How to Go from Good to Great at age 60; Interview with Lorraine

Today we are honored to listen to Lorraine Gearhart who placed tenth in the Eighth Venus Index Transformation Contest.


Lorraine likes the Venus Systems for the health benefits.

Lorraine likes the Venus Systems for the health benefits.


It may not seem like a lot, but at almost 60 years old ,  juggling a business and elderly parents Lorraine managed to build muscle as well as lose fat in 12 weeks.

It may not seem like a lot, but at almost 60 years old and juggling a business and elderly parents Lorraine managed to build muscle as well as lose fat in 12 weeks.


Never have I EVER experienced the sheer amount of positive comments and reinforcement I've seen in  the last month! People spontaneously talk to me about fitness, try to guess my age – delightful!

Never have I EVER experienced the sheer amount of positive comments and reinforcement I’ve seen in the last month!
People spontaneously talk to me about fitness, try to guess my age – delightful!


Read what Lorraine wrote about her experience with the Venus Factor:

How great can it be to become a Venus? More importantly, how can you get there without having to do  the impossible?

In my case, the Venus transformation promises seemed literally too good to be true. I’ve got siblings  who are crippled with osteoporosis, overweight, who’ve literally thrown in the towel on ever getting  themselves in any kind of shape ever again. I want to inspire them, I could see the incentives before  me.

I’ve got a loving husband who celebrates any achievement I make, and I sure didn’t want to arrive at  age 60 with a hunched back and no bone density. Of course, it’s rarely that easy. Getting nutrition  and training down to a science, well sure, but you need to balance that against being self-employed  and having a hundred obligations outside of simply improving and shaping a physique.

A real balancing act, complete with having parents into and out of the hospital ICU, a million other  obligations, and a need to stay motivated and focused at all times. That said, we’re celebrating a  real success, since in a mere 12 weeks I’ve managed to shed excess fat, shape up to more ideal  proportions, and add a good bit of lean mass.

Can I strut down the runway with girls half my age? Maybe. It’s only been 12 weeks after all. More  importantly, have I gained in health, have I achieved proper proportion, do people notice it and  complement me on it every day. OH, YEAH, BABY!!!

Never have I EVER experienced the sheer amount of positive comments and reinforcement I’ve seen in  the last month! People spontaneously talk to me about fitness, try to guess my age – delightful! Not  to mention, my Adonis really likes the changes I’ve made!


We're celebrating a  real success, since in a mere 12 weeks I've managed to shed excess fat, shape up to more ideal  proportions, and add a good bit of lean mass.

We’re celebrating a real success, since in a mere 12 weeks I’ve managed to shed excess fat, shape up to more ideal proportions, and add a good bit of lean mass.


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

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Yet Another Every-Day Venus; Meet Lita

Lita at the Waimea-Canyon-Trail

Lita at the Waimea-Canyon-Trail

There is a rapidly growing number of women maintaining the status of “Every-Day Venus”…

The number of Every-Day Venus women in our community is rapidly growing and it is exciting to watch.  Women are achieving their fitness goals and able to maintain the Venus Lifestyle for years.

Those of us who watch the activity in the Venus Forum have enjoyed Lita; her intelligence, wit, sense of humor, honesty, dedication to health and fitness, candor, and the fact that she is quite beautiful both inside and out.

Some of you might be interested in her stats:

Height: 5’5″

Baseline weight: Through the age of 23 I naturally maintained at 105 pounds.

Over the next 7 years, I steadily gained 55 pounds due to illness, medications and a change in lifestyle.

Between the ages of 30 and 36 years old, I dieted down to 120lbs, but I didn’t like the way my body looked and I didn’t know how to make it any better so I gave up and went back to my old habits. I repeated this cycle two or three times, staying between 120 and 150lbs but never liking what I saw in the mirror.


Lita’s Story

Lita was a previous winner in one of our Venus contests and we are lucky to have an interview with her and John.

A few of Lita's Venus Contest pictures.

A few of Lita’s Venus Contest pictures.


Here is some of Lita’s story in her own words:

At the age of 37 I decided to try weight loss through calorie restriction one more time; this time doing less cardio and more weight lifting and I began to get better results. Midway through this process,  I discovered John Barban’s Venus programs and philosophies and the amazing community full of like minded women who are on the same path as I was and who also understand the TRUTH about how few calories it is still “healthy” to eat. This reinforced what I was already coming to understand and embrace; that we just don’t “need” to eat as much food for “fuel” as the mass media and marketing would have us believe. Or, as they say on the Adonis side, you can’t just “muscle away your fat”. Eat less, train hard, and reveal the body of your dreams.

I learned that strength training is the key to creating a beautiful shape for the female body. I also learned that cardio is not the one and only secret to health and fitness for females.I learned what the puzzle pieces are and how to put them all together. It is really more simple than I thought it would be and there are only THREE!  DIET for weight loss, CARDIO for heart health (and a tiny bit of calorie burn) and STRENGTH TRAIN for beauty.

They are SEPARATE and we must do all three. Previously in life I had done these three things, but never learned how to balance and do them all at the same time for a specific and sustainable outcome. I have spent the last 3 years refining and perfecting my “Health Triad”. How much of each, how to practice them all and in what combinations, and how to make them habitual and ENJOYABLE.

Starting in April of 2011 I began to weight train, turned down my running miles and decreased my food consumption by 50%. I lost 30 pounds on my own over a 6 month period.

In October of 2011 I found Eat Stop Eat and the Venus program. I have used the principles of these programs to lose an additional ten pounds and KEEP it off for going on two years.

My average weight for the last 21 months has been 114 pounds and I have maintained within a 7 pound range during this time.

A typical day for me over the last two years looks like this:

Calories for me are anywhere from 800 a day to 1200 a day except for one day a week when I am a bit more relaxed and get in about 1400 to 1500.

My training consists of resistance training of my own design, Venus programs, Venus circuits, Adonis programs, or Brad Pilon’s Anabolic Again weight training program.  I workout 4-5 days a week depending on my moods or goals I also do medium or low intensity steady state cardio 4 to 5 days week for up to 45 minutes(usually brisk hill walking or running).

I also enjoy fun cardio like trail running or hiking with my husband.I try to get as many extra steps or movement as I can get in every day.

Outside of my formal fitness activities my life is sedentary. I am a calm person. I don’t fidget and I am not very emotionally emotive, so my non-exercise activity thermogenesis is very low. Therefore, I must do more than simply Venus workouts 3-4 times a week.

The support I can give and receive in the Venus community keeps me motivated and engaged in my process every day. The new research I’m exposed to through the Venus Immersion package has also been critical in keeping me educated and motivated to try new things and to stay the course. I think that staying mentally engaged and being creative with your willingness to keep learning and experimenting is a critical piece of maintenance success.

Maintaining a working knowledge of your body’s responses to different stimuli and keeping abreast of the latest research is the surest way to keep your interest level high, ensuring a lifelong active relationship with health and fitness.

I’m always saying in the community that fitness and beauty must become a lifelong “hobby”,  an “interest” that you research and practice actively all the time. When people treat it like a “one time” weight loss event, they just go back to their old ways. You must make friends with your body, learn about its needs on a deeper level and then seek to take care of it and nurture it like you would a child or a spouse.


Carla from left to right; 155 pounds, 128 pounds, 111 pounds, and 118 pounds.

Lita from left to right; 155 pounds, 128 pounds, 111 pounds, and 113 pounds.

When we get into weight training many of us find we struggle with gender differences

The neat thing about the Venus program is that it constantly evolves with new information and experiences learned.  The newly released Venus Factor incorporates even more gender differences in the fat loss program.  Venus has always been a program designed for the female shape “The focus is proportions and shape (rather than weight loss at all costs or building muscle like a guy)” – John Barban.

The soon to be released update of Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat also contains a lot of new information which Brad has researched regarding gender differences with fasting and training.  Anyone who has purchased this e-book will get the new update.

Lita, like so many of us, struggles with the differences between men and women in the gym:

I went through this very painful period over the summer where my husband and I would finish our workout and he would strut around and flex his muscles. He would be all pumped up and begging for compliments. I would make detailed comments and try to make him feel good.

But I felt too silly to do the same thing and besides, I wouldn’t get the same kind of pump that he gets, if any at all. Besides, while I know he’s impressed with my accomplishments, he’d sooner see me in a slinky gown than see me strutting around in my sports bra doing a lat flare. The whole thing really made me feel deflated and angry and cheated.

It took me awhile, but I finally made peace with the idea that “God don’t make no junk!” Mother Nature protects us from looking weird. So all of MY training gives me my ideal Venus metrics and beautiful SHAPE. It DOESN’T make me look more like a man with bulging muscles and popping veins. And this is an amazing thing.

When I finally said all this to my husband, I told him that I’m sorry for trying to take away HIS moment in the sun by being bitter about what is simply natural, he replied, “Hey, when I workout, I really do get a big pump and it looks materially different from before I start the workout.  But with you, your “before” is BETTER than my “after” because you look beautiful and amazing at ALL times.”

And then it all made sense.

Carla loves to enjoy outdoor exercise with her husband.

Lita loves to enjoy outdoor exercise with her husband.

The value of the Venus online community

Our Venus community has had quite a long discussion on the topic of “The last 10 pounds”.  This is where we are entering fitness maintenance and body composition changes.

This is where many of us let our goals get hijacked, possibly looking at fitness model pictures, comparing ourselves to others, thinking we “should” be eating a certain amount of calories, or “should” have a certain look, or “should” be a certain weight or size, when really none of that matters.  We have achieved or exceeded our goal already, it’s time to enjoy our new life and our success!

Carla has learned to enjoy life as an Every-Day Venus.  She has a beautiful feminine hour-glass shape.

Lita has learned to enjoy life as an Every-Day Venus. She has a beautiful feminine hour-glass shape.

As women we tend to beat ourselves up all too often.  We have a hard time accepting ourselves the way we were meant to be, or appreciating the success we have achieved.  We have a hard time being happy sometimes.  We are a constant work in progress, both mentally and physically.

Lita’s thoughts on the “last 10 pounds”:


I think the last ten pounds really, in actuality, means….going that last mile to make the body the way we ultimately want it. That might mean further fat loss, it might mean muscle gain, it might mean both.

But rarely is the dissatisfaction we experience that causes us to whine about those “last few pounds” actually just an issue of simply losing a couple more. It’s always about recomp and refinement. That’s why it is such a mystery and why we have a 31 page thread to discuss it.


I hoping to visit Carla and enjoy the outdoors and some good quality Venus girl time.

I am hoping to visit Lita someday and enjoy the outdoors and some good quality Venus girl time.

Lita and I have developed a fun friendship through the community and we have so much in common.  Like her I really enjoy the outdoors, hiking, the gym, and enjoying good food!  It is my dream to get out to Lita’s area someday and visit with her;  go for hikes, enjoy some good food, and spend some good quality Venus girl time.  I have no doubt it will happen someday.

I hope the rest of you have enjoyed meeting Lita online as much as I have!



A Clear Picture Of Changing Body Composition; Interview With Naomi Clarke

Today we are honored to listen to Naomi Clarke who placed Ninth in the 7th Venus Index Transformation Contest.

Check out her beautiful transformation from the 12 Week Contest:

Naomi liked that the program goals were focused on shape rather than weight

Naomi liked that the program goals were focused on shape rather than weight or building muscles like a guy.

Read what Naomi wrote about her experience with Venus Index:

VT7 – Contest Participant Naomi Clarke Age 33 Height 5’4 Start of contest: Shoulders 42 in Waist 27 in Hips 37 in Weight 134.4 lbs End of Contest: Shoulders 40 in Waist 26 in Hips 36 in Weight 135 lbs VI Goal: Shoulders 39.56 Waist 24.45 Hips 34.72 Weight 124 lbs

I found the Venus Index program through friendship with CaliforniaGirl on My Fitness Pal. Seeing her extreme transformation I knew that there must be merit to the program. Through my teens and twenties I maintained a healthy body weight and body type. I liked my body but I always knew in the back of my head that I was not in my personal best shape, when I turned thirty I realized that it was very important to me to be in my best personal shape.

I found my fitness pal and began counting calories. The first thing I noticed was that I was under eating calories. Once I started meeting my micro nutrients and eating at a slight deficit for my goals I began lifting weights and working out a couple days a week. For the VT7 12 week contest I set my daily calorie goal at 1,100 calories, if I had an event where I needed to eat up I would just eat lower the next day to even it out. I was very strict with my calories during the week but less so on the weekends.

The funny thing is that I tended to under eat during the weekend as I would do a fast on Sunday. I am proud of myself that I maintained my calories consistently for most of the 12 weeks I had a few days where I ate higher but I also ate as clean of foods as I could and chose proteins as my cheat meals if I ate above my calories.

My workout goal for the contest was three Venus Index workout and two cardio workouts a week. I am happy to say that I did not miss one Venus Index workout the entire program; I did miss a few cardio workouts. Week six and seven were very difficult weeks for me, I felt very exhausted and a bit like a zombie, but after that my energy levels were high and I had no problem with lifting my weights. Overall I feel that the twelve weeks went by in a flash.

I blogged every week of the program and the ladies in the forum are all very supportive and help a lot with staying focused and on track. I really recommend joining a contest and getting a photographer to take your after shots; it was such a good experience and really helps to have a goal deadline.

I am at my personal Venus measurements for my shoulders but I am still an inch off on my waist and hips. My new goal is to eat at half the calorie deficit and do another round of Level 1 until I reach my personal Venus Index Measurement goal.

Naomi's metrics before and after the 12 week contest.

Naomi’s metrics before and after the 12 week contest.


Naomi at the beginning of the 12 week contest.

Naomi at the beginning of the 12 week contest.

Naomi after the 12 week contest.

Naomi after the 12 week contest.


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

Are We Natural Cyborgs?

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

Today’s topic:  Are We Natural Cyborgs?

Are We Natural Cyborgs?

Are We Natural Cyborgs?

Are We Natural Cyborgs?

Diet and fitness marketing tends to refer to what is ‘natural’. Many diets promote a way of eating that is ‘natural’ and the way we evolved to eat.

But are we natural beings anymore?

It’s not uncommon for people to have many artificial, prosthetic or unnatural ‘parts’ to their body.

We can have surgically reconstructed joints, bones, eyes, ears (hearing aids), artificial hearts, mesh plating (stents), balloons, sensors (pacemakers), artificial valves, and many other artificial parts to replace or enhance our ‘naturally’ failing parts.

We also have drugs that mimic or replace the functioning of ‘natural’ systems of the body that just aren’t working well anymore.

It then becomes a question of what is natural. Does it even make sense to strive for what is ‘natural’ with our diet and fitness if our bodies are becoming less natural themselves.

In this new era of modern medicine and devices you could argue that we’re becoming ‘natural cyborgs’.

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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.

Nutrition & Training Triage: Optimal vs. Practical vs. Ideal

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

Today’s topic: Nutrition & Training Triage: Optimal vs. Practical vs. Ideal



When it comes to nutrition & training advice, how do you sort and prioritize what’s best for you?

The medical term known as triage, means the determination of priorities for action in an emergency. However, this word is from a french origin and is also defined as the “action of assorting according to quality.”

Both of these definitions are applicable to John Barban’s & Brad Pilon’s discussion on defining what is optimal, practical, or at best Ideal.

With the rise of obesity it’s safe to say that an emergency is on our hands when it comes to our health and we must take action.  But what nutrition & training advice should we follow to attain optimal results?

The ever growing amount of new supplements coming to market only makes this task more daunting. From nutritional strategies consisting of: macro/micro nutrients, slow/fast proteins, and the highly controversial thoughts on meal timing, a person could become easily overwhelmed.

Things aren’t much better on the training side of the house as we are faced with a myriad of factors to take into account. Ranging from: Workout Intensity, Volume, length of actual workouts, and the rest/recovery period.

Why all these things may be optimal, are they ideal or even practical?

Today’s podcast will strive to analyze the ever moving target  known as optimal and provide you with ideal advice to build muscle within your lifestyle.

Panel of judges

In today’s UNCENSORED training, you will also discover:

  • Who you really are comparing yourself to
  • How to prevent goal hi-jacking when someone else’s optimal advice is presented to you
  • How Drugs and Genetics skew the curve of optimal
  • How to debunk a fitness claim  giving optimal device
  • Where Top Level Strength & Conditioning coaches get their training advice from
  • How research papers and marketing claims justify their nutrition & training advice to appear optimal for the masses
  • If optimal nutrition & training actually exists and what that actually looks like
  • Whether Hollywood has an influence on what is considered optimum
  • How to manage your ideal training schedule
  • How to focus on your specific results



Your Fitness Goals in the New Year, How Bad Do You Want It?

What Is Your Motivation?

As we move into the New Year you might be starting to work on new resolutions or goals.  Will you be one who completes your goals this year?  How bad do you want it?  There is pain and sacrifice to achieve it, but there could be pain if you don’t achieve it.  Recently someone in the Venus Index Community posted this article “What is your Motivation?” and I was intrigued by the author’s use of pain motivation and his figurative “Alpo” as the pain.

I read this right around the US Thanksgiving holiday.   I was actually a bit frustrated on the holiday due to several weeks of social eating events and my jeans no longer fit comfortably.  Rather than have a meltdown I took a deep breath and decided I would not ruin the holiday with my precious husband Randy.  I would come up with a plan to fix the problem the next day.  The following day I decided to take a picture of the several pair of jeans that didn’t fit and place them on the refrigerator and pantry doors.  I also included a smiley face and the words “pain motivation”.  The picture reminded me of how awful I felt when the pants didn’t fit.

Be Kind to Yourself Right Where You Are, Right Now

As I was pondering this I had a thought about struggles and victories; cycles continue, struggle, victory, struggle, and victory. Self-worth issues don’t magically go away when you reach your fitness ideal. The best time to treat your body as the temple of beautiful treasures is right now, while continuing the lifelong seasons of reaching new goals.

Randy kind of frowned at me when I put up the picture in the kitchen because it was negative.  Not only that but he thought I looked perfect the way I was.   I was probably still somewhere around 12% body fat.  Since I tend to be hard on myself I have to be careful with the concept of pain motivation.  Many of my girlfriends tell me they must be careful with this concept as well because of a history of eating disorders that stem from issues of self-worth.  I’ve never had eating disorders or emotional eating issues but like many women I struggle with body image issues.  I have to remember that the images of fitness models in fitness magazines are Photoshopped.

I had to remind myself that even though I wanted to achieve a mini goal of fat loss that I was also okay right where I was.  I was healthy, I looked fit, no one saw the little extra bit of fat except me.  It was up to me to make the choice how far I wanted to take it.  Randy, knowing my personal history, warned me with his frown that he’d better not see me beating myself up over this mini goal.

Be Flexible, It’s Okay to Switch It Up

It only took a few weeks to achieve the goal of fitting into the jeans so I switched my motivator to a more positive pleasure motivator (the photo below with the quote “Nothing tastes as good as FIT feels”).  I still remember how I felt the day of this photo shoot and how ecstatic I was when I saw how the pictures turned out.  I decided to make my own (first ever) motivational poster and use it for myself to continue on with my mini goal.  So far it’s working for me.

I switched to a positive pleasure motivator.

I switched to a positive pleasure motivator.

How Bad Do You Want It

The author talks about moving from a state of “Coulda Shoulda Woulda” to a state of “Must” and that reminded me of when I reached my peak of weight gain in 2009.  My weight topped out at over 170lbs.  Something had to change.  I couldn’t possibly do more fitness so I had to change something else.  I had to change my mental mindset and I decided to simply eat less and cut my portion sizes in half.  As I made progress losing weight I constantly used a symbol in my mind of door #1 and door #2.  Door #1 represented achieving the fitness level I had always wanted.  Door #2 represented everything else, every excuse, and simply staying where I was or worse.

The vision of what was behind door #2 was so painful to me that I felt I had no choice.  I must take door #1 which meant continuing to eat at a calorie deficit.  It didn’t mean I had to deprive myself of food; I simply had to eat the right amount to achieve my goal.  This is the beauty of the Anything Goes Diet, Eat Stop Eat, and the Venus Index principles.  Every day when I wanted to eat more than I needed I simply told myself I could have more tomorrow (door #1).

I realized that I used the pain and pleasure motivators all along; door #1 was painful to go through at times but pleasure was on the other side, and door #2 was more pleasurable to go through but pain was on the other side.  Which did I want?  I chose door #1 just about every day for two years.

This dress was my motivator and my reward for achieving my goal.

This dress was my motivator and my reward for achieving my goal.

I had posted up a catalog picture in the kitchen of a swim dress from an athletic clothing company because I wanted to purchase and wear the dress someday.  The picture was a symbol of my door #1 and I kept it posted in the kitchen for about a year.  I achieved that goal and purchased the dress and wore it to the Caribbean last Christmas.  It was my motivator and my reward.

Positive Motivators Worked for Shannon As Well

My friend Shannon who is a busy working mom and wife struggled all her life with weight fluctuations up and down.   She said the tools that finally helped her nail down her success were the Reverse Taper Diet, the Anything Goes Diet, and the Venus Index Workout metric goals using the “Golden Ratio“.

For motivation Shannon said this:

       My past experiences taught me about several components to successful weight loss:  estimating my daily calories so I can be sure I am in a deficit, following an exercise program that I enjoy, taking measurements to track my progress, and working towards a set of daily goals. 

     The process isn’t all that exciting, but the outcome is!  I have been using a planner and stickers to track several daily goals since before my baby was born, including a sleep goal, a calorie deficit goal, a step goal, and a workout goal.  I get a sticker for hitting each of these daily goals, and I find that the number of goals I hit in a week is strongly correlated with weight loss (or maintenance) success. 

     It’s a simple system, and I can easily see the little wins as they pile up.   I like to think about these daily goals as little gifts I am giving to myself every day that have both short term and long term positive effects.

Shannon’s results motivated her husband to start the Adonis Index program.  I would say positive motivation worked very well for her indeed:

Positive motivators worked for Shannon

Positive motivators worked for Shannon

Experiment and Find What Works for YOU

Motivation is different for each person.  You must first define what you want and set your goal.   Then find what motivates you.  Be flexible and if something isn’t working try something else.  Make sure it’s fun and really does motivate you.  Be kind to yourself at all times.  You can change and adjust your plan any time you want.  That is the beauty of experimentation.  You don’t have to stay stuck in a plan that is not working, causes you anxiety, or ends up being destructive to your self-worth or self-image.  We all make mistakes sometimes and learn from them.

  • Set goals
  • Experiment
  • Find what motivates you
  • Make it fun
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Make it a daily routine
  • Track progress
  • Get support
  • Give yourself rewards
  • Be flexible

It is the Yew Year, 2013.  What are your goals?  How bad do you want it? Make it happen.



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!


Falling Forward: Turning Mistakes into Success

Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer. -Denis Waitley

The hardest part about mistakes is to keep moving forward but that is what you must do.  Everyone makes mistakes but if you keep moving forward the mistake will soon be behind you.  Have you ever made a mistake at a new job?

I currently work as a volunteer patrol deputy for our local Sheriff’s department.  I had spent 25 years prior working for a corporate high tech company and then decided to go through the police academy and volunteer for the community in a unique way.

The environment at a law enforcement agency is vastly different from the corporate company I was used to.  Yes, I made mistakes.  It’s hard on the ego when you get called on the pad and into the Lieutenant’s office.  Part of me wanted to quit and say this is just not for me.  But when you keep moving forward you can sometimes become better for having made the mistake.  The best thing to do is own up to it and face whatever consequences come with it and continue to do your best.

Because of what I learned from that mistake I’m now in a position to help coach others on how to avoid that particular mistake should the opportunity arise.  Can you think of ways that you became better because of mistakes you have made?

As I lost 60 pounds I chose to move forward even when I made mistakes at work as well as on my weight loss journey.

The Sheriff gives a speech every year at our official swearing in ceremony.  Because consequences can be severe for mistakes made in law enforcement he always talks about the concept of owning up to mistakes and moving on.  He has an awesome sense of humor and a fun personality, but he shows us his serious side when he talks about consequences in our work mistakes.

The other option is to stop, freeze, or quit.  If you stop moving forward and are worried about making more mistakes you will never progress.  Every successful person has made mistakes and know they will make mistakes again.  They don’t live in fear of mistakes.

My friend April and I share some of the exact same mistakes regarding motherhood.  Sometimes this gives us a special bond with a friend and helps us deal with residual guilt and healing.  For women especially there is a certain amount of guilt we all feel about not being perfect mothers for our kids.   Whether it is simply a matter of raising the children, sharing custody, adoption, congenital medical issues or children’s health issues, whatever is the circumstance these all cause very deep emotional issues for women.

Because of what happened in April’s situation she lost a lot of weight and became very thin, then did the yo-yo in the opposite direction and gained a lot of weight and started down the path of an emotional eating disorder.

April believes that the reeling torment on the inside was being reflected on the outside (manifested in her yo-yo body weight), and that she was punishing herself for the guilt she felt.

April finally decided to take a step forward when she joined the Venus Index Community.  She owned up to her mistakes with eating along with the other mistakes.  She allowed herself to be accepted into a community of women who understood and treated her warmly and with respect.  April said this has helped her get her body right and get through some rough times.  This is helping her get her mind right as well. April learned that sometimes getting support means you have to give it order to get it.

April wants to learn to forgive herself for not being perfect for her son.  She shares a unique story where she is the birth mother and she shares a special bond with Rebecca Bennett.  April wants to be a Venus both inside and out.  I think she is well on her way and moving forward now.

As we start out on our weight loss journey full of hope, new tools, new books to read, and new workouts we must remember to forgive ourselves from the mistakes that we will make.  We must learn to keep moving forward, or falling forward, or leaping forward, anything but staying frozen in fear of mistakes.

Whether the mistakes are at a job or school, or on your weight loss journey you can move forward and learn to overcome adversity.   Do you have trouble getting over a sabotage point; have anxiety with food choices, or food addictions?  These can all be overcome; you can learn a new way to eat regardless of your situation.  Are you afraid of the gym or are you afraid to lift heavy?  This too can be overcome with a winning mindset.


April chooses to leap forward from her mistakes. You can make this choice too.

What about you? Will you learn from your mistakes and keep moving, or will you let mistakes control you?

It is your choice.


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.