May 20, 2011
You don’t have to understand how your primary olfactory nerve functions in order to smell and you don’t have to understand electricity to make toast in your toaster. In the same line of thinking, you don’t have to understand the complicated psychological component of weight loss in order to reach your goal.
What you do have to do is have a plan and stick to it. You also have to watch out for the tacks that exist along the road to the better you. No one ever feels like making uncomfortable lifestyle changes. Talk to a former smoker and ask them if they “wanted” to give up smoking. Lifestyle changes are hard. You just have to take Nike’s advice and “just do it.”
No on ever appears in the doorway of my little lobby cubicle of my gym to proclaim their excitement and enthusiasm for being at the gym. People solemnly enter, swipe their card, give a serious nod to the front desk staff, pivot robotically and head to the aerobic task at hand. But the locker room I am happy to say, is, a whole ‘nother step class. Locker rooms are perfect for listening. Nudity in the locker room always has a sense of purpose surrounding it. When I’m undressing or dressing, I always feel the need to expedite and I certainly discourage eye contact and conversation until I get my hoohahs covered up.
And sometimes, I get an olfactory earful. What did I hear? Comments like “I am SO glad to get back in my routine!” and “That felt so great to get a workout in!” as well as “Man, that was hard but I feel so much better now.”
I will always tell you to focus on how you’ll feel afterwards, not on the dread you feel prior to working out. Do you know why? Because I assure you that when you finish it, you won’t be the same.
Exercise will not only change how you feel about yourself, but it will make you more confident and effective in your daily life. I realize that it sounds like I am overstating things here, but by making changes with our body we can dramatically improve our life. Ask anyone who’s lost a bunch of weight and they will tell you that they went from being invisible to being noticed, from being overlooked to being taken seriously; to being more of whom they were meant to be; to being half full in all areas of their life rather than half empty.
That is because the exterior changes help you excavate into deeper, more profound inner changes. When you accomplish something that has a physical result — like losing weight — it changes ALL of you. You begin to consider that other, less visible changes, like switching jobs or making more money or ditching that bad boyfriend, might be possible.
Unfortunately, most of us are resigned to “half empty glass” self-talk like “I’ll never be thin, that’s just the way I’m built” or “All the women on my side of the family are big.” Or “I have a sluggish metabolism”. Mostly these are excuses for not changing. It’s easier to say yes to that cheesecake right now than to say no for a goal that might be a few months away.
But if you can get yourself to the gym and feel how it feels after, then you can remind yourself that each day of letting that half empty feeling dominate gets you one day closer to leading a half empty life. Is that what you want at the end of it all? To know that you settled?
And more importantly the opposite is true. Each day of making positive physical changes will add up to years then decades of being the more complete you, not only physically but also in all other areas of your life. Otherwise, days turn into years, the years into decades and before you know it you’re Elizabeth Taylor.
How do you become more successful and more productive? Exercise. Start with the outside changes and as the trickle down theory goes, your life will get better. You will look in the mirror and not only see it on the outside but you’ll feel it on the inside. Controlling your body will help you improve all other areas of your life.
Of course, you could always wait for the diagnosis or the divorce. But I suggest that you refuse to accept a half empty body or a half empty life.
Take one more look at your goals. Or better yet, get a new sheet of paper, take stock of your body as it is now and list the half empty, self-related misconceptions that you are resigned to. If your only option was succeeding, would you choose to make the change? This isn’t just a better body but a better life. Time to reinvent yourself.
Make sure to follow Penny on Twitter @pennylovehoff or visit her website for more health tips
May 20, 2011
Do you have any food saboteurs in your life? Like a husband who knows you are dieting but orders up forbidden restaurant food that arrives at your table on plates the size of manhole covers? Or your skinny “friend” who leaves the Belgium chocolate “just this once-it’s too yummy to miss!” on your doorstep? How about your co-worker who brings all her leftover Halloween candy to the office break room? Does your sister insist that you are not overweight (because you are not as heavy as she is) and therefore insist that you take a bite or does your mother bake your childhood favorite: chocolate filled double peanut butter cookies, on Day 3 of your Atkins diet?
Losing weight is torture enough without having to deal with negotiations about forbidden food. And with weight loss saboteurs, if you can spot them, then you can stop their effect on your weight loss efforts.
Here are six steps to sabotage their effect on you.
1. Tell your friends, family members and co-worker about your meal plan. Be sure they understand how important it is to you. Tell them exactly what you don’t want them to do. For example, tell your mother that you will not visit her if she has your binge-trigger cookies in the house.
2. Explain to them specifically why this goal is important to you, whether it is better health or weight loss.Be sure they understand how important it is to you and how they can specifically help you.
3. Ask them to support you. If your friends and family know that you need their support—by not offering you seconds or by coming to the gym with you– they will not be as likely to throw tacks on your diet path.
4. Be insistent. If you feel like they are forcing food on you, tell them straight out that it is not appreciated. Be specific with them by giving examples of things they’ve said to undermine your weight loss efforts. Don’t ask them to stop, tell them. With a smile.
5. If the chocolates are still appearing on your desk or the smell of peanut butter cookies assaults you when you open your mother’s door, avoid spending time with these people. Let them know that it is because they do not respect your effort to lose weight. You have a right to put yourself first.
6. Plan food-free activities. Meet for coffee instead of lunch. Take a walk with your mom, see a movie or go to the beach. Do something that takes food entirely out of the mix.
You can’t have it both ways. You can either allow these people to subvert your eating or you can be thinner. But you can’t have both.
May 13, 2011
Superstitions abound in the fitness world. They usually evolve accidentally when an athlete has a good — or sometimes bad — performance and then attempts to establish cause and effect by reviewing the facts of the performance.
Formerly inconsequential activities, like what they ate or wore, are examined as possible connections to the victory, especially if it’s unusual, like with baseball great Moises Alou, who urinated on his right hand prior to stepping up to the plate, which he claimed help him control the bat.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams said she lost the French Open because she didn’t tie her laces right, didn’t bounce the ball five times, and didn’t have her extra dress or her shower sandals with her.
If you are a golf fan, maybe you’ve noticed that Tiger Woods always wears red on Sundays of tournaments.
I don’t have proof, but I read that basketball legend Michael Jordan never played a game for the Chicago Bulls without his UNC skivvies underneath his uniform.
Wade Boggs never stepped on the baseball diamond without eating chicken beforehand, which is a whole lot of chicken, considering that there are 162 games each year. He also entered the batting cage at exactly 5:17 pm, ran sprints at 7:17 pm and wrote the word “chai” in the dirt before each at-bat.
It may sound silly, but research has shown that superstitions can have a placebo effect on physical performance. If you feel your current superstitions help you maintain your focus and confidence, then keep doing what you are doing. When you believe in a ritual, your mind becomes focused and more relaxed. Then you are able to concentrate on mechanics and technique, which allows your mind and body to sync up. Some people call it the zone, which is when all athletes perform their best.
Beliefs are just thoughts we keep thinking over and over again. If you know that peeing on your hand will get you to first base, then you probably will get a hit. Doctors have always known how critical belief is to healing.
Confidence and comfort are key components of athletic success. Being relaxed can allow your mental performance to improve your physical effort. Think of it as getting out of your own way. Sports psychology is based on visualizing all the details of winning as a technique to prepare both mentally and physically for competition. Superstitions can free up your mind to do just that.
So go ahead, pee on your hands, bark like a dog and turn your t-shirt inside out if it gives you the confidence to step onto the field believing that you will win. Just don’t let your mother see you do it.
May 6, 2011
Calorie Pop Quiz Time!
Read the following statements and label as True or False:
1. If you were given a large bucket of stale popcorn at the movie theater twenty minutes after you’d just eaten dinner, you’d still eat 34% more popcorn than if you were given a small popcorn.
2. Descriptive food names increase sales by almost 30%
3. The first thing people taste has a “halo effect” meaning if you or your fellow diner tastes something delicious first, everything after that, including the restaurant and the chef are rated as better, even if they are worse.
4. A really tasty brownie tastes better on china than on a paper napkin.
5. If you eat with a fast eater, you will eat faster and vice versa.
6. You can’t always tell when you are full due to external cues, like how much food is left on your plate.
7. Some foods have a health halo that making consumers eat more because they think it’s healthier for them.
8. Not only do you estimate “organic” and “low fat” foods as 20% lower in calories but you also reward yourself by eating even more.
9. Even if a low-fat food tastes worse than a regular fat food you will still eat 21 to 46% MORE.
10. If you are an exerciser and you watch an exercise ad prior to eating you will eat less but if you are not an exerciser you will eat the same.
11. If you are told you are taking an exercise walk you will end of eating more but if you think you are taking a scenic walk you eat the same.
12. If you use a big bowl you will eat twice as much than if you use a small bowl.
13. The shape of a glass can make you drink more.
14. You consume less if you eat 100 calorie packs, especially if you are already overweight.
15. You can prevent mindless eating with willpower and self-control.
All answers are TRUE except for the last statement, #15, which is FALSE.
Startling new research has proven that weight-control through willpower and self-control alone is a fallacy.
1. TRUE.Very simple things have a huge influence not just on how much but also on how frequently we eat. What to do? Always order the smallest size and use small containers, even if you want more, tell yourself you can come back for seconds. 8 out of 10 times, you won’t.
2. TRUE. If you think the milk is spoiled, you drink it looking for confirmation of that. Conversely, if you believe something is going to taste good, it will. Not only that, everything you eat afterwards, you will rate as better-tasting. The power of expectation is immense.
3. TRUE. If you are making dinner for guests, make sure that the first thing they eat or drink tastes delicious. That way everything else you serve will have the “health halo” and taste better—even if it’s not!
4. TRUE. People are willing to pay triple for food served beautifully. Serve yourself and others with the nicest presentation possible.
5. TRUE. Fast eaters make others hurry. Slow eaters slow down fellow diners, but not to as great of a degree as the fast eaters rushed their companions. It’s called the mimicry effect. Tip: Sit next to the slowest eater at the table. And try to eat slower than them.
6. TRUE. Studies have been done using refillable soup bowls where people unknowingly continued eating 73% more soup. They relied on external cues, like how full their soup bowl was, not their stomach. Beware: You count with your eyes, not your belly.
7. TRUE. People almost always underestimate the calories in places like Subway because they think it is healthier. This leads them to overindulge because they feel virtuous.
8. TRUE. If a food is labeled organic or low-fat you will eat 20% more. Beware of the devil wearing the health halo!
9. TRUE. This is referred to as the low-fat loophole. If you eat something you think is virtuous, you rationalize that you deserve a bit more.
10.TRUE. Watching exercise ads can bring to mind how much you have to do to work off calories. This is especially true for regular exercisers and not so much if you don’t exercise.
11.TRUE. If you think you just exercised, you estimate that you burned more calories and you end up eating more.
12. TRUE. A study from Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) proved that even if you think you did not take more from a bigger bowl, you actually will on average, eat 53% more. Plus you will have an excuse, like I didn’t eat breakfast today.
13. TRUE. Visual overconfidence cannot be underestimated when it comes to eating. You will pour and also drink 20% more from a short, wide glass than you will from a tall, thin glass.
14.TRUE. Studies also show that 100 calorie packs, although they are more expensive, can help overweight people think about portions. In contrast, 100 calorie packs either had no effect or made them overindulge.
15. FALSE. The secret to ending mindless eating is not to try to eat mindfully but to set up our home so that we mindlessly eat less. How? It’s simple.
-Use smaller bowls and plates.
Use taller, thinner glasses.
-Keep food off the table and out of sight.
-Use opaque containers for food storage.
-Make sure that the first thing you see in the fridge or cupboard is the healthiest. You are three times more likely to eat the first thing you see than the fifth thing you see.
-Package food in smaller containers. Even if you buy in bulk, watch out for eating in bulk! Repackage food into serving-sized portions.
-Use smaller serving utensils.
-Put fruit in colorful bowl so it’s the first thing you see in the kitchen.
-Sit next to the slowest eater at the table.
If your life is chaotic like mine, don’t rely on self-control. For every external cue that tells you to eat, you can solve the problem by doing the opposite. Your self-control deserves a break today, so get up and put that food away.
April 29, 2011
Oh, I loved that royal wedding this morning. I loved the colorful regalia, the royal opulence, the atmospheric curtsy to romance of times gone by. It occurred to me that it was probably the Queen’s idea of an orgasm. If cathedrals had orgasms THAT would be what it would look like. And it was good for me, too.
Kate, though she smokes and I am trying not to hold that against her, was lifted straight out of a fairy-tale. She looked quite smashingly perfect in that dress. which reminded me of the popularity of wedding shedding–losing weight for the big day.
In fitness, not only do women diet and exercise to get to an ideal weight for the big day, but also the wedding day weight is also often the benchmark that women would like to weigh AGAIN, later in life. It is the life-long number to which women want to return, weight-wise.
In a 2000 Cornell study of 273 women who were getting married within the year, 70% of respondents reported wanting to lose more than twenty pounds. But in reality, by wedding day, their average weight loss was only seven pounds.
Still, weight loss for the wedding day ranks high on women’s lists of pre-nuptial tasks.
I often recommend that people embarking on a weight-loss program pick a not-too-distant date or event, like a class reunion, a wedding anniversary or birthday so that they have something to aim for and work towards.
I wish that I could take the motivation that some female fiancee’s have for fitting into their wedding dress and apply it to later points in their life when they want to lose the weight but are not inspired to do so.
Here is my question: Why isn’t not dying of a heart attack motivation enough for staying close to your ideal weight?
Looking in the mirror and liking what you see is important,too, especially in our culture. Plus there are noticeable and immediate benefits to losing weight, like more energy, feeling wiggle room in your waistband and seeing the numbers on the scale go down—that feels great.
But there are enormous benefits, beyond not having a heart attack, or other age-related illnesses and these benefits only kick in at the end of our lifespan.
It is hard to comprehend that each little lifestyle choice we make today will have a huge impact on our life-length but it is true that over time, the difference in life-length (excepting a tsunami or a terrorist attack) can be radically longer for those who consistently choose the right food and exercise consistently and vigorously.
It is called the butterfly effect (check Wikipedia) and it applies in health and lifestyle as well.
Now if we could only get Kate to stop smoking; she’s likely get seven extra years and perhaps live to be a queen. I would love that.
April 20, 2011
Forgive me Lord, in advance for what I’m about to do. This week is Holy Week and for those of you not in the know about Jesus and his crazy life, this week marks the end of Lent, the craziest of the last forty days of Jesus’ crazy life on this planet.
Lent is the time period of precontemplative willingness to endure some form of suffering in symbolic recognition of The Man’s Walk to Glory, ending on Easter Sunday.
And as is my tendency to tie one remote day-to-day topic to the ever-present topic of fitness, I awoke last night correlating the end of Lent as the perfect time to make that fitness change, Christians and non-Christians alike.
Almost forty days ago when it began, few people jumped on the Lenten wagon.
I challenge you all to use this final phase of Lent to consider giving up one of your addictions, even if it’s just for a few days. Four is the magic number for success with any new fitness regime. Day Four is breakthrough day.
Lack of fitness can lead to many adverse symptoms including death, the final symptom. The time period of Lent is a culturally accepted way of stopping the saboteurs in your life-the ones who leave homemade cookies in the lunchroom and make your favorite fettuccini Alfredo even though they know that you are in Phase One of The Zone Diet, of which fettuccini of any kind is not a part.
The simple phrase, “I’m giving it up for Lent” stops the saboteurs short.
If Father Guido Sarducci from Saturday Night Live can give up his mentholated cigarettes for Lent then certainly we can get down to this business of abstention and sacrifice in the name of God and if not in the name of God then at least in the name of Fitness and if not for forty days then at least for four days; not that they are the same motivation but the giving up part will still help you reap the similar benefits.
If you need yet more motivation to head into four days and nights of some form of depravity, consider that the idea that restraint reaches into many other religious practices, yoga being the first to come to my mind.
The second of the eight limbs of the Ashtanga yoga path to enlightenment is the yamas which are ethical precepts that are supposed to make us better people. The yamas are called restraints because they are things you withhold or give up, ahimsa being the first and most famous yama, which means non-violence, which is where the idea of vegetarianism comes from. There’s also truth-telling meaning don’t lie and there’s non-stealing and non-greediness and the no sex yama which is a bit trickier.
If any of these are hard for you, then giving that up is a good place to start. Why? Self-awareness for starters. Giving up alcohol or coffee or swearing or procrastination (nah, let’s do this one later) or TV or junk food or texting while driving or Facebook can all be eye-opening experiences. Becoming aware of our addictions is a walk into the deeper parts of our consciousness and has the capability to wake us up.
Renunciation is a tool to facing that to which we are enslaved. It is not for the weak. It demands strength and discipline.But humans survived the ice age. Building up your ability to resist even a minor addiction will make you a survivor.
Consider enduring a time period of restraint in one small corner of your daily life. It can weaken self-absorption and self- deception, self-indulgence and over-indulgence. This builds fortitude.
The lesson of Lent for people who don’t officially observe Lent is to be willing to change, to be happy in spite of what we do not have, to become aware of our attachments, to be less of a slave to our mind and to learn patience and develop endurance.
Maybe there is some scientific basis for the healing power of restraint. All I know is that as far as fitness is concerned, restraint keeps us from giving up and helps us to continue to try to be better and to live better and then even if we aren’t actually better, we can hopefully be happy with what we’ve been given.
April 15, 2011
“If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi
The hardest part of going to the gym is pulling into the parking lot. Going to the gym is a sentence people like to toss around. “I’m going to the gym right now” sounds so much better than “I’m going to get my dog’s nails clipped” and appreciably better than “I’m going to the post office.” Going to the gym is easy to say.
Getting to the gym is harder. But once you park your car, grab your gym bag and lock up, your mind will catch up with your sneakers and stop making excuses or trying to avoid the workout. It’s natural to feel some resistance but if can you chose to do it anyway, then you will be in the driver’s seat of your life. Your body is the one thing that is almost always within your control.
By focusing on getting the car parked at the gym, you take charge of a measurable element of your physical nature and therefore are less dependent on other things in life mostly outside your control. I gave up coffee a month ago and have been substituting green tea but still, when I walk into a Starbucks, I always really, really want the biggest Cappuccino on the menu. Lifestyle coaches call this emotional discomfort. But I just choose to feel this edginess and carry on anyway. I order the green tea, sigh and the moment passes.
I expect this discomfort to ease over time as well, just like the routine of gym-going can become less of a debate the more you get there. You may still be aware of emotional resistance, but you keep walking, you sigh, you get in the car and get to the parking lot.
The key point to remember is that you won’t see improvement if you wait for the discomfort to disappear before you act. Action itself is what dissipates the resistance. Start viewing your exercise regime as a part of your non-debatable routine, like combing your hair. The no brainer stuff like brushing your teeth does not have to be re-thought or re-considered every time it’s time to do it. You just need to get the tooth brush and take action-no thought required. Exercise gives you the blue print for improving your inner game.
Improving your inner game trickles outward and improves how you walk in the world. This is especially critical if your life is not quite going according to the blueprint. Once your body–which is the one concrete feedback tool that you walk this earth in-once your body feels better, your life will be better, even though at first it may be on an imperceptible level. It’s never too late to start.
A scientist once said, ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Why not start by reinventing yourself.
April 9, 2011
Recent Scene: Indoor Cycling class on Thursday morning
Event: Retro Spin Class-Bringing Back the 80’s
Attire: Headbands, Dirty Dancing style; Leg warmers ala Flashdance; Hairdos compliments of Chrissy from Three’s Company-
Do you remember The Jane Fonda Workout? I sure do, down to the very last leg lift, although I haven’t thought about it in decades. Which is why I decided to take my spinners on a trip down memory lane. That and also the fact that one of my personal priorities in my job is to nourish my sick sense of humor. Asking 50(plus) year old women to garnish a thong exceeded my goal towards that end.
We all had a few belly laughs as well as some snickers from the back row students, especially those sitting behind the re-thonged. There was No Parking On The Dance Floor. They all got with it, or else I was forced to give them a ticket. (toot-toot, beep-beep)
It was a workout but it was also a party. It was also a celebration of where we all began thirty (!!) years ago.
Jane Fonda revolutionized the way we all thought of exercise, most especially for women. Jane brought attitude to exercise. If you think about it (5! 6! 7! 8!) women pre-Jane had only exercised regularly. (zzzz…)
Even walking and jogging were the exception as opposed to the rule. No one thought to ask “Are we having fun yet?” And if someone had asked, the answer would’ve been “no.”
In honor of this fitness frontier pioneer, I give you
THE TOP TEN EXERCISES OF THE 80’s
And WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
1. STEP CLASS-Step classes are the dinosaurs of the aerobics world for one reason: the knee joint. Repetitive flexion with impack is killer on this hinge joint. The knee is not a ball joint like the ankle, shoulder and hip so it takes a lot of abuse. We all used to do pivots, reverses-God, I loved these!-flying through the air like a ballerina on crack–and this added torque. Bottom line is that Step class is like a hunky, bad boyfriend. You love it when you are doing it but the next morning you can barely stand the pain.
2. CALISTHENICS-Fire Hydrants, Pizza Lifts, Happy Boyfriend Inner Thigh Flies, etcThank you, Jackie Sorensen, the inventor of Jazzersize for bringing us the burn. These new movements were the first time we learned to isolate a body part and tone it. Now we know better methods to work specific muscles like squats and lunges and we also know that adding heavier weights get better results faster and also the sad fact that there is no such thing as spot reducing.
3. BRIDGE BUTT SQUEEZES- see #2, although these are still the most effective way to tone the pelvic floor if you keep the glutes relaxed. This will keep you from peeing when you sneeze or cough.
4. SQUAT THRUSTS-Great plyometrics -leaps, hops, jumps-but momentum +speed+full range of motion= high injury risk. Translation: great move for athletes in competitive training and for teens but an accident waiting to happen for people fifty years plus. Make that 40.
5. WINDMILLS- Envision a standing straddle, bend forward and alternate opposite hand to foot.
Technically this is called unsupported flexion with torque. You never see anyone doing this nowadays. Windmills are the free-radicals fo the exercise universe. If you are in a class and they are doing this, leave. It will increase your likelihood for low back pain and you could herniated a disk
6. BALLISTIC STRETCHING- There a re a few things that we used to do that we now know better than to do. Bloodletting is one. Ballistic- or bouncing-stretching- is another. New science has discovered that if you lengthen a muscle then bounce into that stretch it actually makes the muscle contract rather than release. So you get less of what you want, not more.
7. WARM UP STRETCHING- Don’t bother. Studies have shown repeatedly that stretching prior to your exercise does not prevent injuries or improve performance. Lots of people still like to do it so I will humor you and say go ahead. Really all you need to do is start your activity at half speed and gradually amp it up.
8. JIGGLE BELTS- Elaine Powers Toning Salons-do you remember them?-they had jiggle belts when I worked there in 1984. It turns out that there was science behind the flab-flapping. NASA scientists were researching ways to rebuild muscle and bone mass in atrophied astronauts returning to earth after extended time spent in zero-gravity. They found that vibration-if it was really fast and irregular in it’s pattern-could stimulate both bone and muscle strength. Google the Power Plate.
9. HIGH IMPACT AEROBICS- My all-time favorite exercise class of all-not Low-Impact, not Multi-Impact, not High/Low. I loved the jumping jacks, the high knee jogs, the dancer leaps, jumps and bounds and I could kick higher than my head. We did kick-lines, the Can-Can, Speed Skater Leaps. I was the highest jumper in the Elaine Powers health club chain. But the very part that I loved about it-jumping up and down on concrete floors was the very thing that was destroying the cushioning in my hips and knees. We crammed sixty years of impact into twenty. Do you remember the song “Pound, Pound, Pound”? That was our theme. Now, the former High-Impact people are now spinning. We can still get that high-intensity cardio workout without the pounding.
10. SUICIDE SPRINTS-This takes me back to high school basketball practice. If I was talking instead of dribbling-which was usually the case-I had to run suicides. Sprinting to the 1/4 court line, touching it, racing back, sprinting to half-court line, touching it, sprinting back; Sprinting to 3//4 court line, touch, race back; Sprinting to full-court line, touch, racing back. AFAP-As Fast As Possible. These movements are how young girls tear their ACL’s if they are not taught how to get their body-their center of gravity-down low (by bending their knees, ironically)as they bend over while pivoting. Don’t do these unless you have an educated coach interested in your long-term knee health.
THE 80’s PLAYLIST TO GO WITH IT
-No Parking on the Dance Floor
-Do You Wanna Funk
-Holding Out For A Hero
-Pound, Pound, Pound
-The Hustle (really the 70’s but who’s that picky)
-If I Could Read Your Mind
-Last Dance- and all of Donna Summer’s songs
-Dancing In The Street
-Disco Inferno (Burn Baby, Burn)
-What A Feeling (Flashdance)
-I Will Survive
And guess what? We have survived. It might not feel the same-Jane Fonda now has two hip replacements and one knee replacement. She is still standing though. And we can always go back and have an Old School moment. Don’t you feel the burn?
April 1, 2011
1.Get high on the Stairmaster-if exercise were in pill form everyone would be addicted. It would be the new OxyContin-call it ExerContin-but we wouldn’t need detox.
It would make you feel, not just fit and healthy but also smart and hot.
2. Tunes- The right music can convert not only exercise but most activities from a dismal form of torment to a hand-raising, heart-pulsing, feel-good-hormone inducing festival
3. Get Outdoors- Even if you are a gym rat, make outside activities a priority. It’s free, you’ll get Vitamin D, You’ll remember things, like how good it feels to be roofless.
4. Napping- Another under-rated activity. I recommend the twenty minute 3pm power nap. You can still get REM time-the most restful segment of sleeptime.
5. Lucid Dreaming-Have you heard of this? It’s a learnable skill where you realize you are dreaming and learn how to problem-solve. You can also fly and have sex with anyone you want.
6. Reading- What part of your day is spent reading things you can’t get enough of? Make a point of finding some reading material that really lights your brain up.
7. Eat Less-Having less to spend on food doesn’t mean you have to eat off the Dollar menu. It is a great reason to get more nutritional bang for your buck. I’ve been having friends over and serving meals on little plates, with big salads on the side, and no seconds. Call me frugal but they don’t hate me the next day.
8. Stress-Reduction- Low-Dough can bring on extreme stress so make stress reduction a part of your day. Meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, breath focusing, yoga, humming, self-hypnosis, singing, praying, and guided visualization will all help. Look for any activity that helps you focus on relaxing your muscles, slowing and deepening your breathing, and kicking-in your parasympathetic nervous system.
9. Dancing-Bopping around with other middle-aged folks -or your teenage daughter if you are lucky–another under-utilized free activity that usually joy-inducing or at the very least smile-inducing.
10.Do what makes you Happy-Hug the dog. Never pass up an opportunity to giggle, tell a corny joke or diso your way through step class. If what makes you happy is acting like a constipated Dick Cheney, then go ahead and do that too, but stay the heck away from me
See you on the elliptical/ at the beach/in the produce section.
March 23, 2011
If you’ve known me a while you probably have read the article below but the tooth-brushing analogy is worth repeating, so enjoy! It was also published in The Huffington Post which you can read HERE. It would make me happy if you would stop by the Huff Post and comment or”like” my articles, I annoy myself by even asking you to do this, but supposedly, these comments are validation that often help new writers. Click here to read the Hoff Huff Stuff.
And if you can’t click one more time, here you go:
As a fitness teacher, I often feel misunderstood. When I am out walking my dog (and I never walk him as much for my exercise as for the pitiful look that he gives me when he’s been imprisoned all day), friendly people that know me roll down their windows and yell things like “You go, girl!” or, “Faster!” or the memorable, “Your dog’s in better shape than I am!”
I want to set something straight right now. I cannot remember the last time I woke up in the morning and was raring to get to exercise class. As I lie in bed, the Other Penny in my head says something like this, “Let’s just sleep a few more minutes; the kids don’t really need breakfast,” or, “I’ll work out tomorrow or maybe later today, just not right now.”
No one usually feels like it. Of course, lots of us like exercise once we get about halfway through, and everyone loves a workout after it is completed, but very few souls are skipping around the spinning room with joy prior to class.
There are a few exceptions, like the same people who enjoy sleeping on the rock-hard ground in a sleeping bag in a tent during August with a dozen boy scouts, or maybe people who have been mistakenly placed on bed rest for six weeks. These folks might feel anticipatory about their workout, but for the general population, they are the fitness exception rather then the fitness rule. And of course, those who, over the years, are faithful in their fitness don’t mind doing the sweating, because they’ve started to reap the benefits of feeling and looking better.
These people tend to not mind exercise at all, because they’ve integrated the connection between their fitness regime and good bodily results.
As Dr. Phil says, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.” This means putting on your running shoes and grabbing your iPod, even as the voice in your head concocts various excuses and ideas to avoid sweating.
You have to approach your workout plans just like you deal with brushing your teeth. Do you ever skip brushing your teeth because you brushed them yesterday? Or do you tell yourself you can brush them tomorrow or that you know you should brush, but you just don’t want to do it right now? Or how about saying, “To heck with brushing altogether!” because you haven’t done it in so long, why start now? Think of exercise as your anatomical brushing.
One way to get yourself moving is by using what I call self-backtalk. You have to learn to respond to that voice in your head in the same way that I talk back to the Other Penny. When she suggests sleeping five minutes more, I tell her that we can take a nap later (even though she never feels like it after she gets her body moving). When she wants to skip a day, I tell her that she might not feel like it but do it anyway. When she says she’s tired, I respond by saying five minutes is better than no minutes and that the hardest part is getting started; then it gets easier.
I also think that every time we give in to these sabotaging thoughts, we strengthen our giving-in habits, and that conversely, every time we resist these thoughts and exercise anyway, we strengthen our “Nike” (just-do-it) habits.
Another big part of a consistent exercise routine is making exercise a priority. You have to put it on your calendar just like any other important appointment. You deserve to put yourself first.
Another self-backtalk sentence you can use is to tell yourself that you can be loose with your fitness routine or you can be fit, but you can’t be both.
Or how about this self-backtalk response: “I may not care if I skip my workout now, but I will care a lot when I get on the scale.”
Tell yourself, “No excuses.”
Another important part of this self-backtalk is giving yourself credit when you do do it, in spite of not wanting to. You deserve credit every time you exercise, every time you stick to your workout plan.
If I am honest, I’ll admit that I really didn’t feel like writing today. Spring is getting closer, and it’s warm outside for the first time all month. and the afternoon sun is angling in on the Other Penny’s face in just the most tempting angle. But I told her we had no choice, that we’d enjoy our walk more after having crossed this off our list. And now, let’s walk the dog.