December 31, 2010
Today is the day I usually bark about making S.M.A.R.T resolutions. Since I’ve already beat that acronym to death you can read more HERE if you’ve been in seclusion for the past three years and missed it. All the rest of you: we are moving on. It’s time to Get BYOB. Which stands for Get Back Your Own Body. It’s time to stop twittering and start transforming. This will require you to do two things: Move More and Eat Less. Every day. Doesn’t that sound simple?
Exercise is a big part of it but if you want to change your body you HAVE to change what you eat. No amount of working out will transform your body unless you change what you do (and don’t) put in it. There are countless reasons why this should be YOUR year to Get BYOB. You’ve heard them all before: Health, Longevity, Vitality, Vanity. (See? I told you that you’d heard them all before).
It’s time to stop talking (and moaning) and GET BYOB. THIS IS YOUR YEAR.
Good intentions count for nothing unless you make a detailed plan with S.M.A.R.T goals and get started. You don’t have to hate your life while doing it either.
Can you get excited about how your life will be enhanced if you can Get BYOB?
If you need a gym, find one nearby. If you need a workout partner, call one today. You don’t have to be IN shape to do either of these things. When you come to class at my gym, you are taking a lesson and just like you wouldn’t assume you already need to know how to play the piano to take a piano lesson, you don’t already need to be fit or coordinated to take an exercise class. Just SHOW UP!
You want to live better for longer, don’t you? What are you waiting for? This is the day to motivate yourself because no one can motivate you better than YOU. Think of this challenge as filled with promise so that come next New Year’s Day you will remember today as the day you made up your mind to Get BYOB.
P.S. I couldn’t get up my nerve to tell you earlier about this final rule: This also means giving up alcohol. I know this sounds like an abomination; a direct affront to the Lord but be brave. At least until you get some momentum. And trust me, if you quit drinking you WILL get momentum and weight will come off faster as well. You’ll lose a few pounds immediately. You’ll look in the mirror and notice how much better your eyes look. Go ahead and tie one on tonight. Have a few “Dirty like Mel Gibson meets BP Oil” Vodka martinis with three feta cheese Olives. The worse you feel in the morning the more motivated you will be to Get BYOB.
December 24, 2010
This is the newsletter where I’m supposed to talk about counting your blessings and enjoying every moment but I have to say that nine out of ten people I talk to at the gym, when asked how they are at this time of year, respond with “FAT!”
“Tis the season to feel bloated, hung-over and filled with self-loathing. How ‘bout you? How do YOU feel right now? Are you at your target weight, reaping the benefits of optimal health and vibrant energy levels? If not, then you might be in a state of mind we fitness chiefs call “precontemplation”.
This is when you think to yourself, usually upon awakening, and then intermittently throughout the rest of the day,“Yes, I am ready to shed this extra weight. Just not today. But soon.”
This precontemplative phase is a necessary state of mind required for real change to occur.
So since you are there, I’d like to propose that you join my Great Lifestyle Experiment which begins (when else) January 1st.
Here are the rules:
-No drinking (might as well put that one right up front, but it’s just 31 days. And if that seems impossible for you then consider this link to Rehab Centers)
-Workout five days a week. Aim for seven and you’ll hopefully get five. Just put it on your calendar like any other important things you do all day long.
-No eating three hours prior to bedtime
-No standing while eating (been doing any of that lately?)
-It’s gotta be on a plate or just say no.
-No refined white flour
-24 grams of fiber daily
-Ask someone who loves you to be your accountability partner
I know you can do it! If you are ready to get back on track and need some accountability this is it.
Now some (maybe two or three) of you may feel like this is not for you so I am also suggesting an alternative Challenge and I’m calling this month-long effort The Great Health Experiment. You don’t have to be fit to try it. People that do it swear by it and claim that it’s the remedy for everything from aiding weight loss to reducing chronic pain to bringing on World Peace.
It’s called Meditation. But I have to warn you, it’s #!@% hard work.
Here are the rules:
-Find a quiet place that you can sit quietly in for twenty minutes per day.
-Then do it.
I know it sounds simple but I’ve tried it and I’d rather sprint for an hour than to sit quietly and try to settle my mind. Falling asleep is NOT meditating. Thinking about your what groceries you need is NOT meditating. The goal is not necessarily to stop your thoughts but rather to quiet them and to just notice them. Research has shown that even six minutes of deep breathing can reduce your blood pressure by twenty to forty beats. When you do it for ten minutes, your body stops producing all those “I’m being chased by a T-Rex” hormones that, when not running from a T-Rex just crank adrenaline and cortisol into your system where it has nowhere to go. That’s what burnt out Oprah’s thyroid. It will also reek havok on your insulin levels, which sets you up for cravings, which will make you fat. And it gets worse. When you eat in response to stress-induced hormonal changes, those calories are always stored in your belly where your system has quickest access to it. Your body thinks it needs close-by reserves (which is the belly area) in case the T-Rex returns. So stress can,not only make you fat, but it will even more likely, give you a belly.
If you can meditate for fifteen minutes your body starts to produce those “feel good” hormones like serotonin, melotonin and endorphins.
This combo: up with the good and down with the bad hormonal balance reduces inflammation (which is what turns into plaque in your hearts arteries) so in the trickle down theory, meditating can make you live longer in many profound ways that are similar (yet different) to the effects of an active lifestyle.
So please precontemplate joining me in one, the other or both of my New Year’s Experiments. You’ve still got a week of eating before you have to do anything.
December 17, 2010
This is an actual conversation that occurred between my husband and myself a few days ago.
Larry: I know I said I’d go to the gym today but I don’t think I will. It’s getting late. I hate the gym.
Me: Just go.
Larry: But I don’t want to. I go lots. Leave me be.
Me: You said you’d do extra on the elliptical because you had that coca-cola yesterday, Remember? You said you’d do a long one, remember you said? And you haven’t done weights all month. You can’t wimp out again.
Larry: F*&#!k off. Go away.
(A minute later):
Me: If you don’t go now your caffeine will wear off.
Larry: WTF! Leave me alone already.
Me: But you’ll be so glad once you’re done.
Larry: But I’ll be so pathetic while I’m doing it… I’ll take the dog for a walk later. Now stop bugging me!
A LENGTHIER SILENCE
Me: So here’s a thought—
Larry: #%!@$$! I said scram!
Me: Suppose you just go to the gym for a quick one. Twenty minutes. Maybe a few weights. If you do we can have sex later maybe.
Larry: But I’m supposed to do extra cardio. If I can’t do it all I might as well not go….But the sex? Well maybe I could go for twenty minutes.
Me: Five minutes is better than no minutes. C’mon. Think of it as an express workout.
Larry: Hmmm, an express workout does sound better than a regular workout…Do you promise you won’t say you’re too sleepy?
Larry did indeed go to the gym. He did 21 minutes on the elliptical but gave himself credit for a full workout anyway and was quite pleased with himself. Especially after the sex, during which I really was too sleepy to appreciate, but any sex is better than no sex (according to Larry). And the important part is Larry’s Back on Track.
Okay I admit it, this was an imagined conversation and I had to make it up because Larry pretty much always Stays on Track. But you get my point.
Lasting success in any undertaking is about becoming a master at Getting Back on Track, not about getting down to your college weight or how many cookies you ate last night or how many minutes you spent on the Stairmaster. Learning how to deal with the bad days, will, over time, be the determining factor in how many good days you have.
I call it the Bounce Back Theory. If you don’t expect perfection from yourself and don’t allow the first few bad days (or the First Few Holiday Parties) to derail you totally, then eventually the good days will start to prevail.
It’s sounds basic but the inference is very meaningful. The most successful people at my gym aren’t perfect. They often come dragging in, exuding the “Idontwannabehere” essence. But bloated and bleary-eyed, they proceed in spite of the puff. They show up. They get Right Back on Track.
What keeps them at their goal weight is not dependent on whether they ran a triathlon this week or were on the couch with a cold. It’s not that they ate 700 calories or 7000 calories. It’s that they did what they needed to do to Get Back On Track.
So how do you Stay on Track or get Back on Track?
1. Accountability and honesty with yourself. Or ask a loved one to help you be accountable if it’s too hard on your own.
2. Give yourself credit when you do Stay on Track. Pat yourself on the back. Start every sentence with “Today while I was at the gym…”
3. Avoid self-loathing when you get Off Track. You haven’t blown it. Just get back on track. No trash talking about yourself. ‘Nough said. Now move on.
4. No Excuses. Just because you want to eat doesn’t mean you should. And just because you don’t feel like exercising doesn’t mean you should skip it. Just go put your shoes on and grab your keys. Go.
5. Be realistic. Tell yourself that you’ll have good days and bad days and that’s okay.
6. Put dieting first. I hate to bear bad news but the reality is that if you have fitness goals, you’ve got to plan your life around exercise and dieting activities, not vice versa. You deserve to put yourself and your goals first.
7. Recognize that while “All” may be preferable , “A Little” is better than “None” when it comes to health and fitness goals.
8. Know your triggers for unwanted behavior and plan accordingly; Sit far away from the peanuts. Wait twenty minutes before getting seconds. Don’t bring the Kris Kringle Fudge in the house. Have water between glasses of wine. Ask your friends/partner to gently remind you of your goals. Or if you require tough love, agree upon a hand signal that signifies “WTF! Remember you said you wouldn’t eat that!!”
9. Give yourself full credit every time you get Back on Track. Say to yourself, “that wasn’t so bad.”
Note to Self about all of the above items (except for #2 and #9): They are all unrealistic if you insist on perfection.
And finally, here are my thoughts on perfection:
2010 has been a tough year for me as well as for a lot of us and so I made a vow to go to every holiday party I was invited to. This means I have NOT been perfect. I have not avoided the peppermint brownies, the eggnog, the yule logs, nor the bowls of M&M candy as we decorated our gingerbread houses. And you know what? Not only did it take away some of my melancholy, it got me in the holiday spirit not to mention that I’ve had so much fun!
Despite having several slip ups, where I found myself face-to-face (or rather eyeball to peanut butter ball) with the peanut butter fudge, (which was melt-in-your-mouth delish, BTW) I’ve always gotten myself Right Back on Track.
And lastly, if you know me, when I show up with my camera, please don’t cower away saying you are too fat. That you are too wrinkled. That you can’t stand to have your picture taken. Just shut- up, suck it in and smile. You need people like me that took your picture when you were young so that in ten years you will see the evidence of what you cannot see today, which is that you are so fabulous.
I will be your witness. Look me up in ten years. I’ll send you a copy.
December 10, 2010
Last week’s newsletter set off a whole parade of health and fitness questions in my mind. Having accepted Dr. Oz as my personal lord and savior, I was so excited about what you might not know (yet needed to know) that at moments I’ve had to sit on my hands to keep from clapping like a trained seal.
Bioidentical hormones, how to get a good night’s sleep, Resveratrol, fiber and it’s miraculous properties (even beyond gratifying bathroom visits which should not be undervalued), and some of the more common, aggravating bodily ailments: what to do about plantar fasciitis, bunions and it’s evil cousin, the hammertoe; bad posture and erectile dysfuntion (yes, I touched on this topic last week I am smart enough to know that most men will stop reading by now if I don’t throw out some bait. Why do you think I save this for last.)
Obviously I’ve omitted a few million thoughts that whizzed by too fast to cite.
Here are your answers. Once again, in order:
-Bioidentical Hormones are controversial but if you have no history of breast cancer I believe they are a great transition tool for menopause, especially if you’ve got major symptoms like hot flashes and sleeplessness.
-Sleep in a completely dark bedroom. Your body’s got to produce serotonin in the dark and if there’s even the light of a clock or nightlight this production can be disturbed, which throws off the sleep/wake cycle. Or use an eye mask (which has the double benefit of also enlivening your sex life.) Stop drinking. Take 8 milligrams of melatonin.
-600 milligrams of Resveratrol daily is rumored to lengthen the lifespan of our telemeres, which is a region of repetitive DNA at the end of our chromosomes, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration. And guess what makes us die younger? Deterioration in our telemeres.
-24 grams of fiber a day will keep you fuller for longer, stabilize insulin levels, flatten your belly and other obvious benefits. Most people will lose weight if they start getting this much fiber in their diet. I’ve tried to get this in my regular diet and it’s hard. The best method to meet this amount is through a horribly wood-like cracker called GG Bran Crispbread. Think of it like a vitamin. Or a Fiber Bomb.Two small crackers have only twelve calories and a full’s day’s allotment of dietary fiber.
-Plantar fasciitis? Get a small rubber jax ball, put it on the floor and roll on it twice a day while you’re brushing your teeth. Press hard into the tender areas of your foot in a rolling motion.
-Bunions and hammertoe- Have you seen the new foot glove? It’s called Vibram Five Fingers. It’s a shoe that separates all the toes and gives them the room that they need to prevent foot mangle-ing.
-Poor posture? See my video
-Erection problems- First of all, get your heart checked. Second of all, get a foot massage. The part of your brain that senses foot pressure is right next door to the erogenous part of your brain. It’s worth a try. Also try the eye mask.
Before you assume that I take all my own advice, let me tell you that there are also several gaps in my health and fitness knowledge. Here is my version of WikiLeaks or perhaps my Fitness Leaks Archive. I will now list my own informational sinkholes:
-I don’t know how to swim. I mean I can dog-paddle. But my face won’t go in. I did complete a triathlon once but only because I wore a puffy, orange life jacket. I teach a killer aqua-aerobics class though. Jumping around in the water, I’m good at.
-I also cannot run. Not running is the new running.
-I hate squats. If I’m in a class when the teacher starts squatting, I do one of two things: pretend I just got an urgent cell phone call and leave the room or go get a drink of water at the farthest water fountain in the building.
-I love Splenda. I can’t break the spell it has over me. If you think I’m lying, I put five packets in my coffee .I suppose this might mean I really don’t like coffee.
-Put me on the gym floor where all the weight equipment is and I am as lost as the Week One contestants on The Biggest Loser. I once sat down backwards on a chest press machine and a personal trainer had to tell me I was facing the wrong way. No wonder I didn’t feel the burn.
-I don’t get Pilates. I’ve studied it and I still don’t get it. I’m not subtle enough. Although I do enjoy saying the word Pilates. It sounds like what it is; the grand dame of classes.
There are 251,287 other confidential fitness cables concerning areas in which I have fallen short of my own advice, but these will not be released. Unless I am held captive and forced to stop exercising, in which case I will then retaliate by asking my husband to tell you the rest. And Boy will you be sorry then.
December 3, 2010
If you’re like most folks, you may still have some urgent questions about fitness and health. All week you’ve probably been lying awake, asking yourself whether you should or shouldn’t (or should) take more Vitamin D. Or, if you’re an avid exerciser: “Hey, what about recent evidence that suggests that taking vitamins DECREASES exercise benefits?” Should you get the flu vaccine?Maybe you’ve been called a Cougar (it’s a compliment) and are pondering Botox (Kathie Lee’s looks pretty good). How about the life-lengthening benefits of drinking wine? Should you run when it hurts? What if it only hurts after you run? Dairy verse non-dairy? Veganism….say whaaa? Or high-protein? A gluten-free diet, what is that EXACTLY? If you can’t use plastic, then what to use? Lap-band surgery may soon be available if you are only slightly fat. Do you wonder silently if the flatulence/diarrhea/vomiting side effects might be tolerable if you were thin again? And the granddaddy question of all: Viagra? Yes? No? Perhaps only in emergencies? And if so, what would qualify as an emergency?
These are all questions worth pondering. And no health & fitness writer worth her (optimal) weight would leave them unanswered. (Which reminds me, if I’m an inch shorter now than when I was young, do I still have to weigh the weight for my present height ? Or can I go by my highest height? Nome sayin’? )
Anyway, the answers to these questions are, in this order:
*Time-out on the Vitamin D/Calcium debate. First, experts said take Calcium. Then we needed extra Vitamin D. THEN, along comes this week’s study, which says, in the words of Gilda Radner’s SNL character, Emily Litella, “…..Never Mind.” My advice? If you are a middle-aged woman, take two Viactiv’s a day (at separate times since your body can only absorb so much calcium in any given time span) and everyone needs twenty minutes of daylight on their forearms (push up your sleeves and get it while you are driving or eat breakfast/lunch in a sunny spot)
* If you workout to improve your health or rev up your metabolism, don’t take mega-doses of Vitamins C & E. Don’t ask why. But click here if you like complicated answers.
*Get the flu vaccine if you’re traveling in an airplane this holiday, if you are chronically sick, or 65 years old plus. Also get one if you have hypochrondria.
*If you are a Cougar and you cannot resist, get the Botox, but keep in mind that you will look like you had Botox and that everyone will recognize that you got Botox but they won’t mention your Botox (to you, that is.) Also keep in mind that everyone likes their own Botox better than other people’s Botox, the same as men with toupees who love their toupees and who think that no one knows they have a toupee. And that is because we are all blind when we look in the mirror.
*Stop drinking. Alcohol won’t make you live BETTER for longer. Show me someone who can drink the recommended two glasses of red wine a week and I’ll show you someone who will eventually need three, then four,then seven, etc. Is anyone in your family alcoholic? Then you really need to stop. You get my point. Try it. Tell your friends that you’ve developed an allergy to alcohol. You’ll be amazed at how great you will look. And feel. And sleep.
*Stop running if it hurts when you do it. If it hurts but only after you run, stretch more and cut way back on the distance/frequency until pain goes away. Get in the pool and swim.
*70% or more of Americans have some lactose intolerance (dairy allergy). So they say today. Do a dairy elimination diet for one week and see if your gut feels better. Or flatter.
*Yes to a Vegan diet if you’ve got a personal chef and unlimited resources, plus upscale food markets nearby. It’ll also help if you’ve got a minimal appetite and are disinterested in the taste of food.
*If you are a menopausal woman you need a small amount of lean protein at every meal. It has to do with insulin and hormonal balance.
*In all my years, I’ve only known one person that could stick with a gluten-free diet. It’s a joyless existence. I’m just sayin’.
*Dump the plastic. Or at the very least, don’t heat it or freeze it.
*Despite the success of Lap-banded celebrities, I’ve known several people who’ve had the procedure and ALL have had to have it removed due to complications. Don’t do it. But if you can get a Brain-band, go for it.
*Viagra, in my opinion, is like lap-banding for the you-know-what. But seriously, you should be worried about heart attack and stroke if you have erectile dysfunction. Dr. Oz calls the male organ the “dipstick for health”. There are two huge arteries running the length of the organ. If there is erectile dysfunction and it is about blocking the arteries, that would mean that your arteries are being blocked in other places in your body. Dr Oz also says that body fat can also be a problem. “If your waist size is more than half your height, that fat is alive… and converts testosterone, which is made by your testicles, into estrogen. Basically, the fat turns you into a woman.”
And in reference to what might qualify as an emergency, it is my impression that, to a man, every erection is an emergency.
*And finally, as if we didn’t have enough to ponder, alert readers concerned with issues beyond health and fitness may have read the new research from astronomers who are flummoxed by findings this week that indicate that there are three times as many stars in the universe than what they used to think. Hmmm, does this mean we get three times as many wishes? Perhaps it means that God is chuckling as you read these words.
Okay, I think my job is done for today. The above summary of what’s new in the world of health and fitness is probably much more to the point than what ever’s on Wikipedia.
Tune in next week for the update.
December 3, 2010
If you see my “donate” link
and think it’s too hardsell
Remember hubby lost his job-
We’ve had the year from hell
I am here to motivate
and get you to perspire
And maybe in the meantime,
to help you be inspired.
To move! move! move!And fight the fight
Keep up the weight-loss battle
One pound lost can turn to ten
That’s why your cage I rattle.
So keep your cash if you’re like me
and have three kids in college.
Or maybe please advise me,
with your financial knowledge.
Life is short- so use my tips,
My Workout World by Penny
But if you do not donate now
Drop and Gimme Twenny