I Flunked Cardio

I flunked cardio.  Back when I was  kid in P.E. I had a recurring real life nightmare.  Every day when we got to class, we all had to run a mile.  Every day I would come in dead last.  The worst part was that I was doing everything I could think of to keep up.

I pushed my self as hard as I could.  I carried a stopwatch to see if I could improve my time even if I stayed in last place.  I tried to pace myself at the beginning of the run to see if I could last longer before resorting to the humiliation of walking.  To this day, I am still burned up about the fact that none of my P.E. teachers ever had any advice for how I could get better at running than, “Keep going,” and , “Push harder.”

That probably explains why I get so upset when I hear group exercise leaders shouting the same words at their students today.  The truth is that many training professionals now know better than to ask people to just keep going.  Rest pause, interval training, and tempo training are now accepted techniques for improving stamina and speed, but when it comes to weight loss, many trainers and group exercise leaders are still using steady state discomfort level cardio because it burns more calories during the session than weight lifting or rest based training.

The trouble with this kind of exercise is that it can burn muscle and increase appetite in susceptible individuals like me.  Many of my clients agree that their weight struggles worsened when they tried to do more treadmill, elliptical, or aerobic dance workouts.  Here is my challenge to you: if you have truly committed to a cardio based program for one full year without getting the results you want, contact me: catherine@sugarfreedom.com and I will send you a sample 2 week training program with what I call the “Big Five.”  These are the essential lifts for women who are starting weight training.

If you want a personalized six week program, the cost is just $50.  Simply put “Personalized Program,” in the subject line, and we swill set up a consultation by phone, Skype, or Face Time.

If cardio isn’t working for you, it’s time to learn something new in the world of training for personal development.

I Flunked Cardio.

Again: e-mail me at catherine@sugarfreedom.com

The Total Body Challenge Begins Today

Away we go with another Total Body Challenge at Gordon Studio.

These challenges were instrumental in helping our clients lose over 1200 pounds and inches in 2015.  This year, we’re going for 1600 pounds and inches, from our in-person clients, and ten times that from readers of Sugar Freedom, and this blog.

When I opened Gordon Studio, and then when I published Sugar Freedom,  I knew that the programs worked for me, and for the clients I trained.  Now, after taking in-person students and on-line readers through the program, I have seen what you can accomplish with the right fat loss tools, especially if too much sugar, grain, and unproductive workouts have been holding you back.

Still, the program is not the solution for everyone who wants to get leaner and stronger, and look younger.

If you simply adore traditional cardio and aerobic training, and if giving up bread, sweets, and convenience food is not something you would even consider, then no, this is not the right challenge for you.

To those of you who are determined to get off of sugar and starch, and to train less with more purpose and the right level of intensity, I say, “Welcome aboard,” and I promise that you are in for an adventure in self discovery.

Mauri, who you see pictured above, lost 21 pounds in six weeks, which is now the record for the challenge.  The typical result is a 10 pound fat loss and 13 inches gone in 6 weeks.  The minimum result for participants who eliminate sugar and grains and adhere to a training schedule of 3 sessions a week has been six pounds of pure fat gone.

I simply can’t wait to see what everyone achieves this time around, and I want to share some important success techniques with all of my readers.

1. Plan your menu each morning.  Know what you are going to eat, and commit to it by making the proper preparations.   For example, my vegetables for today are going to be mixed baby greens, and sauteed carrot curls.  On the Sugar Freedom Plan vegetables make up the majority of the food you eat by volume, and it is essential that you do not skip them!  The green salads you eat provide raw nutrients and much needed fiber on this plan.  The vegetables cooked in pure fats: pastured butter, coconut oil, or olive oil for example, are filling, and satisfying too.  When my clients hit plateaus it is usually because they aren’t eating enough vegetables, or they aren’t drinking enough pure water.

2. Drink eight 8oz. glasses of water each day.  If you are not willing to do this, you need to re-examine your commitment to your goals.

3. Review your goals each day.  Why do you want to transform your body?  How would having your authentic ideal body elevate and enhance your live?  Think in terms of your happiness, and also in terms of you your vibrant health and energy allows you to serve you family, your community, and the world.  Transformation doesn’t just help you: it encourages and inspires everyone around you.

4. Get out your calendar and schedule your training sessions.  This goes for me and all of my clients: Those who don’t miss training sessions always get results.  Always.  Note: don’t push beyond great form when you train.  That prevents the extreme soreness and even injury that can stop you from training.

Now, I’m going to leave you with my menu for the day.  Remember, as a sugar addict and compulsive over eater in recovery, I have to keep it simple to stay abstinent and keep the 60 pounds of fat I lost 8 years ago off of my body.

Morning: Sugar Freedom Tonic, Water, Coffee, 2T organic heavy cream.

Breakfast: 2 Eggs, 2 Strips of Bacon, Sauteed carrot curls.  1/3 avocado. 2T salsa.

Lunch: Chicken Thigh, Large green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing. Sauteed carrot curls.  1/3 avocado, 2T salsa.

Dinner: Repeat lunch.

Wishing you success and enjoyment all through the challenge,


Six Week Challenge Case Study


For six weeks starting in May, four Gordon Studio Members took the Six Week Sugar Freedom Challenge and ran with it. Even though I seem to remember one member telling me, “I’m not giving up sugar” when she first joined, her change of heart led to a change of figure.

They all eliminated sugar, grains, and processed vegetable oils from their diets, and they did resistance and interval training three to four times a week. They could choose to eat a bonus meal every week that contained their favorite foods, as long as these weren’t trigger foods. (Trigger foods are defined as any food that you can’t eat in a standard serving without triggering cravings and overeating.) In addition, all four members had their weight and measurements recorded, and they all took before and after photos.

Although they did experience some uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal from sugar and grains, all of them lost significant amounts of body fat, and several inches overall. I’ll begin with Paulann’s results, as she was a challenge alumni who had already lost 10 pounds in the first 6 Week Challenge that Gordon Studio ran at the end of 2014. Paulann lost another 6 pounds in six weeks, but the best part in my opinion as her trainer and coach is the fact that she lowered her waist to hip ratio to .8. This is regarded as a healthy waist to hip ratio, and it is an excellent indicator of good overall health.

The three other participants were doing the Sugar Freedom Challenge for the first time, and I was delighted and gratified by their efforts. Cherie lost 11.6 pounds and 12 inches, Whitley lost 11.2 pounds and 14 inches, and Candy lost 13 pounds and 10 inches.

Although the case study sample was small, every participant lose a least a pound a week, and three of them lost almost 2 pounds a week, which is considered an ideal amount when it comes to losing fat while preserving lean muscle. Even better is the fact that they all improved their strength, balance, flexibility, and energy for daily living.

As a Certified Turbulence Trainer and ACE certified nutrition specialist, I believed that I had the tools to help my clients lose fat and transform their bodies, but nothing compares to the thrill of seeing the combination of Sugar Freedom and Turbulence Training get results live in the studio.

Most of all, I am so grateful to all of the Gordon Studio members and Sugar Freedom readers who have the dedication and willingness to try new and challenging fitness techniques. It is so worth it.

Be Beautiful Now


Last week I was moving files over from an old computer when I came across this photo.  My computer skills have always been a little haphazard, so I’m not really sure when this was taken. It was probably sometime in 2004, when my internet-influenced fat loss journey began.


January, 2004

Whatever you may think about the plethora of programs being sold on the internet,     

<a href=”http://f6b3cydqd908uwfp4bfgo6t9qd.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=BLOG” target=”_top”>Turbulence Training</a> urged me to do something very effective- take a before photo.  No bikini in this one!  I post the picture here because I want anyone reading this to know what the woman in that picture knew.

She thought she was already beautiful.

Recently my sister told me about a conversation she had years ago with our Mom.  My sister was feeling distressed over her own looks and Mom told her to be beautiful now.  She said that my sister should choose her clothes, make up, and hairstyle based on what would make her feel the most beautiful in that moment, no matter what she happened to weigh.

I can say that she has always followed that advice, and as a result I have always found my sister lovely to look at, and from the reaction of people around her she brings beauty with her wherever she goes.  Of course now that I think of it, the way she treats people, with kindness and genuine interest, certainly gives the impression she makes a special glow.

Be Beautiful Now

 The process of physical transformation is full of paradoxes like this one:  In order to change profoundly, and get all the way to your goal, you must accept yourself completely in this moment.

As I come closer and closer to the weight, size, and measurements I have chosen for my goal, have to become even more accepting of myself in order to avoid going completely nuts!  My rational mind thinks that with all of the skills and experience I’ve earned over the past seven years the the push to the finish line should get easier and easier.

I know how to eat, how to lift, how to move, and even how to think.  Indeed those processes do get easier.

Go ahead and learn the skills that lead to physical transformation.  They do work and they will serve you well, but they may not take you all the way to your goal if your greatest challenges are emotional.

If I have to name the greatest emotional obstacle to losing weight for good- it is fear: the fear that when you arrive at your chosen destination the imagined reward won’t be enough.

That perfect measurements won’t equal universal acceptance.  I think the essential purpose of this blog has been to help me figure out what in the world I’ve really been after all these years, and I thought I found it in the concept of perfect physical well being, something I thought I could go out and create for myself.


As  I get nearer to that place physically, it becomes abundantly clear that it’s never been about how I look.  It’s about how I feel, and about what I do.  I encourage you to ask yourself this question,


“What do I want to do that is being limited by the the state of my appearance, or by my thoughts about my appearance?”


The great challenge is then to go start doing those very things.  I accepted that challenge in July of 2012 when I signed a two year lease on the building that would become Gordon Studio.  My students accept that challenge whenever they step into one of my    Turbulence Training  classes.

Yesterday afternoon, we did the finisher that my colleague and friend Mike Whitfield taught to the trainers at the 2013 Turbulence Training Summit.  

My students had never seen some of the exercises before, and I was so proud of their trust and willingness when they did exercises like the SCREACH, and the Mountain Climber/Burpee combination.

Back to the Woman in the Picture

Even in those days, if I did my hair, put on my makeup (which I happen to enjoy doing), and wore my favorite color, I felt beautiful.  That was, and is, my secret.


So as I step onto the fast track toward releasing Sugar Freedom, I have two vital jobs.  I have to feel the fear of success and let it pass thorough me without blocking it with food, and I must go ahead and choose to be beautiful now.


Go ahead and try it.  You don’t have to tell anyone what you’re up to, and it may end up being your secret too.


Get Your Best Body Ever- After 40!


Default Bodyweight 400

 This is a class favorite at Gordon Studio:

Warm Up:
Y-Squat- 10
Arm Crosses-10 per side
Prisoner Lunge-8 per side
Mountain Climber- 10 per side
Leg Swing- 10 per side

Rest 30 seconds

400 Challenge:

25 Jumping Jacks
25 Body Weight Squats
25 Push Ups
25 Total Body Extensions

Rest one minute and repeat 3 times for a total of four rounds (400 reps total).

We got through it quickly enough on Friday that I added this incredibly simple finisher:
Cross Body Mountain Climbers: 20 Seconds on, 10 Seconds off for 4 rounds.

Total Body Stretch

With modifications this can be done by all fitness levels, and they feel incredibly empowered afterward.

With TT we can actually get our students to astonish themselves with their own abilities, and when they feel great, junk food loses a lot of its appeal.

One of my students, Dody, reached her goal weight of 145 pounds last week- down from 161. She said that she wasn’t really aware that it was happening. She knew her pants were looser- a lot looser, but that the 145 on the scale was a shock.

Been there! When I got back to 122 after Vegas I was thinking, “How did that happen?”

Simple- total commitment to Sugar Freedom, no cardio except walking, and TT.


After I met with my fitness colleagues in Las Vegas, I made a promise to myself that I would eat, train, and teach in a way that I know to be consistent with the best current science, and with my experience, and that of the most successful trainers and coaches I can study.


I realized that I had to answer and act on this question once and for all:


Do you want to teach what is popular, or do you want to teach what works?

Two years ago, I made a choice to teach what was popular, and I lost the body of my dreams when I slowly but surely re-gained 15 pounds over the course of the following year.


I don’t think it’s coincidence that I finally got my weight back to  goal range after I took a break from the cardio/aerobic classes I had been teaching.


My transformation happened after age 40, and what I have to accept once and for all is that, for someone like me who is susceptible to obesity, steady state, moderate intensity cardio sessions that last an hour or more are simply not an option if I want to maintain my fat loss.


The proof is right in front of me when I see my Turbulence Training students get leaner, stronger, and dare I say it, great looking bodies week by week.


Women in their teens, twenties, and early thirties may be able to cut their calories to the bone and do as much cardio as they want, but I have to accept that at almost age 50, I can’t.  


So with patience, good technique, and the right eating strategy for your body, you a can get to your goal weight after 40 and beyond.  And the best news is that that you can enjoy the journey.


Speaking of 50, my friend and colleague Shawna is that age, and her challenge burpee program is right in line with what I know to be effective:  You can check out her training program by clicking the blue link underneath Shawna’s picture:

Shawna at 50: Amazing!


A Program You Can Use at Home

Hello students and fans of Gordon Studio, and Transform With Catherine readers.

What do you do to permanently transform your body, if you can’t get in to Gordon Studio three times a week?

At the end of this post you will find the link to Mike Whitfield’s Workout Finishers program.  He is a Certified Turbulence Trainer who lost more than 100 pounds, and kept it off for years.  He was also Trainer of the Year last year.

So I didn’t just take his crown, I regularly steal his workout finishers to use in TT class.

You know those wild rounds of exercises we do right before we stretch?  The crazy effective ones?  You can get tons of them by clicking the link at the end of this blog post.

Workout Finishers will help you get abs: and keep them!

Here’s how effective Mike’s programs are:

Mike has entered 6 of his private clients into Craig Ballantyne’s Turbulence Training Transformation Contest and ALL 6 clients won or placed, even with thousands of people voting.

And they did it with ZERO cardio.

Their secret weapon was Mikey’s “finishers”.

So don’t be surprised when you find yourself with NEW definition in muscles you haven’t seen before after trying these bad boys.

That’s what finishers will do. Especially when you bring your body a unique stimulus like this.

Here’s the bottom line. I wouldn’t recommend this program if I didn’t believe in what Mike creates and does.

Just go look at Mike’s own before/after photos on his new page and you’ll instantly see why he’s so passionate about getting you in shape.

Yes, I know, here at Gordon Studio were going after Mike’s record of 6 clients placing in the TT contest.  Wouldn’t it be fun to beat him with his own workout finishers?

(Please note that the link  right below is an affiliate link that earns me a commission if you decide to buy.  But even if you don’t choose to buy the program, check out the before and afters- notice the smaller waistlines on the ladies.  Plus, this is fantastic program for guys who can’t make it in to Gordon Studio in person.)

You Can Lose Weight When You Travel.

How to Lose Weight When You Travel

Adventures in Sugar Freedom

If you’re new to the Gordon Studio Sonora Website, welcome!  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know it’s dedicated to helping you build your authentic ideal body, and keep it for good.

One of the biggest challenges of weight maintenance is learning how to eat when you’re out of your usual habitat.  After all, one of the most  powerful keys to permanent fat loss is learning how to cook healthy, satisfying food for yourself and your family, and generally home cooking has to happen at home.

It’s not boasting when I say that I have my food and cooking plan dialed in.  Typically, I make my big pan of vegetables in the morning, I make sure I have lettuce washed and ready for my mid-day salad, and I make sure I have a healthy protein source ready to go at any time.  It’s no fun to have to thaw and cook a chicken when you’re already hungry.

This is, to put it simply, is the discipline of permanent fat loss: to be willing to prepare for success.

Traveling for work or vacation is a different story though, isn’t it?

One of the perks of travel is that someone else is doing the cooking and cleaning up afterward, right?  One of the problems is that the food on offer is typically part of the Standard American Diet:  Lots of grains, conventionally raised meat, salty snack foods that are full of soybean oil, and sweets.

Even at the breakfast buffet for the meeting of fitness professionals I attended last week, the first foods I encountered were big baskets of bagels and pastries.  My new friend Adriana turned to me and said, “Why does this have to be the first thing we see?”  This being the “Carbage.”  (Thanks for making up that word Jimmy Moore.)

I suppose that one solution would be to book a room with a kitchen, go shopping, and just keep cookin’, but what if you need a break from that, or what if you’re having working lunches?

I’d like to offer a few of my travel friendly foods, and a few tips to help you make wise choices at restaurants, buffets, and even airports.

My travel friendly favorites are:
Organic Granny Smith Apples
Raw Almonds
and Organic Beef Jerky

These three items can go in your suitcase or carry on, and the three different textures and flavors are very satisfying.  I have literally made a mini meal of these three foods, and tumbled into bed after a long work day- especially if that workday involves learning new workouts and fitness techniques.

So now that we know you won’t starve, what should you pick at the restaurant of buffet?  Let’s keep it simple shall we?  Although breakfast is often a carb fest on the road, there are usually some whole foods like eggs, bacon, and fruit available.  At lunch, eat a big salad for the fiber and nutrients the leafy greens will give you, and at dinner- if you focus on the pleasure of the location, or the opportunity to grow professionally, you really don’t have to eat dessert.

If you’re like me and you don’t eat sugar but you love cheese, ask for it instead.  At steakhouses in particular, cheese for dessert is definitely in style.

The simple foundation of the Sugar Freedom Diet on the road is:  Vegetables cooked in butter, Salads dressed in olive oil and vinegar, simply prepared meats of the best quality you can find, whole fruits, and some full fat dairy if it agrees with you.

Ten years ago, it would have been hard to eat this way when traveling, especially at airports without a full service restaurant.  Today, whole items like fruit, eggs, and vegetables are pricey- but at least they’re available at airport food courts and convenience stores.

I hope these eating tips help, because five extra pounds of travel bloat is not my idea of a charming souvenir.  I lost two pounds of fat in Las Vegas last week.  That helped to make up for losing some money in the casino.  Oh well.  That’s entertainment!



How to Get the Body You Always Wanted, and Keep It.


So what am I holding in the “Today” photo?

That is the “Agreement to Participate in  a Research Study And Authorization for Use and Disclosure of Information” that I received from the The Miriam Hospital Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center.
Also known as:  The National Weight Control Registry.
The registry was formed to study people who have been successful at weight and fat loss long term.  Long term success is defined by the registry as a loss of at least 30 pounds that has been maintained for at least one year.
They do ask for photos as documentation, so here are the other two pictures I will be sending to show my results:

I do hope that they accept me into the study, because I have made it my life’s work to do what I can to pass along what I have learned to anyone else who wants to make a permanent fat loss transformation.
There is so much “Noise” and contradictory information in the news and on the internet these days that it can seem overwhelming and futile to sort through the different diets, exercise programs, and even surgical procedures to find what works for long term fat loss.
Here’s just one example of the contradictions we see when it comes to weight loss.
Here is the intro to an article by Mary MacVean of the Los Angeles Times:

“Earlier this week, researchers reported that skipping breakfast was linked to heart disease. A few days later comes word that skipping breakfast could be a good weight-loss strategy because people don’t make up for all those calories later in the day.
Should we tear our hair out in frustration? Or cozy up to the scrambled eggs?”

Mac Vean goes on to interview the author of the Breakfast Skipping Study: David Levitsky, a Cornell professor of nutritional sciences and psychology and the senior author of the breakfast and calories study.
In the study student volunteers skipped breakfast, and they ended up eating an average of 408 fewer calories over the course of the day.  According to the calorie balance theory of eat less, move more and lose weight, that would make skipping breakfast a good strategy to help combat our national obesity crisis.
Luckily, being a fine reporter, Ms. MacVean asks Mr. Levitsky this question:

“What about people who won the weight battle – keeping off at least 30 pounds for a year or more — and are part of the National Weight Control Registry? They eat breakfast.”

Levitsky replied:

“You’re talking about the exceptions,” Levitsky said. Those people are not like most people: They are more health-conscious, they exercise more, they’re extraordinarily watchful over what they eat. “It’s dangerous to extrapolate from them,”he said.  (The emphasis is mine.)

Dangerous?  He called us dangerous?  Seriously?

As an individual who has qualified for the National Weight Control Registry I am outraged at being called dangerous.

Ok, I admit, I’m a little bit flattered too.

There’s something exciting about being thought dangerous, as if I was some kind of Femme Fataleor something.  But no, I’m just a formerly chubby kid and obese middle aged mom who wanted health, and yes beauty, so badly that she was willing to change her whole life in order to get it.

Is it dangerous to do exercise you enjoy for 30 minutes three times a week?  Is is dangerous to dance or do yoga for three more hours during the week because you love it and it makes you feel fantastic and energized?

Speaking of energized, is it dangerous to eat a breakfast of organic eggs and vegetables cooked in Kerrygold butter every day?

Is is dangerous to eliminate sugar and grains from my diet because they trigger binges, and I don’t want to binge ever again?

It may be dangerous to extrapolate from what I do each day to stay lean, but if you want leanness, and vitality, and you want to feel like your ideal authentic self (rail thinness is not required to qualify), maybe you might want to try what has worked so brilliantly for me.

Here is my affiliate link for Turbulence Training.

This is the program that fueled my transformation, and that I am using in the 18th Turbulence Training Transformation Contest to help my students at Gordon Studio to transform their bodies as well.  Far from being dangerous, the program is safe, smart, effective, and it can work for you too.