It Takes Time

When my cancerous brain tumor was detected, I had a crazy notion that full recovery would occur quickly and automatically after a simple brain surgery, a few doses of chemotherapy, one or two radiation treatments, as well as a few months of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy. It turns out my initial thought about recovery was a little unrealistic.  At some point, probably a few hours after brain surgery, I realized physical and cognitive recovery do not always occur while a survivor passively waits for recovery to happen. Recovery is a journey that requires a combination of a great attitude, commitment, passion, dedication, tools, training, and work. I spent several years developing and testing the skills in individual and group settings.

Several years later, when I realized most of my remaining challenges were physical rather than cognitive, I started looking for physical therapists, trainers, and accountability buddies who could help me get as close as possible to full recovery. Please understand that “full recovery” to me is not returning to the “old normal,” but living the best “new normal” possible.

During my search for a trainer, I met Nareg Zaher, a NESTA2014-0111 Nareg Zaher certified fitness trainer. Nareg and several of his co-workers suggested I could likely meet my goals by drinking more water, eating different food, as well as exercising properly and more often. Nareg believes clients are more likely to reach their fitness goals when exercise is fun, safe, and rewarding.

When I met Nareg, I asked him many questions. An excerpt of my questions and his answers appears below.

Q1. Why did you become a certified trainer?

A1. I have been passionate about nutrition and fitness for many years. After learning about the industry, I earned a certificate, began training clients, and started taking college classes in Kinesiology.

 Q2. Why did you choose to work at this particular gym?

A2. I chose to work here because the environment is perfect for me and my clients; the trainers are knowledgeable, helpful, and committed to the success of everyone here. This is a place where clients enjoy meeting and exceeding their fitness goals.

Q3. How are nutrition and exercise related?

A3. Poor nutrition and inadequate hydration adversely affect exercise. In other words, exercising without eating the right food and drinking enough water makes exercise less productive than it could be.

Q4. To some degree, exercise and recovery from adversity are similar. In both cases, individuals benefit by setting realistic goals, planning the action necessary to reach their goals, pursuing goals, modifying their plan, overcoming challenges, and measuring progress. Share a story in which your client achieved success or is on the path to success.

A4. One of my clients, Gianna Ferrando, set a goal of losing 10 pounds within 3 months. As the Before-and-After pictures below show, Gianna met and exceeded her goal. She set a new goal and I have no doubt she will surpass that goal as well. Many people who join a gym do so because they have a goal but cannot achieve the goal without assistance. My job is to ensure clients not only achieve their goals, but that clients also have fun during their journeys to success.2014-0111 Gianna Ferrando Small Before and After

Gianna’s accomplishment is a fantastic example of how hard work, commitment, and proper training can lead to success, but her success is certainly not an isolated case. The walls of this gym are plastered with before-and-after pictures of many people who worked hard, overcame challenges, and exceeded their goals.

Q5. What do your clients want to achieve?

A5. There is no universal goal for all clients. Some clients want my help with weight loss. Some want to build muscle mass. Some just want to maintain their health. Others want to build strength and stability so they can perform daily activities.

Call to Action

If you are currently using a trainer to help meet your fitness goals, or you have advice for others who are considering working with a trainer to meet their fitness goals, leave your comments below this post.


Thanks to Nareg for helping clients meet their physical goals; Gianna Ferrando for allowing Nareg (and indirectly me) to share her fantastic achievement with my readers and social media followers; and all the other people who, directly and indirectly, made it possible for me to use the pictures and text in this post.


  1. Hi Scott,
    I’m interested in neurological repair. I have a regular exercise program that I do myself each day. I was hoping your therapist mentioned nutritional items that would help the repair of neurons.
    (As you know, I had a burst aneurysm and three brain surgeries and have a shunt for the CSF.) Has your therapist talked with you about nutritional items that could repair our brains, the neurons and extra CSF in enlarged ventricles.
    Thanks much for your thoughts,

    1. Nancy,

      I have not received any nutritional counseling during the past 10 years. This is an area that I recognize would be very beneficial, but I have not made it a priority to get the training I need. However, there are several nutritionists and nutritional specialists who follow this blog. My hope is that at least one of these people will be able to recommend food and supplements that would be beneficial.

      By the way, the medical professionals I have spoken with agree that alkaline water is simply a scam.


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