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On the Road: Avoiding Fitness Failure

POSTED ON January 22, 2014

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500 meter row (with Baby Ruby in the background!)

500 meter row (with Baby Ruby in the background!)

What’s a girl (or a boy) to do when she finds herself in a foreign country with very minimal fitness equipment, minimal time with a work schedule, and two little kiddos in tow?

A fast, fun, high intensity circuit, of course ☺. For me, it’s always important to maximize the limited time I do have to workout, so these are always a wonderful go-to.

This workout came straight from Crossfit’s home page a few days back and was perfect, considering my travel circumstances. I started with a 5 minute treadmill warm up, then did the following as quickly as I was able:

50 burpees
500 meter row (the workout called for 50 pushups, but I wanted something to counter balance the pressing motion from my burpees instead)
50 jumping jacks
50 swing ups
50 second handstand hold

To finish? A nice and easy stretching session while my muscles are still warm.

Although this wasn’t the hardest workout I have ever done, it was nice to know that with so little equipment and time, I was still able to get the workout in that my body was needing.

Travel can be tough, but doesn’t need to be an excuse for fitness failure! Something, even this quick circuit, is better than nothing ☺.

Category: blog / fitness

MassLive.com: ABC Extreme Weight Loss to Feature Westfield Resident Jami Witherell

POSTED ON October 23, 2013

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Originally published on MassLive.com.

MassLive.com: ABC Extreme Weight Loss to Feature Westfield Resident Jami Witherell - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/4631

10.23.13 | Chicopee — Jami Witherell of Westfield was featured on the ABC TV show “Extreme Weight Loss” where she lost a total of 130 pounds. She is shown here at the Crossfit Firestorm gym in Chicopee where she works out. (Don Treeger, The Republican)

CHICOPEE — Name a diet and Jami Witherell has tried it.

“I was on Jenny Craig, Weigh Watchers, I tried not eating for a while, I was definitely a yo-yo dieter,” said Witherell, a Westfield resident, who was on ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss.

Witherell started her journey in the spring of 2012 weighing in at 292 pounds.

Initially, she had tried out for the Biggest Loser television show with her sister, but they were not selected. She was then contacted by ABC to audition for the program.

During each episode, the show, which is in its fourth season, follows the life of one person for a full year as they transform physically and mentally.

“I had never seen the show, so I really had no idea what I was signing up for,” said Witherell, who had been overweight most of her life.

After a week of casting and health exams Witherell was asked to write a personal letter to Chris Powell and he chose her to be on the show.

“It’s different then the Biggest Loser because it’s not a competition. You go into it knowing that you have a full year to do this and that worked really well for me because I’m not a competitive person,” she said.

After spending a week getting to know Powell and training with him, Witherell was sent home to work with personal trainers.

At the start of the show she was living in Philadelphia, caring for 33 young ballet dancers at a private school, but work and working out did not mix.

“Working 150 hours a week taking care of these kids and trying to work out four to six hours a day was becoming too difficult,” she said.

So, Witherell quit her job and came home and lived in Chicopee for awhile. There she was introduced to Ken and Joli Hamilton, owners of CrossFit Firestorm, a gym on Chicopee Street.

“They were such a big part of my journey, “she said.

MassLive.com: ABC Extreme Weight Loss to Feature Westfield Resident Jami Witherell - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/4631

Jami Witherell’s University of Massachusetts, Amherst graduation photo in 2005.

When she first walked into the gym, which is less treadmills and elliptical machines and more weights and metal pull-up bars, Witherell had her doubts.

“I walked in there and I thought there’s no way I can do this, but they have been there for me every step of the way and have tailored everything to my needs,” she said as she demonstrated some assisted pull-ups with exercise bands.

She calls the gym her second home since for the past year and a half of her life she has spent most of her time there.

While on the show, Witherell had several intense moments, starting with her confession that she was considering suicide.

“I was probably as close to clinically depressed as you could get and I had suicidal tendencies,” she said.

Witherell said what saved her was getting into therapy as soon as she was chosen for the show.

“I started meeting weekly with a therapist in Northampton and I still do,” she said. “I really needed some guidance.”

Another big moment was meeting her birth mother and biological sister in Chile.

Witherell was adopted at the age of three and was raised by two moms and her grandmother.

“I was given this blessed life and raised by this wonderful community of people in Western Massachusetts and mostly I just wanted to say thank you to her for that incredible gift,” she said.

Although the show only focuses on a short visit, Witherell actually spent two weeks in Chile getting to know her biological family. She still communicates with them daily.

At her final reveal, Witherell chose to do her weigh-in in a bikini. In a year she lost 132 pounds, weighing in at 162.

During the episode, she said although her body still has stretch marks and it’s not perfect, she is proud of her accomplishments.

Witherell has a master’ s degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and hopes to return to get her doctoral degree.

“One thing that was left out of my episode is that I was hesitant to start a doctoral program at UMass because I couldn’t fit in the seats,” she said. “Since then I have been back and I fit comfortably.”

She has also developed a love for acting, being cast in the role of Eponine with the Exit 7 Players in Ludlow this fall.

“That is something I would have never done before this experience,” she said.

Asked if the show changed her life, Witherell hesitates.

“I don’t think the show itself or any one person changed my life, but the experience as a whole definitely did,” she said referring to the support she got from her family and friends, her therapist, the crew at CrossFit and Chris Powell and his wife Heidi.

MassLive.com: ABC Extreme Weight Loss to Feature Westfield Resident Jami Witherell - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/4631

Chicopee — Jami Witherell of Westfield was featured on the ABC TV show “Extreme Weight Loss” where she lost a total of 130 pounds. She is shown here at the Crossfit Firestorm gym in Chicopee where she works out.
Don Treeger, The Republican

Witherell hopes the show gives a more realistic look at weight loss.

“I had to get real,” she said. “Just because you don’t reach a weight loss goal it doesn’t mean you should just give up. You have to set smaller goals that are achievable and stick with it.”

Witherell’s episode originally ran this summer, but can be seen on ABC Oct. 27 at 4 p.m.

The Pregnancy Feet I Used to Deal With: A Serious Case of Edema!

POSTED ON October 3, 2013

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Alright, alright…I’ll give you guys what you want ;).

So many have asked how the heck my ankles (which are abnormally small, I feel) and feet could ever suffer from “swollen anything” as I mention in my Huffington Post Article about CrossFitting while Pregnant. Here I am, bringing you the proof :) .

Celebrity Trainer Heidi Powell - The Pregnancy Feet I Used to Deal With - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/3779

Now that the pic is in front of your face, maybe you wish you hadn’t asked after all!!

This is what happens to me, ladies and gentlemen, when I do not exercise while pregnant. My lymphatic system takes a major hit and water pools in the oddest way throughout my body. As many of you know, this is called edema.

Notice, although both feel are quite swollen, only one is abnormally huge! This condition prevented me from not only wearing shorts and skirts throughout my pregnancy, but also from walking comfortably at all.

This was the case for both of my first two pregnancies, before I learned that working out while pregnant was safe. I used to sit there and count down the days until delivery when I would have my feet and ankles back, as well as my feeling of normalcy.

Healthy pregnancy tips from celebrity trainer Heidi Powell - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/3779

Incase you haven’t read my Huffington Post article and are suffering or have suffered from something similar, here are a couple simple tips to avoiding this.

  • MOVE while pregnant (as long as your doctor clears you too). Pregnancy is not a handicap nor a disease. It is more of a reason than anything to keep our bodies healthy! Continued daily exercise will help pregnant women avoid such extreme swelling.
  • Drink plenty of water. Living in AZ, I try to aim for 1.5 gallons a day. This is a lot, yet, but I sweat tons here! It seems odd to follow advice to add more water to your body when you are already holding water in your limbs! But by consuming more water, your body will flush more efficiently.
  • Be aware of your sodium intake. As a pregnant woman, I definitely crave both sweets and salty foods. It is recommended that you slightly increase your sodium intake while pregnant to 3000mg per day (from the normal 1500mg per day), but with the salty food cravings, many pregnant women can hit that limit in just a meal and some salty snacks. Be aware of the sodium content in your store bought and restaurant foods, and aim for the 3000mg number.

Here’s to wishing you a happy, healthy, and swollen-ankle-free pregnancy!

Category: blog / living

Women, CrossFit and Myths


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I was searching my tried and true CrossFit blog to get inspiration for my workout today, and ran across this article they had reposted from CrossFit Oakland. Genius. I couldn’t help but repost myself to help set the record straight on a few things, including women crossfitting, how to get the beach bod we’ve always dreamed of, and the effects of good old hard work!

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club - Denver - http://HeidiPowell.net/3639

Image credit: Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

Women, CrossFit, and Myths

As I was pondering what to write for today’s post I noticed an article posted to FaceBook by D-Pain (aka Dana). It is titled “LIES IN THE GYM”. It shows us that one does not have to go far in the average gym (obviously not a CrossFit Gym) to find someone willing to hand out bad information. This article outlines many of the myths that women are hearing about fitness and strength training.

Let me summarize several of the myths this article touches on.

  1. Weight training will make you huge and masculine.
  2. Men train. Women tone.
  3. There is a difference between toning, sculpting and firming.
  4. Women should stick to machines and stay away from free weights.
  5. Women shouldn’t work on their leg and butt muscles, otherwise they’ll get to big.
  6. Weight training turns fat into muscle.
  7. Women should only lift light weights to not get “bulky”.

To quote a famous fitness author, “Women are not a special population. They are half the population.

In an article written by Mark Rippetoe he points out that women DO respond to heavy physical stress (i.e. lifting heavy shit) differently than men. However, women get the best results when they train for performance (the whole premise of CrossFit and what we do), because even though there are differences between men’s and women’s response to training, there is no difference in the quality of the exercise needed to produce the stress that causes our bodies to change. The different responses men and women see in training are not the ones that the industry, media and popular culture have presented as fact. This unfortunately has had a detrimental effect on women’s training.

The answer to our questions on how to get there are right in front of us. The results, in terms of both performance and aesthetics, admired by the vast majority of women, continue to be routinely produced by advanced athletic programs. Which then amazes me how “body-sculpting sessions or low intensity machine based circuit programs were the approach sold to the public. But then again, “easier” is easier to sell. The fact is that aesthetics are best obtained from training for performance.

It becomes very simple, if you want to look like a lean athlete (the standard most active women strive to emulate) you have to train like an athlete, and the unfortunate part is that most people lack the “sand” for that. Despite this unfortunate truth (most truths seem to fall into this category), the fitness industry continues to see appearances first, as though it is independent of performance. Appearance cannot be trained for. Think about it: I know how to make your squat stronger, but how do you program Bun Blaster sets and reps for a tight ass? I may be able to double your pull-ups in a month, but I don’t know how to give your back that V-Shape everyone craves without increasing your pull-ups. Every single aspect of programming for resistance training that works at all does so because it increases some aspect of performance, and appearance is a side effect of performance.

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club - http://HeidiPowell.net/3639

Image credit: Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

Appearance is a side effect of performance.

Appearance can’t change unless performance does, and the performance changes are what we quantify and what we program. Your appearance when fit is almost entirely a function of your genetics, which are expressed at their best only when your training is at it’s highest level, and this level is only obtainable from a program based on an improvement in your performance in the gym. To top it off the best improvements in the gym occur when participating in a program that looks more like performance athletics (i.e. CrossFit) that one that looks like waving your arms or legs around on a machine.

More Unfortunate Truths:

  • Your muscles cannot get longer without some rather radical orthopedic surgery.
  • Muscles don’t get leaner ….. you do!
  • There is no such thing as “firming & toning”. There is only stronger and weaker.
  • The vast majority of women cannot get large, masculine muscles from weight training. If it were that easy, I would have them!
  • Women who do look like men have taken some rather drastic steps in that direction that have little to do with their exercise program.
  • Women who claim to be afraid to train hard because they “always bulk up too much” are often already pretty bulky, or “skinny fat” (thin but weak and de-conditioned) and have found another excise to continue life sitting on their butts.
  • Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.

You can thank the muscle magazines for these persistent misconceptions, along with the natural tendency of all normal humans to see reasons to avoid hard physical exertion.

Republished with permission of BladiumDenver.com.

Category: blog / fitness

Fueling the Fire: Why I CrossFit while Pregnant

POSTED ON September 24, 2013

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Celebrity Trainer Heidi Powell working out while pregnant - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/3567

Fueling the fire over pregnancy and CrossFit. See the debate go down on whether or not I should continue CrossFitting at 32 weeks pregnant.

Weigh in on the debate at HuffingtonPost.com.

Inquiring minds must know: did you workout during pregnancy?


Category: blog / fitness

Mix969.com: Heidi Powell Talks Crossfit Mom Controversy And Reveals Sex Of New Baby!

POSTED ON September 23, 2013

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Heidi Powell, Chris Powell’s wife and trainer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, was on the show this morning to talk about the controversy of Crossfit Mom that has been going viral the last few days. She talks about it not being as dangerous as many think and how you can exercise while pregnant and be safe. OH and did we mention she talks about exercising during her own pregnancy causing her to spill the beans on the sex of her FOURTH baby!? Listen to the interview below and you can catch episodes of EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSS EDITION on ABC.COM.

Listen to the interview here!

Read the complete article on Mix969.com.

5 Fitness Trends with Staying Power

POSTED ON July 18, 2013

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Chris and I chat with “The List” about 5 of our favorite fitness trends that should be around for a long time!

1. Crossfit

2. Hot Yoga

3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

4. Dancing

5. Suspension band training (TRX)

Which one is your favorite or would you love to try if these are new to you? Comment below!

Category: blog / fitness

TheListShow.TV: The Fit List: Chris Powell Reveals 5 Fitness Trends with Staying Power

POSTED ON July 4, 2013

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Originally published on TheListShow.TV.

Celebrity Trainer Chris Powell Reveals 5 Fitness Trends with Staying Power - Learn more at http://HeidiPowell.net/2970

The Thighmaster and Ab roller were infomercial hits, and the list of fitness gadgets that claim to get you in shape is long, but which ones really work? We talked with Chris Powell from the ABC show Extreme Weight Loss, and his wife Heidi for their list of workout trends with staying power.

  1. Crossfit – This style of training exploded over the last couple of years. It’s seems there is a new Crossfit gym everywhere you go, and for good reason. Chris said this style of training yields phenomenal fitness results by incorporating a multitude of functional movements from gymnastics to power lifting, weight training to endurance – all done at high intensity.
  2. Hot Yoga – Yoga has been around for thousands of years, but the “hot yoga” movement is rapidly sweeping the nation. Heidi said the rationale behind it is pretty simple: The warmer your muscles are the more pliable they become. In addition, taking your body through movements in the hot temperatures stimulates your body to sweat… A LOT! This can help the skin (the largest organ in your body) detox and remove toxins. It’s a one-two punch of wellness. If you decide to give it a try, make sure you stay hydrated.
  3. HIIT (Hit Intensity Interval Training) – This style of training has gotten increasingly more popular over the years under the premise that 1. It gives you incredible fitness results, and 2. It delivers an increased metabolic after burn for hours after training. Both of which Chris said are true.
  4. Dancing – Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, dancing is a great way to burn calories and get in shape. Heidi said it can be any kind of dance, hip hop, Latin heat, ballroom even Zumba. Regardless of the kind of dance, it moves all the muscles in your body and works up a good sweat. Dancing can be challenging whether you’re a pro, beginner, male or female.
  5. Suspension band training (TRX) – This has been a craze for a couple years now. It has taken body weight training to a whole new level. Chris said, unlike doing push-ups, pull-ups, and squats against a fixed object (ie. the stable ground), suspension training adds a whole new challenge of stability.

You can read more fitness and diet tips in Chris’ new book ‘Choose More, Lose More for Life’, it can be found at major retailers nationwide.

Who REALLY Sets the Bar(bell) in Our Family

POSTED ON March 4, 2013

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#G-Mo #Crossfit #Competition #HeidiPowell

Me and My Big Bro

For many of you, you turn on the TV, open up a magazine or hop online and you might find me and Chris giving tips and tricks on how to stay fit and healthy. But fitness has been a staple in both of our families for generations, and will continue to be for many more generations to come!

In fact, some of Chris’ and my biggest fitness inspiration comes from two of our own family members: my brother and sister-in-law, G-mo and Kristen. They. Are. Machines.  I joke (but am totally serious) that I want to be like them some day. Their dedication, determination, work ethic, and drive makes them unstoppable…and makes everyone around them push harder. They truly set the bar that we strive to live up to.

#G-Mo #Crossfit #Competition #Family #HeidiPowell

On Saturday, we spent Chris’ birthday attending a CrossFit competition where Kristen and Mo (short for “G-mo”, which is actually nicknamed from “Grant”…long story) won, alongside their teammates, yet another competition, holding their first place spot in the series. It was quite the victory – so cool to see my big bro breaking through his limits and doing things he always dreamed of  :-). A HUGE congratulations to them!!

#G-Mo #Kristen #Crossfit #Competition #Family #HeidiPowell

Team Black Box – crushing it! And Kristen is NOT standing. As part of the rules, she is suspended on Mo’s back while Nikki rows!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with CrossFit, it is a mish-mash of every style of fitness all wrapped up into one. Workouts can range from Olympic weightlifting to gymnastics, from endurance training to powerlifting. CrossFit challenges all aspects of fitness. It is truly a general physical preparedness program. It prepares us for life by mimicking movements we experience in our everyday routines. It’s awesome. And to top it off – it’s FAST and FUN, and provides an incredible community environment for success.

#G-Mo #Crossfit #Competition #Family #HeidiPowell

During the firehose carry and row challenge, the whole fam cheered them on!

Now don’t let these pictures scare you! These are the top 1% of CrossFit atheltes. Walk into ANY CrossFit Box (that’s what they call their gyms) and you’ll be greeted with friendly faces – soccer moms, business men, and people just like you who are tired of their mundane and ineffective fitness routines. They are people that simply want more for their lives and are looking to challenge themselves to become better people, physically and mentally.

Each day, CrossFit creates a WOD – Workout of the Day! It may be exercises you’ve done before or something totally new. One thing for sure, you will know that there are people all across the world working out and challenging themselves with the same WOD.  It’s that challenge of taking things to the next level, that can help you break through a plateau, and that helps you to grow mentally and physically as you try to stretch yourself. This can be motivating as you create a support system to align with your new fitness and weight loss goals. You can learn more about WOD and locate a CrossFit Box near you by visiting CrossFit.com.

Chris and I are blessed  to have family like my brother and his wife setting the bar for our family and making us proud. While we ourselves strive to be extremely fit, we too, look to others to inspire us and as a support for a healthy lifestyle. We’re very blessed to find that in our own family. Thanks Mo and Kristen for being so inspirational!

#G-Mo #Kristen #Crossfit #Competition #Family #HeidiPowell

One of our favorite things to do together – watch incredible athletes push their limits.

Category: blog / family / fitness / living

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