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!

Week 12 – 12 Weeks To A Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

Ok guys, this is it – your last week of the beginners program! I want you to really notice how far you’ve come and how hard you’ve worked. The only way to make a change is to simply do it. No one else can do it but you. If you take anything away from this experience I want you to realize that you are so much stronger and capable of so much more than you realize. Your ability to power through these workouts is really just a metaphor for life. Know that anything you want is yours if you decide to put in the effort to make it happen. The strength that you’ve built from these workouts is of course physical, but actually, it’s 98% mental. Feel empowered by your ability to power through this and take that strength with you wherever you go. There is nothing that you can’t do. Congratulations!

This weeks playlist is put together with the idea that music is what moves you. When you let yourself go and allow yourself to just be part of the music a beautiful thing happens – you let go of your thoughts, your inhibitions, and all the filters that are telling you not to do or say something. Really connect your body with your mind and just let the music guide you.

The Workout:
Week 12

The Playlist:
- Warm-up
Harmonize (Spirit Catcher)
Rio Nero (Drum Nation)
Absolutely Africa (Saxomatto)
Esperanca (Danny Tenaglia)

- The Workout
Twelve (Aria)
Genesis (Cozzy D & Kid Dub Present D Dub)
School of Thought (Kevin Swain)
Winter (Aril Brikha)
Vertigo (The Oval Five Project)
Smoke (Trafik)
Circus (Trafik)

- Cardio
Tribal (Tanke)
Tribal (Aggregat)
Tribal (RMB) (*I was trying to find as many “Tribal” named songs as possible… I guess it ends here.)
Move Your Body (DJ Wope)
We Believe (Junior)
Love Nature (Hystera)
Gimme A Smile (Lost Tribe)
Robots (Kevin Swain)
Female (Santos)

- Cool Down
So Long (Sissy)

Well, there you have it, your 12 week beginner program. Just because this is the end of this program though doesn’t mean it’s the end of your working out. If you want to keep up your results you’ve gotta keep up your activity. If there’s anything else you’d like to see featured here, just drop me a line and let me know.

Product Review: The Shake Weight


I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the hilarious commercial for the Shake Weight and you might be wondering if it really works. The commercial claims that using the Shake Weight for just 6 minutes a day can give you toned and defined arms in a matter of weeks. Well, I was in the mall the other day and saw one of those “As Seen on TV” product booths and decided to buy one to test out their claims myself. Any time I hear something like “in just 6 minutes a day” my alarm bells start ringing, because it just sounds too good to be true. Is it?

The inventors of the Shake Weight say that they’ve come up with a technology called “dynamic inertia”, which is just a fancy way of saying that you hold the weight in place and shake it. They say that this technology helps you build and tone the muscles in your arms to give you a sleek and slender shape. So, I tried it out and here’s what I found:

Pros: It’s great for beginners. Anyone can learn how to use it. I definitely felt a burn within one minute of using it and you’re isolating your muscles in a way that’s similar to the way you contract your muscles during a plank (i.e. isometric contraction), which means it’s great for stability work.

Cons: It’s great for beginners. Which means that after about 4-6 weeks you won’t really see any major benefit from the Shake Weight. Eventually you’re going to have to increase the intensity, which isn’t really possible, because it only weighs 2.5 pounds. Their claims of getting sleek and toned in a matter of weeks if you use it for only 6 minutes a day are false, because you’re going to have to do a lot more if you want to burn the fat that’s surrounding your muscles (eating right, cardio, etc.). If working out for 6 minutes a day worked I would have a lot more hours in the day to train a lot more people and most likely I wouldn’t even have a job.

It doesn’t quite shake the way it does in the commercial either. When I opened the box I began looking for batteries, because in the commercial the shaking almost looks mechanical, but you quickly find out that it’s actually slower than they advertise. And that’s not all bad, because it means that you have to work a bit harder. But, it is false advertising, which always turns me off from products, because it makes it seem as if the inventors don’t fully believe in their product as is.

The DVD that came with the product had some exercises involving shaking the weight, but a lot of the 6 minute video were traditional exercises that you could do with any old weight. So what’s the point of having the Shake Weight at all? Oh, and did I mention false advertising? The trainer they used for the DVD was rail thin. Seriously, a stick bug. Are they trying to tell us that you will look like her after using this product for just 6 minutes a day? I promise you that you will not.

And one more thing… From a purely exercise theory perspective, our bodies are designed to move in many directions and it’s best to work out your muscles in a functional way, which means that you should do exercises that mimic every day movements (i.e. a squat with a curl and a press mimics picking up something from the floor and placing it on a shelf). For instance, your shoulders move up, down, and around, so working out your shoulders by just holding them in place doesn’t really help you use them in the way they are supposed to be used. It will definitely help build stability, but it won’t build strength. A muscle needs to go through a full range of motion around the joint to fully reap the benefits of building strength and tone, so just shaking this weight while holding your position will only build the muscle in that position. Make sense?

Bottom Line: It’s good if you’re just beginning, but don’t use it thinking that it’s some magical device that will get rid of your underarm fat. It won’t. It may help, but eventually you’re going to have to progress beyond it. Would I tell people to spend money on it? No. Just get yourself a set of weights and shake those.

Week #6 – 12 Weeks to a Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

Woo hoo! This marks the half-way point! If you’ve been following these workouts and doing them consistently you most likely have started to see some results. You should feel stronger, more stable, and have an overall better sense of your body. I know it’s not easy, but isn’t it worth it? Consistency is the only way you’re going to see results, so if you haven’t been keeping up with your workouts then it’s never going to happen. You have to make sure you’re getting strength training in 3 times a week and your cardio in 5 days a week. It’s about a lifestyle change, and the past 5 weeks have been your introduction to easing into the big kid pool. There is no magic wand that is going to make it happen for you, so it’s all on you if you want to see results.

This week we’re sticking with the same exercises, but we’re just going to tweak it a bit by adding a second set to each one to increase the intensity.

The Workout:
Week #6

The Playlist:
- Warm-up
Bodyrock – Moby
Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim

- Workout
Shut Your Eyes – Snow Patrol
Lapdance – N.E.R.D</strong>
Flathead – The Fratellis
Starlight – Muse
Panic Switch – Silversun Pickups
Zero – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

- Cardio
I Might Be Wrong – Radiohead
Hysteria – Muse
Going On – Gnarls Barkley
Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups

- Cool Down
Empire State of Mind – Jay Z featuring Alicia Keys

** Combine this with my 12 week weight management program to maximize your results. Leave a comment if you d like some more info.

Week 4 – 12 Weeks to a Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

This week will mark 1 month since you’ve started your new plan. Can you believe that much time has already passed? Seriously, you should congratulate and celebrate your persistence! There are 8 more weeks to go, and after this week things are going to change up a bit, so keep your efforts up, because you want to be ready for the changes to come. You’re almost at the half-way point, so hang in there!

The Workout:
Week 4

The Playlist:
- Warm-up
Tropicalia – Beck
New Day – Body Language (**This is my friend Angelica’s band and they are awesome!)
Loveshack – B52′s

- Workout
An Honest Mistake – The Bravery
House of Jealous Lovers – The Rapture
Word Up – Cameo (** Don’t deny it, this song makes you want to move!)

- Cardio
Home – Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros (** I cannot describe the lightness of my heart when I hear this song!)
God Put A Smile On Your Face – Coldplay
She Bop – Cyndi Lauper
The Mystery Zone – Spoon

- Cool Down
Wicked Game – Chris Isaak

** Combine this with my 12 week weight management program to maximize your results. Leave a comment if you d like some more info.

12 Weeks to a Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You! – Week 1

If you want to really lose weight and keep it off then at some point or another you’re going to finally decide to take the plunge and begin working out. Now is as good a time as any to start, so what are you waiting for? Actually, I challenge you to start now and prove to yourself that you can do it. For the next 12 weeks I’m going to take you from couch potato to confident. I will be posting a new workout every Monday (I know, today is Tuesday) with a playlist to keep you invigorated and excited. These are all songs that come from my personal playlist and have helped me through the hardest of workouts and kept me going when I really didn’t want to anymore. If you’ve never worked out before or are trying to get back into things this program is for you. We’re going to progress in baby steps – every week builds on the last – so you will be able to increase your stamina and strength without feeling like it’s too difficult. We’ll start off slow, so there’s no need to be scared :) This first workout will take you less than 45 minutes.

All songs can be downloaded from iTunes by simply clicking on the links.

The first goal of this workout is to build a solid foundation of basic movements that are the underlying base for all other exercises. The second goal is to build a strong core, which consists of your abdominals, back, and lumbo-pelivic hip complex (which is just a fancy name for your lower back, pelvis and hips). You can compare it to the foundation of a building – without it, the entire building would collapse.

Do this workout 2-3 times this week, allowing at least one day in between for your muscles to recover. On days that you are not doing this workout you should be doing 30-40 minutes of cardio. Rest is as important as working out, so make sure to give yourself 2 days of complete rest.

Click on this link to see the workout. Images and instructions are included to help you through each exercise.

- Warm Up (Alias – M.G. Jack)

- Workout (Kanye West – Stronger **One of my anthems when starting to train for my first 1/2 marathon) (Eminem – Lose Yourself) (Gram Rabbit – Cowboys and Aliens)

- Cardio (Air feat. Mark Ronson – Alpha Beta Gaga) (The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name) (Coldplay feat. Jay Z – Lost) (Daft Punk – One More Time **This is it – finish strong!)

- Cool Down (Arcade Fire – Cold Wind) (Dusty Springfield – Son of a Preacher Man **easily one of my favorite songs of all time!)

P.S. I might have put an extra song or two in there to make sure that you have enough inspiration in case it takes you a little while longer to get through the workout ;)

** Combine this with my 12 week weight management program to maximize your results. Leave a comment if you’d like some more info.

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!

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!

2 Hours and 20 Minutes!

Exhilarating. One word doesn’t do yesterday justice, but if I had to pick one to sum up my first ever race experience that would be it. After 3 months and 184.5 miles of rigorous training, building up strength, endurance, and mental stamina the day was finally here. On only 3 hours of sleep I ran from start to finish and ran all 13.1 miles in what was my best run yet. It must have been the adrenaline, because I didn’t feel tired or out of breath once, not even up the steep hills in Central Park, which is surprising, because for 4 weeks I’ve had agonizing pains searing through my legs. And if you remember from my earlier post I had a horrible run this past Monday which left me really nervous and upset because I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the race. I did finish though and I finished strong! Plus, I’m not nearly as sore as I have been in the past after my long runs. Well, that’s aside from the 2 massive bloody blisters that popped all over my sneakers (but I didn’t even notice that pain either until I got home and even that’s not getting me down). Amazing!

Adrenaline is a crazy thing. Since picking up my bib number this past Thursday I’ve been as excited as a little kid counting down the days till Disney World. The anticipation just kept building and building and I couldn’t wait. But when I woke up yesterday morning at 5am an interesting thing happened and if I didn’t know better I would say that I was certifiably crazy. One second I was shaking out of nervousness and the next I was buzzing with happiness. I was literally kookoo. Adrenaline is like a drug and it takes over your body forcing it to do things that you’re not telling it to do. My heart was racing, my emotions were erratic and I was happy, nervous, and a bit sad all at the same time. Why sad? Because I didn’t want this experience to end. It was a major milestone for me to run my first race and once it was over I could never have it back. Of course this moment was going to come though and once I was at the start line all my pent-up nervousness disappeared and excitement rushed through my body. Have you ever heard a song that starts off slow and then climaxes? Something about the rhythm propels you into motion and your heart skips a beat and you feel inspired? That’s exactly what I felt at that moment, but there was no music. I knew that I would finish and I knew that it was going to be an amazing run.

Being part of the racing community feels incredible. Racers filled the 6 train on their way uptown and it was so cool to feel connected to a bunch of strangers on a NYC subway. Normally you ride the train and are completely anonymous to everyone else, but yesterday we all were linked together by one thing that we all had in common. All of us, wearing our bib numbers on our shirts and orange tags on our sneakers, carrying the same clear plastic bags for our valuables, fueling up for the run, and on our way to 97th St. were joined for this moment. There were so many of us, that if you were standing on 95th street when we exited the station you would think that it looked like a bunch of ants coming out of a hole.

I must tell you though, I never want to eat another freaking jelly bean again! If you’re not a runner (yet :) ) I’ll explain… There are food products specifically designed for endurance sports. They contain simple sugars and electrolytes that break down easily, so that you can quickly refuel your muscles when you’re exercising for long periods of time. They come in various forms, such as gummies, gels, drinks, and jelly beans. I prefer the beans, but after 4 packs of them yesterday I never want to even see or smell anything that looks remotely like a jelly bean. Even saying the word is nauseating me now. You would think that being given permission to eat candy would be a great thing, but not after 4 packs of the damn things.

You know what was mind-blowing? Running through the streets in the middle of Time’s Square being cheered on by the people watching on the side. It’s awesome to think that normally cars pile up bumper to bumper with horns honking, but yesterday the streets were closed so that I could run through them! There is no other time that you ever get to see Time’s Square like that. And yesterday I got to do it!

I think that was somewhere around mile 9 or so. There are mile markers telling you how far you’ve run and how much further you have to go and each time I passed one it wasn’t agonizing thinking about how many more I had to go. Actually, it was almost sad to think that every mile meant that it was that much closer to being over. It was exciting too though thinking about crossing the finish line and seeing Roman and my mom’s face. This was my victory run and I really couldn’t believe that I was doing it. At the last 1/4 of a mile stretch I literally sprinted through the finish line and had to hold back my tears. 10 years ago I was on my way to living a life of desperation and torment, and possibly early death, because all that was important to me was being skinny, but here I was now changing what I once thought was going to be my future and creating my own destiny.

I’ve worked harder than I have ever worked at anything to overcome negative thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and I am so happy to say that today I am close to conquering myself. This training has taught me more about myself than any therapy has. No matter what difficulties I’m faced with I know that I can overcome it. No one really talks about how exercise can be so empowering, but it’s so much more than building physical strength, it builds strength of mind too. If you want to know the formula for building confidence, conviction, determination, and pride, push yourself to your physical limit. Push yourself until you think that you have nothing left in you and then just push a little further. You’ll see that you’re made up of much more than you think. I beg you to do that for yourself, because until you’ve tried it it’s hard to believe, and your life will be forever changed.

It’s one day after the race and I feel confused. I’ve been on a 12 week journey and now that it’s over I don’t know what to do with myself. There’s no running to prepare for and nothing to expect, so I’m feeling a bit out of it today. But you know what, this 12 week journey was only the beginning of a new life for me. I just signed up for the Brooklyn 1/2 marathon in May and I’m seriously contemplating joining a charity for the real deal NYC Marathon in November. If you’re ready to conquer yourself and experience something life-changing I dare you to join me. I promise that you won’t regret it and I will be there with you every step of the way.

P.S. I just want to thank you, Roman for sticking by me. Had we not started doing our Sunday “family runs” in the park with the dogs I would most likely never had entered this race and I wouldn’t have had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You always have my back and you made my goal your goal too by acting just as excited as I was about this. It’s a special thing to be able to share your life with someone and I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. As I told you yesterday, I feel like I’m living a fairy tale.

P.P.S. Shilpa – I really couldn’t have done this without you either. We had a little role reversal there – you, my client, forced me, your trainer into running. I definitely would not have entered this race without you and I have to seriously thank you for encouraging me through my hard runs and sticking by my side. I still can’t believe that we met only a year and a half ago. I’ve seen how far you’ve come and I am so so so proud of you. This was a victory run for you too and I teared up a little as we were sprinting to the finish not only thinking about myself, but about you too. You deserve only the best in life and you have proven to yourself that you are capable of anything. Good friends are hard to come by and in all sincerity you are a fabulous friend.

** I just want you all to know that as I reread this post I realize that it doesn’t even come close to what I am feeling or what I experienced yesterday. It’s the best I can do to recreate it though…
*** So sorry that there are no pictures, but I can’t find the cord for the camera. These blisters are forcing me to wear only flips flops, so as soon as it stops pouring I’ll go down to Radio Shack and get a replacement :)

5 Simple Exercises To Get You Moving And Losing

This is a workout that I’ve done on my cross training days when I’m not running. It seems like a lot of repetitions, but it goes by fast and the best part is that you don’t really need to think about it. You will get a total body workout in under 45 minutes with no fancy equipment needed! All you need is a floor, a chair or step, and you. The faster you do it, the higher your heart rate, the more you’ll burn. While watching your favorite show you can fit each set into those annoying commercial breaks instead of going to the kitchen for another cookie.

- 15 Jumping Jacks (yup, school’s in session!)
- 30 Push-Ups – You can do these on your knees if you’re not quite ready for toes yet. See how!
- 30 Dips –
- 50 Squats –
- 40 crunches – Make sure you’re doing them correctly!

Do each exercise one after the other without pausing, then rest for 2 minutes when all the exercises are completed. Repeat this cycle up to 3 times. If you’re a beginner, you may want to complete the cycle only once and see how you feel the next day. If you’re not conditioned and ready for this amount of exercise you may do yourself more harm than good by pushing yourself further than that. With that said, if you feel ok the next day with only minor muscle soreness than you can bump it up to 2 cycles next time. For some of you these numbers may seem a little high, so do as much as you can. Just remember to challenge yourself and not let yourself off the hook so easily. You know what you’re capable of, so go for it.