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

Will Ugly Toning Shoes Actually Give Me Beautiful Legs?

Do you own any of these ugly shoes and think that they’re going to give you the body that you’ve always wanted just by wearing them? I swear, I was walking by Haagen Daaz one day with Roman and the dogs and I saw this woman wearing a pair of these ugly things sipping a milkshake. I told her I was a trainer and was a little skeptical of the shoes, but was excited to meet someone who’s tried them and wanted to hear what she thought. She swore it was the reason she dropped a dress size, but I just couldn’t believe that those shoes alone are what made her lose weight. I figured that it wasn’t the shoes themselves, but it was the fact that wearing those shoes probably made her more mindful about being healthier overall, and perhaps owning those shoes made her walk around more than she normally would have, which made her burn more calories, and therefore lose some weight. And don’t get me wrong, that’s not a bad thing at all, I just couldn’t believe that these shoes alone could be responsible for transforming your body. I started reading around to see if these things really do work and here’s what I found…

So, we have the MBT shoe, Skechers Shape-Ups, and Reebok EasyTone, which claim that they can all give you a better body by helping you lose weight, tone your butt and thighs, and burn more calories. And they even have studies to go along with them that claim they work. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a research study and put these shoes to the test to see if they really lived up to their claims. In a nutshell, here’s what they found:

These companies did conduct experiments, however they were not peer-reviewed and were of questionable design. At first glance, it’s easy to see why women would buy these shoes. Their claims seem to make sense and so it’s easy to put the shoes on and say, “hey, I can actually feel my muscles working”. You have to be careful of studies sponsored by manufacturers though, because their main goal is to prove that their product works and it’s very easy to conduct a research experiment and find evidence to support your theory. It must be peer-reviewed, proven, and reproven for it to be true.

ACE conducted a study testing these shoes for exercise response (i.e. heart rate and oxygen consumption), as well as muscle activation in the butt, thighs, back, and abs. They took 24 women from ages 19-27 and separated them into 2 groups to measure both exercise response and muscle activation. Each of the women rotated between all three of the balance shoes, as well as a regular sneaker as they performed various 5-minute exercise trials on a treadmill. A baseline for their performance was taken before the testing too, so they had something to compare their results to.

Result: None of the shoes showed a significant increase in either exercise response or muscle activation. There was no evidence showing that any of these shoes will help women exercise more intensely, burn more calories, or build more strength or tone. It’s a hard thing to hear, but there is no quick fix. If you’re hoping that these are magically going to transform your body I’m here to tell you to stop waiting. BUT, if these shoes mean that you’re getting out and walking around more, and they make you more mindful about being healthier, then that’s definitely a plus and I say more power to you!

Ask Dani – Help, I Like My Boobs!

Dear Dani,

My friend, who recently got engaged, and I were discussing wedding gowns and how they usually only show off your upper body and arms. She said she wants to “tone up” for her wedding, but is only concerned with losing weight in her arms — not anywhere else. She likes her current bust size and thinks that if she loses any weight, she’s likely to also lose some boob-a-licious-ness. I told her I didn’t think it was possible to lose weight only in one part of your body. Can you clear this up? Is it possible to lose weight in one area, like your arms, without affecting any of your more, um, valued assets?

Sincerely,
Loves Her Assets


Dear Loves Her Assets,

Unfortunately for your friend you are right. You can’t lose weight hoping to lose in just one area of your body. In industry terms that’s called “spot reduction”. The way you lose weight usually depends on your body type. Pear shaped girls for instance lose from the top down. The first thing you’ll notice thinning out is her face, then her collar-bone, then her chest, waist, and then finally the hips and legs. But take a more ruler shaped girl and notice that she will lose weight pretty much evenly all the way from her head down. And that’s because of her body’s proportions. You can change the measurements of your body by losing or gaining weight, but you can’t change the overall shape of it. As I always say, “once a pear always a pear.” Actually, I don’t always say that, but it fits.

Your friend can work out and lose weight in hopes of toning her arms, but she can’t spot reduce in hopes of not losing her bust. Here’s my advice though, strength training and cardio are important whether you want to lose weight or not. If your friend is at a good weight now and begins working out, but doesn’t change her diet then most likely she’ll lose only about 3-5 pounds, but she will tone up. Now, I’m not guaranteeing that her bust size won’t change, but as long as she’s not going to any major extremes she shouldn’t see any drastic changes. If she keeps up with a 2-3 day per week weight routine and a 5 day per week 30 minute cardio routine she will start to see her arms take shape. Begin with light weights and high reps (about 12-20) for the first four weeks and then heavier weights and lower reps (8-10) for the next 4 weeks. Keep toggling back and forth between the two rep ranges to keep the body challenged.

I have to say one more thing before I go, otherwise I wouldn’t feel good about this answer. I have pretty strong opinions about bridal bootcamps, which is that I think they are CRAZY! I know they’re popular, but being engaged and planning a wedding is hard enough, so don’t make yourself even more stressed out by becoming obsessed with the way you look in your wedding dress. Your fiance’ wants to marry you just the way you are now and all your friends already know what you look like, so walking down the aisle looking like a skeleton in a dress is just pure insanity. Plus, you’ll end up gaining it all back and then some after your honeymoon. I know that your wedding day is something that you’ve imagined forever and you want it to be just perfect, and I promise that it will be whether you’re a size 0 or a size 14. It doesn’t matter! Really! And I know this, because I gained 15 pounds right before mine!

Congratulations!

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!

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! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlprm-lhcsw
- 30 Dips – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKjcgfu44sI
- 50 Squats – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ6eTiEsWkQ
- 40 crunches – Make sure you’re doing them correctly! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W6bVf1QAKo

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.