Jes Reynolds…Your Fitness Coach

Can’t Stop Cravings? 10 Strategies For Making Better Choices

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iStock_000013851318XSmallDo you ever wonder why you can’t stay away from junk food?  I mean…what is it that makes it so irresistible?  It’s definitely not the nutritional value I can tell you that.  In fact, the more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel lethargic and unmotivated.  Even though most of us know what the ramifications of junk food overload are, we still eat the stuff!  WHY? What is the allure with these foods and how do you get it under control?

First, there is something you need to know.  Junk food is addictive.  When I say addictive I mean that we can develop “dependency-like” behaviors towards food based on how their chemical make up impacts the receptors and hormonal responses in the brain and body.

The main content in most junk food can be divided into three main groups: salt, sugar and fat which can all be “addictive” especially when artificial versions of these are used in the right combinations.  In addition to these three main ingredients, food additives such as preservatives, food coloring, and artificial flavorings can also have negative influences on your health.

This isn’t rocket science so far, right?  But there is more to the story on these simple truths.  For one, junk food is processed food.  Last time I checked I didn’t see any doughnuts growing on trees or candy bars being picked from the ground.  And therein lies our second problem:  Not only are junk foods main ingredients highly addictive, but in our modern culture processed food is just standard fare.  Eating out of a bag, box, or vacuum sealed container is pretty normal even for the healthiest eaters among us.  The fact that these foods are created in factories by huge companies that make huge profits formulating the products to “flavor perfection” doesn’t cross our minds because it’s normal to eat them.

Did you know that food manufacturers employ neuropsychologists not only to study our psychological reaction to different formulations of junk food, but also collaborate with food scientists to create the perfect ratio of sugar, salt and/or fat to create maximum appeal in the mouth and the mind.  In the soda industry this is called the “bliss point”.  (Yes, this is an actual term used in food industry!)


Some People Do Wish Doughnuts Grew On Trees I Guess! (GROSS!!)

Not only is junk food formulated to be addictive, it is packaged and marketed to children, teens and adults based on meticulous research ranging from age and socioeconomic status to brain physiology.  From marketing language to packaging, the food industry is targeting us at every turn.  Think about how foods are laid out in grocery and convenience stores…on the ends or at the height of a child’s eye!  Add to that the language used on the packaging and it is a slam dunk for the food companies!

Example:  The other day I was looking at the ingredients list on a box of snack crackers I purchase on a regular basis to eat with hummus and something caught my eye.  The words “irresistible snacking” popped out at me for the first time.  Irresistible snacking!?!?  These are supposed to be healthy crackers!

How healthy is that for anyone and what does it even mean?  Does it mean I’ll be stuffing my face and rushing to the store to buy more tomorrow?  I am certain it doesn’t mean healthy, balanced eating that leads to proper weight control, blood sugar levels and etc.

What can you do to fight the cravings caused by genius marketing tactics combined with highly addictive processed versions of salt, sugar & fat???  Here are 10 basic strategies to point you in the right direction:

Ten Strategies To Stop Cravings

    1. Stay hydrated – hunger is often mistaken for thirst so DRINK UP (I mean water people).
    2. Get plenty of sleep – lack of sleep especially over long periods of time can cause hormones to trigger our appetites and reduce energy levels.  This often leads to unnecessary snacking and junk food cravings.
    3. Alternative methods for stress management – stress is something we all experience but some handle it differently than others.  If you are struggling with your weight, take a look at how you manage you eat to curb difficult feelings?  If so, finding alternative ways to manage emotions could help you lose weight and control cravings
    4. Recognize the pattern – try to pay attention when food binges happen.  What triggered the binge (e.g. stress, emotional, lack of sleep)?  Why couldn’t you stop (e.g. no stress management, hadn’t eaten all day)?
    5. Plan ahead – don’t wait until you are starving to figure out what to eat.  Don’t leave the house without a basic plan for your meals and snacks.
    6. Eat enough during the day - waiting until the end of the day to eat a large meal leads to overeating…eat normally during the day and lighter in the evening
    7. Small changes over long period of time – if you do have issues with binge eating/snacking, don’t expect yourself to change instantly.  Make a plan for gradual changes and take baby steps.  Over time these baby steps will lead to a giant leap!
    8. Treat yourself like you have an addiction – so many of my clients come down on themselves when they overeat junk food.  It’s more effective to understand the circumstance that caused the binge than to reprimand yourself after it happens.
    9. Be kind to yourself – if you have a binge, be kind to yourself and get back on track.  Don’t waste time with words of self defeat or the idea of giving up your goal.  Just get back on track and treat yourself the same way you would treat a lifelong friend.
    10. Educate yourself on how these foods can negatively impact your health – once you find out that these foods are addictive, it helps take the self-defeat and self-blame out of the picture.  Instead of emotionally attacking yourself, the facts about food addiction allow you to be rational about why you binge and make new, rational choices about how to change.

Just remember, these foods are addictive and food companies formulate them to be even more appealing to you on a physiological level.  So, when implementing strategies to curb your food cravings, be kind to yourself.  Be patient and have a plan of attack when or if things go really bad!  If you would like to learn more about food industry and the various tactics they use to create addictive foods I recommend reading the book: Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss, an investigative reporter for the New York Times.

Testimonial: Laura Kellmann

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If you are reading this testimonial you should hire Jessica Reynolds. She is a phenomenal trainer who pulls from her vast amount of knowledge to customize a workout routine that delivers results. She consistently tailors exercises that align with your goals and will target improvement in strength and flexibility.

It always amazes me that the morning after each workout I still feel sore in all the right places.You would think that after training with Jes for so many years that effect would have diminished. Not a chance! I still have to carefully roll out of bed. Say a few choice words. And smile that my workout has yet again taken me to another level.

With Jessica’s guidance I have run six half-marathons, completed a 30-mile bike ride, survived a downhill mountain biking experience, hiked in some of the most beautiful places in the U.S., and — most importantly — created a healthy, active lifestyle that allows for endless possibilities.

Jes keeps me focused. She motivates me. She keeps me striving for more. I am proud to have Jessica as my trainer and my friend.

Written by JesR

July 29th, 2014 at 8:29 am

Proof That You Can Increase Lean Mass, Strength & Cardio Conditioning After Age 50!

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Photo of When Cliff Met President Obama!!!!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was recently fortunate enough to have a fitness done with M-Healthy personal trainer Eric B.  During the assessment I was tested for standard health & fitness indicators such as weight, body fat, flexibility, cardiovascular and strength.  It was a lot of fun, especially when I learned that I am in pretty good shape (phew!).

My post motivated one of my long time clients, Cliff Douglas to do an assessment of his own.  (His first assessment, done in 2008 was performed by moi!)   Cliff completed his assessment last Tuesday and was kind enough to share his results with me.  I found that both he and I gained a lot from seeing the results, so much so that I plan to offer an assessment as part of my training services in the near future.

I think Cliff also benefited from the follow-up assessment because he was able to see how fit he was and the progress he had made.  I decided to share Cliff’s results with you here both as a motivator to stay committed to a regular fitness routine,  to show the value of working with a qualified trainer and to encourage you to measure your own progress, especially over longer periods of time (like 1, 3, 5 years) to see where your habitual health and fitness behaviors are taking you.

Cliff Douglas

Date 1/8/2008 5/20/2014 % Change
Age 49 56  aprx 6 1/2 yrs
Weight 154.5 lbs 166.8 lbs 8% increase
Body Fat% 10.4% 11.8% 1.4% increase
Lean Mass 138.5 lbs 147.1 lbs 6% increase
Grip Strength 47 kg 72 kg 9% increase
Push Ups 30 reps 38 reps 27% increase
Curl Ups 75 reps 75 reps n/a
Submax VO2 45.8 Mkm  46.5 Mkm  1% increase
Submax Bench 0.9 (%bw) 1.11 (%bw) 8% increase
Submax Leg Press 3.3 (%bw) 4.4 (%bw) 4% increase


As you can see from the chart, over the course of 6 1/2 years of working out on a regular basis, Cliff was able to increase or maintain almost all elements tested for in the assessment. WOW!   If you were wondering how Cliff ranks against others his age, well…basically fantastic!!!  With results like this, Cliff would probably put many people 20 years younger to shame! As you look over the results, note that while Cliff’s body weight did increase, it was mostly due to an increase in lean mass.  Over the course of time, Cliff transitioned from a primarily cardiovascular based training regimen to one that included more strength training and intervals.  As a result, his lean mass went up almost 9 lbs!  And with increased lean mass he receives powerful benefits including:

  • Increase metabolism, bone strength & glucose control
  • Improved quality of life
  • Improved balance and body control
  • Reduced signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions

Another important factor that should not be overlooked is Cliff’s age while these positive increases were taking place. After turning 50, which is a time that many people resign themselves to physical decline, Cliff has made significant gains in lean mass and cardiovascular conditioning, two of the most important factors in preventing degenerative disease and increasing quality of life as you age. As most of you know, muscle mass generally decreases with age.  And thats where many people give up…they think it’s useless and you can’t do anything about it.  WRONG!  Let me fill you in on a secret…you can make a difference in how you age if you are willing to take the steps toward doing so.  Take a look at this quote from the Mayo Clinic:

“If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body,” says Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. “But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age.”

That’s right, ANY AGE! It’s time to get started!  If you are not sure how to get started, send an email to jes [at] and we can set up an appointment or I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

Written by JesR

May 29th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Testimonial: Doug Larson

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Doug Larson
I had been active in baseball and basketball from childhood until my late 30′s and have been a golfer my entire life (starting when I was a teenager), so physical fitness was always an unstated goal/strategy of my life. I began strength training about 20 years ago when my employer provided a free membership at a local health club. However, I never thought of a personal trainer until one Christmas I decided to give my wife an introductory three-session personal training package with Jes as a gift…which she loved and has continued since. The following Christmas she gave me the same gift which I also loved and have continued since.

I have never been goal oriented (I have trajectories) so when Jes asked me what my goals were, all I could think of was a phrase that Lestor Holt of the “Today” show used to describe a man as “a chiseled piece of man candy”. :) Fortunately, Jes’s ability to assess her client’s personal training needs quickly resulted in goals popping up like popcorn. For example, I was never big on stretching, so increasing my range of motion was an immediate goal. Also, when I found out that Jes has a focused interest in golf fitness training, the goal of eliminating a bad golf swing habit took center stage. Below is an example of an implementation of a goal with Jes.

“The Exercise”

Friday, 1:00-2:45 pm: I went to the driving range to tune up prior to the start of the golf league on Tuesday. Did terribly. Decided to go to Chicago and do more work on our house preparation for the upcoming Real Estate listing rather than golfing on Tuesday.

Friday, 3:30-4:30 pm: Had my weekly Personal Training session with Jes. She showed me a golf swing exercise.

Saturday, 2:30-3:30 pm: I practiced “the exercise” in our living room with the concern of my wife about possible breakage. Went out and hit ½ dozen practice balls on the front lawn ( pitching wedge, 7-iron, 3-wood) using “the exercise” between hits. Jaw dropping results.

Sunday 2:00-3:00 pm: Went to the driving range already having decided to go to Chicago to work on the house rather than the start of the golf league on Tuesday.No pressure. Hit two small buckets of balls periodically using “the exercise”. Only ½ dozen reversions to my old bad habit, the rest of the shots were definitely PGAesque (high, straight, far).

Monday 3:15-4:15 pm
: Went to the health club for a workout before leaving for Chicago. I saw Jes talking to someone. I came up behind her and waited for her to finish. When she turned around I gave her a bear hug and described the above. We shared at least two “high 5’s” and I saw my joy reflected in her smile. Will “the exercise” result in lower golf scores? I have no doubts! However, regardless, the joy of breaking a bad habit in golf, as in life, is its own empowering reward.

Note: I intentionally didn’t try to describe “the exercise” because it will be different for each person depending on your needs. Jes accesses your situation and selects “the exercises” you need whether for a bad golf swing habit or to increase your range of motion. She then demonstrates the proper form and continually monitors that you are doing it properly to prevent any injury and achieve the targeted results.

Thanks Jes.

Doug Larson

Written by JesR

May 28th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

Wondering Where You Rank? Consider Doing An M-Healthy Fitness Assessment

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IMG_1641Are you someone who works out regularly and wonders how well you rank against others in your age group?  Having a fitness assessment done by a medically based fitness program can show you exactly where you stand and in what areas of fitness you could improve.

Recently, I had the opportunity of visiting my former place of work M-Healthy (formerly MFit) to find out how I measured up against others in my age group.  The assessment took place at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube and was conducted by my former boss Eric and one of his new trainers John.  During the assessment Eric and John conducted the following tests:

  • Height & Weight
  • Blood pressure & Resting heart rate
  • Girth Measurements
  • Skin folds (Body Fat)
  • Upper & Lower Body Flexibility Tests
  • Upper & Lower Body Strength Tests
  • SubMax VO2 test

It took about 1 1/2 hours to complete the testing and review the results.  Eric and John did a great job and I personally feel Eric is one of the most knowledgable and educated personal trainers in the Ann Arbor area.  If you are interested in exercise science, research and data, Eric is the “go-to” guy.  Personally, I found the testing and results both helpful and fun!  It’s a great way to get a baseline if you are just starting an exercise program.  Learn more about the M-Healthy fitness assessment by visiting their website today!

Written by JesR

May 7th, 2014 at 7:27 am

Tips to Lower Daily Fat Intake and Choose Healthy Carbs

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iStock_000011394253XSmallSometimes simple and concise information is the easiest to remember and put into practice.  Here a some quick tips for reducing your daily fat intake and choose healthy carbohydrates.

Daily Nutrient Recommendations:

  • Fat: 20-30%
  • Carbohydrate : 40-60%
  • Protein: 30-40%

These recommendations are for those who participate in regular exercise strength training and cardiovascular activities.  These guidelines are a healthy starting point from which you can see some results and make any necessary tweaks based on what YOU respond to (genetics), the types of physical activity you participate in (mostly aerobic vs mostly strength training) and your compliance level (do you struggle with food addiction, stress eating, binge/purge…etc)

Reduce daily fat by:

  • Replace a four egg omelet with one full egg & three whites
  • Cut out kielbasa, bacon and sausage
  • Measure quantities when snacking on nuts, butter and nut butter
  • Choose lean red meats (sirloin), cold water fish & poultry
  • Regulate dairy & cheese intake
  • Monitor your use of dressing, olive oil and cheese on salads (some is ok, but keep the portion small)

Healthy carbohydrate sources:

  • oatmeal
  • fruit
  • brown and wild rice
  • legumes, chickpeas & quinoa
  • sweet, yellow & red skin potatoes

When I look back over this menu, it seems pretty limiting…but let me assure you, just like anything new it takes time and strategic planning to adopt new long term habits.  I encourage you to be creative and try new recipes that utilize these strategies…you’ll love how you look and feel!

Written by JesR

April 30th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Gear up for Golf Season with these Golf Fitness Tips

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***NOTE: This post was originally written in February of 2013***


Recently I gave a brief golf fitness presentation designed to help people learn various fitness practices that would improve their swing and consistency throughout the round.  The presentation was a lot of fun and I think the participants found it to be pretty helpful.  I’ve summarized the points below into 5 easy tips you can implement into your workout routine that will improve your golf game.

A golf presentation was the perfect setting for me to reinforce my obsession with posture!  I even have proof!  The Titleist Performance Institute agrees with me (yep they called and asked :) ) read this:

From TPI: “When viewing your posture at address on video, trace the curve of your spine. If you’re a right-handed player, and you see an S, it’s time to get to work. A C-posture can be the result of having tight pectoral or chest muscles and having weak scapular muscles (i.e. muscles in your upper back between your shoulder blades). An S-posture has those elements and also includes hypertonic (or tight) low back muscles, tight hip flexors, and weak abdominals.”

NOTE: That photo down and to the right is me practicing at the range in 20 degree weather…with my GREAT posture that I learned from working out correctly! ;)

  • Ideal posture is the best way to generate power, speed, and fluidity during any movement, especially a golf swing.
  • Promotes healthy back during the swing, minimizing risk to the low back
  • Joints are used properly when lined up correctly which reduces risk of injury and allows you to have proper swing mechanics
  • Muscles are used properly when lined up correctly which allows you to generate the most power
  • Practicing posture while exercising will help you incorporate it into your golf swing!

Being inflexible can inhibit your swing mechanics and therefore the power & club head speed you are capable of generating.  That’s why including a regular stretching routine can improve your swing.  You’ll be able to rotate more effectively, transfer your body weight from back to front, and finish well.  During the golf swing there are a lot of different muscles used, a basic home stretching routine would include stretches for the:

  • IT Band
  • Hip Flexor
  • Glute
  • Hamstring
  • Groin
  • Quad
  • Lower & Upper Back
  • Chest

Core strength is crucial for generating rotational power, maintaining posture, and transferring lower body strength to the upper body and through the club. Developing core strength can be tricky as sometimes people unknowingly use their lower back muscles instead of their abdominal muscles (deep and surface).  Some basic core exercises you can do are:

  • Crunches
  • Crunches with a twist
  • Crunches on a ball
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Plank with a twist

It seems obvious that overall strength will improve power and club head speed generated during your golf swing.  Focus should be first on developing strength in the large muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, chest, and lats.  Strengthening the forearms will also help you generate power and maintain proper position with the club throughout the swing.

Having cardiovascular endurance is the secret key to consistency throughout the round.  Being in good cardiovascular condition will:

  • Reduce general fatigue that can cause your swing mechanics to degrade
  • Improve mental focus and stamina throughout the round by reducing distractions caused by fatigue
  • Allow you to play more consistently for a greater number of days in a row

If you would like help developing any of these areas and would like to focus specifically on golf or if you are interested in joining a newly forming golf fitness group, send me an email to and we can set something up!

Written by JesR

April 10th, 2014 at 11:17 pm