Originally printed in the Springs Magazine May 2019
No internet. Forced quiet hours. Howling monkeys. Is inner peace even worth pursuing to a Costa Rican paradise?
by Warren Epstein
The first morning, we wake with a start to the roar of howler monkeys. My phone reads 4:22 a.m.
The howls, deep and resonant, sound like angry—or horny—velociraptors.
My wife and I huddle in our bed behind thin mosquito netting in an open-air cabin in the middle of a Costa Rican rainforest. We came here for inner peace. A yoga retreat. Ommmmmm. Seriously?
Neither Jane nor I were that into yoga, but when friends invited us on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, we thought, That’s just far enough from our comfort zones to sound exciting.
The trip would be led by our mutual friend David Corder, who runs Perfect Fit Wellness Center in Falcon. He regularly takes groups to the prettiest places on the planet to practice their Angry Cat or Pissed Off Possum, or whatever you call those yoga poses. (Next trip Peru, http://www.perfectfitwc.com/yoga-retreats.html )
David is an alum of the traveling singing troupe Up With People, and he has retained that too-much-enthusiasm-to-be-contained-in-one-body thing. His high-pitched laugh sounds like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon.
We caught up with David and the rest of our yoga team after a long flight to San Jose, Costa Rica; a white-knuckle puddle-jumper flight to the Osa Peninsula; then a tooth-rattling drive to the resort, Blue Osa. (Costa Rica really should get a GoFundMe page for some road paving.)
If you’re into the tropical paradise thing, it doesn’t get much more paradisiacal than this: You can sit on the Adirondack chairs framed by coconut palms overlooking the beach, as squirrel monkeys chatter and toucans right out of a Fruit Loops commercial fly by.
The Blue Osa want guests to disconnect. I discovered they take this literally, turning off the internet in the morning. That would be a real problem for me, as I like to plug into all the national news first thing, so I have stuff to fume about all day.
There’s even a “silent time” rule here; you’re not supposed to talk before 7:30 a.m. This was tough. In fact, Beth, a soft-spoken staffer from NBC News, rebuked more than a couple of my hearty “good mornings!” with a finger to her lips.
“Oh, yeah, forgot,” I said, which earned me another stern look.
This was going to be a long week. Here’s the thing I learned about yoga retreats, and it may come as a bit of a shock. There’s actually the expectation that you’ll be doing yoga. David would ring a bell, and we were all expected to grab our mats and head for the yoga studio, yet another slice of paradise in the center of the resort compound: shiny natural wood floors, floor to ceiling open-air windows overlooking swaying palms and surf. Again, if you like that kind of thing...
There were about two dozen of us, mostly women, mostly from the Springs, sitting in a circle. David welcomed us and asked what we hoped to get out of the retreat. Most said something about peace of mind or greater self-awareness. I said, essentially, I was here for a vacation. More stern looks.
Then David walked us through the theme for the week, based on Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare. Interesting. I’ve always identified with the rabbit. Sure, he lost the race, but he ended up rested and well fed.
Still, I got what David was saying. The yoga, the idyllic setting and even the excursions he had planned were designed to put us in a different frame of mind, to slow down our racing thoughts. Not a problem for me. I had very few worries—except, maybe, some upcoming work deadlines, a strange sound the car had started making, that strange ache in my neck and shoulder, and did I leave on the Nespresso machine when we left? The neighbors would have called if the house burned down, right? And did anybody respond to my latest Facebook post? OK, my mind tends to race a bit. I’m from New York.
After yoga on those first few days, I tried to practice my meditation in one of the many idyllic shrines around the property. Focus on your breath. Breathe in. I think I heard a fly come in, and my breath is kind of shallow. Breathe out. Should it be that shallow?
It was hard to sit still that long. Fortunately, David had some activities planned to keep my must-do-stuff mind and body busy. We went on zip lines over the jungle canopy (getting in touch with our inner rabbit). We participated in a turtle rescue (getting in touch with our tortoise sides), which turned out to be much more emotional than I’d anticipated, watching those baby turtles waddle to the surf.
Every day, yoga became easier, less of a chore and more like what my body actually wanted to do. Meditation also got easier. Breathe in. Breathe out. Even the howler monkeys became less annoying.
I also felt a bond with the fabulous people who were on this journey with us. As we took turns jumping off a ledge into a jungle swimming hole, the cheers for one another was about more than the courage of the leap. It was about how far we’d all come.
On the last morning, I saw a group of my fellow yogis and heartily shouted “Good morning!” Of course, I received an admonishing finger to the lips. But I swear I saw less animosity there.
When we returned to the Springs after an exhilarating but exhausting week in paradise, I slept so well in my own bed. Strangely though, I jolted awake to the roar of howler monkeys. My wife had recorded them. She laughed her head off.
I closed my eyes, thought ommmmm, and then a very un-yogi thought came to mind: I will get her back. It’s what a hare would do, after all.
Thank you Warren, for the fun review and great memories!
John Dryden famously said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”
Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
And Aristotle noticed that, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
It’s pretty clear that the habits you adopt will shape who you are.
What are your habits?
Do you eat the same thing for lunch, go through the same exercise routine, and fall into bed at the same time each night?
Or maybe you’ve made a habit out of eating something sweet before bed, avoiding the gym, and staying up as late as possible.
When it comes to your fitness, the two habits that define you are your eating and exercise habits. In fact, everyone that you know who is in great shape has dialed in these two important habits.
If you aren’t happy with your body, then simply adjust your eating and exercise habits.
Here’s how to adopt a habit:
1) Decide on the ONE habit that you would like to develop. It’s tempting to pick up 3 or 4 healthy habits but choosing just one new habit is realistic and doable.
Here are some healthy habit ideas:
Here’s an example:
4) Keep track of your progress. You could keep a detailed journal or simply make a check mark on each calendar day that you successfully exercise your new habit.
Once your new habit becomes second nature, usually in about 30 days, feel free to add a second habit by going through the same steps.
I’d love for my fitness program to become your new healthy habit! Call or email now to reserve your spot.
You probably know that crunches and sit-ups alone won’t give you sculpted abs. Only a drop in overall body fat will uncover your stomach muscles.
It is fully possible for you to do this with an effective combination of fat burning cardio, resistance training and clean eating. My clients routinely drop fat and transform their bodies. You can do it too.
Here’s how to get beach-worthy abs…
1) Exercise a minimum of 4 times per week. It is important to dedicate yourself to working out a minimum of 4 times a week if you want to transform your abs. Anything less than this won’t make a large enough impact on your progress.
2) Make sure your workouts are effective. What makes a workout effective? It includes intense cardiovascular training coupled with effective resistance training. Walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes isn’t a fat blasting routine. Neither is a leisurely 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. The truth is that you can dramatically increase your results while investing less time when your workouts are effective.
Cardio exercise is all about maintaining an effective level of intensity. This doesn’t mean that you should be out of breath or gasping for air, but it does mean that you need to push yourself.
Resistance training is the second key part of a fat burning workout. This means working your major muscle groups against resistance in a way that stimulates your metabolism. Again, the key here is to find the right intensity and to keep each muscle group guessing.
3) Eat a clean diet. Diet is a big stumbling block for most people. If your diet is out of control then your abs will be too. You can’t trim your waist without trimming the junk out of your diet, regardless of how intensely you exercise.
Keep calories in check. Do you know how many calories you eat? The best way to find out is to record everything you eat for a few days. Tally the number of calories that you eat each day and do an evaluation—feel free to recruit me to help out with this part. Together we’ll chart improvements for your diet and adjust your calories for maximum results.
Just say “No” to junk food. While this may seem obvious, your definition of “junk food” may need an alteration. Refined sugar is one of the biggest culprits in the junk food world—it is found in soft drinks, blended coffee drinks, cookies, cakes, packaged snacks, and other sinfully sweet treats. Processed fat is another monster. As a rule of thumb you can safely view all processed or refined items as junk food.
Eat more frequently. The key here is to never let your metabolism “crash” by going hours without eating. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to skip breakfast—as this is the meal that ‘breaks the fast’ that your body goes into each night. Stick with eating small meals every few hours and always avoid stuffing yourself.
Do you want to flatten and sculpt your abs once and for all? Simply decide that you really want it. Commit to yourself—you deserve it.
See me for fat-blasting workouts that deliver results. Together we will get you on a programme that will melt the fat off your abs, exposing shape and definition.
Call or email me today to get started. Let’s do this!
Time for bed…If you’re not getting adequate rest (close to 8 hours each night) then you’re more likely to be hungry, overeat, and put on fat.
How does this work? Something like this…
If you’re tired, you won’t feel like cooking a healthy meal, and you’ll opt for fast (fattening) food instead. This very same lack of energy will also likely cause you to skip the gym. On top of that, sleep deprivation causes your metabolism to slow down, and if you’ve not heard, that is not something you want when trying to shape up.
It sure would be great if any time spent in the gym delivered results, but the truth is that all workouts were not created equally. There are techniques for getting the most out of each exercise and by utilizing these techniques you’ll achieve quicker and more noticeable results.
Check out the following 5 Smart Workout Tips to avoid danger and to get fit fast:
Smart Workout Tip 1: Use Challenging Resistance
In order to get the most from each rep it’s important to challenge your muscles, and not to simply go through the motions. If you are able to complete 15 repetitions easily, then the weight is too light. On the flip side, if you aren’t able to perform an exercise through its full range of motion, and find yourself cheating on form, then the weight is too heavy.
The correct weights will feel challenging by your last few repetitions but won’t force you to sacrifice form.
Smart Workout Tip 2: Change Up Your Routine
You may have noticed that most people do the same exercises each time they visit the gym. Maybe you’ve been doing the same exercise routine as long as you can remember—if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it, right?
The truth is that exercise routines have expiration dates, and that is the date that they begin to lose their effectiveness. As a rule of thumb never use the same routine for more than 4 weeks.
Smart Workout Tip 3: Always Warm Up
Most people consider warm up time to be wasted time—they’d rather jump right into the heart of the routine. What they don’t realize is that a good warm up will allow you to perform at a higher intensity, which means greater results.
The point of a warm up is to increase your muscle temperature. This increases blood flow, muscle contraction and reduces muscle resistance. Your warm up should last 5-10 minutes.
Smart Workout Tip 4: Use Proper Form
Gyms are filled with people performing exercises with bad form. The two biggest reasons are that you aren’t concentrating on the exercise, or you’re trying to lift weight that is too heavy. Lifting with improper form almost always results in injury.
Take the time to achieve proper form, by doing so you’ll avoid injury and will reap the full benefit from each exercise.
Smart Workout Tip 5: Never Workout Alone
People who exercise alone are less challenged, less accountable and typically see fewer results. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Why rush to the gym if no one is there waiting for you? Why push yourself if no one is watching? Exercising alone is a recipe for disaster.
The best way to avoid injury and to see results is to work with me. I am passionate about seeing my clients achieve results by working out smart and without wasting time, energy and effort on mistakes.
Don’t know where to start when it comes to exercise? Let me help you!
Sometimes I feel like a broken record.
You’re constantly hearing from me how important exercise is to your health and how so many of your health problems will improve or even disappear as the result of a consistent exercise program.
Why do I continue to give you the same lecture?
Because I’ve seen exercise change lives. I’ve even seen exercise save lives.
Here are the Top 4 Health Improvement Factors that come as a result of challenging, consistent exercise:
1. Your energy levels boost and you feel great.
I have noticed that most people don’t realize how bad they feel. They get used to feeling bad. Then when they start exercising they feel so much better. Your energy levels soar and you feel excited about life again.
2. Your muscles and joints feel better than ever.
You’ll notice a reduction in aches and pains once you’ve been sticking with an exercise program for a few weeks. That chronic muscle and joint pain that you’ve lived with for years may begin to fade. For some, joint replacement surgery is postponed. For others, arthritis pain is reduced.
3. Your risk of heart attack or stroke is reduced.
I like to remind my clients of this one, since it’s not something they can physically feel, but it’s the one that saves lives! Exercise has the power to remove two of the major risk factors that lead to heart disease: 1) physical inactivity and 2) obesity. Exercise also increases your good cholesterol (HDL) and lowers your blood pressure.
4. Your blood sugar levels are better controlled.
Clients of mine with type 2 diabetes see substantial benefits from exercise. Exercise improves the body’s use of insulin, and the related weight loss improves insulin sensitivity. For many, exercise becomes the natural, permanent antidote to their type 2 diabetes.
There are SO MANY benefits to exercise, why would anyone avoid doing it?! Typically it comes down to excuses.
It’s time you start enjoying all the benefits of exercise. Let’s do this!
An authentic surge of motivation will change your life immediately.
The best part of my day is seeing clients just like you achieve amazing results. Whether you drop a few sizes, lose the baby weight, get off your blood pressure meds, or shrink your waist, the excitement is always contagious.
It’s hard to describe that euphoria that settles in once you’ve achieved your fitness goal. It’s one of those things that you have to experience to understand.
Every single one of my clients who have achieved massive results have ONE THING IN COMMON…
They are all highly motivated.
I am in a unique position. I know how to get you (or anyone else who walks through my door) into great shape. I can coach you through a 50-pound weight loss. I can guide you to a healthier body. I can even train you into a toned athlete.
But there is one catch.
You’ll need to be motivated.
Just saying, or even just thinking, that you want to get into great shape isn’t enough. You need motivation—and that’s just half of the equation. The other part (and the most important) is ACTION.
Nothing happens until you take action.
You can want it, think about it, mull it over, ponder it, plan it, and then re-plan it. But nothing happens until you take action.
While I may not know your story—it’s probably safe to assume that you want to drop fat and tone up. You want to look better, to have more energy, to experience fewer aches and pains, and to enjoy sweet satisfaction as you achieve your goals once and for all.
I know that all of my successful clients were once in your shoes. They wanted to change their bodies. They felt urgency. And then they did what most fail to do. They took action and contacted me.
But there is more to it than that. They then committed to a program, put in the exercise, stuck to their diet and met their goals. There’s nothing more gratifying than getting back into those jeans that now sit in the back of your closet.
People who take massive action get massive rewards. And those that simply talk about losing weight will continue to put weight on, pound after pound. I hate to put it that way, but it’s the truth.
So what do you want?
The rewards are great IF you do.
Your first step is to call or email me now to get started! Let’s do this.
Do you keep up with new trends in the world of fitness? There always seems to be a headline proclaiming the latest and greatest trend, each promising to be the solution that you’ve always needed.
Of course, these trends pass with the seasons, quickly being replaced with something newer and more popular.
Today I’d like you to consider the only trend that really matters to your health and fitness progress: the trend of your own behavior.
Here’s what I mean: Have you ever noticed how easy it is to do the same thing today as you did yesterday? This applies to both your activity level and your diet.
The longer you can maintain a healthy fitness trend in your own behavior, the easier it will become to maintain that trend. Isn’t that great?!
This simple concept, of maintaining your own daily fitness trend, is the way to continue towards your goal, to avoid setbacks, and to maintain your forward momentum.
So the next time that you see a flashy headline about the latest fitness trend, simply smile to yourself and focus on keeping your own daily fitness progress on track.
Want accountability? I’d love to help you! Give me a call or shoot me an email and let’s get you on track to shed some major fat before summer!
Let’s do this together.
The People You Surround Yourself With
You can improve your ability to maintain your own healthy fitness trend by surrounding yourself with likeminded people. The people with whom you surround yourself have a huge impact on how you take care of yourself through fitness and healthy eating.
Let’s face it, you want to bond with and fit in with the important people in your life. This means sharing similar behavior patterns, such as what you eat and how active you are.
Build healthy habits into your important relationships by sharing fitness meals and workouts together.
There is one reason why most people haven’t yet reached their goals, and it’s a simple one. It’s something that I’ve struggled in the past, and it just may be the one thing that’s holding you back from your big breakthrough.
That one thing is consistency.
Think about it. The difference that separates a fitness star from a couch potato is the consistency with which the former applies to their diet and exercise routine. That’s it!
Look, I know you can exercise and eat right. You’ve done it before! But a fitness plan only works when you consistently stay with it. You start, stop, start again, take a few days off, then get back on track. This haphazard effort will never lead to a dramatic body transformation!
What if I told you that you’re 5 feet from gold? That if you simply dug in a little deeper, and stuck with the program with consistency, you’d finally achieve the big results that you’ve been hoping for all along.
You are 5 feet from gold; don’t stop now!
The fact is that anyone can stick with a fitness and diet plan for a little while. Anyone can complete a challenge. Anyone can finish a 30-day program. Anyone can put in 2 weeks of solid effort.
It’s those who click into consistency that see the big changes and experience the joy and triumph of real accomplishment. I want this for you.
I know that you see how valuable consistency is, and you want to do it, BUT you get off track time and time again. How do you tap into the consistency you need to make a real improvement in your life? Use these three steps…
See it: Define exactly what it is you want to be consistent on. For example instead of saying that “I’ll start exercising,” say that, “I’ll do the 5am session on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.” And instead of, “I’ll start eating healthy,” say that, “I’ll eat XX number of calories per day divided into 5 small meals.” The more specific the better!
Keep in mind that you are defining your actions – not your outcome. Don’t use this step to determine what size jeans you want to fit into. That outcome is a byproduct of you consistently doing the actions. Just clearly define the actions that you need to be consistent on.
Feel it: Now that you’ve determined the actions needed, let’s think about that outcome and clearly define it. Be specific! What will you look like? What will that new body feel like? How will your friends and family respond to the new you?
It’s time to get your emotions all tied up in your quest. Daydream about getting to that outcome, feel it, emotionally take ownership of the idea of owning it.
Do it: You’re clear about what you want. You feel invested in getting the results. Now go about the business of taking consistent action toward your goal.
Yes, this sounds simple, and it is simple. Be consistent and you’ll soon strike gold.
Want accountability? I’d love to help you! Give me a call or shoot me an email and let’s get you on track to shed some major fat before summer!
Let’s do this together.
Don’t forget to FEEL it
Your emotions play a huge part in determining your actions, so don’t skim over the step where I told you to become emotionally invested in achieving your goal.
The best way to do this is to spend time daydreaming about what life will be like once your goal has been accomplished. Let the image of the new you, in your newly improved body, play out in your mind over and over.
Feel it at your core.
There’s nothing quite as inspiring as a truly jaw-dropping before and after picture. I’m talking about a 50+ pound weight loss where they look like an entirely new person.
It’s striking how much younger people look when the extra fat comes off. An attractive, happy, energetic person was inside of them all along.
Many popular magazines showcase transformation success stories like this at the beginning of a new year. Flip through the pages of before and after photos and it’s hard not to feel inspired to make healthy changes in your own life.
It’s also interesting to read how each person managed to lose all the weight. What was their exercise routine? What diet plan did they follow? The truth is that there are many routines and plans that bring success.
The key is to choose your plan and stick with it.
Of course, this is where things get tricky, during the stick with it period. This is when life tempts you to lose your focus and get lazy. This is when even the best intentions don’t help you win.
Below I have compiled a list of Best Transformation Tips that came from the mouths of those who have actually done it. Every tip below is from a fat loss champion who lost 50+ pounds and some even half of their body weight.
The BEST Tip (don’t miss this one!)
This is tip is the linchpin in every transformation success story. And that is why this was the tip that was mentioned time after time, by the people who went through the pain of losing half of their size through old fashion healthy eating and exercise.
Fat loss starts in your mind.
Before you start counting calories or signing up for exercise plans, you must get your mind primed for success. Do this by imagining the new you, after the weight comes off. What do you look like? How do you feel? What does your fit lifestyle consist of?
Dedicate a portion of each day to mentally focusing on your transformation goal, until the idea of a new you feels inevitable. And then get started on the physical work of achieving your goal!
Do you have a specific fitness goal that you are hoping to achieve? This goal could be a number on the scale, or a clothing size. Or maybe you are hoping to wear a certain cut or style of clothes like strappy tank tops, shorts, or a bathing suit.
While having this goal is great, it will NOT guarantee success.
You knew that, though, because this isn’t the first time that you’ve had a fitness goal. A goal that you didn’t meet. In fact, you probably know dozens of other people who also have struggled to meet their fitness goals.
Here’s the typical scenario: you get all pumped up to lose weight and get into shape by starting out completely gung-ho. Your enthusiasm lasts about two weeks, before old habits and routine slide back into place, cutting your results off before reaching your goal. Then your goal begins to fade from your mind, and life goes on.
The problem, my friend, was your initial focus on the result rather than a sustained focus on the process. Let me break this down for you…
Fitness success is not about focusing on your goal. It’s about making the fit lifestyle stick.
Of course, once you’ve gotten a fit lifestyle to stick you’ll end up meeting that goal!
This may go against everything you’ve come to believe about achieving a goal, but then, your techniques haven’t exactly been working. The number that you’re hoping to magically be one day doesn’t matter one bit, and here’s why…
IT’S ABOUT LIVING IN THE MOMENTUM.
Can you remember how it felt the last time that you ate clean, exercised hard and got adequate sleep for a few consecutive days? A feeling of momentum came over you, didn’t it?
There was a buzzing in your cells and a rhythm in your pace. You felt alive, you felt sexy, and you felt empowered. Never mind that you weren’t yet at your goal number, you were headed there!
Getting down to your goal weight, and fitting into your goal size, is the direct result of living in that state of momentum for an extended period of time. You see, the momentum can be felt immediately, once you start eating clean, exercising hard and taking care of your health, whereas that “goal number” simply can’t be felt until it is achieved, and so it’s not as powerful a motivator.
My challenge and advice to you is to find the joy of living in the momentum, and keep that momentum going until your goal number is achieved. Focus only on the momentum, not on the number.
Fitness is a way of life. Being lean is a lifestyle. Neither of which can be had by going about it halfheartedly.
You have to become the momentum.
Call or email me today and we will get your momentum started on the exercise program that will reshape your body once and for all!
Owner and Lead Personal Trainer at Perfect Fit Wellness Center.