The key to my success in the kitchen and in my workouts is summed up in that one word: Substitution.  There are endless ways to cook meals and there are a bewildering number of exercises to be performed to create a good workout.  My kids make fun of the way I use technology because when they’re looking up “fail” videos, soccer games and new ways to play their video games, I only use it for looking up recipes and exercises. Honestly, other than buying workout clothes, what else is the internet truly for? Here is the catch though: not everything works for how I want to live my life, so I take the good ideas and tweak, bend, add and substitute until I’m happy with the results. This is how we all become the individuals we are and how we all should look at experimenting in the kitchen and in the workout room.




I travel home to home for my training business, bringing the gym in the back of my car.  Wherever you want to meet, we go there and no extra equipment is needed.  Now, I have a pretty big trunk, and there’s plenty of junk in there, but not enough space to include all the weights a gym would have.  And you know what? To get a good workout, you don’t necessarily need it all!  This is not to say anything bad about gyms! Only that to get a great workout without access to a lot of expensive equipment is completely possible if you pay attention to how you perform each maneuver.  When you do this, fewer weights are needed as the exercise gets focused on the muscles you want to target.

I want to take a close look at just one exercise to make a point.  When people perform a bicep curl, they often arch their back to get the weights up or use momentum to get the weights started in the right direction.  In my professional opinion, this is not the best way to curl weights.  Next time you grab dumb bells, start by standing with great posture, shoulders square and pulled back with your abs engaged.  Now start with your arms hanging at your sides, elbows pinned to your ribs.  This is the stance you will hold for the entire curl! Do the maneuver only moving your forearms as you curl the weights upward and slowly return them down to a complete stop.  This will, I guarantee, be harder! Plus, it will be focusing your exercise on your biceps, the real reason you’re doing curls in the first place.



There’s one idea in fitness that almost everyone wishes was true: the idea that doing certain exercises can reduce the fat in specific areas.  The underarm wiggle, the back fat, the saddle bags and the spare tire–wouldn’t it be nice if you could just do tricep extensions, rows, lunges and sit-ups to get rid of these? With0ut a doubt, if you stick to a workout regimen that includes those moves you will see a reduction in how much fat your body holds onto. However, you know just as well as I do that you can’t target fat reduction. So… let’s look at the good news!

Your body stores fat as a future energy source.  What you see as too much here and too much there, your body sees as potential energy to be used soon! It’s just waiting there. Give it a reason to break down. Plenty of shows and articles can tell you that fat doesn’t melt away or excrete into a receptacle. (Trying to keep it professional, always hard.) Fat breaks down and you actually, eventually, breath it out as CO2. That in itself is incredible. Get out there and start breathing hard. Jump, push and climb! Just like trying to look at food as fuel for your body, it is also hard to see fat as a good thing. You need fat on your body to be healthy, but if you want less in certain spots, take this as another motivation to get out there and train.

You’re on track, you’re working out, but here’s the kicker to truly losing the excess fat. Your eating habits now have to change. Your body stored the fat for future use and now you’re using it! However, you fuel up every day, and the food that you just ate is a whole lot easier for your body to convert to energy than your previously-stored fat is. So stop the extra fuel deposits! This is not a recommendation to stop eating, please. By consuming an ordinary amount of food at specific times of day–a large breakfast, medium lunch, small dinner–you can kick start your body into a healthy cycle and find the natural balance of where your weight, and fat, should be.

So the only “spots” you need to really hit are the gym and kitchen. What those places will really do is increase your muscle tone and increase your satisfaction. Those ideas are absolutely spot on!



The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is an incredible resource for people trying to find a simple explanation of how to eat healthier. They come out every 5 years and the newest version is due to come out this year and has some pretty neat recommendations. Granted, some are controversial like their advice on cutting down how much red meat people should consume, but these are guidelines with quite a lot of research associated with it.  I actually agree with whole lot of what they have to say (especially the sugar portion!!)

One of the most amazing things I read that is new to this years advice, is the evidence associated with coffee consumption.  I am super happy to report that drinking a moderate amount of coffee (3 to 5 cups per day) does not seem to have long term health risks! It can even, possibly, help with certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s.  It’s coffee time in my household!


This is really some of the best news I’ve heard in a long time.  I’m also happy to say that they made a distinction about what you put into your coffee stating that the added sugars that most mix in are no good for you.  There is also a section on added sugar for those that are curious :).

Click here to see the recommendations.  It isn’t quite laid out in a digestible format yet, but it’s on page 8 and I’ve quoted it for you.  Plus, below that are a couple of healthier coffee options for those just as excited as I am.

“In regard to food safety, updated and previously unexamined areas of food safety were studied. Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals. In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors. However, it should be noted that coffee as it is normally consumed can contain added calories from cream, milk, and added sugars. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee.”

Healthy Coffee Drinks:

  • Black :) – it had to be said

So, that’s pretty mean to just have black coffee listed but it all gets pretty loaded in sugar quickly after this.  Just like alcohol, coffee drinks load up on empty calories (calories that don’t provide sustenance or vitamins).  Please add your favorite flavors, because I know you will, sparingly and please stay away from overloaded drinks at those wonderful coffee shops!  Try almond milk, honey, maple syrup or even xylitol.  Remember portion control, nothing is a free-for-all.

Enjoy! I will.



(Oprea Personal Fitness)

To say it lightly, I am a very active person.  I enjoy having things to do and places to go, it makes me feel alive and too much sitting around makes me itch.  It’s a problem, I know, but I love my problem :)!  When I find myself all over the map from business trips to soccer games I want to maintain my fitness level and, most importantly, hit my 10,000 steps each day.


That is the reason that my ultimate fitness pal is my jump rope.  Completely portable and as simple as it gets, this keeps me going anywhere I want.  Yes, people stare at me, and one funny instance while wearing a winter beanie some kids confused me for a guy! Short hair problems, no big deal :).  But when I’m in my little jumping world, it all rolls off me: stress, sore muscles, headaches, stomach cramps, the works.

I challenge you to find the one thing that allows you to be healthy and happy.  Once you do, I




When discussing with my clients their progress and goals I always touch base with how they are eating.  Nutrition plays such a big role in a healthy body that it is immensely important that we are both on the same page so that they can keep on track.  So, however uncomfortable the conversation is, I always start with; “What did you eat yesterday?”

As you can imagine, it sometimes comes across as nagging, but I have paperwork saying that you are paying me to nag!  Quite often I get a response like this; “I had this much chicken for dinner,” as they hold up their hand indicating that all they had for dinner could fit into the palm of one hand.  Now, I don’t train liars. I actually train some really great people!  I actually believe that their dinner consisted of something about that size.  More than likely for those (my clients and others reading this) who find it difficult to lose weight and are finally on a consistent exercise schedule, that you simply did not count all the small bites you had surrounding dinner.  It’s all a bit of a memory lapse.Mindless eating is a HUGE source of extra calories and, apparently, done in a way that the brain does not store that action in its memory banks!  Those wonderful meals you cook for the kids and you take a bite while you’re cooking, you may even snag a bite off their plate, finish the tiny bit they may have left and then nibble a bit more as you clean up after, are really adding up.  Have you ever sat in front of your TV or computer at work with a jar of very healthy almonds? The kind that have low sodium (or no sodium, go you!) and suddenly realize that the whole can is gone and it was supposed to last all week?  Have you told your spouse not to order you fries and somehow you ended up eating half of theirs?  If you were to very seriously track each and every tiny calorie that you consumed you would no longer be surprised at why your weight isn’t heading toward your current goal.

Here is the important thing to remember about what you consume: Be aware of what you are eating. All the little things add up, just like what you would tell a child about saving money.  It all gets put in the bank!  So next time you are about to start a snack off, try one of these tips and you may just find yourself making it through that tempting time.

  • Drink water – you may be confusing thirst for hunger. Plus the water will fill your belly!
  • Throw in some gum and get your mouth moving.
  • Call your best friend to distract you.
  • Go on a walk! (Okay, personal favorite here.  Those 10,000 steps a day don’t come easy!)
  • Brush your teeth. (Never mind, this is my favorite.  Brush your teeth before you go walk seeing as the mouth is the gateway to your health and all.)
  • Create a new house rule. You can only eat if you sit down at the table, preferably with family or friends, because no trainer needs to tell you that that’s always more fun!