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Ask Dana – Exercises for Problem Areas and Best Workout for Weight Loss

FF Ask D

It’s time to answer reader’s questions again.

And before I do, I just figured I’d mention that I’m thrilled that you guys are sending them in!

Today’s questions have to do with exercising for problem areas and what would serve to be the best workout for weight loss.

So without further ado, let’s get to it.

Ask Dana – Exercises for Problem Areas and Best Workout for Weight Loss

Question 1 – 

“What are some keys moves to lose stomach and thigh weight? Those two areas are my only problems.”

Answer –

Let me start off by saying that I can completely understand how frustrating it is to deal with problem areas.

I also want to add a question to your question by asking…do you still have overall weight to lose? Or did you mean that you’re looking for exercises to help tone those areas?

Or both?

The reason I ask is this –

If you still have weight to lose in general, then those areas will slim down naturally as the rest of your weight comes off. If there had been a lot of weight to lose to begin with, there may be some loose skin issues that can be confused for fat mass.

If, however, you are already at a weight you’re satisfied with and are looking to tone those areas, that’s a different story.

Unfortunately, you can’t spot train fat away.

Meaning, you can work the areas in question and build muscle, however, if there is still fat to be lost, that will have to come off through a combination of healthy eating, a complete health and fitness program and stress management.

None the less, it still doesn’t hurt to do specific exercises that will target those areas to help build and tone muscle.

You can’t turn fat into muscle (although you can lose fat and build muscle – which is different), but you can change the way you wear your fat/ skin.

This will give the area a different, more flattering appearance.

So to give you something to follow along with, I’ll share a couple of workout ideas you can add to your program.

The following video is a 10 minute inner-thigh workout that also incorporates some core work into the routine.

It’s a higher intensity workout and involves some plyometric moves – so if you’re a beginner, or if you have knee/ hip and/or ankle issues, I would encourage you to do the modified version without any jumping.

This is an EXCELLENT inner-thigh move that you can do that will also target the rest of the lower body.

And here’s something you can do to build complete core strength since it involves the obliques and lower back into the mix – which will not only help to build muscle, but it will do so in a safe, balanced and structured way.

There are three progressions to this, so follow as directed.

If you don’t have resistance bands, I highly recommend purchasing a set. You can check out this post for more info.

I hope this helps. If it does, feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Question 2 – 

“What sort of training should I do if I just want to lose weight? Cardio, strength, or both – and exactly what exercises are going to achieve the fastest results?”

Answer –

Both of them will result in weight loss.

You want a well-rounded program to not only help you develop efficient cardiovascular function, but you also want to include strength training to build muscle tissue and provide functional improvements and increased flexibility.

My suggestion for you is to include a wide variety of different workouts to your program to diversify the benefits, not just for weight loss, but for overall well-being for a lifetime.

You can incorporate a strength training session 2-3 times per week and follow the workout with some cardio, or do the cardio separately on different days to mix things up a bit.

You can also add some activities in like yoga, pilates or a martial arts class to keep your body guessing and provide a challenge.

To answer your question about which method would work the quickest…

This is my take:

Start slow if you’re a beginner or if you have taken a hiatus. Progress yourself as you naturally develop the ability to work at a higher level of intensity through a implementing a consistent program.

Incorporate things like intervals and work large muscle groups (chest/ back/ legs/ glutes) often as this burns a lot of additional calories…and do multi-muscle group exercises (ex. squat/ curl/ press combo) for the same reason.

My other suggestion is to re-examine your need to be in a hurry to see the results.

Here’s why…

While I am well aware that we are a results oriented population of people due to the fact that instant gratification is heavily marketed to the masses, the truth is…if it took a little while to gain the weight, then to do this the right way, it may take a little while to lose it.

The body needs to undergo physiological changes for transformation to happen. This occurs when we develop additional energy systems to distribute oxygen to working tissues and recruiting muscle fibers to grow bigger (see muscle hypertrophy) in an effort to help with the new demands of weight bearing activities to be met.

Rest is also an important factor in the entire process and cannot be skipped or overlooked.

So in essence, trying to lose weight quickly isn’t necessarily in your best interests if you’re looking for long term results.

And long term results are the results that will free you of this need to lose weight for the rest of your life if you play your cards right.

So with all of that being said, I hope this helps.

Just develop a well-rounded program, stick with it, eat right, get rest and know that the results will happen.

Send In Your Questions

While I’d like to think that the ones who sent these questions in will find the answers they were looking for, it’s my hope that the rest of you have also found helpful information here in regard to your own health and fitness programming.

So with this in mind, I encouraging you to send yours in as well.

You never know who else might find insight by you submitting your question – as everyone can learn something new or develop an additional perspective.

Is there something in specific you want to know?

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Five Fun Ways to Add Well-Being Into Your Life


I personally feel that health and fitness should be a positive thing.

If you think about it, wouldn’t you agree that for the most part, we all gravitate toward pleasant experiences?

So with this in mind, when it comes to wanting to bring activities into your life that involve healthy living, the idea is to make it social, fun, exciting and intriguing.

This way, the whole “health and fitness thing” isn’t a chore that needs to be tackled, but instead, it becomes a way to enjoy life while reaping the rewards of our actions in a way that provides optimal health and well-being.

Here are several ways you can make healthy-living something to look forward to.

Five Fun Ways to Add Well-Being Into Your Life

 1 – Grow Your Own Food

Growing your own food is one of the most empowering things you can do.

The benefits include:

  1. Saving money. As so perfectly said by Ron Finley, (a.k.a. the “Gansta Gardner” of South Central Los Angeles) “growing your own food is like printing your own money”. You don’t have to start big, nor does this have to be fancy. You can start with some simple container gardening and grow things like basil, parsley and lettuces.
  2. Ease. There are plenty of videos on Youtube that will show you how to grow food regardless of your budget, living space or schedule.
  3. Raising healthy kids. Getting your children involved will empower them, as it will teach them to be independent, creative and knowledgable about what real food looks like and where it comes from. Just make sure you use organic soil, fertilizer and seeds. Always choose non-gmo.
  4. You’ll know where your food comes from because YOU will be the one in charge of the soil, water, seeds and fertilizer. Not to mention…the energy you’ll put into growing your own food will be pleasant. You’ll feel a level of self-reliance, which will enable a sense of strength and well-being.
  5. Less distance from “farm to fork”. The amount of time it takes to pick produce, transport it and unpack it can take days, if not longer before it hits your shopping cart. Fresh produce can lose valuable nutrients within this time, so growing your own reduces this distance – providing more nutrients with every bite you take.

2 – Go to a Health and Wellness Expo

Health and wellness events can be inspiring.

You get to see what’s new and exciting in regard to exercise equipment, plus you may even have an opportunity to try things out.

One of the health and fitness expos I attended had a rock climbing wall. I had never done this before, so having the opportunity to try it out (at no charge) was not only fun, but I got to experience something new and prove to myself that I could do it.

3 – Take a Class

As long as you follow proper safety protocols (working out at your appropriate level of intensity, making sure the instructor is well qualified and listening to your body), fitness classes can be quite rewarding. You get to try new exercise programs and see if it’s a good fit for you – as this will serve to expand your horizons and open your mind.

Classes don’t always have to do with fitness either. You can take a healthy cooking class, a wellness course or even a gardening class. Anything that provides knowledge in regard to well-being will work.

4 – Partner Up With Someone

One of the most effective ways to keep wellness a pleasurable experience is to have a partner. Company is always nice, and when there are a couple of you involved, it works to keep each other accountable.

You’ll get to exchange ideas and spend time and allow your creativity to flow. While it’s perfectly fine to be independent and have alone time, there can also be benefits in combining insights with someone else who is like-minded and enthusiastic.

5 – Try a New Recipe At Least Once a Month

One way to do this is to attend a healthy pot luck – as they are a great way to meet new people, try new dishes and come up with your own creations to bring.

You can also hold your own and get your kids involved. They can invite their friends, and you’ll get to know their parents while bringing a sense of well-being to your community.

You can also do this with a friend, significant other or even a co-worker.

But if you happen to choose to do this on your own, you’ll reap the benefits regardless. I personally enjoy my alone time and when I prepare a healthy dish, I either allow the silence to inspire me or I put on some music I enjoy and connect with what I’m doing in the kitchen.

Bringing Joy to the Process of Well-Being

The idea when it comes to weight loss and healthy living is to find things you’ll enjoy doing.

While pain can certainly be useful as a tool for motivation, and I encourage the use of personal pain as a means of self-discovery to find out why we do the things we do in the first place and investigate how our shadows dictate our mindset, and therefore, our actions; it’s the presence of joy that inspires us to stay with whatever new behaviors we incorporate into our lives.

Give some of these ideas a try and let me know how they worked for you.

Do you have any tips of your own to add to my list?

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3 Reasons to Have a Workout Buddy

FF Workout buddy

I will admit that as far as I’m concerned, one of the best ways to stay motivated to exercise is to have a workout buddy.

Speaking from experience,  I can attest to the fact that having someone else around to spend time with and help me stay accountable has been a huge asset in my own exercise program.

In addition to motivation, there are other benefits to having a workout buddy…so if you’ve been questioning whether or not you should recruit a loved one into your wellness program… then by the end of this post, you’ll have your answer.

3 Reasons to Have a Workout Buddy


It’s no secret that lack of motivation is one of the biggest reasons as to why it can be so challenging to stick with an exercise program.

Let’s face it, working out…



It’s labor intensive, can cause some physical discomfort (even in a safe and structured program such as muscle fatigue and lactic acid burn) and it requires focus and attention…which isn’t easy in a society where many of us are thinking about and managing several things at once.

But when you have a buddy, you have someone around to remind you of why you’ve chosen to work out to begin with. It sort of acts as a reminder of the commitment you have made to yourself.

Not to mention, having some company during your workout simply makes things more pleasant. You get to engage in conversation, support each other’s efforts and share exercise ideas.

I know that there have been many times when I would have easily given up on my own workout before I had even gotten started…especially if it started at the crack of dawn. It was those, and other times when having a buddy made the entire process more enjoyable and acted as a much needed boost to an activity that I wasn’t exactly excited about engaging in…regardless of whether or not I enjoyed working out in general.


Having a workout buddy is an excellent way to bring an aspect of safety into your exercise program.

Whether you and your buddy are watching one another to make sure you are using proper form, or even using the “talk test” to gauge your level of intensity…having someone around during your workout is an asset.

While no one wants to get hurt, sometimes, even with the best of intentions while using safety protocols…things happen.

Anyone could trip and fall, experience dizziness, become overheated, etc…and while there are ways to safeguard yourself to prevent the likelihood of these things from happening, sometimes they just do.

Having someone around to call for help, bring you water if you need it or perhaps even notice that you’re looking unusually pale will work to your advantage.


I know that I briefly referenced this concept when I discussed motivation…but the truth is that one of the most effective methods in sticking with an exercise program is to keep it enjoyable.

When you have a workout buddy, you get to do things like:

  1. Vent about your job, thoughts or anything else you need to get off your chest.
  2. Come up with new exercises and share what you’ve learned.
  3. Take classes together and experience different forms of fitness. Of course you can do this alone as well, but if you like to dance, yet your friend prefers cycling…the two of you would encourage each other to try things you wouldn’t normally try otherwise. You would get her/him to take a zumba class with you while you might consider taking a spinning class or going for a bike ride with them.
  4. Goof around and make each other laugh.

Now while focus and attention during an exercise program is important, it’s also cool to keep the mood light.

My husband and I often work out together and there have been plenty of times when he would come up with a new exercise and try it out. Just by watching him, I would also want to try out what he was doing (since we attended the same fitness school and he’s qualified enough to know how to implement safe and structured exercises).

It would add a level of creativity to the workouts and keep things from getting boring. Not to mention, we have similar taste in music and he also makes me laugh regularly…so these factors always help to bring some enjoyment to our workouts.

I’ve had friends join me for early morning fitness walks and I’ve gotten together with co-workers first thing in the morning to exercise before work. I also tag along with a couple of my family members when they go to the gym and I have to say…I really enjoy working out with a buddy as often as I can.

I highly recommend encouraging someone to join you in your own exercise program as well.

Have you experienced any other benefits of having a workout buddy that you’d like to mention?

How to Use (and NOT Use) Health and Fitness Trends


I’m certain that by now you’ve noticed that every few years or so there seems to be a new and improved – even miraculous way to lose weight and be healthy.

Trends and fads have been around for eons. The fact that they continue to make their way into our lives is nothing to be surprised about.

In fact, several of them actually do have something beneficial to offer and deserve their place in our lives.

The question is, which ones? And what’s the best, most responsible way to use these tools in an effort to provide new and exciting methods of well-being into our lives?

This is what I’m going to discuss today.

How to Use (and NOT Use) Health and Fitness Trends

In order to be able to properly use health and fitness trends, it’s a good idea to practice something called discernment.

Using discernment means observing the information in front of you, knowing how and why you feel the way you do about it and taking action from a place of balance.

It’s about judging something consciously and responsibly.

To use discernment when making a decision about which health and fitness trend to use, a few helpful questions to ask yourself would be:

  1. Is this something I am in decent enough shape to use in my current level of fitness?
  2. Is this affordable for me or do I need to consider financing it?
  3. Am I doing this because I am broken and in need of fixing or because it looks like a fun and invigorating way to add something new to my healthy-living agenda?
  4. What is the likelihood of my sticking with this program?
  5. Does it seem like everyone else around me is jumping on this bandwagon in a similar manner to the many trends of the past?
  6. Do people seem to routinely wind up injured as a result of _____ activity?

Now before I go on, I just want to say that trends in and of themselves aren’t bad, and I’m not knocking them.

In fact, it takes an individual (or several) to use their imagination in an effort to come up with new and exciting ways to be healthy and get in shape.

Many of the ideas that have come out over the years have proven to be valuable and have offered the users of such trends the necessary inspiration they needed to find a way to make health and fitness an enjoyable experience.

And considering that for many, still, the idea of having to lose weight through “diet and exercise” is still something of a buzz kill – it is the introduction of trends that offer something for a multitude of personalities to find something they would stick with for a good, long time.

The reason I say it’s important to use discernment when it comes to trends (of any kind really) is to understand YOUR angle behind using them.

This is the reason for the questions above.

Life has taught me that tools, in and of themselves, are simply tools.

However, it’s always the intent of the user of such tools that make them benevolent, or something entirely different.

Let’s take juicing for example.

Now I happened to have noticed an article on Yahoo about “7 Health Fads We Don’t Want To See In 2015″.

One of the mentioned trends happened to be juicing.

Their argument was that when you juice fruits and vegetables, valuable nutrients were lost in the process because the fiber in these foods were discarded, which offer enormous health benefits.

Now the thing is, I happen to agree, but I also like juicing.

So what’s the middle ground?

Well, the middle ground would be to USE juicing as a way to absorb valuable nutrients in a different way other than eating them as solid foods – while ALSO eating them as solid foods at other times.

If you look at something like juicing in a way that says “This method allows me to get a wide variety of different produce in my diet that I otherwise wouldn’t want to eat in their solid form (such as beets), but does not discourage me to also consume salads and other enjoyable ways to eat my fruits and veggies in their solid form as well”” – then you are using juicing responsibly.

If however, you use it in a way that declares “my friend just lost 200 pounds on this cleanse and I’m desperate, so I’ll do it too”, then you aren’t using discernment, you are emotionally reacting to a suggestion and you are using the so-called trend irresponsibly.

Do you see the difference?

To use a health and fitness trend responsibly -

  • You would assess the idea/ gadget/ tool, etc. to see if it’s something that seems new and exciting to YOU.
  • You would do so from a place of wanting to add something beneficial into your life.
  • You would be emotionally detached from the outcome.
  • You would maintain a healthy level of skepticism.
  • It would fit into your budget.
  • It would compliment your lifestyle.
  • You would incorporate it into your life in a safe and structured way.

To use a health and fitness trend irresponsibly -

  • You would be emotionally involved in the outcome.
  • You would jump into something you really can’t afford.
  • You would rush into something you don’t know enough about, and that you may not be in the right condition to do or maintain for the long haul.
  • You would embark on something you aren’t naturally interested in by mindlessly following the masses.
  • You would dive head first into something you aren’t physically ready for – which could result in injury.

While it’s wonderful to try new things and expand your horizons, the idea is to do so from a place of mindfulness, not through being brainwashed via propaganda and popularity.

It’s ALWAYS About Well-Being

The use of any health and fitness activity, trend or tool really needs to come from a desire for overall well-being.

When this is the reason for taking action, it’s because you have your best interests at heart, and you care enough to go about this responsibly.

Well-being is all-encompassing. It means that not only are health and fitness a part of your  life, but self-honesty, self-respect, self-awareness and balance are as well – and this is what creates your intent when taking action.

So by all means, try some of the new and interesting trends you see out there if they seem exciting.

Just know why you’re doing so, and don’t get too attached to the result.

Know thyself.

Are there any health and fitness trends you liked? Or loathed?

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How to Tackle Holiday Weight Gain


Now I don’t know about you…

But as far as I’m concerned, I feel a (minor) sense of “let down” once the holidays are over.

The lights come down, the colorful decorations disappear and that festive feeling is gone until another year passes.

I think it’s accurate to say I’ve got some company in regard to these observations. People like to experience joy, and since this is what the holidays represent (when consumerism isn’t the dominating mindset), it can be a bit of a buzz kill once life as we know it returns to normal and it’s time to go back to work/school.

In addition to all of that – there is just one other annoying little detail that seems to take over our thoughts, and that detail has to do with losing that holiday weight.

So what’s the best way to go about dropping those unwanted pounds without losing your mind?

That’s what we’re gonna discuss in this post.

How to Tackle Holiday Weight Gain

Simply put, the best way to tackle holiday weight gain is to keep things realistic, enjoyable and to follow what’s most natural for you.

The idea is to try to avoid making decisions and taking action from a place of emotional turmoil.

Because holiday weight gain ends up being a source of stress and discomfort – and represents images of restriction, unrealistic (and often unsafe) exercise programs that stir up feelings of dread, your best bet is to look at the entire process as a new hobby you’re about to embark upon – filled with creativity – and approached as a way to create your best life.

So breaking it all down, tackling your holiday weight gain would look something like this:

Keeping Things Realistic

If you aren’t the type who enjoys eating salads every day, or has a burning desire to wake up at the crack of dawn to attend boot camp, then if you force yourself to do this, for ANY reason whatsoever, chances are you’ll probably quit sooner rather than later.

Now this isn’t to say that salads are undesirable and that you shouldn’t give them a fair try. In fact, I happen to LOVE salads and know for a fact that you can create fantastic, hearty and immensely flavorful and satisfying salads that would make any meat and potatoes person a true believer.

Nor am I saying that boot camps aren’t capable of being fun and that you shouldn’t attend one sometime.

What I AM saying is that your best bet is to refrain from adding these activities into your life in a way that is unnatural and unrealistic.

To make things realistic, you’ll want to do an image, recipe or video search for healthy foods (salads, etc) that look good to you and schedule out a time to give this idea a go with an inner-dialogue that sounds something like “I’m looking forward to seeing how this tastes because it looks and sounds pretty damn good”.

Healthy pot lucks are a excellent idea as well.

In choosing an exercise program, a realistic approach would be to get a good sense of your current level of fitness, finances and schedule and think of something you can do in whatever time you have in whatever way you can.

If you can only spare 15-20 minutes a day and are willing to do a search on youtube for quick and effective exercise videos (or try the workouts in this post), then this is what will be realistic for you. If you have a friend who would be willing to meet up with you to do this, even better.

The idea is to follow the path of least resistance because when it comes to longevity, self-awareness is the key. When self-aware, you know you – and you know what makes you tick.

Keeping things realistic is about knowing what makes you tick and making choices based on this because this is what will produce long lasting results.

Keeping Things Enjoyable

Whether we’re talking about holiday weight gain, or anything else, there has to be a sense of joy in the process when it comes to choosing behavior – especially for the long haul.

If you keep things realistic and follow the guidance in the above examples, then the likelihood that you will enjoy the process is much higher.

In regard to exercise, your approach will come from a place of “I’ve always wanted to take a ______ (yoga, pilates, martial arts) class” or “it’s so beautiful out this time of the year, I’d love to get some fresh air and start walking/biking/etc with my spouse/kids/mom, etc.”

To bring sound nutrition into your life, you would make a delicious green smoothie or juice to replenish your energy.

It won’t be about counting calories – but it will be about choosing foods and activities that make you come alive. It doesn’t mean you won’t try to challenge yourself – as this is what brings the physical and physiological changes needed for weight loss to be successful…but you’ll do so from a completely different starting place – one that is rooted in enthusiasm and inspiration.

Doing What is Most Natural For You

The above examples, if followed, will result in decisions being made that will represent what’s most natural for you.

When you discover what it is you can see yourself doing for a lifetime (or at least a good, long time), then you are allowing your true nature to be the governing decision maker in your life rather than what society, your peers or anyone else thinks is best for you.

This doesn’t mean to close your mind and don’t allow others to make suggestions or share a perspective with you that may open you up to new experiences.

It DOES mean to refrain from tackling this holiday weight gain thing as a reaction to an inner-war you’re experiencing because you’re forcing yourself to be or do things that you have absolutely no interest in just to reach a goal or undo damage to yourself.

The BEST way to tackle holiday weight gain is to…

Become someone who lives in such a way that weight gain isn’t likely to begin with because your well-being is more important to you than anything else.

This is when you’ll choose the most realistic, enjoyable and most natural behaviors that you will follow for a lifetime.

The food will no longer own you, the exercise program will be something cool and fun that you actually want to do.

Your mind, heart and behavior will be in unison…and when we live this way, there is no need for damage control.

What are your plans to tackle holiday weight gain? Will you consider following the suggestions in this post?

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