Be Bad Until You’re Good



Lakwena Maciver, bad-ass artist out of London

…with everything, from your creative endeavors to being organized to parenting to WORKING OUT. It’s never easy in the beginning. You’ll stumble through the first few tries. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll mess up, and you’ll probably look ridiculous. You might even embarrass yourself, but DON’T STOP. You will pick up your head one day and realize that you’re doing it right more often than wrong. A key element in getting over that beginning hump is your own self talk.

Rather than criticizing every failure or setback, CONGRATULATE yourself on trying with every misstep. Self talk has an enormous impact on personal success. Consider what you would say to a good friend who was trying to do something new. Now compare that to what you say to yourself. Are you less deserving than your friend? Wouldn’t you be angry with anyone else who talked to you the way that you talk to yourself? Hell, we are kinder to strangers than we are to ourselves. If you walked by someone in the gym and saw her fall of the Bosu or drop her weights, would you walk up to her and tell her she’s an idiot? If you noticed that she hadn’t lost any weight, would you point that out and ask her what the hell is wrong with her? Would you call your friend a fat ass for eating a pint of ice cream? No, most of us wouldn’t dream of saying any of those things to anyone, because we know it would be damaging for them to hear. So… why do we talk to ourselves that way? Why is struggle such a shameful thing? Struggle teaches us what not to do. Struggle is empowering, and when we accept that, we can be at peace within the struggle.

Be as kind to and as patient with yourself as you would anyone else who is trying. Be your own good friend. For every negative thought you have about the work you are doing, immediately follow it up with a positive one, until that becomes your default. Get comfortable with failure and making mistakes. Know that both are actually necessary to move forward. Be bad at the thing you are just beginning. Be bad at it and revel in the fact that you are trying. Celebrate every small improvement. Forgive and learn from every blunder. Be bad until you’re good. Then be good until you’re GREAT.

We Are Going To Be Friends

I’m a nosy bitch. I need to get to know you. We’re going to be spending a lot of time together, and you are paying me to boss you around in a way that will be LIFE TRANSFORMING. I’m going to ask you a lot of questions when we first meet that might have you feeling a little guarded – Medications? Injuries? Does your job have you sitting for long periods? What do you eat for breakfast? Are you afraid of heights? Is your husband/wife a jerk?

Okay, that last one maybe not in the consultation, but you know what? If we’re five sessions into it and your emotional state is interfering with your self care, there’s a good chance I will ask you that question, albeit with a little more tact. By then, though, I will already know enough about you to have both of us feeling comfortable enough for me to ask that question. If not that one, it might be an inquiry into how your mother is doing after her surgery, or if your boss is still pressuring you about that project that you don’t have enough funding for, or if your dog needed to be put down. I will ask you these questions and encourage you to talk about them because a) I am genuinely interested and b) that exchange will help me help you take care of yourself and get to your goals.


Yours truly and friend/client (frient?) Veronica Triplett, aka Barking Bunny, at The Space Ball.

Conversely, if you are smiling more than usual and have more energy, I’m going to say something along the lines of, “Your partner must have really come through for your birthday!” or “OMG, did you get that raise?!” or simply “Okay, what gives? You are on fire today!” I will tap into that energy and push you a little harder, because when you are happy, you will do more.


Good friend BBC, me, and long time frient Andre Sam-Sin, aka DJ Sun, celebrating his 50th birthday at The Flat.

I will ask you questions about where you live (is it jogging/biking distance from the gym?), whether or not there are stairs in your house (can you go up and down them more often than you already do?), how you carry your baby (you know that strain you feel in your left hip? Mhmm.), what restaurants you like to eat at (I like to eat out and want recommendations… oh, also, how are you eating when you’re not doing the cooking), what kind of music you listen to (I like music and want recommendations… oh, also, here are five songs similar to what you like that are great for running to), if you stayed up late the night before (sleep is Very Important to fitness goals), how your trip home for Xmas was (code for – how much of Mom’s peach cobbler did you consume?).


Me (and my beau) with frient Carrie Ann Sanders at the anniversary party of her boutique in Uptown Park, Carrie Ann’s

I am both an empath (we make great personal trainers because we often know what your problem is before you even know have a problem) and a people person. I am going to be your coach, your ally, and your biggest cheerleader. Bonus: I will support you in your goals throughout your life, not just in fitness. I’ll be at the grand opening of your business. I’ll bring you soup if you’re sick. I will text you a novel’s worth of encouragement and pep talk when you text me and tell me you are feeling out of shape and terrible about yourself. How comfortable you are in our relationship, how vulnerable you are willing to be with me, will have an enormous impact on your success with your goals. We, dear client, are going to be friends.

New Year, New Zoo

Every January, the gym is overrun with folks who have a renewed fervor for the body they wanted all of last year. I’m telling y’all, it’s *crazy* up in here. It’s 5:00 am and it’s like a night club, except instead of cocktails and dancing, it’s pre-workout drinks and lifting. I continually overhear, “It’s a freaking zoo in here!” from members, clients, and trainers. It’s a big, beautiful, messy shit show.

On the one hand, there are folks complaining that there’s no parking and OMG they can’t believe we’ve run out of towels again and why is there a line for the restroom? On the other hand, people are trying harder than they ever do. They are caught up in an intense, almost tangible energy that only the new year brings. It’s a wave that’s not hard to catch. It’s incredible and inspiring to see people working in their full potential.

Right around mid-February, it starts getting a little easier to find a parking spot, you won’t have to wait for a turn on your favorite treadmill (you know, the one that’s just a little bit newer than all the others), and glory glory hallelujah – there are plenty of towels! There’s also another change, though, a change in the vibe, in the atmosphere, and not just at the gym. It’s people settling back into their comfort zones all around after giving their new year’s resolutions a solid 6 week try. That wave you were riding has ebbed. You are feeling it, too. It would be so much easier to meet up with friends for happy hour than to go to your spin class (it’s half empty now anyway), or to have a giant bowl of ice cream after your grilled chicken and broccoli. A little time passes, and before you know it, you’ve been paying for a gym membership that you haven’t used in six months.

This is what MOST people with gym memberships do. That’s not anecdotal. 80% of people who join gyms in January cancel their memberships within five months. How will YOU manage to stay in the 20% who don’t? I’ve been at this for a very long time, and these are the five things that I’ve observed the 20% to have in common:

  1. They pace themselvesIf you are someone who is finally facing and battling years of bad habits, resist the urge to “go hard or go home” because you will eventually just go home. If you want permanent change in your body, then you have to change your lifestyle, and that won’t happen overnight. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. Start out with 2 to 3 workouts a week, and increase that frequency after your body has had a chance to acclimate to the new demands you are putting on it.
  2. They eat real foodWe are not talking about diet “food” and protein powders that are made and packaged in giant warehouses. We’re talking vegetables, fruit, eggs, meats, seafood, nuts, cheese, and butter (yes, cheese and buttter!). Eat those foods, and eat them in small portions. That’s the big diet secret.
  3. They still have funYou’ll be a lot less likely to skip your workout in favor of a fancy meal out or a happy hour if you have something similar to look forward to later in the week. Those things are still ok to participate in on a moderate level, or you can go out to hear live music, to an art opening, to the movies. Better yet, find fun, ACTIVE things to do! When’s the last time you went rollerskating? How about kayaking on the bayou, or exploring your city on your bike with friends?
  4. They have supportChances are, you know someone else who wants to have the same focus on fitness that you do. Agree to hold each other accountable. Check in daily with one another. If you don’t know someone IRL, there are a bajillion online communities to find that kind of support and accountability. We live in a time of immediate connection, and this is a great way to take advantage of that.
  5. They educate themselvesIf you are reading about fitness and nutrition, if you are learning about how your metabolism works and what effects different nutrients and types of activity have on your body (and mind!), then you will be much more interested in staying active. Again with this awesome era we live in – information about everything you can imagine is available immediately. You overhear the trainers at your gym talking about macros and glycemic index and you’re like, what??? Google that shit, because it’s really interesting and it might help you with your goals. Did you run across a workout video with the term HIIT? Look that shit up (High Intensity Interval Training), because it’s really interesting and it might help you with your goals.

All of this I have not only observed, it is what has worked for me. When I was 50 lbs. overweight almost ten years ago, I started on my path to getting healthier and stronger by going to Urban Jungle‘s cardio kickboxing class 3x a week. Eventually, I changed my eating habits. I did fun things. I had friends who were (literally) willing to slap the donut out of my hand. I geeked out on fitness information. One day, months into it, I realized I was working out every day. It took me over a year to lose the weight, and another year to become the kind of fit that I wanted to be (strong, functional). TWO YEARS. Not two weeks. Not even two months. Two years, and I’m glad it did because those slow and methodical two years set the tone for the rest of my life. “New Year, New You” is brilliant marketing, but not much more. Be part of the 20% who stick with their new year’s fitness resolutions. It’s a new life(style), not a new year. And you will never be new, but you can certainly become an ultra sleek, enhanced version of yourself – a You 2.0 if you will.

The Most Effective Workout Ever

I am frequently asked by my clients, “What kind of workout should I be doing when I’m not in session with you?” I give each one of them the exact same answer – do something you like. No workout will be more effective for you than one you actually enjoy. If going to the gym is an absolute chore for you, if you dread it with all of your being, you will not reach whatever fitness related goals you have. You will give up, and you will feel justified in giving up. You’ll say it’s because of money or time or something the gym was lacking. Here is something I know about people – we have money and time for what’s important to us. Period. If  you give up on your workouts, it’s because they became less of a priority than other things in your life (notwithstanding injury, illness, or tragedy), and that can be diluted down to one issue – boredom.

Think of the people in your life who are very fit. Now go talk to one of them and ask her what she does to maintain that fitness. She will not tell you that she has a gym routine that she hates, that she suffers through. She might say it was tough in the beginning, but then she will tell you that she does ____________ and she LOVES it so much! She’ll list reasons why. She’ll try to convince you to come along. It could be anything from yoga to kickboxing to Crossfit to Zumba to power lifting to cycling to parkour… the possibilities are endless. You do not have to go to the gym and grunt your way through a machine circuit if you don’t like that (but it’s okay if you DO… it’s just one of many options!).

It’s the beginning of a new year. Rather than trying to teach yourself some hard won lesson about sticking with a plan and being disciplined, be kind to yourself. It really, truly doesn’t have to suck to be effective. Be introspective. Ask your body what it needs and what it LIKES. Does it want to stretch and become more limber? Do you want to punch and kick the crap out of someone holding Thai pads? Do you want to become strong enough to lift your own body weight? Are you interested in being able to traverse anything in your path? Do you want to dance? Do you want to play outside, like when you were a kid? Do you actually like to be in the gym, but need a trainer? Maybe the method isn’t as important to you as being in a group that supports each other, so you need a class that’s a genuine community, regardless of whatever crazy thing they’re doing. All of this is available.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, try ALL THE THINGS! It’s fun! Most gyms, dojos, and studios offer a free one week pass to new comers, so you can try out different classes, see what works for you. Personally, I like ALL THE THINGS! Okay, not all of them, but a whole lot of them, and when I am at my fittest, it’s because I’m immersed in a physical discipline (or two) that’s fun and that teaches me new skills.

So tell me, what do YOU want to learn to do with your body this year?

The Perfect Playlist for Running

  • Atlas – Battles
  • Party and Bullshit – Ratatat remix of Biggie Smalls
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Metallica
  • Six Day – DJ Shadow featuring Mos Def
  • Stomp – Ratatat remix of Young Buck, T.I. and Ludacris
  • Kids – Sleigh Bells
  • Shorty Wanna Ride – Ratatat remix of Young Buck
  • Master of Puppets – Metallica
  • Riot Rhythm – Sleigh Bells
  • Alright – Ratatat remix of Memphis Bleek
  • Blackened – Metallica

Luscious Local Eats Part I: Salads

Houston isn’t exactly known for having a variety of healthy restaurant options. Sure, we have a few outstanding spots, like Ruggles Green, A Moveable Feast, Ziggy’s, Field of Greens, and a handful of others, BUT! There are some fantastic places that have little hidden treasures of healthy, delicious noms for those of us trying to eat well when we’re out. These are a few of my favorite inner loop salads.

El Rey‘s Grilled Chicken Salad

El Rey's Grilled Chicken Salad (w/ fish instead)

Go ahead, click it. You'll fall in love.

Grilled chicken; grilled zucchini, yellow squash, and red bell pepper; fresh tomatoes and avocado; pico de gallo with mango; all on a bed of fresh field greens. If you’re pesce (like me), you can sub grilled fish or shrimp for the chicken. This amazing salad is only $7.99. Seriously. That makes this salad the least expensive (with meat) on my list.

Chatter’s Salmon Nicoise

Chatter's Salmon Nicoise

Yes, that salmon is exquisitely rare on the inside

This is a great blend of a classic and modern Nicoise, except it is topped with seared salmon instead of canned tuna. Also included are a boiled egg, raw tomatoes, artichoke hearts, blanched green beans, boiled new potatoes, kalamata olives, and raw red bell pepper, all on a bed of crisp romaine. Their balsamic vinaigrette is almost drinkable. This gorgeous girl is $12.95. If you’re watching carbs, ask them not to bring out the soft…. warm… homemade pita that comes with it.

Ruggles Green Texas Goat Cheese Salad – baby greens, arugula, toasted almonds, sliced Granny Smith apples, and warm Texas goat and parmesan cheeses tossed with a homemade sun dried tomato vinaigrette dressing. I literally dream about this salad while I sleep, and I will let nothing stand between it and me. Do you see that? Warm goat cheese covered in toasted, thinly sliced almonds. The only reason I don’t have a photo is that I cannot abide this salad just taunting me while I photograph it. This fantasy of a salad is 10.95 as is. You can add grilled chicken for $3.95 or grilled shrimp/Atlantic salmon for $5.95.

Star Pizza‘s Greek Salad – romaine, artichoke hearts, feta, capers, Roma tomatoes, red onions, and kalamata olives, comes with another great vinaigrette. I know it’s risky to walk into a pizza joint when you’re trying to watch what you eat, but this salad is worth it. Let’s call it a test of wills, or do like I do, and order it delivered. You can get this baby for $6.50. Yes, I said SIX EFFIN FIFTY! Add rosemary and garlic chicken for $2.75, and you’re still under $10!

What are some of YOUR favorite salads around town?

An Indoor Day

Even though I train most of my clients in the studio, I almost always exercise outdoors, use my own body weight to challenge myself, lots of cardio, etc. I also almost always work out with a friend or two or ten. I wouldn’t say that I actually dislike working out alone, but I definitely prefer to have company. Today my workout partner had family obligations (Kills’ sister just had a baby! Congrats, yo!), so I stuck around the studio for a change and did a gym (gasp!) workout… all. by. my. self (double gasp!).

So. This is how it went down…

warm up – 6pmh on the treadmill for 10 min, no incline

10 pullups with 40 lbs. assistance


12 butterflies – pec flies w/ 12 lbs each hand while simultaneously doing straight-leg reverse crunch w/ ballast ball between ankles

alternating w/

Squat side kicks – 12 each side

3 sets of each


Hanging knee tucks – 10 each side

alternating w/

10 broad jump burpees

3 sets of each


15 hip thrusts with leg raises

alternating w/

30 walking lunges while w/ 10 lbs each hand doing hammer curl to overhead press

3 sets of each

It was a perfect, not-too-intense morning routine to start the day, but not annihilate me so that I’ll have reserves for parkour training tonight at Rice.

Everyone has time for exercise…

This is my first article written for HouFit! Think you don’t have time for exercise? Everyone does. Don’t believe me? Read on!

Exercise by Sneak Attack, aka “…but I don’t have time!”

What’s the most commonly given excuse for not exercising? Time. Why do so few people have time for exercise? For the self-motivated, it’s a non-issue, but for the 70% of American adults who do not exercise regularly, it has to be chalked up to the simple idea that people have time for what is important to them. They go to work from 8 to 5 because the work (or the income, or both) is important to them. They manage to leave early for work in time to stop at Starbuck’s because it’s important to them. They watch American Idol because that hour of entertainment is important to them. They play catch in the yard with their kids because that quality time is important to them.

Unless the power of a personal epiphany has struck you squarely between the eyes, chances are you won’t be rearranging your routine to make precious time for something new, even if it will prolong your life, make you look great, feel better, etc. So, how can exercise manage to squirm its way into the category of Important Things to Do?

By sneak attack. Yes, exercise can be had stealthily, and for many, this is the key that needs to be turned to open the door to a healthier, longer life.

If you, like most people, spend some time in front of the TV in the evenings (or mornings), and you can’t remember the last time you exercised, this is your new assignment: Every time a commercial comes on, do 10 pushups (on your knees is okay!) and 20 jumping jacks.

That’s it for this week. Next week, you’ll add a few more reps, and we’re going to play it like you played drinking games in college. If you watch the Simpsons, every time Homer says, “Doh!” that’s 15 mountain climbers. If Weeds is your bag, then every time someone says “Nancy,” it’s 15 tricep dips. Get where I’m going with this?

If you spend more time in front of the computer than the TV, then you’re doing reps every time you have to wait for something to load, every time you refresh your Facebook page, etc.

If you like to game, you don’t go to the next level until you’ve pumped out 20 squats and 15 crunches.

Once you have accomplished these for a few weeks, you’ll see some results and you’ll want more, but none of that matters right now. Just get started. Do something, because something, no matter how small, is better than nothing, every single time.

If this isn’t your first rodeo with exercise, if you’re already on that train, then this is all just “greasing the groove,” a way for you to get better at the things you’re already good at. If you want a better pushup, stronger pecs, do more pushups when you’re not in the midst of your workout. If you can only do 10 chin-ups now, and you want to do more, set a goal for yourself to do 50 a day, but break it up into sets of 5 and 10 throughout your day. Before you know it, you’ll be doing them one-handed with the remote control in the other.

Now, before you click to the next article or go to the next website, drop and give me 10!