Client Spotlight: Meet Gene

Gene performing a yoga Crow Pose.

Written by: Intern Callie Parry and Gene Purdum

Maria has a vast group of past and current clients. They range in age, location and life experiences. To give you a better sense of the people Maria is helping through her business and expertise, we will be doing regular client spotlights.

To start, we would like you all to meet Gene age 66 years young.

Gene was born in the Maryland countryside and attended Michigan Tech receiving a Bachelor’s degree in applied physics and a Master’s in nuclear physics. While in college, he put his classical music background and radio experience to use by working for NPR’s music department. Upon graduating, Gene moved over to Michigan State University and worked as Music Director/Operations Manager/Classical Announcer for NPR radio for 38 years until retiring in 2013.

Gene has lived a full life. He loves cycling, running, and hiking and has completed several amazing feats such as solo bike rides and endurance road races. Other hobbies of his include stamp collecting, ham radio and taking care of his immense garden.

Gene is an ambitious soul and although he has completed a lot of the things on his bucket list he is still hoping to hike the Grand Canyon again from rim-to-base-to-rim, travel to India to study with yoga gurus, finish all the remodeling on his home, ride a 300-mile 24-hr bike race and bike from Fairbanks, Alaska to the Arctic Circle.

Gene does not ever want to be slowed down so when he developed a severe case of sciatica in 2013 and had to undergo back surgery he knew he needed help. He went through physical therapy post-surgery and began working with a personal trainer. However, he did not connect well with his trainer and wanted a second opinion. That is how he came across Maria Faires. He was drawn to her because of her extensive experience in exercise and nutrition, her background in Medical Exercise as well as her experience working with older clients.

Gene has always been dedicated to living a healthy life, so he was not seeking help in weight loss or major lifestyle changes. He began working with Maria remotely via email and phone. He sent her the workouts he had received from his former personal trainer and Maria altered them to be better for strength preservation, rehabilitation and avoidance of injury. That is something that few people are better at than Maria – she is always up to date on the best exercises to avoid injury and provides post-rehabilitation exercise programs or for the healthy individual, designs effective programs that will help prevent injury in the future. She does not follow fitness trends just because something looks cool and hard, but is more concerned with protecting the body and building strength and endurance in a safe way.

Maria gave Gene three basic workouts that he could alter to avoid boredom. Since they worked remotely they began by calling weekly and then gradually tapered off to only calling every three months. They have built a great relationship where Gene feels comfortable asking whatever questions to help him with his health, nutrition and fitness needs.

A big thing that sets Gene apart from Maria’s other clients is his work as a yoga instructor. Gene has always been one who wants to expand his knowledge and delve in to unknown territory. That is how he came across yoga. Gene discovered yoga later in life after his back surgery. He was taking a Gentle Yoga class at his gym and realized they were doing the same thing every class. One day he thought to himself, “I can teach this,” and so he did. He got his 200-hr teacher certification and immediately began teaching his own version of Gentle Yoga at his local high school’s adult education program. Currently he teaches that class four times a week and has an average of 10 students per class. The average age of his students is 70. Since his 200-hr training, he completed Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga teacher training. He does not know if he will ever teach it because Power yoga is a vigorous and challenging style that is not suitable for seniors, but he has incorporated Bryan’s philosophy in to his classes. This philosophy takes the perspective that yoga is more of a mental practice than a physical workout. Gene also has become certified as a Chair Yoga instructor, but has yet to find employment in that area, let alone time to teach it.

Maria also supports Gene in his passion for yoga and is always offering advice for how he can best reach his senior students. Gene appreciates Maria’s genuine concern for him. She always is reminding him to eat more quinoa and whole grain, for example, and advising him on what yoga poses he should or should not be doing for safety for himself and his older students.

Gene encourages everyone to seek Maria’s help no matter their current health status. She is very well qualified to guide you in whatever direction you desire to go. If you need to lose weight, Maria can review your diet and recommend safe substitutions. If you need a review of your present weight-training routine, Maria can help tie them into your overall goals. Maria can give you the Big Picture about how to obtain wellness, unlike other “fitness” people who are more narrowly focused.

If, after reading Gene’s story, you would like to get additional details on his journey and experience working with Maria, you may contact him at



Notice What Makes You Successful As You Learn To Be a Healthier You

Have you noticed the things you do that make you successful in your path towards creating a healthier lifestyle? Pieced together, over time, these small things add up to big success.

I’ve noticed that when I take a water bottle with me in the car I reach my daily water goal intake more easily. So now I make it a point to take a full one every time I get in the car.

I have noticed that I’m always relieved when I have healthy food cooked so that all I have to do is reheat it. One hour cooking = several healthy re-heatable meals, yay! That realization now motivates me to do it again and again. And each time I take the time to plan, shop, and cook I’m so glad I did.

Pay attention to the thought, “that worked for me, I should do that more”. In fact, look for it. What worked out well, what led to success? Then do that again!

My client Cindy realized that she dreaded doing cardio after work when she was tired but what worked well for her was to get up at 5am and do her cardio before she gets ready for work.

Mark noticed that he was more likely to get a workout in if he went immediately from work to the gym instead of going home and getting side tracked.

Kevin noticed that when he packed five healthy snacks Sunday night to take to work with him Monday morning he was less likely to go get something from the vending machine.

Brenda noticed that if she packed tomorrow’s lunch while she is making dinner that she is more likely to eat a healthy lunch.

Fay noticed that if she cooked two vegetables at every dinner, she enjoyed having low-cal, filling and healthy leftovers easily available for her lunch and snacks the next day.

Donna noticed that meal planning was easier when she kept a file of recipes that she would like to make sometime on her desk.

As you go through this week, pay attention and notice what you do that makes it easier for you to be successful. Perhaps be inspired and put into practice, some of the behaviors I’ve listed here.



Success Story: Frances

21 year old Frances initially sought my help 8-25-16 because she had gained 55 pounds over the prior two years and wanted to lose weight, and look and feel healthier. She is a married, a full-time student, with absolutely no prior experience with working out or with “dieting”, very little cooking experience and she ate out for every meal.

1-14-17 and 33.6 pounds lost

1-14-17 and 28 inches lost.










I am updating Frances’ results 1-14-17. Her latest pictures are above. Her initial pictures from 8-25-16 and then a progress photo 11-16-16 are below. As of 1-14-17, 20 weeks into her program she has lost 33.6 pounds, 28 inches, and 9.5% body fat! I asked her today what drove her to be so diligent with her program and she said, “If I want to lose the weight, I have to eat less and do more cardio at some point, I might as well do it now.”

11-16-16, just 12 weeks into her program she has lost 26.2 pounds, 16.75 inches and 5.7% body fat. In addition, she has gained muscle and strength. She initially could only do 20 push ups and now she can do 40!

I am immensely proud of her and have the utmost respect for her. She has 100% done everything I have suggested. 100%! Not “sort of”. 100%! Its hard to stick to a program, especially when choosing and cooking healthy food PLUS exercising is completely new to you. But she has worked hard, stuck to it despite obstacles and now she is reaping the rewards.


11-16-16 22.6 pounds lost!


“Before” 8-25-16 at 168.4 pounds.










11-16-16 at 145.8 pounds with almost 17 inches gone!


“Before” 8-25-16.










Here is what she told me 11-16-16: “It’s been 3 months since I started my weight loss program with Maria. Today, I see obvious changes on my body. Both physically and emotionally. Physically: When I first came to Maria, I could only do 20 push ups. Now I can do 40 push ups! I know it’s all from the weight training I’m doing with Maria and my body is getting stronger.  I used to take antibiotics for my acne on a daily basis, but because I am eating such healthy foods and my skin improved so much, my doctor stopped my antibiotic. I am definitely more healthy than before and it shows everywhere!

Emotionally: “It is very hard to stay emotionally healthy too when you have so much to do: I am a full time senior college student with an on campus job, I am applying to graduate schools and preparing for my GMAT tests. Maria helped me and reduced my stress by suggesting that I preplan quick, easy, delicious, and healthy meals. (See below for two days food journals). She gave me many specific things to prepare and it is working! I always have healthy foods that I like to take with me to school or to work and they are ready when I get home and am hungry. When I am stressed and I really want to eat chocolates, she told me that  I can have low calorie hot chocolate and healthy snacks like gone-bananas, nuts, etc. I have lost over 22 pounds with her and think she is amazing!!!!!”

Before the initial meeting with Frances, I suggested that  she journal her food and any exercise. At our first nutrition counseling session I showed her that she was eating more calories a day than her body needed. We discussed what foods to order at restaurants so that she and her husband could continue to go out to eat. She decided she would try to eat out fewer meals and practice cooking and improve her skills. During initial training sessions I instructed her on a cardio and stretching program she could do at her local gym and instructed her on basic weight training techniques.

In her first month she has gone to the gym every day and burns 500-600 calories and follows her cardio with stretching. She sees me for weight training twice a week and I teach her new exercises and vary her programs. I teach her new recipes and ways of prepping healthy food and she now eats breakfast, lunch and dinner at home except for twice a week. She logs all her food and exercise in an online journal and has been working on meeting the nutritional goals that we have set. She has increased her intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains significantly.

Frances recently wrote a review for me: “I contacted Maria to help me lose 55 pounds. At that time, I knew nothing about how to lose weight and how to eat healthy. I always enjoyed dining out with my husband and my friends. I didn’t exercise and I didn’t cook at home. Before I met with her, I worried that I may not be able to make changes. What if I still wanted to eat unhealthy foods and not exercise as much as she’d like me to?

I worried for nothing! Maria discussed all my concerns one by one. During our first meeting, Maria changed my perspective of how to eat healthier, how to avoid emotional eating and showed me how small easy changes could add up to big results.

It’s been a wonderful experience working with her. Maria is very helpful and kind, most importantly, she is very knowledgeable and she is willing to help me with anything I need. She never uses methods such as fad diets. It’s always healthy and positive with her!

Under her help I developed my interest in cooking and exercising. Maria has not only helped me realize that cooking can be fun but also taught me what to order when I go to restaurants. I used to hate going to the gym and now I enjoy working out both in the gym on my own and with her. I look forward to working out with her and attending her nutrition sessions! It’s never boring when I am with her!

I’m seeing improvements in my health by exercising and eating according to Maria’s guidelines. I am losing two or three pounds a week. My body fat has decreased and I am much stronger. I used to have some red stretch marks on my thighs, and now these stretch marks are disappearing gradually. I used to sleep at least 10 hours but still feel tired. Now, I am more energetic. I used to have acne and now my skin looks better.

Although I still have a way to go in order to achieve my total goal, I believe working with her is the most unforgettable experience. I will keep you updated on my results!”

Are you curious what Frances eats to see these results? Here is a sample day from the journal that she logs in every day. This is 1400 calories and a whopping 32 grams fiber. And in addition, she did 523 calories worth of elliptical trainer.

Sample Day’s Menu #1


Homemade Drink – Honey and Lemon In Hot Water, 10 oz

Organic Valley 0% – Milk, 8 fluid ounce
Organic Valley – Grade A Extra-large Eggs, 1 egg
Kelloggs – Miniwheats Original Frosted, 21 biscuits (54g)
Apple – – Gala, 3.5 ounce
Cauliflower 3 cup
Steak  3 oz
Extra Fancy Premium Medium Grain Rice, 0.25 cup, uncooked
Pea Shoots 2 oz
Sweet Potato, 5 ounce
Costco Rotisserie Chicken Breast, 3 oz
Pea Shoots
Danon – Light & Fit Greek Yogurt- Strawberry Ph1967, 1 container 5.3 oz = (150g)
Almond – Almond, 0.33 ounce

Sample Meals #2. And here is a day that Frances went out to John Howie Steak House for lunch. She asked them to bring her only 3 ounces of filet steak.

Breakfast Calories






Honey and Lemon In Hot Water 25 0 0 0 0 0
Organic 0% – Milk, 8 fluid ounce 89 12 0 8 123 12
Gala Apple, 3.38 oz 50 14 0 0 0 11
Organic Extra-large Egg, 1 egg 70 0 5 7 80 0
Kelloggs Miniwheats Frosted 190 46 1 5 0 11
424 72 6 20 203 34
Filet Mignon, 3 oz 162 0 6 24 51 0
Mashed Potatoes, 0.5 cup 134 21 5 2 6 1
Brussel Sprouts, 2  Cup (88g) 76 16 1 6 44 4
Shrimp Sauteed In Butter – 0.5 oz 25 0 0 3 24 0
397 37 12 35 125 5
Sweet Potato, 5 ounce 121 29 0 2 78 6
Costco – Chicken Breast, 3 oz 120 1 3 22 380 0
 Edamame, 0.75 cup 150 14 5 12 45 2
391 44 8 36 503 8
Danon Light & Fit Greek – Cherry 80 9 0 12 45 8
Kiwifruit, 2 kiwifruit 110 26 0 2 0 20
190 35 0 14 45 28