This past weekend my friend and personal training client, Salomeh, participated in a two-day, 150 mile bike ride here in Maryland. Even though she did strength training with me on the weekdays, and did bike ride training with her friend Jamie on weekends, leading up to the event she was nervous, anxious, and at times questioned if she would even be able to finish the event. Well, she did finish the event.


I personally never questioned if she could finish the 2 day event. Salomeh is inspirational because not only has she been exercising and dieting to lose weight, she has lost 30 pounds this year, but she also trained for the bike ride while dieting. That takes some serious discipline and guts. So I interviewed her yesterday. The day after she crossed the finish line.

How are you feeling today? “I am actually surprised. I feel great. My legs are a bit stiff, but that’s about it.”

What did you eat after your event? “I had Famous Dave’s. I had beef brisket, cole slaw, and maccaroni and cheese.”

When did you start training for the bike ride? “I started with 5 to 8 mile bike rides in March.”

What is the longest training ride you did leading up to the event? “I did 78 miles on mostly flat ground in July. My ride time was 5 hours and 24 minutes. That’s just ride time, so not including breaks.”

Did you always ride with someone? “No, sometimes I trained solo.” You go Salomeh.

What was the most difficult part of the training rides? “By f-a-r, the hills. They sucked. But I did get better at them because my ride time got better/faster.”

Did you ever hit a wall during your training? “Yes, but it was diet based. I had cut back too much on my carbs. But once I increased them, my performance improved.” On a side note, I am the one that had to convince her to INCREASE her carbs. For someone like Salomeh on a weight loss mission, this is very hard to believe and implement. But she trusted me, I kept my fingers crossed, and it worked. Whew!!

What motivated you to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer? “Within the last year I have lost 4 people to cancer, so I decided to do my part.”

How much money did you raise? “I raised $3,200 and all the riders raised 2.6 million dollars total.”

What were the riding conditions, like for the actual two day ride? “The first day sucked. It was rainy, a bit cold, and I was soaked. It was a tad dangerous out there with the slick roads. At the 3rd pit stop I totally felt like quitting, but I just couldn’t. 120 riders dropped out the first day, for a multitude of reasons. The first day was very tiring. I started at 7:30am and finished at 4pm. I ate some chicken, rice, and a bit of a salad and went to sleep.” I think if I ever ride 75 miles in one day, I will skip the food and just go to sleep.

How was the second day? “Well I didn’t have restful sleep, so I woke up feeling rundown. I had scrambled eggs, French toast, oatmeal, a bagel, and beacon for breakfast, and I felt much better. I started at 7am and finished the ride at 5pm. At 7am it was a bit cool, almost cold. The first 4 miles were hilly, and that SUCKED, and about half way through the ride, my legs were gone. I was tired. The 3rd pit stop was about 5 minutes from my house and I was so tempted to come home, but I couldn’t. I had come too far to quit. At the 4th pit stop I had 22 miles left, and my hip was killing me. There was a physical therapist at the pit stop, and she worked on my hip. It hurt like hell when she was working on it, but it worked because I finished the ride, and today it feels fine.”

What kept you going on the ride? “I was doing it for my friends, and on the ride I saw a shirt, on one of the other riders who is a cancer survivor, that said ‘If you think this is difficult, try chemotherapy’. The shirt reminded me that it wasn’t all about me.”

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line? “I was in disbelief and burst into tears (Yes I was there, she was crying so much I almost cried. Ok, ok, maybe I did shed a tear, but just one. It’s simple, when I see a woman cry, I tend to do the same). I couldn’t believe I actually did it. I’m still in disbelief.”

Do you feel that our strength training helped you on your ride in any way? “Oh yes. During the ride I heard riders complaining about pain in their back, shoulders, and neck, but I didn’t have any of that. Probably because of all the strength and core training we did.”

Well there you have it. A woman in her late 40’s (she said I could mention her age), who in the midst of her weight loss mission, decided to take on a challenge of riding to conquer cancer. Not only did she raise money, but she did finish the two day 150 mile bike ride, and ahead of others. I witnessed it. Wow!!!


And stay tuned, because guess what Salomeh is doing next year? She is doing an “Iron Girl” event. Isn’t that swimming, biking, and running, all in the same day!? Daaannnngggg! You go Salomeh. And don’t you dare doubt her because not only has she biked 150 miles in two days, but she has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I am not kidding. In the fitness world we call that “BEAST MODE”.  And in my world I call her my Home-Girl. (Yes, Home-Girl is capitalized. It is like a proper name or something).











Bootcamps and Fish

Hello everyone. Wow, I haven’t blogged since July or something. Summer does that to me, and there’s only so much I can write about when it comes to weight loss, exercise, and overall fitness, but I am back.

Summer has been busy. I started a neighborhood bootcamp with neighborhood mothers who wanted to get in shape, and it has been quite the pleasant surprise. I learned that group training holds people accountable, is inspiring for participants, and creates a workout ambiance that cannot be duplicated by one on one training. This is the group below. The whole banner thing and blue outline was done courtesy of one of the women in the group who is also a blogger, a very popular blogger, I might add. Her blog is at You should go check it out. Her name is Jessica and she’s very funny. Thanks Jessica. hector-vargas-dc-trainer

The ladies above have accomplished plenty. They all have got stronger, lost some el bees, increased their endurance, and made some new friends. But their biggest accomplishment was convincing my wife to join the group, which is very impressive because my wife is not a morning person and the bootcamps are Monday and Thursday at 6am! Thanks ladies. And because of the above group, I am starting other bootcamps and weight loss groups in the area. It is the way to go.

I also started a walking group that has now morphed into a bootcamp at United Communications Group, also here in the Silver Spring area. I sort of tricked them though. I advertised it as a walking group, knowing all along that I could never be paid to just have a group of humans walk. We walked once, just the first time, and now they they are jogging hills, lifting weights, doing abs, regular and modified pushups, squats, lunges, and anything else I can think of. I even had them do weighted pulling sleds once. We have varying fitness levels, but it works out well. No one has complained, and I think they all enjoy it. I will try to get some pictures, and their permission, to post on my blog soon.

Below is a picture of my first neighborhood co-ed bootcamp. This is how it happened. The husbands of the women in the bootcamp had been requesting to participate, so this past Labor Day we had a co-ed bootcamp, and it went off great. The men were huffing and puffing, and I think they were very impressed to see and feel what the women in the group had been doing twice a week at 6am since May. The picture and graphics are once again compliments of Jessica the awesome blogger.


Ok enough about the exercise. How about some other stuff I did this summer.

I saw a turtle lay some eggs and cover them up at my local park that has a small pond in it. I was so mesmerized by the egg laying that I didn’t take my camera out until the turtle was headed back to the pond. This in not a picture, it’s a video. Turtles move so slow that videos of them look like pictures.


I also started fishing this summer. Maryland has small and large bodies of water everywhere, and I enjoy the outdoors, so it was the perfect activity to start doing. But don’t be too impressed, locally I only caught bluegill, perch, and a catfish. Here’s a bluegill. That’s my sun weathered hand next to it so you can get an idea of the bluegill’s size. I know, it’s small. photo(39)

Here’s a perch I caught on a tiny lure. I am shocked that you can catch fish with a lure. Every time a fish hits on a lure, I am amazed at mans ingenuity.


Over the summer I went to California to visit friends and family, and I also did some fishing. In So Cal I went fishing with my best amigo. Guess what I caught off some rocks by Malibu beach? An octopus!


Then by best amigo and I went to Northern Cali to visit my father and family, and guess what we did there? We went fishing. I didn’t catch anything worth noting, but my best amigo did catch a pretty big bass. Not only did he catch a bass, but he caught it with a lure he found stuck in a tree! Seriously? Yes. No kidding. This is him and the bass.


And then, this past weekend, I went to visit family in Florida, and guess what I did while I was out there? Bingo! I went fishing. And I caught my catch of the summer! A 3ft, 22 pound, King-fish. This is me and my catch, or is it my catch and I?…what evs.


We had a nice dinner that night. Thanks Kingfish!!!