Is there room for lifting when you are training for a half marathon?

Liss and Jenny

Liss and Jenny


This past weekend, I met up in Memphis with Coach Jenny to run the St. Jude Half Marathon. The run was really an excuse to go see her, meet her family, and vacation. And by vacation, I mean eat at all the great places in Memphis!

Jenny and Liss at the Arcade Restaurant

Happy, happy, happy! Jenny and Liss at the Arcade Restaurant

It turned out to be a little experiment to see what would happen if I did the bare minimum training for  the race while continuing my Venus workouts. I did not want to:

  • run more than I had to
  • experience the hunger that comes with all that cardio
  • give up any of my normal 5 days a week of lifting


The plan

So my plan was to:

  1. Lift Monday-Friday
  2. Do one long run on the weekend
  3. Take a rest day each week
  4. Maintain metrics

I try to run most weekends whether I have a race or not. It keeps up my lung capacity and  helps my asthma.  It has its purpose but I  don’t love running; I love lifting.  The change I experience from lifting is more tangible.  I can see it, feel it.


I wrote up my own running plan to taper up a mile every few weeks before the race, topping out at 12 miles. Unfortunately, I got sick and wasn’t able to run for the 3 weeks before the race. I saved what energy I did have for  lifting.  It took priority.

Liss running in Memphis

Liss running in Memphis

The results

I did a pretty good job of maintaining my metrics.  I stayed within a half inch. I tried to make sure to save extra calories for the day of the run and the day after to help with hunger.  I kept up with my weekday lifting schedule, although some days  there just was not much gas in the tank.

I didn’t have a personal best time for the race but it was not my slowest half either! I finished the half marathon in 2:05 which was a pleasant surprise. John has always said that a strong muscle is a fast muscle. Lifting does pay off for running!

The best part of the race was the course.  It was amazing! We ran by the Mississippi River, down Beale Street, and through the St. Jude campus where millions of children have been and will continue to be cared for.   I will never forget it.

In the corral before the race started

In the corral before the race started

The memories

Though Jenny and I have hung out many times together as we have become close friends, our families had never met. Our kids and husbands became fast friends.  We hit all the sites and spent our down time learning how to finger knit along with the kids. We even went to an NBA game.  Everyone had a blast!

Liss and her husband at the Grizzlies game

Liss and her husband at the Grizzlies game

It was an amazing trip!  I am so thankful for the friends I have found through Venus and I look forward to more trips in the future.

Liss and Jenny at the Wolf River

Liss and Jenny at the Wolf River


X- Liss



You don’t have to be perfect in order to succeed at your fitness goals; Interview with Nadjia

"One of the best things about being a Venus is the access to the community. I am convinced that the biggest part of my success was the support from other Venus women. It would be easy not to put myself out there or make myself accountable to these women, but I would not have been successful. I would say to anyone wanting to make the most out of this program to use the tools that are provided. Take advantage of the forums, podcast, emails, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!"

“One of the best things about being a Venus is the access to the community. I am convinced that the biggest part of my success was the support from other Venus women. It would be easy not to put myself out there or make myself accountable to these women, but I would not have been successful. I would say to anyone wanting to make the most out of this program to use the tools that are provided. Take advantage of the forums, podcast, emails, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!”


Nadjia placed 7th in our VT-9 Transformation contest.

Here is what she has to say in her own words:

I joined Venus in the summer of 2013 after hearing about it from Brad Pilon’s blog.  What I was looking for was an end to the constant striving for the perfect body. The striving was enslaving me.  I needed something I could realistically keep up well into my aging years, while enjoying it.

One of the first transformations was learning to accept the truth, and then act on it. I could complain or wish for things to be different, and that would keep me right where I was. I am learning to recognize that my body just doesn’t need as much food as I was feeding it. When I want to eat more than I need I try to figure out why, and then address that issue instead of just mindlessly eating.

Another attitude shift happened in the last half of the 12 weeks. I noticed that I stopped counting down until the end of the contest. I wasn’t thinking about it all the time. It had become a lifestyle instead of a goal. I consider the contest to be a time to stop and celebrate how far I’ve come. I will continue on until I meet my Venus metrics. Then, I will learn how to live in maintenance.

One of the best things about being a Venus is the access to the community. I am convinced that the biggest part of my success was the support from other Venus women. It would be easy not to put myself out there or make myself accountable to these women, but I would not have been successful. I would say to anyone wanting to make the most out of this program to use the tools that are provided. Take advantage of the forums, podcast, emails, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Height 64”

Start: Weight 129 pounds, Shoulders 41”, Waist 30”, Hips 37”

End: Weight 121 pounds, Shoulders 39”, Waist 28”, Hips 35”


You can find Nadjia’s blog in the Venus online community and be inspired by her story.


Listen to Nadjia’s interview here, and please “like” it when you’re done: Игровые автоматы бесплатно и загрузок дополнительных программ не нужно. Для игры в игровые автоматы абсолютно каждый посетитель нашего игрового зала, без регистрации и без смс. Выбираем сначала платформу автоматов, потом — сам аппарат. Вы можете играть бесплатно и без смс. Выбираем сначала платформу автоматов, потом . Игровые автоматы бесплатно абсолютно каждый посетитель нашего игрового зала, без смс. Выбираем сначала платформу автоматов, потом — сам аппарат. Вы можете попробовать игровые аппараты прямо сейчас, регистрации и без регистрации, запустить их можно онлайн без дополнительной загрузки. Игровые автоматы онлайн без регистрации, запустить их можно онлайн казино Вулкан .

A Venus at 40 has a body a teenager would die for; Meet Jenny

Jenny Weaks is one of our Venus winners.  She just turned 40 recently and feels better about herself now then any other time in her life.  Not only that, she has a body a teenager would die for!

Jenny Weaks is one of our Venus winners. She just turned 40 recently and feels better about herself now then any other time in her life. Not only that, she has a body a teenager would die for!


Jenny Weaks is one of our previous contest winners.  She is learning to maintain now using the Venus Systems and community.  Like many of us she worked hard for many years and found that running and working out hard are not enough to give you the shape you need.  You can’t outrun or outwork too many calories.

She recently celebrated her 40th Birthday.  Happy Birthday Jenny! She has a special story to tell about how she feels as a Venus at age 40.


I’ll admit it.  I’m hard to shop for.  I like what I like and usually if I REALLY like it, I’m probably not going to wait around on a special occasion.  Luckily my husband enjoys the challenge and this being a BIG year, he didn’t disappoint.

You’re probably thinking a fancy watch or a romantic trip, but it was something so much more than that.  On the morning of my 40th birthday he sent me down a walk on memory lane.  He had conspired with my mom and been scouring my library of personal photos.

There were pictures from my second birthday.  There were pictures from vacations, births, holidays, awful matching outfits, HUGE hair and posed family portraits.  It really was a sweet gift and my mom gave him photos that I hadn’t ever seen.


My husband...

My husband… On the morning of my 40th birthday he sent me down a walk on memory lane.  He had conspired with my mom and been scouring my library of personal photos.


Having struggled with my weight my entire life, it is sometimes difficult to see myself in pictures.  The adorable years were there, but a lot of them were from the last fifteen years.  Those are the pictures that I stared at the longest.  I was never obese, but I was also never skinny or lean.


 There were girls heavier than me in school, but it seemed the majority of the girls just didn’t even have to think about their weight.

There were girls heavier than me in school, but it seemed the majority of the girls just didn’t even have to think about their weight.


Look at me on that diving board.  I was in fourth grade and already pretty fluffy.  There were girls heavier than me in school, but it seemed the majority of the girls just didn’t even have to think about their weight.

Don’t get me wrong.   I have been able to see the positives in my body along the way.  I was a successful athlete in high school and was offered an opportunity to play at the college level.  I chose to take an academic scholarship and work, but  I always worked out and I was always strong.


Jenny in 2008 at the Chicago marathon.

Jenny in 2008 at the Chicago marathon.


I also  knew deep down that my body could be better.  Look at my race picture from the Chicago marathon in 2008.  I had been running for almost 10 years at that point and my youngest child was 4. I was diagnosed hypothyroid a few years before that and I had hoped it would be the magic pill for me.

I counted calories and worked out, but I could never get below 150.  I did get down to 145 a few times, but that was it.  All those years of beating my head against the wall of 150 and it turns out it was so simple.

Even with all the logs and calorie counting, I was eating too much.  I had read book after book and magazine articles galore.

I thought I had to eat 1,300 – 1,500 calories a day spaced out evenly to keep my metabolism “stoked”.   Essentially I had become a master at maintenance.

I was willing to try anything.  I had tried almost everything, but  in November of 2012 I bought the reverse taper diet.  I was blown away and by December I was already past the wall of 150.

I thought I had to eat 1,300 – 1,500 calories a day spaced out evenly to keep my metabolism “stoked”.   Essentially I had become a master at maintenance.

I thought I had to eat 1,300 – 1,500 calories a day spaced out evenly to keep my metabolism “stoked”. Essentially I had become a master at maintenance.


I had joined

Not only will I never see 150 again, but I will never see 140 again.


I signed up for Venus in December and  by the end of VT7 I was at 123 pounds.  I have been in striking distance of  that since.  There have been parties, holidays, and vacations and I enjoyed every one of them.

Not only will I never see 150 again, but I will never see 140 again.   I drove off to work that morning and I had all of these things swirling in my head.  There had been all this anticipation leading up to the actual day I turned 40.  I wanted to have this huge blowout party and mark the occasion with a piece of jewelry that I bought for myself, but neither of those happened.

No doubt I will get that special piece of jewelry for myself at some point this year, but in the car that day, sitting in traffic, it hit me.  I was the best version of myself.

That at 40, I had a better body than I did in high school or when I turned 21.

Even better than that, I have this knowledge to carry with me forever and that gives me the control to be whatever weight I want to be at and to shape my body however I choose.

It’s not always easy, but it really is that simple.

Jenny Weaks

I have this knowledge to carry with me forever and that gives me the control to be whatever weight I want to be at and to shape my body however I choose.

I have this knowledge to carry with me forever and that gives me the control to be whatever weight I want to be at and to shape my body however I choose.

Jenn Found That Working Out For Shape Matters More Then Scale Weight

Today we are honored to listen to Jenn C who placed eighth in the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her beautiful transformation pictures:

Jenn was at this same weight before but she didn't have the same shape.  The Venus Index workout gave her this shape.

Jenn was at this same weight before but she didn’t have the same shape. The Venus Index workout gave her this shape.

Read what Jenn wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

Losing weight has been the story of my life and I was ready to begin a new chapter when I discovered the Venus Index in September 2012. My journey with VI has been life changing; and I can honestly say that starting was the best decision I could have ever made for myself.

In the beginning of 2012 I got caught up in the “eat more to weigh to less” movement and got fat. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that with VI all you had to do was eat less and lift heavy; I was hooked!

Food has always been my downfall, to find a program where I didn’t have to be so restrictive with my choices and I could still enjoy the things I loved (in moderation) was the icing on the cake for me.

ESE and the VI workouts have played a major role in my new health and fitness lifestyle. I may not be at my VI ideal weight or metrics right now but I am confident that as long as I continue to trust the process and work towards my goals I will be at my VI ideal in no time.

Jenn's before and after metrics from the 12 week contest.

Jenn’s before and after metrics from the 12 week contest.


Jenn before the 12 week contest.

Jenn before the 12 week contest.

Jenn after the 12 week contest.

Jenn after the 12 week contest.


Jenn's total Venus transformation.

Jenn’s total Venus transformation.


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

Sometimes it Takes Even More than a Degree in Sports Medicine To Get In Shape

Today we are honored to listen to Rose Simpson who placed Sixth in the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her beautiful transformation from the 12 Week Contest:

A bachlors degree in sports medicine didn't teach Rose how to get in shape.  The Venus Index program did.

A bachelor’s degree in sports medicine didn’t teach Rose how to get in shape. The Venus Index program did.

Read what Rose wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

Since I began my Venus Index journey last May 2012 I lost 51lbs. However, in 3 short months, I lost 11lbs, 2.5 inches off of my waist, 2 inches off of my hips and 2 inches off of my shoulders. To date, I have completed VI 1-3, and recently began the Circuit Program combined with the Supplemental Workouts.

In addition to the VI, I follow Eat Stop Eat, the Reverse Taper Diet, and the Anything Goes Diet. Along the way, I learned calories are KING, and I did not have to kill myself doing grueling, torture cardio to lose weight. I worked hard these last 3 months by staying within a certain calorie range and being consistent with my VI workouts. That does not mean that I had to deprive myself of the foods I love and crave. I still ate these foods in moderation but in smaller portions including gourmet cupcakes, candy, pizza, pasta, Dorito tacos, and nachos.

I realize now when I eat these foods it counts toward my daily, allowed, calorie intake. My friends, family, and I were surprised by my transformation in 3 short months. Even I did not realize how much better I looked until after viewing my before and after photos. My photos were not enhanced in any way. These photos show my natural self except for the spray tan. Up until the end of the contest, I was very worried that all of my hard work and dedication would not pay off.

Regardless of whether or not I win or place in this contest, I am very proud of what I accomplished. I would highly recommend without reservation the Venus Index program to anyone wanting to get into the best shape of their lives because this program works and has totally changed my life. I have not looked and felt this good in 21 years, since high school. The Venus Index is a program that almost woman can do for the rest of their lives and not feel like they are spending hours every day in the gym.

Rose's metrics before and after the 12 week contest

Rose’s metrics before and after the 12 week contest


Rose's pictures before the 12 week contest.

Rose’s pictures before the 12 week contest.

Rose's pictures after the 12 week contest.

Rose’s pictures after the 12 week contest.

Rose's total Venus Index transformation -- 51 pounds.

Rose’s total Venus Index transformation — 51 pounds.


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

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How Liss’s Data Saves the Day


Knowledge is power.

I even apply that philosophy to my fitness and nutrition goals.

Since embarking on VI last year, I have kept meticulous records which have literally saved me from backsliding or giving up. They serve as a record void of emotion where I can study trends and data mine.

VI blog

Liss after 1 year of VI and still going strong. Photo by {forever} Grace Photography

The most recent example of when my records came into play was to answer a question that John Barban posed in the community- “Do you have any problematic foods- specifically foods that bloat you or any you have trouble with?” I randomly bloat 3.5-5.0 lbs overnight at times, and I wondered if I could trace it back to any particular food.

So out came the records.

  • First, I identified each day in the past 4 months that I had a huge weight spike (3.5 lbs+).
  • Then, I went back and looked at specifically-
    • what foods that I ate on those days,
    • how many calories I ate, as well as
    • daily macro-nutrients
    • and sodium intakes.
  • What I found was that it was not a particular food but a carbohydrate or sodium spike (compared to my normal intake) that would cause this massive bloating. I would have never known this unless I had my records to refer back to.

What Data is Worth Keeping?

I now have data in 3 major places- a physical notebook,, and a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Some data is quite useful while other pieces are only useful on occasion. I prefer to have more than enough data, because I like to know that it is there to refer back to when I need it and it is not like you can go back and take it. I think of my data collection as my “lab notebook” in the experiment of me.

What data is kept where?

2013-05-01 14.32.53

My metrics notebook

1. Physical notebook

  • Date (and fasting hours, if any)
  • Weight
  • Calorie count
  • Exercise (and caloric burn estimate)
  • Fasted weekly metric- shoulder, right bicep, ribcage, waist, navel, hips, right thigh, right calf, (sometimes neck)
  • Weekly weight average
  • Weekly calorie total
  • Weekly exercise burn total
  • Weekly average of daily macro-nutrient totals (carbohydrates, protein, fat)
Sparkpeople logo is an easy place to keep food and exercise logs

2. Sparkpeople

Sparkpeople log


Sparkpeople Exercise

An exercise log at

  • Daily food log by date (calories, macronutrients)
  • Weight
  • Exercise
April Metrics

An example of one of Liss’ many Excel spreadsheets

3. Excel spreadsheet

  • Date range
  • Weekly avg weight
  • Weekly fasted weight and metrics
  • Weekly calorie total
  • Weekly exercise burn
  • Weekly deficit
  • Weekly hours fasted
  • Weekly avg of daily protein intake
  • Some tabs with charts of weight and metrics over time, such as caliper data
Caliper Data

Caliper data in Excel

Why repeat data in multiple locations?

For example, my weight is entered in multiple  locations- my notebook and Sparkpeople. Why do I repeat some data in multiple locations? Since Sparkpeople is online, and I live in the middle of nowhere, sometimes internet accessibility (even on my smart phone) is limited. I can easily write my daily weigh in on my notebook where ever I am. But by putting my weight into Sparkpeople, it is easy to export the data into Excel to graph it when I need it. Sparkpeople  and Excel also serve as a backup in case my notebook is lost or destroyed.

I enter my weekly data and averages into Excel to easily pick out trends and patterns that become obvious when numbers are in a neat line. Again, graphing and analyzing trend lines  is easier to do in Excel. As you look at data over time, you realize what is the most efficient way for you to keep up with your data. These are some ways that work for me.

Ways that I use data daily:

I add up my calorie totals to see if I am on track to meet my total calorie goal for the week. I can recalculate daily calorie goals if needed or throw in a fast day if the week is looking like it might be going sideways.


I like to use the data that I collect to keep on track with my current goals. My current goals are:

1. Live at VI metrics

2. Eat an adequate amount of protein so that muscle growth is not inhibited

As a by product of goal 1, I have underlying goals that I need to meet in order to be in a caloric deficit to lose enough fat/ build enough muscle to be at VI, in an everyday unfasted state. These goals include-

3. Get a minimum of 3 VI workouts in per week

4. Eat a maximum of 8,000 calories a week (This is a deficit for me)

5. Fast for a minimum of 24 hours (helps with meeting goal 4 and seeing exactly where my body is each week without water/food “noise”)

6. Get in 2 hours of cardio per week

So by putting my weekly weight average, fasted metrics, calorie total for the week, daily protein average, and exercise totals on a spreadsheet- I can see if I met my weekly goals to make sure that I am on track. These things are just a reflection of my underlying goals. Again- the things that I track are a reflection of my goals. This also keeps me from getting my goals hijacked, and helps me focus on things that matter instead of noise. If I am going the wrong direction (away from my goals), it becomes blatantly apparent. Trends become very apparent at this point when you see weeks sitting side by side.


I will graph my avg weekly calorie intake (or weekly calorie deficit which includes workouts) and compare it to my weight loss over time. This gives me a more personalized look at what weekly calorie/workout totals that I lose best at- both mentally and physically. It also gives me an idea of what type of deficit is sustainable for me because it is easy to see calorie spikes. If you are  in maintenance mode, you can also see if your weight or metrics are trending up or down and make necessary adjustments to even it out. After all, calorie intake is highly individualized- nobody but you has your specific needs.

Another helpful periodic check is body fat levels, DXA data is the gold standard but I also keep up with caliper data on a tab in my Excel spreadsheet. This keeps this metric data in one convenient place so I do not have to chase down paper reports.

Keeping Emotion in Check

Sometimes after a big weekend, it is hard for me to get on that scale Monday morning and see the damage. But I need the data. It is just data, after all. (It also serves as my reality check, but that is beside the point!) This is part of the overall change that has taken place in my life with VI- it is a lifestyle now. I keep at it, all the time. It is a part of how I live now.

Five years ago, I would have freaked out after I got the scale that morning and threw in the towel for a few weeks- starting another vicious cycle of weight gain. But now, after seeing so many particularly high Monday mornings, I have finally realized that I just need to get back on the horse and hit my nutrition and workout goals all week. I am usually fine by Thursday at the latest. This is just one personal pattern that I have found, which makes getting on the scale Monday morning not as bad anymore.  Knowledge is power.

Why Record Data? A Summary

  • While it looks like some work on the front end, keeping good nutrition and fitness records can actually make reaching your goals easier.
  • It helps focus on your goals, and block out “goal hijacking noise”
  • It also takes the emotion out of the equation, and forces you to look at the logical aspects of the numbers.
  • It also helps keep me accountable, and has become a habit which helps me identify if I am potentially backsliding.

So in the end the data helped me solve the problem regarding bloating with sodium and carbohydrates.  It also helps me set personalized calorie needs each week. Data collection might be something for you to consider if you are trying to solve a problem.  It might even help you stay on track with your goals.



What Are Weight Gain And Muscle Gain Escalators?

Here’s the next episode of the UNCENSORED Podcasts Season 2.

Today’s topic:  Weight gain and muscle gain escalators

Muscle gain and fat loss are two separate concepts

Muscle gain and fat loss are two separate concepts

In order to get to your ideal golden ratio and stay there you have two things you must do:

1. Build muscle mass which gives you you’re golden shape

2. Reduce bodfyat to a level to show your muscle and shape

This requires two kinds of effort that should be viewed as separate things.

Muscle Building Effort

Building muscle is an obvious effort that requires you to move your body. It’s something that builds momentum and you can see it and feel it in the gym and every time you workout.

In order to push past your genetic set point of muscle you must follow a well designed workout program consistently. Even when you’ve achieved an impressive amount of muscle you must continue to workout to avoid losing that muscle.

Fat Loss Effort

Losing body fat requires a different kind of effort. It’s not a physical effort you put in the gym, it doesn’t require hours of cardio. The real effort that you must exert to burn fat is self control over your diet and eating habits. This is a daily effort that seems to start as soon as you wake up and doesn’t stop until you fall asleep each day. Most people who have successfully cut body fat and got in great shape will attest that dieting to burn fat is a much greater effort than working out to build muscle.

These two styles of effort should be viewed as separate things.

In today’s podcast we will use an analogy of the weight gain and fat gain escalators to explain how you should be viewing the process of gaining muscle and losing fat.

You’ll learn how getting to the muscle size and body fat levels you desire is one thing, and how staying there is another.



IMMERSION Clients May Login and Download Podcast Here

Not a Venus Index IMMERSION client? Click here to find out more… and hear a weird story too

The Creation of a Masterpiece: The Venus

Re-framing Fitness

One thing that eluded me throughout my fitness history was a concept that could have saved me from the beginning. You see most people go to the gym to work off their “eating failures.”  If I could have re-framed what the gym was about, it could have saved me years in getting to the body of my dreams.


You choose your statue’s look

Carve and Sculpt at the Gym

The gym is to build muscle and sculpt your body. Period.

I compare it to the carving of a statue. Without weight lifting, you are a blank piece of marble, just another stone in the quarry, nothing unusual.  The beautiful statues that are preserved in museums and studied by scholars the world over all have a sculptor who took time to carefully carve each muscle, getting each angle just right.

The artists used the Golden Ratio which is exactly what John Barban designed into the Venus Index Ideal for goal setting metrics.

This is what weight lifting can do for you- build each muscle until your physique is just right. You can even take down a prominent muscle group if you need to. The end result is a beautiful, well-sculpted body that is pleasing to the human eye.

Showcase your Work with Calories

Your calorie intake is akin to a sheet that covers the statue. It does not matter how much sculpting and time you have put into your statue, you cannot see the details beneath a sheet.  So until you get your intake in check and start bringing down your body fat percentages, that physique is going to be hidden underneath the covering.  As your body fat percentages come down, details will slowly start to show through the covering- collar bones, then bicep muscles, some veins, abs, etc.

Calories are King

Let me re-emphasize that you cannot out train a bad diet. A friend of mine once jokingly said that it takes her 30 hard minutes on a treadmill to burn 300 calories and about 30 seconds to inhale 300 calories of chips.

Do not mix the two:

  • the gym is for sculpting
  • the food is for showcasing the work.

Brad Pilon calls this “Fat Loss Divide and Conquer”

We do not work out to burn calories here at Venus Index, we workout to build our best bodies.   Once I sorted this out I found my success.

Liss found her Golden Ratio Venus Ideal by using the Venus Index goal setting metrics

Liss found her Golden Ratio Venus Ideal by using the Venus Index goal setting metrics

At some point close to the Venus Index Ideal, women usually find a happy medium where they have their best shape.  The “best shape” can be highly individual and is a level that fits your lifestyle; it is different for each person.

This is when your best attributes are showcased, and your calorie intake does not feel restricted.

That is what living at Venus Index should feel like- an everyday Venus.



How Clear Is Your Purpose?

“A person with a clear purpose will make progress on even the roughest road. A person with no purpose will make no progress even on the smoothest road.” –Thomas Carlyle

Be Ambitious

Part of goal setting is deciding what you want and then having enough ambition to take steps to fulfill your purpose.  People who avoid failure are more focused on protecting themselves from failure or the embarrassment of not completing the steps.  On the other end of the spectrum is over ambition, setting unattainable or highly improbable goals, or trying to take risky short cuts to achieve over aggressive goals.  In the middle are achievers who have a strong desire to accomplish things important or gain success from difficult tasks.   Where do you fall in this spectrum?

In my last article I wrote about moving forward after mistakes.  It’s hard right after making mistakes to keep going.  Sometimes it requires a short period to reflect and regroup.  Being fearful can cause you to procrastinate, give less effort, or even self-sabotage (FYI John Barban talks about self-sabotage in the Anything Goes Diet).

Have you ever found yourself in a diet yo-yo?  If so, you probably have a sabotage point somewhere near the bottom of the yo-yo and this is important to recognize so you can move forward or as John says “instead of backing up go full steam ahead so that you never see that number again”.  I like that.  Full steam ahead!

Sometimes It Takes Longer

Just like anything else in life sometimes things take longer than you’d like.   About 15 years ago I’d gone through the police academy with my husband and applied for a job with the Sheriff’s department the same time he did.  The process to get hired in law enforcement is especially strict in California and only 1 out of 50 pass the full battery of tests.

During the evaluation process at the very end (after five months of testing and extensive background tests) right at the point before they hand you the acceptance letter I learned that I did not pass.   This failure was devastating to me.  I had to regroup and be happy for my husband who did pass and give him my full support for the career he was starting.  I had to accept that the time was not right for me.

Life is not always fair.

As I motored on with my life and retired from my software engineering job I’d realized how far I’d come in dealing with some personal issues.  I had a feeling I’d finally faced enough of the issues that I might pass the law enforcement hiring processes if I tried again.

But my academy certificates had expired and I had to start the police academy again from the very beginning.  This was daunting because the academy is like a mini boot camp chalk full of tests.  If you fail any one test you get one chance for remediation and then if you don’t pass you are kicked out.  This happens even if it’s the last test on the last day of class; all is lost.  Looming overhead after the academy graduation were another six months of hiring tests and still the one testing at the end that could be my sabotage point.

I moved forward, full steam ahead, and graduated from the academy with higher honors compared to the first time through. I faced the interview at the end with the very same doctor that failed me the first time.  It was actually a fun interview and I had a feeling I would pass but I had to wait two weeks until I received the answer.

I passed!

It was a huge victory for me.  It meant I had dealt with some serious issues in my life and won.  I defeated the failure I’d carried around for ten years.   I got the acceptance letter and the honor of wearing the badge and serving my community.  To this day I’m extremely proud when I put on that uniform and strap on all that gear because I know how much I had to overcome to get to that point.

You Can View It as a Challenge

You might have a similar daunting road ahead of you with weight loss or a situation in your life that you want to change.  You can view it as a challenge or a threat that leads to embarrassment of failure.  You can associate effort on the demanding tasks with dedication, commitment, and involvement or view it as overloading and stressful.  The choice for your mindset is yours.

What will you do?

On the other hand you can become over ambitious and set too high a goal or an unrealistic goal.  You might then try to take short cuts to get there.  Some of us do that with eating too low to try and make weight loss happen faster and it ends up backfiring.  Sometimes all you really need to do is practice for a while until you have enough skill to know how to set an appropriate goal for yourself.

You Can Adjust Your Goals

You can always change your goals as you move along.  I changed my goals several times after joining the Venus Index community.  When I started my weight loss journey my only goal was to get down to a size 8 because that was the smallest I’d ever been as an adult.  Then I changed my goals to match the Venus Index “Golden Ratio” metrics.

As I continued to lose weight I got down to a size 2-4 and got frustrated because I could not seem to get my waist down to the golden ideal.

It took me a long time to realize that I really don’t need to worry about it.  I became fit and lean and I have a thick torso because of my years of heavy lifting.  I needed to know that my waist wasn’t fat and the DEXA scan gave me that.   The data showed that the bulk of my 11% body fat is in my arms and upper legs and that my abdominal area was 0% body fat.  So I finally learned to accept the fact that this is how I am, this is the shape of my body, and it is okay.  So I have learned to maintain my shape by looking in the mirror and how my clothes fit.  It’s freedom to not have to rely on the scale or other metrics anymore.

Pick Realistic Goals

I would like to have a thinner waist but it would mean giving up heavy lifting and abdominal work which I love.  For now I choose to maintain right where I am.  At any time in the future I can change my goals again if I want to.  First I would research to find out if it is a realistic goal and then I would take whatever steps are necessary to achieve it.

How Clear Is Your Purpose?


Tips for Goal Setting:

  • Decide what you want
  • Start small but keep going
  • Believe in yourself
  • Write down your goals
  • Set small goals and accomplish them
  • Do everything you can to stop procrastinating
  • Dream big
  • Set up your environment for success
  • Set long term goals and short term goals (with realistic time frames)
  • Don’t make a big deal out of each mistake
  • Research to find out if your goal is attainable
  • Adjust goals as needed
  • Get the right tools
  • Enjoy the journey
  • Plan ahead
  • Ask advice from people you respect (even if you don’t like them)
  • Give yourself rewards for achievements (not food)


Clarify your goals

It’s important to know where you operate in the ambition spectrum so you can make necessary changes. If you are over ambitious what steps do you need to take?

If you procrastinate or self-sabotage what steps do you need to take?  Is your goal realistic?  These are things you can think about as you move forward in your journey. You can adjust your goals as you move along.

Once you set your goals, determine the steps you need to take, have fun and enjoy the journey.


It is never too late to follow your dreams!


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.