Live chat with personal trainer Sherri McMillan


Published: readers joined Sherri McMillan, a personal trainer, to chat about health, nutrition and fitness. The hour-long chat covered healthy habits and tips on how to loose weight at your convience.

Live chat transcript May 4, 2012:

Setareh Alizadeh: Welcome to today’s live chat! Sherri McMillan will be joining us shortly, so send in your questions and comments and be the first to chat with her about personal training, health and fitness!

Setareh Alizadeh: Keep sending in your questions and comments, and we will begin the live chat soon.

Sherri McMillan: Hi Setareh, I’m excited to be here!

Setareh Alizadeh: Hey Sherri, thank you for joining us today! lets start off by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and your position as a personal trainer.

Sherri McMillan: I started in the fitness industry 24 years ago while I was doing my bachelors and master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. I love the energy and positive attitude of people who work out and take care of themselves and I knew early that I wanted to make this my career and help change people’s lives through the power of exercise.

Setareh Alizadeh: Where do you work now?

Sherri McMillan: I am the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver and Northwest Women’s Fitness Club in Portland Oregon. We help really busy people commit the time to do the things they need to do to be at their best. We offer private training, partner training, small group training, classes like Yoga, Pilates, Muscle conditioning, Indoor cycling, rowing, Bootcamps, Zumba etc. We also host a variety of clinics such as running, walking, cycling, triathlon, walking, and hiking clubs. And we organized a bunch of community fundraisers such as the Girlfriends Half Marathon, Girlfriends and Dudes Triathlon, Summer Solstice and March Muddy Madness. We try to get people in our community active and having fun!

Shasta Campbell: I workout early in the morning and go straight to school or work right after the gym. I usually am working out an hour after I wake up. Currently I eat an egg and toast before I head to the gym and then usually eat a piece of fruit after the gym. I’m trying to lose weight and want to eat right to fuel my body properly. How should I eat in the morning? What do you recommend?

Sherri McMillan: Shasta, great job on committing to your exercise program! And doing it in the morning before any other work or life responsibilities is very smart! In terms of what to eat before exercise…it’s a personal thing. Whatever you eat isn’t really fueling a workout that is only one hour afterwards so typically you want to eat something that isn’t going to slow you down, make you nauseous and just takes away that feeling of hunger. So typically a small snack or meal will do the trick. If what you’re eating right now sits well with you then that works. Then immediately after your workout, a piece of fruit is a really great choice because it will directly fuel your muscles when they are super sensitive to bring the glucose into the blood stream and directed to the muscles. So if you do that you’ll feel more energized after your workouts and more recovered for your next workout. Then within 1-3 hours after your workout, a small meal/snack with high fiber content b/w 300-500 calories with a balance of carbs, protein and a little fat will make you feel great all day, fill you up and make sure you don’t overeat at your next meal.

Shasta Campbell: Great to know, thank you!

Sherri McMillan: You’re welcome. Any other exercise/nutrition questions?

Setareh Alizadeh: How many meals a day do you recommend? Personally I have to force myself to eat more than a couple due to my busy schedule, but I have heard you should be eating around 6 meals a day. What are your thoughts.

Sherri McMillan: The general consensus is that you should put some fuel into your body every 3-4 hours. Think of your body like a car or a machine and it needs fuel to function optimally. But the key is that you need to ensure your caloric intake at each meal/snack is appropriate based on your weight loss goals. So let’s say for example, your goal is weight loss and you need to commit to a 1800 calorie per day plan. A 500 calorie breakfast, a 150 calorie snack a few hours later, a 500 calorie lunch, a 150 calorie snack in the late afternoon and then a 500 calorie dinner would give you 1800 calories per day. By fueling your body regularly throughout the day it will provide you with energy to do the things you need to do including workouts and keep your metabolism revving all day. If you wait too long between meals, your metabolic rate starts to slow down and various hormones start to circulate in your blood stream making you extremely hungry and more likely to make poor choices and/or binge.

Setareh Alizadeh: That is a great way to look at it, Thank you !

Gary Nasca: I had a question as well. I used to be extremely over weight. I lost 85lbs and 9 inches around my waist in the course of 2 years. I have some extra stretched out skin on my stomach. Will that ever go away? If so, any tips to help aid it along? I drink a gallon of water a day and do ab exercises almost daily.

Sherri McMillan: Wow! Gary, that’s fabulous! I’m sure you’re an inspiration to everyone you know! Your skin elasticity depends on a number of factors including your age, genetics and how quickly you lost the weight. 2 years is a reasonable amount of time for the skin to slowly conform to your new size. So 2 questions. How old are you? How long has it been since you’ve lost the 85 pounds and kept it off? Drinking water is helpful as well as all strength training exercises but unfortunately, depending on how severe the skin condition is, surgery may be your only option. I would definitely schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate for removing the excess skin.

Gary Nasca: I am 24 soon to be 25 and I started my weight loss on October 22 of 2010.

Sherri McMillan: You’re young so that’s a good sign. And you lost your weight over a good period of time so that’s great too. Keep eating a healthy diet, drinking a good amount of water and resistance training and schedule to see your doctor to see if you’re a good candidate. They can better assess your skin condition and determine if there is still an opportunity for it to improve.

Gary Nasca: Thank you! I will do just that. 🙂

Setareh Alizadeh: I am a big steak lover, but I know that is not always the best protein to choose. What do you recommend to use as protein, especially as I am trying to loose weight?

Sherri McMillan: For meat, always try to choose local, grass fed, no-hormones etc. Go for your leaner cuts. Steak doesn’t have to be off the menu. Just choose your highest quality and more importantly watch your portion control and limit your intake to just a few times per week.

If you’re a non-meat eater, you can get your protein intake by food combining – ie rice, veggies and beans…Or using Tofu as your meat substitute.

Protein shakes are also a convenient way to tap up your protein intake.

Setareh Alizadeh: I know a lot of people who use those types of shakes for meal replacement or at least subsitutes for breakfast or lunch, are these a good thing to use to loose weight?

Sherri McMillan: Many people appreciate the convenience of a quick and easy shake. When you’re on the go, something is better than nothing. They also like that it’s easy to control and calculate the caloric intake. But I don’t believe they should be used in place of real food. Using a shake as one of your meals/snacks is fine. But not for the majority of your meals. You will miss out on too many important nutrients,fiber, vitamins and minerals that come from eating raw fruits and veggies.

Setareh Alizadeh: That is a very good point, thank you. Convience is a really big factor for a lot of people today. Is there any simple excercise routines people can do at their homes or outside (if the weather cooperates) that can help loosing those extra pounds?

Sherri McMillan: Yes, actually in the Columbian newspaper, I provide exercises every Monday that people can easily do at home or parks utilizing minimal equipment. There are also a number of fitness videos and fitness channels on demand that people could easily do from the privacy and convenience of their home. So there really is no excuse to not adopting a healthy lifestyle. Even just walking around the neighborhood is a great way to jump start a fitness program.

Setareh Alizadeh: I was in a bad car crash in January, and due to back and neck pain, I am finding it hard to do the regular exercises I used to do. As a personal trainer would you be able to find exercies for me to do. More specifically would this be possible at Northwest Personal Training?

Setareh Alizadeh: Or would that be a question for a physical therapist?

Sherri McMillan: Yes, there would definitely be exercises you could do and ones that you should avoid. At Northwest Personal Training, we would work closely with your medical physician or physical therapist to determine a program that would help you get results and minimize your pain and/or rehabilitate the injury.

Setareh Alizadeh: that is wonderful to hear! thank you. To all of our readers, if you have any more fitness or nutrition questions send them as our time is winding down.

Setareh Alizadeh: Is it best to stretch before or after a work out? or is it both?

Sherri McMillan: Great question. We don’t want to confuse warming up with stretching. It is always important to warm up before you do an aggressive workout. That typically involves movement that mimics the workout that you are going to do but at a much lower intensity. So for example, if you are going to run start with 5-10 minutes of walking. If you are going to cycle, start in a low gear and spin for 5-10 minutes. If you are going to weight train, do some exercises with minimal load just to warm up the muscles, easy range of motion and lubricate the joints. Then at the end of the workout, when your muscles are really warm and your core temperature is elevated, that’s the best time to do prolonged stretching. Your tissue will be more prepared and conducive to the lengthening.

Setareh Alizadeh: Are there any other tips you have for our readers? or any places they can go to learn more about programs or videos?

Sherri McMillan: The most important thing is to find something you love and just do it. Consistently. Taking care of yourself is a life-long ambition. There is no finish line. Love yourself enough to do what you need to do to be at your best. No excuses. Life is so much better when you feel great!

They can get weekly information on my blog and daily inspiration on our facebook page

Sherri McMillan: Take care. Gotta run! 🙂

Setareh Alizadeh : Thank you so much for joining us today, and thank you to our readers. Join us next week when we have Brian Potter join us from our Parks and Recreation here in Clark County. Until next time, have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend =)