Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lessons from our Fathers

On this Father's Day I've been reflecting on the importance of my dad, step-dad, and husband in my life and the things they've taught me. While it's hard to sum up all the lessons we learn from our parents, a few things really stand out.

The Lesson: Try Something New and Take a Lesson.
While my dad and I didn't spend a lot of time together while I was growing up, I remember with great fondness the time we did share. Baseball games at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, MD, skiing at Snowshoe and Mammoth Mountain, living on a sailboat in Daytona, and windsurfing in LA. My dad was the spirit of adventure in my life. He enjoyed challenging himself and learning new things. I was lucky and he took me along to learn new things as well. He never seemed to hesitate to sign up for something interesting. I remember him learning about photography, how to mountain bike, and to ride horses. Wether it's my personality or the lessons I learned from him, I, too, love to try new things and never hesitate to ask for a lesson.

The Lesson: Positive Reinforcement and a Cheering Section Make a Difference.
My step-father came into my life when I was 12. A great guy and welcome addition to the family, he was a great moderator in my house. My mom was very protective (thank goodness) and I tried to rebel. My step-dad did his best to support her, but always seemed to find a way for me to get a little bit of what I wanted. Throughout high school and into college, he encouraged me to do my best and showed up to support me just when I needed it. To this day he offers his praise and supports me with whatever I attempt, asking questions and showing interest.

The Lesson: There is a Time and a Place for Everything. 
This lesson I get from my husband, father to my fabulous 7 year old daughter. I've always been one to try something new. And I've always been one to try something else new. I don't tend to sit still and I don't tend to have patience for those who do want to sit still. As we raise our daughter, my husband is the one who reminds me that she's just a kid. While we both want her to learn and do anything and everything she can, she's not ready to do it all this summer. My husband reminds me that there is a time to do the things on our list that is better than another time. It's best to do what works with our schedules than to try to do something that doesn't fit in and deal with the frustration.

So this week, take a few lessons from the dad's in my life - try something new, maybe take a lesson; surround yourself with positive reinforcement and a good cheering section; and find that new thing that works with your life and schedule.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Finding the Right Trainer

When you make a commitment to get in shape, a personal trainer is a great asset. Depending on where you live and the type of facility you are going to workout in, a personal trainer can cost between $40 and $100 an hour. Regardless of your price point, you need to look at this as an investment. And just like investments, you need to do your research.  Here are 5 things to consider when selecting a personal trainer.

First, and most importantly, your trainer should have a degree in exercise science, physical fitness or similar speciality, or hold a certification from a recognized leader in exercise training like ACSM, NSCA, NASM, or ACE, to name a few. All of these organizations can be found on the web. You can research what it takes for someone to become certified through their organization and what it takes to keep certified. It's worth the check. After all, you're trusting this person with you're greatest possession - your body. They need to know what they're talking about.

Second, verify that the trainer you choose is insured. All trainers should be insured either on their own or through their gym.

Third, the trainer should ask you for your goals. Some trainers get into personal training for their own ego or agenda. They love the gym and have found the best way to work themselves out. Why not help other people, right? Wrong. Your trainer needs to help you meet your goals in the way that is best suited to your ability, lifestyle and budget.

Fourth, your trainer should offer a baseline assessment of your fitness. These baseline assessments measure a few fitness components like heart rate, sit-ups, strength and flexibility, but these vary. A baseline helps to determine what exercise are appropriate and at which effort level you should train. Importantly, they also give you a way to measure improvement. Your initial assessment should also include a health screening, like a PAR-Q, and a medical history. This gives your trainer vital information for proper design of your program. Steer clear of a trainer who does not request this information.

Lastly, but certainly not least, personality! You and your trainer are a team. It's important that you are comfortable with each other, that you can talk openly with them about your goals and feelings, and cofess those diet oops-ies, all without concern for judgement. Your trainer needs to be smart, focused, and dedicated to your fitness. But they also have to be some one who motivates and inspires you to reach your goals and someone you want to be around.

So take time selecting your trainer. Ask questions. Do your research. Get recommendations. And get fit!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

FitStar Survival Camp is my Excuse!

It's been almost 2 months since my last post. Talk about falling off the wagon. I made a commitment when I started this blog to provide you with weekly inspiration and information to help keep you informed, fit and active. I've not lived up to it. Not that I haven't been busy. Yup, believe it or  not, I have an excuse. It's called FitStar.

My business partner and all around fabulous friend, Beth Dolce ( and I have started FitStar Survival Camp. It's a day long fitness bootcamp for young women headed off to college or out on their own. We've researched, interviewed, read and written and have designed a day of fitness, fun and information for women. While our business will have many audiences, our first audience is young women ages 17 to 20, headed into their senior year in high school, freshman year in college or living on their own. It promises to be a great day and I hope to see some of you or your daughters at Camp on June 19th. Check out for more information.

But my excuses stop there! When I got on the scale yesterday morning, I had to face the reality that I let life rule me these last few months. FitStar didn't do it. I did. My silver lining personality turned oh-so-grey when the scale stopped. So I've recommitted to myself, and to you, to keep fitness and health in focus. Not only can you resume looking here for great information weekly, I'm going to add a column about what I'm doing. And you can post right back with works of encouragement, questions, suggestions or to tell me what you are doing.  I'd love to hear it. Life happens and sometimes we can't control it. But there are no excuses for not taking care of ourselves. If we don't do it, who will?!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Preparing for Vacation Workouts

Working out on vacation is an opportunity for change.
We tend to want to check out completely while on vacation - skipping anything that has to do with our regular, everyday life. Including squeezing in our workouts. But vacation workouts are all-together different than those everyday workouts. Vacation workouts offer us an opportunity to plan activities different from our regular routine without the constraints of everyday life. Maybe it's tennis, cycling, hiking, even a group fitness class or a trip to a personal trainer (if not just a trip to the gym). On vacation we have an opportunity to switch it up and to change the scenery.
We train all season to get or stay in shape, to lose a few pounds or tone up. It takes just a week of indulging on vacation to derail all our efforts. Instead of letting go completely, indulge your inner athlete, the one who has been training all season. Indulge in something new and different to challenge your fitness level or simply change your routine and the scenery.
Pack your workout clothes and make it a goal to use them all. Indulge in a fit and active vacation free from your everyday routine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Set a Goal

It's important to know where we are going when we head out for a drive lest we end up somewhere we don't want to be. The same is true of our fitness goals. We need to know what we want to achieve so that we can plan our route successfully.  But how do we set these fitness goals?
There are a 3 simple things to consider when we set a goal: attainability, length of time, and resources.
First, attainability. Any goal that we set for ourselves must be realistic. To say that I want to run a marathon this year is a realistic goal for me. To say that I want to scale Mt. Everest, is not. We must set goals for ourselves that are not only personal, but also attainable. I'm not saying that you can't aim for Mt. Everest, but be sure to set measurable goals along the way so that your motivation and self-satisfaction stay strong. Losing 10 pounds in 2 weeks is not attainable. Losing 1 pound a week for 10 weeks is. Weekly goals to meet a longer term goal.
The second thing to consider is your timeline. Back to the marathon, if I were to set my sights on the Flying Pig Marathon, May 1st in Cincinnati, I'd be hard pressed to make it. That's only 6 weeks from now. Considering my longest run is 8 miles, I'd be crazy to think I could complete a marathon successfully (the average training program for a marathon is 12 - 16 weeks). However, if my goal is to complete the Columbus Marathon, October 16th, I have a great chance at succeeding. The race is 31 weeks out - more than enough time to prepare for a marathon, even if I haven't run a mile. Set goals that you have to work hard to achieve, but that aren't so out of reach that you are doomed to fail before you start.
The third and final thing to consider when setting a fitness goal is our resources. Resources can be time, money, knowledge or support, among other things. When we set our goals, we need to consider the wealth of resources around us. You don't need a swanky gym to get in your cardio. You need shoes and a sidewalk. You don't need 60 minutes everyday. You need 30 minutes most days of the week. You don't need a personal trainer to meet you at the gym. A personal commitment to get to the gym and/or a fitness partner is all you need. Assess the resources around you: the internet, the local library, your physician's office, the local community recreation center, your friends and family. All of these are resources that can help you identify and achieve your goals, as well as support you.
Take a few minutes now to think about any goals you have set and see if they are attainable, if you have time to achieve them, and if you have the resources you need to succeed. If not, re-evaulate your goals.
If you haven't set any fitness goals lately, now is a great time to do it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Face it - Food Matters

Food matters. There are no 'ifs', 'ands' or 'butts' about it. A great workout followed by a binge is a waste of your time and mine. You can burn 500 calories in my Spinning class in 60 minutes.  You can eat 500 calories in a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream, or a bag of lunchmeat in less than 10 minutes. I can make you sweat so much that there is a puddle underneath your bike. I can work you out so hard that your legs are shaking when you leave our training session. But if you leave our workout and head for the refrigerator without a plan, you could ruin your hour of effort in a matter of minutes! So plan it and WRITE IT DOWN.

We've talked about this before. Journaling your food is as simple as it gets. You eat something, your write it down. A better strategy is to write it down and then eat, but either way works. As easy as this is, I constantly get excuses from clients why they didn't write down their food. No time - I forgot - I didn't have a pen handy.  Then they wonder why they are not losing weight. If I we don't know how you fuel yourself, there is no way to tell why you're not losing weight. Food is an integral part of working out. Energy in (food) has to be equal or less than energy out (calories burned) to create weight loss.  The only way to reliably know what you ate is to write it down. Not rocket science.

Stop giving yourself an excuse to not lose weight. Stop sabotaging your efforts for a healthier body. Own up and measure up.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Willpower: is it in you?

Willpower: the strength to act, or forbear from acting, in the pursuit of a goal. Do you have it?

I hear many of my clients and friends say that they do not have willpower when it comes to their fitness and health goals, and, particularly, when it comes to dieting. Usually they start off fine but by the end of the third day (if not the end of the first day), they "just can't do it anymore." Let's look at that.

Each day we  get out of bed, go through our morning routine, settle into our day, wind down our evening and go back to bed. Each of these activities is a manifestation of what we want or need to do. It is a function of our desire or our will. Therefore, we all have willpower. The act of doing something - achieving our goal, be it to go work, take the kids to school, or volunteer - is all an exercise of our willpower. So how come that doesn't translate to our goals for diet, health and fitness? How is it we "have no will power?" There are a few reasons...

1. Our goals are not our goals. New Year's resolutions are a good example of this. Each year our culture hits the reset button and everyone starts a new routine. You've done it and so have your friends and family. "This year I'm going to...lose 10 pounds, start running, cut out carbs, eat smaller meals, run a marathon, go to the gym 3 times a week..." Blah blah blah. But many people, maybe even you, set these goals because everyone else has a New Year's resolution. You're not setting a goal that means something to you.

2. Our goals are too big. Often we look at the big picture and not the small pixels that make it up. Each day is a day to make a change. Each hour is an opportunity to affect change. Take the big goal of losing 20 pounds. If you measure the success of reaching your goal by how much work you're going to have to do to achieve it, you'll give up before you start. If you break that 20 pounds down into 2 pounds every 2 weeks for 20 weeks, the work becomes smaller and the goal becomes easier to achieve.

3. We are afraid of change. Change is a scary concept for a lot of us. If your daily routine has to change to accommodate exercise, it can be scary. You may have to skip happy hour with your friends and explain why. You may have to go buy some clothes to workout in. You may have to find a gym and face a sea of unfamiliar faces. You may have to learn how to cook. Change can be uncomfortable. But doing the same thing you do now every day and expecting a change - like losing 20 pounds - is insanity. You must do something different to make a change.

4. We really don't want to achieve our goal. Face reality. Just because your pant size is bigger than last year, your weight is higher than last year, you get out of breath when you walk up the stairs, or you know you shouldn't eat the entire bag of M&Ms, doesn't mean you really care. To achieve your goals you HAVE TO CARE. Your goals need to be your goals. They can't be mine. I want you to be fit and healthy. I want you to have strength to play with your kids. I want you to feel good when you put on that great new outfit. But just because I care, doesn't mean you do. If you really want to achieve your health and fitness goals, YOU HAVE TO CARE ABOUT YOUR GOALS. They must mean something to YOU.

There are many reasons we do not achieve our diet and fitness goals, but lack of willpower is not one of them. It is not an excuse.

Get moving!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's February. How Are Your Resolutions Coming?

How are your New Year's Resolutions doing? Did you start? Did you start then come to a screeching halt on day 3? Or have you had success and need a little encouragement to keep you going?
Well there is no time like the present and no reason to wait. Fitness and health don't need a start date. You don't need a new year, a new month or a new week to make a positive change to your health. Small changes in your daily life can make a big impact in the course of a year.
So how do you start?
Let's start small.
If improving your diet is part of your New Year's Resolutions, consider replacing one soda with a glass of water with lemon. If you replace 1 regular soda a day with water, you'll save 50, 950 calories in one year. That's 15.9 pounds! If you replace a snack bag of chips each weekday (62,400 calories) with carrots and celery (11,700 calories), you'll save 50,700 calories in one year. That's 15.8 pounds! A little change; a big impact.
If exercise is part of your New Year's Resolutions, consider this. According to the American Heart Association, 2.5 hours of moderate to intense aerobic activity a week can greatly improve blood pressure, resting heart rate, metabolic rate, and relieve stress. And those 2.5 hours don't have to happen all at once. Aim for 5 sessions of 30 minutes each. Or break that 30 minutes into 2 sessions of 15 minutes. It all adds up! If you burn 200 calories in 30 minutes, you'll burn 52,000 calories in one year. That's 16.25 pounds! Just 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
It doesn't take a huge amount of effort to loose weight or eat better. Take a few minutes to revisit your New Year's goals or create some new goals. Break those goals into small pieces and you will see big results!
Don't wait. Start Now!