In today’s stressful world, it’s common for clients to come to the gym not-so-revved up for their workouts, stressed because of the economy and wanting a fast fix for their fitness issues. I have a few cheap, life-changing tips that will change your clients’ lives, starting today:

  • Use an alarm clock to go to sleep. An hour before you need to go to sleep, set the alarm as a way to put yourself on your pre-sleep “wind-down” plan. During this time, you will avoid stimulating activities, including surfing the ‘net. This is the time to power down, dim the lights, listen to relaxing music, take a hot bath, smell some lavender or read a not-so-interesting book while sipping on some sleep-time tea. The goal is to go to sleep between 9:00 and 11:00 PM and wake up fully rested.
  • Eat a big breakfast. Recent studies indicate that people who ate more of their calories at breakfast lost more weight. Those who ate 600 of their daily 1,200 calorie intake lost five times as much weight as those who took 1,200 and spread it throughout the day. Why? A big breakfast will leave you less hungry for the entire day so you eat less and make better choices. If you eat a breakfast rich in protein, you will really jettison into the day feeling full and with your body thinking, Hey, I’m not starving, so I don’t need to eat until later. I’ve got plenty in the bank account. This is also a way to lower your stress hormones while having more fuel to burn.
  • Try a new veggie each week. It’s easy in this fast-food world to move so quickly that you get into a routine with your eating and become bored. One way to spice this up is to add one new vegetable each week. It sounds simple, but most people don’t try it until they’re asked to give it a shot. Maybe red peppers grilled with some sea salt and extra virgin olive oil or some exotic mushrooms over your fish dish. You can choose caulifl ower one week and leeks the next. The point is to introduce new tastes to your taste buds with foods that are healthy and low in calories while containing antioxidants and fiber.
  • Buy a pedometer to lose more. I have many clients who believe they walk miles in a day, but the truth is they’re basically hoofing it from their car to the office and then later take the dog around the block — and it’s a short block. You can’t kid yourself if you buy a pedometer and count your steps. It’s also a fun, mentally challenging game to try to top the previous day. Soon, you will find yourself parking farther and walking to the store in order to up your numbers. That’s a win-win situation and a major life-changer!

JJ Virgin PhD, CNS, is a celebrity nutrition and fitness expert, author, public speaker and media personality. She is an internationally recognized expert in overcoming weight loss resistance and trains other health care professionals in her program. She is a proud board member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals ( For more info, visit