Let’s Play A Game…

Ok, here’s what you’ll need:

- 1 bottle cap (unscrewed from the bottle)
- A piece of paper
- A pen
- A chair to sit in while you play the game, unless you’re the standing type, in which case forget the chair.

Now, look at the bottle cap and ask yourself, “what else could this be?” Flip the cap over, lay it on its side, and play around with it. Give yourself 5 minutes and write down all the possibilities on your sheet of paper.

No really, don’t just read on to see what I have to say about it, try it out for yourself…

Ok, time’s up. Here’s a few things I came up with…
1. A tiny hat for a tiny man.
2. A water bowl for a mouse.
3. A plug for a hole.
4. A chew toy for my dogs.
5. Something to trace in the event I needed a perfect circle.
6. A tiny ashtray for the tiny man’s tiny cigarette.

Did you come up with the same things? Did you come up with some things I didn’t even think about? Or did you not come up with anything at all?

There are countless things that this bottle cap can be that have nothing to do with closing a bottle. And that’s exactly my point. Nothing in life is every simply how it seems.

Take for example the dreaded “I feel fat” scenario we’re so good at. You can think to yourself, I’m fat, my clothes don’t look good on me, everyone else thinks I’m fat, and I’ll never be anything else. Or, you can think of all the other things you are. Maybe you’re strong, an amazing writer, a fantastic friend, a great listener, good at your job, a loving wife, sister, or daughter… The list can go on and on, but you have to make that list and begin to see the good things that you are, not the bad things.

Reframe the way you think about yourself.

Yes, this may seem so simple compared to what you’re feeling, but if you really want to change the way you think about yourself you have to start somewhere.

This all came to my on my run just now. I haven’t really run at all in 4 months. Well, aside from the time in May when I tried to run around the block and thought I would pass out from utter exhaustion before I even got to my door, and 2 weeks ago when I finally gave it another shot, today was my third day out in 4 months. It’s been too hot to run in the summer and honestly, this baby is kicking my butt when it comes to working out.

So, there I was today, in the park, starting my run (er, jog, umm, bounce…) and I was thinking about how far I would go. Being as how I haven’t done this at all in a while, I was thinking that I should exercise caution and not do the whole loop, which is 3.4 miles. I decided to run 1 1/4 miles forward and 1 1/4 miles back, for a total of 2 1/2 miles.

Now, for those of you who are rolling your eyes and saying, “at least she ran that far, I couldn’t even run a block”, you have to realize that everyone has their beginning point. There was a time I couldn’t run a whole block either and then managed to train myself to run a half-marathon. You can do that too. For me though, today was a defeat because I should be able to run 2.5 miles without a problem.

Or was it?

The first quarter of a mile was ok and it slowly started get more difficult, and by the time I got to the 3/4 mile mark I couldn’t believe how draining it was. My hips creaked and my back felt tights, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other though, singing my ABC’s (They tell you to do that so you can you see how high your heart rate is. As long as you can sing it without taking too many big breaths you’re ok.), trudging and plodding back up the hill I so easily came down before.

What popped into my head then was how frustrating this was and how much of my ability I’ve lost. I’ve run three half-marathons and now 2 1/2 miles is enough to make me weak in the knees and need to take a nap? It’s unnerving, unsettling, and beyond frustrating. What if I can never gain back the ability I once had? What if it’s too hard, to draining, and I never pick up the motivation to do it?

But then I got a dose of reality and now I know that’s crazy. Of course I can gain it back. I did it once before and I will do it again. For right now though, I need to reframe the way I think about fitness, because if I keep focusing on the things I can’t do now I will surely lose the motivation.

Before I got pregnant it was all about staying toned and pushing myself to challenging limits, but now that I have this little growing baby inside of me I need to think about fitness in terms of being the healthiest I can be for my baby and me. It’s not about losing weight or looking great in a pair of jeans. It’s about making sure that my baby has the best start to this life that I can give her. You think that’s easy? Not really. I need to constantly remind myself about that and fight the urge to push myself further.

When I work out my baby works out, which means when I diet my baby diets. Who would ever recommend a diet for a baby in the womb? That’s just insane. On the trek back up the hill I became acutely aware of my heart rate and that it’s ok for it to feel more difficult now, because the bigger picture here is not that I’m going to look good from running, it’s that I am strengthening my baby’s heart and lungs. It’s that I am doing this to give her oxygen and life. And let’s face it, it’s pretty darn amazing that I even got out there in the first place. There aren’t many pregnant women out there running.

I came home completely beat and made sure to have a proper recovery snack (chocolate milk and a pear), again, not because I need to look good and the refueling will help, but because my baby needs it.

This photo doesn't do the way I really came home justice...

So, here’s my point: There are going to be times when you’re feeling stuck or bad about yourself. Maybe it’s today. When you’re feeling stuck and like things won’t ever change, I want you to think about that bottle cap. Think about how maybe you’re not seeing all the possibilities. Only seeing the bottle cap for closing a bottle is thinking in terms of black and white. It either is or it isn’t. Don’t forget that there is a whole realm of in-between and possibility. You just have to rethink it.

On this note, before I go, I just want to give a bigger than huge shout out to my clients Kelly and Jen Z. for being braver than they even know these past few weeks. They are what got me thinking about this post really, because they are beginning to see things for what they could be, not for what they are. You have made me so proud and honored to be your trainer and coach.

(I would love to hear your list and see what you came up with. Please share…)

THE Secret To Changing Your Body

Recently, someone asked me why if he runs 6 miles a day is he not losing weight. His eating is balanced and he isn’t lazy the rest of the day, but it seems that after an initial 20 pound weight loss he can’t seem to take any more off. His body doesn’t seem to be changing either, so why is he plateauing?

The answer is pretty simple.

You know how when you listen to a repetitive sound you almost stop hearing it? At first you notice the beat of a song and you feel the rhythm. You feel excited and maybe start bobbing your head. But if it’s a long song, like one of those never-ending 13-minute-the-artist-loves-himself-so-much-he-needs-you-to-hear-more-of-his-amazingness songs then after a few minutes it just fades into the background and you forget it’s there. As soon as it’s over though, the sound of the silence is deafening. And then eventually you get used to the silence too, and only when the refrigerator starts rumbling do you notice that it was ever quiet.

So, your body is the same way. If you run 6 miles every day, day in a day out, eventually your body stops noticing it and it’s no longer working. It gets used to the activity and stops reacting to it. It becomes so routine that your body adapts and doesn’t recognize it as “work”. As soon as you change your routine up though, your body doesn’t know what hit it and it’s forced to adapt to the new activity, which forces it to work a little harder. You need variety not just for the sake of boredom, but to shock your system into working again.

So, the simple secret is to vary up your routine every 4-6 weeks or so.

Here are some easy things you can do to change things up:
- Rather than running 6 miles straight, run for 3 miles in intervals. Jog 1/4 of a mile and then run 1/4 of a mile. Keep alternating that way until you’ve completed 3 miles.
- If you’re strength training try to lift heavier weights with lower repetitions or lighter weights with higher repetitions.
- Switch up the running to biking or swimming. The change in activity will majorly shock your system.

If you have any questions about this, let me know

Half-Marathon #3 – Double Victory!

I am happy to say that I did not pee in my pants yesterday. And that proves that if you put your mind to it you can do anything.

By mile 3 I had to pee like crazy, and with 10.1 (can t forget the .1!) miles to go my goal wasn t to cross the finish line, it was to not pee my pants. And if you ve ever been with me when I realize I need to pee you d know what a feat of sheer will power that is! And woo-hoo, I did it!!

Seriously, I have a bladder like my little Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Ozzie. If you get him too excited, or you startle him, or you say his name he will simply pee right there, where he (and unfortunately, sometimes your foot) is standing. For example, take the time I came home with my friend Michelle and realized at my front door that I had to pee, but couldn t take the anticipation of getting to the bathroom and found myself leaking onto the floor in the hallway. For real, I had the key in the door, but couldn t get myself together! It was just me, Michelle, and a puddle on the floor that was oddly enough, hilarious. I could have stopped at any one of the porta-potties along the way yesterday, but that would mean that I wouldn t have shaved 35 MINUTES off of my previous race time!

Yup! After 2 hours and 10 minutes I crossed that finish line like a champ! It was a pretty emotional run for me, because I d been raising money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in honor of my father-in-law who s battling this incurable cancer. There isn t much I can say or do to make things better or right, so I did what I could. And I have so many people to thank for helping me not just reach my goal, but to overflow it by 258%! My goal was to raise $1,000, but with everyone’s help I managed to bring the total to $2,588!

Crossing that finish line wasn t my victory alone, it was a victory dedicated to my father-in-law who is proof of what it is to battle something so much stronger than you with dignity, pride, and courage. There isn t a time that I see him that he isn t positive, smiling, and asking how you are, as if you re the important one in the room. Training for a half-marathon isn t as much of a battle of physical proportions as much as it is mental. You have to be determined and driven to keep up the training when you don t want to, you have to be strong enough not to give into your excuses, and you have to quiet those voices down when they tell you to quit. My father-in-law is battling this cancer like an athlete and is all the inspiration that I need to keep on going.

The thing I ve learned most this time around is run because you can. Until you can’t you have no idea how lucky you are.
It s as simple as that.

I have 3 clients that are working their way towards 5 and 10k races and I’m going to be running a workshop for anyone who thinks they re not runners, but want to prove to themselves what they re made of. If you re interested and want to sign up for this workshop in Prospect Park, send me a line! I promise, you will never be the same after you cross that finish line!

Before I go, I know I told him before, but I have to say it here Roman, you are the one who makes my running possible. Without you I would have no one to share it with and no one to support me when I need to complain about it. You always listen about my runs as if I never spoke about it before, and you always act as if my achievements are yours. And they are, because without you I would be someone else. You rub my legs when they are sore and you effortlessly follow me to my races and get from the start line, to the mid-line, to the finish line, just so that I will have someone supporting me along the way. I love you more than you know and can t believe how lucky a girl can be.

And Mommy, I know it wasn t easy coming out yesterday morning in the freezing cold when you had so much to do, but you know, that for many reasons, my crossing that finish line will never get old, because that victory is as much yours as it is mine.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is still accepting donations, so please take a second and visit my page here. Nothing is ever too small and is more appreciated more than you know.

Do It Because You Can

Natures gym

If you’ve ever said “I hate running” you most likely hate it because you’ve gone about it the wrong way. Because, if you ask anyone who’s actually completed a race they’ll tell you that there’s nothing like that rush you get when you cross the finish line. Most people when they start running start too hard and fast too soon. Honestly, you’ll feel like dying and that’s just going to make you hate it. I’ve talked about training for my first half marathon, and my second, and now my third, and the impact it’s had on my life. Years of therapy didn’t do for me what running has. I’ve learned to see the bigger picture and stop obsessing about weight loss. I’ve learned how to eat and enjoy food, and not starve myself, because with running your body actually needs food just like a car needs gas. I’ve learned that I can push myself harder than I ever thought possible. And I’ve also learned to actually love my body and the powerhouse that it is. My legs have never been stronger and I’ve never been happier. And when you’re happy, things have a way of falling into place.

Like most people at the start of a new year, you’ve probably made some resolutions to lose weight this year and finally use that gym membership that you pay for year after year. And like most people who make resolutions, you’ll probably start out strong in the gym, going 4-5 times a week, killing it on the elliptical, but come March you’ll be down to 1 day a week if you’re still even going at all (and that’s the best case scenario!). Most likely though, you’ll be back to resolving to do better next year. And so, nothing changes.

There’s nothing like a new routine to keep you motivated. The trick though is not just to do something new, but do it with a goal in mind. Most people don’t like doing anything without a reason, so to help you not hate running take a look at this schedule that will take you from a couch to 5k in just 9 weeks. That’s less than a season of The Office. All I ask is that you stick with it for 9 weeks and then decide whether you truly hate running or not. I promise, there is nothing scary about it and you’ll see how amazing you feel.

** Before I go, I want to give a shout out to my amazing clients this week for really stepping it up and pushing past your comfort zones. I don’t know what it is, but I see something within you guys that’s changed in your determination and I just wanted you to know that I notice it. Especially, Melissa, Jen, and Ariel – you’ve taken major steps.

Congratulations Melissa for running, literally, towards your fears. It takes a really strong person to know what you’re afraid of, and still greet it with open arms.
Jen, you’ve been talking about this 5k for a long time now, and I’m ecstatic that you finally put all the excuses aside.
And Ariel, woo-hoo on finally stretching!! Keep it up and we’ll have those pesky little glutes working in no time!

Fireworks Fun Run

I know New Years seems like forever away, but I just saw this and thought it would be an awesome way to ring in the new year. So many people make New Years resolutions and never see them through, so what better time to make your resolutions a reality than New Years Eve! Before the run there will be djs, fireworks, a costume contest, and laser light show! Do you think you’re going to go to a better party than this one in the middle of Central Park? Comment below if you’re interested or if you know anyone else who might be and I’ll put together a beginners group to get you ready. And remember, there’s no such thing as “I’m not a runner”. I used to think that about myself, but if you start slow and train right it’s way easier than you think. I learned so much about myself and what I’m made of through running and I have to say it is really life altering. I think of myself differently now. What better way to conquer yourself than to do something you thought was impossible!

It’s going to be super fun, so join me!!! First person to sign up will receive a special gift from me, so hop to it!

Ask Dani – Hobbled in Hoboken

Dear Dani,

You have really nice toes, by the way :)

Last week I went running on a dirt path trail thinking it would be less impact on my joints. It was, but ironically enough I ended up tripping on the roots of a tree and got a minor fracture in my ankle. It doesn’t need to be in a cast, but it is in an ACE bandage, and I was told by my doctor to lay off of it for a little while. She said that cycling is ok, but nothing with any major impact. I’ve recently lost some weight and have been working hard at staying in shape, but now I’m worried that I’m going to lose my momentum, strength, and gain the weight back if I have to lay low for a while. Do you have an alternative workout that I can do while still allowing my ankle to heal?

Thanks, Hobbled in Hoboken

Dear Hobbled in Hoboken,

So sorry to hear about your ankle. Injuries are the worst to get after you’ve worked so hard to get where you are. But fear not, because an injury doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything, it just means that you have to change some things up a bit. You should actually look at it as a good thing, because it’s going to give you the chance to try something new out and shock your muscles in a different way.

I came up with a workout that will work your opposite leg, so that it doesn’t lose it’s strength while you’re recovering and I also added a bunch of upper body and core exercises. Simply click here and print out the workout. If you have any questions, just let me know! This is also a great workout for anyone else looking for something else to do. There are a lot of stability exercises to challenge and keep you motivated.

The last thing I want to tell you is to remember to RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Rest the leg as much as possible, ice it after you’ve used it to reduce swelling, compress it with a bandage (such as an ACE bandage), and elevate the leg above your heart when sitting. A few pillows under the leg should be just fine. Be religious about this treatment and it will be healed in no time. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to rush back into working out – it will only delay recovery or make the injury even worse.

Feel better!

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!

My 2 Secrets To Success

After 3 weeks of not being sure whether I’d race or not, I ended up running the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend. For any of you following my blog you’ve probably read about my journey through my first race about 8 weeks ago. It was intense and so gratifying, which is why this time I was shocked that I wasn’t sure if I would end up running or not. I had a really rough run one of the weeks and I began beating myself up about it, which made me decide that I’m not running for the right reasons any more and should probably back out. If I’m not running for me and I’m running out of guilt, because I will be disappointed in myself if I don’t do it, then I shouldn’t be running. So for 3 weeks I laid off the running and focused on other things like Spinning and pole dancing.

But then an interesting thing happened… I missed training! Those 3 weeks of going easy on myself made me WANT to do it again for ME. I guess I just needed some time to relax about it and have the choice again. So, secret #1 is that if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing anymore than change your course. Don’t be hard on yourself by putting so much pressure on things, and give yourself the permission to breath.

I was so excited when I picked up my race number on Thursday. I still gave myself some leeway though and said that I’m not going to make my decision until the night before the race and that if I WANT to run then I will, but I don’t HAVE to.

I only have 2 things that I want to accomplish during a race, and it doesn’t include a personal best time. It’s that I run the entire course without any walking and that I finish with a smile. I hadn’t done any real training in 3 weeks though, so I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to be able to complete the run or not. This made me kind of nervous, but I knew that if I let the thought of not being able to do it get into my mind then for sure I wouldn’t be able to do it and I would have a really difficult run. So, instead I just played up the excitement and thought of the finish line and that amazing rush of excitement that poured through me when I crossed it at my first race. It is so unbelievably emotional and fantastic. If you’ve ever worked really hard at something then you know what I mean.

When I woke up at 5am the morning of the race I was so fired up! I was so ready and couldn’t wait to start running. And by the way, I had an awesome run and finished really strongly with a smile.
So, secret #2 is to never ever let those negative thoughts inside your head. The only way to really conquer yourself is keep on pushing through and keep your eyes on the finish line.

I'm the one in the striped tank

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

The 3/4 Mark

Whenever I go out for a run, whether it’s a 2.5 miler or a 10 miler, I start strong and ready to go. I run and I run and I run and I think about how great I feel, how strong my legs have gotten, and my mind clears from all its day-to-day thoughts. But, inevitably, when I get to the 3/4 mark of almost finishing that’s when I get antsy and I can’t wait to see the finish line. I start to psych myself out and think that I won’t make it. That it’s too far away. That I’m going to pass out if the end mark doesn’t come soon and fast. And it seems like it takes longer for that to come than the entire run itself.

Like I said, this happens whether it’s a short or long run, which means I’m clearly psyching myself out. Even if you’ve never run at all you know what I mean by this if you’ve ever walked up a few flights of stairs. It’s those last few stairs that seem like Mt. Everest. It takes a Biggest Loser type perseverance to climb to the top.

So, why am I telling you this? Because we all hit the 3/4 mark when we’re working hard to get somewhere. If you’re trying to overcome some bad habits that are keeping you from losing weight and feeling good about yourself this 3/4 mark will creep up on you at some point. You will start off strong, motivated, and inspired. You’ll keep this up for a bit, but eventually you’re going to want to just forget it all, because it’s going to seem too hard. You have to be stronger than your mind at this point, because it will try to bring you back to your old ways.

But listen to me, if you can just get over this hurdle and remind yourself that you’re hitting a wall, that this is your 3/4 mark, you will be golden. You will overcome this mammoth sized challenge and you will come out stronger than before, and everything that you’ve struggled for will seem so much easier. You won’t even believe that it was all that hard in the first place. You might even have your Aha! moment.

Whenever I hit that wall I think of Rocky running up those steps. Find your Rocky and fight for it!

Maximize Your Treadmill/Elliptical Workout

If you’re like most people trying to lose weight, you probably hop on the treadmill or elliptical at the gym and simply select the “weight loss” program thinking that this is surely going to help you drop pounds and inches fast. Well, I’m sorry to say, but the program you’re choosing is based on flawed understanding.

The thinking is that when you’re working out at a lower intensity you will be burning more calories from fat than carbs. While this is true, the real goal should be to burn as many calories as possible. It doesn’t really matter what kind of calories you’re burning. When working out at a lower intensity it will take much longer to burn 250 calories than it would if you stepped it up a bit.

Next time you go to the gym, use the “manual” or “quickstart” button and vary your intensities by walking one minute and jogging/running for 2 (otherwise known as an interval workout). If this is too difficult for you, lower the running bit to 1 minute. The idea is to end up running more than walking. With this kind of workout, you’ll be playing with your heart rate and will end up burning more calories per minute in the long run.