Weight loss, Schmeight loss

Ok, I know weight loss is one of our first thoughts when wanting to become healthier, and it’s often times an overwhelming daily pressure, but with 2013 being a month away, I wanted to take a moment and share a different perspective that may help you to set better goals for yourself.

First let me ask, how many times have you started a fitness program and stopped it? Was it because you got bored, injured, or lacked time and money? How many times have you tried to eat healthy but ended up giving in to the “comfort food”? How many times has this discouraged you to the point you feel lost and just unmotivated?

If this sounds familiar you are SO not alone! Achieving good health can often be made complicated for way too many reasons to list.  It has been my goal since I started this blog to simplify all the confusion and chaos surrounding fitness, nutrition, and health.

With New Years being right around the corner I want to help inspire the goal setting thought process. With that being said, losing weight is often one of the most common goals for the New Year, BUT how many people achieve that goal? One article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology stated that only 8% of people succeed in achieving their new year’s resolutions. (http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/). No matter what the exact stats are we can’t deny that people often fall of their resolution goals. So I have to ask why? Personally, I think setting a weight loss goal just might not be inspiring enough. In my opinion it’s actually a pretty boring goal. Not to mention that it can mean a ton of hard work, pain, cravings, sweat, and with no guarantee of success. In fact, if I don’t see progress fast, I’m probably not going to keep pushing.  Am I helping yet?


I’d like to share something that happened in one of my recent training sessions with one of my 10 year old students who blows my mind every training session.  Let’s call him Jack. This young man does not come to my sessions always excited and fired up. More often than not, he comes to me tired, hungry, and unmotivated after a full day at school or a rough night of little sleep. His parents hired me not just because of his weight (approx. 40 lbs overweight) but because they saw a huge decline in his energy, happiness, confidence, and self esteem due to his weight and the kids giving him a hard time at school.

So I asked Jack what his goals were and what did he want to learn from me? He responded quickly and simply with wanting to become a better swimmer and a faster runner. I LOVED that he knew what he wanted to learn without any negative self talk to follow. He didn’t ask to be perfect; he just asked to get better.

Now as with any goals, they don’t often come with ease. Jack’s program design had to include running and swimming but he had little stamina, no core strength, and very little flexibility. I knew I was going to have to sneak in some not so enjoyable exercises into his program.  However, quickly I found that he had the heart and drive to accomplish the tasks I gave him. Here is just ONE example of his spirit from one of our swim sessions.


Me: Ok Jack, I have a challenge for you. This is not an easy challenge but I have confidence you can do it. I want you to swim 25 yards for the first time swimming freestyle (he had not swum freestyle 1 yard yet). So that means Kicking and rotary breathing with both arms pulling.

Jack: (smile) Okay.

Me: You sure?

Jack: Yes Miss Nikki, I’m sure.

Me: Awesome! Are you ready?

Jack: YES!

Me: On your mark, get set, GOOOOOO!


And off he went.  Jack started off a little out of sync, and then found his strength, and after about halfway across the pool the fatigue began to set in. His body started sinking, he was trying to stay on top of the water to continue his rotary breathing, and he started to gulp and choke on the water. I was right next to him in the pool and I was waiting for him to stop to catch his breath and rest. He didn’t though. He kept going. Struggling to move his arms, kick his legs, and to keep moving forward. Jack was determined though. He didn’t care about the time, he didn’t care that he wasn’t moving fast, and he didn’t care how he looked.  He KNEW he would reach his goal, however long that took. 


Jack made it 25 yards with no help from me. That was the first 25 yards of many. His goal is to be a faster and better swimmer, but achieving those small steps towards his goal sparks him to keep learning and achieving.  He’s also making many new discoveries along the way!  In time, his freestyle will transform as will his passion for his health and his athleticism. Weight and self confidence won’t be an issue anymore because we didn’t focus on losing weight, we focused on the athletic goals that he deeply desired to become better at. Not perfect. Better.


Oh, and when he finished, he never mentioned he was exhausted.  He was beaming.


So now I ask you.

What athletic goals do you WANT to get better at without delay, without excuses, and without defeat?


Top 10 Habits to Increase Vitality and Happiness in your Life


Not many people think past the next 5 to 10 years, but the reality is we all should. The habits and choices we have right now are a great prediction for our future. I believe many of us know this but still avoid thinking about it. Change is hard, but chronic illnesses and pain is harder.

I’ve been privileged to work with people of all ages throughout my fitness career. Currently, I teach on average 200 people per week from youth through seniors. Every one of them inspires me in so many ways and because of that I have gained a unique perspective from working with a wide age range. In the future I will highlight the needs of our youth population and older adult to senior populations but right now I want to share the choices that have seemed to make the biggest impact on having a healthy future.


Here is my top 10 list in no particular order. They are all of importance and in my upcoming blogs I will go into more detail about each one. Keep in mind, there are many more positive habits and choices that we can benefit from, these are just what stand out the most from my work experience.


Top 10 habits to increase vitality and happiness in your life

  1. Sleep- Man is this important. A full night’s sleep. Zzzzzzz- Get the picture? :)


  1. Eat LOTS of organic Vegetables- Our bodies need these desparately to run efficiently


  1. Drink WATER- At least half your body weight of good old fashion plain water


  1. Increase physical activity- This is a time where  physical activity is diminishing. We have to make an effort to move more.


  1. Have Faith- Life is hard enough, I can’t imagine doing it without God.


  1. Cook more- Processed foods are a source of MANY health problems.


  1. Make active flexibility a priority in your “fitness time”- Flexibility is ESSENTIAL for maintaining mobility throughout life. Don’t put it off anymore.


  1. Laugh more- Surround yourself with those who you can truly laugh with. We all need it.


  1. Sit up straight- We all want “core work”. Well this is where it starts. Gravity can make it hard on our posture, we have to be conscious of this.


  1. Have GREAT Doctors- I cannot tell you how much peace you will have when you truly know and trust the professionals who take care of you.


Gain Without All the Pain

Through the years that I have been studying, training myself, working in gyms, and teaching others, I have noticed that more and more people tend to think that the only way to train is to train hard. To get our butts kicked or to kick our own butts. We watch shows like the biggest loser and see what people go through to drop weight and get healthy. In many ways, it’s inspiring and emotional to watch. In other ways, it’s completely unrealistic and discouraging. 

I’m sure we all know the phrase “No Pain, No Gain.”  Yes, this holds true to certain elements of fitness. Breaking down muscle and reaching muscle failure doesn’t exactly feel like a day at the park (Although some of us love it!).  However, many people are taking this phrase to another level.  As I have written in previous blogs, pain from previous injuries, joint pain, back pain, knee pain ect. Is NEVER something to ignore.  There is ALWAYS a way to modify the exercise to avoid a risk of injury. If you choose to ignore your body screaming at you to stop, there will be a price to pay.

For the people who think that work outs should be painful all the time; I have to ask why? What is your ultimate goal? Are you training for the Olympics, professional sports, or because you want to be on TV? I also have to ask, why can’t workouts be fun or incorporate some element of play? Ideally, we should have variety in our fitness programs anyways. We should train our bodies to move in different ways and to learn different skills. Aside from all that, most of us continue doing the things that we enjoy doing. So if we know physical activity is a crucial part in maintaining an overall healthy well being, why don’t we choose the activities that we like to do? By all means I am not knocking intense, goal driven, hard workouts, but I am saying that it has to be balanced with proper warm ups, cool downs, flexibility training, and other detail work. Not to mention having quality fuel intake to support the demanding workouts.

If are unsure of what kind of fitness is for you and you nervous to start, hire a trainer. It’s a simple solution. This is what we love to do! We want people to live healthier lives and to enjoy fitness! We want people to live pain free and reach their goals! In the meantime, remember this: The Crossfit, Ninja Warrior, and Biggest Loser scenario is good for some people but not what you should be comparing your fitness to and necessarily striving towards.  Choose your physical activity on what will work best with your lifestyle and fitness level. Fitness shouldn’t drain you and feel impossible to stick with. It should give you energy, lift your spirits, and certainly help you to appreciate your body and your worth. Find the activities that spark life within you!

 “Bloom Where You're Planted”. ― Mary Engelbreit



Wounded Hearts

Time flies by doesn’t it? The daily pace of life is getting faster and faster and in a blink of an eye another year has flown by. It can be so overwhelming trying to manage daily responsibilities, family needs, our own needs, preparing for the future, and much, much more.

Aside from all those responsibilities, we have troubles, heartaches, struggles, losses, and conflict. Not character building conflict. I’m talking about the kind of conflict that we lose sleep over.   These troubles are not always simple and can have a lasting effect. Unfortunately, life’s hustle and bustle, pressures, and unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves can be less then helpful when trying to cope. It’s as if we don’t have time to be human anymore. We tend to push forward quickly without a pause or a prayer.  We refuse to feel bad for ourselves because we know that everyone suffers, some worse than others. We accept that struggles will make us stronger but don’t stop to figure out how.  A hardened heart isn’t strength; it’s a defense mechanism to protect a hurt heart. Nevertheless, whether acknowledged or not, the heart is still suffering.  Still, we brush past what we feel in some way or another. Some try to find comfort with food, alcohol, drugs, and work to find immediate happiness. Some go from relationship to relationship instead of finding comfort in their self love and God’s love.  Some just avoid being alone all together. This is all nothing new to anyone but my point is the longer we don’t pause to breathe, pray, heal, the more wounded we become.

 I am not saying that we should walk around feeling bad for ourselves. I am also not saying that we should walk around complaining to one another and find excuses for why we are the way we are. I am saying that these days we don’t focus on healing. We focus on sucking it up and moving on. We find ways to avoid our wounds but continue making choices that are less than healthy. We are becoming a desensitized society that is more about the hustle and bustle then the actual unity we can truly feel from one another. Often, we are more about the quick fix to avoid the true solution that can be timely and painful.

 So what’s the solution?

I believe facing our fears is many times about facing our pasts. I believe in order to truly be healthy, it starts from the inside. You were born into this world with a whole heart. What changed that for you?  What experience or person made me you feel less than the beautifully gifted and talented person that you are? What can you start doing today that will help you find that peace and love for yourself?

Start by seeking answers to those questions, see where it leads you, and never quit pouring back into that heart of yours.  


The TOTAL Package

Many of us dream of being or having “The Total Package”, which is different for everyone.  From being in great shape, to being financially free or wealthy, to being skinnier, to having more muscle, to feeling joyful, to having a stronger faith, to having close and loving relationships, to having a healthy family, to being able to sleep well;  and the list goes on and on. Personally, I want to make sure you are not focusing on a total package image (what we see in the media for example) and that you are focusing on a total package YOU.  Most often our bodies, our hearts, our guts, and God, are speaking out to us and telling us exactly what we need. We just need to learn to listen.

I listed in my previous blog ways to lay a foundation for beginning your health transformation.  Once you have done that, it’s time to take the next step in your transformation:  Getting your mind right and identifying the wounds of your heart that are holding you back.

Right now I want to address a healthy mental state and dive deeper on wounded hearts in my next blog. The majority of people I talk to, train, and coach put an UNBELIEVABLE amount of pressure on themselves. We look at other people and compare ourselves to them or compare ourselves to how we think we should be.  Many people (not all) start out their journey already knocking ourselves down for not being better, fitter, healthier ect. This is the WORST thing you can do to yourself and will lead you down a road that is not only depressing, but could put you in a worse place than when you started.  I have been guilty of this myself.  YOU are not like anyone else. You have different genetics, different interests, different gifts, and have had an entirely different life. YOU are extremely unique! Instead of pressuring yourself so much, congratulate yourself for wanting and choosing to better your health.  I always tell my students, “When things get difficult, use it as an opportunity to learn from your body more, to learn YOU more.” Don’t criticize yourself.  That will not only stop your learning process, but will lead you to feeling defeated, and send you in the opposite direction of your goals. When nutrition, exercise, and LIFE feel impossible or just too difficult, it’s best to just break it down a little more and simplify it.

Here is my break down for you:

  1. Know your strengths. Know what makes you unique. Know your Godly gifts. Know what sparks that happy energetic jolt of life and passion out of you.  If you don’t know, then that’s where you need to focus some time and energy on.  What makes you, YOU?  What puts pep in your step? I call mine Nikki Syrup. Write it down, share it, name it, and feel GREAT about it.
  2. Write down one dietary change that you can commit to. For example: No more fast food, eating a healthy breakfast, cut out snacking before bed, or eliminating soda. Identify one change and commit to it.
  3. Choose an activity, fitness class, exercise, and/or sport that you like to do or think you would like to do.  Begin it. ”Leap, and the net will appear”- John Burroughs
  4. Lastly, I have to reiterate the importance of having a strong support system made up of people who believe in you, support you, and want the very best for you.  If you don’t have that right now, it’s out there. Sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zones to be in a healthier and more positive environment. Trust me, you deserve it!

Spread the love and God Bless!


A Healthier YOU!

As a fitness instructor and personal trainer,  I have many people approach me daily on many different types of health questions. From injuries, to exercises, to nutrition, I realize that it is very easy for people to become confused on what is best for them. Who do you trust? What information is true?

There are so many tips and advice being poured out of the media by the second. You're not alone if you feel overwhelmed and sometimes even discouraged. You make a choice to do something healthy based what you read or was told, and next thing you know, now your learning that it's bad for you! You're left wondering "Which is it?" 

On top of that you are watching T.V. episodes that show people nearly killing themselves to become healthy or doing things you physically wouldn't attempt in a million years. Or maybe you would, but you dont know where to start.

I think at this point we all need to simplify everything. It is so important to realize that everyone is an individual with DIFFERENT needs. So here is my sincere advice for all this information overload:

  1.  Highlight YOU, your lifestyle, your health, your health needs. Ignore everything else and just focus on YOU. Most of us know the areas we need to improve on. Write it down. Write it 3 times. Put it where you can see it. Where everyone can see it is even better!
  2. Have a support system. Surround yourself with people who ONLY want the best for you. Sometimes the people that are closest to us don't always make the best support system. That's ok, but find someone who will. I am not saying to ditch people who aren't as supportive in your life, but I am saying surround yourself with friends, family, doctors, trainers, pastors who will support your healthy choices, give trustworthy advice, and help bring peace and joy to your life. That way you can feel young, energized, and truly be in good health.
  3. Hire a trainer or coach. Someone who is educated, passionate, and kind hearted. They will get you on the right path to reach your goals and help keep you from making choices that may lead to injury, exhaustion, or just feeling defeated. 
  4. Most importantly, have faith in God. I know some people may be turned off at this point but I am ok with that. We are all guilty of thinking and feeling that we have to do it all. ALONE. That's never the case.  I will write about the turning point in my life that brought peace to my life and joy to my heart, but for now I will leave you with this:

MARK 11:22-24  "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in Prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."


I really hope that this helps you to feel encouraged to develop and discover that healthier YOU so that you can enjoy all the blessings around you.


God Bless,




Meeting Dr. Mehmet Oz= OZ-SOME!

Yesterday I was privileged to have the opportunity to meet Dr. Mehmet Oz,  DJ'S Scott and Dana from 105.1, and many of Orlando's Channel 9 crew. As a Health Educator, Personal trainer, group fitness Instructor, and Entrepreneur, this was a dream come true. Many of you know of Dr. Oz and his talk show that delivers critical health and wellness information to everyone through a very sincere, visual, and direct way.  I am always very impressed by the topics he covers, demonstrations he not only has but involves the audience as well, and his direct and quick delivery of information that many of us are on the edge of our seats wanting to know.  Even more importantly, Dr. Oz addresses the needs of so many people with genuine interest and concern. He educates the public visually and efficiently so that the information can be understood and retained. In other words, Dr. Oz helps enable people to want to take care of their health and shows them how. Who could ask for more from a Doctor?

At this point I want to take a moment to happily explain how meeting Dr. Oz came into fruition.

Many of you may know that my client of 10 months Samantha Brown entered Dr. Oz's Transformation Nation Million Dollar You contest. http://doctoroz.sharecare.com/rules.html   Together we have been working diligently on Samantha's weight loss and fitness. Samantha is also with Weight Watchers and does great on their Points program. Not to mention her friendships and group support with Weight Watchers is incredible! 

In 10 months, Samantha has quickly progressed through many phases of her exercise conditioning and I have tweaked her diet here and there to see what works best to support her weight loss and muscle growth. Needless to say, she is one dedicated woman who makes no excuses, recognizes her weaknesses, and celebrates her strengths.

A week ago, Sam was listening to Orlando's 105.1 and learned quickly of their contest to meet Dr. Oz. She called in immediately, and at first was unable to get through, and then was suddenly greeted on the other line by a "YOU WON!" angel. She immediately called me at 8 a.m. asking me to join her. We were both on cloud 9 and have been ever since.

Meeting Dr. Oz yesterday was more amazing than we could have ever imagined. This man speaks to the hearts of so many and it is even more powerful in person. When he walked into the studio, he greeted everyone with a huge smile and hand shake. He took the time to make everyone feel comfortable and special. As his radio interview took place, I was even more amazed by his ability to just answer questions efficiently, positively, and with the utmost sincerity. As a fitness professional, I share in his quest to outreach the public to educate them on what "good health" is and that there are answers that can bring joy and wellness to everyone's lives.  So I was filled with joy, inspiration, and found myself deep in thought as I connected his responses to all that I encounter with my students and clients.

Now, as if this meeting couldn’t get any better, he then jumped up from his seat during a break to meet and talk with the 2 winners of the contest and their guests. He was instantly excited to learn that Samantha was entered in his Transformation Nation Contest and wanted to hear all about her progress so far. Dr. Oz looked through her fitness journal which contained her before picture, short term and long term goals, and workouts that I write down every session. I encourage my clients to be goal driven, carry a notebook so I can write down assessments, workouts and consistently review goals, as well as be able to view their workouts when they are not with me. Samantha has been extremely diligent with this process! So watching Dr. Oz as he flipped through her journal was a stunning moment. He was very excited to see how much core work we do and was sincerely proud of Samantha's progress so far. He really took the time to talk and listen to her. After that, he took pictures, signed books, and just individually greeted and talked with everyone. He was full of energy and happiness as he danced around and connected with everyone. More stunning moments.

A huge delightful surprise came when on air; Dr. Oz pulled Sam into the discussion and asked her many questions about her journey. He got to the heart of matter for all those struggling with weight and health issues when he asked “Who told you that you weren’t worth it?". As he continued to speak with Samantha about her decisions to become healthy and fit, we were all deeply moved and some of us were in tears. I was so proud of Sam and how much courage she had to open up to 105.1 listeners (there is a candid shot of this "proud and excited" look). Boy was this surreal.

The session had to come to an end but not without Dr. Oz taking more time to connect with everyone. He left quickly due to his busy schedule, but not without giving more hugs and smiles. I am still moved emotionally from the experience and even more driven to make a pivotal difference in the lives of my family, friends, students and clients.

It has been in our plans for Samantha to be with me 4 days a week as we both dedicated a lot of time to her succeeding in her personal goals and becoming Dr. Oz's #1 success story for Transformation Nation.  We both believe deeply that this journey is to be shared to help inspire, motivate, and encourage the world to seek out good health and make positive changes to live a joy filled and pain free life.


Here is the link if you missed the show yesterday on 105.1 with Dr. Oz:


Also, I have posted pictures on both of my Facebook pages, Nikki Garriepy and FIT 4 LIFE.


I will continue to blog and outreach the world on Samantha's progress as well as share my experiences, beliefs, and education to help others in their quest to live a fitter and healthier life. I am blessed to work in a field that I love, and there is no greater privilege than to be a positive part of people's lives and to help them reach their goals of good health.


Stay tuned and thank you greatly for your support,