I have always seen people at the gym working with a trainer, but until now I have never truly understood the benefit of working with one.

I  am comfortable in a weight room, and I understand what weight machines work the different parts of the body.  Being certified in various group fitness exercise programs (Spinning, Tabata, TRX, and Yoga), I understand the fundamentals of  crafting a workout.

My 41st birthday exposed me to the value that I have seen in working with a trainer.  Before I share those benefits, I want to preface by saying that not all trainers are equal.  I feel that to truly have success and enjoy a transformational journey, you need to have a connection with your trainer and your trainer needs to understand your fitness goals.

I am so fortunate to have Megan Vaccaro as my fitness coach/trainer.  From my first consultation with Megan, I was confident that she understood my goals and she was as committed as I was to my success.    I never imagined that my relationship with Megan would blossom into a friendship.

Megan is accountable to the results that I have seen and she understands that this is a journey.  Not only does she log into my My Fitness Pal account to make sure that I am logging in daily, but she encourages me for doing so. Additionally, Megan has understood my frustrations from not seeing enough movement on the scale or even slight weight gains on this journey and she is there with words of encouragement and motivation. She reminds me that this is a process and that nothing good is easy and nothing easy is good.

From a workout perspective, Megan understands the time constraint that I have not wanting to be in the gym for hours after working a full day.  The workouts she has crafted have been designed to be effective, impactful and efficient.

Megan builds a different set of workouts weekly and to date I have seen no duplication. There are three days that I workout in addition to the one day that I teach Tabata.  One of the three days is a workout with Megan. I look forward to that workout and the time flies.

Thank you, Megan, for being supportive and motivating.


I have a favorite turkey chili recipe that is my go to for a quick and delicious weekday meal and a go-to for Super Bowl parties.  It is also on the healthy side. Actually, it is a recipe that I got from Humana, the healthcare company.

Below is the recipe from Humana.  I have asterisked the ingredients that I replaced, and put in parenthesis  what I replaced them with to make it more compliant with the nutrition plan that I am on.


  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 T cumin ( I omit this because I don’t like the taste of cumin)1
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T chipotle in adobo minced  (optional- I opt out)
  • 1 T all-purpose grill seasoning (I use Lawry’s)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (red/orange/yellow peppers, mushrooms- you can add any veggie you like)
  • *1/2 can beer  (remove this for the on-nutrition meal plan)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 small can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • *2 T BBQ sauce (I now replace this with 2 T McCormick BBQ flavored seasoning)
  • 1 can beans of choice (pinto, black, light red etc)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn (I omit this because I don’t like corn in my chili)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I omit this)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (I omit this)
  • *1/2 cup of orange juice (I omit this to be more compliant with the nutrition plan)


  1. Heat large soup pot over medium high heat with non-stick spray
  2. Add turkey and spices (cumin through grill seasoning) and cook for 6-8 minutes
  3. Add onion, garlic, and vegetables and continue cooking 6-8 more minutes until veggies are tender and turkey is starting to  get really brown. (Do’t be afraid to walk away from the pot. We want the meat to carmelize and turn very brown-almost like it’s burning.)
  4. Add beer and orange juice to deglaze the pan and scrape up brown bits on bottom of pan using a wooden spoon. (Skip this step if you are not using the beer and OJ)
  5. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, BBQ sauce or BBQ seasoning, and bring to a boil.
  6. Add rinsed beans (and corn)
  7. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  8. Simmer for 20 minutes or longer and garnish (if desired)

Today is the start of my second month on my “Fit to the Next Level” journey.  I have seen improvements in muscle strength, overall strength, and weight loss.

Monday is my weekly weigh-in day and  my weight is 122.8.  While I have not seen 122 pounds in a long time and it feels so good I also question the progress I have made in one month.  Personally, I didn’t think the scale was enough progress for me after one month of working hard and disciplined eating and hardly any wine.

I texted my fitness coach/trainer Megan and shared with her my feeling that I may not be making enough progress in terms of the number on the scale.  She suggested that we “raise the bar” further by doing 15 minutes of cardio before our workout and 15 minutes of cardio after our workout, turn up the dial on the workout by incorporating more HIIT (high intensity interval training), and no carbs after 3pm.

In sharing this with John, he cautioned that I shouldn’t turn things up too much or I may lose the fun I am currently having.

I thought about John’s statement a bit and I don’t want to be too restrictive in my diet or lose the fun that I’m having on this journey.  My other concern was that by “raising the bar” I would have to be in the gym more and based on my full time job and my wanting some down time I didn’t think I could commit to that.

So, what can I expect in month two?  I’m not really sure, but I also didn’t know what to expect when I entered this “fit to the next level” journey a little over a month ago.  I expect to continue to get stronger.  As for the weight loss, I’m not sure what to expect there. I have been eating the same meal plan for the past month although the lean protein has been changing as have the vegetables.  I am curious if my weight will plateau as a result of my eating the same meal plan.

Time will tell.


Every week, I am allowed one cheat meal.  A cheat meal is categorized as a meal that would be considered an indulgence.  Such choices may include a cheeseburger, pizza, pasta, whatever it is you’ve  enjoyed eating and are currently not or something that you are craving.   Think of a cheat meal as a way to reward yourself of the hard work and discipline you’ve been putting in.

However, don’t let your cheat meal derail your weekly progress and overall progress.  To do that the cheat meal should still be tracked to the best of your ability.  By tracking your cheat meal, you are still accountable for what you’re eating.  Megan recommended that based on my goals and my meal plan that my cheat meal not put me at more than 300 calories over for the day.

I had made plans to go with my family for pizza.  This was something I was looking forward to not only because I get to catch up with my family, but because we were meeting at Pequods. Pequods Pizza is not like any other pizza.   Their pan pizza is cooked in a black pan and the cheese goes to the end of the pan so that the crust becomes carmelized cheese.  It is an indulgence.

This was a true cheat meal. In the past my cheat meals have gone off course but not to the level of pizza.  I have been looking forward to Pequod’s for weeks.

To save as many calories as I could for dinner, I planned what I ate during the day.  When I was hungry, I turned to veggies which is a low calorie filler.  I also stayed busy and out of the house.

In the past, when John and I have gone to Pequods we would get a large pizza with pepperoni and mushroom (so we can have left overs) and a couple beers to wash it down.  This time, we downsized our pizza- taking home no left overs. We kept the toppings we usually order because it is a cheat meal. Instead of washing it down with beer, I had one glass of wine.

Pequods was definitely worth it and gave me new definition for what a cheat meal truly is.  Surprisingly, when I logged my food into My Fitness Pal I was only over by 307 calories which is actually pretty good considering that I had two pieces of pizza.

Having been on my “fit to the next level” journey for one month, today is the day that I will take my measurements and weigh-in.   When I started this journey, I was not sure how I was going to enjoy it.  After all, I am on a restrictive diet with only 1 cheat meal per week and up to two glasses of wine at my cheat meal.  Everything I eat gets measured.

One month in, I can say that not only do I not find the meal plan satisfying and the workouts challenging, but I’m really enjoying this new lifestyle. It truly is a lifestyle.   This “new” for me way of eating is providing my body with nutrients it wants and needs to function and by eating this way, I am not munching on chips, licorice and other treats.  In fact, I am not craving sweets or salty foods.  As for the workouts, I am doing more than surviving.  I am getting stronger and lifting heavier weights.

My measurements after one month demonstrate that my hips and waist are decreasing in size, my muscles are starting to get bigger, and my weight is coming down.


Weight: 123 pounds (lost 3 pounds overall)

Right Bicep: 10 5/8 unflexed (no change)  11 1/4 flexed (no change)

Left Bicep: 10 3/4 unflexed (change of .125″) 11 1/4 flexed (1/4″ gain)

Waist: 27″ (loss of 1 1/4″ )

Hips: 35 1/8″ (loss of 1″)

Bust: 32 5/8 (no change)

Right Thigh: 21 1/2 (loss of .375″)

Left Thigh: 21 5/8 (gain of .5″)

Neck: 12 (loss of 1/4″)

Left Calf: 14 1/2 (gain of .375″)

Right Calf: 14 1/2 (gain of .375″)