The 4 Keys to Real Fitness Start with Strength Training and Food Quantity, Says Trainer Pamela Hernandez

For those of you looking to get off the diet roller coaster, get back to the basics, and develop a balanced and sustainable lifestyle to get you feeling your best, health coach and personal trainer Pamela Hernandez has released an ebook just for you: The 4 Keys to Real Fitness.

Pamela Hernandez is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ACE Certified Health Coach (who is also a long-time partner of with a thriving practice in Springfield, MO, where she is the owner of Thrive Personal Fitness. We spoke with her about her no-frills, easy-to-follow guidelines to a healthier, happier life, and how her personal life experiences support her clients.

pamela hernandez real fitness

“I’ve always wanted to help empower women,” says Hernandez. “Fitness gave me the strength and confidence to pursue my dreams. I want other women to feel strong and capable of doing anything they wish.”

No matter the age or experience level, Pamela has found four essential components to fitness success, which she describes in her new e-book. These elements aren’t groundbreaking, “but when they are applied with the right mindset they work every time.”

1. Strength Training

“Won’t I get bulky?” most women wonder of strength training. But Hernandez prioritizes this in the book, and in life. She breaks it down so you can see exactly why inner and outer strength starts with muscular strength training. Don’t worry, you won’t even have to go to the big, scary, sweaty male-laden free weights section at the gym.

“I started with a copy of Weight Training for Dummies!” says Hernandez, who finally tested out her new book knowledge on a quiet Saturday morning at the gym 10 years ago. “You’ll start seeing curves in the ‘right’ places which can be very encouraging. If strength training is not included in your cardio routine, you will end up with a smaller version of your squishy self.”

Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

2. Interval Cardio

Pamela is looking to debunk the “fat-burning zone” myth advertised on elliptical machines everywhere. Slow and steady endurance workouts aren’t nearly as effective as the HIIT training model, or High Intensity Interval Training.

“If you walk outdoors, try to jog or find a hill to climb for 30 seconds. Get winded. Then, let your body recover. When you reach that moderate state again, go for another 30 seconds. Repeat this pattern for a total of 4-6 intervals during a 30 minute walk,” says Hernandez.

Not into running? Then she’s with you! “I firmly believe that if you are new to fitness you should not start with running,” but instead she suggests giving yourself 4-6 weeks of strength training before you add jogging intervals to your cardio plan.

3. Food Accountability

“If you eat too much, you won’t be able to see your hard earned muscle hidden under the layer of fat,” she says. While the first two keys to real fitness focus on exercise, Hernandez reminds us that you “can’t out train a bad diet.” She starts all of her clients with a food journal or meal plan.

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Food quality comes next, but focus on food quantity first. This does not mean eat less! “I believe for a long time the diet industry has preached eat less to lose weight. The fast results of many popular diets are based on starvation level food intake. But fat loss is different than weight loss. To be healthy and fit, you need to nourish your body not starve it.”

4. Food Quality

We’ve all heard the Calories In, Calories Out theory. This, however, is old news. Once you have a good idea of how much you’re eating, stop tracking. “When you develop good habits and consistent food routines, the calories often take care of themselves,” says Hernandez. Now it’s time to figure out where your body feels best.

You can eat 300 calories of a pastry or 300 calories of a farm-fresh salad. How can you tell what makes you feel your best? “Clients often don’t understand how much better they feel until they revert back to old habits for a weekend or vacation. Then they get it. They come back telling me how awful it was and how they don’t want to feel like that again.” Looking for a health conscious getaway?

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Taking in all four steps at once may seem like too much to swallow for a beginner. Where does Hernandez suggest you focus your initial attention on? “Strength training and food quantity.”

In the end, it’s about finding the right motivation to take care of yourself. Don’t do it for someone else, do it for yourself. Don’t do it to avoid illness, do it to enjoy health — these are some of the closing statements in her ebook. It’s an example of the many cognitive shifts necessary for a sustainable lifestyle change.

“I can’t guarantee results or predict the exact date they will start seeing fat loss, but I will tell you that you will feel better in the first week or two. You will have more energy, sleep better, and move better from exercising on a regular basis.”


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