Love vs Hate

The mindset and perspective with which you approach your health and fitness journey can have a huge impact on your results and ability to sustain your results over time. 

You may have heard this phrase before, and it’s absolutely true: 

“Workout because you love your body not because you hate it.” 

If you take action from a place of self-loathing and wanting to fix something that you perceive as “broken,” you may find the motivation initially to get some results, but the likelihood of sustaining those results is extremely small. 

Instead, it is critical that you adopt the perspective of taking care of your health and your body because you love yourself. We get one body and one life…what a waste to not give it our best! 

Benefits include: confidence, better sleep, more intimacy, prolonged lifespan, avoidance of lifestyle related diseases…to name a few. 

So, find that drive and desire to take care of the one body you’re so lucky have and give it your very best. 

You with me?

What are you waiting for?

Waiting to strength train until you’re at your goal weight seems like a good plan in theory, but in reality you’re holding yourself back from even better results by waiting. 

If the only thing that matters to you is the number on the scale, then go ahead and just do cardio and diet. Just know that it’s going to get harder and harder to lose those “last 5 pounds” and LOOK the way you want to without muscle. 

There’s 3 main benefits to strength training when your goal is fat loss:

1. Weight training boosts your metabolic rate for longer than cardio alone does. This means you burn more calories for 24-48 hours after a strength training session than you do after a cardio session. 

2. When you lose weight cardio and/or diet alone, you lose muscle along with fat. This causes your metabolism to slow down more and more, so you have to eat less and less or increase your cardio continually to keep losing weight. This is why you end up eating very little and still aren’t able to lose weight. 

3. If you want to look “toned” you have to strength train. With (relatively) heavy weights. There’s no difference between toning and muscle building. It’s all the same. When you lose weight without strength training, you usually end up the same shape you were when you were overweight, just smaller. You need weights to change the shape of your body!

Don’t waste your time doing just cardio and diet now- it will just make things harder for you later! If you want to get started with strength training, but you’re feeling lost or intimidated, email to schedule a strategy session to help get you on the right track.

Why muscle is awesome (things you might not know!)

There was a time when cardio was all the rage. It was the center of the fitness industry for decades, but oh how times have changed!

Today, muscle is coveted. And fairly recently, for the first time, women strive for the athletic, muscular look of an athlete over being thin.

And you know what? I think this is awesome! Not just because it shows how we are evolving but because there are tremendous benefits to carrying more muscle mass (and less body fat).

You see…life has changed A LOT in the last century. Day to day life once involved physical labor, which is great for building and maintaining muscle. But because the world doesn’t work that way anymore, it’s very easy for humans to be low on muscle mass and high in body fat. It doesn’t look good when you’re young and it’s detrimental to your health, vitality, and mobility when you’re older.

As I see it, here are the top 5 benefits of building and maintaining muscle mass:

1. Increased metabolic efficiency – when you hold more muscle, your body needs higher amounts of energy to survive. Muscle is 3-5x more metabolically active at rest, which means muscle tissue burns significantly more calories at rest than fat.

2. Improved insulin sensitivity – this means more control over blood sugar levels and lower instances of diabetes. You’ll also have better blood glucose control. So, less dietary glucose (sugar) will store as body fat and you’ll have more energy overall.

3. Fight sarcopenia – this is age-related muscle loss. This actually starts around the age of 30, but you can reverse and prevent it by hitting the weights. So, if you want to get around the when you’re older, not shrink in height, and be strong rather than frail, work to build muscle and keep it! Use it or lose it!

4. Avoid disease – we all know that excess body fat causes a variety of serious health conditions. One of the best ways to keep fat off is by building muscle. And in doing so, you can avoid potentially deadly conditions like stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and many others. Are you doing all you can to avoid lifestyle-related disease?

5. Gives you confidence – when you have more muscle you have less body fat, and it should be no surprise that it’s a huge confidence booster! This confidence will spread across all areas of your life, as a better version of YOU emerges. You’ll inspire those around you as you become more positive, fearless, and proud of the body you’ve created.

So you might be wondering…what’s the best way to build and keep muscle?

First thing is first – you MUST be lifting! Here at The Strength Collective, we are experts at designing safe and effective programs that will have you growing your muscle mass to result in all the benefits above and more!

Other important factors include proper nutrition that supports building muscle, sleep, hydration, stress management, and mobility work. If you or someone you know has been putting off the exercise or maybe even fearing building muscles (ahem, ladies!), I hope you see how essential it is. Not just for now but for your future as well. So much of what we face when we’re older can be prevented by the choices we make now.

So, if you’re currently training in one of our programs consistently…BRAVO! You’re giving yourself a gift every time you walk through our doors, so don’t forget that! Who can you forward this email to/share this post with who NEEDS to hear this message? Our future and current health and happiness depend on it.

If you’re not actively working on building or maintaining muscle, I ask you, for the sake of your future self, to come in and have a chat with one of our expert coaches. It will change every aspect of your life from how you feel when you look in the mirror to potentially how long you live and with what quality of life. Don’t put it off. You deserve your best. Just email us at so we can get in touch.

Megan Bern- August’s Member of the Month at The Strength Collective

August’s Member of the Month is Megan Bern, a 42 year old Electrical Engineer. Megan joined The Strength Collective with the goal of “becoming a beast” and we’d say she has succeeded. She’s hungry for more though, with no signs of letting up any time soon. Read more about Megan below!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I was tired of feeling out of breath all of the time and out of energy. I saw Warrior Strong (kickboxing) advertised at the gym my friend Amanda went to so I decided it was time to make a change.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: 4-5x Warrior Strong and Barbell Strong

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: I’m torn! I love both kickboxing and lifting heavy equally.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Ghirardelli Dark Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Squares… don’t judge me haha!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Pushing myself harder each time. Pain is just weakness leaving the body 🙂

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: Recently it has been my results! I love how my body is constantly changing. At the beginning it was how good I felt afterwards and being around a bunch of like minded people with the same goals as myself.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Just get started! Go to one of the free kickboxing or community workouts. That is your preview to the awesomeness that is The Strength Collective group workout. You will never want to stop!

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: I definitely couldn’t lift over 300lbs! I found out recently that I can do pushups on my fists, score!

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I am a tomato growing master.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: I LOVE the gym dogs! I also love the many friends I have made from the group training sessions, but they don’t give me kisses and let me rub their bellies like the gym dogs LOL

We are so proud of how strong you’ve become, and how much stronger you’re going to be, Megan! You are an awesome motivator, pushing both yourself and the other members in the group to push harder. Keep up the great work!

Your Limiting Factors

You want to succeed, right? You have the desire to exercise and eat in a way that will cause you to lose weight and/or get fit, don’t you? I know I do!

So why is it SO HARD to actually make it happen?

When someone starts out gung-ho about a program or idea about changing their body, they’re often so excited that they overlook how truly challenging it will be. When someone embarks on a fitness program, they always need to write down tangible goals and then send them out into the universe for accountability.

What I believe is almost as important as setting the goals themselves is making a list of limiting factors – those things that will potentially hold you back and make achieving goals more difficult. The ones I most often see are family, finances, and work. By identifying these limiting factors to begin with, you can come up with a plan for how to get around them so they do not hold you back. This preemptive work can truly make all the difference.

Once you’ve identified limiting factors and have set a plan for how to counter them, you should be set for success, right? Well, again, it’s not that simple because you have to TAKE ACTION.

I can give you EVERY SINGLE TOOL you need to be successful, but it is up to you to implement them.

If you lose focus or the scale is moving too slowly for your liking, I want you to know that I am here for you to support you 100%. I want you to remember the big picture – what it will mean for you to look and feel better, live longer, and to have more energy for the things that are truly important in your life?

I am here to recognize and support your efforts and to celebrate your success. If you want to really succeed, you can’t go it alone. So share it all with me – your successes AND your challenges. Hit reply and let me know!

Or, schedule your free strategy session with me. I’ll help you get clear on your goals, your why, and your limiting factors so you have the greatest chance of success. Call 309-343-2900 to schedule!

Make it a great week!

How to get everything you want in fitness and in life

There was a time years ago I fell into this trap.  

I saw someone on social media or in a fitness magazine who looked how I wanted to look. I wanted to know EXACTLY what she did- workouts, meal plan, supplements, etc so I could do it too.

And I did. But the results weren’t the same. Because I live in a different body than she does. I have different genetics than she does.   

I learned quickly through my own experiments and through coaching that results are individual and that one person’s approach that gets them phenomenal results won’t work for the next person, particularly in regards to nutrition.

But the reality is also that we are all built differently. Our muscle fibers are different. Our caloric needs are different. So, recommending and subscribing to a “diet” plan is setting you up for failure. Stop thinking keto or paleo or low carb. Think long term- what can I do forever?

And worse now is that there are SO MANY PEOPLE online selling nutrition and fitness programs with absolutely no qualifications to do so. 

I must have seen a thousands times over the past few years a person post a photo of themselves with some type of caption that says “Want to know what I’ve been doing? Comment below, and I’ll show you my plan!” And the comments flow in.

But here’s the truth. You don’t need:  
*Their meal plan
*Their workout routine
*Their supplements 

As I refine my coaching skills more and more, I know that those become temporary Band-Aids for bigger problems (hence the 95% failure rate when it comes to SUSTAINED weight loss).   

Here is what you need in 5 steps:  
1. A crystal clear goal- what EXACTLY do you want. Be super specific. 
2. Reasons WHY-  you’re not buying into a meal plan for the sake of a meal plan. What’s your BIG motivator?
3. You must take MASSIVE ACTION- that’s right- dabblers need not apply. If you give your fat loss/nutrition/fitness efforts “dabbler” efforts,  you’ll only ever get mediocre results.
4. You must assess your results- how are you measuring progress? Through weight and inches? Strength and endurance tests? Blood tests?
5. Change your approach- if what you’re doing isn’t giving you the results you want. And change it again and again until you find what works.  
All of the above only happens with serious commitment. When you’ve made your mind up that you are changing.

We change when the pain of remaining the same is greater than the discomfort of change and ONLY then. So, let me ask you…  
What can you use in your life as LEVERAGE to facilitate change? 
*Are you suddenly in physical pain due to your weight, nutrition, or lack of strength?      
*Have you gotten a warning from your doctor about your health?    
*Do you have a new grandchild that you’ve decided you want to be around longer for?    


The reality is that you are smart enough to know if carrots or potato chips are a better choice. You know that stopping eating at 80% full is better than stuffing yourself. You know that drinking water is better than soda.
So, my suggestion to you is to STOP searching for motivation and make the decision that you are ready, willing, and able to change. Because everything  is a decision. And we can decide to change or not. Either is okay but  understand the outcome that follows your choice.
Is there value in working with a coach, using meal plans, and taking supplements? ABSOLUTELY!  I do a lot of this personally, and I’ve helped dozens of people change their lives doing this. BUT – if it’s a short term Band-Aid solution, you need to refocus on the 5 steps I outlined above. Because until you connect your changes in nutrition and fitness to a bigger goal with a powerful why, those changes will always be fleeting at best.
But work with a coach to find out what’s best for you. Stop idolizing images you see online and trying to do exactly what they do. Don’t ask for their meal plans. Get clear on what you want, find the leverage to change, and take massive action until you’re where you want to be while continuously assessing and tweaking along the way.

I hope this gave you some powerful things to think about. Have you fallen into the trap as I have? What are you committed to for the rest of 2019?  

4 Ways to Manage Sugar Cravings (Without a Sugar Detox)

I used to think I was addicted to sugar. I would do so well with my diet throughout the week, or leading up to a fight, and then I would binge eat like crazy, mainly on sweet foods like ice cream. Then I would feel horrible about myself. I thought I was weak and undisciplined. I felt broken. 

At one point I tried a 21 Day Sugar Detox. I white-knuckled my way through the whole thing, and I was so proud I made it! But the whole time I was just daydreaming about all the sugary foods I wanted to eat when it was done, and I went right back to my old habits as soon as day 22 came around. Ugh.

Do either of these situations sound familiar? You’re not alone.

Thankfully I learned how to manage my sugar cravings WITHOUT going on a low carb diet or cutting out sugar completely. Sugar can be healthy in moderate amounts, and treating yourself strategically can help you avoid binge eating. I’ve got 4 strategies for you to practice to improve your relationship with sugar:

1) Start your day with a high protein, high fiber, moderate fat breakfast.

For example, eggs, bacon, and blueberries will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer than a donut will. Avoiding highly processed, sugar filled foods first thing in the morning will help decrease sugar cravings throughout the day. Starting your day off with a donut, or cereal, or Pop Tarts is going to start you off with a blood sugar spike that will start a vicious cycle of crashing and “needing” sugar every few hours. 

    If you’re in the habit of starting your day off with something sugary, and the thought of completely changing your routine feels overwhelming, you can decrease the effects of that sugar by pairing it with protein. So if you MUST have that donut, try pairing it with some eggs or a protein shake. 

2) Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry.

If you wait to eat until you’re starving, you’ll be more likely to reach for something easy and sugar filled for quick energy, but this will lead to a crash, just like the donut at breakfast. Continue eating plenty of protein and fiber throughout the day, and drink plenty of water. And make sure your meals are satisfying, both physically and emotionally! Eating boring meals day after day, no matter how “perfectly balanced” or healthy they are, will lead to a binge at some point if you don’t truly enjoy them. 

3) Incorporate small treats into your diet every day.

Allow yourself to eat sugary foods without calling it a “cheat” or feeling bad about it. You can enjoy any food you want in moderation and still have a healthy diet overall. There’s no such thing as a perfect diet, so stop trying. You’ll be better off eating a serving or two of your favorite foods every day instead of trying to resist them and then eating everything in sight once the weekend hits. 

    I know a lot of people feel like they can’t have certain foods in the house or they’ll overeat them, and I understand. But I want you to practice having small amounts of certain treats in your house, and practice eating one serving per day. Start with a food you enjoy, but don’t go straight for your ultimate trigger food. Single serving packages may be helpful. And this isn’t me encouraging to fill your house with junk food and use all the willpower you can muster. Still buy primarily healthy foods, but keep 1 or 2 treats around and have a little every day. When you start to build up reps of successfully stopping at 1 serving of a treat, you’ll start to feel more confident around other foods. 

4) Mindset is everything.

If you keep telling yourself you are a sugar addict, you’ll continue behaving like a sugar addict. Stop thinking of foods as either bad or good. No food is inherently bad all the time, and no food is inherently good for everyone. You CAN control yourself with sweet foods, you just have to PRACTICE and allow yourself to truly enjoy them. Stop beating yourself up for not having enough willpower. No one has that much willpower every single day of their lives. Changing the way you think about eating sugar will make it immensely easier to manage your cravings. 

These tips aren’t going to change everything overnight. You’ll have to practice them consistently to see an improvement, and you’re definitely going to mess up here and there and eat too much. That’s okay. You’re not a failure. You just need to look back and try to figure out where things went wrong, and try to do better next time. Keep practicing, and don’t give up. It will be worth it when you’ve broken the cycle of restricting and bingeing. 

If you found this tips helpful, make sure to join our email list below!

Olivia Graves- July Member of the Month at The Strength Collective

July’s featured member is Olivia Graves, a 24 year old retail worker who has made amazing progress in her fitness journey- not just with her body, but with her mindset as well. Read on to learn more about Olivia and prepare to be inspired to start (or stick to) your fitness journey too!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I was tired of feeling weak doing just the simplest of tasks. I had no energy and I felt like I hadn’t pushed myself to do better, so I decided to drop the ball, join a new gym, and told myself this is the last time i’m giving up. Been back since December and been there almost everyday since. I’m back to loving the gym.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out?
A: 5-6

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: HIIT training

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Bad answer. Terrible answer…… but….. Starbucks… Iced Caramel Machiatto lol

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Getting there. There’s days where I don’t want to go, but I do anyway because that’s not how progress is made. Also, stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the exercises I hate the most.

Q: How do you stay motivated to work out consistently?
A: I used to have a really bad habit of quitting after not seeing progress, which makes no sense. I’ve just completely changed my mindset. I go because it makes me feel better and the results just follow. I also tend to tell myself there’s no point in quitting — this is where I am, this is where my body is right now — people can see where I am, regardless if i’m in the gym or not, so I would rather them see me in the gym trying to better myself than being upset about my progress.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about starting or just getting started in the gym?
A: Stay away from the scale. Take photos instead. Don’t have “weight-loss” as your main source of going. Quit setting unrealistic goals. Find workouts that you enjoy doing that keep you coming back. Make the gym your alone time — you get an entire headspace to yourself, with your favorite music, endorphins, and at the end of it all, you always feel better.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I just squatted 185 the other day. 3 sets of 2. I wouldn’t even touch the rack when I started. Now i’m learning to love it.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: Still terrified of the dark….. yes, i’m an adult.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: Everyone is nice. It’s a nice little community we’ve all built and I’ve never met anyone in there not willing to help someone else.

Olivia, we are so proud of you for all the progress you’ve made so far, and can’t wait to see how much you’re going to continue to make! Thanks for letting us be a part of your journey!

Todd Good- June Member of the Month at The Strength Collective Galesburg

This month’s feature member is Todd Good! Todd is a 46 year old linehaul driver for UPS. He started Barbell Strong group training last October and has gained a ton of strength and mobility in the last nine months. Continue reading below to learn more about Todd and his fitness journey!

Q: What got you started working out?
A: I had an injured shoulder that needed some strength and for my overall well being.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: 2 days. Barbell strong. It’s a fun class and I enjoy the friends I have made.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: I enjoy all of it. Squats kill me.

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Subway chicken breast sandwich. I love a good samwich.

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: Pushing through various injuries. Knee, foot and shoulder. Although since I have started I definitely have improved my overall strength and feel better. Also, I work 3rd shift so I get tired often.

Q: What keeps you motivated to work out regularly?
A: I just enjoy it. Also, being in a class with scheduled times helps.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: Sign up for a class with Jenna and Katrina. If you don’t know what to do you can learn. I have lifted in the past but I have learned a lot about form and technique.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Overhead presses. My shoulders were terribly weak. I have suffered dislocations to both. Grrr.

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might not know:
A: I love Beastie Boys music. My wife will not let me hang my posters in our house. So my Beastie shrine is in my garage.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at The Strength Collective?
A: My new friends and the atmosphere. I am a dog lover so I fit in well.

Thank you Todd for being an awesome member of our fit fam, and keep up the hard work!