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Finding Ways to Help

As someone who loves to write, it’s been difficult for me to really put my emotions surrounding the events of the past 12 into words.

As so many people in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to try and literally rebuild their lives after Sandy and the added stress of this week’s Nor’easter, I’m providing a few links with  information on some of the ways the rest of us can help.

Whether you live in the New York area or around the country, hopefully you’ll be able to use some of these ideas to chip in and lend a helping hand.

  • The season may be over, but you can help the Yankees and Mets score big by helping those affected by Sandy:

  • WCBS 880, the all-news radio station I listen to while getting ready for work every morning, offers this list of organizations that need help and ways to get involved with them:

  • There are approximately 90 Modell’s stores throughout New York. Most  are accepting clothing donations along with toiletries in partnership with WPLJ radio and Goodwill of New York and New Jersey. Click the link below for a list of store locations and the items needed most, such as coats, scarves, gloves, toothpaste, toothbrushes and baby wipes).

  • One fitness-related note, all New York Sports Clubs locations remain open to anyone affected by the storm who may need a place to shower, charge a phone or even de-stress a bit with a workout.

Thanks again to all of you who’ve sent me messages asking how my family and friends fared after the storms. Again, I was very fortunate throughout the storm and while my parents remain in the dark on Long Island, they’re safe. My prayers remain with those who continue to struggle and wish them some moments of peace in the weekend ahead.

To end on a lighter note, I also want to thank all of you who’ve supported me in the Face of Fitness contest for Fitness Magazine this week. Voting continues through Sunday and even if you’ve voted already, you can vote every day until November 11th. Click here to cast your vote.

To all of you who support this blog and all my efforts, I wish you a wonderful weekend filled with plenty of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Cold Weather Edition

It’s hard to believe we’re gearing up for what could be a Nor’easter here in the New York area just one week after Sandy left our shores. While I pray today’s storm ends up being less severe than predicted,  there’s no escaping the fact that the colder temperatures of November are here to stay.

Now that I’ve broken out the winter coat, gloves and other warm, woolly items, I thought it was a good time for some important reminders on how to safely stick with your outdoor exercise routine as we head into a cold finish for 2011:

  • Dress In Layers: Start with a thin layer of synthetic material (e.g. Under Armour or Nike DriFIT clothing) closest to the skin. Avoid wearing cotton as it takes longer to dry and the wet feel can give you a chill.  Add a layer of fleece or wool and last but not least, finish off your outfit with a waterproof outer-layer.
  • Protect Your Hands, Feet & Ears: My hands and feet are cold even on the hottest days of the year, so they’re especially vulnerable to wind chills and icy temperatures. So, in colder weather, I’ll often wear a thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavier ones, or even a pair of mittens. I know some people who have a “winter” pair of running or walking shoes that are up to one size bigger so they can wear thicker thermal socks or two pairs of regular ones. Finally, I’m a big fan of the wrap-around ear warmers or fleece headbands to keep the biting wind from wreaking havoc on my ears.
  • Don’t Forget the Sunscreen: If you’ve ever gotten a nasty sunburn from skiing, you know the sun is just as strong in the cold-weather months as it is in the summertime. Remember to put on the SPF 30 before heading outdoors and don’t forget the SPF-infused lip balm, too.
  • Stay Hydrated:  We hear lots of warnings about becoming dehydrated in the heat,  but you can become dehydrated just as easily in the cold. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your workout. (Here’s a refresher on why water is so important.)
  • Special Populations: While most people can exercise safely in the cold weather, if you have a heart condition or suffer from asthma, be sure to check with your physician before starting a cold-weather exercise routine.

The good news is you don’t have to pack away your motivation to exercise with the bathing suit and beach towels. Using a little common sense and having the right gear will allow you to continue your love affair with the great outdoors through November and beyond so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Sandy Edition

You Don’t Need a Lot of Space to Break a Sweat!

Well, this Halloween is one filled with more tricks than we’d like here in the Northeast. Let me start by saying thank you to all of you who sent emails, Facebook messages or tweets checking up on me here in New York following the storm that made history.

I’m happy to report I’m safe and sound in Manhattan. My parents who live on Long Island also made it through okay, although they’re facing an uncertain timetable for when they may get their power and phone lines restored. They lost several trees on their property, however, none damaged the house. My heart and prayers go out to those people who did lose loved ones or all of their possessions to this epic storm. We face a difficult period of rebuilding ahead, but I know as other Americans have done following other episodes of Mother Nature’s wrath, we will band together and get through this.

Things are slowly getting back to normal in my neighborhood. While my office remains closed in Midtown, stores and shops in the Upper West Side are opening for business again. Today will probably mark the first time I can hit the gym since the weekend. It will be nice to get back on the elliptical and rowing machines, but again, considering there are so many people who lost more than a few days at the gym, I will be counting my blessings twice today.

One thing I realized while I was cooped up in my cozy apartment watching the latest weather updates and live reports from the area, you truly don’t need a lot of space to burn some calories and break a sweat.  Thanks to a yoga mat, two 15-pound free dumbbells, one resistance band and one foam roller, I was able to burn off some of my nervous energy along with a few of the calories I consumed from the red wine, mini dark chocolate – peanut butter cups and other storm essentials  I stocked up on before Sandy arrived. Tabata Derbys became my workout of choice, usually while the TV was on tuned into the latest Sandy coverage.

Reminder on the Tabata formula: eight continuous intervals of 20 seconds of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest. You create a “Tabata Derby” by adding consecutive four-minute intervals and work your way up to a 20-minute total Tabata workout. Two important notes if you move ahead with building a derby:

  1. If you do more than one Tabata – you must rest for 60 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
  2. While the idea is to push out as many reps as possible in the 20-second work period, you shouldn’t sacrifice good form. Better to do “perfect” push-ups on your  knees with your stomach drawn-in and glutes squeezed nice and tight than risk injuring your lower back with sloppy reps.

My Tabata Derby broke down like this:

  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Resistance band bicep curls
  • Side planks

On Monday, I followed the 20-minute derby with a 45-minute Zumba workout following the program from my Zumba Fitness Exhilerate DVD collection.

Now that the storm has passed and we work on rebuilding our neighborhoods and lives, I end with a word of encouragement for those who will be dealing with the aftermath for many days ahead. Know that you are not alone in your struggle and know that you WILL get back to your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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