Our secret ingredient

So you want to tone up, lose weight, get fit, be active, do more?! Want to know the secret ingredient we use that makes our clients successful time and again? We change their lens! Totally new prescription to help them see things more clearly.

Stephen Covey claims: “The problem is the way we see the problem.” We’ve found weight loss and other wellness goals have less to do with diet and exercise and more to do with how you view the journey and your efforts.

It’s all a matter of perspective — do you operate with a fixed or growth mindset? Someone with a fixed mindset perceives effort as failure or “I’m not good enough”. While a growth mindset sees challenge as an opportunity to learn, evolve and improve self-worth.

Fixed: I lost 50 pounds but it was so hard…
Growth: Weight loss is a challenge but I’m learning to love myself in the process…

Fixed: I did OK this week but I could have done better…
Growth: I did the best I could with what I had and I’ll try harder next week…

Fixed: My favorite SPIN instructor isn’t here today…
Growth: WOW, I hope everything’s OK with Lisa, it’s not like her to miss a class…

Fixed: I overindulged this weekend but you know how I am…
Growth: I enjoyed myself a little too much but I realize where I keep going wrong…

Fixed: Only two pounds after all that work…
Growth: That’s a lot of work for two pounds, I’ve got to be more mindful of my choices…

Diet and exercise ain’t worth a lick if you’re running around with a fixed mindset. It’s far more challenging to reprogram someone’s outlook than it is to power on the treadmill but the reward is plentiful. As our clients love for and belief in themselves improves, we just get out of the way.


Spartan races and “never enough”

imagesIn this day and age, it seems bigger is always better. If I just had or did “fill in the blank”, then I’ll be happy, content, validated, fulfilled, worthy, etc. Once we get “there”, sadly, we come to find we’re still “never enough”. This is what shame researcher Brene Brown describes as the scarcity complex in her book Daring Greatly. Regardless of what we have, say, or do, it’s “never enough”!

We can see the impact of “never enough” everywhere we look: never enough sleep, time, sex, style, performance, intelligence, Spartan Races, the list goes on and on. As a fitness enthusiast and movement professional, I’m a fan of adventure races, such as the Spartan Race, but it seems the extreme nature of some of them feeds directly into the endless pit of “never enough”. BTW, this applies to all forms of progressive exercise: marathons, triathlons, Crossfitting, etc.

The basic Spartan race is a 3-5 mile run with 20-23 obstacles. If an obstacle is too difficult, you can trade up for a mere 30 burpees (not easy). For the average person, this is quite a feat. Yet, once completed, their eyes seemingly gaze to the next level race, an 8-10 mile run with 24 to 29 obstacles (a sign of “never enough”). Whatever happened to repeating a race and enhancing your performance? If you still haven’t had your fill, you could dare to perform a 12-14 mile race with 30 to 35 obstacles. If you complete all three, you’ll receive a medal but it never fills the deeper void within many…there’s remains a sense of inadequacy.

I’m all for a good competition and I believe if there’s no challenge in our life, there’s no opportunity to change into who we have the potential of becoming. However, we need to better understand the emotional driver behind our initiatives and be sure the safety and benefits far outweigh the demands of sport. The majority of participants are most likely somewhat prepared for the first level of race but much less for the next level and I’d bargain very few for the last. One could ask: Do I have enough resources to accommodate the demands? But that would require leveling with yourself, which is hard to do.

Our emotional drivers cause us to do things that make us feel good and we’ll be damned if anything gets in the way of that. If I do the next level race…I’ll be stronger, I’ll be fitter, I’ll be braver, I’ll be tougher, I’ll have medals, I’ll have bumps, cuts and bruises, I’ll have bragging rights. We’ll feel great temporarily but once the high fades, we’re back to searching for something else to make us feel worthy.

We become enough when we stop reaching out for the next race, a nicer car, fancier clothes, a bigger house, the next best thing and we turn our focus inwards and practice gratitude, thankfulness, and acts of kindness towards ourselves and others. Then, the race slows to a simple jog in the direction of our preferred status.

Michael Rizk is the founder of Condition for Life, a Lifestyle Management company dedicated to helping people construct lifestyles in which their health, fitness and wellness goals are the byproduct of how they are living. This sophisticated, refreshing and Revolutionary approach has inserted joy, contentment and fulfillment back into the process of transforming oneself. This experience is available in studio, on Skype or online.

Remove your Crutch!

Unknown-2When it comes to improving health and well-being, one area I’ve found clients struggle with is to discern what to do first or determine what needs their attention most. I’ve found a simple way to help them discover the answer: Remove your crutch! When you remove a habit (good or bad based on your perception, we can always justify/rationalize), it highlights the deficits and causes you to consider constructive alternatives to improving your quality of life.

If you rely on caffeine to get going or keep going…remove your crutch! This will cause you prioritize Rest and Recovery. Constructively, you’ll start managing decisions differently to enjoy more downtime and sleep and you’ll realize that coffee tastes better when you want it, instead of need it.

If you rely on excessive exercise to decrease stress…remove your crutch! This will cause you to prioritize Stress Resolution. Constructively, you’ll start to address the roots of your stress, as opposed to only treating the symptoms.

If you rely on “points” to manage portion sizes…remove your crutch! This will cause you to prioritize Presence and Awareness. Constructively, you’ll start tuning in to when you feel satiated, as opposed to relying on a one-size-fits-all sliding scale.

If you rely on “eating on the run” because you don’t have time to eat…remove your crutch! This will cause you to prioritize Planning and Preparation. Constructively, you’ll start thinking about your day the day before, as opposed to the morning of.

If you rely on your news feed excessively to help you feel connected to others…remove your crutch! This will cause you to prioritize Relationships and Support. Constructively, you’ll start finding ways to form deep, meaningful relationships as opposed to those that never penetrate the surface.

Of course, there is a balance to everything. When quality of life issues are present, we have to question our behaviors and seek constructive, authentic and solution-oriented options. As we satisfy our fundamental needs as human beings, we unlock our potential to live life in a thriving state.


Michael Rizk is the founder of Condition for Life, a Lifestyle Management company dedicated to helping people construct lifestyles in which their health, fitness and wellness goals are the byproduct of how they are living. This sophisticated, refreshing and Revolutionary approach has inserted joy, contentment and fulfillment back into the process of transforming oneself. This experience is available in studio, on Skype or online.

Trash your scale





























So you’re trying to lose weight and this likely isn’t your first attempt. If you’re like many, you’ve done all the right things and stepped on the scale only to find disappointment. Out of frustration, you figure why bother, so you quit. But before long, you return to the same vicious cycle. There are a number of issues going on here but the easiest to address that will have a tremendous impact on your waistline is to trash the scale. That’s right, the primary mechanism you’re using to measure your progress is not worthy of your two feet and only lends itself to frustration and disappointment.


When it comes to reaching your weight loss goals, what’s more important than these attributes: attendance, effort, attitude, self-worth, mental fortitude and grit? Nothing! How many of these things can be measured on the scale? None!

The scale measures your gravitational pull towards the center of the earth, it doesn’t tell you how happy you are after doing the right things, the sacrifices you made to get to the gym or the hectic lifestyle you’ve been juggling to keep things in balance. It doesn’t measure what matters, so why bother paying mind to something that tends to only lets you down.


How often are you encouraged to show up and give life your very best each day? Probably not very much! More importantly, how well does your day go when you receive bad news or harsh feedback? Probably not very good!

Lets appreciate the scale is an incredibly judgmental, belittling and selfish critic. You work hard, you get on the scale and it simply gives you a pass or fail based on your expectations. The scale is hard to please, it’s unrelenting and nothing but a Debbie-downer! What you need at that moment is an encouragement, not a message to try harder when you’re already giving it all you’ve got.


The human body is a wonderfully, sophisticated organism. It’s primary function is survival. If you’re stressed out, exercising on and off again, eating on the run, getting poor quality sleep, with limited support systems, do you think your body has an environment conducive to losing weight? Absolutely not!

There are thousands of processes taking place within your body to keep you alive. What if you body isn’t losing weight because its fighting off an inflammatory process or struggling because you have hypertension and are pre-diabetic?  What your mind wants vs. what your body needs are two different things and the scale is to dumb to know the difference. Trust in your body that when conditions are right, it will release the weight.

There are a slew of other reasons the scale is a poor indicator of your progress: it can cause an obsessive behavior, it toggles with your self-worth and it only tells you that you’ve put weight on but not necessarily why (which is far more important). The bottom line is you don’t need the scale to tell you when your happy or still have a ways to go. Of course, you can continue stepping on the scale, but I’d bargain it takes attention from your internal drive to look and feel better and focuses it on “I’m not good enough”.

As a fitness studio owner, this has been a topic I’ve been very passionate about (if you couldn’t tell :-). I threw our scale away about 7-8 years ago when I saw the impact it had on my client’s spirit. I specifically recall this one client, she did EVERYTHING right, she showed up early, stayed after, had a great attitude, worked hard, etc. and when stepped on the scale and it literally trampled on her spirit. At that moment, I chose my client’s well-being and decided to trash the scale.  I’ve discovered, once the human spirit feels defeated, it’s really hard to do anything productive, let alone lose weight. I welcome your stories, questions or comments on the scale, why you think it’s valuable or not and have an intelligent discussion around it. Be well.

When all else fails…look inward

UnknownOnce you’ve tried every diet, every workout, every sleep routine and every way to manage stress and it’s still not right, look inward. All the answers are within you. Question is, how do you access them? Simple, do less. In fact, turn off. Completely. Be still, be quiet and create space for yourself to hear what your Mind, Body and Spirit have to say. And if you really listen, you’ll know exactly what to do.

The first, most important thing to do is to accept total accountability for your current status. Once you realize you are the common denominator to every situation in your life (good and bad), you have an amazing opportunity to change who you are into who you want to become. If you’re tendency is to point the finger at everything and everyone else, good luck. Remember, look inwards.

Take an honest look at your current approach to managing your quality of life and if you’re dissatisfied, appreciate it’s not working. Then, ask yourself (this is a form of looking inward), what about my current approach seems to be throwing things off? Now, don’t rush to change things, we’re thinking strategic, not tactical. Instead, close your eyes and listen for the answer. Maybe you have an exhausting all or none tendency, maybe you have too much on your plate to do anything well, maybe you don’t love and believe in yourself. Only you will know the answer and only you can do something about it.

Wherever you are today, it doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is you want to improve it. Map out where you’re trying to go so you’ll know when you’ve gotten there. Once you’ve got the end in mind, work backwards to today and focus on making one choice at a time consistent with who and where and what you want to be. Since you will be making new and different choices, they will feel awkward, unfamiliar and uncomfortable. This is how you’ll know you’re changing. Plan for setbacks because they WILL happen but aim to make choices that honor you 80% of the time, 20% is dedicated to the learning curve of making any lasting change.

At the end of the day, return to that quiet place and look inward to see how you’ve done and continue tweaking till you find what works for you.

“By doing what you’ve never done, you become someone you’ve never been.” Michael Rizk

Developing people, not waistlines


Clients come to me all the time to lose weight, tone up and get in shape. They want me to reassure them that they need to move more and eat less in order to reach their goals. Sorry, not gonna do it. I don’t believe that’s entirely necessary. It’s a skewed perspective which doesn’t consider the needs of an Individual or sustainability of their efforts.

The best way I’ve found to reach just about any health and wellness goal is to focus on developing people, not their waistlines. How do you develop someone? Show them their worth. Encourage their Spirit. Manage their expectations. Cause them to question their actions. Shine a light on their Values. Have them write a Vision. Highlight why they are doing what they are doing. Teach them how change happens. Focus them on what matters most. Challenge them. Position them for success. And most importantly, help them realize their not a Body with a goal. Their Individuals, lead by a Mind and driven by a Spirit.

The traditional approach to reaching our health and wellness objectives is “outside-in”: get healthy, get fit, lose weight and you’ll be happy. Doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. It hasn’t worked with any of my clients for 10 years.

As an alternative, try taking an “inside-out” approach: get happy, feel whole, honor yourself and you’ll become healthy. This works. I’ve tried it. I’ve been seeing it work for the last 5 years with all of my clients.

When you help someone satisfy their fundamental needs as a human being, their waistline tends to follow.


“The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability.” Fred A. Manske Jr.


For who and for what?

diverse-people-holding-text-individuality-44447059Oftentimes I’m asked: Is this a good exercise, a good thing to eat, etc. and my answer is always the same. For who and for what? Who’s the person and what’s their goal?

This is more than a shoddy response, it’s simply considering the Individual needs of the person asking. In other words, nothing is good for everyone.

Are burpees a good exercise? For someone with a joint replacement, not really. For a healthy, non-symptomatic person looking for some variety, go for it. For someone looking to increase cardiovascular endurance for a marathon, not at all.

Is ice cream bad for you? If you have an addictive personality and you’re trying to be mindful of your weight, probably not the best option. If you lead an active lifestyle and you enjoy it and you don’t overindulge, yummy. If you’re diabetic and you regularly forget to take your insulin shots, be careful.

At the end of the day, most things in moderation are fine. I would ask myself: Is this going to help get me where I want to be and is it sustainable? If the answer is yes and yes, then try it out and see how you respond. If you respond well, try it again. If not, try something else.

I’d rather you try something on your own accord and pay attention to your Individual response than because I told you it was OK. It’s the difference between being told what to do and thinking for yourself.

“To find yourself, think for yourself.” Socrates

You Don’t Need Motivation

motivateClient: Hi, I was wondering if you could help me lose weight?
Catalyst: I’ve successfully worked with many people who have lost weight. What seems to be the problem?

Client: I lose motivation easily.
Catalyst: So you want me to motivate you to lose weight?

Client: Yes!
Catalyst: You don’t want me as your source of motivation. Once we part ways, you’re left with none and your progress is doomed.

Client: I never thought of it that way.
Catalyst: How about I teach you how to become your own source of motivation?

Client: Really?!
Catalyst: Say you lost your first 20 pounds within a reasonable time frame, would you be motivated?

Client: Absolutely!
Catalyst: Great, how could you see losing 20 pounds?

Client: I’d make sure I’m eating good quality foods and leading an active lifestyle.
Catalyst: So you realize that motivation comes from action, which creates results.

Client: I guess you’re right.
Catalyst: I guess you don’t need me for motivation. You just need to take action consistent with who you want to be and motivation follows.

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Lao Tzu

If it’s stiff…don’t stretch it!

if its stiff

We’ve learned when a part of our body stiffens up, we should stretch it. That’s usually a mistake though.

Think of the human body from a sophisticated, biological standpoint. It’s designed to survive and will do anything and everything to protect itself.

When something’s not moving right within the body, say the hip joint, our hamstring can become stiff as a protective mechanism. But we can’t assume that stiffness is related to tightness.

So when we stretch a stiff hamstring, we’re going against our body’s intuition and tend to make matters worst.

The area of the body which stiffens is typically hyperactive and overworking. So stretching tends to be precisely what it doesn’t need.

it’s impossible to say exactly what causes your individual stiffness. I’ve seen stiff necks due to tight ankles and stiff backs due to tight shoulders. Everything is connected to and affected by everything else.

Your best best is to stretching out some of the neighbors in the area. If it’s your hamstring, try stretching your glutes or your calves or quads or hip flexors. Try the same side and don’t be surprised when it’s the opposite side.

Stiffness, like every other limitation in the body is a total body issue. The body doesn’t know what a tight hamstring is but it does know what to stiffen in order to protect itself.


“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” Friedrich Nietzsche

Build Biceps, Maintain Function

Build Biceps, Maintain FunctionThe best way to develop lean muscle is bodybuilding. However, lifting in isolation will impede our integrated function over time. So lets combine a traditional lifting technique (biceps curls) with a fundamental movement pattern (reaching) to balance our wants (nice arms) and our needs (reliable movement).

Feel free to tweak the movements shown:

Speed – Faster or Slower

Range – Deeper or more Shallow

Load – Heavier or Lighter

Don’t abandon your current routine entirely but do consider this as an alternative to tradition, as a warm-up or cool-down, or even as a recovery routine on days you’re beat.

Enjoy: https://vimeo.com/137905228