Whether you’re a size two or a 22 — you should engage in some form of physical activity — balanced by caloric intake to attain a healthy weight. The amount of physical activity needed for weight control varies from person to person, but fitness professionals and medical professionals maintain that doing 150 to 300 minutes (two-and-a-half-hours to five hours) a week of moderate intensity activity will help take weight off and maintain it over time. But knowing this information and actually doing it are two different things entirely —and this is where motivation and drive comes into play.
Six months ago, my motivation and drive finally came together at a crossroads, which prompted me to begin a journey with Emilio Bullard at Sweat Therapy, a program that focuses on functional and dynamic fitness to fit into a person’s everyday life. While I’m not looking to claim that I can don a piece of apparel with a single digit on the tag, I knew that I needed to incorporate exercise into what was becoming an increasing sedentary lifestyle that entails hours at a computer, and a lot of eating sometimes, to become a healthier me.
The attraction to Emilio’s Sweat Therapy program, which he conducts out of the Balmoral Club gym, was his functional and dynamic approach. I also needed a trainer who could put up with me when I’ve had little sleep, not consumed the most health conscious meal, and have a day when I’m feeling generally grumpy and can be irritable as all get out. I warned Emilio from the onset about the possibility of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde possibly making an appearance from time to time.
His response: “I love all challenges with it comes to my profession, so I really didn’t see anything that would be a hindrance.”
His goal was to get as much out of me as he possibly could to ensure that I would excel, and see the progression I’m supposed to see.
I went into the program with the thought of having to step onto a scale weekly to chart my progress uppermost in my mind, but it was one Emilio quickly did away with. And I personally love that since we started I have not stepped onto a scale and have no desire to.
“I personally don’t like to use a scale, because to me, clothing tells the best story. Everyone has that piece of apparel that they love and can’t get into — and the greatest smile to me, and a client is when they can easily get into that piece of clothing and that clothing has become too big. That’s the telltale sign,” said Bullard. “The extra perk is when you jump on the scale, whenever you do decide, and you have a mental note of where you were before, and you look at it now, and there’s that wow factor, so it creates a double complex in the sense of the apparel and the scale.”
While I can be my own biggest critic, six-months in, the progression is evident in the way my clothes fit, and my increased energy.
This is not the first exercise program I’ve engaged in, but like most people, I start seeing major success (my last program I dropped 30 pounds), back off and have to start the entire cycle all over again. Emilio’s goal is for this cycle to become a lifelong change. The key he said is in setting realistic goals.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they did build it — and it’s a sight to see in a positive sense. So if you set realistic goals, that aren’t overbearing and goals that aren’t attainable, nor sustainable, you set yourself up to fail. If they’re realistic, every time you achieve it, you reach for more. That’s how you create a lifestyle, rather than a short-term approach to your fitness.”
It had been awhile, so Bullard took me back to ground zero. He said we had to start with the foundation and focus on stabilization first. We started working with five pound weights, and in the past few months have progressed to using 10s and 15s during sessions.
He said he had to start with me at the foundation and focus on stabilization first.
That meant attempting to hold a plank for 30 seconds. Today I’m up to one minute and 15 seconds — and we do multiple planks per session, sometimes up to four. (But that doesn’t mean I don’t complain, especially if I have to hold a plank, after my arms are fatigued.)
I started out doing swings with five-pound weights, and am now swinging a 15-pound kettle bell at 30 reps with multiples in a session.
I started back pulls with 30 pounds, and now I’m consistently at 60-65 pounds at high reps.
And I’ve graduated to weighted jump squats with 10 pounds per side with step-ups and a knee raise with 15 pounds per side.
As for the dreaded warm-up mile run … my first mile with Emilio was clocked at a little over 15 minutes; my record run to date is 10 minutes and 25 seconds; and we’re working to get me running a consistent 10-minute mile and we’ll see where we go from there.
Mountain climbers I started at 20 seconds, now we time at 35 seconds; with 45 seconds jumping jacks, and one minute jump rope intervals, doing multiple sets.
“A lot of times, individuals jump into fitness programs without any insight or foundation as to where they want this journey to take them. I focus on stabilizing first. If you can’t do a squat, why should I add weights to your squat and you can’t do it without weight? So the ideal is to make sure develop a foundation and build off that foundation, which is what we’ve been doing. So we’ve thrown away the fives and increased to 10s and 15s because you can handle it, you’re more explosive, you have the stability to be able to show that control. And you’re doing the workouts, how they’re supposed to be done with the added weight.”
Bullard said the downfall that many people encounter when starting an exercise program is starting with heavier weights, and don’t get results because they’re not getting the full contraction and extension of the muscle.
“They’re not allowing their muscle to stabilize, because they’re just focusing on having to move so much weight rather than moving up to that, and when you’re up to that, you create the endurance, you create the strength, you create the power within doing the workouts with heavier weights. That is where we are now, and we’re definitely seeing the results because you’re a lot stronger, have a lot more power and a lot more control in doing so, and it’s helping you develop leaner muscle.”
I train with Emilio twice a week, and am supposed to engage in cardio on my own at least four days when we don’t meet. For twice weekly meetings, he likes the improvements he’s seen as far as progression, but he wishes I would be more diligent about my cardio — whether it’s running or walking twice a week, or incorporating any additional cardio. He says it would be an even more positive in my lifestyle change. My lack of diligence about extra cardio on my own time he said is the one area he wishes I would improve on.
And I never tell a fib to Emilio when he inquires about my food intake. He’s actually impressed with my improved eating habits, considering I have an off day here and there. “We all deserve a treat every now and then. What’s life without treats? Again, everything within balance,” he said.
Essentially he hopes that I create a mental approach to make exercise a mandatory part of my life going forward, keeping in mind that it takes discipline, hard work, and that I have to set aside the time to do it.
“Nothing says it can’t be done, and you’re a prime example of that,” said Bullard. In the months to come he said I would build more lean muscle and see even more differences in my dress size.
“What I essentially want you to obtain from this is the lifestyle approach and the mental reform that comes with the whole territory of adjusting to adding workouts into your everyday regime.”
And while I’m the type of person that needs variety when it comes to working out and having things changed all the time, one of the things I’ve loved through this experience is not being berated or shouted at to get things done.
“The reality of it is, if you can get your point across by leading by example and showing that something works, and creating self-motivation. I have no need to shout at you. The thing is a lot of people when they embark on a fitness journey, they’re learning a lot of things about themselves that they didn’t know existed, so if I can be that still voice — a still voice is stronger than a loud one. If I can be that still voice, even when I’m not around you, you will automatically say Emilio wouldn’t want me to do this, or Emilio wouldn’t want me to not do this, and I really shouldn’t be doing this. My approach is, I indirectly create self-motivation without you even knowing, because you would be on a trip, and you would look at a food menu and say I feel like this, but look at a different thing and say I can modify this, and maybe this tastes better than that, so you create this self-motivation that you didn’t know that you had without me being there, because I’m not always going to be there and it’s always imperative for individuals to gain that, because it forms discipline. Nobody likes to be shouted at. I don’t care what athlete you are, and so on and so forth. I understand it can drive motivation, it can drive passion — those are different things. When you’re in a competitive situation, a louder voice does resonate, yes, but if you only have four reps left and you’re about to crash, that small still voice — that’s stronger.”
Emilio Bullard can be reached at [email protected].