As we kick off a new week, I’m excited to tell you about some new “stuff” going on with my blog.
I’ve recently connected with Jon Meterparel, one of New England’s signature on-air personalities in the world of sports. If you live in the Boston area, you probably know him as the play-by-play by voice of Boston College football and basketball and from his many days on the Dennis and Callahan show. Jon has been looking for “experts” to appear on his new website and today, I’m sharing what I hope will be the first of many videos that will be placed on JonMeterparel.com. Be sure to check out Jon’s website for some great sports stories and to also find advice from other experts on topics ranging from golf to gadgets.
Keep an eye on my Facebook posts and tweets to learn when this video will make its official “debut” at JonMeterparel.com. In the meantime, I need to give a major shout-out to Ash Kalmar who shot and edited this video with me on a glorious Saturday here in New York City.
I look forward to hearing your comments and your ideas for future fitness videos. Don’t be shy! Your support and feedback inspire me to continue looking for ways to keep all of us motivated on this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I can’t believe this Motivation Monday brings us to the two-week countdown to Memorial Day. For many, this is crunch time before the start of bathing suit season. If the holiday is giving you extra motivation to pump up your fitness routine, remember, it’s also the perfect time to take a hard look at the one thing that can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing your workouts: your diet.
There’s a reason why you almost always hear the words diet and exercise in the same sentence when people talk about healthy living. You really can’t have one without the other. I can tell you from personal experience that reaching your fitness goals isn’t just about what you do at the gym or at that bootcamp class in the park. It has everything to do with what you buy at the grocery store, cook at home and order when you go out to eat.
From my college years to my early working days, I often found myself going to the gym to negate whatever bad things I did at the Friday night frat party or Saturday afternoon tailgate. (Those were the days: brat and beer splurges without worrying about calories. Sigh.) As I’ve gotten older and allegedly wiser, I’ve learned a lot as my body and metabolism have changed. The bottom line is you can’t work hard at the gym, then eat a bunch of junk and expect your body to get where you want it to go.
My latest exercise kick at Physique57® has really helped me re-focus my attention on healthy eating. Does that mean I deny myself the things I love like dessert or red wine? Absolutely not. So, what does it mean?
- Buying even more fruits and veggies to snack on or make part of my meals.
- Having two types of veggies with dinner instead of one.
- Drinking even more water and things like iced green tea, which along from giving me a little afternoon pick-me-up also offer the benefits of antioxidants. Want an easy way to sneak some more H20 into your daily routine? Have a glass of water first thing in the morning. You’ll get a few ounces in your system before rushing out the door for work or getting the kids to school.
I’m truly in awe of those who commit themselves to “eating clean” practically 24/7. Many of these people never drink alcohol or eat anything processed or that comes in the color white (e.g. rice, pasta), and they fuel up mainly on tuna, broccoli, chicken and sweet potatoes. I know I can’t be that restrictive with my own diet for the simple reason that I truly enjoy rich foods and cocktails. However, I still do the best I can to keep it healthy while enjoying life in New York City. The nice thing is the harder I work at the gym, the better I want to be about my diet. The same works in reverse, too. When I eat well, I have more energy and can take my workouts to the next level. I guess you can call it the one double-edge sword that can actually help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
While I write these posts hoping to get everyone off the couch, the reality is there are days we get sidelined from hitting the gym or taking a run. However, being trapped in the house because your kid is home sick or you got caught up on a spring cleaning marathon doesn’t mean you can’t sneak in some activity. So on this Motivation Monday, I offer some simple ways to make your home work for you when it’s the only option you have for a quasi-workout:
TV room/den/family room:
- If you can bear the esthethics, switch out your favorite chair with a stability ball so you’re forced to sit with great posture and engage your core while watching TV.
- Stash resistance bands, free weights, a medicine ball and a foam roller in a box so you can grab something to work with while you’re reading or watching TV. If I can stash these items behind a chair in a corner of my 585-square-foot New York City apartment, you can find room in your place, too!
- Instead of fast forwarding through commercial breaks on your DVR, use those few minutes to bang out some hover squats. Lift your body a few inches off your couch or chair, hold up to five seconds and lower down and repeat. (Don’t forget to draw-in your navel and press your heels into the floor to engage your glutes.) Go for 10 reps before stopping. Keep going until your show resumes.
- Bang out some wall sits and/or wall pushups while waiting on your food to cook.
- Use a counter for balance to do calf raises & squats while waiting for water to boil, coffee to brew or veggies to steam.
- Give the gadgets a rest and put your forearms to work by using a manual can opener and chop veggies instead of tossing them in the food processor.
- Do some calf raises while you brush your teeth and/or hold two-second “cheek” squeezes for each glute.
- Leave workout gear on a shelf or hanging on the towel rack. Since this is the first room most of us hit first thing in the morning, having your gear ready to throw on may be the small push you need to break a sweat afterall.
I realize these small moves won’t produce the same results as a normal power walk or run or hitting your weight circuit or favorite exercise class. However, on those days when your routine gets sidelined, every little bit helps when it comes to finding ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
You know that old saying ”Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it”? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened to me when it comes to my fitness routine.
As a lifelong fitness lover, I’ve known about the benefits of traditional exercises like squats, lunges and crunches for years. While I’m not knocking the strength and conditioning benefits of these exercises, let’s face it. You do the same thing all the time and it’s bound to get boring. That makes it too easy to fly through the exercises with poor form or worse, simply skip them altogether. That’s exactly what was happening to me. While I hate to admit it, my glutes and legs haven’t been pushed to their maximum capacity for quite some time. That all changed thanks to three workouts during the past seven days.
For months, my friend Amy has been raving about some amazing workouts courtesy of Physique57®. Considering Amy lives a mere three blocks away and the classes are offered in her building, scheduling conflicts were the only thing keeping me from getting there. I finally had a free morning last Sunday and met Amy for a beginner class. Fifty-seven minutes later, I was 100% exhilarated and 100% hooked.
The workout is based on classical ballet and the Lotte Method and combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches. This doesn’t mean you have to be a dancer to get hooked on this intense workout. Believe me, ballet was never my thing. (I’ve always said there’s a reason why Grace isn’t my middle name.) All you need is a desire to focus on your body movements while listening to great music and the motivational cues from instructors who push you to work each muscle to failure. Those exercises include everything from never-ending reps with free weights for your arms; leg and glute work at the bar; “thigh dancing” on the floor; hard-core core work; and plenty of push-ups, planks and tricep dips. They also incorporate stretching throughout the class to help the muscles recover after each leg-trembling set of moves.
I realize there may not be a Physique57 in your hometown and you may not even be interested in the idea of this kind of fitness-fusion class. The real point of writing this post was to offer a Motivation Monday nudge to take stock of your fitness routine. If you’re just going through the motions, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to remember the importance of total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that takes you outside your “comfort zone” and pushes you to put all your energy into each and every rep.
During this past week, I’ve actually been happy about being sore in places that haven’t been sore in far too long. I’m excited to see how incorporating this workout into my routine can make my body stronger and leaner for the summer. Another buzz about Physique57 and similar programs that use the “Bar Method” concept is that they’re designed to improve your posture. As one of the millions of Americans who spend too many hours each day at a computer, anything I can do to stand taller and feel better about it is a huge plus! Stay tuned…and remember, it’s never too late in the game to introduce your body to new challenges to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Old Man Winter definitely hung around a lot longer than we wanted this year, but now that spring has sprung, so has another allergy season. During my morning walks to work, I notice more leaves popping up on the trees along my route and also filling the skyline of Central Park. That makes taking my daily dose of allergy medicine more important than ever.
Many doctors have predicted this one could be a real doozy here in the Northeast thanks to higher humidity levels created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Despite the predictions, it’s still the perfect time to take your fitness routine out of the confines of concrete walls and head outside. Whether you’re just getting started on a fitness program or looking to add some variety to your current routine, adding some outdoor activity is a great way to spice things up.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me and the thousands of other allergy sufferers around the country, the outdoor activity can trigger more than an endorphin rush. Instead, you can find yourself sneezing, coughing or wheezing and trying to find relief for those itchy eyes. So, I thought it was a good time to offer some of the allergy-season survival tips that keep me in motion.
- Take note of the time: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the remaining tips will cut down on any discomfort.
- Wear sunglasses: Create a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for extended periods of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.
- Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for nearly five years when I was a kid. They helped my acute reactions become less severe over time, but I still battle through the spring hay fever season. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I don’t like to take a lot of medicine, but as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather take something for a few months out of the year instead of constantly scratching at my eyes and sneezing at everyone who comes near me.) Before you take anything, be sure to talk to your doctor about what treatments will best alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of a full-blown allergy attack, I find it helps to take my meds 30-60 minutes hour before my outdoor workout. If you head outside as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
- Clean up: Get out of those sweaty and pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible following an outdoor workout. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You certainly don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed. If you have a pet, remember, animal fur can also trap pollen, so you may want to bathe your four-legged friend a bit more often in the spring.
My last piece of advice for all you fellow allergy sufferers is the same I offer for almost every other fitness-related situation: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but only feeling miserable, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in an exercise DVD to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s hard to believe seven days ago at this time I was sitting on the beach in Aruba. In fact, the only times you wouldn’t find me sitting under a small but shady hut on the soft, white sand staring at the turquoise sea during my three-night getaway were:
- Between 7 – 8:30 am ET when I was at the hotel fitness center getting my cardio, core and Tabata training in before turning into a slug for the remainder of the day
- The 45 – 60 minutes I’d abandon my lounge chair and stroll along the gorgeous stretch of paradise known as Palm Beach
- Happy hour or any other hour of the day when I simply had to satisfy my craving for some kind of frozen concoction
There was only one item on my agenda for this particular vacation: rest. While the trade winds, swaying palms, blue skies and starry nights created the perfect peaceful setting, there was one other factor that made this a true escape. I refused to pay the crazy international rates for roaming charges to keep up with texts, tweets, status updates or emails. My iPhone remained in airplane mode the entire trip. I used it only to take pictures or listen to music while working out or chilling out. In other words, I shut myself down for three-and-a-half glorious days.
While going on vacation no doubt offers enormous benefits for both our physical and mental well-being, I realize we can’t just escape to our happy places at the drop of a hat. We all have financial burdens, professional and / or family obligations and part of being a grown-up is dealing with our responsibilities. So, if a getaway isn’t in the cards for you right now, why not look at another escape plan? Find a minimum of one to two hours this week where you turn the world off.
Yes, it’s a bold idea, but you can do it. I’m sure some of you parents or physicians are shaking your heads at me right now, but I know even doctors get a day off from being on a 24-hour call. If you must have your pager or cell phone with you for work, only take the call that’s from work. Leave the texting and other typing behind. Parents, you can “warn” your spouse or another family member you’re going off the grid for a bit.
Seriously, you can find an hour to shut down. Then take those 60 minutes and use it to focus on a workout, focus on the backs of your eyelids or focus some attention on a family member or friend. You’ll escape a bit of the daily grind that burdens us all. In our over-stimulated world where we not only watch a TV show, but tweet and post about what’s going on almost simultaneously, wouldn’t it be nice to give some of our senses a break for a change?
I came back from Aruba rested and ready to tackle new goals, new workouts and chase down new dreams for this spring and beyond. I’m going to do my best to find times in the work week to slow down – even just a bit – so the daily grind doesn’t get the best of me. At the end of the day, if you’re making an effort to eat well, exercise and take care of yourself, you simply cannot neglect the importance of down time as part of the plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
There’s definitely an extra spring in my step today. Along with riding a residual sugar rush from my annual Easter candy splurge, it also happens to be Motivation Monday and opening day at Yankee Stadium! Not wanting to ignore the “other” New York baseball fans, I should mention it’s also opening day for the Mets at CitiField. (Of course, whoever’s responsible for having both games start at 1:05 pm ET on the same day should not be in charge of scheduling next year.)
Even though many of my beloved Yankees are starting this year sidelined thanks to a range of injuries, I’m going to stay positive that they’re back in action in time to make this another championship season. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with an injury of your own in the “off-season” and just returning to your fitness routine. If that’s the case, remember to start slowly and listen to your body. (Make sure you’ve cleared any activity with your doctor before you get started.) Remember, it’s better to sit out a few first games of your softball league than risk a serious injury that could bench you for the season – or worse, secure a trip to the operating room.
My short and sweet message for this Motivation Monday is to use it as another reason to get active. If you’re sick of the treadmill, then think about pounding the pavement in your neighborhood for a morning or post-work run. Maybe this is the year you get the tennis racquet re-strung and find a friend for a few sets during the week. It may not be quite warm enough for the beach yet, but there’s no reason you can’t find an outdoor volleyball net in a park and get a group together for some post-work de-stressing or weekend fun.
If you can’t figure out a way to coordinate schedules with family and friends for a team sport, then take that jump rope outside and start skipping. Park benches are also perfect spots to brace yourself for push-ups or take box jumps to a different level. Tree branches (sturdy ones!) are also the perfect prop for pull ups. If you really want to have some fun while breaking a sweat, don’t underestimate the power of swinging on the monkey bars at the local playground. There’s also no rule that says you can’t bang out some Tabatas in the great outdoors.
As we get ready to tackle another work week, remember, now’s the perfect time to embrace each minute of extra sunlight and add some extra outdoor activity to our typical routines. It’s all part of the overall game plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Leave it to Albert Einstein to come up with yet another catchy idea: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I have no idea whether he was a fitness buff, but the scientific genius could have been talking about exercise. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or fanatic like me, sometimes we all need a little motivation and a good kick in the you-know-what to take things up a notch. There are three reasons why spring is the perfect time to change your routine:
- Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
- Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I try to hit cardio and core hard on Mondays and Wednesdays and focus on strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I continue to mix things up over the weekend, and I’m always sure to take a minimum of one if not two days off each week.
- Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and weight training circuits can keep things fresh.
The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety, and perhaps some extra sweat, to your typical routine:
1) Start jumping rope: Not only does this fun activity make me feel like a kid again, but you can burn up to 20 calories per minute jumping rope. Also, you can do it just about anywhere. All you need is a jump rope! Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next leve. Try this combo: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes, then jump rope for 1 minute, keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.
2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest.
3) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, I recently started following DJ Al Roccone on Twitter. He’s got great fitness mixes you can download for free. Check out his latest here:
4) Blow Your Mind: If you want to see what true strength and determination look like, check out this amazing video I found on the Fitness Girls Facebook page.
I may not be able to bang out half of exercises in that video, but I like seeing such challenging variations to body-weight exercises. It just goes to show sometimes all you need is your body and some floor space to get to work! Let me know how you take things up a notch this spring as part of the never-ending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I love to sleep. However, I didn’t mind losing an hour of snooze time this weekend thanks to Daylight Saving Time. Being able to hang on to the sunshine a little longer each day is definitely worth a few extra yawns.
I’m also ecstatic that there are only nine days left until the start of spring. Whatever’s been in the air this winter, I’m ready for it to move on out of here and bring on a new season filled with warmer temperatures and sunnier dispositions.
If you’re one of the many people who’ve been suffering from the “Winter Blues” now’s a great time to start shaking them off by thinking about some new moves to mix up your fitness routine. Remember, the extra hour of daylight nixes any excuse about hating to take that post-work walk in the dark. Come on people, use the light to boost your spirits and get moving!
Of course, if you’ve been hibernating all winter, remember to re-start your engines with care. Whether you’re taking on a serious fitness routine for the first time ever or if you’ve simply been on an extended, here are some reminders to help you safely spring into action:
- Talk to your doctor. If you’ve never exercised before, you should make sure your heart is in good shape for a serious shake-up. If you’re already on heart medication or managing conditions like diabetes or asthma, it’s crucial to speak to your doctor about how to proceed with an exercise routine. Similarly, if you have any old injuries, it’s a good idea to make sure to gauge where you are in the healing process so you avoid activity that could set you back again.
- Talk to a trainer. Even if I wasn’t a certified personal trainer, I’d suggest treating yourself to a session or two with someone who can assess any muscle imbalances, show you proper form and help you create a comprehensive exercise program that helps you reach your goals.
- Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Start slow. Seriously. If you’ve been sitting on your couch all winter, it’s probably not a good idea to jump into a 60-minute boot camp class. Don’t know exactly where to start? Stretching, core work and cardio are always a safe bet.
- No Gym? No Problem! If you don’t like the gym, well this is YOUR time of year! Treat yourself to a new pair of running sneakers or cross trainers and start pounding the pavement in your neighborhood or find some trails at a nearby park or recreation area. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to start cycling? Time to pick up the tennis racquet?
- Got Gym? Check Out What’s New! I visited my parents over the weekend, and if I’d checked the updated schedule at the New York Sports Club near their house, I would have arrived 20 minutes earlier Saturday morning and made it to Zumba! Along with normal group exercise classes, smaller training classes are more popular than ever and now’s the time some of those classes may move outdoors. I know I can’t wait to start hitting it hard in Central Park again on Saturday mornings for Roberto Murichi’s killer workouts!
So, if you’ve been searching for some motivation to get moving, take advantage of the longer days and make this your time to shine. No doubt a little extra solar power could be just the boost we all need to fuel our drive to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
No matter what I do, I can’t figure out a way to slow the hands of time. Here we are nine weeks into 2013 and 17 days away from the start of spring. I know I’ll have no problem saying good-bye to this particularly brutal winter. I also know it’s time for me to get my body, mind and spirit focused on what I want to accomplish in the season ahead.
That means working toward obtaining some of the goals that reach beyond the walls of the gym. Like everyone else, my overall health and well-being are affected by the personal projects I take on. That includes getting the last continuing education units needed to complete my NASM re-certification by May. My psyche is also affected by the projects I’ve put off for too long. One in particular has weighed heavily on my mind during this dreary season and is no doubt one of the reasons behind some sleepless nights. After getting things started in a frenzy back in 2012, the project now sits in a well-organized folder just waiting for me to pick it up and get it going again.
No one asked me to get involved in this project. It’s simply something I’ve wanted to do for myself for a long time. However, it took me until this moment to accept that in order for me to make it happen, something else has to give. As I sit here and put that thought in writing, I guess you could call this post my coming to terms of what needs to be done.
With the exception of vacation and holiday time, I’ve been posting blogs three times each week since July of 2011. As a writer at heart and lifetime fitness fanatic, it’s been wonderful having this platform to share tips and stories and hopefully help motivate a few people to follow a healthier lifestyle that works for their reality. However, I need to scale back on the time I spend here so I can focus some of that energy on my bigger project. It’s just like when I had to make the difficult decision last year to put my independent personal training sessions on hold. I hated to stop. However, between my full-time job in corporate video production; making it to the gym for my own workouts; maintaining healthy relationships with my family and friends and taking care of my own health, well, there are only so many hours in a day. Sometimes you need to take a breath, figure out what priorities haven’t been getting the attention they deserve and then accept the fact that in order to change that, something that made sense a few months ago may not work at the present moment. Of course, that’s part of life. You make plans and other things happen, but you can’t just give up on what you want. You adjust and you move forward. That’s what I’m doing now.
My plan is to continue posting on as many Mondays as possible. It seems to be the day I get the most feedback on my motivation-themed musings. Don’t be surprised to still read my thoughts about a new group exercise class, vacation experience or some inspirational quotes. Of course I worry I may lose some followers, but some decisions come with a certain amount of risk. You’ll still see me on Facebook and Twitter and I’ll look forward to any emails with questions about health or fitness-related topics. I thank you ahead of time for supporting me as I sharpen my focus on what I want to accomplish as I creep toward celebrating the big 4-0 next February.
As I step back and re-group, my hope is that maybe some of you will do the same. Use these waning winter days to think about what priorities you want to attack this spring. Whether it’s prepping for a fitness competition, losing a few pounds before beach season, finding a more rewarding career, getting a degree or spending more time with family or friends, put your thoughts down on paper and get cracking. Sometimes saying no is harder than taking on more than you handle, but that difficult choice can sometimes help you put your heart and soul into the one thing you want more than anything else. Whether it’s starting something new or letting go of something that’s been holding you back, remember, you are stronger than you think. Each of us holds the ultimate power to make decisions that will keep us moving forward on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!