Hi, I’m Milda Simonaitis (ULTRAnatomy@gmail.com).

I am a behaviorist first, a personal trainer second — in fact, the more I learned about personal training, the more strongly I felt the need to focus on emotional/behavioral aspects. While my degrees are in Psychology, I’m not a therapist. The info contained in this blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any behavioral disorder. Rather, I hope you take some time to think about the issues presented. I take a different approach to health behaviors than many personal trainers, giving high priority to perceptions, beliefs and how we express them. At the same time, I value good science, effective experimental design and cold hard facts.

Here’s the boring stuff: B.A. in Psychology/Psychobiology from Yale University, M.A. in General Experimental Psychology from San Diego State. My undergrad senior thesis was on contextual conditioning in Allan R. Wagner‘s lab, studying valium-addicted rats (BTW, my project flopped). While my Master’s research and subsequent work were far sexier — bottlenose dolphin behavior off the San Diego coast and then sea turtle nesting studies in Florida — it’s the fundamentals of learning from my undergrad experience that I refer to most these days.

Human behavior is complex, but its building blocks are simple. I explain learning in terms of associations. Our experiences affect our attitudes and leave an indelible mark on our psyche. One of my main interests is how people interact with food (helloooo, obesity epidemic?). While I am not an emotional eater, not even close, I am curious about the process by which food-emotion associations develop, and more importantly about effective methods to break them. Additionally, I’m interested in increasing exercise adherence in people who’ve made it as far as initiating a fitness program. And finally, helping people who aren’t even ready to start get a better handle on obstacles in their way. Although I’m certified as a personal trainer, my focus is on behavior modification. Because honestly, if you can’t change your behavior (and with it, any limiting beliefs and perceptions you may have), do you think you’ll stick with a new exercise regimen?

More recently, I’ve become interested in societal influences on health behaviors and feel that the pressures we feel from the environment, whether or not we are cognizant of them, exert a greater effect that we could imagine.

Here’s a heap o’ random snippets about me:

I took seven years of Latin. I’m fluent in both English and Lithuanian. My heart goes pitter-patter at the sight of orchids. At any given time, no matter what I’m doing, there’s a 95% chance that I’d rather be rowing. I’m a reformed swimming addict. At 5’11”, I hate shopping for clothes — but I’m always up for a trip to the bookstore or library. I love watching rugby. My first weights were green 3# dumbbells I bought in the early 1990s.  I’ve been a vegetarian, sometimes pescetarian, for almost 30 years. One of my most loved pets was a 4.5-foot-long iguana named Dude. I’ve been known to read thesauri for pleasure. My favorite Egyptian Dynasty was the 17th and I have a soft spot for Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV). Sometimes I abuse punctuation marks. And I really need a haircut.

Titles I’ve held include, but are not limited to, Stat Lab Assistant, Market Research Analyst, Marine Conservationist, Assistant Editor, Research Project Assistant (wow, I’ve spent a lot of time assisting!), ACSM-Certified Personal Trainer, Financial and Operations Manager and, now, Fitness Advocate. But I’m still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up.

Finally, for a dog person, I spend a lot of time herding cats — i.e., chasing after my 9- and 11-year-old children who are so beautiful that had I not been there when I gave birth, I’d swear they weren’t mine.

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