Making wellness goals sustainable with Personal Trainer Zach Pello

The perfect episode for anyone looking to hit their fitness goals in the new year. Tiffany's trainer Zach Pello joins her on the show to share tactical and science-based tips for fat loss, setting SMART goals, and being realistic about your minimums. Even if fitness goals aren’t in your 2023 plans, this episode is a great road map to setting sustainable goals as we kick off the year.

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Commitment to a behavior gets you closer to your goal.

The perfect episode for anyone looking to hit their fitness goals in the new year. Tiffany's trainer Zach Pello joins her on the show to share tactical and science-based tips for fat loss, setting SMART goals, and being realistic about your minimums. Even if fitness goals aren’t in your 2023 plans, this episode is a great road map to setting sustainable goals as we kick off the year.

Zach Pello, Owner, Pello Fitness, PN Level 2 Certified Trainer, specializes in one-on-one, small group, and online coaching for women. He started personal training at a local Muncie, Indiana gym in 2002 and has owned his own personal training and nutrition coaching company, Pello Fitness, since 2007, where he estimates he has worked with more than 1,000 clients. Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Ball State University as well as personal trainer (ACE-CPT) and nutrition (PNL2) certifications and has competed in five bodybuilding shows.

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Show theme by Brice Johnson

Tiffany Sauder: Okay, we ready to rock?

I'm a small-town kid, born with a big-city spirit. I choose to play a lot of awesome roles in life. Mom, wife, entrepreneur, CEO, board member, investor, and mentor. 17 years ago I founded a marketing consultancy and ever since my husband, JR and I have been building our careers and our family on the exact same timeline.

Yep. That means four kids, three businesses, two careers, all building towards one life. We love when I discovered that I could purposefully embrace all of these, and in my life, it unlocked my world, and I want that for you too. I'm Tiffany Souder, and this is Scared Confident.

I'm excited to have Zach back on the pod. So if you have not listened earlier to my episode with Zach Pello, he's my trainer. Um, I work out with him twice a week in a small group setting. There's like up to three of us women that get together and we wait train. But in February it will be two years for me.

So it's been really a cool journey recording this in December. It's gonna drop on the podcast in January and it's a big season of goal setting and. Professional achievers are thinking about how do I also make good goals for myself physically and the way that I continue to like, you know, just like crush it in that area.

So I wanna talk about that. But right after I'd had Quincy, I joke, I was like, Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. I mean, it was really rough. I was 40. My body felt, I'd never felt so weak. My body doesn't do having babies great, like I gain a lot of weight and it's just like I'm, I don't like snap back. It's not what happens for me.

And it was in the middle of Covid, so I was really sedentary and I was really stressed and. I was like, if this is what the next 40 years of my body's gonna feel like this is not okay with me. And so I committed to two days a week training with Zach. That was the only thing that I really did for about a year.

Um, and have never felt so strong in my body. And, uh, it's been really a process of like chasing down fear of getting started, cuz the whole process was very overwhelming. Um, and now we're almost done with your two. So it's been great. So I wanna talk about goals because you have been training for a really long time, but women in particular, and I think that it can be easy.

to make accidentally bad goals that create, yeah, this waterfall of like failure and frustration and then you just give up. And so I feel like you've obviously been helpful in helping me have good technique and like, you know, understand like putting my muscles under tension, you know, break it down and all that.

But also in just being practic. in that this is my life and how do I do goals? Well, so I want you to talk about that. So let's just sort of start with, yeah. How do you think about goal setting and then we'll go into some different types of goals that people

Zach Pello: set physically. Yeah, that's great. Uh, you know, just kind of thinking of it.

as a whole. Setting goals. There's a couple major things that stand out to me, and number one is making sure that you're picking goals that are very reasonable, something that you can actually attain. And, and that's, uh, goes in line with smart goals, which is specific. So making sure it is very defined, it's measurable, something that you can actually look at and be objective and kind of know what you're going for.

Attainable again, you know something that's reasonable if you set expectations extremely. , you still get great results, but not as high as you set them. You're gonna feel upset about it, then it's relevant, making sure it's relevant with the direction you want to go. And I say that the direction's very important.

That's something we might talk about today. And also being time-bound. So I think making sure you do have some sort of time to check yourself, to take a look at where you are and how far you've gotten. Uh, very important. But again, smart goals. , that is one way people can look at setting goals. I find that there's some other ways that you can do it too, cuz it's not a one way, you know, you, there's plenty of ways you can set goals that would make sense and we can talk more about that.

So smart

Tiffany Sauder: goals sometimes can feel really academic to my like, hey, I'm in a hurry self. Um, so my smart, I think looking back it was smart, was I'm gonna left two days a week, 50 weeks. Yeah. I'm gonna give it a year. And I knew there'd be a couple weeks that I'd be away. two days a week for a year, and I was not gonna revisit the decision until the year was over, which I think for me, I kind of get into these like decision cycles of like, I dunno if it's working, maybe I should change and like I just, I don't give anything time to

Zach Pello: work.

Yeah. Yeah. And a year, like, like you said, it, it really can be as flexible as you need it to be, which is very important,

Tiffany Sauder: I would say. . One goal that hits the radar a lot is fat loss. Yeah. Particularly for women, I think is sometimes you're getting in fat loss modes. I think that it can feel a little like a hocus pocus game.

And I've learned from you, it, it really is a math game. Yeah, it is. And there are some exceptions, of course, for people who have, you know, different hormonal issues and things, so we're kind of setting that aside. But assuming you're other. Healthy body functioning, right? Let's talk about fat loss goals and practically how that works.

Zach Pello: What I would recommend typically, see this is an area that a lot of clients, I have to be very careful with making sure we set very realistic goals with fat loss. So usually I'll have, people will say, you know, you want to try to shoot for maybe a half percent to 1% of your body weight per week. All right?

So, you know, if you're 150 pounds, you're looking. Point seven five to 1.5 pounds a week is reasonable. Could you lose more? Absolutely, you could, but it would mean that you would have to be definitely in a much more aggressive plan to do so. And I would say most people probably are pretty busy. They've got kids and you know, it's probably not smart to go a lot faster than that.

Um, so if we look at it purely from a weight loss standpoint, that's what I would base it off of. I've also got some other standards I go by as well with my clients too, so, so the other thing you

Tiffany Sauder: taught me, and again, this is like, I'm sure I was taught this in health, I just didn't remember it, is there's 3000 calories in a pound.

3,500. 3,500, okay. More. So many. Yes. That's a lot of calories. Yes. So to lose a pound in a week, I have to have a 3,500 calorie deficit. Mm-hmm. Correct for that to come off of my body. . So you've gotta figure out how are you gonna find that 3,500 calories? Is it eating in a deficit? Right? Which is not that fun, is it?

Finding time for cardio. Mm-hmm. , which can be challenging. Yeah. Is it getting in 10,000 steps? Like what is the way that you're gonna get to that math problem of collecting? That's kind of how I think about it when I'm in that mode collecting 3,500 calories. And the other thing you taught me is it's an average actually of your weight over seven days.

So talk about that. Cuz I was like, what? Because your body does,

Zach Pello: yeah. Change up and down two, three pounds in any given day. Mm-hmm. . And for women, it can be even more sometimes, depending on the time of the month. So we usually look at weight average for each week. So we'll have people weigh each day, which can be daunting.

But when you look at the average of the week, it basically helps take out the highs and lows and gives you a nice, smooth number. And what you'll find is over the course of eight weeks, You'll see more of a consistent drop if you're doing the right things. Mm-hmm. , where if you're just weighing randomly, you're gonna see these crazy ups and downs, and one week you might see a really good low, you just happen to weigh on your lowest day.

Mm-hmm. , and then the next week you happen to weigh on the worst day of the week and you don't know it. You stay on the scale and you feel like your whole week's been wasted. Mm-hmm. . So as we look at the averages, it gives us better data to be able to assess what's really. .

Tiffany Sauder: Yeah. I sort of was like, people who are psychopaths way daily.

That was my starting point. like, I'm not doing that. But then I start, it's true. Like you can tell like, oh, my body woke up Puffy. Mm-hmm. , and you can see it on the scale. It's like, oh yeah, I've gained two pounds. Not really. Right? But when you do it intermittently, it becomes, for me, it was like this quasi emotional game.

I was playing with myself instead of saying like, no, this is. physically, what's happening? If I'm eating in a calorie deficit over time, this is my body's actually, and when you take the game away from it and do it in a much more scientific way, I was like, oh, this is a totally different way than my college self

Zach Pello: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. To lose weight. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's important, you know, like I don't weigh. at all anymore, really. But if I'm trying to specifically drop weight, I will weigh myself every day to look at the average. Mm-hmm. . Um, I don't think you should do that forever, but when you're really trying to attain a goal, I think sometimes it helps to have that data.


Tiffany Sauder: let's kind of hook into this, like don't do it forever. Yeah. Because you've talked to me about there being seasons. Yes. To being able to really, as you use the words like push hard. Yeah. Like you're, Being committed to your minimums, which maybe we can revisit that we talked about in that last podcast, but let's talk.

that wouldn't you talk about finding the season that you can push hard?

Zach Pello: Most people, they tend to always push January 1st, right? That seems to be the time. And I would say that's for a couple reasons. One, you know, it's the new year, but two, for some people, I mean, you think about it, we get through the holidays, there's all these parties back to back, to back, uh, starting in October in Halloween, you know, candy, there's a lot of things that can get in your way.

Sometimes January is a good time of the year for people just because there's not as much going on. Mm-hmm. , and that's, there's probably eight to 12 weeks out of the year. It might be broken up, but that are ideal for going for big goals. . So pushing yourself really hard, really pushing through. Now of course you can do that anytime of the year, of course, but there are definitely, I would say, better times and it's different for each person.

And so you can kind of plan these phases for yourself. Um, like, okay, I'm gonna plan on doing an eight week fat loss phase during these two months coming up, because really things look really clear. In the meantime, I'm gonna focus. , not necessarily a weight loss goal, but I'm just gonna focus on my main actions that are gonna keep me healthy, keep me fit, and keep me feeling good.


Tiffany Sauder: so my brain, because I, I hate being in any kind of fat loss mode. I love the fun of everything. That is not fat loss. . I love, I get it. Parties, I love the social environment. I love like yeah, like let's have wine. Absolutely. Exactly. Let's bring apps like, please add cream cheese, like, My energy of being big and social hates when I'm like restricted.

Yeah. Hate it. Um, but my mindset when you said that I think randomly one morning when we were lifting was like, oh, so 75% of the time I get to be normal Tiffany mode. Yeah. 25% of the time I am making choices that are getting me towards maybe a different level of goal that I'm at right now. . And to me I was like, oh, that's totally manageable.

Three out of four days. You know what I mean? Yeah. Like three out of four I get to basically, yeah. I'm not saying do what I want, but just commit to my minimums be normal. Yes. In my world. And that reframed it in a way where I wasn't constantly trying to be in some type of a fat loss mode. Yeah. And then kind of feeling the rug slip out from under me because it was like, oh, we have a trip.

Or My sister's in town. , I'm gonna be in an environment where I, it's really difficult to control what I have to eat, like those types of things. And I started to be able to see the year and see the way that I could plan that so much differently. When you talked

Zach Pello: about that. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah. I think that is powerful right there, because I ask a lot of people, I said, when was the last time you weren't trying to just lose weight?

Mm-hmm. , you know, and I think probably a lot of people listening to this right now have never really had a moment of just. , I'm just gonna be me for a little while. Mm-hmm. . And of course there needs to be a little bit of moderation during that time, but usually it's like when we're really pushing hard, you do have to sacrifice a little bit.

Mm-hmm. . And there's times where you just don't have that in you and you've gotta put it to work, you've gotta put it to your family. You've got, you know, a gas tank. Mm-hmm. and there's different times, different seasons for different, you know, goals. And so I think it's really powerful if you can tell yourself, I am gonna focus.

What we've talked about before minimums my minimum's, you know, working out just three times a week, making sure I'm getting enough fruits and vegetables in my diet and trying to avoid having more. Three drinks on a Friday night, you know? Mm-hmm. , just something like that. Mm-hmm. . So

Tiffany Sauder: let's talk about the concept of minimums.

Like really specifically in case somebody listening is not familiar with kind of what we're talking about. So just kind of give an overview of like, what is a minimum? What do you mean

Zach Pello: by that? Let's like your foundational habits, your foundational health habits that are gonna. Carry you through for your life that you're always gonna fall back on even on a, a hard, hard week.

You know, for me it would be, you know, getting three workouts in. Like right now I'm doing five workouts a week, but if something happened this week, I would do everything in my power to at least get three in for me, eating two meals with vegetables in it. makes me feel good. It makes my mind feel good, like I'm doing something good for myself.

Mm-hmm. , and that's something I'll carry on for the rest of my life. You know, we don't think one extra serving of vegetables is a big deal, but long term it is. So you need to find what are your foundational health habits that are, even when you're super stressed, you just fall back on, assess where those are right now, and then decide if you want to work on improving those.

And that does take time. Mm-hmm. and

Tiffany Sauder: I think about, it's like. It's very easy for things to quickly fall apart. I use example of brushing my teeth. It does not matter what time I wake up, how really I have to take a flight. Nothing. I always brush my teeth. It's just a minimum behavior. Go ahead. And so how do you find those things that you hold as tightly as brushing your teeth where they become so a part of your operating system as a human being that they can't not happen.

And I set traps, I mean, . Now I know my way around Carmel Total Fitness. Yeah. And I could just download the app. Mm-hmm. and go myself. Yeah. But I set a trap for myself of going with these other women that I meet in the morning as an accountability for it. Cuz I want that to be a minimum. Yes. And setting the trap of somebody expecting me.

Yeah. Forces it. Yep. Harder onto my calendar and gives me less of an excuse to like not show up. So finding those traps you can set for yourself too, to help inch. what minimums actually stick for you. And I'm such an achiever and a performer and social, and so it's like, oh, I get to see my friends now. , you know?

Yeah. Is how it feels almost. And I'm sticking to my minimums with I know such greater adherence than if I was doing it myself. That's an example of what, what I

Zach Pello: need to do. Yep. Your results are never gonna be better than your minimums. Mm-hmm. in the long run. Right. Like, you're always gonna fall back to your results, what the minimums will give you.

So, huge. So we always have to be thinking about what those are and if we can improve those a little bit over time. But those, those take longer to. to build mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , smaller actions, make sure they're easy to attain and uh, you know, add those traps in, like you said. I think that's great. Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

Tiffany Sauder: That's very helpful to me. Um, okay. Where else do we wanna go? Zack? What

Zach Pello: else is on your, I was kind of wanting to talk a little bit about, someone asked me today, they said, do you ever stop trying to improve, like, or, you know, improve your body or whatever it is. and I thought that was a good question.

Mm-hmm. , because it can be overwhelming at times when you're always trying to assess yourself. And I said, you know what? I am always trying to improve, but I don't think about it. I know which direction I want to go when you've been doing it long enough, you don't need to set a time bound goal. This is a part of my life.

Exercise is a part of my life. I know I want to build muscle and be healthier and keep going that direct. . So that's set. I don't have to worry about it. That's ongoing. So what are my actions? So that's what I explained to her was my goals are the actions now. Mm-hmm. the outcome. I can't control an outcome goal.

You know, I might say I wanna lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks, but I could add all this stuff in and I'm only lose six pounds. Mm-hmm. , the only thing I actually have control of is the actions I take. So right now I wanna build muscle. working out lifting weights five days a week and I'm eating so many calories per day, at least five days a week, and I'm getting enough protein in and I know it's gonna take me in that direction.

I just don't know how quickly it's gonna get me there, but honestly it doesn't matter. Mm-hmm. , because I'm gonna keep doing it. Mm-hmm. and that, that to me is one of the most important things is learning to be able to set an outcome goal, but push it aside a little. and then set your action goals based off that.

Mm-hmm. .

Tiffany Sauder: Yeah. I love that. It's so true because a commitment to the behavior gets you closer to where you were going when you're setting the goal of the outcome. Yeah. You're kind of guessing. What your body's gonna do. Yeah. All those kinds of things. Right. But it's getting you closer towards the intended target.

Exactly. Of yes. Than pressing a hundred pounds or whatever

Zach Pello: it is. Yeah. An example, you were talking about 3,500 calories being in apo of fat. So if you wanna lose one pound per week, . You know, you go to the formula, you plug it in, you get your number of how many calories you burn. You reduce 500 calories a day and you assume you're gonna lose one pound per week.

But there are all these physiological changes that happen when you go into fat loss. Mm-hmm. , your metabolism slows down. You're more tired. So at the end of the 12 weeks you don't actually lose a full 12 pounds. Mm-hmm. again. And each body's different. Like women's bodies might adapt a little stronger than men's.

Mm-hmm. . So at the end, maybe a woman might be down eight pounds, where a guy might be down. 16. Well if, if they're in a 500 calorie, just 500 calorie deficit. But, but yeah, you're right. You know? So I feel like

Tiffany Sauder: stereotypically we're like, you shop for 12 and got 16, I shop for 12 and got, it's crazy. Four and a half.


Zach Pello: really is not fair. It's not fair. Yeah. Um, guys definitely have it much easier with that. So again, looking at your goal and then just setting it aside, you know, it's there. Um, but giving yourself flexibility on the outcome, flexibility, um, that way then you're more focused on the actual processes that you're taking to get there.

Tiffany Sauder: Mm-hmm. , if somebody's looking at this journey kind of at the start line and they're kind of going through this like fear of starting, how do you coach somebody through that? Or if somebody, you know, calls you and says, I think I want to do this, but I failed a lot of times, how do you get through that fear of.

Zach Pello: I think a couple things. Usually, especially with coaching people, I'll remind them that this journey does not have to look like anybody else's journey. This is your journey alone. You're different than everybody. So like, you know, you don't have to be logging every meal, you don't have to be doing this or that.

The key is, is taking one step closer towards your goals. So, you know, and one question you can always ask yourself is, what would this look like if it were easy? Like if it were. , like what would it look like for you if you're like, I wanna get into exercise. Um, but you're worried about going to the gym or whatever.

You know, it would be a great question to ask yourself, what would this look like if it were easy? And you might say, working out at home, having a trainer, finding a workout partner. Mm-hmm. from work. So I think that's the key, is remembering. It doesn't have to look like anything that anybody else. and if you can start there, I feel like it's gonna be much easier to get going.

And we just have to remember, no new habit is too small. So like it's okay if you're only starting out with 15 minute workouts three times a week. I'm more concerned about the consistency than I am the intensity or. of that, and I think that actually makes you stronger just mentally when you're pushing yourself like that three times a week.

You know, we don't have that focus like that very often. Mm-hmm. and put our bodies through a little bit of discomfort. You know, we don't want to go into discomfort when setting goals. I think it's important to give yourself running room so you can actually have the flexibility to do more. I think sometimes people like they overshoot their goal and then they have to take a step back.

I'd rather you under. and you want more. So give a

Tiffany Sauder: very practical

Zach Pello: example of that. Um, so like, again, like someone just gets started with me working out. They wanna work out, they're going from zero and they wanna do five times a week. I'm like, uh, let's do like maybe three. Mm-hmm. , because five days a week's gonna last one week, I bet.

Mm-hmm. . But if we do three, they're like, yeah, but I wanna do more. , that is a good place to be. I want you to want to do more. Mm-hmm. , that's exactly where you want to be. You don't wanna be to a point where you feel like you have to take a step back. Mm-hmm. set yourself up to have success and to want more.

Mm-hmm. , don't burn

Tiffany Sauder: yourself out. That is kind of a twist on this minimums in that I think high achievers who are very goal oriented wrongly mistake their goals for their minimums. Uh,

Zach Pello: that's a good one. Yep.

Tiffany Sauder: Right. Yeah. Yeah. That, no, my minimum is my goal. So, no, that's your goal, right? That that is your goal in the best Yes.

Of situations over and over and over again. That's what you wanna try to do. I love that. But your minimums, you've outlined this for me is like you experience failure every time your mind does, every time you don't hit your goal. Yes. If your minimum is your goal, right? Like what you're saying, like I'm Exactly, my goal is to live three times a week.

It is not practical with a husband on the road. to make it the drive Yeah. That I need to do and all that kinda stuff. So be at the gym, but when I get there three days a week, I get this like, oh, I wear it. I did it. Exactly. But my, my minimum is two. Yes. And I hit that. Yeah. 48, 58 weeks a year. And so replacing the gold minimum thing.

Yeah. And the relationship with those was really helpful for me in thinking about, yeah. How I just give. I don't know. We had credit for the work I'm actually doing. Exactly. And stay with it. So you posted on Instagram recently, we don't have a weight loss problem. We have a weight maintenance problem. Yeah.

So, you know, shots fired. What's that mean? And let's talk about, yeah. Weight maintenance.

Zach Pello: Well, first of all, people would never have to lose weight if they didn't gain weight in the first place. Right? I mean, it seems like everybody, once they are motivated enough, they get on a plan and they lose weight.

But the real problem is, They gain the weight back. I think it's like 80 or 90% of people gain all their weight back, plus some. It's pretty crazy numbers. Uh, but most people, when they try, they're able to lose weight. Mm-hmm. . So I think that learning to be able to stop your fat loss phase and shift into maintenance, not when you hit your goal.

but when you need to mm-hmm. and you know when that is, when you start falling off, life gets crazy. You can feel it, but most people you probably are, you know, you're still trying, still trying and it just gets worse. Mm-hmm. and worse and worse. And before you know it, you're up 10, 15 pounds mm-hmm. and you're still trying to lose weight.

Mm-hmm. . So I think that that's extremely important to sometimes not have a fat loss. Set it aside.

Tiffany Sauder: I posted something on LinkedIn recently, or I said, busy is an excuse, not a reason. Priorities are the reason. And when you have this new fat loss like journey you're going on, it has all this excitement and it's so in the foreground, it's your priority.

Yep. And then all these. , all the things can start creeping in cuz you just didn't recognize the season of life is not gonna support. Yeah. The time it requires for me to be Right. Pushing harder. And so your priorities start to shift in what you're actually giving your time to and your goals become totally misaligned to that.

And then you have this just big mess of frustration. Yeah. And it was easy for me. In prior seasons to say like things got busy and it's like, no, my priority shifted. This is like something silly, but it's so real in my life. It's like my priority shifted to my daughter starting a travel volleyball team.

Yeah, that takes probably 10 hours a week from our family in non-work time. That's such a huge percentage of our like free time, and so that priority in our family has changed my avail. . And so it has to change my priority. Yep. And I think the connection of those things for me has really helped me mature what I'm focused on, what I'm excited about, what I can push to change.

Yeah. And like we've been saying this whole thing time, what needs to stay in maintenance mode? And it could literally be everything from like the cleanliness of my house exactly. To this, this. only a topic that relates to your physical wellbeing, but it's such a masterclass I think, in being able to see it in real life.


Zach Pello: yeah, I've had to do it in the last six months with, with my business. You know, I didn't, you know, I try to put it on just maintenance because we were gone every weekend and a lot of times, weekends or when I will do a lot of phone calls mm-hmm. in the mornings and it was okay. I just let it happen and I'm, you know, working harder now at it.

It was a good time. And we had a good summer. Mm-hmm. . And that's okay. I'm not gonna take that back. I'm not gonna regret that. You know, I think it's great. Um, but you made that decision proactively. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I made a decision. I was like, you know, it's just not gonna happen. Mm-hmm. . So I'm not gonna sit here and be frustrated about it.

I'm gonna try to maintain where I'm at. Mm-hmm. , I'm gonna try to take care of the work I've got right now. And just enjoy the weekends with the family, you know? Mm-hmm. .

Tiffany Sauder: Awesome. If somebody's interested, Zach, in your content or working with you, where can they find you? Yeah, I think,

Zach Pello: uh, Facebook, if you just, uh, friend request me is Z Pelo, Z A C H P E L L O, or on Instagram, Pelo Fitness.

Tiffany Sauder: So, awesome. Well, you've been a real difference maker for me and my journey, and thanks for coming on and sharing some of what you've learned in your career with my listeners, appreci. Thank you for joining me on another episode of Scared Confident. Until next time, keep telling fear you will not decide what happens in my life.

I will. If you wanna get the inside scoop, sign up for my newsletter. We decided to make content for you instead of social media algorithms. The link is waiting for you in show notes or you can head over to Thanks for listening.

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