When she started the VI contest she was already dieting for the past 4 years, but just like she said, she was never truly focused on getting it off, she had some progress and then was stuck at 170 for a really long time.

The contest helped her focus, she had a deadline to shoot for, it’s more serious when you take pictures, and compete. It’s no longer just dieting for the sake of dieting and maybe losing some weight, this is why our contestants are more successful with Venus program and contest than they have ever been before.

Before the contest Teresa understood the concept of calories, but would always give up and was yo-yo dieting for most of her life.

Sadly, this is a recurring theme, without a goal and a deadline it’s just really hard to lose fat and especially if you want to do it as painlessly as possible like our Venuses’.

Also if you are in the community and are listening to the interviews you can learn from the mistakes and experience of other Venuses’.

Teresa admitted that the desire to eat was sometimes really strong, almost like it wasn’t her, almost like she was possessed.

She’s correct… The drive to eat is really strong so it’s hard (but not impossible if you know how) to actively restrict yourself for any length of time, there is a lot so structure that needs to be in place.

It’s important to note that food connects people. Food is involved in almost any type of social gathering or event. It’s part of our culture, part of our lives, and it always will be.

Trying to diet is almost like saying you are going to socially disconnect.

Dieting is already difficult and to socially disconnect from others makes it even harder. This is why Teresa decided to follow the Anything Goes Diet principles and enjoy all the social life.

More tips from Teresa:

  • Get an iPod and create a good music list, it may seem non-important, but music really helps with training, especially if you are not feeling like working out that day
  • I can’t believe I didn’t started before, start now you will regret it if you don’t
  • Morning workouts are awesome, you will have more energy, there won’t be any pressure throughout a day and no one will be bothering you, because everyone will be still sleeping
  • If it was easy everyone would do it, there is no magical formula to it
  • Shift your schedule, do whatever it takes, just make that hour for the workout. If it’s the first thing in the morning you won’t have worry about get putting it done.

Links from the interview:

  • Venus Index Phase 1 and Phase 2 – Original Venus Index workouts
  • Anything Goes Diet – Diet that lets you eat the foods you like
  • Eat Stop Eat – Diet Lifestyle protocol designed to help you to lose fat and regain freedom in your food choices
  • Reverse Taper Diet – Stop with the yo-yo dieting once and for all

Read what Teresa wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

I am a wife of 14½ years to my high school sweetheart and a mother of two active boys ages 10 and 14. At the age of 35, a history of health issues incurred by my mother and siblings made me realize I needed to get… Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Can There Be a Simple Way to Lose 100 Pounds?

Here’s your new interview with one of the contestants from the 5th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Today John talks to  Suzy Johnston who finished third in the contest and earned herself a spot on Venus Index Calendar.

Check out her transformation pictures from the 12 Week Contest:

Suzy’s results from the mid-term contest.

What’s even more amazing is Suzy’s overall transformation with Venus Index.

Check out her whole progress pictures here:

Suzy’s whole progress.

Suzy started at 240 pounds (she is 5’7”) and gradually over 16 months she lost exactly 100 pounds.

Very impressive results!

It’s always interesting to hear where it all started, what was the trigger point for gaining weight, because truth to be told no one is born overweight, there is always something external that trigger’s overeating and thus weight gain.

For Suzy it was moving away from her sister. No one was looking over her shoulder, she could eat fast food all the time and binge on it whenever she wanted.

Some days, it got really bad.

One day Suzy decided to buy a scale and was in shock once she saw that she weighed 240 pounds. This was a turning point for her and she made the DECISION TO CHANGE.

She began educating herself about fitness and searched online for weight-loss solutions.

However, she had trouble finding the truth.  It was hard to distinguish who was right and who was wrong, everybody seemed to contradict one another.

Nevertheless, Suzy decided to keep it simple. She started running, lifting weights and eating less.

She found success in her approach for weight loss but was completely blown when away she discovered the Venus Index and the concept of  “body metrics.”

It was at this point Suzy realized that it’s more important to focus on her “ideal” Venus metrics rather than her weight.


Losing Weight Is an Incomplete Goal

Is just losing the weight the ultimate goal?

You need to think about where you want to be and what you are going to do once you achieve your desired goal.

You will always need some kind of goal to keep pushing you forward, otherwise you will stagnate with your progress or even worse, revert back to your old self – this is what’s called yo-yo dieting.

So what is your goal? What will you do once you cross the finish line?

Sad yet true, most people who lose weight can’t keep it off, they go back to their old self and gain it all back.

Figure out your goals in advance and you won’t lose momentum.


Expect People’s Negative Reactions and Keep It to Yourself

Be aware that some people treat nutrition as if it were a religion, so it’s better to add this topic to your “do not discuss” list.

Some people will label their fitness approach, believe it to be the  “best and only” way and then identify themselves with it – e.g. Paleo people.

Not only do they think they know better, but they also don’t believe that it’s possible for it to be simple and done without suffering.

They will argue with you that it’s very complex, and you have to forego  eating foods you like.

However, once you get in shape and are the road to improvement they will try to stop you.

Now  they will question why you want to lose more fat and accuse you of being obsessive-compulsive.

Save yourself the hassle and choose wisely who you share your fitness goals with.  Many Venus Lifestyle  followers choose this “undercover” approach.

Suzy finally achieved a healthy body weight and is happy with the amazing progress she has made. For her, it’s just further improvement and she’s already taking it to the next level. What about you?

Links from the interview:

  • Eat Stop Eat – Diet Lifestyle protocol designed to help you to lose fat and regain freedom in your food choices
  • Original Venus Index Workout – Workout program for women that’s responsible for the most amazing transformations online
  • Venus Index Community – Friendliest and most supportive women’s only fitness community on the Internet

Advice from Suzy to someone who has 100 pounds to go:

  • Don’t wait, I wish I would have started earlier (and started with Venus Index earlier as well)
  • It can be simple, if you make it that way
  • Figure out how many calories you need and go from there
  • For some girls in the forum, it will take more patience  because you have farther to go, so prepare yourself for that
  • Better late than never, the time to start is right now

Read what Suzy wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

In May 2011, I looked down at my newly-purchased scale and saw a frightening number staring back at me: 240 lbs. I had been a yo-yo dieter since high school, with many more ups than downs on the scale, but the shock that number sent through my system was the impetus I needed to commit to working towards being the best me that I can possibly be. I took the…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Say NO to Yo-Yo Diets and Dump Fat Clothes For Good

Here’s your new interview with one of the contestants from the 5th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Today John talks to Liss Graham who finished second in the contest and earned herself a spot on Venus Index Calendar.

Check out her transformation pictures from the 12 Week Contest:

Say “no” to yo-yo diets with the Venus Index.

When Liss pulled out the pictures on her PC she couldn’t believe this was really her and her husband had a pretty similar reaction.

The Day-to-day changes are almost unnoticeable and when you look at yourself in the mirror you usually see only the flaws.

When looking at the pictures though you can be more objective and if you have both before and after photos than you can truly see your progress not the skewed version in a mirror.

…And don’t worry about getting good pictures.

Liss took some advice from her friend Alisha (previous VI winner) from the VI community about taking pictures and setting up lights.

She went through a couple magazines, pinned a couple pictures, set up a mirror, her sister in law helped her with the lighting and taking pictures. Then she got babysitting for the evening, took a couple pictures for each pose and that was it, nothing complicated.

Here is one more picture from the shoot:

Liss, one of the recent Venus winners.

Liss always felt like a giant kid. She told us that compared to other girls she wasn’t that tiny and cute like others, she was big and a bit overweight for her age. She didn’t feel pretty.

In her freshmen year she weighed 140 pounds.

She started playing tennis and lifting weights, but throughout the years her weight often fluctuated up and down, which was quite exhausting.

She would work hard  to lose the weight, only to relapse and gain it right back.

She was a victim of what’s called the “yo-yo diet”.

It was because her diet was very low in calories and highly restrictive – high protein, low carb and only certain food.

This type of diet wasn’t sustainable so she would fall off here and there often resulting in binging.

It All Starts with the Decision to Get Better

Liss decided to make a change.

She began first by researching how much celebrities weigh;  she looked up Julia Roberts and a few others.

It was here when she realized that while those women are lean and in shape it’s not what you would call the “ideal” shape for women.  Nevertheless,  she began searching for more of a  “fitness look“.

This search is what ultimately lead her to the Venus Index.

VI offered her a set of metrics, a goal to shoot for–an  ideal shape, all while being able to measure the progress without having to do a fancy DEXA analysis every month just to know if she was on track.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt Liss was happy to have found Venus Index!

She could go to all the social eating events, throw away the “fat clothes” and put an end to the crappy approach of yo-yo dieting.

If she didn’t feel like working out, her kids would constantly ask her if she was going to the gym or her friends would text her asking where she is – her accountability to fitness was at the highest it had ever been, which set her up for success.

Having these systems in place, a proven workout program, and help from the VI community she was destined to succeed and she did, just scroll back up and look at the pictures.

Now, if you wanna hear more about her journey, psychological barriers she had to overcome, what worked for her and what didn’t, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the play button to listen to the interview.

Tips from Liss:

  • Track your strength and try to improve every time you hit the gym, even if it’s just for one more rep
  • Don’t argue with people about it, if they wanna know what you are doing
  • I post every little chart, weight, and measurements on my blog in the community
  • When you finally get fit everything becomes so much easier 
  • Avoid destructive behavior patterns, one thing leads into other – couch potato, bad food, no workout, no results
  • Remember to encourage yourself, embrace the support from those you trust
  • Before this contest I chose to set weight goals and I focused on things I could control – how many workouts, how many calories a week
  • You can’t control the rate you lose weight at
  • The body changes slower than the mind, patience is important – The good things come to those who wait
  • Listen to every VI (if possible AI) podcast in the archive for example when driving to work or whatever and make notes and try every advice

Read what Liss wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

7 short months ago, I was sick of rebounding again after all the effort I had put into losing weight, AGAIN, in 2011. You see, in January of 2011, I was at one of my highest weights in my life, 185. I worked really hard to diet and work out through…Continue reading here

Listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

From Fragile to Venus

Here’s your new interview with one of the contestants from the 5th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Today John talks to April who finished first in the contest and earned herself a spot on Venus Index Calendar.

Check out her transformation pictures from the 12 Week Contest:

Amazing transformation in just 12 weeks, what do you think?

Here’s some good news.

You can change the way you look. No matter what others are saying, no matter if they tell you it’s stupid, pointless or call you names.

You really can and it’s the best way to increase your happiness and self-esteem.

Today you will get a chance to listen to something pretty deep. April opens herself up and reveals some secrets about how she was being treated when she was younger, how she felt about it, how it affected her confidence and ultimately lead her to join the army, yes the army!

April was always told that she had no butt and was always bit self-conscious about that area of her body.

For example she would not take back shots, ever, even when taking after photos for the contest she was refusing to take the back shot. Familiar feeling?

It’s really hard to get over your insecurities, especially when other people keep talking you down, in this case it was April’s sister who was commenting on how flat her butt looks. Sometimes family members can be the worst enemies on your path to success. If they are not, good for you.

Start Talking to Your Muscles (For Real)

No, we haven’t gotten crazy (yet), you should really start talking to your muscles, or at least begin focusing on feeling them and activating them in the right way.

The best way to build great butt is to do all those lunges and step ups you see in the Venus Index workouts (don’t you dare skip those!).

However here is something new, your body will activate the muscles it finds are most efficient to perform the movement, for example squat can be done in different muscle patterns – you have to put your mind into, otherwise your body will default to what’s most efficient – for most people it’s their quads and not hamstrings and butt. In simple terms, if you want certain area of your body to improve, you need to train in a way your body understands.

Most people are just throwing up weights, not really training and forcing the body to work properly during the movement.

A good idea as John likes to say is to start thinking from the muscle rather than from the weight. Guys have a big issue with this, simply because their ego is preventing them from using the lighter weights they should be training with.

Women usually tend to have an opposite issue – lifting too light. So once you correct that and start using more challenging weights, you have to learn the other side of the coin which is muscle activation.

The better you are able activate your muscles results in more contractions towards the area targeted for muscle growth.

A popular way to activate your muscles is by looking in the mirror while you are working out.

Yep, they aren’t there just for vanity and ego, you don’t have to be scared of looking into them, use them to your advantage. Even more, there is actually research that suggests you will develop more the muscles you can see – this is why it’s harder to work on the muscle groups you can’t see like muscles on your back.

This Industry Can Really Mess You Up If You Aren’t Careful

April experienced this at first hand.

In the interview she talks a lot about her past and how it made her very self-conscious about her looks, she discusses how she improved her training by focusing more on the mind-muscle connection, but also reveals her story of how she tried pretty much every approach there is in the fitness industry.

She tried bootcamps, running and marathons, various personal trainers, cardio and so on.

Nothing worked.

Until the Venus Index and it’s diet protocols.

To hear the full story of how she came around finding VI and why she decided to stick to it, scroll down and listen to the interview.

Tips from April:

  • Working out smarter is better than working out longer
  • Don’t be afraid of looking at yourself in a mirror
  • Make sure you are “communicating” with your muscles
  • Get your mind right, the body will follow
  • Don’t kill yourself in a gym
  • Treating fitness like a job is a fail

Links from the interview:

  • Anything Goes Diet – Diet that lets you eat your favorite food
  • Eat Stop Eat – Flexible lifestyle protocol based around the idea of intermittent fasting

Read April’s experience with Venus Index in her own words:

Most likely to be successful. Best dressed. Prettiest. Those were the categories the senior class of 1994 was voting on. I was none of these. Continue reading here

If you want to hear how April originally didn’t trust us and wanted to prove us wrong by getting into the contest, listen to the interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done:

Stop Wasting Your Time: How Women Shortchange Themselves at the Gym

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in gyms over the years has seen the same patterns repeated over and over again.

I’ve been training since the Nixon administration and I’ve seen  every diet/exercise craze, new fad and latest greatest equipment/program that has rolled down the pike since the 70’s.

I’ve even tried a few of them too.

The natural human proclivity for novelty makes us all suckers for the next new thing.

What really works to produce results seems to be a mystery to many women, even though they crowd the gym in droves.

Escape the Average Treadmill Physique

Because there are so many choices and so many people marketing their various programs/diets/workouts like religious cults, it leads to confusion for the average woman.

The bigger  problem is that most women  have no clue what they want out of their workouts and are scared to venture into the  free weight area of the gym. They listen to conventional  fitness wisdom peddled by the media and spend endless hours at the gym plodding away at steppers, treadmills and bikes.

They crowd in the studios doing zumba, pilates, yoga, bootcamp and all kinds of other “fun” activities. They think this will produce “visible results”.

Occasionally, they may see some random improvement.  I  plead guilty to falling into this trap in the past. Cardio has it’s place and purpose from a point of  health but endless cardio does not equal weight loss and a better body.

Next time you are at the gym take a look at  the women and men slogging away on the stairmaster or bikes and ask yourself if they have a body you would want.

Chances are the answer is no.

Big Fat Lie: “I Have these Arms from Lifting Itty Bitty Girly Weights”

Another thing I’ve seen at the gym is women piddling around the weight machines with no real purpose or program. Paraphrasing Martin Berkhan, this is a bad case of Fart-around-itis  (the original term is not appropriate for family publications).

I occasionally see women in the free weights area doing a few sets of flies, presses or rows with 5 & 10 lb weights. Occasionally,  I will see a  woman lifting  heavier weights. Usually a college athlete.  It’s so uncommon, I take notice.

Woman Lifting Heavy

Do you want to get in shape? You have to lift heavy, period.

Which brings me to my big question.

Why do women shortchange themselves in the gym?

Why are so few lifting weights that can actually give them results and a body that people would envy?

There are a lot of cultural issues that come in to play here.

I suspect that most women are afraid to go beyond their comfort zone and have preconceived ideas about weight training and femininity. I also think that women have no clue how strong they really can get and lack the self confidence to find out.

Have a Clear Measurable Goal

So we get to the heart of the problem.

Ask yourself this question: What is my goal?

If it not something that is clear and measurable you will be wasting your time.

Things like  “getting in shape” getting “fit” or losing a few pounds seem like goals, but they are really pretty nebulous and hard to define. It’s like people saying they want to be healthier. The definitions of “health”  being “in shape” or being more “toned” are varied and subjective.

Even losing  scale weight,  while measurable does not always yield a more attractive  body.

Many women are in a “normal” BMI range, yet over fat and under muscled. Losing 10 lbs will not really help if you do not work on increasing or maintaining muscle mass.

If you have small underdeveloped muscles and you  lose 10 or 15 lbs you will  be smaller but still look soft and undefined. Muscle creates shape.

That’s what separates “hot” from NOT.

Do What Produces the Best Results for the Time You Put In

This is where women shortchange themselves and fail.

They do endless cardio and fitness classes thinking that it will “tone” them and make them look “hot”. They go and do  a couple of  light sets on weight machines. Or they pick up some 5 or 10 lb dumbbells and do some kind of weight training without a clue of what they are doing and  are clearly NOT challenging themselves in anyway at all.

Result is: no noticeable results!

Challenge Yourself and Use Heavier Weights

pudgy stockton pressing overhead

Look, Ma: Big Weights & No Bulking.
Great Results: Old School Style.

Big news flash: Women will not get big and bulky using heavier weights. You do not have a Y chromosome and lots of circulating testosterone, so you will not build huge muscles. Not now, not ever.

The women and men you see in bodybuilder magazines and competitions use  anabolic steroids and lots of other drugs you’ve never heard of to look the way they do. Lifting heavier weights will NOT make you look like that.

“But I get bulky if I lift something bigger than a  pink barbie bell” you cry.

Reality check: bulk is fat.

That blanket of adipose that covers your  scrawny little muscles is the source of the “bulk”. Lose the fat  and there is no “ bulk”. Losing fat is a question of  appropriate caloric intake for your height. You need a lot fewer calories than you think. If you are not losing fat you are eating too much.

Yes, I know, not what you want to hear.

Apparently most of people I see in public are not eating less. Which explains the expanding pant sizes and need for bigger hospital gurneys.

Define your goals.

Let’s face it, unless you are a competitive athlete,  your goal  is probably to  look better in a bathing suit. Your definition of better. If you need to lose fat, you will have to control your calories and eat less. Doing an hour of stair stepper and then drinking a 600 calorie juice smoothie will not lead to fat loss unless you are 6’4”.

Use cardio to condition your  cardiovascular system, not to burn excess calories. The actual caloric burn from most exercise is rather modest. Not the 900 calories the stairstepper/treadmill/ machine thingie says. Those are fantasy numbers.

Lift heavier weights.

Preferably  free weights, not machines.

You will build muscle by repeatedly creating strong contraction against greater resistance.

So use enough weight to create that required resistance.

At the minimum you need to lift at a threshold of 40-50% of your one rep max on any given exercise. This will vary but chances are if you have not gotten good results in the past with weight training you are not lifting enough weight.  3 sets of 10 reps with 5 or 10 lbs will not produce any results unless you just stepped out of a prison camp or famine or you are 90 years old and in a walker.

You  also need  a good program that gives proven physique results.

Venus Index is designed to give you a balanced symmetrical shape that is  universally attractive and healthy looking. It works for all figure types because it is based on the  universal proportion found in nature   (fibonacci’s number). Every woman wants to have a balanced hour glass shape. That is considered attractive in all cultures and throughout history.

It is a prime indicator of youth, health and vitality.

Even if you are not 18 years old, you can have a great body at any age if you do the necessary work in the gym.

If you are over 40, 50 or even 60, a youthful, lean strong body makes you younger and healthier.  And another news flash: It does not require hours a day in the gym or on a treadmill.

Working out longer is not necessarily better. You can do marathons and spin classes ‘til hell freezes over and not look good in a swimsuit.

More is NOT always better. Better is better.

Lifting ‘til you puke or working out ’til you drop does not equal great results.

Targeted programs give real results with no photoshopping needed. Just real results for real women with busy lives who are willing to do the work.

The Cliff Notes:

  1. Have a clear measurable workout  goal
  2. Consider what gives the best results for the time put in. More is not better. Better is better.
  3. Challenge yourself with heavier weights
  4. Choose a good program that will give real results. Venus Index fits that bill.