Guest Post: You Don’t Have to Exercise

Exercise is a choice. Trevor Jewell, a certified personal trainer, explains that while you don’t have to exercise, you should definitely consider it.

You will definitely get more gratification from grabbing a pint of ice cream and putting your feet up for a Netflix binge. Obviously, we don’t exercise because we have to. No one is holding a gun to your head while you sweat and gasp for air in a crowded gym as the seconds of your life tick away on a treadmill timer. We exercise because we want to! We want to feel good, look good, and live long and happy lives free of pain and injury, so exercise becomes worth it.

Many of my clients have told me during their consultations that they don’t like exercise. Cardio is boring, weights are intimidating, ab work hurts too much, the list goes on and on. But all of them, every single one, enjoys the feeling of having completed a tough and energizing workout. The important difference is, after discussing their goals, they have input on their workout plan in the form of choice.

Hate cardio? No problem! I’ll offer you routines with moderate intensity interval training that mimics the aerobic effect of jogging. Weightlifting too intimidating? We’ll try out different bodyweight routines that incorporate resistance training without ever touching anything but the floor. Ab work hurts? How about a few functional fitness games that utilize your core without shredding it like an 8 minute ab routine from Women’s Health magazine. For my advanced clients, I plan days where they get to use what they’ve learned and choose their own workouts while I simply help align their choices with their goals and provide coaching as needed.

Image by Sabine Mondestin from Pixabay

The point is, almost everyone performs better in an environment where they don’t feel trapped and locked into a routine. This is why hiring a personal trainer can be a truly liberating experience as people realize they never have to touch an elliptical again if they don’t want to, but can still lose weight! If you are dragging your feet on the way to the gym to half-heartedly complete yet another round of the same old routine, it’s time to incorporate more choice into your workout.

It should come as no surprise that freedom of choice can lead to better results outside of the gym as well. In a recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists discovered a direct link between having choice in a workout and making healthier diet selections. Two test groups were given instructions to exercise and then allowed to eat at the same buffet. One group was forced to complete an exact routine, while the other was allowed to choose their type of exercise, starting time, and even background music. Upon reviewing their trips to the buffet, the authors discovered that those with more choice in their workouts consistently ate less calories (587 versus 399 kcal) and chose healthier foods than their counterparts!

Image by 272447 from Pixabay

If you’ve ever piled three extra slices of pizza on your plate as a reward for going to the gym that morning, you know exactly how the “forced” participants were feeling. Treating an exercise routine as something you have to “get out of the way” or “get over with” will cause you to feel trapped, and to disassociate your workouts with your life. Our goal as personal trainers is not to force people to get healthy, but to get them to associate an energizing workout in the gym with the overall goal of a healthy lifestyle. We don’t have to exercise, we choose a higher quality of life, and have fun doing it!


Guest Author: Trevor Jewell, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

Trevor Jewell is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with EnDevor Health: Connecting doctors, exercise physiologists, and personal trainers to truly implement Exercise is Medicine in patients’ lives, located in Columbus, OH

37 Things You Can Do for a More Meaningful Life

A unique list of 37 ideas for personal growth; simple (and fun!) ways to lead a a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

If we don’t strive to meet our goals and improve on a regular basis, we become stagnant. And if we aren’t growing and learning, our minds become lethargic.


According the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), there are eight dimensions of wellness:

1. Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

2. Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being

3. Financial—Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

4. Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

5. Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

6. Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep

7. Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

8. Spiritual—Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life


Find additional SAMHSA links in the Links section of this site. SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation.


In order to maintain balance and live a meaningful life, it helps to have a variety of wellness strategies in your toolbox. The following list is comprised of 37 ideas for personal/professional development, self-improvement, and creating healthy habits.

37 Things You Can Do for a More Meaningful Life

1. Read one inspirational/motivational book per month or

2. Read one wellness article per week.

3. Take advantage of free classes offered at the library or through Coursera. (Coursera provides universal access to education by partnering with top universities and organizations.)

4. Take part in a new activity or event to step outside your comfort zone. (Examples: Join a book club, take a cooking class, attend a Meetup, etc.)

5. Make time for an old friend.

6. Develop an exercise routine, write it down, and then stick with it. No excuses!

7. Walk your dog (or borrow one from a friend!)

8. Complete household tasks and chores on a daily basis. Create a chore list. Don’t procrastinate!

9. Stay informed on the latest science and health news/research with sites like Science Daily.

10. Attend a workshop to learn about a topic you’re unfamiliar with.

11. Prioritize sleep hygiene.

12. Improve your posture. (And yes, there are apps for that!)

13. Read a non-fiction book.

14. Take a daily inventory; assess your attitude, productivity, etc. before going to bed.

15. Drink more water, green tea, and black coffee. (And drink less wine, beer, sugar-sweetened beverages, and soda!)

16. Practice active listening.

17. Overcome a fear.

18. Identify your “blind spots” by soliciting feedback from a trusted friend or loved one. They can help you to recognize areas for improvement by sharing their observations. (Example: You may not realize how often you complain until someone points it out for you.) Make a commitment to change.

19. Find a mentor (or be a mentor!)

20. Complete a 30-day challenge to improve your mental and/or physical health.

21. Live a meaningful life with daily meditation and mindfulness. Spend a few quiet moments alone every morning, drinking a cup of coffee. Or journal before going to bed. Reflect on your day and think about what you’re grateful for. Practice deep breathing exercises or listen to guided imagery scripts. Create your own unique ritual.

22. Dress up, style your hair, apply makeup, get a manicure/pedicure/facial, wear sexy shoes or your favorite jacket… Alternatively, you may prefer to put on your comfiest clothes, sweatpants or a fuzzy sweater. Whatever makes you feel good!

23. Be optimistic. Catch yourself if you start complaining and reframe your thoughts. Always assume positive intent.

24. Complete a task you’ve been putting off.

25. Watch a TED Talks.

26. Cook and enjoy a healthy meal.

27. Learn to juggle.

28. Learn a foreign language (or sign language).

29. Practice random acts of kindness, give a spontaneous gift, or help a stranger.

30. Create a vision board.

31. Volunteer.

32. Be a tourist in your hometown. (Free walking tours are often available in larger cities!)

33. Donate blood or plasma.

34. Memorize the lyrics to a song (or rap) of your choice.

35. Find a Pinterest project that interests you. Pin it and then do it!

36. Pick up trash in your neighborhood.

37. Write and mail “thinking of you” cards/postcards.


Additional Ideas: Run a 5K (or 10K!) Adopt an elderly pet that needs a home.


Comment with your best ideas for living a more meaningful life.

Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC

30 Thirty-Day Challenges!!

A unique list of wellness-based thirty-day challenges.

There are plenty of 30-day challenges out there, but this post is unique in that all of the challenges listed are wellness-based. This is a list of 30 exciting ideas for thirty-day challenges.

30 Thirty-Day Challenges

Difficulty Level – Easy

1. Give one compliment per day

2. 30 days of flossing

3. Five minutes of mindful breathing every day

4. 30 days of gratitude journaling

5. Set sleep schedule for 30 days

6. 30 days of Matcha or green tea

7. Learn a new vocabulary word every day for 30 days

8. Daily act of kindness

9. Read a random Wikipedia article every day for 30 days

10. 30-day dog walk challenge

11. Write a daily poem or short story

12. No cursing for 30 days

13. Pray (or spend time in quiet reflection) every morning

14. Watch a TED Talks (or similar) every day

Difficulty Level – Medium

15. 30-day vegan challenge

16. 30 days of following a strict budget (no “wants,” only “needs”)

17. 30-day gym challenge

18. 30-day documentary challenge

19. 30-days of cleaning and organization; the decluttered home challenge

20. No fast food, no carryout, and no dining out for 30 days

21. Write a book chapter daily

Difficulty Level – Hard

22. 30-day art challenge (one drawing or painting per day)

23. 30-day Pinterest challenge (one Pinterest project a day)

24. No social media

25. 30 days of no caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or other substances

26. No driving for a month

Difficulty Level – Nearly Impossible

27. No cell phone or Internet (except for work-related use); the 30-day unplugged challenge

28. One hour of daily exercise

29. 50 sits ups or crunches daily

30. Sugar-free challenge


Post your ideas for a 30-day challenge in a comment!

Cassie Jewell, M.Ed., LPC