Advice that Could Change Your Life

These days it feels as though health advice is reprimanding us from every corner, from our Instagram feeds to our HR departments to our eager-to-motivate FitBits. But when advice conflicts, or simply piles up into an intimidating mountain of health dos and don’ts, it’s tempting to shut it all out completely.

But sometimes a golden piece of advice just clicks with you, and can set you on a new course towards fitness and health success. For me, that advice came in the form of a text message from Top Chef (and top-shelf friend) Gregory Gourdet, gently suggesting I try the paleo diet back in 2012—and here I am, editing Portland Monthly’s new health department.

I’m not the only one with a single piece of advice that changed my life. Here, Portland fitness and wellness professionals share the simple—or not so simple—gems of wisdom that brought them to where they are today.

There will always be another race. This was told to me by a running coach when I had taken time off while marathon training due to injury and was trying to decide how to approach the race. But I still apply that advice to life to this day. It’s so easy to lose perspective when you put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Knowing that there will always be something to shoot for reminds me that progress (and fitness) is an evolution—not a destination. And the race? I ended up running it conservatively, finishing healthy and having the time of my life.”—Jennifer Hellickson, founder of Pulse Creative and blogger at KineticFix

“I learn nuggets of wisdom from my Barre3 instructors all the time. One that stood out to me was from Barre3 instructor Bonney Haskins, who said, “love thy neighbor, but ignore thy neighbor.” I will never forget this advice. It reminds me to honor what is right for me, rather than compare or try to keep up with others. Equally important is the message of support and appreciating others for who they are. When we can do both of these things, we get the very most out of the studio experience.”—Sadie Lincoln, founder of Portland fitness empire Barre3

“A small nugget from my Macrobiotic training at the Kushi Institute, that I live by and share with my clients: live life in moderation. Drink when you are thirsty and eat when you are hungry. It’s a great practice in listening to what your body is telling you, because if you stop and listen, you could change your life.”—Erica Blair, LMT and Certified Holistic Health Coach

“My Alexander Technique master teacher once told me ‘your body is the expert in the room‘. I was dealing with a debilitating back injury and it felt like she was giving me the keys to my body back. I now always tell my Pilates, Gyrotonic, and Alexander Technique clients that no one will ever know more about what’s going on in their body than they will. Both in terms of what’s hurt or not working well as well as what will lead to recovery and well-being, the expert in the room is your body, so listen to it.”—Lyra Butler-Denman, Pilates, GYROTONIC, and Contemporary Alexander Technique teacher at reFORM Pilates and Movement

Sleep is the unsung hero in ALL health and recovery from injury. Getting a good night’s rest is so important, as the majority (>80%) of our body’s tissue healing, remodeling, and recovery happens when we sleep. There is nothing that can ail us that is not improved with a good nights rest, typically 7-8 hours, minimum! Also, practice the 30/30 rule. Sitting sedentary (like at a computer) is horrible for our bodies, and we should aim to never sit for more than 30 minutes at a time if you can afford it. The “30-30 rule” goes something like this: for every 30 minutes of sitting, take 30 seconds to stand, stretch, and move around. Typically we say to ‘reverse your positioning’ which means if you are sitting, stand up and walk around; if rounded forwards, open up the chest and back bend, etc.. This simple ‘lifestyle’ move prevents postural injuries to the back and neck, and keeps the tissues mobile and nourished.”—Kevin Schmidt, Physical Therapist and Bike Fitting Specialist at PedalPT

“I love the quote from Michael Pollen, ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.‘”—Olivia Martino, a Registered Dietitian at Nourish Northwest

“The one piece of fitness advice that has stuck with me in my career is that, regardless of what you are trying to achieve with your fitness goals, you must master these things: correct breathing, correct form/technique, and the art of being consistent with your training. Everything else will fall into play like it is supposed to from there.”—Pro trainer Kisar Dhillon of Southeast Portland’s the Art of Personal Training

Eat organic. By eating organic we are helping keep the great mother in awesome shape, too. Wellness and health for all, even the planet that hosts us all! Oh, and good fats (like avocado, coconut, olives, raw nuts, and seeds) make bad fat fall off your body!”—Willow O’Brien, Pixie RetrEAT RAW’r Laboratorie & Makery

“My aunt is is an internationally ranked Ironman triathlete and my absolute role model for living the good (healthy) life. She has been living in Hawaii for 40 years and her motto has always been ‘keep it simple‘. She told me to simply do three things—exercise to feel alive, never to look a certain way; shop the perimeter of the grocery store; and always try to get 8 hours of sleep—and everything else will balance out. For the past 10 years i’ve tried to live by these guiding principles and everything health related in my life truly does balance out: my nutrition, my energy, my self worth, my work/life balance, my perspective, everything. Don’t overthink it, just make it simple and always come back to it.”—Jessi Duley, founder and instructor of BurnCycle

“The best advice I received that really stuck with me and made the biggest impact on my health/weight loss goals was to just be consistent, not perfect. The 80/20 rule, baby! This allowed me to know that I was still making progress toward my goals even though I might skip a workout or eat cake. This 20% would still get me the results I wanted… and without the guilt.”—Paisley Meekin, owner of Honest Personal Training

Always wear sunscreen and if you are fair skinned get a skin exam! Being a melanoma survivor I am diligent about wearing sunscreen and going in for regular skin exams. I got my first one at 24 and it literally saved my life!”—Andrea Fenton of new South Waterfront indoor cycling studio RidePDX

Do not underestimate the power of sleep and hydration. Consistently getting the right amount is like magic for your body and mind!”—Laura Devine, co-owner and trainer at Vive Fitness

“Always try your best in accordance to your goals and be compassionate with yourself while trying to make changes. Judgement is more toxic than anything else! Judging yourself against what you could have done better doesn’t help, just advocate and do the better choice next time!”—Megan Abernathy of Fulcrum Fitness, BS Nutrition

You’re in control of what you do and what you think—and you always have a choice. If you think you are healthy and choose to do healthy things, like eat vegetables and walk to work, it will take you far in your mission to become healthier. It does take practice and patience though—believe me, as a trainer I am still practicing this statement myself and I hope to continue to do so.”—Mark Edgar, CPT, physical therapy aide, and TRX L2-Sports Medicine Instructor at Fulcrum Fitness

“”For me there are so many! Do something everyday to get your heart rate up. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Go on a brisk walk after dinner. Don’t sit… get going! Use personal maintenance time to stretch. I do yoga when blow drying my hair and doing make up. Forward folding to stretch out the hamstrings, calves, and heels also volumizes the hair! Doing make up or finishing up, I have one leg on the counter and one grounded to do a standing side stretch. Tall posture is always important. When you stand tall, you have an inner self confidence and presence, this also engages your core muscles. Shoulders down your back. Chest is lifted and proud. Your whole body is lengthened. When you practice standing tall, your will be strengthening all those muscles while strutting with confidence. Drink tons of water. Hydrate before and after your workouts. Keep it fresh by adding lemon or cucumber and mint! Your body is smart machine. It gives you signals and messages. Eat when you are hungry, stop eating when you are full. Listen to these signals! Moderation is key.”—Erin Moone, co-owner and instructor at StarCycle

“For me, the one piece of advice I received that has stuck with me through all of my fitness pursuits, career, and life in general was from a fellow runner right before my first attempt at running 100 miles. I was really nervous and he looked at me and said, ‘all you have to do out there is put one foot in front of the other and concentrate on forward progress. Just keep moving.‘ And I thought, ‘aha, that’s it, that’s everything.’ Just keep moving. It’s always all about forward progress, no matter how much or how little, you just keep moving forward.”—Jamie King, CEO and founder of Fit Approach

“Regardless of what is happening in your life at the moment, when you walk through the doors of a gym, it is all about you. For some people, working out is the only time that they get to focus solely on themselves and really be the center of their universe! The greatest gift you can give yourself is those few hours a week that you spend nourishing your body, mind, and soul.”—Tammie Dubberly, of Whole Body Fitness

“When you’re ready to shed the pounds, nothing is more effective than eliminating white flour and white sugar (cane or otherwise) from your diet.”—Evan Supanich, co-owner and trainer at Vive Fitness

A chorus of life advice from the trainers and instructors at Pilates and Gyrotonic center Circle Studio:Start out with small changes, like drinking water instead of soda, or taking a walk on your lunch break. Make it something that you can stick with rather than getting overwhelmed by…Breathe!…You are the only thing holding yourself back…Eat more greens!…There are no short cuts; do the work…Progress not perfection…Spending some time planning, shopping, and preparing healthy meals to lose weight takes less time than just exercising to lose the same weight. Do both and you are golden…I hear so many people say they don’t have time to workout, but what can you do in five or ten spare minutes?

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