Costa Rican Mis-Adventure

In keeping with the rules that I give my daughter Hannah when she’s traveling, I didn’t tell anyone what we were up to here in Costa Rica a few days ago.

I always hated it when Hannah was in SE Asia and would tell me, ‘Mom, tomorrow I’m going bungee jumping’.

I told her, the best way to tell a mother something from across the globe is: ‘Mom, YESTERDAY I went bungee jumping and all is well!’.


I digress…

In any case, our loved ones got to hear this story in the past tense – because we love them and there was no need to cause worry.

An exciting story with a happy ending is best 😉

Let me start off by saying the medical system here in Costa Rica is very good.

No line ups.

No questions.

Well, not too many. Even though we didn’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English, we got our injuries attended to in short order.

You may be wondering what happened…

Well, the kids, having the gift of youth and ignorance, thought it’d be a great idea to rent motorbikes (scooters but they can move pretty fast) and take off south to see the countryside.

I have to admit, it was really fun for the most part. I was secretly somewhat terrified and sure it’d be me that’d fall off the bike, but it was not.

Our ‘tag-a-long-head-chef’ DJ (my daughter’s boyfriend) was leading with my daughter on his bike and Sam and I were behind.

Sam said to me, ‘Mom, aren’t you glad we did this?’

By this time I had calmed down a little and replied, “I sure am… OMG!…” The words came out of my mouth just as we watched the two in front of us hit the ditch.

DJ took a corner a little fast and hit gravel and then the ditch.

We picked ourselves up, brushed ourselves off and backtracked through a little town where we saw a clinic.

Remarkably, it turned out that Hannah only needed 6 stitches in the top of her hand.

She has some skid marks and a bit of road rash, but DJ picked a grassy/gravelly ditch to dump into instead of the concrete ditches most other places.

Dr. Juan Gomez stitched Hannah up, x-rayed her, gave her antibiotics and sent us on our way.

We were in and out of the clinic within an hour and only $160 lighter in the wallet.

DJ got a few scrapes but the worst for him was the damage to his pride for dumping the bike in the first place.

We had an uneventful trip back to Tamarindo as we all thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful countryside.

Hannah was a trooper through it all and can ‘brag’ that she’s hit a few medical facilities around the globe now. Also, instead of a tattoo, she’ll bring home a cool scar on her left hand.

Now, as far as fitness you may be asking?

Well, in between surf sessions yesterday, I did this in the AC of our condo:

Pura Vida 7 

This is an AMRAP style workout. Do 7 reps of each exercise for 15-20 minutes, resting as little as possible:

  • Jacks
  • Prisoner squats
  • Burpees
  • Alt side lunges (per side)
  • Push-ups
  • Skaters (per side)
  • Spider crawl (per side)

If you enjoy this style of workout, you should check out my newly revamped 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge. You’ll get follow along videos, including body weight workouts to direct and motivate you where ever you find yourself this summer.

As for us, we could grow accustomed to this lifestyle here in Costa Rica, but sadly, all good things must come to an end. It’s back to Canada for us. Then I’ll be reporting in from a road trip.

I’ll keep you posted on more travel style workouts on the road – this time from Kelowna where I’ll help my Dad move into a retirement home.

If you’re on the road, make sure you bring me along – Never miss a workout, train with me for only 20 minutes here. (You’ll be shocked at how you can get leaner and fitter in such a short time.)

Moving Day + No Equipment Workouts

Peachland moving day workout

Sometimes you’re just stuck with your body weight. I was out in Kelowna moving my Dad into a retirement home. Before the day got started and the weather got too hot, I busted out a workout each morning.

You can always fit 20 minutes of fitness in if you really want.

Here were my workouts that you can feel free to use if you’re ever in a similar situation:

Do It Dock Workout

45 seconds of work/10 seconds recovery

  • Jump rope
  • Push ups
  • Prisoner Squat
  • Burpee
  • Plank
  • 5 rounds

2015-07-04 09.06.37









Here was my second workout:

Hella Hills

(Find a good hill) Sprint up hill, walk/jog return – 10 rounds

*I did 10 pull ups on the edge of a walkway at the bottom between hill sprints, but you can do anything – a 30 sec plank, 10 push ups, whatever your space allows or your heart desires 😉

hella hill workout









*Side Note #1: Whenever I put pull ups in a workout, I often get questions like this one from Christina:

I recently ordered the 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge Program and so far, I absolutely love it.  Do you have any suggested substitutions for the pull-up or assisted pull-up as I don’t have anywhere in my home to do pull ups..  I would say that I am on the advanced fitness level so any recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks. (Christina)

Here’s what I have to say to that:
As for exercise substitutions for the pull up, I mention lots of options in the follow along videos that I’ve created for you, but here are your best bets:
–>inverted row
–>suspension row (TRX or suspension trainer)
–>lat pull down (if you have access to a gym, which would likely mean they have a pull up bar)
–>bent over dumb bell row
–>bent over bar bell row
–>wall stick up (less intense but if you have no DB/BB’s of any sort, these will help, also prisoner style squats/lunges etc)
–>chest supported dumb bell row

*Check out this blog post for more back training options. This blog post has lots of links to actual back exercises that you can use instead of pull ups if you need options.

*Side Note #2: I get asked all the time how to stay strong and lean even though I’m 52 years old. Truth is, I use the science of muscle metabolism acceleration (M2A) to make this happen.

Here are the basic principles of my workouts:

  • I pair strength training paired with ANAEROBIC SHORT BURST training to burn MORE calories.21DFL_group
  • I train to create lactic acid and growth hormone production which increases fat loss and promotes lean muscle tone.
  • The result is that this builds shapely, sexy muscle tone that will burn MORE calories EVEN AT REST.

I can help you with training videos that:

  • Are scientifically based 20-minute (or less) video follow along workouts that can be done at home or on holiday.
  • Are suitable for you if you enjoy a challenge (but workouts can be modified or intensified).
  • Avoid ‘steady state’ cardio at all costs.

If you want more workouts, ones you can follow along with me and use these principles, then check the 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge.

As for me, I’ll be happy to return home feeling satisfied that my Dad and his wife are feeling more settled in their new digs. My Dad is a trooper and has come a long way to recover from his stroke from six months ago. I really want him to fully enjoy this new place. They’re situated right outside a huge deck where he’s already planted a vegetable garden. He’s excited that he can go to the gym and to the wood shop. My step mom went and bought a new swim suit for the pool. I’m so proud of them for making this move. It was a pleasure to be able to help them. It’s never an issue to find 20 minutes to train where ever I am, but I must admit I miss the kids and Sev (who I hear ate 3 lbs of sausages off the counter at the place he was staying and had explosive diarrhea as a result – I’m not sad to miss those good times 🙂 )

Dad + 3 kids <===Here we are, myself, my Dad, my brother Terry and my sister Shannon. It was nice to work as a team to help him out.

Adventures and Lessons from Costa Rica

rooftop all of usI distinctly recall returning to school in the fall of my fifth grade year and was asked to write ‘What I did on my summer vacation’…

(Knowing me, I have that paper somewhere in a journal – I tend to keep all kinds of embarrassing written things that I hope someone will burn when I die.)

My teacher at the time may have wanted to instill reflective writing skills in her students, but more likely, she just wanted some peace and quiet for an hour so she could plan the next lesson (I know this to be true having used this tactic on students before myself).

In any case, I did manage to take to writing as a means of reflection. In fact, there are days when I can’t even think straight until I write. Writing clears my head in a way that nothing else can.

I got to thinking about our Costa Rica holiday and here’s what I’ve come up with…

As always, I try to swing things around to fitness because that’s just what I do.

You may find some interesting tidbits and I have three workouts in here if you take the time to read this blog.

The beauty of travel is that it provides a mirror in which to compare things. Lifestyle habits are one of those things I pay close attention to. To be honest, most of my travel is within North America, so it was a real pleasure to hit Central America to see what life is like in Costa Rica.

First off, my intention is not to offend anyone. My experiences and observations are my own from being in Costa Rica for a very limited time. Living for one week in a different area hardly makes me an authority on anything. I just feel blessed and a little more enlightened than I did before I arrived.

Heat changes everything.

Holy balls, hot. I have to hand it to those that live in this climate; I’m just not accustomed to heat. I suppose others would say the same about the Canadian cold.

me surfing costa rica

One of the reasons we went to Costa Rica was to surf.

There are always profound lessons in the surf (when I’m not getting pummeled by waves and have time to think…).

One of the nice things about surfing is that there’s always another wave – it means there’s always a new chance to start over. No matter if I stood up on the previous wave or got schooled into the bottom of the sea, it’s like a ‘reset’ button when I see that new wave cresting.

This can be applied to your nutrition or fitness plan. If things go sideways, there’s always a chance to just hit ‘reset’ – no need to start on Monday or make a big deal about it. RESET!

After all, everyone fails; it’s the people that fall down and recover the quickest that actually get the best results.

I learned with surfing that it’s best just to jump right in. If I’m tentative on a wave, it passes me by. I need to paddle with passion and purpose; I can’t just paddle aimlessly without a plan of attack.

me and sam surfing costa rica

This is much like your training. When you have a goal, you’re much more likely to achieve it when you have a plan.

Get a plan, work your plan, and get results.

Surfing is fair. There’s no luck involved. If I do things right, I stand up and ride the wave, when I don’t do things correctly, I get dumped.

Your training and diet is the same. This is one of the things I like best about training. My physique is a direct reflection of the effort that I put into it over time. I can’t get anyone to do the training or to make the healthy food choices for me. When I ‘do the work’ I reap the benefits. Plain and simple.

Some would say, ‘I’m too old’ to start a new adventure like surfing – but it’s never too late.

It’s never too late to make improvements to your health either.


Hannah heading to surf…

Costa Rica is a beautiful country.

We wanted to see more of it so we rented scooters and to have a better look around, to see authentic Costa Rican towns, not just the touristy places. We enjoyed the ride tremendously even though our adventure was cut a little short by having a close encounter with a ditch when my daughter and her boyfriend took a corner and hit gravel. They got up close and personal with the grassy-gravelly side of the road resulting in a medical visit, x-rays and seven stitches. That was it’s own adventure and we’re happy to report a positive experience with a tiny town’s non-English speaking medical center.


It was cool to see the way folks live in Central America. These were just a few random observations…


It seems that everyone is ‘connected’… I was amazed to see the smallest of ‘shacks’ (some being very run down and almost looked inhabitable) but they all had a satellite dish attached. We passed no less than three cyclists (all with no helmet) talking on their cell phones. We passed school kids hanging out under a tree by the side of the road, all on their phones.

Safety standards seem to be much different from what I saw. In the small towns we passed, parents had kids on their bicycles getting them to school – based on the similar uniforms the children were wearing. Some parents had three kids on the bike: one on the back, one on the handlebars and one on cross bar. Fascinating.

local on bike

We rented a condo and my daughter’s boyfriend loves cooking so we went to the grocery store to get food. We enjoyed lots of fresh fruit; we’d never seen some of the produce before and signs were in Spanish so we didn’t know what they were or what to do with them. We saw lots of big North American brands that have made their way to the small towns of Costa Rica. We had tacos and burritos and pulled pork, steak and chicken buns with mango coleslaw.

And beer. Lots of beer. Honestly I’m not a beer fan myself, but you see beer on the beaches, on the streets, people driving motorcycles drinking beer. It’s almost as inexpensive as water.

The street vendors are relentless in the pursuit of a sale. I marveled at the Canadian politeness of Sam talking to them. He soon realized that they didn’t speak much English and they didn’t much care that he didn’t have his wallet or that he’d return later and soon learned to say ‘No gracias’. Hannah, a well-seasoned traveler, was polite but knew better to engage anyone unless she wanted to buy anything.

The bank was an experience. I needed to change $100 USD to the local currency. There was a guard at the door and two tellers. It took about 10 minutes, my passport, signatures and much speaking in hushed tones. I guess I look pretty shady and God forbid Hannah tried to come to the wicket to speak Spanish for me, she was asked to go sit down.

We experienced a bit of a drought during our stay. Typically this time of year (June/July) is the rainy season, but not one drop fell. That explained why our upscale condo rental turned off the water (without a word of explanation). We had three days of no running water, on the third day other residents told us that we’d have water from 7:30-9 am, noon to 1 pm and 6 -8 pm. I laughed to the kids that the one complaint I had about our beautiful condo rental was that we didn’t have enough towels. Turned out with no water, we had no use for the few towels we had anyway.

cards vs humanity 1

Nights were spent walking the little town exploring, sitting on the roof top watching the sunsets and playing ‘Cards Against Humanity’. Turns out we’re all horrible people based on this game – if you get a chance, make sure you play it and be prepared to be laugh until you cry.

And then the week was done. Just like that.

It went much too fast. I can only hope that I can round up the kids again for another family holiday soon.

Oh, just so you know, I only did three bodyweight workouts the entire week. I surfed twice a day (only once on the day we rented scooters). I didn’t go hog wild with treat meals, but I didn’t stay on a strict meal plan either. I didn’t gain an ounce…consistent training and good nutrition will allow you to take breaks like this.

Here were my workouts, I did one on the beach in the early morning cool and two in our AC condo because I would surely expire in the heat if I were to try them outside:

Costa Rica Bodyweight

1 min of each exercise

  • sunset last night 2Band squat walk
  • Push up
  • Skater with band
  • Prisoner plié squat
  • Spider crawl

3-4 rounds or 15-20 minutes

*I brought a small band with me


Pura Vida AMRAP

Do 7 of each exercise for 15-20 minbeach sunset

  • Jacks
  • Prisoner squats
  • Burpees
  • Alt side lunges (per side)
  • Push ups
  • Skaters (per side)
  • Spider crawl (per side)


Hola Jump Rope

Do the following AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) set in 15-20 minutes:

  • 50 jump ropes (any kind)
  • 10 push ups
  • 10 prisoner squats
  • 10 spider crawls (5 per side)airport
  • 10 prisoner reverse lunges (5 per side)

*You know I always travel with my jump rope =)

If you don’t have any of my programs, well then of course you need to pick up a few to take on vacation with you. You’ll see ALL of my programs here.

My Challenge Burpee and Challenge Jump Rope programs are very portable, and if you want full follow along workouts (with bodyweight options), my 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge program is a great pick too.

But just like surfing – make a plan and attack it and then thoroughly enjoy all the downtime you can.

I’m happily back in my bubble at home now, still on a natural high from a lot of adventures to look back on.

Pura vida!











Ps. What’s up for YOUR summer plans? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section.

Pps. Join me on Facebook here.














The BIG Shift (book recommendation)

Here we are on the brink of summer…

How has your winter training gone? (You know that summer bodies are built in the winter…)

Have you given it your all?

Did you leave some effort on the table? Have you been able to transform your habits so that you can see evidence of this in your energy and physique?

I know that some people may have lost steam, given up, self sabotaged and may now proclaim that ‘working out just didn’t work for me’.

I hope this isn’t you, but if there were elements of this, it’s NOT too late to make a change to enjoy the health benefits of exercise and good nutrition AND a better looking body that’s just under the surface.

What I want to talk to all of you about today is the BIG SHIFT that takes place when we go from amateur to pro in any part of our lives…

seize the day (1)










I’ve seen several clients that are out of shape trying different diets for a period of time. Some would give up on, others would see it though for the 6, 8, or 12 weeks and actually achieve great results, and then go back to old habits of eating poorly then gaining it all back again.

Sorry – an amateur move.

It happens with workouts, too.

They’d workout hard and consistently for a 6-12 week program and then at the end they’d slack off, miss workouts, not push as hard and get back out of shape.

Again, an amateur move.

Gay Hendricks, the author of The Big Leap would call this “upper limiting” yourself – basically not allowing yourself to reach your full potential of success, happiness and achievement by putting an upper limit on your success. This usually comes from a place of lack of self-confidence or self-worth.

In fact, a shift can’t happen until you learn the secret (which I’m going to share with you here) and apply it into your life.

don't be discouraged (1)






That’s the other thing about the big shift… you may know what to do, but you’ll never achieve the results or ‘turn pro’ until you apply what you know. And to apply things, you simply have to believe you’re worth it and that you deserve it.

So then what’s the secret?

The secret is to go from haphazard to habits.

Inconsistent to consistent.

Informal to rituals.

See, for most people whether it relates to dieting, working out, relationship or career, the best outcome is going to be had by turning pro and leaving your amateur ways behind. And the pro thing to do is to be consistent, create and follow your success rituals until they become instinctive daily habits like brushing your teeth.

challenge opportunity







It’s okay to start new habits for periods of time… maybe you started a challenge to get into better shape.

Did you grab one of my programs? This is a great way to set a goal and achieve it. (You can see all the Challenge workout programs here.)

But the REAL success will come from turning those “informal” periods of consistency into lifelong rituals and habits that multiply the results, outcome, and happiness that you’re looking for.

That’s the secret to success in health, career, great relationships too – give it your all, not just in the “honeymoon” period, but all of the time, every time.

Look at your initial challenge as a taste of the what a new hot and healthy body looks and feels like.

Embrace these new habits and make them a part of your new success rituals.










That’s the big secret to success that the top 5% of the super achievers on this planet know; when you realize that real and lasting success will be yours once you go from living like an amateur to operating like a pro by making your success habits a part of your daily rituals.

I highly recommend you read Gay Hendricks ‘The Big Leap‘. It’s an easy read and if you’re ready to ‘go pro’ it will inspire you to change your lifestyle and habits for good. This isn’t a fitness book, it’s a mindset book.

Change your mindset about YOURSELF and you can change your physique.

Join our community on my Facebook page here.


Pilates Finisher

shawna+lisaWant to strengthen your core and back and get a toned stomach? Forget crunches and sit-ups. They not only won’t get you the results you’re after, you’re quite likely to hurt your back and damage your spine.

<===Meet my publishing partner, Lisa Bullock.

Lisa and I have been working together for a couple years. She’s a down to earth, ‘kick in the pants’ funny fit pro that really knows her stuff.

What I like best about Lisa (well, it’s hard to pick exactly), but one of the things is that she truly understands the plight of women, particularly women in their 40’s and 50’s and she has sensible solutions.

This is no exception. Keep reading and she’ll share an awesome (horrible) workout that she put me through that you’ll love (hate).

Here’s what she has to say about your core:

We want to build a strong core – that’s all the muscles, not just your “six pack” muscles (rectus abdominis) and we want all those core muscles to work together to stabilize the spine and provide strength and stability as the body moves and rotates around it.

We need to exercise the important core muscles that wrap around the torso, lie alongside the spine, and to the sides of the core. And that’s what you’ll get with this ab finisher – a smarter way to train your abs as part of a full body workout.

Here’s a quick but comprehensive Pilates inspired core workout you can use at the end of your workout or for an off-day short workout.

Set your timer for 45 seconds of work with 10 secs transition time.

Side Hover Right
Side Hover Left
Side Raise with Pulse Left
Side Raise with Pulse Right
Leg Raises
Lying Alternating Single Leg Extensions
Rotating Plank

Check your set up and technique and ensure there is no twisting at the lumbar spine – rotation comes from the feet or upper back, not the lower back.

Try and maintain a neutral spine with all exercises. Imagine that you are standing tall through the crown of your head, ears directly above your shoulders and shoulder blades pulled gently down your back. You’ll maintain a gentle abdominal bracing and that means you can breathe comfortably while pulling your belly button towards your spine. Your hips should be ever so slightly tucked (don’t stick your tail out).

If you’re looking for some more follow along Pilates inspired workouts,


check this out.

This program is from Lisa and our Female Fat Loss Solution line up.

You’ll love (hate!) these workouts as you follow along with Lisa in the videos. Use them alone or at the end of any other workout to tighten and tone your mid-section.

As a seasoned vet of exercise, you know that a strong core is not JUST about a six-pack, it’s also about pain free moving and functional fitness. A strong core will ensure that you can do EVERYTHING, from lifting heavy things to carrying groceries to your favorite sports better.