Six Steps to Shining This Summer

Want to feel and look your best this summer? Here are six simple changes you can make today, this week and this month to get there:


  • Straighten up! Posture is an often forgotten but important aspect of appearance and well-being. Standing tall (no matter your actual height) projects openness, confidence and health. Poor posture is easy to correct – simply stand with your weight evenly split between your left and right feet, and evenly spread over the heels and balls of your feet. Then lift the top of your head to maximize the space between your ear lobes and your shoulders. Breathe deeply and notice how much easier it is to get a full breath. You’ll look better and your back will thank you!
  • Smile and make eye contact when you address people. We have become a distracted society and multi-tasking robs the intimacy and quality of the simplest exchanges. As a trainer I have to communicate effectively and much of what I say and hear has to be acknowledged and absorbed in both directions. I find that the deliberate connections that smiling and making direct eye contact create not only enhance the process of our work but deepen the satisfaction of the social bond my clients and I create together.


This Week                                    

  • Clean up your eating habits. This may be the hardest to commit to, but if you enlisted in the army you’d have no choice but to eat the food they provide, so making positive changes is possible, if it’s important enough to you. Besides cutting out empty calories and over-eating, the three most common opportunities I see with clients are:
  1. Drinking more water
  2. Increasing veggies to 25% or more of one’s total diet, and 50% or more at night
  3. Keeping blood sugar stable with protein, small meals and snacks throughout the day in order to taper intake at night.

Go to, click on the blog link and type “red zone” in the search box for the single best eating-for-leanness tip I can give you.

  • Begin a balanced, progressive safe and effective exercise program designed specifically for you. Some people can do a fairly good job with this on their own if they have a solid basic understanding of anatomy and physiology, exercise programming and understand their imbalances and how best to progress without risking injury. But hiring a nationally certified, experienced trainer can save most people a lot of frustration, minimize injury risk and, as such,  be a great value. You can find one in your area at and entering your zip code in the location box on the fitness connect tab (far right on the top bar). Ask your prospective trainer for a no-charge, no-obligation consultation before setting up any paid  sessions and make sure you feel completely comfortable with the trainer’s skills, approach and your chemistry with them.

This Month

  • Fine-tune and improve  your eating and exercise programs. After a week or so (a few to several workouts and many meals and snacks), it’s a good time to see where you’re making strides and where you need to dial it in better. With exercise, it’s usually consistency and increasing intensity that need work. Recommit to your program by scheduling your workouts in your phone and never ignoring them – force yourself to reschedule or at least delete unavoidable missed workouts. That way you’re elevating the importance of your workouts to the level of meetings and social engagements – where they belong. As for eating – are you working more veggies into your diet so that they comprise about a quarter of your total food consumption? Are they the centerpiece at dinner? How about spreading protein, meals and snacks across the day so that you are never feeling urgent, overwhelming hunger? Have you developed a pattern of eating more in the first third of the day than in the last third? These are very common “hot spots” that can mean success or failure for weight loss, even if your exercise program is humming along.
  • Integrate your new philosophy as a healthy lifestyle practitioner into your sense of self-identification. It’s a fact that those who consider themselves an example of a particular type of person (parent, executive, spiritual person, athlete, successful business owner) act as such. It’s no different with a fit person. We don’t hold ourselves a certain way because we have achieved a level of performance or aesthetic. We work to create and preserve both because of who we believe we are meant to be. Anyone can make the decision to do this at any time. You only have to decide that now is your time.

The pictures above are of our small group training club member, RoseAnn. She beautifully demonstrates each of the traits discussed in this piece. She has, in a matter of months, lost a significant amount of body fat and reached an impressive level of personal fitness. But as you can see from the first photo, she was always a radiant person who, with her warm, disarming smile and her upright, open carriage,  projected charisma and personal engagement. Those qualities transcend physical condition or an athletic build.

However, as you can also see in the second picture, her improved muscle tone and the sense of vitality she projects implies her more recent, robust and vivacious self-concept.

It’s also helpful to enlist a support circle that may or may not include your closest friends and family. Ask yourself if these are the people who want you to shine. If they do, they’ll be thrilled to accompany you on this journey, in whatever capacity makes sense for you both.

So get going on the new you. And shine.

Dan Taylor is a certified personal trainer and former faculty member of the National Academy of Sports
Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. He is the owner of Tri Valley Trainer, a Pleasanton-based fitness studio that offers private and small group training. He has three kids and considers it an honor to help, along with the other trainers at the studio, move his clients and club members to a more vital, energetic and healthful quality of life. He can be reached at