Get Real: How to Find Time To Exercise

I know what it is to be busy – this is my first post since June. With the New Year already 8 days in, you’re probably still going strong on your New Year’s resolution to get fit or lose weight. The initial rush of finally succeeding at a goal you’ve been wanting to achieve for so long keeps you at the gym day after day, chugging away like a donkey plodding through the desert drooling over a dangling carrot. It’s so close yet so far and all you have to do is work out. You’ve made resolutions before, but this time it’s different. You just know it is. You can do it. You can set your mind to it. You can work out 5 times a week for an hour at a time. All you have to do is keep it up and you’ll finally be able to say that you stuck with your New Year’s resolution and succeeded!

Until you realize you can’t (um, won’t). That upbeat attitude won’t last. And here’s why…

The number one excuse I hear from people about why they don’t exercise regularly is, “I don’t have time and can’t fit it in”.

That’s a load of garbage. You’ve got to lose your excuses. The only reason you’re not seeing the results you want is because you don’t take responsibility for your actions. I know it’s harsh and it may be hard to swallow that the only thing holding you back is you, but you have time, you just don’t have your priorities straight. I get it, you probably work 10 hour days minimum, which leaves little time to get chores done, and leaves you exhausted and feeling entitled to that manicure, happy hour, shopping, a movie, lazing on the couch, and dinner out with friends.

That’s the problem.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think you are entitled to those things and have earned it with all your hard work, but if you want to succeed you have to delay that immediate gratification of rewarding yourself until after you work out. And, I absolutely think that a healthy dose of loafing around is necessary and allowed, but you have to earn it.

I’m busy too. Actually, can I clarify that? I am BUSY with a capital B-U-S-Y! I have an almost 1 year old baby who requires lots of attention and often leaves me exhausted by the time I get to my workout, a sick family member, a business to run, clients to train, a house to keep clean, laundry to do, meals to cook, a running group to train for a race, a husband to spend time with, dogs that need to be walked, friends and family that need to be seen, an endless to-do list… Basically, life.

Yes, we are all busier than busy and barely have a moment to ourselves, but still, if you want what you want then you have to do what needs to be done to get it. And that doesn’t mean just working out. You need to learn some time management.

Here’s what I do and recommend you do too:

Take a look at your schedule for the upcoming week and pencil in the days and times you’re going to work out ahead of time. You have to think about working out like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. You wouldn’t skip those, so don’t skip a workout unless you’re sick or injured. And that excuse of not having any time? Throw that out the window. You don’t have to work out in a gym to consider it successful. There are so many fitness DVD’s on the market that you can get through Netflix, HULU, and cable OnDemand channels (channel 1023 in Brooklyn) that you don’t even have to put on clothes to do it (although I highly recommend at least a sports bra!). When my baby was 3 weeks old and I was given the go ahead to resume working out I did it in spurts between her cries (working out 10 minutes here and there 3 times a day is just as effective for your bottom [line] as it is doing it for 30 minutes total), in my living room, in my pajamas if I didn’t even have time to change. I let the vaccuming go undone, I let laundry pile up, and decided what I could let go of for a bit and just let it go. I couldn’t let actual work and some other important “must be done” things go, so I decided that my house doesn’t have to look immaculate all the time, that I don’t have to cook dinner every night, and that I can wake up an hour earlier if it’s the only way I can fit a workout in that day. The only reason this works though is because I’ve decided that working out is a part of life for me and MUST be done. It keeps me sane, makes me a better mother, improves my clients’ sessions, and makes me feel good. When I feel good everything else is good.

So, lose your excuses and keep to your word this year.

To make it even easier and save you time, here are links to the essentials:

- Resistance Bands >

- 20 Pound Dumbbell Set >

- 32 Pound Dumbbell Set >

- Chris Freytag’s work out DVD (I love this one!) >

- Cardio Kickboxing DVD (For all levels. You can do just one 15 minute workout or select multiple workouts for a longer session.) >

- YogaWorks For Everybody: Slim Down DVD >

I’m In Love…

…with, a fitness social network that helps you reach your goals by turning them into a game. Get rewarded for your workouts by earning points, unlocking challenges, and gaining rewards. Share it with your friends and become part of the community to get tips and motivation from real people trying to achieve the same goals you are.

I love this site, (there’s also an app for your iPhone, by the way), because it puts the fun back into working out. They have optional “quests” you can take upon yourself, such as a 6 mile hike to earn even more points and rewards, which means you may even try something new that you never would have otherwise. And reaching new levels can help keep you motivated by seeing your progress.
So, get tracking!

Lose The Hate, Lose The Weight

There once was a woman with a rather large hook nose. And she loved that nose. She spoke of how it was her grandfather’s nose, who had his mother’s nose, who had her mother’s nose, and how that nose told a story of generations of people who were funny, brave, and kind. She wouldn’t trade that nose for anything, because even though it wasn’t pert and petite, and it overtook her face, it told a story of generations. She saw that nose as something to flaunt rather than hide. She loved that nose.

I don’t make this stuff up, girls! A new study* published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that improving your body image can enhance the effectiveness of weight loss programs based on diet and exercise.

I learned this stuff through years of my own personal experiences with poor body image and weight gain, but I don’t have an M.D. or Ph.D after my name to make people really believe me, however this is EXACTLY what I’ve been practicing, preaching, teaching, and instilling in my clients.

Overweight and obese women were enrolled in a year-long weight loss program. Half were given information on eating well, exercise, stress management, and the importance of looking after yourself. The other half attended a 30 week group session where they discussed emotional eating, exercise, improving body image, and how to identify obstacles to weight loss and how to overcome them.

Compared with the first group of women, the second group improved the way they thought about their body and concerns over the size and shape of their body reduced. They were more successful in regulating what they ate and lost on average 7% of their starting weight compared with 2% for the group who just got the information alone.

Dr. Teixeira, who led the research had this to say:

“Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight. Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples’ opinions, and positive changes in eating behavior. From this we believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control program.”

So there you have it. I’m no doctor, but the message I’m trying to send about feeling good about yourself no matter what stage in your weight loss you are can be the linch pin in your success.

What do you think about this?

* BioMed Central Limited. “‘Love your body’ to lose weight.” ScienceDaily, 18 Jul. 2011. Web. 25 Jul. 2011.

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!

Even More Ways To Slash Holiday Calories In Half

So, last week I wrote out a list of popular high-calorie holiday foods and easy ways to cut down on some of those calories while still getting to indulge in them. I’m a big believer in not depriving yourself, because when you ignore what you really want it doesn’t go away, you just end up eating too much of everything else, and then that nagging craving just comes back stronger.

I said this about Thanksgiving and I’ll say it about Christmas too, give yourself permission to eat that day and not worry too much. I know, not the advice that magazines and most nutritionists would give you. But take it from me, someone who has tried all sorts of diets – if you’re just honest with yourself about eating more than normal, you won’t have the guilt later when you eat too much, and honestly, it’s just one day, not 30. You can start fresh tomorrow. Set yourself up for success, not failure. It’s when we make promises to ourselves that we can’t keep that we overindulge and then beat ourselves up about it.

That being said, I’m going to finish off that list of foods that I started last week, so that you can still indulge in the things you love, and still save a few hundred calories, without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.

Green Bean Casserole – I was never such a fan of this one, but I know a lot of people are. A 1 cup serving can pack 110 calories. Not too bad compared other holiday side dishes, but you can still cut down on the amount of calories, so that you can enjoy more of some of the other things on the table. Top the green beans off with lower-fat mushroom soup, and caramelize your own onions instead of using store-bought fried onions.

Bread Stuffing – A 1/2 cup serving has at least 180 calories, and lets face it, the stuffing is one of the best parts, so you know you’re going back for seconds. Skip the butter and use chicken broth to moisten the bread. Use whole-wheat bread instead of white, and cook the stuffing separate from the bird, so that it doesn’t accumulate all the fatty drippings.

Pumpkin Pie – Mmmm! We all know that the only reason we eat dinner is to get to the dessert. An average slice of pumpkin pie will cost you about 320 calories. Instead of using heavy cream use reduced-fat evaporated milk and save about 87 calories.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with an awesome appetizer that looks beautiful, is healthy, and tastes awesome too.

Tuna Tartar Wrapped In Cucumber (adapted from Recipe Rehab With Tanya Zuckerbrot)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha (Asian chili sauce)
- 8 ounces fresh, sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 avocado, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, plus 1-inch pieces for garnish
- 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled

1. Using a knife or a mandolin, slice the cucumbers lengthwise as thinly as possible.
2. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce and sriracha together in a small bowl.
3. Add tuna, avocado and chives, and gently combine with a fork.
4. Spoon 1 tablespoon tuna tartar on the end of the cucumber slice. Roll up and place a toothpick through the middle to secure the filling. Garnish with chives and serve.

This recipe serves 12, and per serving there’s only 56 calories, 2.5 g carbohydrate, 1.25 g fiber, 5 g protein, and 3 g total fat.

Slash Holiday Calories In Half

The average person gains at least one pound between Thanksgiving and New Years. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? One pound isn’t bad at all and it should be fairly easy to take off, but the problem is that most people never do take that pound off. 5 years of holiday seasons equals 5 pounds and ten years equals 10 pounds! Most people tell themselves that they’ll wait until after New Years to do something about the thousands of extra calories they’ve eaten, because what’s the point if you’re just going to go to yet another holiday party next week? And besides, you have that New Year’s Resolution you’re planning on tackling (yet again this year) to finally take off the weight you gained last year, so why not have one last hurrah before buckling down.

The more you put it off, the less likely you’ll be to actually follow through with your plan, so here are some ideas to get a jump-start on your resolution, but still enjoy the parties and food.

Wine – There’s about 100-120 calories in a 4 oz. glass of wine (more for dessert wines), so if you know you’re going to have more than one glass slash the calories in half by turning it into a wine spritzer. Mix half wine with half seltzer and top it off with a slice of lime.

Looks pretty yummy and festive!

Cheese & Crackers – One cracker with an ounce of cheese will run you about 125 calories. Yikes! And you know you won’t be able to stop at just one. Cheese is usually pretty pungent, so you know that a 1/2 ounce portion can go a long way. Cut the calories even further by having the cheese with veggies instead of the crackers.

Mashed Potatoes – Heap a 1/2 cup on your plate and pile on 120 more calories. Lighten it up by leaving the butter out and using skim milk or chicken broth to smooth it out. For a bonus, leave the skin on the potatoes and it’ll look like you’re a gourmet chef. You’ll get an added boost of fiber too.

Gravy – There’s 50 calories in a 1/4 cup serving. But who can really tell how much we pour on anyway? The more the merrier, right? Well, yes, but only if you’re skimming off the fat. Use a bit more chicken broth and a little less of the turkey drippings to cut down on unnecessary calories. Secret tip: Place the gravy in a Ziploc bag, seal, and snip a tiny corner off the bottom. Squeeze the gravy out of the bag and watch the fat rise to the top. Stop squeezing as soon as you reach the fat and throw away.

There are too many things to list in this post, so check back later in the week and I’ll have some more for you! Happy Holidays!

Survival Guide: Airline Snacking

I just came across this awesome website from the Food Detective that offers food stats on all the major airlines and the amount of walking you’d need to do to burn it all off. Since I know that many of you will be traveling this holiday season I thought I’d help you all out by sharing it.

Here’s the basic rundown in case you don’t want to read the entire thing:

- Aside from Jet Blue being an awesome airline to travel, they were also really helpful on providing info on their snack items, which shows that they think about these things. American Airlines, Continental, and United Airlines were also pretty helpful. But, it was United Airlines that came in as the number one choice for healthy food options.

- Virgin America, Delta, and U.S. Airways were ranked as the worst. They were very reluctant to give out information, which implies your health isn’t all that important to them.

- Your best choices when flying these airlines:
* United Airlines – If you need just a snack, go for the Tapas snack box or the Lite snack box. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours and need a meal, go for the Turkey Sandwich (but skip the chips), the Fruit and Cheese Tray, or the Chicken Caesar Salad. For breakfast, stick with the smoothie or yogurt parfait. And as for the A La Carte snacks (Pringles, bread, or chocolate bar) definitely skip those!

* Jet Blue – If you’re flying less than 3 hours choose the nuts. They’re good for you and the healthy fats and protein will help keep you satisfied for a while. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours choose the Shape Up meal for sure!

* American Airlines – While AA doesn’t have great choices, stick with the Cheese & Cracker Snack Tray. Just be sure to skip the crackers, because with raisins will give you enough carbs, but with better nutrition. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours, choose the Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad, but be sure to use only half of the dressing.

* Delta – Their individual snacks aren’t all that great, but if you’re flying less than 3 hours and don’t have a meal option go for the pretzels or the peanuts. The nuts are higher in calories, but may be more filling. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours, stick with the Breakfast Snack. If that’s not available though, choose the Fruit and Cheese Plate, but skip the crackers. And, obviously the Veggies and Ranch is low in calories, but it might not tide you over.

* Continental – None of their choices are all the great, but if you’re flying longer than 3 hours go for the Parfait or the Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad (use half the dressing though).

* Southwest – The nuts are the only way to go.

* Virgin America – For a small snack, stick with the PopChips or yumBar, and for larger snack, go for the Veggies & Hummus box. If it’s a meal you need though, choose the Protein Meal or the Homestyle Chicken Sandwich.

* U.S. Airways – Go for the CafePlus, but don’t eat the cookies (save them for later when you’re sweet tooth attacks).

Is It Ok To Put Your Baby On A Diet?

I just read this article about mothers putting their babies on diets because they’re afraid their babies are going to be overweight. I am sickened by this and think it’s disgusting! Most of the mothers admit to doing it because they’re fearful that their children are going to grow up to be overweight just like them, but come on, scooping out a bagel for a 1-year-old is insanity! A mother and father even put laxatives in their baby’s bottle because they were afraid she would be overweight just like her father.

Hello! Unlike adults who yo-yo diet and can’t tell when they’re hungry or full, babies have an internal mechanism that tells them. That is, unless you screw with it. The only thing these parents are going to give these children are a massive dose of self-esteem issues.

It’s not the babies who need to be put on a diet, it’s the parents who need to deal with their own problems. Children learn by watching and if they see you overeat then they will overeat too. And if they see you checking yourself in the mirror 95 times a day then they will learn to do the same.

What do you think about this?


“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

You can say what you want about Michael Phelps being born to swim, but he wouldn’t be breaking records if he wasn’t aiming for the gold. Do you know that when he was a kid his teachers told him that he would never be able to focus on anything? It sounds crazy considering that he’s the only athlete to win 8 gold medals in his sport and that he’s set 5 world records. One of the secrets to his amazing achievements is that he keeps a list of all the races he wants to enter, with goal times, on his nightstand. He sees it every night before he goes to bed and every morning when he wakes up. He’s set his sights on his target and to say that he isn’t focused is crazy. You don’t get to be a world champion without goals.

Think about it, have you ever heard of a marathon that didn’t have a finish line? Me neither. How would you know who won without that marker at the end? What about sports? Baseball has 9 innings and ice hockey has 3 periods. Without those the teams can play forever trying to one up each other. Stores have business hours indicating when they’re open and when they’re closed. And businesses have profit targets that they aim for, otherwise they would never know if they should stay in business or not. The same goes for things that you want. How would you know that you’ve achieved success without some sort of definitive mark telling you that you’ve arrived?

One of the biggest reasons that people don’t succeed is because they never define what success means to them in the first place. How can you know if you’re successful if don’t have a plan? One of the
scariest things to overcome when deciding to make a change in your life is the fear of setting goals. Many of my clients get stuck in this process because of fear. Fear of setting the goal and then the possibility of not reaching it. People interpret that as failure and no one wants to feel like a failure, so it’s easier to just not set the goal in the first place, right? Wrong! Without setting the goal you’re just like a hamster in a wheel. Always spinning to nowhere. If you have nothing to measure your success than there’s never anything to tell you when you’re done. And if you never know when you’re done than everything begins to feel like such a chore and you’re forever beating yourself up for not having gotten the body that you want or the life you want to live.

But there’s one more reason why goals are so important. Knowing that there is an end point makes the struggle to get there so much more manageable.

Goals shouldn’t be feared they should be embraced, because by setting them you actually make your life easier by having something to aim for. If you just keep your eyes on the finish line then no amount of struggling will equal failure, because you’ll keep at it until you get there. There isn’t one successful person out there that doesn’t have goals. Do you think Oprah is getting her own cable network because she just dabbled a little bit here and a little bit there? No way! She definitely had a clear path that she was going down in order to become the megastar that she is. I promise that this is where your success begins.

A good goal is one that is definable and realistic, such as “I want to be able to run a 5k by June”. I’ve stated what I want to do (run), I’ve stated a distance to aim for (5k), I’ve given myself and end date (June), and I’ve made it a realistic goal by giving myself 6 months. By defining the terms I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve it, and by giving myself 6 months to get there I make it attainable and not too pressure filled. Along the way I may set mini goals (baby steps) in order to help me get there, such as starting with walk/run intervals for the first month and working my way up to running consistently for a full 5k. That way everything becomes way more manageable and I hit mini successes along the way to my larger success. It’s contagious.

Try it. Set a goal for today, something that you’ve been putting off, and see how great you feel once you do it.

Have What You Want To Have

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and instead of giving you “5 Tips For Making It Through The Holidays” I’m going to give you my one piece of advice that I know will make all the difference.

Most dieters and nutritionists come up with lists to guide you through the holidays, such as choosing the most important things you want to eat and only eating that, making lower calorie versions of popular Thanksgiving foods, or tips on serving sizes. But for me, that’s all a bunch of rules and restrictions and I’ve found that being rigid on the holidays is a surefire way to failure, so I have only 1 tip for you. Ready? Here it is… Thanksgiving is one day a year and one day of eating won’t break the bank or all the hard work you’ve invested in trying to live a healthier lifestyle, so enjoy yourself and don’t obsess too much about how many calories are in your aunts sweet potato casserole or debate whether you should have that dessert.

Holidays don’t happen all that often and it’s a way for family and friends to come together and enjoy themselves. You should enjoy these times rather than be stressed out and focused over what 3oz. of turkey looks like. Is it a deck of cards, a fist, or a tennis ball? Who knows what those really look like on a plate anyway…

Obviously you shouldn’t gorge yourself either, but you definitely shouldn’t deprive yourself. Give yourself permission on this day so that you feel in control of your choices and don’t end up feeling guilty on Friday. Guilt leads to self-sabotaging behaviors (“I guess I really messed up yesterday, so I might as well eat some more pie and start fresh on Monday”), which is a recipe for disaster. Give yourself that day and agree that on Friday you’ll go back to your normal routine. Remember, Thanksgiving is one day a year, not the entire 38 days between Thanksgiving and New years, so relax and enjoy yourself this Thursday and be thankful for the food you have, your health, and your family and friends (not the number on the scale).

And before I leave you, I absolutely must give a shout out to my client Valerie for a stellar performance. In only 10 sessions with me she’s managed to go from not working out at all to working out 2-3 days a week. This past week she went on vacation to Spain and really proved herself by managing to work out in the hotel gym twice and walking everywhere instead of taking cabs. And she even managed to fit in 20 minutes of cardio yesterday morning before meeting me for our session. She then gave me a rock star workout and committed to add another day to her workout routine every week. Valerie is going to succeed, you know why? Because she is not relying on me to do the work for her and doesn’t make any excuses. She does her homework and sticks with what she says she’s going to do, because she knows that her success is up to her. I’m only there to guide and motivate. I have no words left to say how amazing you are, Valerie, but just know that you are going to be a MASSIVE success!