Category: Movement

Soulmates, Serendipity & Miracles

I write to process emotion.  I take pictures because they evoke feeling for me – at the time, and later whenever I look at them again.  My heart is overflowing this moment as I sit down to write and process.  Let me share a story (with pictures) about serendipity, soul mates, blessings, and miracles. 

So similar that while we did NOT plan it, we ended up twinning today.  <3
We did NOT plan this. I got dressed upstairs. Tonya got dressed downstairs. Twinning. <3

From 2003 – 2005 I worked for the Central Alabama Veteran’s Health Care System in Tuskegee and Montgomery, AL.  It was there that I met Tonya.  The workplace environment was toxic but birds of a feather find each other and flock together.  That was true of our small group.  We did what we could to make the world around us just a little better.   We had so much in common and become friends immediately.  Tonya and I worked together on many projects over those couple of years.  We were both on many of the same committees and councils.  We were both in Toastmasters.  I served as a mentor in the mentoring program she created.  More importantly though, she was my friend. 

My son was 19 years old and in Iraq at that time.  He hadn’t gone to college or “just” moved out of the house.  Both tough enough to be sure.  My child left home for the first time and went directly into an active war zone.  It was so hard!  I worried about him constantly.  In the halls of the VA hospital when people would ask about him, more or less in passing, I’d start crying.  People stopped asking.  Not Tonya.  She wouldn’t just ask about him.  She stopped me, held my shoulders, looked into my eyes – tears and all.  She listened even to the things I didn’t say out loud. She sincerely cared about him, she worried about ME, hugged me, loved me, supported me every day throughout that year.  Her bond with her son is incredibly similar to the one I share with mine.  She got it.  She still does. 

We had dinner together my last night in Alabama and left promising we’d keep in touch. 


Life happened.  I moved many times after leaving Alabama, as did she.  We both went through many life experiences individually.  Growing.  Changing.  Getting busy.  Losing touch with one another.  She followed me on Facebook but never commented and I didn’t know she was watching my life from afar.  She was always there – just in the background. 

Fast forward to 30 January 2023.  I flew into San Diego that evening and took a video from the plane.  Posted it to Facebook.  Tonya recognized the skyline and wrote to me just moments later asking, “are you in San Diego?” 


“Me too!!  I’d love to see you if you have time.” 

I taught a few classes that week, did a little driving, but got back to San Diego on 3 February.  She requested specifically that we meet for coffee (or a smoothie) and sunset by the ocean. 

Three of my all-time favorites!! 

Any doubt that we’re friends?   

And so the woman from Maine picked up the woman from Georgia, in San Diego, California and we headed to the Pacific Ocean.  It was only then that she told me she was sick.  Tonya had been diagnosed with Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH).  This is a condition where there is elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries caused by chronic blood clots which obstruct the free flow of blood through the lungs.  She’d never mentioned it on Facebook.  She didn’t tell me about it in a call or a text.  She wasn’t shopping on social media for sympathy.  She didn’t say, “let’s get together for coffee because…” 

Not my friend.  She was scared but put on a brave face for the world.  She didn’t post about it. No.  She told me about it face-to-face the first time we’d seen each other in 18 years – while we were driving to get coffee.  Tonya had one large clot with 5 branch clots that took over the lower left lung and a separate clot that blocked her upper left lung. This woman who had been hiking every day now couldn’t even walk up the steps to get into her house. She couldn’t breathe. I didn’t even know what to say. 

San Diego, CA February 2023

I changed my plans for sunset because this woman I love so much who is – without question – one of my soulmates was not able to walk more than six steps without help.  I’d planned for us to walk along the beach.  That wasn’t going to be possible.  Another thing the two of us share is the ability to adapt.  We’re okay with Plan B, C, D, E, and so on and so on.  Plan B was to drive to a higher overlook.  We parked and Tonya held on to me. 

Arm in arm, we walked a very short distance and sat down to wait for sunset.  Talking non-stop.  Picking right back up where we left off. 

That night there was also a full moon!!  Everything was perfect. 

After sunset I drove Tonya back to the hotel where she was staying with her dad.  We hugged each other and talked about getting together after her surgery.  We talked about hiking in Maine during the fall but as she walked away, my cheeks were wet with tears.  I cried.  I was scared.  I didn’t tell her that.  She was crying too and so scared.  She didn’t tell me that.  She never looked back because she didn’t want me to see her crying.  I drove away not knowing if I would ever see my friend again. 

UCSD ICU February 2023

She promised to have someone let me know how surgery went.  It was scheduled for 8 February.  I taught that day but every time my students went on break I thought about Tonya. 

I finished class at 2000, Eastern.  I hadn’t heard anything from her family.  I was so sad; so worried.  I assumed the worst. 

At 2247 I finally received a message from Tonya’s cousin.  “Surgery is over and she is in the ICU.  She is sedated and on ventilator and medications to control her blood pressure but she is stable.”  A huge weight had been lifted.  She wasn’t out of the woods but I KNOW my girlfriend.  She is a fighter.  Always has been. 

The surgery was over, she would now fight for her life.  Fight she did.  Fight she does.  The very next day she was taken off the ventilator and passed the swallow test.  She ate dinner!!  The next day she was successfully getting out of bed!!  Tonya was discharged on 15 February:  ONE WEEK after open heart surgery. 

On the 5th of October 2023, I picked her up from the airport in Portland, Maine.  Since then we’ve visited four lighthouses (and even gone to the top of two).  We looked at the foliage, picked apples, and stopped in the middle of country roads to take pictures. We’ve eaten two apple pies (no judgement allowed at all), New England clam chowder, lobster rolls, shrimp, and fresh from the garden salsa.  She’s learned how to eat a lobster, met my (now adult) daughter again – Jessie was a teenager in Alabama, and played Uno with my granddaughter.  We had a pizza party, danced and laughed (so much that our faces and our bellies hurt). We’ve cried numerous times – mostly happy tears. I’ve taken her to the town where I grew up. She’s met several of my friends and seen a few of my very favorite places.  She’s talked to my son on the phone.  We’ve been called “Georgia” and “Wiscasset” by people we’ve met along the way. The two of us have made plans and set personal/professional goals.  We’ve walked in the rain; both agreeing that so called “inclement weather” is nothing.  We have rain jackets.  We went to the top of Mt Battie even though it was so foggy we couldn’t see 6 feet in front of us – and people said we were crazy and “wasting our time”. We are crazy.

None of those things were a waste of time!!

We ARE doing things regardless of whether we’re nervous, a little scared, uncomfortable or other people are looking at (and potentially judging us). 

We ARE alive. 

We ARE living. 

We are NOT taking one second of her second chance for granted.

This very morning 8 October 2023, exactly eight months to the day, after her surgery, we did a one hour Primal workout on the beach with friends (Wolfpack Family). 

Tonya asked me a few days ago if I believe in miracles.  I answered without a moment’s hesitation.  Absolutely!!!  Yes!!! 

The fact that I was in San Diego in February. 

The fact that it was such a clear, beautiful night that I took and posted an airport video. 

The fact that Tonya saw it, immediately.

The fact that I had time to meet her for coffee/sunset before flying back out.

The fact that it was a gorgeous sunset AND full moon. 

The fact that we reconnected after 18 years.

The fact that my friend is here!!!  Here at all, and here in Maine specifically. 

The fact that we’ve enjoyed a New England fall together. 

The fact that my friend worked out with me this morning. 

Is all the proof I need. 

Miracles are all around us if we just take a moment to realize it.  To truly appreciate it. 

Why Can’t We be Honest with Ourselves?

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

I don’t buy into or share much of the “motivational” mumbo jumbo online. There are so many, they become irrelevant. They’re too simplistic and frequently little snippets taken completely out of context.
We like them.  They fill us with an emotion but don’t cause us to do anything.  
Is that inspiration?
Someone told me last week, “you’re inspirational.”  She reads all of my posts, loves seeing pictures and videos of me in the gym, is super supportive of all the things I do.  Thanks so much!!  But…she doesn’t do one thing different to take care of herself.  Am I inspiring her?  OR merely providing a diversion for, “what things might be like for someone else?”
As I sit here on a Sunday morning, in the quiet of 630, finishing my espresso and seeking motivation to actually get something done, this came across my screen.
It did seem like something worth adding to and sharing.
Here’s the truth:
We’re all getting older.
All of us.
We have a choice in approaching that stage of our life as healthy as we possibly can or merely letting time run its own course without any intervention.
Me? I prefer to control what I can. I prefer to be in charge.
Here’s the truth:
Yes, we’re busy.
We’re all so busy.
We have so many other things to do.
We have so many conflicting priorities.
Besides, life is short.
We should just enjoy ourselves.
Here’s the truth:
That’s not exactly how it works.
You need to be a priority too. Now. You need to take care of yourself. It’s never too late to begin but most of us don’t start exercising for the first time when we’re in our late 70s or 80s.
I prefer to add life to my life. Now. Feeling strong and capable; going through life with fewer aches and pains IS enjoying myself. Even though that means I take 30-60 minutes each day to focus on exercise. Even though that means, I don’t have dessert with every meal or a plate of cookies every time I feel like it.
I don’t care what you weigh or the size of your clothes.
I do care that you take your health seriously.
Doesn’t matter to me whether you run, walk, do yoga or pilates, bike, canoe, take kick-boxing classes, or dance around the house with your dog. Doesn’t matter to me whether your weights are 5 pounds or 50 so long as you’re challenging yourself (and being honest about what that really means).
Flexibility, strength, and endurance are all critical as we age. Protein, fruits, and vegetables are good for you: that’s not up for debate. Approaching the next stage with some muscle mass (since we lose it during the normal aging process) is smart! Remembering our cardiovascular system needs to be worked, makes sense.
Do something for you.
Something YOU like to do.
Who cares whether it’s something your mom, sister, spouse, best friend, or neighbor does.
Something you will actually do, over the long term.
DO something despite how many other things might have to wait or (gasp) not get done.
Thinking about it doesn’t help.
This picture of me was taken in the gym last week.
Taken the same day a 33-year-old man told me, “You look great. I’d love to start lifting weights but I’m too old.” Yeah, me too.
This is 53. This is 100% natural. This is no supplements except protein powder and decent nutrition. Five amazing little humans call me, “gramma”. This is busy. This is running two businesses and traveling 200 days a year. This is a LITTLE Bailey’s in my morning coffee. This is ONE frozen chocolate chip cookie every day. This is me enjoying life as I plan to do for as long as possible. This is not me bragging or screaming, “look at me”. This IS life because of the priorities I choose day in and day out.
YOU are worth 30-60 minutes a day. That still leaves you 16 hours a day (assuming you sleep 8 hours each night…and who does that?) to do all the other things.


Women’s Strength & Empowerment Weekend Day 1

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


I’m in Kirkland, Washington at the Girls Gone Strong event: Women’s Strength & Empowerment Weekend. I try to attend one personal and one professional development event each year. I love to teach but, equally, I love to learn.
It’s been incredible:
  • Seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
  • Listening and learning about health & fitness from some of the best in the industry.
  • Being surrounded by about 175 strong, inclusionary women of all ages, size, color, and ethnicity.
 Day one was full day of amazing presentations.
We started off with Dr. Larissa Mercado-Lopez, digging into the “Isms” of fitness.  She reminded us that not everyone has access to whole foods or a safe, encouraging place where they can exercise. We looked at how women’s fitness has changed from 2013 through today.  Here’s a challenge for you – do a Google search for images of “fit women”.  I did and here’s the first two pages of what came up.
Notice anything odd?  There’s not a whole lot of diversity there, huh?  We don’t all “fit the mold”.  We’re not all white women with six pack abs and long torsos ranging from ages 20 – (maybe) 40.  We don’t all hang out in sports bras and short shorts.  
We – fit women – are different shapes, sizes, and colors. I’m a grandmother of five!
Here’s another challenge, while you’re Googling.  Type in “healthy women” images.  That’s got to be more representative, right?  You tell me.  Here are the first two pages.
The first session was followed up by Melody Schoenfeld.  This 5 foot tall powerhouse (who tears phone books and license plates with her bare hands!) helped us learn how to – quite literally – tear into preconceived notions.  “So much of what we look like and what we do is because it’s expected.  I used to scour Seventeen magazine.  I would look at the pictures and think, if only I could be pretty like her.  If I had her smile, her height, the six pack abs…life would be perfect.  I would be happy.”
With Melody’s instruction, we tore magazines promising to help us “lift our bottoms” “hide our tummies” and “make our boobs more perky” all within two glorious (and “easy”) weeks…  to shreds.
Dr. Kara Mohr presented on mindset, motivation and habit change; three of my all-time favorite topics!  She shared the fact (fact) that thoughts drive our feelings ==> feelings drive our behaviors ==> and behaviors drive our results. The problem is we rarely take the time to identify the thoughts  that are ultimately leading to our behavior.  What is the internal story we’re playing in our heads?  For me, personally, this is so incredibly important.  I’m my own worst critic.  I frequently think “I can’t do this” “I’m not good at that”.  If I stop there, without questioning the story, I feel like this thing is out of my control.  “If I’m not good at this, there’s nothing I can do about it.  That’s just the way it is……”  Which, I KNOW – when I take the time to really examine the thought – is BS.  I’m not good at it yet…..
I wasn’t good at teaching, the first dozen times I did it.  I wasn’t good at pull-ups until I practiced long enough to get better.  I wasn’t good at running, until I focused on doing it.  Mindset matters!!!!  If it’s too hard for you to change the story at first, try changing the behavior.  Consistently and routinely do the new thing – whether you feel like it or not; whether you’re motivated or not.
Repeat after me:  “Motivation doesn’t come first.  Action comes first.  Motivation is the result of action.”
After lunch, it was on to hands-on movement sessions.  My first workshop was with Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake.  I have a huge girl crush on her so this was awesome!!  We learned how to become stronger at pull-ups because, in case you didn’t already know, the idea that women don’t have enough upper body strength to do pull-ups is simply NOT true.  They’re hard!  They require practice!  How do you get stronger at pull-ups before you’re strong enough to do pull-ups?
  • We started with diaphragmatic breathing (aka belly breathing) and, holy cow, I need to work on this!!!!  A lot.
  • Kettlebell arm bars were next.  These can improve mobility and rotary capacity through the thoracic spine.  Strongfirst calls them, “the single best shoulder mobility and stability drill you can practice”.
  • Tension is key for max exercises so we worked on a variety of plank (tailbone tucked; pulling elbows toward toes, and toes toward elbows) and push up (lowering slowly, raising quickly) exercises.
  • From there, it was on to hollow body holds with a piece of PVC pipe.

As much as I hated to leave JVB’s session, my next workshop was high intensity interval training with Elisabeth Akinwale.

Whew!  Mountain climbers, burpees, squats, and v-ups, oh my.  It was fantastic!!  What are the benefits of HIIT?  It’s quick (so you’re less likely to get bored), can improve your endurance, and 15 minutes of high intensity interval training can burn some major calories!  High intensity means moving quickly, it doesn’t mean moving frantically.  It means pushing yourself out of your comfort zone but it’s not the same as “no pain, no gain”.  In fact, the quality of movement (your form) is very important because we can’t be fit if we don’t have a basic level of health and wellness.


We actually get a lot, mentally and physically, by pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone.  We have to be willing to embrace being uncomfortable and know that that is what’s going to make us better.”

 Dr. Helen Kollias wrapped up the first day, with a presentation entitled, “Why Calorie Counting is Flawed.”  How about these facts (yup, again, facts….)?  
  • The FDA allows a +/- 20% inaccuracy on food labels!!  First, it’s difficult to get people to look at nutritional labels; but even when we do, there’s no guarantee they’re accurate.  If an item lists at 250 calories, it could be as low as 200 and as high as 300!!!!  That’s a pretty big difference.  
  • Not only that, but how we cook our food can change the calories.
  • Ladies, there can be a 10% difference in your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories your body uses to support organ function) depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.  It can be different if you’ve never been pregnant, during pregnancy, peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
  • Using your Fitbit to track trends may be helpful.  Did you exercise more today than yesterday or last week?  But…relying on it to tell you how many calories you burned doesn’t do much for you.  It has a +/-30% variability.
  • Want to burn extra calories but don’t feel like exercising?  It seems NASA did a study that shows, doing math problems can allow you to burn an extra 20 calories a day.  (lol…..)   OR
  • Get some sleep!  A single night of sleep deprivation results in a 5-20% decrease in calories burned the next day!

It seems the act of simply counting “calories in” vs “calories out” is a little more complicated than initially thought.  What should we do?  Just give up?  

Dr.Kollias recommends being mindful of our body’s messages.  She explained it this way, “When you go outside, you might look at the weather.  You grab a jacket – or you don’t.  When you get outside, you might find that you weren’t correct.  You can either go back inside and grab a heavier coat, or take your jacket off.  It’s the same with food.  Eat mostly vegetables.  Get some lean protein.  Eat when you’re hungry but check in with your body.  Are you full?  Stop eating.  The problem is that we frequently eating without thinking.”  We eat ‘because it is time to eat’ or to make ourselves ‘feel better’.  We eat because the food is on our plate.  We eat standing up, or rushing around, and barely even take time to chew our food.


I hope you enjoyed reading about these sessions.  I definitely enjoyed attending them!  Please let me know if you have questions or would like further information.

Let the Diving Begin: 1st full day in The Solomon Islands

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch




The Russell Islands are comprised of two small islands, and several islets, in the Central Province of Solomon Islands. They are located just over 29 miles northwest of Guadalcanal.  This was our first stop.





Travel Log:  Day  5  Russell Islands


IMG_7405The anchor dropped at 0109.  Man it was loud!  I had a tough time getting back to sleep and we finally just gave up at 0340 and got out of bed.  Upstairs I made coffee, journaled, and looked at dive books.  Brent studied the SI map which read, “there are 4,000 species of fish and 400 variety of coral here.  It is the amazon of the ocean not yet discovered by mainstream tourism.”

The first dive brief was scheduled for 0745.  Everyone on deck was dressed in 3-5 mm wetsuits, some with hoods and gloves.  They carried tons of stuff with them.  One of the divers even had the equivalent of a purse hooked to the front of her BC.  What to heck?  Brent and I showed up in our bathing suits.  We had nothing extra except the camera.  “Are you guys diving?”  Yes.  “Are you getting dressed?”  We are dressed.  “You’re going like that?”  Yes.  Why?


What are you talking about? I’ll be fine without a wetsuit. Let me on the boat.


The water was 86 degrees at depth!!  Over the course of the week I had a couple of stings and scraps but I dove in a bikini (and nothing more) every single day.  It was perfect.  Comically we both recovered gear from the divers who carried so much.  I rescued one guys Go Pro when he jumped in and dropped it.  Brent found one of the divers’ knives at depth.  Simple.  Easy.  Utilitarian.  That’s us 🙂






Dive #1:  Kovilok Bay.  88 feet for 58 minutes.  It was nice to be in the water but the dive itself was nothing to brag about.  This was a check dive where the dive masters could make sure everyone was comfortable under the water, and informally assess everyone’s level.



Dive #2:  Leru Cut.  92 feet for 52 minutes.  This was beautiful.  After the cut, there was a nice wall.  It’s positively amazing just how sharply the coral falls in the deep blue!  Rick says it’s thousands of feet deep here.  Lots of sea fans with a light current.  Some Christmas tree and soft corals but the highlite was large schools of barracuda and jack.

If you’d like the full effect, here’s a link to the above video.


Dive #3:  Custom Cave.  66 feet for 69 minutes.  Brent had a headache and sat this one out so I dove by myself after following Rick through the cave.  The sun streaking down from above, casting shadows in the water, was beautiful.  Great coral growth with TONS of fish!  I loved the schools of silver sides – who are there one minute and then turn and seem to disappear, the next.  As I began to swim up for my safety stop, I saw 3 very large bump head wrasse.

Dive #4:  Mirror Pond.  69 feet for 32 minutes.  We swam under the island and came up inside a cave pond.  Brent and I were the last to surface and were, consequently, the furthest back.  I spotted a salt water crocodile on top of the rocks.  (We didn’t personally get video or pictures but this link will show you a nice video of what they look like).  He was 6-8 feet long and only the two of us saw it.  We were told that if we saw one in the water to stay submerged.  They can’t see as well underwater as they can topside.  I was also cautioned not to come up outside of certain areas (where our tenders would drive the crocodiles off) during night dives.

Later, Sam told me the crocs don’t grow very large because, “they have occasionally bitten a local spearfisherman, and/or children.  The locals kill them.”  Makes sense!

After the pond, we swam through some positively phenomenal coral gardens and along another steep wall.  Schools of jacks and the other fish.  Barracuda, parrot fish, pancake triggers, and carpet anemones.  Everything was perfect until we got to a corner of the wall.  The current REALLY picked up – without warning.  It was so strong that I had grabbed onto a piece of coral and was still being ripped away.  Brent decided we should surface.  While we were the first back to the boat, shortly other divers started to come up.  Not only had they been caught in the current (the strongest that Sam, the Bilikiki owner, has seen here) but several were also caught in a downdraft.  That means you’re being sucked down – one lady went from 10 to 29 feet in the time it took her to take one breathe.  Not fun.



After the last two dives, locals paddled out in hand-hewn canoes to sell us fresh fruit (pineapples, mango, watermelon) and vegetables (endive, green beans, greens and egg plant).  Once at our boat, the men dropped the women off in our dive boats so that they could complete the trading.


IMG_7456  In the meantime, the men and many of the children paddled back a little ways.  THAT was amazing to see and it led to some great conversations as well.  June (a 68 year old woman who was here with her husband – she snorkeled but doesn’t dive) and I talked about how little we really need to live and enjoy life.  We talked about the locals and the fact that with their boats, families, very little money, and some food, they are happy.  I won’t say it was life changing but it was most certainly life enhancing.  The irony is how much money we (how much people DO) paid to get back to basics.


Everyone opted out of the night dive.

Is the Quality of a Vacation Defined by How Little We Do?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


Time is an illusion.

Before you shake your head, close this tab, and start thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, hear me out.


It’s such a weird thing, isn’t it?  I have been back in the United States for four days.  Four days…and yet it feels like four months!  Part of that, no doubt, is working through an 18-hour time zone difference and three days of hormonal headaches but time is like that anyway.


When we’re waiting for something special, time seems to drag.  We wait.  We wish time away.  We want it to be “that” day right now.  When something special has happened, though; the day has finally come, and gone, time seems to race by without allowing so much as a moment for reflection!  I clearly remember my children being two and four; I remember conversations we had and things we giggled about.  Factually, they’re both in their thirties with children and lives of their own.

Tomorrow is too late and yesterday is gone.

That’s not just a euphemism.

It’s a reality. How many things have you planned to do “tomorrow” that you’ve never actually gotten around to doing?  How many yesterdays have passed?

Getting shots before travel.

Getting shots before travel.


My transition to “real life” after my three week vacation has been difficult, at best.  To be sure, it wasn’t you’re “traditional” vacation.  Two of the three countries we visited are considered to be “third world”.  Poverty and disease are real issues.  The order of the day is survival – in the very real sense.  I didn’t come back to the US thinking “Wow.  We’re incredibly fortunate.” To be honest, I already knew that.


No.  I came back thinking, “the amount of stuff we have, the amount of time we spend hustling for no reason, the amount of time we waste on stuff that doesn’t matter, and the amount of time we stress over pointless crap, is absolutely ridiculous.”  I can see how going from vacation to these revelations could seem a big jump so maybe it’s best if I start at the beginning.


Travel Log:  Days 1-3



We started by spending three days in Fiji, a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t visit the “real” Fiji though.  We stayed at an Americanized resort on Denarau Island; we had internet, top-notch restaurants and amenities.  The lesson didn’t start here but the story did.  These are notes from my journal, as they were written originally.



“It’s so weird that after I shared pictures of Brent and I at the gym this morning, I received several messages telling me I should ‘just enjoy my vacation’.  That I ‘shouldn’t worry about working out’.


When did enjoying vacation, life, or anything else for that matter, become synonymous with doing absolutely nothing?  When did “having a good time” mean stuffing myself with food and drink while lounging in a lawn chair?


To be certain, many of our fellow travelers seem perfectly content in that mode:  moving from their beds in the morning to sitting at breakfast.  They didn’t even enjoy the short stroll along the ocean.  Rather, they summoned the on-duty golf cart to pick them up and shuttle them about.  After breakfast, it was back to the golf cart, back to the room to prepare for a full day of sitting in a chaise lounge by the pool; having food and drinks delivered chair-side.  Dinner was provided via shuttle service and after sitting there, it was time to retire to their suites for television and bed.


I have zero judgment for these people.  Zero.  I mean that.

Palm trees

Gorgeous! But I have no desire to just sit here for 12 hours.

But that, to me, doesn’t sound like a good time.  It sounds incredibly boring.


It’s odd to me that because I didn’t have a completely sedentary vacation, some assume I didn’t enjoy myself.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.


In my typical day-to-day, I’m working.  All day.  I get up around 5 or 530 and go to bed around 1030 or 1100.  I’m tired.  When I’m working, bombarded with commitments, and stressed, at the end of the day it’s easy to feel like just collapsing.  More often than I care to admit, I don’t want to (in fact, it feels like I can’t) think.  I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I just want to sit.  Quietly.


During vacation, I’ve gotten up at 330 in the morning but I’ve also been in bed by 8.  This has changed my interaction with the day entirely.  I wake up full of energy.  I have meditation time.  That word’s been over-used and misunderstood for a very long time.  Meditation is merely reflection.  Quiet time.  Thinking.  I write during that time.  (In fact, it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for 2 ½ hours).




Just before sunrise I walk the beach.  Not power-walking.  Just a casual, slow, relaxing stroll.  Once Brent wakes up, we’ll walk just over a quarter mile to the small gym.  We’ve been working out together for 20 minutes, walking back, and showering before we walk to breakfast.




IMG_7295We went scuba diving; walked a couple of miles to town for coffee and lunch each day; did stand-up paddle boarding. We read.  We relaxed.  Every evening, we walked the mile and a half from one end of the beach to the other, and back, while enjoying the sunset…and we napped.  Brent in the air-conditioned room and me in the outdoor hammock. It was amazing to have that time and simply rest, caressed by warm ocean breezes.  I ate…I had a little Fijian bread pudding for breakfast each day (in addition to fresh fruit, eggs and/or sliced turkey).


I didn’t deprive myself but…


I did reaffirm that when left to my natural devices – no commitments, no responsibility, no appointments, no time to be anywhere specific – my mind and body love to exercise.  Not because I have to but because it feels good.”

How I Lost Weight While Eating Chocolate Macadamia Nuts

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch


This is me “just fit” but not competing.


I believe there are four levels of fitness.




Fit, and



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Most of us, including myself, are thrilled to live at levels 2 or 3.  No one wants to be unconditioned, in pain all the time, and immobile.  Few care to do what is required in order to compete.  I, personally, like competing.  It’s fun.  I love the ladies I’ve met while competing – several have become life-long friends.  I love the atmosphere and the prep.  

But…competition is not my real life.  It’s not how I want to live forever.  
It’s a hobby.  
Excessive exercise and dieting is not fun!  Neither is something anyone wants to do for the long term.  Sometimes you’re in the groove and you stay up with both.  Sometimes life happens, and you can’t seem to stick to either.
We forget that.
  • Today, I talked to two different friends (one is a competitor, one is not) who are doing two-a-days (that means two, separate work-out sessions in one day) because they “don’t like the way they look” and/or they’re “trying to compensate for poor nutrition with extra exercise.”  


  • Today, I talked to one of my clients (a competitor) who wants to know why she’s NOT doing double cardio sessions every day when “everybody else is” and another who is going to work with a different coach because I am “not giving her enough to do” and she really thinks she “needs fat burners in order to be successful”.  


  • Today, I talked to my niece who “can only get to the gym 2-3 times a week” so she doesn’t “know how she can possibly lose weight.”
It is impossible to out-train bad nutrition, which is why exercise is not my first or even my second priority.  I focus on mindset mostly, then nutrition, and then movement.  That movement may be in a gym but it doesn’t have to be.  It needs to be something you’re going to enjoy enough to actually do.
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Here’s what I’m talking about.
This is my real life:
I just (Friday night) got home from three weeks on the road.  I typically try to get to the gym while I’m traveling, but these weeks were unique.  I was with friends in Vegas, friends in California, and on the beach in Hawaii so…..I had many, much more important, things to do than to stress about getting to the gym.

I hung out with friends. We met for meals. We hiked. We talked. We played cards. We walked.  We snacked. I had wine, popcorn,

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone - before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

Notice half the red velvet cake is gone – before I got my lunch. I took the other half home with me.

pancakes, frozen yogurt, lots of coffee and good chocolate.  I went to my favorite restaurant – and ate dessert before lunch!  I didn’t diet but I wasn’t far from my normal either (choosing protein for each meal, eating until only 80% full, having a salad every day, and filling up on fresh fruits / veggies).  I drank water every day.

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This is a lifestyle, remember?
Those little treats exist. I enjoyed them. I didn’t gorge myself to the point of being uncomfortable.  There’s simply no reason to.  I did gorge on talks, laughs, and hugs though.  It was amazing!
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When it comes to diet, in fact, I ate a chocolate covered macadamia nut before breakfast (while coffee was brewing) every day that I was in Hawaii. Only one, but every single day.  I drank shots on the beach one night, to celebrate several business ventures.  
I went to the gym once in California and once on my last night in Hawaii.  
That’s exactly two times in three weeks.  
But, I walked. A lot. On the beach.  Between 4 and 11 miles each day, in fact. I went scuba diving, kayaking, and boogie boarding.  I did a few sets of push-ups in my room.   That was it for exercise.  No weight training.  No hard-core cardio.  Just movement.  
And, you know what?
Not that weight matters – it really doesn’t – but, I returned home 4 pounds less than when I left.
Do what you can, when you can, with what you have available.  Health & fitness are for life:  they’re not “programs” designed to make you as miserable as possible.  Rather – they needn’t be.

No One is Paying Attention to What Matters

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


I simply had to share this video. It makes me feel like crying.

***PLEASE take 4 minutes to watch it.

This is something I believe in with my whole heart. I’ve written several blogs about it.  Like this one.  I’ve talked about it, even more. It’s what I’ve been trying to communicate with my “Why I Exercise” series and “do what you can with what you have available, where you are right now”, mantra.

You can check out the series here:…


It’s the reason I became a trainer. I saw this in the nursing home. I see it in the airport – as the wheel chair boarding area gets bigger and bigger, filled with people unable to even walk down the jet bridge. I see it in the stores – as more people are utilizing scooters to get around. I see it in public whenever I sit and watch people. I see it when friends, family, and some of the people I went to school with, just give up, because “at our age” giving up is the appropriate thing to do.

Fitness shouldn’t be about fitting into a bathing suit or wearing a certain sized pair of pants. It’s not about seeing some random number on the scale. It’s not about an age. Sure, fitness is marketed toward young people. It’s focused on aesthetics. That’s why I’ve seen no fewer than a dozen detoxes and diet offerings in my newsfeed this morning alone. We can’t blame society though – we do this ourselves. Case in point: 87% of my paying clients are preparing for a bikini or figure competition. These are healthy, fit, people who already eat well and exercise. They are merely trying to take their physique to another level. Think about that for a second. 87% of the people who are seeking my help are already healthy.

I cry for the people who need to exercise, to improve their standard of living, but don’t. I am sad for the people who are losing mobility and strength every day, but do nothing about it. I am sad that Mike Vacanti is correct. “No one is paying attention to what matters.”

I am an advocate of fitness for, and sometimes in spite of, this crazy life! It is the messages I receive, like…

“I actually played with my grandchildren, outside, today. We had a blast!”
“I exercised for 10 minutes straight this morning – without stopping!”
“My insulin dosage has been cut in half.”
“I saved money on my insurance this year because all of my health markers improved.”
“I actually raked my own yard this year. I haven’t done that in a decade.”
“I didn’t have to hire anyone to get my wood in this fall. I was strong enough to do it myself.”

…That make me smile. It is these messages that keep me focused on my mission to help. This is real life. This is where I want to make a difference. “Staying stronger and maintaining lean tissue as you get older and keeping your diet on point will help you live better for the rest of your life.”

We are just a couple days away from New Year’s. This year, as you set goals, I would merely ask this: when it comes to health and fitness, please determine your long term goal. Your real reason for wanting to eat better, exercise, feel better…..and make it something more substantial than just weighing a certain amount of fitting into a specific size.

Your health and fitness is so much more important than that.

Who Gets to Dress Serena?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

I’m going to start this post but merely saying, “I have a question” and “I’d be very interested in your opinion.”

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Yesterday, it was announced that Serena Williams has been named Sportsperson of the Year.



What a tremendous and well-earned accomplishment!


Serena is the first individual woman to receive the honor since 1983.




Oddly enough, this morning, though, it’s not her amazing tennis skills I’m reading about.  It’s not the fact that this 34 year old woman went 53-3 in 2015 with five titles, including at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, that provides the primary focus.


No, this morning,  all of the chatter is about the magazine cover.

It’s not about tennis.

It’s people complaining about Serena’s pose and her outfit.

Why is she not poised in an athletic stance, wearing a tennis skirt?


Well, it appears (I wasn’t in the room at the time and until I talk to her personally, or see an interviewer ask her the question on camera, I can’t confirm…and if either of those things happen, or I get more information, I will definitely share that.) that both were her choice.  No surprise, really, considering that as a young girl, she wanted to be a wedding dress designer.  And, like her sister (who already has her own line of activewear), Serena has future plans to launch herself into fashion after she retires from tennis.


In July, when Serena appeared on the cover of New York Magazaine happily she was “portrayed as the complex, multi-faceted human being she is—a woman who’s dominating multiple fields unapologetically.”


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I adore those words!  It’s Serena being Serena, unapologetically.  We all have that right.



I actually had a similar discussion with some MMA fighters, not too long ago.  My question was, “Why do the male fighters just show up in their fighting shorts but the women ‘have to’ (those were my words) come in wearing tiny little bikinis or flirty outfits, they would never fight in?”

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The answer?  “Because they want to.  The fighters pick their weigh-in outfits.”




We’re so incensed about the way things “should be” that perhaps we’re over-the-top sensitive to how people are being portrayed.


I believe 100%!!!!!  that we should all strive to feel comfortable and confident in our bodies – no matter how tall, short, fat, thin, muscular, or anything else we are.  I agree that society has portrayed the female body to be little more than a sexual icon and we have a LONG way to go before our little boys and girls are on equal footing.


Yet (and, again, remember that I personally asked that same question not too long ago – so I’m not, at all, pointing fingers) here’s my question.


Who gets to decide how any of us should dress?

How we should pose…

Whether it’s “okay” to wear make-up in the gym or not…

How we “should” put ourselves out there…


I have a friend who has taken pictures of herself wearing nothing but paint.  They are some of the most magnificent, powerful photos I have ever seen of the female body.  On the other end of the spectrum, I had a woman say to me, personally, not too long ago, “Wow!  Did you see that lady pumping gas?  Her dress is a little short for her age, don’t you think?  She shouldn’t be wearing that.”   Excuse me?


Clearly – not okay!  Most people would agree with me, there.


But we take a very strong, beautiful, professional female athlete and feel justified in dressing her the way we think she should dress?


Is there a difference here?

Self-Compassion is Required if you Plan to Care for Others

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T. 
This time of the year can be challenging for me, and based on past experience, I know that’s true.  It’s not because I have more commitments due to the holidays.  Though, that is frequently true, as well.  It’s not because I have less time.  It’s actually because I have more.
Let me explain.
It’s been really nice to be off the road for a few weeks but, to be completely honest, I find that I  accomplish more when I’m in my routine.  MY routine is traveling, teaching, and working from 0530 – 2300.  Without a schedule, or any type of deadlines, I tend to just flitter about and I actually accomplish very little.
You might think my schedule sounds crazy because yours might be very different than mine.  The fact is, when we’re thrown off our normal routine – whatever is typical for us – it can be difficult to get our footing.
 That’s when I find that I put things off until the last minute.
I create false deadlines to motivate myself.
I try to “make myself” do things even though I don’t feel like it.
This approach doesn’t work so well and I’m trying to do less of it this year.
I’m trying to focus on showing myself some kindness.
 I haven’t yet found the time to update my 2016 handbooks, make all of the travel arrangements I need to, update contracts, re-do my website, or a dozen other things.
BUT, I’ve accomplished some.
I’ve actually taken time to relax.  A “task” that typically stresses me out, to be honest.  It seems like such a luxury.  I’ve volunteered for a bunch of new things and really stepped outside of my comfort zone with a few of these projects.  Rather than stressing out, each evening, about what didn’t get done, I reflect on what I have accomplished.
Regardless of whether it was – a lot or a little – there’s always something.  I pat myself on the back.  I’m showing myself some kindness.
We have such a hard time with that, don’t we?  I mean, we really struggle sometimes.
We do amazing things for the people we love.  Not so much as a second thought.  We put them first.  We even put strangers before ourselves.   We come last – if at all.  Otherwise we feel guilty.  We feel like we’re not good parents.  We’re not a good spouse.  We’re not good roommates or friends.
We’re simply not good people.  We’re selfish.
I know the feeling.  Trust me!  I am better than ANYONE at heaping guilt on myself.
It’s exhausting.  It’s frustrating.  And it’s bullshit.
What if I told you that if you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not doing a good job taking care of anyone else, either.
 You don’t take time to eat, because you’re busy getting dinner ready for everybody else; and then there are the dishes, the laundry, the clients…  
===> Best case, you’re tired and unfocused.  Worst case, you’re h-angry, miserable, and lose your patience with family and friends.  The very people you’re trying to help.
You don’t take time to exercise, because you have so much other stuff to do.
===> Best case, you’re tired and feel a little blah.  Worst case, you become
de-conditioned, start to gain weight, don’t feel your best, and/or get incredibly depressed.
You don’t take time to just sit for five minutes, be quiet and breathe.
===> There’s just a worst case for for this one.  You’re exhausted.  You’re frustrated.  You’re depressed.  Sure, you folded the laundry, did the dishes, sat out everything for tomorrow, completed that big project you volunteered for at work (because no one can do it even half as well as you can….been there.  Done that).  You did all of the things you were “supposed to”!  You are super woman.  But; rather than being able to enjoy the company of your family, you start to resent them.  You can’t wait for it to all be over so that you can just sink into bed.
Let me ask you this.  What if you didn’t fold the laundry?  What if the dishes sat until tomorrow night?
What if you took 30 minutes for yourself?  Would the world, as you know it, end?  Doubtful.
More likely, you’d feel better.  You’d be more positive.  You’d have more energy to do some of those other things.
One thing that can make a huge difference is taking the time to workout.  For your body, but also for your mind.  For your emotion.  For your mental health.  It doesn’t have to be in a gym.  It doesn’t have to be lifting weights.  It doesn’t have to be “a program”.  It has to be something you enjoy where you move your body, you elevate your heart rate a little bit, and you receive some endorphins in that blood stream of yours!
I know when we get tired, bored, have too much to do, or too much unmotivated time on our hands, it’s incredibly easy for “luxuries” like working out, to be the first to go.  We exercise only IF we can fit it in.  Sadly, we can rarely fit it in.  When we’ll do it only after everything else is done, we’re not going to do it.  Period.  End of story.
I think we’re looking at it in the wrong way.
Exercise isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s required.
Mandatory.  Necessary.  Like food, water, and air……
Don’t believe me?  Think of a time when you were actually (able) to eat well, to exercise, to take care of yourself.  How did you feel?  How much different more energy did you have for taking care of everybody (and everything) else?
So, it sounds great.  You believe me.  Now, how do you ensure you keep the commitment to yourself?
One way is to insist on it.  I mean, if f you don’t, you can’t really get upset that others don’t think about it.
Here’s a somewhat silly, real example.  When I get up in the morning, I like to take 20 or 30 minutes and ease into my day.  I sip a cup of coffee.  I may read.  I think about my intention for the day.  Even on workdays, I add in this time by getting up earlier.  My family knows I’m going to do this.  I was at my daughter’s a few months ago, enjoying my morning.  My 8 year old grandson was downstairs with me – he was also reading.  His 4 year old brother decided to get up early and came downstairs.  I said, “Good morning, Blake” and gave him a hug.  Hayden immediately said, “Blake, this is gramma’s quiet time.  We need to play quietly until she finishes her coffee.”
No big deal.  No drama.  It’s just something I’ve established as a norm.  They get it.
Another way is to purposely plan for it.
 As I’m setting my intention for the day, I look at my schedule.
  • When will I have time to workout today?  Even if it’s only 15 – 20 minutes.  When?
  • I immediately pull out my phone and set an alarm for 20-30 minutes before my workout.
  • When that alarm goes off, no matter if I’m “in the middle of something” or whatever (and this is why I set it 20-30 minutes ahead of time) I wrap that up, and I get ready to work out.


Sometimes I go to the gym, sometimes I go to my basement, sometimes I go to yoga, sometimes I go for a walk, but I DO keep that appointment – as stringently as I would if the appointment was with a client or my doctor.

I’m showing myself some kindness.

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Kindness & Self-Compassion Get you some!!

You need to remember to do the same.
Every day.  Every season.
But it’s especially important at this time of the year.
The holidays.  Family, friends, food – or the lack of all of those things – can be very stressful.  The tumultuous time when one year is ending and the new one hasn’t yet begun.
Show yourself some kindness.
You’re so very worth it.

Get Your Head in the Game: Exercise is Good for Your Brain.

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.

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I’m not a neuroscientist, and I don’t play one on the internet.



But I do love reading studies about, and learning as much as I can about, the brain.


That little 3-pound globule that holds residence inside our skull and runs everything we do.


It really interests me.


It makes me think.  Literally, but also about the tool itself.


How does it develop?  How does it work? How is it affected by trauma?


Specifically, I’ve been wondering how the brain is impacted by aging and whether or not, as we age, we can impact IT.


I mean, we’re getting older.  Each of us.  Every day.


I remember my children telling their friends, “My mom is 25!!!!!”  Like it was amazing that humans could actually live that long.  At one point, I remember thinking 30 was really old.  I remember friends telling me, as I approached 40, “You’re going to have to start slowing down now.”


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Maybe it was as a means to thumb my nose at all of that.

Maybe it was a staunch refusal to be a “statistic”.

Maybe it was a “mid-life crisis”.

Maybe it was merely that I finally reached a place in my life where I had more expendable time.


Whatever the reason, I actually started to become healthier in my 30s and 40s.


I quit smoking.

I quit partying to excess.




I started exercising:  lifting weights, running 5Ks, 10Ks, and obstacle courses, boxing, and doing yoga despite an incredibly challenging travel schedule.


I competed in three figure competitions when I was 47, and two more when I was 50.



I’m not alone.  A lot of people are getting healthier as they age.

Not just to move better.

Certainly not just to look better.

But to LIVE better.


We know – I mean there’s no debate about this, is there?

We all know that exercise and a decent diet are good for us, physically.

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We know that the combination helps prevent excess weight gain, or maintain weight loss.  It helps regulate blood pressure, decreases risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and arthritis.  Exercise improves mood and boosts energy.


What I want to focus on is something you might not know. I’ve been devouring books and research papers since I’ve been home for the last few weeks.  I want to talk about the link between our brains, aging, and exercise.


Why should you care?


Because, like me, you’re fortunate enough to be getting older too!


Did you know that Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease, is the most common cause of dementia – a very real concern as we age?

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A lot of people like to joke about it but, if you’ve ever seen its real-life effects, you know it’s no joking matter.  When I was 18 and 19, I worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant on the Alzheimer’s ward of a nursing home.  It was – without question – one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.


To watch what that disease does, as it rips away memory, language, problem-solving and basic cognitive skills used in everyday activities, not only to the person with the illness, but to the entire family, is heart-wrenching.


Much (much, much) more study needs to be done, through epigenetics and the like, to determine causes and potential cures for Alzheimer’s.  That said, per the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Facts and Figures Report, there is a growing body of evidence that brain health is closely link to cardio-vascular health.

I don’t find that surprising.

Every organ, including the brain needs oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood to function optimally.  It gets that from a healthy circulatory system.


That means, factors that protect our heart and blood vessels:

Physical activity

A diet lower in saturated fats

Eating more fruits and vegetables

Are the same things that protect the brain!

Research has proven that even moderate exercise, such as walking for 40 minutes three times a week, can combat decline in function associated with aging and increase performance on cognitive tasks.

Carl Cotman, the founding director of The Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, concurs.  “Exercise mobilizes the molecular machinery to improve brain health and cognition.  It increases metabolism in the brain and generally makes brain cells healthier.  It even helps clear out Alzheimer’s pathology in mouse models.”


Neuroscientists at Columbia University have provided evidence that “a structured exercise program increases neurogenesis – the birth and development of new nerve cells – in a memory hub of the brain.”  Not only does exercise preserve our brains, it actually allows us to create new nerve cells!


Art Kramer, who ranks among the top 1% among researchers in Psychiatry and Psychology, and whose research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, focuses on the cognitive benefits of exercise, says, “There is certainly increasing research that suggest physical activity and exercise will protect your mind and brain throughout your lifetime. Not only is fitness a good way to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, but it also is a means to enhance memory decision making, and the brain circuits that underlie them.”



Although more research needs to be done, I am incredibly excited about the things we’re learning now.  Physical activity and a healthier diet make a difference.

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And, both of these are things within our control.