Life lessons


Memories Are Built On Movement



I was leading a group hike in San Marcos and having a great conversation with a woman that was talking about the amazing experiences she has had in her life. She and I were discussing how important little and big moments are in life. She was and is a vigilant person when it comes to her health and well being.

As we rounded a steep hill and came up on the ridge to see the sun burning off the morning fog I was talking about how she was able to what she enjoyed doing. She would not be able to have so many memorable moments in her life sitting in her house. She had to physically move. She had to perform simple and complex movements not only for everyday life activities but other ones that facilitate what she did for work and for enjoyment.

There are times in our life where our focus is on movement. When we are younger it is a learning process discovering our world. Then as we get a bit older and playing is a large part of our development we move in so many ways. As adults, both parts may fall off where jobs, careers or raising a family can become our priority. Injuries sharpen our attention on our bodies as to what we are unable to do or are aware of pain when moving in certain ways.

I challenge you – be more aware of how much movement is a part of your life. It should not have to take injury or pain for you to recognize this. Making this connection is a step in the direction to practice better ways of moving. Sitting back and not being proactive can lead to restrictions on what you can physically do. As you find ways to improve how you move that not only facilitates better movements…but also more memories!



Being Thankful for the “Little” Movements in Life

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The holidays are upon us. We are assaulted with ways to spend our money. We are encouraged to focus on the big things. I have already seen my first Christmas tree go by on the road so its that time again. Without a doubt, we are encouraged to spend more money on things that are materialistic or focus on the numbers in our life. It is those big things that we are hit on the head with for now until the end of the year.

We are always guilty of focusing on the big movements: weight, number of pounds lifted, anniversaries, new gadgets etc…

What about the little movements?

Recently I was sitting down with a gentleman during a consult prior to his 3 personal training sessions with me. He was a very interesting individual and began telling me about himself. It was great. However, I was falling into that trap of the big movements. I asked him about what kind of exercise he was doing. He talked about his swimming but then about his son and his life in Tel Aviv. I kept thinking…but what are his fitness goals and how can I help him?

He talked about the fact that years ago he was so overweight that it was a struggle to get out of a chair. He is an attorney. He would wait until his client left the courtroom to struggle to get up because it was such an ordeal. Now he has lost a substantial amount of weight between changing how much he ate and swimming. Yes, the weight aspect was about the numbers…

However how many times have you gotten out of a chair? It is usually an afterthought to many of us. Even with physical restrictions that we may have – there are little movements that we take for granted.

  • Reaching out and grasping a glass.
  • Opening a car door.
  • Turning your head to look behind you.
  • Picking up a gallon of milk.
  • Sitting down and getting out of a chair.
  • Scratching the top of our head.
  • Going for a walk.

These little movements may seem little to those of us that have little to no difficulty in doing it. These little movements can have a huge impact on our quality of life though. Those that have had to put effort and work into being able to do it…or do it again have more perspective than the rest of us.

I encourage you even on your worst day to notice the little movements. Keep on challenging yourself & allowing yourself to be challenged by others to move better in life. Simultaneously revel in those little movements that began when you woke up this morning. Ensure that those little movements continue to be an afterthought. Regardless of your age exercise in its many forms allows you to continue to do what you want to do and like to do in life.

Lastly…back to that gentleman. After I took my trainer hat off and just listened to him I saw the joy he had in his little movement today. He wanted to do some work on the recumbent bike for about 15 minutes. We talked more about his life, family and his perspective on how far he has come. In this instance, it was definitely a situation where he was doing much more for me than I for him in that session.




What It Means to Listen to Your Body

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You may have heard this many times or read it…

listen to your body.

However there is often very little explaining of what it means and what you should be doing. It really is not that cryptic or ambiguous of a phrase. This is important, so let’s pull down the curtain.

Let’s keep it simple…

Scenario #1

You are walking barefoot on the sidewalk to get the morning paper and didn’t see a shard of glass. Pain happens, possibly some cursing – but it hurt. You stop walking and investigate if you can pull it out or hobble back to the front door & get some tweezers.

You felt pain, stopped and investigated.

Scenario #2

You and a good friend went out for some dinner. On the drive home on the highway you were behind the wheel and your stomach started turning…really turning. There are ten miles to go until your exit but there is a rest stop coming up before then.

You pull off the highway & take that rest stop exit because your stomach was doing somersaults… so make a b-line for the bathroom.

Yes, these scenarios are fairly straightforward – you felt or noticed something going on in your body and you were attentive to what was going on. You did not ignore the pain or uncomfortableness. Instead you were vigilant and decided to do something about it.

Now enter two other scenarios…

Scenario #3

You have been putting down a respectable running regime the last month on the trails. There was no pain or any issues. You are now up to 10 miles twice a week. This week you decide to switch things up and do the same amount of mileage on the pavement instead at the same pace. You find after the second round that halfway through you feel some pain below your knees. The following week instead of the 10 you decide to decrease the road runs to a respectable 6 and then work your way up over time. Also, you sprinkle in some more stretching. Over time that pain subsided and eventually went away.

You backed off on the mileage on the roads and worked your way back up. You also increased the time stretching after runs to target any tight muscles.

Scenario #4

A bagel and a coffee has been your go-to breakfast for a while now. However, you find that by 10:30 a.m. you start dragging and have to grab another coffee to keep on point the rest of the day.  Today you wake up and decide that you are tired of the never-ending battle to stay alert. You begin trying out different things to eat for breakfast and seeing what your energy level is. Soon you found your go-to breakfast that did not leave you wondering why you were always so tired.

You decided to change up your breakfast after you found that crashing before midday was a pattern. After noticing the pattern, you edited & kept on editing you breakfast until you found what would not send you back for another cup of coffee.

You know what it means…now listen!

Honestly if in any of the scenarios someone just ignored what was happening and kept on going – the outcome would not be good. The argument is made often that you can just push through it especially if it is pain related to exercise. I would counter that eventually that pain will come back & will not go away. The solution can be as simple as taking a look at what has changed to make your body react that way. It is one thing if you are uncomforable because of a challenging workout that is targeting those leg muscles during lunges. It is another if you are feeling a sharp pain.

Of course, there may be many things in the mix like stress, muscular imbalances or running form that can be a wild card. Just fight the urge to be stubborn and think that it will just go away (like never addressing tight calves -yes runners I am talking to you!). When it comes to what you put in your body, of course that can be complicated. But again, if you ignore what you are feeling and it is not changing – why not see what you can do about it?

Above all, if you listen and can’t figure out what is going on then talk to a qualified professional that can be your guide. She or he can use their experience, knowledge & objective view of what is going on to assist you. 

Empower yourself to take charge of what is going on with your body. You have a choice – be proactive! You don’t have to do it alone.




Six Ways To Weave Exercise Back Into Your Life

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If it has been a while since you have seriously started exercising again it can be tempting to hit the ground running. Figuring out a plan of attack is a better way to set up yourself up for sustainable success. Below are 6 ways to weave exercise back into your life.

  1. Don’t restrict yourself to the stereotypical ways to exercise. Of course – going to the gym, getting a membership, attending fitness group classes etc. are all awesome ways to improve your health and move towards your goals. However, joining an intramural sports group, hiking group, biking to work or getting your hands dirty tending to your garden are all good ideas also. What works for someone else may not work for you, so explore the options in and out of a gym setting.
  1. Look at your week – find the time to schedule your activity. Hold yourself accountable to the times you set aside to exercise. If you are still paying that gym membership and have not gone for months – consider ending it. Use that money in another way that will move you towards your fitness goals. Also – work with the time that you have, then revisit your schedule in a month or so to see how you can make more time.
  1. Find a community. If you don’t already have a buddy or friends that can help welcome you back into the fray…seek some out. If you enjoy posting your workouts online and having others hold your accountable, then give it a shot. Start your own fitness blog & give updates. You will be surprised about how supportive others are & are inspired by your efforts. Offline or online find some sort of community, individual or fitness professional that will cheer you on and hold you accountable at the same time. You are not alone.
  1. Avoid defining yourself by being out of shape etc. Focus on your future of making exercise more a part of your life! You are taking ownership of your health and making an important recognition of its importance. Start making the right choices now. Be patient with your progress, exercise is not one size fits all!
  1. Recognize that exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. Exercise is a substantial move towards a fitter you. At the same time recognize other things that contribute to it like: stress, sleep, what you are eating on a constant basis. As you start getting into your exercise groove start try tracking what you are eating for a week, how much you are getting sleep and what your energy levels were. Turn to qualified individuals if you need guidance on those areas so you can see more gains.
  1. Stop Making Excuses. Until someone comes up with an invention for someone else to exercise and you receive the health benefits…you have to do it yourself! You know yourself better than anybody. If you know you don’t have the energy to workout when you get home after work – then do it in the morning. If you don’t like exercising outside – then get a gym membership and use it. If you work better under pressure – sign up for a race 4 or so months from now. You can do this. Be a fitter version of yourself.


You got this! Welcome back!




Five Good & Five Not So Good Reasons To Hire A Personal Trainer

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Photo Credit – Erin Thompson & Techie Design

Hiring your Personal Trainer is more than choosing the individual that you can work with.  This choice is also one where you have to be honest with yourself.  A motivation to workout or to make healthy choice has to start from within.

Five Good Reasons For Hiring Your Personal Trainer

  1. You have had a hard time achieving your goals and are looking for some guidance to meet them and set other goals.
  2. Time is an issue but you can see where you can make time in your busy schedule to work out 3-4 days a week.
  3. You want to be a more in shape version of yourself.
  4. You are going to work out, exercise, etc…for yourself.
  5. You want to lose body fat in a reasonable amount of time.

Five Not So Good Reasons For Hiring Your Personal Trainer

  1. You are expecting someone to tell you what to do every day.
  2. You don’t have time to workout & don’t see any way there could be time, but some way it will work itself out after you hire her/him.
  3. You want to look exactly like that Personal Trainer.
  4. You are going to hire that trainer to make your wife/husband/society happy.
  5. You want to lose body fat…lets say 20 lbs in 4 weeks.

It is entirely possible to train yourself. Without a doubt it is possible to knock down those goals and be your own trainer. You keep perspective about your progress. You want your progress to be sustainable. Yes we all of days when we are off, that is part of the process. Keep the big picture in mind. Do your research about what you don’t understand about your body and recognize that sleep & nutrition are just as important as that workout. Keep your body guessing – doing cardio every day or any same workout every day will not lead to sustainable gains. Lastly, the un-measurable things are by far the most important – how you feel, your self worth, being able to move better…..vs. looking at a scale every day. So train yourself with respect…

Think of a personal trainer as your secret weapon. You have someone in your corner that is thinking about the big picture. They understand when to push you and when to back off. He will ask you questions to get you thinking more about what you ate this week and how it affected your workouts. She can target that weakness and eventually make it a strength. She is able to see your form better and can adjust you so your body is moving better. This individual should be experienced in the way to properly introduce conditioning and strengthening exercises in a way that is good for your body.  Lastly your secret weapon will tell you to stop and look back, you will be amazed how far you have come.

Set yourself up for investing in a path to success, either as your own trainer – or looking to work with a trainer.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any inquires about Incremental Fitness & interest in working together to meet your goals here in sunny San Diego!



Cooking Is Like Life

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The one and only Swedish chef. The best puppet chef ever. Source

Sure this is not a cooking blog, but hey I don’t eat breathe & sleep fitness every waking hour here in San Diego. I love cooking & of course eating right goes hand in hand with staying healthy. I feel that if you don’t cook for yourself you don’t really appreciate what goes into a meal nor do you know what is in it! I don’t remember where I heard it but it was said that sure eat anything you want – but you have to make all of it from scratch. Yes all of it. Sure you can still drink pop (yes I am from the midwest) like it is going out of style but at least all of those sweets & things that take ridiculous amounts of butter and sugar…may not be as interesting or appealing to make all the time. But moving on to my list.

Planning Can Pay Off

Yes. My name is Damien & I am a planner. Hi Damien. True story. Friends of mine that have known me for a long time – know it also. My girlfriend enjoys pointing it out too. When it comes to cooking, it can (sure not always) pay off. You have all of the ingredients before you start. You know how long it will take. All of the logical reasons follow. Me, I appreciate the art of prepping ingredients before all the fun begins. Thus all of the chopping, un-thawing, herbs chopped, measuring of things in separate bowls, marinades mixed and ready to go is done. That way once my spirited cooking begins (I move fast) everything is ready for my timeline.

Just like cooking, planning for what is coming around the corner can pay off. I say “can” as we all know 1. you can’t plan for everything & 2. if you plan too much & you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Experience helps as it does in many situations.

Julia Child..A real life chef I grew up watching her shows on TV when I was not watching my own parents cook. I may have not understood what she was making but I understood her love of cooking.

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

-Julia Child



Uh uh, that caught your eye. Cooking with booze is great. White wine simmering with some fish, butter & salt & pepper. Great excuse to sip some yourself while cooking too.  Throw some chicken in ziploc bag with some cheap beer, ginger, cilantro & light seasonings & let it sit for 8 hours or so. Soo good. Of course just like drinking you don’t want to overdo it..but just enough is perfect.

Yum. Source & Recipe

I don’t think I really need to give you some deep analogy about booze and life. It’s great & has a time and place. Just be careful if you “take a ride into the time machine” as a good friend of mine describes it. I am done with those days, for sure…or at least I rarely get in line for that ride.

Sometimes $hit Is Horrible

I have made meals that were careening down the hill of edible and crashing into un-edible (luckily most of the time those meals were only for myself). God knows what happened & no amount of covering up of flavors will help. But the good meals outnumber any mistakes that I have learned from…and of course make the good meals even better.

Life can throw some nasty curveballs. I have been through many weeks, months etc if I was wondering if something was testing me. The sky was truly falling. Tough times suck. We all have different ways of pushing through it. But one thing for sure coming out on the other side gives you much more perspective about life & what is really worth complaining & stressing about.


Chef, an inspiring and heartwarming movie about a guy following his passion of cooking. Source

You Can Be Creative

I don’t really cook with a cookbook. Only when I am baking something like a cake or bread that can call for some precise measurements. Other than that if I do look at a recipe its just the general reasons like how long to cook or temperature. Cooking from scratch gives you the opportunity to try something out. It does not have to be complex. It could just be throwing some veggies in a pan and some fish on top of it with seasonings and walking away. Also without a recipe you can just use what you have in your kitchen & forget about worrying about that missing ingredient…or substitute something! I have found cooking with a bit of molasses really really good. You never know.

Being creative is a big part of life. Sometimes we all may think we are not creative but everybody is in their own way. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. Being creative is what makes us individuals and human. If are lucky you are able to bring out that creativity in your or job….or you are able to express it hobbies or fun activities when you are not working.

It is Fun To Cook, Even More Fun For Someone Else

Cooking for someone or a group can be fun. Especially if everybody is hanging out while things are getting prepared. Note I did not say all hands were in the kitchen. I am like my mom, I will ask for help if I need it! It is awesome when people really appreciate the time it took to make something. As someone that loves their veggies I always get a kick out of people are amazed about how good fill in the blank veggie was. Veggies are so yummy when you prepare them in one of the many ways.

You don’t need a load of friends. Having a good set of solid friends just makes life great. Celebrate the great times & be a shoulder to lean on during the tough ones. The good friends will see you through those tough ones. The ones that fall off, well c’es la vie!! And lastly if you are fortunate to have met your partner in crime in life that as your significant other, it is a gift.

That is my cooking spiel. Maybe I will try to remember to take pictures of some of the meals I throw down so I can post them. I often forget to do that.


Alien. Sure they didn’t cook dinner..but look how happy they are eating dinner together. Ooops spoiler alert, an alien appears…wait for it. Source

As always if you have any inquiries about my Personal Training services here in San Diego (nope not my cooking services) feel free to contact me at & if you have inquiries regarding the X-Factor Group Classes I lead at Function First check out the studio’s website at & go to Schedule, then Group Classes.