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Foods that Fuel Your Workouts II – Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 Just half a cup of these savoury treats will boost your electrolytes and provide almost a quarter of your daily calcium needs. Plus tomatoes have  a large quantity of lycopene, a cell protector that lowers the risk of several cancers. Enjoy sun-dried tomatoes in soups, salads, sandwiches, stews and curries and, of course, in pasta sauces or directly on pasta for a light meal.



Foods that Fuel Your Workouts I – Dates

Why pay for a gel pack when four dates will do the same thing for much less? As much as 60g of good glycogen-boosting carbs, 600+mg of potassium and healthy concentrations of iron, copper and zinc. Add them to pasta sauces, rice dishes and salads or eat them on their own they will help you make it through those tough workouts.


Obviously this blog post is about workout buddies.

When you have someone to workout with on a regular basis it is both intuitive and an empirical fact that your chances of reaching your goals will improve dramatically. “Research shows that 80 percent of people believe they’re more likely to fit in workouts and stick to their routines if they partner up. Even better, a study from the University of Pittsburgh reports that women who exercised with a pal lost a third more weight than those who hit the gym solo.”

There you go. Two sentences that sum it up beautifully. Eighty percent believe it to be so and a university study proves it to be so. This is something we believe really strongly in at SPHERE. The partner and group dynamic are crucial to what we are trying to do here for a health and wellness community that is supportive, motivational and fulfilling.

Let’s break down the idea of a work out buddy further. It is, perhaps most of all, a motivational situation. Knowing that a friend, or friends, are waiting for you at the gym is probably the best defense against that dark part of your mind that tries to convince you that you just cannot make it today because there’s an episode of Two and a Half Men that you have only seen three times and one more time may be what you need to see it on a deeper comedic level.

Having someone do it with will encourage you to sign up for, and attend, a group exercise class in something you have never done before. Especially something outside your comfort zone, something that you are not going to be good at the first couple of times you try it.

Yoga class can be very intimidating when that bendy girl three mats over casually puts her feet behind her head and then pushes up into a handstand. But the intimidation is gone when you and your friend get to spend a moment sharing looks between your distant feet and each other. Well OK, not all the intimidation is gone but at least you won’t feel like rolling up your mat right then and going home and setting a new personal record in the McDonald’s Drive Thru on the way.

It is also motivational if you are like me and have a competitive nature. A little bit of competition can push you to try a little harder, eat a little better or reach a little higher. As long as you are not causing yourself to go into cardiac arrest just to overtake some distant runner right at the end of your workout just because they are there. Cause I have never done that. Hardly.

A work out buddy or group is a supportive element. Positive reinforcement for successes, goal-setting and help through those frustrating plateaus when the results have stopped coming are all roles a partner can play. The last one is especially helpful. There is a high rate of dropouts during the first few months of a fitness plan. The majority of these are by people working on their own who have passed through the first initial phase with its immediate benefits. Plateaus are tough and the encouragement of a friend or group is a key factor in getting through them.

It is also empowering to feel that a friend is looking to you to help them accomplish their goals. Plus staying positive for someone else tends to lead to you feeling more positive about your own goals and progress. Good old “Power of Positive Thinking” stuff.

Finally there is a fulfilling component to working out with a friend or group. Everyone knows that there is no better workout and no better post-workout glow than the one that comes from a workout that almost didn’t happen. The friend that got you there is a cause of that.  It is a social situation when you workout with a friend or a group of friends. From sharing the success and struggles of your attempt at a healthy lifestyle to the everyday discussion of current events, work and family. Perhaps you will get to know that bendy girl from the yoga class and learn that it was just a couple of years ago when she couldn’t reach her toes.

What to look for in a workout buddy is a matter of conjecture. There is no correct answer as long as it is someone or a group with reasonably similar goals and of reasonably similar abilities. Do not be too tough on yourself in regards to your abilities as well. You are not that far from putting your feet behind your head. If you know someone then start working together. Or join a group exercise class like ours at SPHERE and find others

There are many places on the web where you can find more information and support for the idea of a workout buddy. Here are just two of them:

Super Summer Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is close to one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.  Quinoa is a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles. It is a wonderful way to ensure that you consume valuable fiber that eases elimination and tones your colon. Quinoa contains high levels of magnesium to help relax your muscles and blood vessels and effects blood pressure. Quinoa is a good source of manganese and copper that act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances. Quinoa can be your superfood: regulating your blood sugar, enhancing elimination, and keeping your heart healthy. This recipe also includes blueberries, almonds, and olive oil providing a plethora of health benefits and complete nutrition.

1 cup quinoa
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Cracked black pepper to taste

1. Rinse quinoa well in a fine mesh strainer. Add to a pot with two cups of water. Bring to a boil.
2. Add sea salt, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.
3. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and mix well.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
5. Top with fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Tonight I had this for dinner as is but tomorrow I am planning on making a wrap for lunch with a low-carb tortilla, crumbled feta cheese and spinach.  See what creative additions you can come up with!

This makes eight servings with 143 calories, 5 grams of fat, 21.5 grams of carbohydrates, 3.5 grams of fiber, and 4.5 grams of protein.

SPHERE Boot Camp

SPHERE Boot Camps are not your typical boot camp classes. Most trainers will put you through a ton of push ups and random cardio drills that will have you huffing and puffing, convinced you had a killer workout.  We are not just about exhaustion and sweaty armpits. At SPHERE each workout is planned to methodically incorporate every component of a healthy lifestyle.
We use the six ranges of motion from PranaVayu yoga in our warm-ups to help us stay injury free and increase range of motion and flexibility. For example, the half forward fold helps by stretching the front torso, strengthening the back, shoulders and abdominals for better posture, and stimulating blood flow to the legs to prepare them for the workout to come.
We incorporate a variety of exercises that work the smaller muscle groups that will help improve your posture.  You are not going to come out of these classes with just better abs but more flexible hamstrings and stronger spinal erectors. Core work is implemented to help reduce and prevent lower back pain too!
Cardiovascular exercise is done to levels that help increase lung capacity, endurance and stamina; not to see if we can make you feel like puking. Agility and functional training drills are used to help make every day activities easier and improve sports performance. Everything combined will  get you strong and toned, helping you lose weight and increase your energy to put into all the areas of life that matter most to you.
All this comes with expert instruction and demonstration, powerful motivation and a multi-level approach to each drill that we never fail to challenge you. You may be coming to boot camp to justify the donut you want to eat, or to get rid of the ones you already ate but you will get more than that. You will leave with a clearer mind, a more positive sense of self and an array of effective strategies in improving your body and mind. You will sleep better, have more energy and maybe become the next of Hilery’s bootcamp clients who end up being a fitness professional themselves. These boot camps are just that good.

Making Healthier Whoopie

 Let’s make the very first recipe on the blog a healthier variation of Maine’s own (suck it Pennsylvania!) world famous whoopee pies. And with the high, high temperatures at the moment how about a frozen version.



½ cup (125 ml) natural peanut butter

½ cup (125ml) plain Greek yogurt

1 tbsp (15ml) liquid honey

1 oz. Finely chopped dark chocolate

16 round chocolate wafers about 2¼ “ (6cm) in diameter

Place peanut butter, yogurt, honey and chopped chocolate in a bowl and pulse until combined. Divide the mixture between 8 wafers spreading the mixture to the edge of each wafer. Top each one with the remaining wafers. Place in a lined Tupperware (or on a baking sheet if serving that day) and put in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Remove from the freezer about 3-5 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings


Calories ………………………………….. 196

Fat …………………………………………. 11g

Protein …………………………………… 5g

Carbohydrates …………………………. 18g

Fibre ……………………………………….. 2g

Sodium ……………………………………. 97mg


The recently released report “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens Americas Future 2011″ from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has just come out and the numbers are not good ( The numbers have not been good for years but it is really getting out of hand now.

“Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states* in the past year and did not decline in any state” (*Including Maine.)


“Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent”


“Twenty years ago, no state had an obesity rate above 15 percent. Today, more than two out of three states, 38 total, have obesity rates over 25 percent”


“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995”


And so on. The report is comprehensive enough to take into consideration ethnic/racial and socioeconomic factors and does make some solid recommendations as to what policy makers and the food and beverage industry can do to change the direction. What it does not do much of is suggest that you get up off your ass and do something about it yourself.


Fortunately that is what SPHERE is here to help you do. With our well-rounded approach we offer many possibilities to get you going. Simple Powerful Health and Exercise Routines for Everyone. It is in the name. Whether it is the “I’m not fooling around anymore” boot camps or the “time to make some change” of the Walk and Water program (coming in September) we can help you make simple lifestyle changes that get results


“Creating healthy environments is key to reversing the obesity epidemic”


It is both the easiest thing to do and one of the hardest. I know this as less than 18 months ago I was one of the people who would have been classified as obese. Still today I am working on the famously difficult last ten pounds and I continually want potato chips almost all the time. But all I did was eat less, eat better and exercise more. I was fortunate that my workout partner is an experienced and talented fitness professional but when you join up with SPHERE you will have that same advantage.


The numbers in this study are horrible but they can change. It is within you to make a difference. Find it.



The Birth of SPHERE

Welcome to the very first SPHERE blog entry.

SPHERE was born out of two things. Firstly, taking the wide-ranging experience and knowledge that Hilery has gained in the past decade as a fitness professional and fusing it into a holistic method. A method simple enough for anyone to integrate into their life and see results on all levels, mind, body and soul. Secondly, it was about finding a community to call home. Somewhere SPHERE was needed and somewhere it would fit in. A tight-knit community but one where visitors are not unwelcome strangers. A community where people live and visit to be happy and healthy, a place to find inner peace.

We looked at possible locations in California, Florida and the Canadian Rockies but found ourselves most positive after a visit to Mid-Coast Maine. We both remember standing atop Mt. Battie looking down on the harbors and thinking “this is the place”. We are so excited that we found Rockland. The town and the surrounding communities, are true gems. We are looking forward to contributing to the community not only with our business but also with our love of karma yoga (selfless service). Hilery will be holding free yoga classes in the park, giving free bodywork sessions to cancer patients and is always looking for projects she can contribute to. Paul will be starting a run club in the fall and looking for some other volunteer opportunities in the area.

Our marketing campaign has started focusing on Outdoor Boot Camps in Snow Marine Park and Bodywork sessions in Owl‘s Head. Look for our flyers and advertisements around the Mid-Coast area. Watch for upcoming information regarding the free Sunset Yoga classes, Run Clubs, Workshops and our potential participation in the Maine Lobster Festival.

Thanks for visiting our website and the blog page. Sign up for our newsletter to get fitness tips, mind/body techniques, healthy recipes and discount coupons for our classes and services. Keep up to date on our Facebook page, by signing up for our Twitter feed and check back here often as we continually update and expand the website.


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