School and Calories

I’m baaackkk!

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since last September, shame on me.


One of the main reasons for my blogging absenteeism is academic. Yes, I am back in school.


You know how some youngsters take a gap year while in school, in the name of personal growth? Well, I have had about about 15 years worth of gap life (only in academics, I have been working you know). I used my GI Bill to go to school, off and on, from 1996 to about 2000, and I completed a good amount of units. I didn’t quite finish school. I just focused on being a personal trainer, and I am proud to say that I have become fairly proficient at it.

Me and my crew after they completed a Dirty Girl Mud Run. You go girls!!!


Oh yeah, about school. One day, yes, one day, about a year ago, I was training at a now defunct personal training studio, and I looked around at all the personal trainers and I realized that none of us really had a niche. Or, at least I knew I didn’t have one, and something told me to go back to school and specialize in an area which could help me grow as a person, and help my personal training business grow too. After thinking for a bit, and then asking my wife and friends for advice, I decided to major in Gerontology and Aging Services at UMUC, because I have noticed over the years that my “older” clientele has grown, and that there is a lack of understanding in the personal training world, on how to work with and train clients over 65 years of age. Hector to the rescue!! One of my senior clients calls me Hector Protector, and she even had a T-shirt made for me with an HP logo on it for Christmas. Thanks Rhona! And sorry Hewlett Packard, HP now stands for Hector Protector.

One last thing about school. I don’t like to curse, but I will say this, I have learned a shit-load. I figure that’s better than learning a load of shit.

Wait, one more thing about school! I recently completed a research paper that focused on different types of exercise modalities for fall prevention-intervention in the elderly. Studies have looked at physical therapy, yoga, tai chi, elastic band training, balance training, and weight training for their effectiveness in reducing fall rates in seniors. To make a long story short, nothing comes close to the effect weight training has on increasing strength and balance in the elderly. Interestingly, walking is not very effective as a fall prevention measure. This is all backed by research and is not “bro-science”. What is “bro-science”? This is…


My training business is going great! I have a coed bootcamp on Saturday mornings at 8am. It is really cool to see men and women working out together. I keep pushing them, and they keep coming back! I love it. I am very lucky to do something for a living which has such positive effects on the well-being of others, and because of the coed bootcamp I have made new friends. I am truly blessed.

Rows from the push-up plank position.


Squat and press before walking up the hill with weights.


Hill sprints! 5 times.


On a personal note, my workouts are going pretty well too. I run about twice per week, anywhere from 3 to 5 miles max (or hill sprints) and I lift weights about 3 to 4 times per week, mostly at home. My weight training routine is computed and formed by a hypertrophy power-lifting template I bought from Juggernaut Training ( At 44 years old, I knew I needed something just a bit more scientific then doing “legs” today and “chest” tomorrow. I am not a competitive power-lifter, but I think it is impressive that by following a program based on research and results, I have gotten stronger, even at my age. When I am done with my first 5 weeks of training which is what the template calls for, I will let you all know the progress I made, strength-wise.

I also recently read a book by Juggernaut called “The Renaissance Diet”. It has great information about nutrition written by extremely knowledgeable people. Here’s a bit about the authors: “Dr. Israetel, Dr. Case and Dr. Hoffman not only have PhDs and are actively serving as professors and researchers, they are also high level competitors and coaches in powerlifting, bodybuilding, rugby, and combat sports. This combination of scientific knowledge and practical experience is the best in helping you achieve your goals.” Yes, they know there stuff. Or as I like to say, they know a shit-load.

I have read some of the book, and one thing that is clear from the authors, as far as weight loss goes, is that it still boils down to calories. Too many calories for your activity levels, you will gain weight. Not enough calories for your activity levels, you will lose weight. Of course, the book is much, much, more than just that, but I thought I would let you know that calories do count, as I am sure many of you already suspected.


Before I forget, you can follow me on your bike or skateboard if you want, or you can follow me on Instagram @healthyhomeboy, which is much more convenient.


Let’s Talk About Losing 145 Pounds!!!

Meet Andrew.


Yep, that’s him. That’s his before and after picture. Andrew has lost 145 pounds. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Andrew has lost 145 lbs !!! Or as one of my clients said when I told her about Andrew’s incredible body transformation. “It’s like he lost a whole human.”
Andrew is not a client of mine. I repeat, he is not a client of mine. He is just someone I know through my wife’s work. I train a group of ladies twice per week where my wife works (UCG in Gaithersburg, MD), and I had seen Andrew working out in the same facility where I train the UCG group.
First thing I noticed about Andrew is that he is a big dude. He’s not eff-ay-tee, he’s just a big dude. He’s 6’3’ and weighs in at 215 lbs, and that’s 215lbs of muscle! I am 5’11’, and 185 lbs, so he really looks big to me.

Andrew works out hard. He does weights, cardio conditioning, and is involved in UFC type training. Ok, he’s somewhat of a beast. What impresses me about Andrew the most is his weight loss. Because anyone can workout intensely, but if the diet’s not right, weight loss will be tough. I am so impressed with his weight loss that I asked him if I can interview him so I can share his story with anyone who reads my blog, and he obliged.

Andrew, what’s the most you ever weighed? “360lbs. I never weighed myself after that. I don’t think I went any higher.”

How old are you? “I am 31.”

How much weight have you lost? “145 lbs” WOW!!!

How were you built/shaped as a kid? “I wasn’t thin, but I wasn’t fat either. I was just a big kid. I would say I was thick.”

You played sports growing up? “Yep. I played basketball, wrestling, football, and soccer. Soccer was my favorite. I was really good at soccer, up until 7th grade, and then the kids started to outrun me because I got too big. So in high school I started playing football. I played tackle on both sides of the ball, and I wrestled in high school too.”

How much did you weigh in high school? “As a freshman I already weighed 275. I would say I was overweight, but I carried it well because I was an athlete. And I was always self-conscious about my weight. There was a big joke in my family because I was always breaking chairs. I broke so many plastic lawn chairs.” Thanks for the honesty Andrew.

How big were your friends compared to you? “My friends were always small guys. My best friend on the wrestling team weighed 115 lbs.” That’s funny.

Did you get teased about your weight? “I got teased and picked on. I even got into altercations. People tried to bully me so they could say they beat up the big guy. But me and my friends were usually pretty good in these altercations.”

Then you played football in college for JMU? “Yes, I played guard in college. I was a walk on. I played at around 325 lbs, and I was clocking about a 5.2 sec 40 yard dash. And I was the slowest lineman, for sure.” As a Hector side note. Most people have absolutely no idea how fast a college lineman, or an NFL lineman is. Those dudes are heavy, but they can haul ass! Literally.

How long did you play? “Sophomore year they found two tumors in my lower back, each the size of my fist, I had back surgery, and never played after that. And after that is when I went up to 360 lbs.”

So, Andrew, I have always had the belief that if someone doesn’t have a very strong reason, something they can hang on to, to lose weight, chances are they won’t lose weight. What was your reason to lose weight? “I was a very good athlete, but I knew my college football career ended abruptly, and I always regretted that. I always had that itch to compete, and I knew I wasn’t finished, and that led me to MMA (mixed martial arts). So I started to get in shape for MMA. Also, I wanted to be healthier, because being overweight is just uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be overweight anymore. It’s depressing. I had enough of being big all my life. It was either now or never.”

So how long ago did you start losing weight? “It’s been about a five-year process all together. I started going to the gym, and a big change for me was I started drinking only water. That was one of the first things I did.” Anyone who has trained with me, or asked my advice about weight loss knows that I strongly recommend to “drink water only”. If you’re trying to lose weight, put down the liquid calories. Andrew continued with the drinking water only topic. “Because for someone who weighs 360, to drink a can of soda is so easy. It’s not satisfying. I used to drink Gatorade, which is horrible. Once I switched to water only, just that alone was enough for me to start dropping weight.”

How much/many liquid calories were you drinking before your switch to water only? “Do you remember the Gatorade that used to come in the gallon jug? I would drink one of those a day when I was training  for football. Instead of drinking water, I was drinking Gatorade. I was basically replacing the calories I was burning. And I would probably drink a soda or two a day too. I wasn’t a beer drinker, but I did drink vodka. I think the college lifestyle played a part in my liquid calorie consumption.”

How was your diet when you were overweight? “In college I didn’t eat a lot of fast foods (fast food establishments), but I did eat subs and pasta, and way over-proportioned. A lot of cafeteria food. Burgers, fries, pizza, and cookies. Stuff like that. I would say I was easily consuming 4,000 to 5,000 calories a day.”

How many calories do you consume a day now, and how much do you weigh? “About 1,800 to 2,200 calories per day. And I weigh about 215, with about 11% body fat.”

How often do you workout? “I train about twice a day. I don’t think people need to do that to lose weight. That’s just what I do.”

What’s your goal weight? “I’m at the point now where I don’t look at the scale much. It’s more about how I look. I want to tighten up my core and stuff.”

What does your diet consist of? “I eat very similar every day. I wake up and have a protein shake. I eat a lot of egg whites. I use egg whites as snacks. I meal prep about 95% of my meals.”

So, 95% of the food you eat, you know exactly what you’re eating? Is that safe to say? “Yes. For sure. And If I do eat at a restaurant, it’s something like spinach and grilled fish, and I tell them specifically how to cook it.”

Do you eat fruit? “Yes, I eat fruit.”

Do you count carbs or calories? “I do more portion control than anything else. And I try to balance my macronutrients. I eat fruits and vegetables, and for my meats I do lean fish, lean turkey, and lean chicken. I eat a lot of vegetables. That’s about it.”

What has been the most difficult part of your diet? “I would say the meal prep. It takes a lot of planning and work. I dedicate much of my Sundays to cooking pretty much all my meals for the week, because I don’t have time during the week.” Below is his actual meal prep.


So the meal prep is the time management part, how about the psychological aspect of the diet? “I think at first, it was a mental thing to learn to be hungry, but then when you start seeing the results, things fall into place. The hardest part was probably the first few weeks, but now I really don’t get that hungry. And sometimes, because I’m so busy, I have to remind myself to eat to keep the metabolism going.”

How about your self-esteem? How do you feel now compared to when you were overweight? “Believe it or not, I still have a fat-man complex (He shouldn’t, because he’s not overweight anymore and looks great), and I find myself sitting very gently in chairs sometimes. I’m still afraid I’m going to break a chair. But to have women approach me now when I’m out with friends, which never really happened before, is pretty cool (ladies, he’s single, tall, with muscles, educated, and employed!!). And physically I feel good when I run. And I tell you what else has changed. My back bothers me way less now. It may act up, but it has been night and day getting that weight off. It was the best cure ever for my back.”

Is there anything you would do when you plateaued during your weight loss journey to keep you going? “Yes. I remember that sometimes I would get frustrated because I had only lost 40 lbs and I had so much more to go. So I would pick up two 20 pound dumbbells and do stuff with them. Like walk up steps, or get on the treadmill, to remind myself of how much extra weight I was walking around with. It was a good visualization for me, to remember how far I had come. And for me, a lot of my weight gain was in the stomach area, so it would put direct pressure on my lower back.” Andrew continued “I just feel like a brand new person. Especially with shopping for clothes. I can shop in the regular section now. So like this shirt I am wearing, it’s just a regular Polo large. My biggest shirt ever was a 6X. That was a big and tall 6X.”

Do you allow yourself cheat meals? “Yes, I will have a cheat meal, like a burger or something. But I think a cheat day is too much. You have to be very careful because it can easily get out of control. And if I do have a really bad day, and eat poorly, I just get over it and get back on track.”

If you had someone sitting in front of you who wants to lose weight, and they have been through a lot, maybe physically and psychologically, what advice would you give them? “I would first and foremost say, start with just drinking water. I’m adamant about that. If they have been overweight their whole lives I would advise them to forgive themselves and get over it, find a reason to lose weight, and just take it day by day. Don’t look at the whole thing (weight loss goals), just take it meal by meal. Every workout, every meal, you’re progressing. Just take it a day at time.”


That’s a great motto. What’s a motto? I don’t know. What’s a motto with you.


Thanks Andrew. You have officially gone from FEAST MODE, to BEAST MODE!!

Meet Two Fit Women

You want real-life health and fitness success stories? You want to read about people with careers and kids, who are fit? Well, I have two women’s stories for you. I know these stories well because I know the following two women pretty well. Say hello to Rebecca and Tanya.

Let’s begin with Rebecca. She is in her thirties (sorry Rebecca, people want to know the age of fit people, always). She works, has two children, runs a house hold, is a wife, has social commitments, and somehow she finds time to workout. Wow!! This is her before and after picture.


As you can see, Rebecca has transformed her body. She was kind enough to write a testimonial for me that will be on my website soon, but I want to tell you about her from my point of view, and why, in my opinion, she has succeeded in shedding pounds.

First of all, she is very consistent with her workouts. Unless she absolutely cannot make my bootcamps, she will be there. Rebecca doesn’t have time for excuses. Even if she’s tired, or not feeling 100%, she shows up to exercise and gives it her all. Segundamente, and very importantly, she understands that food trumps almost all other factors when it comes to weight loss. She often says that she would rather eat her calories, than drink her calories (great motto. What’s a motto? I don’t know. What’s a motto with you!!).

She is so “matter of fact” about food/calorie consumption, that one day we were having a group discussion about dieting, and someone said that during the summer it can be a bit difficult to watch your calories because of all the cook-outs and such. Rebecca chimed in “It’s hard in the summer because of cook-outs, its hard in the fall because of candy during Halloween, and then Thanksgiving arrives. Before you know it, it’s Christmas and all the holidays. Oh what the heck! It’s always hard.” End of conversation. Yes, I agree with Rebecca. It is always a challenge to diet because food is everywhere, all the time, and much of what we do with family, friends, and even co-workers, revolves around food and drink.

And lastly, Rebecca pushes herself during exercise. Whether it’s my bootcamps, or training at the gym, she pushes herself. She is not afraid to lift weights, run, sprint, do pushups, run hills, or try anything else I can come up with to keep her and the rest of the crew fit.

Here she is in bootcamp, she’s the second one from the top, in the light blue top, walking up a hill with 15 pound weights in each hand. That means she shoulder presses, curls, and all other exercises that requires weights, with 15’s in each hand. You go Rebecca!


Next, we have Tanya. Tanya is a busy professional, a mother, and a very fit woman, in her 40’s!! When it comes to fitness. Tanya is also like Rebecca, all business. Tanya does my bootcamps, and has hired me as her personal trainer.

As you will read in her testimonial, once it’s up on my website, Tanya came to me for strengthening purposes, more than anything else. Tanya is a runner. She ran track in high school and college.

Now she does mostly distance running, about 3 to 5 miles at a time. When she came to me she had bursitis in her hip. She asked me if I thought I could help her pain by strengthening her legs? I gambled and said “Yes”.

The gamble was the following: I didn’t know if strengthening her legs, specifically her hamstrings and glutes, would alleviate her pain, but I knew I could get her legs stronger, and then I hoped/bet (fingers crossed and all) that Tanya having stronger legs would help her pain subside. My gamble paid off!! Tanya is practically pain free. She’s back to running, and even sprinting hills.


As you can see from the picture above, Tanya is lean. Some of you may be thinking “What’s Tanya’s formula for being lean?” It’s very simple. She follows a pretty strict diet. I believe she consumes about 1,500 calories per day. She lifts weights about three to four times per week, and she runs. She basically does all three facets of fitness. Portion control when it comes to food, resistance training, and cardio.

Cover your eyes if you dislike tough love when it comes to weight-loss. There is no magic bullet, miracle pill, or perfect workout, when it comes to weight-loss and fitness. Exercise, specifically cardio, does burn calories, and weight training the right way, does build muscle. But if the diet isn’t right, weight-loss will be quite the challenge.

Rebecca and Tanya are great examples of what it takes to be fit. I can only instruct them during our exercise sessions, and give them nutritional advice, but ultimately, they must execute the “fit plan” day in and day out.


The sign says “No Parking” and not “No Kettle Bell Swings”. Good job ladies!!!

An Inspirational Story of Commitment

Hello my fit friends. Happy Cinco De Junio. No, today isn’t a holiday. I just thought I would wish you a happy day.

And now it is time for a feel good story. A story of accomplishment and commitment. A true story that makes me feel good as a personal trainer. This is the story of my United Communications Group exercise group in Gaithersburg, Maryland.


The group originally began as a walking group. U.C.G.’s HR department contacted me last spring to see if I would run an exercise group for them in the evenings. I said “sure!” I tricked the participants and called it a “walking group”, with me fully knowing that I could never, ever, get paid to have someone just walk. If you exercises with me, you will eventually lift weights, jog hills, and you might even do a 5k.

Our first session was last summer at 5pm (I think). For our first session I had them walk around a lake adjacent to the U.C.G. offices, and then we did some exercises on a yoga mat. The WALK around the lake which is .77 of a mile, and the exercise routine without weights, was tough for some of the participants. Some of them admitted to me that they hadn’t been exercising for a while. Good! Because that is what one of my job descriptions is: To get people moving that haven’t been doing so, and to keep them moving.

We continued to workout outdoors, weather providing, twice a week, for one hour per session. Over the next few months I made the sessions harder and harder. We incorporated weights, and I had them running up and down a grassy, undulating hill, next to the lake. At one point I even brought pulling sleds for them to do, and they obliged. I never said they didn’t complain, but they always obliged.

And then the days got shorter and it began to get cold. The group was in full swing by now. They were all getting stronger, and their endurance was improving. We couldn’t stop! What to do? Well, as it turns out, the office building where the U.C.G. offices are has a gym in it. We contacted the person who runs the gym, I met with him and explained what we were doing, filled out some paper work, and it was a go. We were, and are, allowed to use the gym twice per week for group training. And the group was in for a treat, especially the one’s who had never lifted weights before.

In the gym I split up the group of 8 to 10 into two groups. While one group did cardio for 5 to 10 minutes, the other group did circuit training with weights. They did lunges, squats, lat pull-downs, cable rows, shoulder presses, and even a Gravi-tron machine that aids in doing pull-ups. It was great!

Then one day I noticed that while I was training the group on weights, the group on the cardio machines was just chatting away, like if they were just having a pleasant walk in the park. I thought “Oh, heck no! I will never get paid to have someone just walk and chat during a Hector session.” So I brainstormed, “What can I do to push them on cardio, while indoors?” And I realized that I could use the one thing that all buildings have, if not, most. Steps!!! Yes steps, as in stairs!!! So I said “ladies were doing steps today, follow me.” They thought I was nuts. And they are correct.

The first time they did the steps, 5 floors worth, they were gassed. They couldn’t believe how difficult it is to walk up steps, briskly, without stopping. Over time they got better at it. To further condition them, I gave them homework of 10 sets (that means all the way to the top, and all the way back down is one set) of steps during the week, in addition to our workouts. They all did the homework, I mean office work, too. Their endurance improved tremendously.

Whenever I see improvements in clients I always think “What can I do next to further get them fit?” So I added light indoor jogs to their indoor circuit training. And then it hit me, “Once the weather improves, I will have them do a 5K!!!” When I told them about my grand plan, they thought I was loco.

The weather improved, and we started training outdoors again. And what had started months earlier as a walk around the lake, was now a non-stop jog. For our sessions we did about 20 to 30 minutes of cardio around the lake, and then went into the gym for weight training. It worked well. How well has the training gone? Yesterday, the group did a 5k around the lake.

To make it a Hector 5k, I had them also do a Farmer’s walk for about 40 yards, with a 50 pound trap bar. And that was after the 5k! Here are some pictures of yesterday’s event.

This is our fastest runner, Andrea. She did the 5k like in 30 minutes or so.


Shalisa and Jocelyn.


Carmel and Deanna. They love to chat.


Laura and Mona. Mona is very funny and motivated.


Group hug congratulating Jeannine on her 5k completion.


Chris waiting at the finish line to give Maureen a high-five.



Shalisa, smiling as always, even during her farmer’s walk.DSC_0247

Maureen told me mid-walk “this is heavy”.

DSC_0254Jeannine enjoys lifting weights, but even she thought the bar was heavy. DSC_0269


Kelley plays soccer on weekends AND participates in bootcamp!DSC_0279

Group cheer for Laura and Mona finishing the 5k.


That’s the U.C.G. crew. We are officially a Bootcamp group.


Next challenge, obstacle courses in the mud! Good job ladies.





It’s All About Balance

Ok, time for some Hector-isms regarding weight-loss, exercise, and the such. These are just some simple fitness and battle of the bulge tips to keep in mind. My clients hear the following from me over, and over, and over again.

1. Women, mujeres, muchachas, you cannot eat like a man unless you want to weigh what a man weighs. Why can’t you eat like a man ladies? Because on average, men are bigger/taller than women, and men carry more muscle mass than women. Being taller and carrying more muscle mass allows for more calorie consumption. So ladies, every time you sit down to eat with a man who is bigger than you, make sure your plate’s amount doesn’t match his.


2. Women, you cannot drink  as many adult drinks as a man does for the same reasons I just stated above. If your male friend has 10 beers over the weekend, and you do to, you will pay the price more than he will, in the form of fat accumulation.

3. Women, lifting weights will not make you buff or bulky. To be buff or bulky you would have to be really, really strong. Like WAAAAYYYYYY stronger than you probably are right now. Very few women have the genetic predisposition to get bulky/buff. If it was that easy to be buff, you would see buff men everywhere, and that is simply not the case. Ladies, don’t be afraid of getting strong.


And now for my compadres, the men.

4. Vigorous exercise helps circulation/blood flow to all parts of the human body. Good blood flow helps your friend downstairs stand at attention. Get it!!!

5. Men, if you’re not sure if you have gained weight in the form of eff-aye-tee in the last 10 years, there is a simple way to find out. Go find a pair of pants and a shirt that fit you well ten years ago and try them on. If they are super tight or don’t even fit, you have gained weight. The four things that don’t lie about weight gain are clothing, the mirror, the scale, and children. If a child says “you’ve gained weight”, you probably have. I once was told by a kid that I have big ears, and guess what, I have big ears. But that’s ok because guess what they say about men with big ears? They say we hear well. (Get your brain out the gutter).

6. Men, do you like how women look who workout? You like a nice firm and toned body?  Well guess what? Women like how men look who workout too. You don’t believe me, just ask a few of your female amigas.

7. Men, take advantage of the testosterone you produce naturally and do resistance training. Your body will thank you for it, and you might build some muscle too.

Now some Hector-isms for everyone.

8. Just because you can stomach it, doesn’t mean you should eat it. Think junk food.

9. Your stomach is not a garbage can.

10. Do you have a car? Do you take your car in for its maintenance and scheduled tune ups? Well, guess que? Your body is a much more complicated piece of machinery than a car, so give it its tune-ups too, in the form of exercise, and provide it with clean fuel/food while you’re at it. You can always replace a car, but the last time I checked, you get one body. Yep, just one. True Dat!!!


11. You don’t run on batteries. If you’re constantly tired and addicted to caffeine, check your food quality and sleep amounts.

Sleep is the best meditation Dalai Lama quotes

12. And finally, I believe life is about balance. Go ahead, have fun, eat some pizza, drink some beer, stay up late, but make sure you balance it out by eating clean, drinking water, exercising, and getting your sleep.





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!!!