Meet Chuck Jenkins, age 61. 

This is a story that we had to share with our OTAC family! We have served our community for over the past 25 years, which means that some of our members have been with us for a long time, and some are just getting started on their health journey. However, for Chuck, he has only been part of the OTAC family for the last four years – yet the impact he has made and the change he has seen in himself has been extraordinary!

Chuck is a government contractor and lives with his beautiful wife, Melissa in Amissville. They have three children and three grandchildren.

When Chuck joined OTAC in 2017, he was 245 pounds with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. The doctor had shared with him during a routine physical that due to being overweight, his high blood pressure and cholesterol that it was time to get on some medicine to help regulate his numbers. Chuck asked if there was anything else he could do, wanting to avoid going on medicine so early in life.

The doctor chuckled and said, “Yea, lose weight and start exercising…” Chuck replied confidently, “Done!”

The doctor gave him a goal of reaching 176 pounds. Chuck laughed at the idea of losing that much weight but he agreed that losing some weight would be healthy for him—even if he didn’t reach 176 pounds, any weight loss at this point would benefit him.

So, Chuck and his wife Melissa, recent empty-nesters, decided it was time to make a change. They had frequently passed by OTAC but as life sometimes can be, it never seemed like the right time to establish a consistent fitness routine. Chuck had gone in and out of other gyms throughout his life but he never found the groove he was looking for and he just didn’t feel comfortable or consistently motivated…

Chuck, being an all or nothing kind of guy, decided he was going to embark on this journey of getting himself back to a healthier lifestyle and hopefully get those numbers back down!

Chuck and his wife agreed to check out OTAC together. Taking the first step to change your life can feel more like taking a blind leap. Chuck admits he was intimidated.

He wondered, “Will everyone inside be in great shape? Will we feel out of place? Is this going to feel too intense?”

“We were instantly put at ease when we walked through the door,” he says. “A staff member greeted us with a warm smile, welcomed us inside, and gave us a tour of the campus. We loved the family atmosphere, and we were excited about the equipment selection and all the workout options to explore. It felt right.”

They joined the gym that day and agreed to start slowly. Their routine commenced with a simple aim: Develop consistency and comfortability. They began with stretching, some light cardio and mat work three days a week.

Chuck began to incorporate lifting into his regimen as he had been an occasional weightlifter in his previous years. But he shared that he kept finding himself interested in what was happening in the group fitness room. People looked happy, motivated and lively. He’d passed by the window countless times and was intrigued, but he felt unsure if he would be able to keep up.

One day, Chuck decided to take a leap of faith and signed up for a Body Attack class. After class, the instructor checked in with him to see what he thought. He shared it was difficult but he was hooked instantly! The energy in the room, the positivity and the challenge was all he needed. He was amazed that the instructor knew everyone’s names and that the group genuinely seemed to have this connection with one another where they all were working towards this common goal. It was like being on a team.

After that night, the story writes itself and Chuck has been coming regularly to classes along with doing individual workouts at OTAC for the last four years.

Today, you can find Chuck and his wife at the gym 5 to 6 days a week taking a variety of group fitness classes, yoga, small group training and semi private training. In fact, Chuck loved the programming of Body Attack so much, he even became a licensed instructor for OTAC after 6 months of getting accredited. Occasionally, you might find Chuck substituting for an instructor during the evenings at OTAC!

And how about those numbers? Chuck sits at his goal weight of 176 pounds, his blood pressure and cholesterol are perfect, and he shares that he is stronger, leaner, and more energetic than he has been in years.

Chuck is always greeting new members who walk into class with a warm smile, a friendly handshake and giving them tips for how to best approach class for the first time. Chuck is one of OTAC’s biggest advocates. His energy is contagious!

Chuck talks about the importance of family. His grandchildren know him as a grandpa that taps into his inner child, is full of life and fun. He says he never wants to be the grandparent that is not capable of running around with the kids.

We asked Chuck what his advice was for someone thinking about getting back to the gym, and here’s what he shared.

  1. Be reasonable with your expectations. There’s nothing wrong with easing yourself in.
  2. Be gentle with yourself as your body gets accustomed to exercise.
  3. Build accountability and consistency. If you have a really tough day and going to the gym just isn’t in the cards, stay home and take care of yourself. But the next day, be accountable, and do the work.
  4. Don’t go on some crazy, miserable diet! Eat clean, indulge occasionally, and portion control is key!

“At OTAC, you are part of a family, and a family takes care of each other,” says Chuck. “When I’m there, I want to see everyone succeed. What I feel when I walk in OTAC is unlike any place I’ve ever been.”

He loves the idea of our newest program starting on Feb 28, Reboot Program. Building a network of people who actually care about you can be challenging but Chuck feels that at OTAC it’s just part of the package. He says that what he feels when he walks into a room at OTAC is unlike any place he’s ever been.

Well, we can’t help but agree with Chuck. Our members are everything to us, they are family. Each member begins a  health and wellness journey that is unique. We meet each person right where they are and build on a relationship that supports, motivates, nurtures and promotes improvements and results over time.

Ultimately, a happier and healthier lifestyle becomes the normal!

OTAC Member Story: Chuck Jenkins

Member Story

Hi! I’m Kim Forsten.

My family and I opened the Old Town Athletic Campus here in Warrenton 25 years ago and dedicated ourselves to helping members of our community live strong, healthy lives.

We are proud to have won BEST health club of Warrenton for the past 15 years! 

I don’t know about you, but these last 20 months have been a real doozy. The pandemic has reset my perspective on life and has certainly taught me a great deal.

A few lessons I have learned (or was reminded of):

– Listen to your body—if you don’t feel well, rest.
– Love your family and your friends like never before.
– Support your local businesses.
– Love your employees like family. Because they are family.
– If you have it to give, give and keep giving.
– Adapt. Change.
– Become more interested in the real facts. Read and research.
– Become less interested in social media.
– The human body fights disease best when I practice the disciplines of eating well, sleeping well and exercising regularly. (Notice that I say practice…it’s never perfect, but a work in progress each and every day.)
– Listen to and respect another person’s view—it’s called balance.

For many of us, this strange time has meant some form of isolation. Short periods of isolation can actually be a healthy way to reflect on the past, present and future. We might even find inspiration while in isolation through a movie, a book, an article, or meditation. But inspiration is not enough to keep us motivated, determined and committed – we need more! 

To find continued motivation to fuel that inspiration is difficult to do alone. It is people—family, friends, co-workers, mentors, pastors, teachers, the young, the old—that provide real-time support, competition, encouragement and camaraderie. This is what makes us grow as individuals and allows us to reach our potential.

Even though we must walk our path as individuals, the journey is best when shared with others.

Is it time to create lifestyles of trust so that we can feel safe to move forward again? I think YES. We must keep going so we can keep growing—as individuals and as a community.

Old Town Athletic Campus is committed to finding a way to move forward by creating a healthy, strong community together. We realize there are concerns and uncertainty as fears linger. But we also realize that unless we move forward, we will not grow, and we will not rebound.

Please join us for an open house on Saturday, September 25 from 11am-12pm  or Monday, September 27 from 5:30-6:30pm. We’ll be having an open discussion on how we can help you feel safe to return your focus to your health and well-being.

We want to hear about your needs and priorities moving forward. How can we help you take the first steps toward sound emotional, mental and physical well-being?

Reserve your spot for this opportunity to explore ways you can take steps to a healthier and more confident lifestyle.  Space will be limited in each time slot to maintain open spaces.

Visit HERE to make a reservation or call 540-349-2791.

All attendees will receive a $50 gift card that can be used any time in 2021 toward services at OTAC.

If you have questions, we would love to hear from you. 

Some thoughts from Kim: Let’s Love Life Again!

Kim's Corner

Hi OTAC Family,

In the face of the coronavirus challenge, we at OTAC want you to know that we are doing our part in the fight against this illness, and that you are a priority to us.

Since the very first day we opened, we have considered cleanliness a number one priority and always use the highest quality products to fight unwanted bacteria and germs. In addition to our normal rigor, we have added more cleanings throughout the day with even more detailed and diligent focus. 

The wipes that are available to members are called FLEX WIPES, which kill MRSA, E. coli, norovirus, hepatitis, herpes, influenza, COVID-19 and more. 

We are asking you to partner with us in the effort to minimize the spread of germs. If we work together, we can maintain a healthy environment for everyone. Here are some ways to help prevent sickness:

  • Throughout your exercise sessions, we ask that you wipe down mats, bands, foam rollers, dumbbells, and handles. 
  • Wash hands before and after your workouts.
  • Many people choose to invest in their own mat if they use one frequently. We have mats for sale for $25.00 at the front desk. 
  • If you participate in group fitness and/or training sessions, instructors and trainers will ask you to use one wipe (one is enough!) before class and one wipe at the end of class to make a quick sweep of equipment you used. This is normal protocol—but we think it is important to be even more aware during this time. 
  • Sneeze in your elbow.
  • Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Did we mention we should all wash our hands frequently? 🙂

We as staff members will be washing our hands frequently and following CDC guidelines for maintaining clean work surfaces.

We ask that if you are presenting any symptoms of illness, please stay home. Our staff will be doing the same.

THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE regarding the best way to PREVENT disease and illnesses is to keep our immune system strong by:

Exercising regularly, following a healthy eating plan, getting adequate sleep, reducing our stress and surrounding ourselves with a community of support and friendships.  We should all keep doing what we are doing at OTAC because we are preventing disease by doing so!

We understand how easy it is to buy into the fear—we all have natural instincts to protect our families. At the same time, it can be unhealthy to disrupt your normal activities if you are a healthy individual. Our business is disease prevention and wellness through healthy activities and strong sense of community. We will continue to do thiseffectively and with confidence.

Be smart, encourage cleanliness, and promote wellness! Do activities that keep your immune system strong and stress levels low.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will make adjustments as needed.

Please do not hesitate to ask us for help. We want to be part of keeping our community strong. Together we can!



By: Jessica Walters

Hi, everyone! I’m Jessica Walters, and I’m a trainer here at Old Town Athletic Campus. I have been a personal trainer for about 5 years now. Over the years, a concern I’ve heard over and over again from women in fitness is “bulking up” from lifting weights. Oftentimes, they reference women who are professional bodybuilders, but the truth of the matter is those women look that way on purpose.

For a professional bodybuilder to achieve the optimal figure, she must consume a much larger-than-average amount of calories/protein AND commit many hours a day to working out. The hard truth is that sometimes those women are actually supplementing with steroids, which isn’t legal or healthy. Each calorie, supplement and workout is carefully calculated in order to achieve that body type. And let’s face it–most of us only can commit about 3 hours a week to exercise, we are not consuming thousands of calories a day, and the simple matter of fact is that we, as women, do not produce enough testosterone naturally to ever reach a “bulky, manly” physique!

If you’re a woman who has stayed away from the “boys’” part of fitness centers and skip the weights, you are truly missing out on being in the best shape of your life! I feel it is one of my responsibilities to help women fight this myth and make weights part of our domain, too.

And I can tell you from personal experience. When I was 18, I wanted to get into shape and lose weight after retiring from softball. I thought the only way to do this was to run. I’d spend hours and hours a week running. I became exhausted, my joints ached, I felt weak, and on top of that, I looked unhealthy. I mean, I was only 18 and I already had joint pain! I knew deep down this wasn’t right, so I started to study a different realm of fitness: weightlifting. And since then, I have not looked back. When I learned how to lift weights correctly, my body completely changed. I felt stronger, happier, and had way more energy. In fact, lifting weights helped my running improve as well. AND I didn’t have to spend hours in the fitness center!

The moral of the story is, don’t ever let the fear of “bulking up” discourage you from lifting weights. Here’s what you’re really doing when you lift weights: tightening, toning, preventing bone deterioration, reducing joint pain, improving your sleep, burning more calories and increasing your energy!

And if you don’t know where to start, COME SEE ME!

Women vs. Weightlifting

Trainer's Tip

By Matt Davenport

Over the course of the summer every year, the 3 major professional sports (football, basketball, and baseball) hold their amateur drafts.  These days, those drafts are aired on primetime tv with weeks and weeks of hype and analysis which make you want to glue your eyes to the main event…the first round.  In the aftermath of these drafts, it is a guarantee that every parent of a youth athlete will hear one stat that stands out, and it goes something like this: “91% OF ALL FIRST ROUNDERS WERE MULTI-SPORT ATHLETES IN HIGH SCHOOL!” But what does this really mean?

To start, lets differentiate correlation and cause because they play a pivotal role in how this information is interpreted.  The correlation in the statement above is between being a high-level professional athlete and being a multisport youth athlete.  The common interpretation of the information above is that being a multisport youth athlete causes you to be a high-level professional athlete which means that specializing in one sport is bad.

It should be noted that the overall level of athleticism required to be a professional in a sport is incredibly high.  At any level of sport, from youth to high school to college to professional, the higher-level athletes are the most sought after by coaches.  The higher-level athletes in youth sports play on better teams, get more playing time, and acquire more skills than those lesser-level athletes. Then the chain continues to high school, then to college, and then to professional sports.  So, while “91% OF ALL FIRST ROUNDERS WERE MULTISPORT ATHLETES IN HIGH SCHOOL!” may be true; it is not necessarily true that being multisport athletes caused them to be first rounders. Being the highest-level athletes caused them to be first rounders.

Sport specialization is not a youth athletes’ enemy.  In fact, most youth athletes end up specializing simply because they LOVE one sport more than any other.  That should be rewarded. Let them engage in their passion and learn to work hard for something they enjoy.  However, overspecialization IS a youth athletes’ enemy because it can lead to an increased risk of injury. This is not because they are playing just one sport; this is because they are playing too much of one sport and over-using certain athletic patterns.  Using baseball as an example, there is a huge difference between playing just the 20-30 competitive games in the spring and summer and playing baseball year-round with 60+ competitive games a year. The former is more likely to get hurt because they are playing too much not because they are playing just one sport.

The moral of the story is this; Don’t force a youth athlete to play multiple sports just for the sake of playing multiple sports.  They may not be good at some sports. Then, they will not play competitively in those sports which is counterproductive to the reason they are playing multiple sports. Let them play what they love and want to work at, but control how much they are playing.  Playing just baseball, basketball, or football is perfectly fine, but playing too much baseball, basketball, or football can lead to an increased risk of injury. The true cause of getting to a high-level of any sport is being a high-level athlete. Take a break from a specific sport and teach your youth athlete to simply be a better athlete. That is where true success lies.

The Misconception of the Multi-Sport Athlete and Sport Specialization

Trainer's Tip

By: Kim Forsten

Sunday was National Friendship Day! I felt really grateful for this sweet reminder to intentionally focus my energy on my friendships. It also got me thinking about the dynamics involved in this type of relationship, and how it’s changing for younger generations and people who are coming of age right now.

Just like any living thing, friendships depend on time and attention to thrive. Since my days as a kid and young adult, there has been a major culture shift. You may have noticed the steady rise in popularity of “the self”. We have embraced self-centeredness (I mean that in the literal sense!) so completely that the “put yourself first” mentality has already left obsession and entered into the more comfortable zone of acceptance. It’s so normal to think this way, in fact, that we probably don’t even notice how it’s permeated our lives, including our attitudes toward friendship.

In the last decade or so, a number of brands have successfully created an association of self-care with their products, emboldening us to take more “me” time, treat ourselves more often. You don’t have too far to go before you stumble across slogans like, “Your first love should be yourself, “self-care Sunday,” or “Because you’re worth it.”

Social media has only encouraged us. There’s the worship of selfie culture. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are platforms for us to share our feelings and experiences with the world on a whim, about everything from our kids to our moods to what we had for breakfast. We can even visually document our health, spiritual, and other personal journeys, and potentially be seen by millions of people.

Do I have enough examples?

Now, this isn’t necessarily all bad. I like that we’re working on learning how to love, appreciate and understand ourselves. There’s no denying that the explosion of online sharing has been eye opening for our world. It has brought attention to important topics, lifted taboos off of certain subjects, and it’s allowed people to connect on the basis of shared experiences and struggles. But it’s doing something else, too.

I think there is a problem with the idea that we can find happiness and self-worth by constantly putting ourselves first. There’s a piece of the equation that, when missing, throws the quest of a meaningful life off balance: To have a good relationship with yourself, you cannot be without strong connections to others.

With such a high importance placed on the self (made all the more powerful by the ability to disconnect with people and connect to a device instead) and with no real conversation being had about the joy derived from serving others, others become less important by default. And when others seem less important, we become less happy.

Because no matter what higher power you believe or don’t believe in, somewhere in your subconscious, you have to know this: You’ve been placed on this earth to contribute something. Deep down, you know society does not function properly if we all decide to be takers—of time, of resources, of attention, or of credit. The purpose of life is not to take; it is to give. It’s to be part of something much bigger—and dare I say, more important—than ourselves.

So, back to National Friendship Day. If you want to feel a sense of self-worth that is real and lasting, be there for a friend. Even when (not if—WHEN) over the course of a friendship, there are periods of struggle or dysfunction, it’s always worth the time and sacrifice to strengthen the relationships you choose to be in. When we support others, give of our time and share in another person’s success, the natural side effects are a sense of joy, contentment and fulfillment that a selfie stick or a self-care kit just can’t replicate.

If you have a friend you regularly work out with, think about why you do it. Your first answer might be that you do it to hold yourself accountable. A workout buddy motivates you to get there on time, break a sweat and reach your fitness goals more quickly. But do you ever think of it the other way around? That you’re going so that your friend has someone to hold him or her accountable? That you need to rise to the occasion for them?

Starting this week, try thinking of your workout partner less as someone whom you need, and more as someone who needs you. See how a mentality of wanting to be useful for the sake of someone else affects your goals, your feelings, and most importantly, your friendships.

Want to be the happiest person on the planet? You can, but it’s not about you…

Kim's Corner

by Shawn V. Pittington
NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist


Whether you’re playing sports, traveling or even just sitting in the sun during these dog days of summer, getting enough to drink is vital!

Why is hydration important?

Dehydration is no joke! It can lead to problems ranging from swollen feet or a headache to life-threatening illnesses such as heat stroke.

Keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day is a big favor to your heart, which needs hydration to help it pump blood through your blood vessels to your muscles so they work efficiently.

How much water does a person need?

I tell clients all the time, “If you’re thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.” But thirst isn’t necessarily the best indicator of dehydration. The amount of water a person needs depends on climatic conditions, clothing worn, and exercise intensity and duration.

Hydration needs also vary depending on these body/health conditions:

  • A person who perspires heavily will need to drink more than someone who doesn’t.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may mean you need to drink more water than other people.
  • People with cystic fibrosis have high concentrations of sodium in their sweat, and need to use caution to avoid dehydration.
  • Some medications can act as diuretics, causing the body to lose more fluid.
  • People who have a heart condition, are older than 50, or are overweight may have to take extra precautions.

Want to know exactly how much fluid YOU need? Try weighing yourself before and after exercise to see how much you’ve lost through perspiration. Every pound of sweat you lose is a pint of water you’ll need to replenish.

This is a particularly good method for athletes who train in the hot summer months. It’s not unusual for a high school football player wearing pads and doing drills to lose five pounds or more of sweat during a summer practice!

How do I know if I’m hydrated?
Luckily, there’s a quick way to determine if you’re hydrated enough. Pay attention to the color of your urine! Pale or clear pee means you’re well-hydrated. If it’s dark, drink more fluids.

Which drink(s) hydrate best?
For most people, water is the best thing to drink to stay hydrated. There are even foods you can eat that contain high percentages of water, like fruits and vegetables.

What about sports drinks?
Sports drinks with electrolytes may be useful for people doing vigorous, high intensity exercise in very hot weather, but they tend to be high in added sugars and calories.

When is it most important to hydrate?
Hydration isn’t just important during physical activity. Sitting in the sun on a hot or humid day, even if you are not exercising, can also cause your body to need more fluids.

You should also keep tabs on your hydration when you travel–you might sweat differently when you’re in a different climate!

Stay hydrated and stay healthy, everyone!

Stay Hydrated. Stay Healthy.

Trainer's Tip

In December of last year,Old Town Athletic Club on Walker Drive was transformed into the Old Town Athletic Campus with the addition of The Hub, a brand new space delivering an improved fitness experience with boutique-style exercise spaces.

Members of all fitness levels now have the ability to select memberships that cater to their specific goals. Options include OTAC Spark, or group exercise classes; OTAC Fury, or small group classes; OTAC Force, or semi-private training; and OTAC Focus, or one-on-one training. OTAC Breathe a yoga and Pilates membership, and Parisi Speed School, an athletic conditioning membership, are available at the lower building.

Now officially joining the lineup as of March 8, comes OTAC Iron, a utilitarian-style gym designed for the specific needs of independent exercisers, and OTAC’s most affordable option at $39 per month. Iron, operational since last December, has undergone extensive renovations to create an open floor plan that will house brand new cardio and weightlifting equipment.

Cole Forsten, the visionary behind Iron, has spent the last year preparing for its debut. “Iron has always been a dream of mine,”he says. “People deserve a space to work out that is open, clean and welcoming with plenty of amenities. You’ll find that both at Iron and at OTAC as a whole. Whether you’re a student, single, married or retired, you can find a form of exercise here that you love.”

One of Forsten’s main goals in creating Iron was to give members access to the best equipment at an affordable price point—without forfeiting quality. “It’s time that the independent exercising community has a place that allows them to work out the way they want,” says Forsten. “Our equipment will always be clean, operational, and upgraded on a regular basis. No one should have to forfeit amenities just because they like to work out independently.”

Iron members can enjoy brand new treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, rowers, selectorized equipment, and wide variety of cable options. For avid lifters—dumbbells from five to 150 pounds, squat racks, bumper plates, standard and specialty bars, and an outdoor workout area with a squat rack, a sled and monkey bars are available. There are also dedicated areas for stretching, ab and body weight work, and accessories like bands, plyo boxes, TRX systems, pull-up bars and more.

Additional amenities include a fully stocked juice bar, locker rooms with showers and a supplement and retail store. For members with young children, Kid Care is also offered as an option.

There is just one more thing Forsten wants the community to know. “There is a common misconception about integrating health into your life,” he says. “People think they have to get in shape before joining a gym, and that’s just not the case. We are here to help people at any stage of their fitness journey. You don’t have to wait until you reach certain goals to come see us.”

In the month of March, OTAC Iron is offering a 10% discount for new members, bringing the monthly price from $39 to $35. To learn more about becoming a member of OTAC Iron, Spark, Force, Fury, Focus, Breathe or Parisi, call (540) 349-2791.

‘It’s Time’: OTAC Iron Fitness Center Opens to Community


Is this you?

You’re ready to shake off the dust of the past 12 months and move into a fresh, clean new year with no mistakes and no regrets. You’re drawn to the idea of a fresh start. The notion of renewing your dedication to your goals is a very attractive one. When you close your eyes, you can see your future self, handling everything life throws at you and making it look easy. “From now on, your troubles will be miles away,” as the holiday songs promise. A new beginning, right around the corner.

Each time the calendar resets, though, none of this comes as easily as you’d envisioned in those dwindling days of the previous year.

But maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe it’s your schedule’s fault. How long is your daily to-do list, for example? It’s long, isn’t it? Maybe each kid has to be driven to various activities six days a week, or maybe you find yourself overcommitting and now work and your personal life are competing for your attention. And at the end of each day, no matter how busy you were, you’re left with this nagging feeling that you didn’t do enough. What is up with this?!

And then there’s this (is this you?):

It’s hard to bring 100% of your focus to the task at hand. As you’re doing one thing, your mind always wanders off to something else. You feel unsatisfied at the end of the day because it felt like a blur of uninterrupted chaos, where you somehow didn’t get everything done. Tasks feel joyless, even the things that are supposed to be for your benefit, like carving out time to exercise, read a book or get a haircut.

Maybe the secret to unlocking that future version of yourself described above is to learn how to focus. Maybe it’s impossible to focus all of your energy into each individual task right now because you’re simply doing too much. You’re coming home frustrated and frazzled, because even though you’ve technically done a lot, you haven’t done anything particularly well.

When you’re not focused, you’re not “in the moment.” And there’s joy to be had in the moment. Imagine if you could figure out how to get completely lost in the adrenalin high from a spin class, or be totally present when your spouse is talking to you from across the table, or get genuinely swept up by your child’s excitement over an accomplishment. How would your life feel different?

We make choices every day about how we’re going to spend our time. Twice a week, I cook for my family. Depending on what I’m making, it can take hours to prepare. I choose to do that, and it brings me great satisfaction and great joy. But if I have to rush home because I haven’t devoted the right amount of time needed to do it, or I agreed to take on something else while I’m preparing for the evening, I’m dividing my attention. I’ve made it so much harder to be grateful for the time with my family. But when I commit to focusing 100% of my energy and attention on what I’m doing, it’s the best I feel all week.

Whenever we’re about to start an exercise class, I always ask the group to think about what brought them through the door, and what they want to get out of the workout today. I say, “Think about that, and let that be your driving force for the next hour.” When you start thinking about your list of things to do, or that you’re bored, or that you wish the person next to you wasn’t slinging sweat on you, go back to why you’re here. It’s not like you’re wasting your time; you’ve chosen to be here. This class may be 10% of your day, but if you devote 100% of your effort into that 10%, you are in the moment. You’re alleviating anxiety. You’re feeling what you’re doing, and that in and of itself is a satisfying thing.

Devoting 100% your focus and energy into each activity that you do builds happiness. It builds gratitude. It builds awareness and passion and self-discovery. It builds that future self that otherwise always seems just out of reach. A future self that might do less, but feel more.



Why Focusing Fuels Gratitude


Serves 6
1 can artichokes in water (drained)
Juice of 2 lemons plus zest from 1 lemon
4 plum tomatoes – cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic – minced
2 tbs. capers
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of chicken stock (You could use seafood stock instead)
Tabasco (optional)
Vegetable oil or grape seed oil (use oil that can handle high heat)
Olive oil small amount
6  (4-6 oz) halibut filets (you could use grouper, too or another similar fish of your liking)
Salt and pepper and creole seasoning

Rinse and pat dry the filets – salt and pepper them – sprinkle some creole seasoning on them too (creole is optional)

Heat oil in skillet – medium high
Add filets – cook on one side for 4 minutes – flip and cook for 2 more minutes
Remove from the skillet and set aside

Turn stove down a bit to medium.
Add some olive oil to the pan and sauté garlic for 1 minute.
Add artichokes and let them get a little brown (2 minutes maybe)
Add tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock, lemon juice and zest and reduce the liquid to about 1/2.
Taste – add a little Tabasco if you want a little kick – add the basil and capers- and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Add the filets back into the pan and sauté for another 2 minutes or until fish is cooked to your liking.


Halibut with Artichokes, Lemon, Tomatoes and Capers


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