Untrue Beauty

I read this article on the Dove Beauty Campaign this morning and I’m not actually all that surprised. Well I am and I’m not.

At first I thought their campaign for “Real Beauty” was amazing and a step forward in marketing to women. You know, the one where they show you how many hours and retouches it takes to turn an average woman into a cover-ready model? And the other print ads where they have 6 “regular” women in their underwear posing for the camera (above). The one’s where they make you think that they’re the most caring company in the world.
Well, I thought that this was great for women to see that there are others out there that look just like them. That not everyone is a cover model.

But then my husband (who works in advertising) pointed out that none of them had stretch marks, none of them had cellulite, none of them had varicose veins, and none of them even had birth marks or freckles. Sure it’s a step above the perfect looking model or celebrity, but still, they’re campaigning about “Real Beauty” and are linked to fundraising efforts to help young girls with body image and self-esteem. I commend them for that, really, I do, but it doesn’t seem super genuine. Maybe they haven’t taken it far enough.

Oh, and did I mention that the ad was for a skin firming lotion?

I know that cellulite and stretch marks aren’t beautiful to look at, but if you’re going to talk about true beauty and say that you’re showing real women, then show them. I think women will thank you for it! Don’t post an ad on Craigslist saying that you’re looking for real women, but only if you have flawless skin, naturally fit nice bodies, and beautiful hair. I know that perfection sells, because everyone wants to be and look perfect, but Dove isn’t really all that caring and isn’t helping anyone by saying that they portray real women when in fact they portray smooth, flawless, and fit women.

Calling all flawless, beautiful, naturally fit, real women

A spokesperson for Dove said that the Craigslist posting was a mistake, but I’m thinking that was just a way to cover up for a poorly worded post.

What do you think?

3 Fun Gym-Free Alternatives

Pure joy!

Not everyone has the time or money to join a gym, and besides lifting weights repetitively doesn’t exactly count for a good time, so I’ve put together 3 alternatives to the “traditional workout”.

1. Jump rope – You might not have jumped rope since you were young enough to sing “Strawberry Shortcake Cream On Top” with excitement, but you should know that it’s actually been called one of the most perfect fitness activities available. It helps build lean body mass, is a great cardio workout, and builds endurance, strong bones, agility, coordination, speed, power, and balance. Wow! Plus, you can take it anywhere. In a park, your office, your den, a hotel, etc… On average, jumping rope burns 11-20 calories per minute. Create an interval workout by jumping for 60 seconds after every 2 resistance exercises and you’ll have burned about an extra 55-100 calories per set. Complete that 3 times and that’s an extra 165-300 calories burned (based on a workout that has 10 resistance exercises). Make sure that the rope you buy has handles that reach your armpits when you’re standing on the center of the rope. Check out Punk Rope for a fun recess-meets-bootcamp style class near you.

2. Hula Hooping – Yup! For real! Working out doesn’t have to be filled with torturous thoughts of “only 30 more minutes of this and then I get to go home”. You can actually have a good time and feel like a kid again while you lose weight and tone up. 30 minutes burn around 200 calories. Hula hooping around the waist will help strengthen your core, hips, thighs, and back. Try rolling it around one arm for a bit and then the other to get a great core and arm workout, as well. The best part is that you don’t really have to count repetitions and sets (you can though if you want to precisely work out both sides of the body), so you can really feel like a kid again and have fun.

3. Pole Dancing – I’m absolutely obsessed with this right now! My husband got me a pole for Chanukah this year (I know what you’re thinking, but it’s actually for ME!) and I’ve been hooked (no pun intended :) ) ever since. Once a week I twist, climb, hook, and shimmy around that pole and work up a great sweat all in the name of fun! I get my workout in, build my confidence (YES!), learn something new, strengthen, and tone. Climbing helps build upper body strength while holding positions help tone and strengthen your core. If you’ve struggled with your weight, most likely you’ve struggled with your self-esteem and body image too. This is a great way to reconnect with yourself and feel good about your body again. You’ll be amazed and what you can do! When you execute a move that you thought you couldn’t do before your confidence soars and you carry that through the rest of your day. I’m not even going to tell you how many calories it burns, because I want you to just have fun and be in the moment! If you’re in the NYC area and want to learn from a great instructor in a private and comfortable studio place a comment in the box and I will get back to you.

Have fun!

Beat It or Eat It – Blueberry Peach Cobbler

Beat It:
4th of July weekend is here (YAY summer!), which means BBQs, picnics and parties. In other words, food! It also means peach season is here (I’m going peach picking this weekend), so I have a yummy waist saving recipe swap for a peach blueberry cobbler that you can indulge in. Other cobbler recipes tip the nutritional scales at 562 calories (42% of those calories come from fat – yikes!), 26.8g fat, 12.8g saturated fat, 77.3g carbs, 4.8g fiber, and 7.7g protein. And that’s for only one serving! Check out this recipe, courtesy of Eatingwell.com, below.

Eat It!:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe but firm peaches, (about 1 pound), pitted and sliced into eighths, or 3 1/2 cups frozen
2 cups (1 pint) fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350

Face Your Biggest Fear

I’m hooked on this new VH1 show called “The OCD Project”. It’s about 6 patients who suffer from debilitating obsessions and compulsions, ranging from terrifying thoughts they can’t get out of their heads to rubbing their faces, tapping surfaces, counting light switch flicks, and washing and rewashing their hands over 20 times a day. Last night’s episode was really crazy for me, because while I was watching it I realized that although I may not suffer from OCD my eating patterns and behaviors in the past seem very much along the line of obsessive or compulsive. And even now, after having gotten over so many of my issues there are little things that linger that I wish weren’t there. For instance, I have a habit of eating at night. If I’m away somewhere I don’t really feel the need to eat, but when I’m at home it’s like something comes over me and I’m pretty much compulsively eating even though I’m not all that hungry. I’ll go from one snack to another to another even though I’m fully aware that I’m going to feel horrible and guilty about it soon after, and that it’s going to be my first thought when I wake up and it will spill over into the next day. I’ve been aware of this problem for quite some time now and I’ve tried various things to stop, but I realized the other day that I need to treat this exactly as I have treated all my other eating issues. And that means I have to get so utterly frustrated and sick and tired of living this way that nothing will come in the way of getting rid of it. No matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

It’s hard to describe in words what that frustration is like, but if you can catch the clip of last night’s episode and watch Jerry (he’s scared that he’s going to harm someone, even though he’s the nicest guy and has never even killed an ant) you’ll see what I mean. He has to face an uncomfortable exposure, something that makes him face his fear, in order for him to see that his anxiety and fear is only in his head. Watch the 9:30 mark and hear what he has to say about his OCD and how he describes being so angry, frustrated, and upset at it. He is so angry that he’s willing to do anything to get over it, because he just doesn’t want to live like that anymore. And you’ll see later at the 35:50 mark how he’s willing to do something so drastic to finally get rid of this problem that he’s had for most of his adult life. Listen to how he describes it – “his absolute biggest fear in life” – and then after the exposure he says “it was no big deal”.

See, we build things up in our head irrationally, because we feel like we can’t control it. But we can! You just have to get frustrated enough and be willing to struggle through it for a bit. It’s only temporary. So, how does this tie in to you and me? If you have a weight problem, you’ve probably been engaging in so many destructive behaviors and either don’t realize it yet or you do, but don’t know what to do about it. Yo-yo dieting, restricting, bingeing, compulsively eating, emotional eating, etc. are just manifestations of stress and/or anxiety. We do it because it soothes us, but the crazy thing is that every time you give into one of those behaviors it only sets up a pattern in your brain for the next time and the next and the next. Each time you do it that connection doesn’t just linger, it gets stronger, making it harder to break. So, the next time you see yourself falling back into an unhealthy pattern, sit with the discomfort and wait it out. Using me for example, when I felt like eating last night I said to myself, “you’ve proven to yourself before that you can get over anything, this night-time eating isn’t serving you any purpose except to make you upset and regretful. It doesn’t have to be this way. Have your snack, but that’s it! If you can do this for a few days those few days will turn into weeks and then months, and you will feel so much better.” I have a few ideas about why I eat this way at night when I’m home, but those reasons are arbitrary. All I need to know is that when I don’t do it I’m uncomfortable and it’s hard to fight it, and that shows me that I MUST fight it. So I did, and I feel fantastic today! And it’s only fueling my fire to try even harder tonight and tomorrow and every night from now on.

Think about what you need to work on and choose just one of them. Sit with your anxiety or discomfort and ride it out. Talk to yourself if you have to. Write it down. But whatever you do, don’t give into it! The more you give into it the longer it will stay. Get mad at it and get rid of it once and for all!

I’m here for you!

Heart Shape

Dear Dani,

I’m a 36-year-old guy and have recently taken up running. I’ve always been active and in shape, but this is something new for me. I’ve heard a lot about resting heart rate, but am unsure what it is, why it’s important, or even what mine should be. Can you help me out?

Thanks, New Runner

Dear New Runner,

It’s awesome that you’ve started running. It’s always good to change up your routine to avoid plateaus and boredom, and running is the perfect way to strengthen your heart (and tone, tighten, and strengthen your legs and core). Your heart is the most important muscle in your body and it needs to be worked out just like your chest and arms do. Not to mention your lungs as well. The stronger your lungs the more oxygen you can take in and the stronger your heart the more oxygen rich blood is pumped through your body, resulting in more efficient workouts. So, that’s where your resting heart rate comes in…

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at complete rest. It is an important indicator of health and fitness. The lower the number the more fit you are (unless you are suffering from an illness, which sometimes can cause your heart rate to dip). What that indicates is that your body can preserve itself, but still maintain proper function while using the least amount of energy. In other words, the lower the number, the more efficient your body is. For instance, Lance Armstrong has a RHR of 32-34 beats per minute (bpm), which is insanely low! He can cycle up what would be a pretty tough hill for us and not really be affected all that much, because his heart can pump oxygen rich blood through his body with the least amount of effort. Rates vary from person to person and are different between men and women.

How To Measure Your RHR:
- Measurements should be taken first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Do not take it right after waking up though. Wait about 10-15 minutes and then start your measurement, so that you’re calm and relaxed.
- You can measure from your Radial pulse (by placing your index and middle fingertips on the thumb side of your wrist) or your Carotid pulse (by placing your index and middle fingertips along the windpipe of your throat).
- Make sure to hold gently, because pressing on the pulse can affect the rate.
- Count the beats for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6. That is your RHR.
- Make sure to take an average of your RHR by measuring for 3 days, because various things can affect the rate, such as stress, lack of sleep, overtraining, illness, alcohol, etc.

Like I said, RHR can vary from person to person based on sex, age, fitness, etc. With that being said here’s a simplified look at what your RHR should be for your age group:
Men ages 36-45 = Excellent: 57-62; Good: 63-66; Above Average: 67-70; Average: 71-75; Below Average: 76-82; Poor: 83+ (**Athletes: 50-56**)
Women ages 36-45 = Excellent: 60-64; Good: 65-69; Above Average: 70-73; Average: 74-78; Below Average: 79-84; Poor: 85+ (**Athletes: 54-59**)

Exercising will help improve your resting heart rate, so keep on running. Just make sure not to overtrain as that will actually increase your RHR.

If you need any running tips let me know!

** Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

A Verbal Bitch Slap To The Face*

Blue-Ringed Octopus: Has the ability to camouflage itself until it's ready to strike... Not unlike some people you thought you knew...

My friend got trampled by a coworker in her office yesterday and it got me thinking about the people you keep in your life. You know that kind of friend that can never be truly happy for your success, or the one who gives you a backhanded compliment, or the one who will only criticize, but never praise, because she’s so jealous of her inability or lack of what you have? Why are you friends with them? What purpose do they serve? If you surround yourself with negative people you’ll wind up feeling pretty badly about yourself, and that’s definitely not going to help your weight loss, because it’s only going to feed into your already existing destructive thoughts and behaviors. But if you make sure to weed out the sabotagers, haters, gossipers, and angry people in your life things will start to look up and you’ll have the confidence and support to succeed. We’re only on this world a short amount of time and we don’t need to waste it with people who make us feel badly about ourselves. And we certainly don’t need to justify their behavior by giving them the satisfaction of feeling insecure around them and by losing confidence in our abilities. Recognize who these people are in your life and steer clear of them. They’re like poison and will slowly eat away at your soul. You’re better than that.

(*My friend’s words, not mine – Love it!)

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

There Are No Shortcuts

Losing weight isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s not even something that happens in a week. It’s something that takes a significant amount of desire to change for a lifetime and the motivation to stick through it even during the most difficult of times. It’s also something that takes the willingness to dig deep within yourself to uncover why you gained the weight in the first place. To figure out what your sabotaging behaviors are and why you do them. Are you obsessed with numbers on the scale or are you unhappy with yourself and think that you don’t deserve to be thin? Are you a perfectionist that can’t ever seem to get this losing weight thing right, because you have every intention if being “good”, but then end up “slipping up, so you think you just threw the whole day away”? Whatever your reason is if you want to truly lose the weight for good you need to let go of that tendency to think that there’s some quick fix that’s going to help you lose those love handles. You have to learn to let go of those negative behaviors. The only way to really succeed is to know that you’re going to have to give it time and do some homework, but also know that in the end it’ll be so worth it, because once the hard part is over you’ll never have to do it again.

I’m starting a 12 week weight loss phone group beginning July 11th where you will uncover your hidden behaviors and learn to set up new helpful ones. It’s a baby-steps approach based on the Glycemic Index that will help you get to your goals without feeling overwhelmed. Clients of mine who have done this program have lost over 25 pounds, stabilized their blood pressure, and overall felt better about themselves. The best part is that you don’t have to go anywhere, so it won’t take hours out of your day. Just one hour every Sunday and a telephone is all you need. Plus being in a group with other people just like you will help you feel understood and supported in a way that going it alone can’t. If you’d like to join or just want more info, please click here and then leave a comment so I can send you the sign up info. Get a friend to join and you can both take 10% off the total price of any package!

Beat it or Eat it – Its Pasta Time!

Beat it:
I just returned from a week in Italy and strangely enough I only had pasta there once. Most of the dishes are pretty heavy and pretty high in calorie, so I just skipped most of it. Take for instance a simple dish of linguine, ricotta, and zucchini. Sounds harmless and pretty light, right? Sure, it can be, but when you add in butter and oil the stats soar to 550 calories, 15g fat (or more depending on how much butter and oil!), 90.8g carbohydrates (yikes!), 5.4g fiber, and 17.1g protein. And the white floured pasta doesn’t help either, it just makes you full and tired. But I love pasta though and don’t want to have to skip it, so instead I’m whipping up my own recipe tonight! Here it is…

Eat it:
- 6 quarts water
- 8 oz. whole-wheat fettuccine
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- salt + pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. minced garlic (or more if that’s your thing)
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp. mint leaves
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot along with enough salt to make the water taste like the ocean. Add in fettuccine and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add zucchini and saut

My Top 10 Favorite Snacks

holy cow, have you ever seen anything cuter???

Are you hungry? Perfect, here’s my list of top 10 go-to snacks:

1. Whole grain cereal measured into a short glass (that way you can control the amount) and skim milk
2. Non-fat greek yogurt with berries
3. Kashi Crunchy bar
4. Apple with peanut butter
5. Vita Top with low-fat vanilla yogurt
6. Baby carrots and hummus
7. Low-fat cheese stick with grapes
8. 100 calorie pack microwavable popcorn
9. Small sweet potato with cottage cheese
10. Handful of nuts

A good snack consists of a protein and a carb and should hopefully have some fiber in it, so that your hunger is satisfied, but you don’t feel full.

** Fit Tip of The Day will be on vacation all next week and will return June 21st. **

Help! I Have Bat Wings!

Dear Dani,

I’m in my 30′s, but my arms look about 70. I hate them! I work out about 2-3 times a week, but the bat wings, or mud flaps as I call them, won’t go away (you know, the extra flabby skin under the arms…). I’m really frustrated and wish I could just have nice toned arms without worrying that eventually it’s going to extend down to my knees. What can I do to get rid of it?

Thanks, Batwing Girl

Dear Batwing Girl,

I’m not sure how long you’ve been exercising for or what you’re eating is like, but 2-3 times a week isn’t really going to cut it if you want super sleek arms. You have to work at it 4-5 days per week and you have to include a balance of cardio, to burn calories and ultimately fat, and resistance training to tone the muscles underneath the skin. A sample schedule would look like this: Monday – 30-40 minutes cardio, Tuesday – resistance training, Wednesday cardio, etc… Keep alternating like this for a total of 4-5 days per week. Perform 8-10 repetitions of exercises such as dips, tricep extensions, push-ups. You want to choose a weight that is heavy enough so that by the time you get to 10 you feel like you can’t do another one even if someone paid you. Another thing to take into consideration is your food: Make sure your carbs are coming from whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables, and that you’re also getting adequate amount of calories, so that you’re body doesn’t go into starvation mode and try to hold onto every little morsel you feed it. Never dip below 1200 calories per day.

Also, take a look at your mother and grandmothers. Your arms may be the product of genetics, which doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it, it just means that you have to be realistic about your expectations. You can get arms that you’ll feel good about, but it just may take longer to accomplish and you might not end up looking like a fitness model. There’s a reason I never use videos or photos of women who look like that, and it’s because it takes either super lucky genetics to easily build muscle like that or such intense amounts of training and nutrition that it’s not really doable for the average person.

In the meantime, don’t hate on yourself. Most likely no one else is staring at your arms the way you are, so channel your inner black woman (as I always say) and flaunt what your momma gave you!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!