Getting Fit, One Affirmation at a Time

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Celebrity trainer and health and fitness guru Sam Page knows a thing or two about getting healthy and staying that way. You’d never know by looking at his tattooed chiseled form, but Page once struggled with his weight, self-esteem, and health issues.

As a 13-year-old, Page was already showing promise as a young entrepreneur running his own candy store, though it wasn’t necessarily great for his physique.

“I had a large belly because… I ate a lot of the profits,” he jokes today. Though the struggles Page went through in his adolescence—and those that many queer teens experience—were no laughing matter.

This gay celebrity trainer says that through high school, he struggled to fit in.

“Not only was I overweight, but I was also struggling with my sexuality, in Utah, which was not the most welcoming place in 1987 for somebody like me.”

He first got the motivation to make changes regarding his health when he discovered some course catalogs for the U.S. Air Force Academy at West Point. “I saw these slick books about, ‘You should become an Air Force Academy cadet and go to West Point!’ And I got very excited about the possibility. So, my initial drive to get out of Utah was to go to a military school, ironically.”

So from then on, Page started leaving the candy on the shelf and began running. But even though he ran every day and lost a lot of weight, he didn’t get accepted into military school, and instead had to settle for studying journalism at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. (He later cofounded Hero, a short-lived but well-liked gay magazine in the late 2010s.)

Page’s fitness and sexuality weren’t his only challenges in life. Many years ago, he became HIV-positive but was outed by gossip bloggers before the then actor and model had made the choice on his own to disclose his status publicly. Eventually, Page did share his own story and is now more than happy to serve as an example of what it means to live HIV healthy — and help eradicate stigma around the condition.

In fact, in 2014, he was named one of Plus magazine’s 20 Most Amazing HIV-positive Gay Men. And he now tells people who are in a place to disclose that they probably ought to, both for their own sanity and for a bigger reason.

“If their job is not on the line, or their livelihood is somehow not going to be affected by it, then I definitely think it’s almost we have a duty to,” Page says. “We’ve got people who are now so comfortable with gay men and women around the world and around our country, but yet there’s still such a disconnect [around] HIV.”

Now a trainer for stars such as Florence Welch (the lead singer of Florence and the Machine) and the English pop band The xx, you’ll never confuse him with Arnold Schwarzenegger. A sort of beefed-up Dr. Oz meets Oprah, Page focuses on mental wellness and meditation as much as he does fitness training.

“I think [mental wellness] ties into everything in everyone’s life,” he says. I went through an experience that was pretty powerful a few years ago and learned firsthand the power of affirmations and mantras, and how those types of positive statements can really literally rewire your brain toward changing your whole life. So that’s something that I think has been incredibly helpful. And something everyone can do. You don’t have to be rich or poor, or differently-abled, or special to use them.”

5 Expert Tips on Fitness from Sam Page

  1. Always eat at least one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass each day. That’s different than your scale weight. To find your lean body mass in pounds, you need to first measure your body fat percentage using an online calculator. Multiply that number by your scale weight to determine how many pounds of fat you have, then subtract that number from your total scale weight. The result is how many pounds of lean muscle you have. To maintain your muscle mass, eat at least one gram of protein per pound of LBM — and drink plenty of water. 

  2. Don’t give up carbs. Just maximize fat loss while maintaining lean muscle — without working out — by cycling carbohydrates. Alternate days of higher carb intake with days of lower carb intake. This allows you to torch body fat while maintaining or increasing your lean muscle. The body preferentially burns muscle instead of fat, using fat as a last resort of self-preservation. Carb cycling basically convinces the body into thinking it isn’t starving, thereby leveraging the body’s own fat burning potential.

  3. Don’t be afraid of the weight room. Lifting weights helps you stay lean. Adding lean muscle to your frame will help you burn more calories all the time, even when you are at rest. One pound of fat and one pound of muscle have the same scale weight, but one pound of fat takes up about 3X as much space on the body, and just “hangs there” doing nothing, while a pound of muscle contributes to your energy, strength, and vitality — and requires calories to exist. For every pound of fat you lose, you take about three pounds of pressure off of your heart and lungs. (By the way, one pound of fat is equal to about 4,000 calories.)

  4. Greens and green supplements are good for you and help balance blood alkalinity. I am a believer in the power of green juice, wheat grass, green powder mixes, and the like. Greens oxygenate the blood and provide us with energy. 

  5. Exercise to improve your mental health. Research continues to demonstrate that exercise is at least as good or better than antidepressants in lifting depression and curbing feelings of anger, sadness, and hopelessness. Cardiovascular exercise works to increase blood flow to the brain and increases natural levels of serotonin and dopamine and is especially important for people in recovery. 

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