All Posts by Coach Dean

Lessons from My Uncle

My mom brought my Uncle David over for a visit yesterday, and it was a great time. David lives in California, and I haven't seen him for 5 years or so. He was in New England for his 60th high school reunion, to put some affairs in order, and to visit mom and some friends.

He and mom came in and checked out the house we are building, and it was really fun for me to watch a guy who has been around a while just "get" what we are trying to accomplish with the design and layout. We talked about everything from the nautical look of the railings (and why) to the viability of solar powerin the Northeast, to the type of floor we chose to use. One of the lessons I learned is that those who have gained wisdom don't necessarily have all the answers, but they know how to ask really good questions. 

After the tour of the house we sat down on the couch and I just got to listen to him. Sure, he talked about some of the ailments that come with age, but we decided that getting old could be a lot better than the alternative (NOT getting old, if you catch my drift). He shared stories from his youth, and I learned some things about my mom's side of the family I never knew. We talked about the land he owns in Canterbury. He told me what he's up to now back home; how he helps his neighbors with their electrical issues, and his friend with the big chicken farm that he works on. We talked about tractors (which I have been looking at), what he has, and what I should look for and why. Another lesson I learned; Experience matters, but using that experience in the service of others matters more. And another; having the humility to actually listen to those with experience is pretty big too.

And in spite of all the health issues, and the advancing age, I also witnessed the fruits of staying active in mind and body for his 78 years. As he was leaving with my mom, I watched him head around the north end of the gym, disappear for a brief second, and then almost instantly reappear at the south end of the gym. He was headed behind the new house to go take a look at the backhoe we had been talking about. But what struck me was how fast he was moving, over pretty rough terrain (that part of the yard is pretty torn up from the construction and tree roots I have dug up). This is a guy who is clearly reaping the benefits of not sitting on his behind during his retirement years. The lesson I was reminded of; use it or lose it. 

Such a great visit, such good lessons.

So what does all this have to do with you? While we could the lessons I learned many different ways, here's one way we could apply it to taking care of ourselves and aging proactively.

Ask Good Questions. A really good question to consider; what positive thing can I do today, even right now, that will make my tomorrows brighter? Get more sleep, go to training, train hard once I get there, learn to cook something new? 

Learn from Experience. Don't be a know-it-all. Be a lifelong learner. And when you learn something new that matters, apply it and keep applying it.

Use It or Lose It. Getting older? Celebrate, don't whine about the aches and pains. I went to a funeral of a 53 year old friend a couple weeks ago. I am guessing you don't want to trade places with him. And while you are here, make the most of it. Get off the couch. Get active. Live, love and laugh. You are an amazing human being with talents and gifts the world needs. Don't hide them, use them. Enjoy the journey, even though so often it is hard. There is a big difference between being alive and really living.

Thanks Uncle David. Let's not wait another 5 years to do it again.

- DC

Your 3 Step Checklist for ProActive Aging

A few days ago "Active Aging Week 2019" came to an end, but our pursuit of "better" doesn't have to. 

I love this "checklist" from our friends at Growing Bolder, because at Cr8 Fitness we are trying to spread the same message; Aging doesn't have to mean "getting old". Here's how we, and you, can live life to the fullest for as long as we live:

  • Pursue Your Passions - Make one of them your favorite fitness pursuit, hiking, biking, swimming, lifting
  • Socialize With Others - Cr8 Fitness is our favorite place to hang
  • Help Those In Your Community - Support Catamount Womenaid

Check out the video below for some more lessons on ProActive Aging, and remember, if you want to keep moving, you have to keep moving!

- DC

The Autumn of Life

 I doubt any of us want to sit down and dwell on the fact that life is short. Yet reminders are all around us, particular those of us who are in the "second half", or more, of our time on this earth.

As I write this I am sitting in a hotel room in Indianapolis, Indiana. It's October 10, 2019. I am here to celebrate the life and mourn the death of a friend, Steve Ohman. He died Monday after a long, but too short, battle with cancer. 

Tomorrow morning before I head to the funeral home I am heading north to visit my in-laws. Dad has been battling pancreatic cancer for over a year now, and it will be great to see them. I know they know I love them, but I don't think they really have an idea of how precious they are to me. They accepted me as part of their family when they had every reason not to. They allowed me to marry my best friend and love of my life, even though I was really just a know nothing punk. They modeled love and grace and kindness, and I owe them a debt I can never repay.

And then comes Monday. It was on a Monday, October 14, 2002 to be exact, that I saw my son Derek alive for the last time. 17 years is a long time ago, only it seems like just yesterday. And while the anniversary always brings some pain, it remains a gift. A reminder of how foolish I can be with my time and my energy. A reminder that you really never do know what the next moment will bring. A reminder that every day is a short breath of time you can never get back once it's lost. It's also a reminder of the gift of friends, who are there to lift you up when things go sideways. My friend Steve's wife Sherri was one of those gifts when Derek died. She was a faithful prayer warrior who lifted us up to heaven when we needed it most, and the letter she sent shortly after his passing is more valuable than a mountain of gold. Steve's parents Dave and Marilyn have become dear to us through the Ohman families trial, and have been a picture of faith and grace to us.

I don't pretend to know why things like these happen. But I have never been more convinced that despite why I might think is unfair, there is a God that cares and has a purpose. I have experienced too much peace through trials and too much grace through hardship to think otherwise. You may think I am delusional, but I think not. You may say that belief in God is just my crutch, just something to make me feel better, but you'll never convince me. A God that the human mind can completely understand is not big enough to be God at all. There is too much evidence, if you are willing to look for it. I know I will never convince everyone, and that's ok. That's not my job. My job is to serve, and love, and give back the gifts I have been given the best way I can.

If you take nothing else away from all this, just remember to make the most of every moment, to love as hard as you can, to forgive the ones that don't deserve it, to show mercy to those who need it, and never, never, never forget to count your blessings, no matter how small. Autumn comes quickly, and passes by even faster. Live a life that matters while you can.

- DC

Fat Loss Follow Along Week 4: Zzzzzzzzz

t's hard to believe, but we are already starting week 4 of our Fall Fat Loss Challenge!

Who doesn't need more sleep? Raise your hand. Higher. Higher. Hmmm, I can't see many hands out there.

Sleep may be THE missing factor in your health care, and if you are having trouble losing weight, lack of sleep may be why. 

Read on to discover this weeks new habit and why it's so important:

Get 7 Hours of Sleep Every Night

Did you know that 63% of Americans report their sleep needs are not being met during the week? Also 30% of adults report sleeping less than 6 hours every night!  We all know that sleep and recovery are very important to our overall health but tend to be ignored. Not anymore!!

New Habit: Sleep at Least 7 Hours a Night

We are not going to go crazy and ask you to start getting 9 hours of sleep right off the bat. By the end of this week, if you can increase your average sleep time by one hour, that would be a great improvement!

Instead of focusing on the end outcome (number of hours of sleep), we are going to focus on the process that will get you there.

Do you have a sleep routine?

What you do right before bed every night is very important in letting your body know that it is bed time. If you are someone who has trouble falling asleep, this habit will be great for you!

Even if you already have a sleep routine, hopefully you will learn a few more tips and tricks that can make it even better.

If you don’t have a routine, this week might be a little challenging. Don’t worry. When you get the hang of it, you will be amazed at how much better you are sleeping and feeling throughout the day!

What To Do Now

For now, track your sleep habits for one night. Write down what activities you do in the 1-2 hours before you go to bed. Note what time you get into bed and approximately what time you fall asleep. Also note if you wake throughout the night and how long you stay awake or if you're able to fall right back to sleep.  Note what time you wake up and if this is a pretty normal night for you.

We will use this information going forward.

Check your lesson tomorrow as we give a few tips for your first night of your new sleep routine!

Sleep Tight!

- DC

Fat Loss Follow Along Week 3 : They Are Magical!

The past two weeks we have been working hard on skills designed to help HOW we eat - Keeping a food journal, and slowing down our meals.

This week we are going to focus on our 3rd "Fat Loss Fundamental", and it has to do with WHAT we eat.

Vegetables may be the closest thing we have to the "fountain of youth". If you are looking for the "magic pill" that will help you lose weight, enhance cell health, and have more energy, stop looking and start cooking...

Veggies that is!

Boring you say? Looking for something "sexier", you say?

Establish this habit now and forever, and you'll be looking at "sexier" the mirror!

New Habit: Eat Your Vegetables

Wahoo, today is the first day of your new habit.  Your goal each day for the next week is to  


 "Why use fists?" your inquisitive mind might be thinking.  Well, not everyone has scales or measuring cups with them all the time but most of us have hands with us at all times. Make that hand into a fist and you have yourself the size of one serving of vegetables.  Now, get 5 of them in throughout the day. 

Remember, you can always modify a habit to fit your unique situation.  If the thought of five fists of veggies a day makes your eyeballs pop out of your head, start with three fists instead and work your way up to five.  The goal is not to be perfect but to do just a little bit better.    

When starting a new habit, we need to start with the basics. Today we will lay the groundwork for your vegetable habit.

Vegetable Basics

Ahh, vegetables, the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.  You probably already know of vegetables but just in case you don't, we will cover a number of them today with you.  We are also going to break them into two categories, non-starchy and starchy vegetables, since not all vegetables are created equal.

Non-Starchy Vegetables
Characteristics of non-starchy vegetables are:
  • Low in calories 
  • Low in carbohydrates
  • Low in sugar
  • High in water
  • High in fiber
  • High in nutrients

Just for the record these are all great things.  Actually, you can think of non-starchy vegetables as being (almost) “free” in terms of the calories they will add to your diet.  Especially, when you consider how much fiber, vitamins, and minerals they provide for your body.  You can eat copious amounts of them everyday without gaining weight. Yes, they are that magical.  

In fact, if you’re ever hungry - even after having already eaten an appropriate amount of food, choosing to eat more vegetables to fill up is always going to be your best bet.  Low in calories, high in fiber, high in water is a recipe for successful weight loss.  

In the end we eat food, not nutrients so let's take a look at the different types of non-starchy vegetables.  

Examples of Non-Starchy Vegetables:

  • All “leafy greens” (Spinach, Kale, Romaine, etc.Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Cabbage (all kinds)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions (Yellow, Red)
  • Peppers (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green)
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini

 This is by no means is an exhaustive list, but it's a good start to get the wheels turning at the grocery store.  Eat these freely, we typically don't put a cap on how many non-starchy vegetables you can eat because the calorie content is so low. 

Starchy Vegetables

Characteristics of starchy vegetables, as compared to non-starchy vegetables:

  • Higher in calories
  • Higher in carbs and starches
  • Higher in sugar
  • High in nutrients
  • Lower in water content

With starchy vegetables, we DO want to be aware of intake because the calories can start to add up.    

Examples of Starchy Vegetables:

  • Squash (Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti) 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Beets 
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes 
  • Turnips 
  • Rutabaga 
  • Peas 
  • Corn (not actually a vegetable but a grain, but most people count is as a vegetable so that's why it's listed here)

How Much Should I Eat?

You want to aim for 5 "fists" of vegetables per day.  Ideally, the majority of those "fists" would come from non-starchy vegetables.  Strive for 3-5 fists of non-starchy vegetables and 0-2 fists of starchy vegetables.  

The great thing about using your own fist as a guideline for portion control is that you always have it with you anywhere you go! 

This means you should still keep your veggies in mind at restaurants, when eating on the go, or anywhere else. 

It is almost impossible to over consume most non-starchy vegetables, so fill up on these foods without worry. If anything, put your effort towards making sure you eat enough of them, as opposed to too much. 


"Every question you have about your health, chances are vegetables are the answer."

Fat Loss Follow Along Week 2 Is Here!

Last week we started our 2019 "Fall Fat Loss Challenge", and all week we have been creating awareness of our eating habits by keeping a food log. You can catch up on that here. I would urge you to continue to journal/log as we continue onto our next habit/skill practice.

Eat Slowly

Here's this weeks skill and today's lesson:


New Habit: Take 20 Minutes to Eat Each Meal

As always, we are keeping things simple for you right away. However, just because this seems simple does not mean it is going to be easy. Most people don’t pay attention to how much time they spend eating their food. It is time to bring your focus to how quickly you're eating because it is very important step in understanding the cues of our body.

There may be times when you sit down to eat when you are extremely hungry. Do you think you will pause long enough to take your time to eat slowly? Not likely. We are going to teach you why it's important to ALWAYS be mindful of your eating.

There are many health benefits to gain from slowing down your eating:
Better digestion;
Less food consumption;
More quality time with loved ones;
Weight loss;
Experiencing more enjoyment from your food.

We will go more in depth into all of these over the next week, but for now you have a habit to embark on!

Take 20 minutes to eat each meal, starting today. Let’s start making a sustainable change in the way you eat!


Tip: Set a timer or stopwatch, and be purposeful about tracking how long you are actually sitting down and enjoying your food. You may be surprised!

Journalism 101

What to do next?

We already talked yesterday about the importance of tracking your food and beverage choices consistently and accurately. One of the big keys right now is to try to not drastically change your eating habits. Remember, this is a process and changing too much at once will never last.

This does not mean we are giving you the green light to go out and eat McDonalds all the time! If this was what you were doing in the past, it will be beneficial for you to start slowly cutting that out right away!

Instead of trying to eat perfect all the time, just make a very concerted effort to track everything. This is going to give us the data and information we need in order to make good, sustainable changes.

If you make a big change in what you are eating right now while you are tracking it, only to go back to eating exactly what you used to after this week is over, then we really did not make any progress at all.

With that in mind, just write down what you eat and drink for every meal as well as how you felt afterward. If you feel lethargic after a certain meal, make note of it. If you feel like you pepped up after lunch one day, make sure to jot it down. This will help us later on when we look at how to analyze your food journal.


How to do it?

This might seem like a useless section at first right? How to keep a food journal?

“I just write down what I eat! Sheesh, next section please!”


Yes it can be this simple! If you are someone who likes using pen and paper and eat the majority of your meals at home, this will be the best and simplest solution for you.

However, if you are someone who does not eat at home very often and would have a hard time remembering exactly what you ate earlier in the day when you get home, there might be a better solution for you.

If this sounds like you, I am guessing that you have some sort of smartphone in your possession at all times. If you prefer, you can use this as your food journal. Whether it is in a note section on your phone or an app that allows you to track your food choices. The way you do it doesn’t matter, as long as you do it!

You could even just take a picture of everything that you eat so you can write it down later!

The only thing we would like to steer you away from is getting consumed by and analyzing calories and macronutrient percentages (carbs, fats, and protein). There is a time and place for all of this but right now, we are trying to make it simple and sustainable. Keep track of what you eat, not the specific breakdown of what macros it contains. 

If you would like to go the smartphone route, here are a couple apps that we recommend:

  • Calorific
  • My Fitness Pal
  • Evernote
  • MyPlate
  • Lose It!

Find one that works well for you and your needs!



  1. Make sure you are tracking everything you eat and drink.

  2. This can be done on paper or with a smartphone app or by taking pictures for later recording.

  3. Find the best method for you and keep at it.

  4. Don't worry about analyzing calories or food for right now. Just make sure to track!

Follow Along with our Fall Fat Loss Challenge

Today is the start of our 28-Day Fall Fat Loss Challenge, and even if for some crazy reason you didn't sign up for it (it was free, after all), I thought over the next 4 Mondays I'd tell you what we are doing so you can follow along at home.

Here's the habit (or skill if you like) we are working on this week:

Keep a Food Journal Everyday

This habit is nothing revolutionary, but can and will make a big impact.

A lot of us think that we eat pretty healthy and only cheat once in a while. However, if we actually tracked everything that we put into our mouths on a daily basis, we might change our tune just a bit.

Documenting what you eat and drink at every meal will give you a much better look into your true eating habits and not just what you perceive you eat. This can be a very beneficial process.

It usually goes one of two ways:

#1 – “My current eating habits are pretty much on par with what my assumptions were.”

#2 – “I always thought of myself as making decent food choices, but after looking at it for 7 days, I definitely have room for improvement.”

While these two scenarios don't encompass everyone, they are the most common conclusions we see from our clients.

In situation #1, this process helped you focus in on what exactly you were eating and when. It gave you more concrete data than just, “Yeah I think I eat pretty well.”

In situation #2, this process might have opened your eyes to your true eating habits. Maybe before this you thought you only ate dessert once in a great while, when in reality you have 2-3 desserts per week! Now this might be an extreme example but you never quite know what you are going to find out until you actually track something.

Today you need to get a notebook, download an app like MyFitnessPal, or grab a copy of this template and start recording what you ate today.  The process isn't hard and you might need a few reminders today.  Also right now, set a few reminders on your phone to record your food.  

Got it?  


Have a great day. 

DC & The Fall Fat Loss Challenge Team

Your Private Chauffeur

I have a personal, private chauffeur. He drives me around a lot. Usually it's to places I don't really want to go. I can't seem to fire him. Every time I "let him go" he comes back, ready to "serve" me, happily ready to carry me to new, and all too often ugly, places.

My chauffeur is like a chameleon, and he goes by many names.

Anger. Irritation. Loneliness. Sadness. Disgust. Shame. Envy. Despair.

This driver I can't seem to get rid of?

You probably know him by this name.


You know the sad thing (no pun intended) is that emotions are really a big part of what makes us human. Indignation at injustice prompts us to action, sadness for others causes us to reach out and be a friend. We seek love and joy.

And yet it seems to be part of human nature to focus more on the negative emotions than the positive ones. It's easier for me to get irritated by something or someone and let it fester than reach out and try to make it right. Fear can be paralyzing. Contempt for others is more natural than seeking to understand and be part of their solution.

And the result of all this negativity? Usually no good. When I am anxious, or depressed, or angry I often reach for food. It's my "drug". It's so easy for me to criticize those who abuse drugs and alcohol, but am I any better when I stuff myself with sugar and fat? It is an attempt to feel better, and the problem is that it often works, at least temporarily. Just like drugs and alcohol. 

And in a very short time I don't feel good. Especially about myself.

Look I am just being real here. Just because I am a "fitness pro" doesn't mean I am a robot. Emotional stress can weaken even the most resolved and disciplined among us. 

Which is why I am looking forward to being part of our Fall Fitness Challenge, starting one week from today, Monday September 16, 2019.

Because it's going to give me an opportunity to "re-center" and practice some skills to help me give my "chauffeur" - my emotional eating - an extended vacation.

We humans ARE emotional beings. Which is why we need to learn to recognize which emotions drive us toward making poor decisions revolving around food and drink, and build the skills necessary to process and respond to them in better ways.

If you are not an emotional eater, I envy you. 🙂

If you are, join me for the challenge. Signup ends on Tuesday Sept. 10th, so please don't delay.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

- DC

A Post from a Big Jerk

I haven't been sleeping well lately. Actually I haven't been sleeping LONG lately. I usually fall right to sleep but am wide awake sometime between 2 and 2:30am. I've been dealing with it pretty well, until I didn't.

You know when you're tired and little things that really don't matter turn into big things, if you let them? That was kind of my morning, at least until a few minutes ago, when I came across the video clip below in an article. It's kind of funny how a clip from a fictional character can hit you so hard. All of sudden not having oatmeal in the house and the small contractor screw-up didn't seem worth getting worked up over.

Just a little reminder. People matter. Relationships matter. Not being a jerk matters. Love somebody a little harder today. It will matter.

Thanks Forrest.

- DC

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