I’m in a state of awe that Aleda will be celebrating her 5-year anniversary this month on February 20th. There are so many great memories, transformations, and people we have cherished along the way. We have had our ups and downs, our joys and frustrations, but most importantly we have had great success in creating an incredible community. I’m most proud of the people we have nurtured at Aleda. All of YOU are what make it so special and so fun to be a part of.

I honestly never imagined what would come about when we had a simple idea: To create a better, more enjoyable fitness experience for people who don’t enjoy the typical gym. To create a safe place for people to take care of their health and fitness needs. Who knew a quiet introvert could create a business filled with such awesome people!

I’ve learned a lot along the way. Some lessons were harder to learn than others, but I wouldn’t trade a thing. Our hardest lessons create the greatest opportunities for growth.

Lesson #1: The Greatest Form of Wealth Is Your Health

As most of you know, I struggled with chronic pain for a long time. For the majority of our time being in business, I was unhealthy: stressed out, overwhelmed, and living in debilitating pain every day. I was living each day inside a shell of my potential. Watching my mom’s health take a turn for the worse and seeing her struggle to stay alive, seeing how much my health problems were affecting my marriage, and trying to help a community eliminate their health concerns were all completely eye-opening issues for me. If you don’t take care of your health, you have nothing – you can’t be active, you can’t participate in life, and you worry those around you. You could have all the money in the world, but if you aren’t healthy, what’s the use? You can’t do anything with it. Protect your health: it’s what makes life enjoyable. It’s no coincidence that Aleda had her best year in business last year – the first full year when I wasn’t living with chronic pain.

Lesson #2: People Come For Our Programs, But Stay For The Community

I don’t know how I got so lucky to attract the most amazing community at Aleda! The people truly make the business. I want thank each and every one of you for making Aleda such a special place. I may have had the vision, the intention, and the standards to shape a great culture, but you guys (my amazing team included!) keep it going. You respect one another, you help one another, you support one another and you welcome and embrace new people. Thank you for helping us make Aleda unique, friendly, and an inspiring place to be every day.

Lesson #3: The Heart of Transformation

We have had many transformations take place since we have been open. Many people are healthier than they have ever been – whether it’s due to weight loss, strength gains, movement efficiency, better balance control, or getting rid of pain. Outside of understanding the science behind transformation and human behavior, the one thing I have learned that never fails to help propel people towards success is to meet them where they are. It doesn’t seem huge, but this is the common denominator in every successful transformation we have been a part of. Start where you are. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Lesson #4: The Future of Fitness and Health Isn’t What You Think

Professionals in the health and wellness industry will be left behind if they do not understand one thing: the brain. Everything relates to a brain/nervous system problem. Movement patterns, pain, vision, balance, coordination, accuracy, mobility, what you do, how you feel, and what you think all live in the brain and are all processes of brain function. All that we are is derived from the brain, so in order to make changes in any area of your life you must “speak brain.” I look forward to writing and sharing more on this topic with you in 2017!

Lesson #5: Bouncing Back is a Priceless Skill

We all have a habitual place in our lives where we want to give up. I have learned to embrace that place. I have wanted to quit numerous times when my challenges seemed like too much for me to handle. Quitting would be the easier thing to do, but every time I got knocked down, I found I got up that much stronger. Being faced with uncertainty, collapse, fear, and helplessness is scary. Learning how to accept what is in order to bounce back more capable, stronger, and with more confidence is priceless. What is the thing that keeps you going in the face of quitting? That’s where the magic lives. Once I learned to embrace that moment, accept it, and see what it had to teach me, life amazingly got better every time.

These are the most valuable skills and values I have learned in the past 5 years of running Aleda. I certainly couldn’t have done it without you, my team, my wife, my family, and my mentors/coaches. I thank you with all my heart for your support, because it takes a village to run a business and there is no other “village” I would rather thrive with. Here’s to another 5 years of health, amazing people, transformation, brain-based training, and bouncing back.

All my love,

Christine Wilborn

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Lisa is such a bright, motivated presence in our gym and we are so proud to feature her this month! She has put in so much hard work both in the gym and at home, and is eager to tackle new goals in 2017 as she starts her second year at Aleda.

As a nurse and mom, Lisa has a busy schedule that can fluctuate frequently, but by prioritizing her nutrition and building in time for her workouts, she managed to lose over 15lbs in 2016! “I weighed just over 150 pounds in January 2016 when I joined,” she remembers. “I’m now down to 135 pounds, and I’ve still gained muscle!”

Lisa’s goal this year is to lose 10 more pounds while still maintaining her muscle mass and strength. She says she’s been inspired by the success and dedication of other members, like Maya, who set great examples of what a committed, positive approach to lifestyle changes can accomplish.

Lisa found success with a low-carb diet that includes lots of veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats. “My nutrition changes have helped me maintain my energy levels through long shifts,” she shares. To complement her nutritional changes, Lisa also enjoys the blend of strength training and high-intensity work in her programs at the gym, and can often be found with her jump rope. J

Congratulations on all your hard work, Lisa! You’re such a great example of the progress that can be made with a can-do attitude and a consistent approach. Here’s to another great year!

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Are you ready to conquer 2017?

This is the time of year everyone comes out of the gates swinging at their goals. You’re motivated, ready to take action, and begin to build momentum, but then poof! Something happens that throws you off track, and the habits you swore you’d change slowly begin creeping back into your life. Soon something else happens that further derails your progress, and by February you decide that you gave it your best shot, but maybe it just wasn’t the right time to make changes.

This cycle is exhausting and discouraging. I’m ready to throw resolutions out the window – how about you? It’s a new year, which calls for a new approach. If you want something different, you’ll have to start doing something differently.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that will hopefully shift your perspective on your goals, your habits, and the actions you must take to achieve them as we dive into 2017. Are you ready?

Any habit you try to build that you cannot perform even on your worst day is not going to work.

This applies whether your goals are focused in nutrition, exercise, relationships, career, finances, or just life in general.

You MUST be able to make progress even on your worst days. Your worst days are the ones that derail you!

You’re never going to wake up one day feeling so incredible that your new habit is magically going to be easy. How many of you have wanted to change your diet, but waited to start until “after the holidays”? In the U.S. there are holidays every 26 days. When you add in birthdays and special personal events, there really is no such thing as “after the holidays”!

Making progress and building positive habits that can be enacted even on the toughest day of your life is something to start thinking about. If you had a family emergency – could you still do it on that day? If you can’t, you may not have a strong enough motivation for the change, or it may not be simple, small, and easy enough to sustain.

It’s usually not the diet or the workout that prevents people from having success. It’s the fact that they don’t make the habit small enough or easy enough to do on their worst day. To put it another way: if you’re trying to make a nutritional change, it’s behavior, not food, that is the problem.

No nutrition or exercise program out there is letting you in on this little secret. Instead of focusing on a rigorous, restrictive, and temporary challenge, slowly build small, lasting habits. If you can maintain progress even on your toughest days this year, you will see great results. There’s a deep, invaluable self-trust that you’ll build once you know that even on your worst day, you can make progress towards the things that are important to you.

Make it easier on yourself to succeed! I can guarantee you will have bad days in 2017: days where you just don’t feel like it, days where life puts you over the edge. Are you prepared to still succeed when you are in the trenches? If not, you will constantly let life control your decisions. Instead, take responsibility for your life, your habits, and your choices. You’ve got this!

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JANUARY MEMBER OF THE MONTH: CRISTINA V.!

Before Cristina even joined Aleda, she would stop into the studio every few months to watch group classes in anticipation. Cristina had been immobilized by a serious vestibular issue (a small hole in her vestibular, or balance, system), which made it impossible to orient herself. Just over a year ago, Cristina was mostly bedridden and unable to do the things she wanted to do. She came to Aleda to get strong enough and fit enough to be able to go places by herself without assistance.

It was important for Cristina to be able to be mobile, independent, and stable. She has had to be patient with herself because her mind was ready to go faster than her body, but she has found a way to overachieve at every turn. Within the first month at Aleda, she was able to make it to the gym on her own, without any additional help – which had been her goal for the year!

Cristina has been an inspiration to all of us. Her attitude, mentality, and spirit shine brightly in the gym. She always steps up to a challenge, pushes herself to get better every week, and always sets her sights on achieving just a little bit more. One day she was pulling 198 lbs. backwards across the turf (while seated in her wheelchair!) and looked at Christine and said, “hop on!” Cristina proceeded to pull Christine all the way down the turf on “Santa’s Sled” in her wheelchair: 332 lbs., no problem!

Check out the evidence here: https://vimeo.com/197942850

When Cristina puts her mind to something, she gets it done and then some! Over the course of a year she wanted to be able to physically get to the gym on her own accord. Check. She wanted to be able to go places on her own. Check. She wanted to improve her strength, skill, and stamina. Check. She wanted to improve her activities of daily living. Check. She even rolled over a mile in her wheelchair, which is halfway to her 5k goal already!

Cristina, your dedication and ceaseless positive attitude inspire us all and push us to challenge our own perceived limits. We have been more than impressed with your progress and knew you could do it. You’ve got the world at your fingertips now…and you’re just getting started! Keep up the great work, because we can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!

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The holidays are here! Did you survive Thanksgiving? Somehow this part of the year either brings out the best in people… or the worst. As this year comes to a close and a new one begins, a lot of people fret about gaining unwanted weight over the holidays. I thought I would dish out a few helpful tips to get you through the holidays and beyond so that you can feel great and enjoy the time you spend around this holiday season.

Now is not the time to do anything extreme with your diet. Since the holidays can be stressful for a lot of people, it is important to understand that any new habits or behaviors you try to enact that you cannot perform even on your “worst day” is unlikely to be successful.

You have to be able to make progress even on those bad days, because those stressful days are the ones that derail you. So take it easy on yourself! Any habit that you are trying to form must be doable even on your worst day ever. If not, that habit may not be strong enough or simple enough.

Here are five helpful tips to survive the holidays, while still enjoying yourself and the food you eat:

Tip #1: Focus on adding in healthy options vs. taking things away

It’s natural to want to stay away from things that may not be good for you, but around the holidays I want you to instead think about what you could add that is healthy. Could you add more servings of veggies? Could you eat more lean protein? Could you drink more water? If you focus on healthy additions, you will be more inclined to enjoy yourself and be more realistic about how much of the “not so healthy” things you consume.

Tip #2: If you do splurge, enjoy every single bite of it

No guilt trips, no feeling bad afterwards. If you decide to go for it, go for it 100% and feel great about your decision without any negative judgments or emotions. Own your decision and enjoy every bite of it.

 Tip #3: Slow down and take your time

Food is meant to be enjoyed – especially around the holidays with the people you love. Take your time while eating, and appreciate what you have in front of you. By doing so you will better be able to tell when you are truly full, and you may find that you’re satisfied after that first piece of pie!

Tip #4: Start out with a smaller portion

Only put a reasonable portion for you to eat on your plate. If you put a little less than you normally would, you will probably be content. If not, you can always go back for seconds. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomach, which means we often load up our plates – especially when it’s buffet style! If you combine this with slowing down you will feel amazing and not hit the overly stuffed mark.

Tip #5: Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch before the main event

 A lot of people skip meals to save up for the main event meal. This sets you up to overeat during the main meal. It also messes with your metabolism! If you eat meals prior to the main event you are less likely to overeat, less likely to over-indulge, and less likely to feel sick.

BONUS Tip #6: Breathe!

If all else fails, just remember to breathe! Literally take a breather and create space for yourself. Breathing in through your nose for 2 counts and breathing out of your mouth for 6 counts can do wonders for your body, your sanity, and your ability to stay composed in stressful moments. Reset and re-center with your own breath. It feels amazing.

I hope you have an amazing holiday season and enjoy the rest of 2016. As we close another incredible year we appreciate you and love the opportunity to help you feel amazing in your body and in your life. Keep striving, keep thriving, and keep taking care of yourself in 2017. It’s simply the best gift you could give yourself.

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