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5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer
Fitness, Happiness, Inspiration, Nutrition, Wellness

5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer

I hesitated long and hard about posting a photo of myself in a bikini at age 54, but I’ve paid my dues – in the form of sweat equity. I’ve worked hard at getting in – and staying in shape, and I’ve tried just about every diet imaginable. There will be haters who will say I’m not in the best shape, and they’re right, but I’m beyond thrilled that I can fit into a two-piece swimsuit and qualify for an AARP card at the same time!

The truth is, I’ve struggled with my weight nearly all my life – starving myself and wasting money on stupid diets and every imaginable exercise – from step, to Spinning, to slide, to kickboxing, Zumba, yoga and everything in between. All for the sole purpose of looking “ok” in a bikini. Trust me, I knew I’d never be a fitness model, or any type of model, I just didn’t want to embarrass myself if I had to jump in a pool at a party, if that ever happened.

But there’s another reason why I did it.

If you’re interested in my fitness and nutrition tips I’m happy to share. If you want to know what provoked me, read through to the end.

1. Be Selfish. Although I’ve been a group fitness instructor for more than thirty-five years, I can think of an absurd amount of excuses for why I don’t have time to exercise: There is work to do, errands to run, dust bunnies to vacuum, and Netflix shows to watch – (have you seen The OA or The Crown?!) The one thing that people with amazing physiques like Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, J-Lo, and other well-chiseled celebrities have in common is that they put in the time – they do the work – a LOT of it. If you really want to get in shape, spend an hour a day, five days a week exercising. At least. Many of us who are parents put the needs of our children first while sacrificing our own health. Of course, I’m not suggesting to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but carving out even a measly few minutes every day for YOU can make a significant change in your body, keep you healthier, happier, and teach your kids about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re an empty-nester, like me, it feels a little strange to put quality self-care at the forefront of your life, especially if you’ve spent twenty, thirty or even forty years taking care of others.

But you need to….

2. Schedule It. Make an appointment with yourself as if you had a doctor’s appointment and would be charged if you failed to show. Schedule time every single day to focus on planning healthy meals, snacks, and exercise. Four minutes a day can be the motivation you need to make significant change in your life. The secret is that four minutes can turn into 10, 20, 30 minutes or more. You have to start somewhere. Make a commitment and stick to it!

What exercises are the best?

3. Do Something, ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter what the exercise is or how well it works for others, if you don’t like to do it, chances are you won’t do it. However, you have to suck it up and do something, anything every day! Get in the gym, swim, bike or dance! Find the thing that makes your heart sing and you’ll do it more often. Make sure you combine these three elements in your weekly fitness regime: strength training, cardiovascular training and stretching. Working out at least 30 minutes a day five days a week is optimal. Obviously, a little more goes along way in this case. Take a look at HIIT Training: High-Intensity Interval Training is short bursts of intense cardiovascular training combined with small pockets of working-recovery, usually strength training, that will sculpt muscles and leave you sweaty in a short period of time. Many professional athletes and celebrities are using HIIT training. Mix it up! Dance, swim, walk, bike, lift weights, play with your kids or your dog. Anything to get moving! It’s important to strike your muscles in different ways to prevent injuries, increase flexibility and maintain cardiovascular fitness, decrease stress and increase bone density. Increase the intensity, duration and frequency with which you work out. Work out harder, longer, or faster!

What about food?

4. Trash the Junk. All the greatest workouts in the world won’t give you a lean and toned body if you’re only eating pop tarts, cheeseburgers and sodas. Fuel your body with superfood nutrition. Having struggled with my weight all my life, I think I have it figured out after 54 years of searching. I’ve gained and lost over one hundred pounds throughout the decades, but finally, I am at a weight with which I am happy. No starving or denying myself either! I have boundless energy, no cravings during that three p.m. lull, and yet I still have ice cream, cake and chips (on occasion). I owe it all to Isagenix. The system has simplified my life, while giving me incredible vitality and made losing that last ten pounds easy. Is the system a magic pill? For me, it sure does seems like it. For the first time in my life, I’m at my goal weight and have tons of energy throughout my day – especially during workouts.

For more information on the products that have changed my life, click on this link.

And finally….

5 Tips to Shape Up for Summer5. Take a Selfie. Take a photo of yourself in just your undies. Is there something you don’t like? Guess who can change that?You can! Find a photo of someone who has a figure that is similar to what you’d like to achieve. Put your selfie next to your goal photo. During the next 30 days, look at the two pictures every morning and whenever you’re hangry (hungry + angry). Imagining the future can be a very potent prescription for positive change! Isagenix has a program called the ISA Body Challenge, which gives you daily motivation and inspiration to stick to your goals and get in shape.

With nearly half of the American population dancing toward obesity, and health-care costs sky-rocketing, staying physically fit isn’t just about looking good, it’s about feeling good, too. We can’t afford to take our health for granted, as those of us who’ve had life-threatening illnesses know.

Why I did it.

Fifteen years ago I was sucking on oxygen, barely able to crawl up a flight of stairs. Looking good in a bikini was not even a consideration. Living through the day, was. Having suffered with pre-emphysema caused by toxic mold exposure, I remember thinking once that I just wanted to be healthy enough to watch my son’s track meet. There was a time when the simple process of getting dressed, leaving the house, driving a car and climbing up outdoor bleachers was unthinkable. Now, I can run up and down the bleachers, and that’s all that really matters. So, now that I think of it, the best part of the bikini photo for me is the smile on my face. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be happy, and that’s really all that matters.

Emotional Wellbeing, Finding Strength, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Meditation, Mindset, Nature, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wellness, Wisdom

Tearful Yoga

The room was completely dark except for the illuminated “Exit” sign.  As I lay on the floor in a supine position, sweat streamed down the side of my face, arms and legs. Toxins and stress drained from every pore.  It had been fifty-eight minutes of the most strenuous stretching, balancing, and hard-core strength exercises a body can tolerate, but as I lay in my own pool of sweat, I felt elated.  Yep.  Elated.

The instructor, Michael, taught an intense power yoga class which included traditional yoga postures combined with a series of faster paced moves which called for a bit of mental gymnastics.  When a difficult pose ended, another began. There was very little rest. When we were instructed to hold a challenging balance that required muscular strength and stretching limbs and torsos beyond what was once imaginable, my mind played its usual tricks:  leave now and go get a cappuccino…why are you working so hard on a Sunday when you could have slept in and read the paper….there’s a woman at least ten years older than you bending like a pretzel…..c’mon…you can do this, etc…

At times, there was no music, just the sound of the instructor’s voice encouraging us to go deeper into the pose, or take just another “sip” of breath. Serious and seasoned yogis use a diaphragmatic breathing technique that’s supposed to bring attention back to one’s breath, maintaining calm and focus amidst chaos. The mind continually races, however, with thoughts of “I should have worn the black tank top….what am I having for lunch….to…I bet I’ll lose three pounds of sweat from this class…”

While there are many different kinds of yoga, including Hatha, Vinyasa, power, gentle, and everything in between, yoga has evolved from thousands of years ago. Today, yoga is a culture of its own. There are people who do (it) and people who don’t.  You either fall into one category or the other.  There’s little flexibility because many gurus are so serious about their craft. Although I’ve been in the fitness industry for more than thirty-five years as a choreographer, program developer and instructor, I often feel as though I’m out of my league when I attend a yoga class.  It’s a feeling akin to sports fanatics.  You either like to watch games or you don’t.

The yoga culture extends to manners and clothing, as well.  Be prepared to speak in a whispered voice and be cognizant of your space when entering a yoga studio. Smiles are given freely and often, except when walking on someone else’s mat or (gasp!) when a cell phone buzzes. Anger is simply not welcome.

Stretch pants previously reserved for the gym and only the gym are now seen on both hockey moms and dads in and out of yoga studios and worn as a statement; “I can do the splits and I eat kale.”

The lights dimmed with just a hint of radiance from the gorgeous chandelier above me and the music became so loud I couldn’t hear myself or the person inches away from me breathe, or fart, although I’m quite certain that happened to at least one of us during the hour.  It felt like a nightclub scene, but without any alcohol or pick-up lines.

The instructor never demonstrated any moves, and as an intermediate yogi, I was unfamiliar with the sanskrit terminology, so I cheated by looking at those nearby including my son, Rocco, who is currently attending yoga teacher training.  Not realizing we would have to remember sequences, I simply played “follow-the-leader” as I mimicked those around me in the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

At the end of the class, when it was so dark I could only see the ‘Exit’ sign, we laid on our sweaty yoga mats, exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was quiet, with only a faint sound of deep, relaxing sighs.

Then, with the first sound of the piano notes, it started.  I felt a tightening in my throat, and heavier, more intense breathing.The music blasted, but this time with a more peaceful, poetic combination of Gaelic, New Age and classical sounds that both calmed and comforted me.  The volume of the music grew along with its intensity to levels that I felt in my bones. Suddenly, a persuasive, emotional wave took over me and within seconds, tears filled my eyes and streamed down my cheeks.

I began to weep.

Salty tears of elation mixed with my hard-earned sweat.

And it felt so good.

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Feeling blessed to be healthy! #4minutes2happy #yoga #healthyliving #fitness #exercise

Fitness, Happiness, Health, Wellness

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

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On rare occasions we meet people who inspire and intrigue us with their love of life and adventure. Their energy permeates ours and we feel uplifted just being in their presence. Jill Wheeler is one of those people. She is an adventure therapist, filmmaker, mother, wife and yoga instructor who is traveling around the world with her family for a year. (How great is that?!)

I first met Jill several years ago when taking her paddle board yoga class with my son Rocco. The older I get, the more I want to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. The best Mother’s Day presents are just being able to hang out with my son, who lives thousands of miles away. His presence was more than enough, but he also offered to do whatever I wanted to do that special day. Having raised Rocco to be active and athletic, I asked if he wanted to try a new workout with me. Here is how the conversation went: Continue Reading

Fitness, Happiness, Health, Inspiration, Mindset

Try Something New

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Many of us make a New Year’s resolution to be happier and healthier.  Sadly, however, most of us never reach our goals.  Why?  How can we stack the odds in our favor?

The University of Scranton determined that only 77% of people who make resolutions are still going strong a week into the new year.  And after six months, the percentage drops to forty.  Bad habits sneak back into our lives within days of having grandiose ideas about how the next twelve months will be different.

Here are a few tips and tricks to lose weight, get in shape and be happier: Continue Reading

Fitness, Health, Inspiration

Holiday Health Tips

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As we approach the holiday season, it’s important for us to maintain our health so that we can visit friends and relatives without that dreaded cough or cold. That means putting yourself first and making daily exercise and healthy eating a priory now. I’m all for having indulgences on occasion, like apple or pumpkin pie, but then it’s important to burn off those calories because they will catch up with you.

Each year the average person gains a few pounds over the holiday season. Let’s make sure that we don’t this season by doing a few simple things:

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Fitness, Health

Squats

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A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sitting on a plane during a five-hour cross-country trip, I heard flight attendants counting to twenty; then there would be silence and they would walk around the cabin assisting passengers. I’d hear them counting again to twenty, then it would stop.

They were behind the galley walls, so I couldn’t see what they were doing. I just happened to get up to go to the bathroom while they were counting. (That’s not entirely true. I had totally planned it!). They were doing squats! Twenty squats, five times throughout the flight equaled one hundred squats. Kudos to those flight attendants for creating a healthy work environment.

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Fitness, Health, Nutrition, Wellness

Your Body

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The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

—Oscar Wilde

This is gonna hurt. I’m sorry, but it’s time to be truthful. Look at yourself in the mirror in just your undies. Do you have love handles and cellulite? We all have something we want to change. Coming face-to-face with the truth can be incredibly motivating, while putting clothes on just covers the problem, doesn’t it?

Throughout the day, you know what you’re hiding; numbers don’t lie. Weigh yourself and take your measurements. Are you content with those numbers? Do you want to look better and feel better? Have no fear! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you didn’t get that body overnight.

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Fitness, Health, Wellness

Bank on Your Health

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We all know the basics of banking; you cannot withdraw money you don’t have in your account.  What if we looked at our bodies as bank accounts and the healthy choices we make as money deposited into our account?  Every time you exercised, ate healthy meals, slept well and had a positive mental attitude you’d receive more cash flow!  But all the unhealthy choices, like smoking, excessive drinking, too much stress and lack of sleep would be withdrawals that may result in poor health, depression or injuries.

There will always be times in life when we are unexpectedly hit with a curve ball and we’ll have too much stress, miss a night of good sleep, indulge in junk food, or have one too many glasses of wine.  After those occasions we feel a little less perky, more sluggish and even run-down.  Our body functions at a lower vibrational frequency and if we make yet another withdrawal on the body bank account we risk becoming overdrawn.  Injuries and illnesses are more likely to occur when our immune systems have been compromised.  In our twenties or thirties, we may have been able to get away with a few too many drinks and lack of sleep from partying but eventually, our bodies will rebel in the form of a cold, headache or something worse.

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Fitness, Health

Work Out

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An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.Henry David Thoreau

Getting regular exercise doesn’t mean you have to work out an hour or more a day. Who has time for that? Short bursts of strength-training moves and at least two days of cardiovascular exercise weekly can help you keep fit.

Many of us use the lack of time as an excuse to not exercise. If I’m not teaching a fitness class, I can come up with more excuses than anybody about why I’m too busy to exercise. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.—life gets in the way, right? Wrong!

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