How to avoid Coronavirus

empty gym

As of this writing, on March 1st, there are 71 reported cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19), and one death in the United States. There have been over 2900 deaths worldwide, with 85,00 cases of this rapidly spreading virus reported to date (source NBC News). There actually could be many more cases and many more deaths due to limited testing, and possibly, concealed information. The Coronavirus is more dangerous than the flu because of its much higher kill rate, which is estimated to be in the range of 1.4% to 2% (2). To contrast this with the flu, which kills .1% of people each season (2). There is no data to suggest that the COVID-19 virus will slow down now or in the warmer months, in fact, evidence suggests that cases will grow exponentially.

There are over 7 billion people in the world today, with over 327 million in the United States (source World Bank). That means, over 4.5 million people in the United States are likely to catch COVID-19; that’s a lot of sick people. With an estimated 15% of people getting severely sick after contracting COVID-19, that’s especially scary (2). How are the hospitals going to handle all those sick people?

Most people don’t freak out about the flu, which comes out with a new strain every year, even though it killed more than 34,000 people in the 2018-2019 season with over 16 million medical visits and over 490,000 hospitalizations (source CDC). Without the flu vaccine, the number of deaths from the flu, would be much higher.

The Coronavirus is spread through particles from coughing or sneezing, saliva (such as sharing a drink), or touching a hard surface that has the virus on it, and/or being in contact with someone who is sick even if they don’t have any symptoms (1). The symptoms are similar to the flu, like a fever and coughing, but the recovery time varies from person to person, which can be from a few days, to a few weeks, to a few months (in extreme cases) (1).

What’s scary is that there is no vaccine available and no treatments either, but if breathing becomes difficult, a person should go to the hospital and be put on a respirator. Medicine to lower a fever, and drinking plenty of fluids are the current recommended courses of action. (1)

Everyone can take precautions to prevent spreading this pandemic, such as staying home when sick, throwing away dirty tissues and washing hands immediately with soap and water. People taking care of the sick should also remain in isolation, since, they can spread the disease even if they don’t have symptoms.

When people’s lives are at stake, taking precautions is an absolute necessity. I hope that this situation doesn’t get out of hand where we in the United States have to close down public events, public places, become trapped in buildings, and being forced to telecommute to work.

Photo: I work as a personal trainer at a large gym. Not being able to train my clients, or work out at the gym would be really bad for me and my client’s mental and physical health.


What the Keto diet conceals

pork ribs with BBQ sauceThe ketogenic diet is a high fat, very low carb diet, with moderate amounts of animal-based proteins, that has helped people lose weight and lower blood sugar levels, but while it has those beneficial effects, on some people, it’s an extreme diet that misrepresents itself as healthy.

The keto diet is very high in fat. Nuts are a good source of fat, but, nuts have some carbs, so only a small portion of nuts are included in a true keto diet.

Fat has very few nutrients, and is very high in calories, so unless you’re eating fewer calories on a ketogenic diet plan, you’ll either stay at your current weight, or gain fat. For the general population, no more than 30% of your total calories should come from fat.

The proponents of the keto diet either downplay, or dispute the facts that a ketogenic diet can cause constipation (due to it’s low-fiber), dehydration (due to lack of fruit and whole-food carbs), muscle loss (carbs, not just protein, build muscle), and high cholesterol. Saturated fats, like coconut oil, butter, and meat also increases the risk of vision loss (1).

Companies don’t want to reveal, or refuse to recognize the product they created is harmful because that would mean lawsuits, and decreased earnings. People ignore facts of unhealthy diets because it’s a diet they enjoy, and it works for them, and they don’t believe other diets will work, or they don’t want to give any other plan a chance. Don’t take a company’s overblown claims as fact; do your own research with summaries from reputable organizations, but the bottom line is that you want to eat a variety of fruits, nuts & grains (if tolerated), seeds, lean proteins, greens, and lots of vegetables daily; In addition, keep processed fats, like oils to a minimum, if you want to be healthy and lean.

  1. Source: “Are you at risk for these eye conditions?” Parade Magazine. Stay Healthy. 16 Feb 2020. Page 6. Print.

Your favorite foods contain MSG, which is making you fat & ill

fried asian rolls

MSG, monosodium glutamate, enhances flavor, so it’s added to a lot of foods. Whenever I ate something with MSG, my throat and ears would itch, and my outer ears would turn bright red. I tried to avoid it whenever possible, but one time, I had soup at a Chinese restaurant, and had to run outside because I thought I was going to throw up. I ended up dry-heaving in the parking lot. After I was able to breathe normally, and my stomach calmed down. I went back inside the restaurant, and asked, again, if anything had MSG. “No.” Is what the waitress replied. I asked, “What about the soup? Maybe you didn’t add MSG to the soup, but does it already have MSG in it?” She said, “Ah, yes, the soup has MSG.” Ever since that incident, I haven’t had any soup at an Asian restaurant.

I’m not alone in having a negative reaction after consuming MSG added to foods. Some people “…may experience side effects like hives, swelling of the throat, headache, and fatigue….” In addition, “MSG consumption has been linked to obesity, liver damage, blood sugar fluctuations, elevated heart disease risk factors, behavioral problems, nerve damage, and increased inflammation…” (1).

“Some human research has demonstrated that consuming MSG may promote weight gain and increase hunger, food intake, and your risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that raises your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes” (1).

Doritos, Pringles, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich, and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Extra Crispy Chicken Breast are just some of the foods that contain MSG (1). To avoid MSG, ask for the ingredient lists, and read every label, every time.

Photo: Chinese food, especially fast food, is notorious for adding MSG and chemicals to the food, since it’s not fresh and heavily processed.


  1. Source: “8 Foods That Contain MSG.” Healthline Nutrition. On-line. Retrieved Feb 21, 2020.

how to get the body you want, without surgery

transformation TuesdayIf you’re a male and want bigger arms, and to lose belly fat, a simple solution is to do weighted back and biceps exercises, cut back on the beer, and eat fewer calories. If you’re female, and want a larger rounded, lifted butt; smaller arms, and perkier breasts, there’s non-surgical options to reach your ideal body goals too.

A round, lifted, curvaceous butt is presently defined as sexy, but you don’t need butt implants to get that look. All you need is a stretchable, elastic band to do lateral band walks, hip thrusts, banded cha-chas, bridges, frog pumps, fire-hydrants, and leg lifts. Pick a few of the above exercises, perform them two to three times a week to your favorite tunes, switch up the repetitions and exercises every four weeks, and you’ll keep seeing improvements over time.

If you want smaller arms, using high reps with bodyweight or light weights (3-15 pounds), like dips, push-ups, triceps extensions, biceps curls, and reducing portion sizes, will shrink and define (what some refer to as “tone”) those arms.

For more youthful breasts, invest in comfortable underwire, padded bras to lift you up. Exercises like low-to-high cable flys, and chest presses, performed twice a week, create upper cleavage, and that upper shelf. These results will show if your bodyfat is under 25%, so cut back on the snacks and excess calories.

Most of the time, you can do the work without shelling out thousands of dollars for surgery to get the best version of your natural self.

Weight Loss Desserts, really!


Paleo Banana Coconut PancakeYes, you can have your cake and eat it too! You can lose weight and still eat cookies and fudge, but not all sweets are equal. The majority of desserts at restaurants and stores contain sugar and dairy which increase inflammation, and flour and gluten that can lead to leaky gut syndrome, and chemical flavorings that are known obesogens (which cause weight gain).

After I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, I had to avoid candy and sweets that caused my blood sugar to spike. I love sweets, so I came up with recipes, for myself, to manage my blood sugar, and decrease bodyfat. I share my favorite recipes in my dessert cookbook, Slimming Dairy free Desserts and Smoothies, along with fat loss tips. My favorites are the Banana-Coconut Pancakes (photo above), Chocolate Cupcakes, Banana Muffins, Fudge with Peanut Butter Filling, and Sweet Potatoes with Vanilla and Toasted Pecans.

Click the link from Amazon below to start reading the cookbook and even make some of the recipes for free:


Can’t get to the gym? Do this, to lift your butt & tone your legs

My clients told me they wanted a workout they can do when they are on vacation or when they can’t get to the gym. Here’s a short, 20-minute, lower body workout, with an emphasis on the glutes (the butt), that you can follow along to. All you need is a soft surface, like a yoga mat, or carpet, a glute band (aka booty band) [you can do the exercises without a band, but it’s a much better workout with it], a foam roller and/or a Swiss ball. You can always take it up a notch, by adding dumbbells or kettlebells. If you have YouTube TV, you can watch this video on your TV.

In one section of the video, I misspoke, and said to bring your feet closer to your butt if your quads (the front of your legs, above the knee), feels tight. I meant to say, to push your feet back a little bit. [I get nervous when I’m being filmed].

Try to do this workout twice a week to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, hips and quads, but if you’re not sore, you can definitely do it three times a week; just take off at least one day in between.

You can comment here, or on YouTube to let me know what you think of this workout.

what athletes are doing to improve in their sport


If you’re an athlete, you do anything you need to make yourself more powerful, stronger, and faster…your career depends on it. Some athletes do cold therapy, take steroids and/or a myriad of legal, and illegal substances to have a leg-up on their opponents. A new Netflix movie titled, “The Game Changers,” showed athletes, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, fire fighters, and football players, gave up dairy and all animal products, and got stronger, had more energy, and were able to exercise longer, all by going vegan. Their cholesterol levels improved, and they lost bodyfat while maintaining lean muscle.

Gladiators, who we thought subsisted on meat, actually ate plants. The movie tells us that tofu, which has estrogenic properties, does not increase estrogen levels in our bodies. By swapping out one evening meat-centered meal to a vegan entrée, the men’s blood levels became healthier overnight. We no longer get sufficient B-vitamins from eating animal meat because the animals, which solely subsist on plants, are consuming less vitamins due to fewer nutrients in the soil, so most people, even meat-eaters, are deficient in essential vitamins.

I’ve watched many documentaries touting the numerous benefits of a plant-based diet, and I became vegan twice, but I couldn’t sustain that lifestyle for more than three weeks because my energy dropped after giving up animal protein. Why did those athletes succeed, get stronger and feel better, while I got weaker and felt worse? It’s not because I ate fewer calories, or was replacing meat with junk carbs. I tabulated my calories and made sure to eat beans, oats, protein powder, and grains with vegetables and fruit. Was it because I needed to take additional supplements? I don’t know why these big guys who are lifting heavy weights can feel great on a vegan diet, when I felt awful, but I’m going to give it a go again.

My husband, a typical meat, potatoes, and beer guy, exclaimed, after watching the move: “We’re going vegan.” I was shocked. I told him that I’ll try it again, but this time I’m going to supplement with B-complex vitamins, add a lot more green vegetables, allow myself to eat more carbs, and permit myself to eat some packaged foods like seed crackers, whole wheat bread, and pasta because those items are enriched.

It’s fun to try new meals. I love sweet potato fries, veggie stir-fries, huge salads, and bean stews. I didn’t like the black bean burgers. I’m hoping this less restrictive vegan diet gives me the strength and energy I need, because vegetables are the most important foods to eat, and I’d rather not eat animal products if I don’t have to.

Photo: Me, removing the top and seeds from bell peppers.


why I’m different from other trainers


_L5A0928_Lightroom_Export_Full_Size_JPEG_300dpi_sRGBAm I the best certified personal trainer? Nope! There’s lots of trainers who have more experience, and more certifications than I do (they also typically charge a lot more too). I also know that I’m a superior trainer, than a lot of other trainers, because I’ve seen them work with clients, doing risky exercises, not correcting form, making them lift too heavy too soon, prioritizing cardio, and wasting clients time with exercises that don’t burn many calories, and should be performed last.

What makes me different from other personal trainers is that I worked with over 20 trainers for 8 consistent years. Most of those trainers were okay, some were awful, and a small handful that were impressive; I learned something from each and every one of them. I learned not just how to do the exercises properly, but I also figured out what I liked, and what I hated about personal trainers, and their methods.

I liked it when my trainers shared a little bit about themselves, and asked about my life outside of training; getting to know the person is really important when you’re trusting them with heavy weights. One of my trainers that I liked, used to ask me at the beginning of every training session if anything hurt, or if anything was sore. It was my favorite question because he wanted to hear about how I was feeling so he could help me feel better via various stretches. I ask all my clients this very same question: “How are you? Any thing hurt? Anything sore?” If a client is tired, stressed, or just got over a cold, I can lower the intensity. If my client has a tight back, we may start with foam rolling. If my client’s quads are still sore from a previous session, I’ll take out exercises that target the quadriceps so my client can recover. It’s important to let muscles recuperate, to rebuild; you don’t want to keep breaking down muscle. If my client injured themselves, it’s a reminder for them to tell me right then and there.

I liked working with knowledgeable trainers who wanted to teach me as much as they could about gaining strength, losing weight, and proper nutrition. At every session, my clients come away with new information to help them get stronger and healthier. I fired the trainers who refused to stop and talk, said to avoid all carbs, and equated health with leanness (which is a falsehood). My clients get to learn a little about me, but my focus is on them, as this is their time to exercise, and ask questions.

I couldn’t stand the trainers who showed off how awesome they were (I should hope they know how to’s their job), or those who made any excuse to lift up their shirt to show me their six-pack abs (how obnoxious). Many clients envy that I can do exercises with great form with ease, but I remind them that I’ve been doing this for over ten years, and it’s my career. I don’t flaunt how lean I am; I admit, that if I don’t watch what I eat, I gain fat really easily. Maintaining and losing weight is constant challenge for me too.

I appreciated the trainers who showed up on time and ended the sessions on time. Some trainers tried to end the training sessions early because they had some place they needed to go, but if I’m paying for their time, they better spend every minute of that time with me. I had a trainer who extended many sessions an additional 30 minutes, but that stressed me out because I had to leave to go straight to work. If I have extra time available to spend with a client, I ask them if they would like to go over their allotted hour. Time is a precious commodity, and it’s important to respect that.

I had one trainer, who wouldn’t progress me to other exercises unless I got the form down perfectly. I don’t know anyone who performs an exercise perfectly all the time. If an exercise is too advanced for a client, I’ll have them try different exercises that work those same muscles, and come back to that exercise at a later date when they’re stronger.

Another trainer I worked with gave me the same routine every time, which was boring. I switch up my clients workouts to make it fun, and to progress quicker.

There were exercises I despised, that my trainers made me do anyway. Sometimes I appreciated that they made me do the hard exercises, but some exercises that I tried that I was leery of, I actually got hurt from doing.  It’s also important to weigh the risk versus reward factor; some exercises are too risky to try, since the chances of getting injured are high.

If a client doesn’t want to do a certain exercise, first, I find out why. If it’s something they’ve never done, I ask they try one set, and if they hate it, we never need to do it again. There’s so many exercises, there’s no reason to be forced to do an exercise that doesn’t feel good.

After working with numerous trainers, I found that most of them either never, or rarely, had me do calf raises, ab exercises, or stretches. I make sure to have my clients perform exercises to work the entire body every week. No muscle should be left behind!

Every training session ends with five minutes of gentle stretches, to cool down and aid in recovery. A tight muscle is more likely to get pulled or torn, than a flexible one.

Some trainers have no formal education, they’ve been lifting for years, but taking courses is really important to keep clients safe. Knowing what to do when, how to do it, understanding the latest research, what exercises not to do for certain clients, the proper sequence of exercises, knowing when to push a client to lift more or do more advanced exercises, and protecting the spine, are just some of the reasons why it’s important to work with a trainer that’s certified. I’m constantly reading and researching. I have earned my personal trainer certification, certification in fitness nutrition, and strength and conditioning certifications. I’m presently reading several textbooks on strength and rehabilitation, and plan to earn many more certifications in the years to come.

Exercise is part of health, but diet is a huge part of it too. My clients are given healthy recipes, diet and exercise worksheets, and if they are interested in learning more about me, nutrition, the pros and cons of various diets, tips and motivation to reduce calories, they can purchase my book, The High-Five Diet. I offer diet analysis and a customized, flexible eating guide to those ready to make dietary changes.

Some people overdo it with exercise, but many people don’t do enough exercise. I let my clients know what exercises, and for how long, and on which days, I recommend they do outside of their training sessions. For those that will only come to the gym to train with me, I send them videos they can exercise to at home for no extra charge.

If you’re interested in training with me, and you live in San Diego, contact me for a complimentary consultation. Trainers are NOT a dime a dozen. They are some awful ones, ones that are just okay, and other trainers that really care, have a lot of knowledge, and will help you reach your goals a lot faster.

why listing exercise on food labels is a bad idea


The reason why I discourage my clients from inputting their exercise into apps like MyFitness Pal, or estimate the amount of calories they burn, is because it’s inaccurate. People overestimate the amount of calories they burn doing exercise, and underestimate the amount of calories they eat. This is one reason why it’s difficult to lose weight, is the perception that they are hardly eating any calories, while burning a ton of calories. I don’t like the idea of listing on a food label, how long it would take to burn off those calories, such as running 22 minutes to cancel out a 229 calorie milk chocolate bar (1), because it may not be true.

While it might take some people about 22 minutes of running to burn off 229 calories, it may take other people, who are smaller or more fit, an hour or more to burn the same amount of calories. How hard, or how long that run is, if the run is on sand or on asphalt, if the run is uphill or on a flat road, all those variables affect how many calories will be burned off.

While there is a “…push to include food labeling that describes the amount of exercise needed to burn off calories consumed…” and 14 studies “…found that people make healthier choices and ate less when confronted with exercise equivalents,” (1) if this strategy is adopted, my hope is that the number of calories expended will be a range, such as “30-90 minutes,” in addition, my desire is that it would also include the intensity of the exercise, such as “walking at a fast pace with heart rate around 130 PBM.” With this additional information on food labels and menus, people may be more likely to eat less, make healthier food choices, and exercise more, while losing excess bodyfat…one can dream!

  1. Source: “Listing Calories as Exercise Amounts Can Influence Food Choice.” The San Diego Union-Tribune, Health day News. Jan 14, 2020. Pg 1. Print.

why I don’t write out my clients workouts

IFBB Pro Lisa Rapoza

The fitness manager at my gym asked me why I don’t write down the exercises for my clients ahead of their personal training sessions. I write out my own workouts, and follow it for about a month, but my clients are not me, they don’t have over an hour to train if the piece (or pieces) of equipment is/are being tied up.

If I have someone’s protocol set it stone, it makes it more difficult for me to be spontaneous on the spot. Thinking on the fly is a specific mindset, so it’s easier for me to start every workout with my clients with the knowledge that I need to think fast on my feet and change course at any given moment. Also, my client may want a difficult focus that session, or may still be sore from a previous session so certain exercises will need to be cut out for that day. A lot of my clients come in with a neck pain or soreness from an outside activity, or from sitting too long at work, so the workout is going to deviate from a set plan. I stopped writing my clients workouts ahead of time, because nine times out of ten, that plan ends of being completely different.

While it’s good to have some sort of plan when you go to the gym, being flexible, and listening to what your body tells you, is going to be the most beneficial. What matters most, is not the workout, but the results.

Photo: me (on the left) with a fellow trainer, having fun taking photos

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