By Tony Neal

We all are probably aware of what motivation is, but how do we explain it to others in a way that makes sense, when we all feel motivated by different factors as individuals. Motivation is the desire to achieve something, which stems from a reward type system. That can come from an actual materialized reward or a personal feeling. We as people can gather motivation from both of these types of motivational ideas.

Extrinsic Motivation is gaining motive from outside factors such as participating in a sporting event on a team to win the game. Another example would be a high school student needing a scholarship, and doing particular things in order to give them a better chance of qualifying/receiving one. These external factors help push us as individuals toward a goal that we can quantify or materialize.

Intrinsic Motivation is using inside factors from within one’s own mindset to further achieve a goal or outcome. For example a person who wakes up extra early to work out due to time constraints or other commitments in their daily routine. A person who takes special interest in a topic and chooses to go to the library in their free time to furthermore read and research more information. These specific examples are motivational ideas that start from within an individual.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivations are both very important in their own way. When it comes to fitness and health related goals, they become vital! Each person will vary in what drives them to continue on working towards their goals, whether it is losing weight for better health, or wanting to be around for kids/grandkids, or simply just wanting to look physically better for a significant other, a vacation, a wedding, etc. Most fitness people understand these concepts and how important it is for them to practice staying motivated as well as motivating others.

Some ideas that I have come across in my 11 year fitness and health journey, include both extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors. I have competed in numerous competitions where I was trying to win a prize, which to me was a huge driving factor. I have attended a university to gain a health degree, to be able to make a career in something I am passionate about. I have also spent many years trying to achieve further knowledge and understanding of my own personal goals and fitness related concepts. It serves as a constant reminder as to why you are doing things to help get you closer to your goals. Here is a list of some motivation tactics I like to use to help myself:

  • Using the background of your phone to save keywords or a picture of your goal
  • Writing sticky notes and placing them in the bathroom on the mirror where you get ready
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people and limiting time spent reading negative comments
  • Using social media as a platform for ideas and positive reinforcement
  • Keeping a notepad or person journal to write down any ideas or thoughts
  • Purchasing particular sized clothing to use as guide to see results
  • Creating musical playlist that fits the situation or mood you are looking for
  • Reading self-help or autobiographical stories on other people who have achieved/overcome amazing circumstances
  • Taking personal time to reflect in silence with just your own thoughts and all outside factors gone (phones, people, TV, music, etc.)


Tony is 30 years old and has a high level of passion for health and wellness. Tony has been a fitness specialist for 5 years and a personal trainer for 7 years. He graduated from Miami University (OH) with a B.S. in Kinesiology. He gets the most enjoyment out of teaching individuals that they have the power to change their body and mindset with enough hard work, knowledge and discipline. Outside of work Tony enjoys traveling, cooking, and sports.



What is Mindfulness?

By Mary Anna Weklar

Mindfulness is simple. It means slowing down and paying attention. It means being present or aware enough to know what you are experiencing, while it is happening. Christopher Germer says it is “awareness in the present moment with acceptance”. It is pretty simple, but in today’s multi-tasking, fast-paced, on demand world, it isn’t easy.

One of the most influential people in the field who introduced mindfulness in a medical setting over 30 years ago was Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D., from the University of Mass. He describes mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”

Kabat-Zinn was introduced to Buddhist teachers when he was studying at MIT, and his practice of yoga and meditation led him to integrate such teachings with scientific findings. He created a very structured, secular 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Some of his first participants were cancer patients and others who were in severe pain, whose physicians were at a loss as to how to help manage pain levels and/or fight their disease any further. This program has become the cornerstone for many of the mindfulness programs in place today. His research took the lead in studying the impact of mindfulness on pain, anxiety, brain function and the immune system.
One of the reasons that mindfulness continues to gain in popularity today, is that with our super-charged, stress filled world today, so many times we are living the opposite of mindfulness which is (can you guess?) mindless. David Seigel, another medical practitioner who has spent much of his professional life teaching mindfulness states, “Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to the novelty in our everyday experiences.”

I recently heard Rick Fernandez, CEO of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) speak and he describes the need as this – while our world continues to get more complex and stressful, our capacity to handle stress has not increased, and thus we have to find tools to help us meet the demands of a VUCA world. (VUCA is a term first used in the military, which stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.)
Fernandez also states that with so many things competing for our attention at any one time, we also need to better master our ability to pay attention in the moment. For improved wellbeing, he recommends that we practice serial monotasking as opposed to multi-tasking. Mindfulness is a tool that we can use to not be ruled by or react to the triggers of stress and instead to pause and be more purposeful in our choices.
So how do we find the path to mindfulness? We have many tools to help us wake up from being on auto-pilot. First is breath. The simplest is to sit in a chair, with your spine erect and hands gently resting on your lap, and closing your eyes either fully or slightly and just noticing the rise and fall of your breath. Doing that for 3-5 minutes in the morning would be a good start. Sometimes the brain is chattering so much, it helps to count each breath and try to focus on that in the beginning.

Rich Fernandez provides a micro-exercise that we can practice in between meetings or moving from activity to activity. It is a 3 breath/3 step practice which includes:

  1. The first breath, just notice your body and the breath.
  2. The second breath relaxes your body, notice where you are holding the tension and release it.
  3. The third breath, call to mind what is important now in the upcoming meeting, interaction or activity.

Whether starting out as a beginner or advanced practitioner, there are many tools available to help with the practice of meditation, including online guided meditations, apps, books, retreats, online seminars, etc. that are listed at the end of this article. Mindfulness has many branches today, including mindful parenting, radical self-acceptance, self-compassion, loving kindness (metta) meditation and gratitude practice among many others.

The more you practice, the more you can bring mindfulness and the state of being more present into your everyday activities such as eating, walking, talking and whatever you are engaged in at the moment. MRI studies of people’s brains who practice show increases in the areas of the brain that are associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion and self-regulation. Fernandez stated that studies have proven mindfulness meditation grows gray brain matter and can strengthen the “direct attention network” of the brain. What I have noticed is that the more I keep a consistent pattern of practicing simple mindfulness, the more concentration and clarify I have.

Mindfulness is also a perfect complement to helping people change behaviors. Dr. Siegel states that by being mindful, it helps us slow down and “awaken, and by reflecting on the mind, we are enabled to make choices and thus, change becomes possible.” By de-stressing the body and brain, we can often times find new choices and solutions and thus it opens us up to more growth and opportunity.

Did you ever see the play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder? In the play, a young mother who dies, is able to take one final look at her life and town that she lived it for one day. She relives her 12th birthday and she is only then really able to see how wonderful all the ordinary things of life were. Luckily, we have many tools today to help us wake up from being on auto-pilot and appreciate the full experience of being alive and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. As my mom says, “enjoy every precious moment”.


Some of the key leaders in the Mindfulness movement are Jack Kornfield, Jon-Kabat Zinn, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Tara Brach, Silva Boorstein and Thick Nhat Hanh among others. They each have books and other materials online and many are featured at larger retreat centers around the world.

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has many online free tools

Another source is which has lots of audios, videos and worksheets on many mindfulness topics and genres.

Some of the retreat centers in Northern CA area include Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Green Gulch, Esalen, 1440 Multiversity (new in Scott’s Valley) among others.

Whil is a web based resource which has compiled numerous mindfulness resources.
Headspace is supposed to be a good app although I haven’t used it.

Other websites:

Wisdom 2.0 (Annual conference in SF in Jan/Feb) http://www.wisdom2summit.comMindful Magazine –

Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts

(Be careful, not all mindfulness teachers and resources are high quality.)

About the Author

Mary Anna Weklar, is a Health and Wellbeing program designer and manager passionate about infusing wellness into daily lifestyles. She holds a Masters in Health Care Administration, is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and completed the Health4America Fellowship with Stanford Prevention Research Center and the Stanford School of Medicine in 2014. She has been a student of mindfulness for over 20 years.

Mary Anna is the Wellness Program Manager at Visa.

High Intensity Workouts: A no pain, no gain attitude can get you injured.

By Leslie Czarny and Carol Triest, P.T.

High Intensity Interval Training classes like CrossFit, Insanity, and P90X continue to be a favorite amongst exercisers. The draw – a quick intense workout (15-20min) in a fun and challenging setting. Pushing one’s self to extreme limits is an attraction to many who thrive in this type of environment. However, according to Bergeron, Nindl and Deuster, there seems to be a high occurrence of military personnel suffering from muscle strains and joint injuries as a result of participating in these types of workouts.1 If military personnel are getting injured, how about the rest of us?

“There are great benefits to high intensity workouts; however, I see a lot of patients who get injured from overdoing it, particularly those who participate in group classes”, says Daniel Alvarez, a Doctor of Physical Therapy at BaySport. “Poor form is one of the main culprits for injury and it’s harder for the instructor to gauge mechanics when in a large group setting.” He goes on to say, “…muscle weakness and going all out when there is poor postural alignment, history of trauma, overuse or instability of the joint promotes injury as well.” There is also the crowd mentality: Feeling like you have to push yourself because others in the class are increasing the intensity of the workout.

As with any type of fitness training, a good warm-up and cool down is necessary to limit risk of injuries. It is important to gauge how you feel: If you are suffering from soreness and fatigue, your body is telling you that you need a break. It is time to go for a walk, or perform a gentle stretching routine. No Pain, No Pain should replace the No Pain, No Gain slogan. It is a healthier and more sustainable attitude towards fitness.

1. Bergeron MF, Nindl BC, Deuster PA, . Consortium for Health and Military Performance and American College of Sports Medicine consensus paper on extreme conditioning programs in military personnel. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2011;10:383–389. Google Scholar CrossRef, Medline