Friday, June 26, 2009

Stepping out of my comfort zone!

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.
-Brian Tracey

I have two objectives with this post. #1.  To get you thinking about what makes you uncomfortable? and how can you attack it? get it under your belt, cross it off the list and feel the triumph of knowing you did something that you REALLY didn't EVER think you'd be able to do.  Whether it's in health and fitness, your job, your personal life.  People tend to seek pleasure or avoid pain.  In doing that we often miss out on opportunities or take the easy way out.

#2.  I'd like to use this forum to promote an amazing photographer Julia Newman!

Since the gym kind of slows down in the summer as people are traveling and enjoying the outdoors (when it's not pouring rain in the Northeast)...I was looking for something to do with my extra time.  I'm cruising around on craigslist and come across a lot of ads for promotional modeling, to be an extra in videos, tv shows, commercials and etc.......then I'm looking through Women's Health thinking, I do these exercises everyday-I wonder how much they pay these chicks to pose for the fitness photos?!  So I put an ad on craigslist for barter to find a photographer who wants to trade headshots/body shots for personal training and I found Julia Newman!

If you know anyone getting married she travels all over and she is AMAZING.  You have to understand how uncomfortable I was for my whole photo shoot-being the center of attention if I'm telling a joke or making someone laugh (or giving a big speech at a Cutco conference in front of lots of people, LOL) is no problem-but having my picture taken and having to pose?! Not so much.  Julia guided me through, made me laugh, asked me questions and got me to do some pretty silly stuff I wouldn't normally do-and even some serious stuff (which if you know me, you know is not my style).  Above are some of the photos she took of me...she has a very user friendly website and you must check out her blog.  Her style is unique, she's been featured in The keep Julia in the back of your mind if you or anyone you know has any need for a photographer!!

Weight Training for Busy People

"The simplest things are often the truest"
-Richard Bach

As I was deliberating what to cover with regards to weight/strength/resistance training for people with busy schedules-I became overwhelmed because it's such a vast topic.  That's when it hit me-keep it simple! Busy people don't have time for complicated, the simpler the better so here you go :)

Because it may be difficult for many of you to make it to a gym as often as you'd like I want to highlight some very basic exercises that you can do at home with little to no equipment that can absolutely help you launch an attack on unwanted fat so you can start losing inches! Some of you know what these exercises are, if you're unsure click on each one and you'll be taken to a youtube video explaining them (I'm aiming to make my own videos within the next 2 months!)

SIDENOTE... for people who are not in the habit of doing squats and lunges regularly, I've had clients tell me after a few weeks of incorporating them into their programs 2-3x/wk their booties have lifted......yesssss! fighting gravity is sweet (guys you may not care if your booty lifts, but you may want to share this w/ the ladies in your lives :) )

Sit Ups (I'm not attaching a video, because I couldn't find one I like.  When it comes to sit ups you may need to find something to tuck your toes under to keep your feet down so you can sit all the way up.  Cross your arms over your chest and sit ALL THE WAY UP.  When you get to the top really squeeze your core and bring those elbows over your knees so you feel that work all the way down through your lower abs, lower ALL THE WAY DOWN one vertebrae at a time and repeat!)

I recommend doing as many exercises as possible in a standing position (obviously this doesn't apply to push ups, planks and etc) versus sitting because many of you spend a lot of time sitting on your commutes in your car, on the train or at your desk all day-please don't sit when you work out!

Need more of a challenge or want to be more efficient? 
Combine some of the exercises. For example:

squat to shoulder press
lunge to bicep curl
do side leg raises while holding a side plank and etc.

*most of the videos I posted are the most basic forms of the exercises, there are progressions when these get too easy-but that's not really something I can cover in a blog!

Standards of Good Form
-Keep your shoulders back and pressed down away from your ears
-activate your core (contract your abs, squeezing your belly button towards your spine whether you are seated, standing or laying down)
-If you're in a laying down position, back should be flat on the ground
-Hips are under you giving you a good center of balance and preventing back from arching
-Exhale against gravity i.e.-during a push up on the way up, during a bicep curl as you raise the weight.  Why? because your core contracts when you exhale anyway-giving you a little extra umph during the hardest part of the exercise :)

Really strapped for time??!!-remember this. 

 Train your larger muscle groups first-chest, back and legs.  
Here's why-the smaller muscle groups and your core all assist and are technically working during exercises for your major muscle groups.  For example during a push up-your shoulders are stabilizing your arms.  During a squat your core stabilizes your body and keeps you from falling backwards (if you're squatting properly).  During a bent over row your triceps, shoulders and biceps are involved in helping you raise and lower the weight and etc.

As always, I'm here if you need me

Monday, June 22, 2009

Prenatal Training

**NOTE: before starting any exercise program PLEASE consult your doctor, make sure you don't have any of the pre-existing conditions listed below, and be sure to ask if you're at risk for anything that could be triggered by exercise and/or positioning your body in certain ways during exercise.  The recommendations below are general suggestions-results and effects vary based on the individual***
This post was inspired by a friend of mine who had some questions about exercising while pregnant.  I can't take credit for a lot of the information in this post because my main source was one of my favorite fitness professionals Annette Lang.
If you are extremely active before pregnancy it makes a lot of sense to stay active.  There are tremendous benefits to being active while pregnant.  Exercise alleviates a lot of the normal aches and pains that go with pregnancy, reduces weight gain and stress, improves sleep, and also makes it easier to lose the weight and recover after giving birth.

A few precautions you want to take:
Reasons NOT to exercise would be any preexisting conditions and/or conditions that develop during pregnancy like heart disease, lung disease, incompetent cervix, multiple gestation at risk for premature labor, persistent second or third trimester vaginal bleeding, pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure), any water breaks before 36 weeks, placenta previa, premature labor.

Some reasons to discontinue exercise would be: (some are pretty obvious)
vaginal bleeding or leakage of amniotic fluid, preterm labor, dyspnea (difficult/labored breathing), heart palpitations or chest pain, headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or fainting, muscle weakness, sudden change in body temperature, swelling or pain in ankles or calves, decreased fetal movement.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists no longer recommends a specific heart rate but rather recommends moderate exercise which really means on a scale of 1-10 of how hard you feel like youre working you should stay b/w 4-6.  Most importantly you want to gauge the intensity of your exercise with the objective of maintaining a favorable environment inside the uterus so if you do cardio make sure you warm up and cool down, avoid warm pools, steam rooms, saunas and etc.  Avoid outdoor activities in hot temperatures.  As pregnancy progresses certain things may become uncomfortable and your center of balance will shift so be careful to avoid things with a high risk of falling. (again some of this is really obvious....)

Starting in the second trimester you want to avoid exercises in the supine position (laying on your back)...due to the weight gain your circulation can be affected and cause a drop in blood pressure and/or heart rate which would make you feel anxious, dizzy or nauseous.  If this happens at all rolling to either side can immediately relieve the compression on your veins and restore normal heart rate.  The left side is especially recommended because your major blood vessels are primarily on your right side.

Keep your posture in mind, try not to give into the tendency to arch your back and push your pelvis forward as your tummy grows.  You can do this by engaging your core muscles and consciously trying to maintain a neutral spine.  Towards the end of pregnancy be conscious of keeping your shoulders and head upright and straight so you dont restrict your breathing at all.

To avoid weakening or damaging pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy or childbirth Kegel exercises (which you usually read about in Cosmo and other such magazines more related to sex than helping you during pregnancy) are recommended.  Your pelvic floor muscles are what you would use to stop the stream of urine while you're going to the bathroom.  You dont want to perform the exercises while using the bathroom, but when you do them you want to contract the muscles for up to 5 seconds and repeat 10x.  Do this a few times a day-it's an easy exercise to perform while sitting at the computer/watching TV, in the car and etc. Very efficient!

Exercise recommendations:
Walking, Swimming and Cardio machines (as you are not exposed to the elements, and can easily manipulate intensity and track time).  30 minutes or so is recommended for many of the reasons listed above although again-people who are very active before pregnancy may push themselves a little harder.

Strength training is ok again you just want to avoid anything that compromises your balance or could cause a fall.  Keep the weights light and remember "moderate" means don't push your self past working at a 4-6 on a scale of 1-10 of exertion.

Also check out this article from webMD on myths vs facts of working out while pregnant!

As always, feel free to reach out to me at with specific questions, ideas and concerns!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Keep it Moving Busy People!

"The 5 P's: Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance"

I realize today's opening quote isn't the most glamorous-but it's true!  Before I get into ideas on putting together an exercise program when you're busy I want to refer back to my June 4th post about planning.  I won't waste your time by completely repeating myself, but just to review it's a great idea to:
1. set a goal (how many days/wk you want to workout)
2. use Sunday to sit down with your calendar and find the time slots to get it done.
3. Plan for extra so if you skip a workout you're still on track for the original goal-if you make all the workouts you're in bonus land!!!

onto this week's topic...

 If you find yourself constantly in a state of "being too busy" or "not having time to workout" your main objective should simply be to MOVE MORE!  Even if that means taking the stairs instead of the elevator-lock it up!

-Find time to workout a minimum of 3x/week.  I don't care if each workout only lasts 30 minutes, at the end of the week that's 90 minutes of exercise you weren't getting before!
-What you do with your 3 workouts depends on your goals.

Since weight loss is part of A LOT of people's goals, I'm addressing cardiovascular exercise first-as it can play a very significant role in hitting those goals.

-As always I suggest intervals!  This means vary your intensity via speed, resistance or incline (depending on what kind of cardio you are doing) throughout the workout in bursts of 30 seconds to 90 seconds or more.

simple example: run/walk on treadmill for 20 minutes

*warm up walk for 2 minutes @ incline of 2, 4.0 mph
*jog 3 minutes @ same incline bumping up speed to 5-5.5 mph
*sprint 30 sec to 1 minute @ same incline bumping up speed to 7.5-10mph depending on how fast you can manage
*slow down to a run at incline of 3-4 at 6.0 mph for 2 minutes
*bump incline up to 10-15 and walk up hill at 3.0-4.5 mph (may need to hold on) for 2 minutes.
*REPEAT (NOTE: you should always give yourself 3-5 minutes to cool down to get heart rate back to normal)

This is just an example to illustrate how you might manipulate speed, resistance and incline on a piece of cardio equipment, the methods can be applied to any cardio.  Also note some machines have interval settings, or options called something along the lines of "random hill"...not a bad idea to check these out and feel free to pick up the pace or add on more resistance if it's not challenging enough for you.

-You can apply these ideas to any cardio outside as well although obviously incline will depend on your course.  You can walk/run/sprint/jog outside, ride a bike and manipulate your speed and resistance settings, rollerblade and etc. all outdoors.

-swimming is not only great cardio but an excellent total body workout.  If you belong to a gym with access to a pool, have a pool of your own, or are fortunate enough to have easy access to a river, lake or ocean jump in and start swimming some laps!  I don't care if you're not Michael Phelps, like I said earlier MOVE MORE! get in the water, move your arms and legs and burn some calories.  If you're really into it, take some lessons and work on those strokes :)

-UNDER RATED IDEA OF THE WEEK: get a jump rope...many of us have not considered jumping rope since back in the day during recess. Check out this article (very entertaining I might add) on the benefits of jumping rope.  

*if you're not sure how to get started, youtube "jumping rope" and hundreds of videos can help you out! (or just pop in any Rocky movie :P )
*How can jumping rope be super efficient? Multi-task! At some point in the week we all sit down and watch TV or a movie-instead of sitting down why not jump rope?!!! (I did this over the weekend while watching a movie for spurts of 2-3minutes w/ 30 seconds or so of rest in between for about 45 minutes, it went by super fast and I worked up sweat in my own living room as if I stepped of a cardio machine at the gym)

*I'm totally biased as I've been in love with spinning since I was 19 years old, so that is my next suggestion
-If you belong to a gym that offers spin classes consider taking at least one a week.  By nature the class will vary over the course of the 45 minutes and really challenge you.  Most gyms offer classes early in the morning, in the middle of the day and later in the evening on most days of the week and the weekends.  (NOTE: if you're a first time spinner please ask the instructor to show you how to set up your bike properly to avoid injury)
*if you're a runner, especially if you're training for a race of some sort, spinning is excellent cross training as it increases your cardio and muscular endurance and gives those joints a break from the impact of running!

-last but not least once you incorporate some of these ideas, don't forget to push yourself each week, challenge yourself to not only move more but move faster, add more resistance, bump up that incline...even if it's just a tiny bit each week-in a few months you'll be really surprised with your progress :)

Next week I'll address strength training...Questions about today's post? Need help planning?
I'm always here for you

Good luck and keep it moving!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eating Healthy WHEN YOU'RE BUSY!

"Excuses are the nails that built the house of failure"

Too many people make excuses for why their diet isn't as healthy as it could be.
When it comes to being busy and trying to stay healthy one of the most difficult parts is eating well.  Mainly b/c it's just SO EASY to grab something quick, sometimes you haven't eaten all day, you're starving, not in the mood to be picky and just need something FAST!  My tips for you this week are all about...


TIP#1: Pack your lunch

It's difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle when the majority of the meals you eat during the week are purchased which is the case for extremely busy people.  Who has time to make their own food?! or even pack a lunch?! 

Answer: Everyone.  We always have time for things that are important to us.  My roommate makes her lunch for the next day every night, it takes her approximately 90 seconds to 2 minutes.  If she decides to cook up some chicken and brown rice or something that takes more time but usually happens while she's doing other things (watching TV, laundry, painting her nails etc) really its just not that much extra work!
The benefits:
Saves $$, you control what goes into the meal which = healthier choices, eliminates temptation 

Let me paint a picture for you....ever go to get lunch w/ the intention of getting a healthy salad, wrap or sandwich and get derailed along the way somehow? Like when you get there you're faced with rice krispy treats, cookies and brownies at the register? the italian ice guy on the corner, you might get a waft of delicious pizza or chinese food, pass a Chipotle and start drooling at the thought of an enormous burrito all on your way to get your healthy lunch?  PROBLEM SOLVED! if you packed your lunch you wouldn't have had to deal w/ any of that :)
TIP #2: Make the meal you purchase (if you must) a nutritious one

1. a healthy sandwich or salad on whole wheat or whole grain bread  
-ditch the cheese 
-ditch the fatty dressings
-If they ask "would you like to make that a combo" and your options are chips, cookies, soda and etc.  say no!  Some places do offer fruit like an apple or veggies like a bag of baby carrots as an option-if that's the case, go for it!
-Olive oil is a healthy source of fat-good old oil and vinegar is a great choice to top sandwiches and salads.  
-get some protein in your life: chicken, turkey, tuna, hard boiled eggs, beans and etc. all make good additions to sandwiches, wraps and salads
-and if you just can't stay away from Mexican-opt for the burrito bowl (so you lose the tortilla) OR burrito salad (you lose the tortilla and the rice-your carbs come from the veggies!)
-BE CAREFUL of cafeteria style eateries with salad bars, hot food bars and etc.  You don't know how that food was prepared, but if you must...stick to grilled options not fried and avoid creamy/thick looking sauces and dressings.

TIP #3: Sunday planning/cooking

One of the main arguments of busy people is no time to cook.  I'll piggyback on my last post that talked about planning your week and your workouts on Sunday.  Why not plan your meals as well? Take it a step further and prepare a few meals that can last you throughout the week.  For you this could mean putting together whole meals and storing them in the fridge or the freezer to be re-heated, or marinating some meats or veggies so it will be easier to put your meals together later in the week. While it may not yield the freshest meals since they will have spent some time in the fridge, it will save you the "time you don't have" during the week.

TIP #4: Better snacks

Too many people tell me they snack on granola bars, 100 calorie packs, yogurt, and other foods high in sugar-y carbs and lacking protein.

-Greek yogurt, it's higher in protein and lower in carbs/sugars
-cottage cheese and fruit
-(my favorite!) apple and almond butter
-protein shake or bar (get a shaker and keep it at your desk, bring your protein powder and shake it up when you need a snack!)
-keep some almonds, walnuts or etc at your desk
-hard boiled eggs (ditch the yolk if you don't like it)

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK...exercise tips and strategies for busy people!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Busy People are Healthy Too!

"If you want to get something done give it to a busy person"

Busy people get more done!  Why? Because they have better time management skills, they find ways to fit more into their schedule.  So...if you are busy and that is your excuse for poor health I'm here to tell you-THAT'S EXACTLY WHY YOU SHOULD BE HEALTHY!  You need energy and you need to be well, after all-you're busy, you don't have time to be sick, injured or sluggish because you're not eating well, exercising or taking some down time for your mental health.

My best friend Kate is in her busy time of year at her job and asked me to put together some ideas for how to eat well and workout efficiently around a busy schedule.  And when I say busy I mean days that start at 7am and end at 10-11pm sometimes.  As I gathered my thoughts I realized I could write a whole book on this subject so this will be the first in a series of posts to address this topic.


*Please eat breakfast.  I get it, I was a busy District Manager like Kate in my past life.  I know that extra 15 minutes of sleep instead of eating breakfast seems like a good choice but it's really not.

The benefits:
-get your metabolism up and running
-give your body what it needs to function at a high level, fuel!  You wouldn't leave for a road trip without filling up your gas tank would you?  Think of your stomach as your gas tank :)
-You won't be starving at lunch time which will prevent you from over-eating

-whole wheat english muffin with almond butter (or any other nut butter just make sure you aren't using Jiffy and you pick something organic and raw)
-egg whites in a wheat wrap, on wheat toast, or on their own and a piece of fruit or a bowl of oatmeal
-oatmeal with some kind of nut butter or nuts mixed in (fruit is also an option for more flavor)
-cottage cheese and fruit (I suggest peaches, strawberries or pineapple...yum!)
-hard-boiled eggs, fruit, toast or an english muffin
-protein shake
-protein bar

(be careful with these last two that they're not overloaded with sugar)

You get the idea...a quick, balanced breakfast that has some protein, fat and carbs in it to get your metabolism up and running and give you some energy to get your day started.

*bonus tip: I can't take credit for this, another trainer mentioned it in conversation the other day but it's worth sharing.  In terms of eating-try to stick to things that are either produced from the earth or were once living.  Pretty much do your best to avoid foods manufactured and processed by man.

If you work 10-12 hours a day how can you possibly find time for exercise?  I'll show you...

1.Pick a goal-how many days a week can you commit to exercising? (it can vary depending on the week)
ex: my goal is 3 days/wk

2. Sit down on Sunday night with your calendar/planner/ whatever you use to keep track of your daily activities and find 3 time slots of 30-90 minutes for exercise.  When you write them in consider them etched in stone!

-Think outside of the box on this one, the morning and the evening are not the only times of day when you can workout.  what about lunchtime? if you have a flexible schedule or have time between functions at work why not skip out for a workout and head back to the office later?

*bonus tip, why not pick a 4th time slot as a back up? this way if you have to skip one you still got in your 3...and say you make it to all 4-you surpassed your goal, yesssss!

3. Plan what you will do for each workout-this will save you time during your busy week-you won't even have to think-just do!  Have you ever heard someone say "fail to plan, plan to fail"? It's a true statement.

4. FOLLOW THE PLAN! It's easy and sometimes fun to make a plan, the crucial part is having the discipline to follow it.  


It's easy to get caught up in a busy schedule and forget how important it is to take some time to yourself.  Do you have a journal? do you meditate or pray? what do you do to calm your mind and reflect throughout the course of the week?

*Journal...I like to write down goals, steps I need to take to reach them, things in my life that I appreciate (always a good practice to focus on what you have and what's going well vs. what you don't have and what's not going well), how I feel, what I can do to feel better, when I read I write down quotes or thoughts I like in my journal...the options for what you can express in a private journal for no one's eyes but your own are endless and very comforting/helpful

*Spend some quality time with yourself...take a bath, go for a walk, watch a movie, make a solo shopping trip to the grocery store or the mall...etc.  Many of our lives involve constantly being surrounded by people-there's nothing wrong or selfish about finding some time for just you! (this is something else you can put into your schedule when you're planning your workout times on Sunday night :) )

As always, I'd love your questions, comments and feedback.
You're always welcome to reach out to me personally at if you don't want your questions on the blog for everyone to see.

In Fitness and In Health,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inspired by Heather Kinley

"RULE #76: No Excuses, play like a champion!"
-from the movie Wedding Crashers

I want you all to be inspired by my friend Heather this week.  Heather has struggled with illness, medication and was letting that be her excuse to stay out of shape.  She recently decided to cut the crap and get down to business.  Not only am I glad she wanted to share her story with me but I'm really proud of her...WAY TO GO HEATHER!  She also did a really smart thing by asking questions about how she should approach her workouts moving forward.  I encourage everyone reading this to do the same, that's what I'm here for.  I love your updates, results, stories, hearing about your wins, AND your losses because I can help pick you back up ;)

As you read Heather's story ask yourself "what's my excuse?"...I strongly encourage you to LET IT GO and GET MOVIN'!

Heather wrote:

"Hey Liz,

I figured since you're into working out and kinda do it for a living, you might be interested to hear that I've decided to turn my life around. I am sick and tired of blaming my surgery and medications for me being overweight. Yes, they did cause it, but I haven't exactly helped with my diet and exercise (or lack there of). I watched 2 seasons of Biggest Loser and was a complete mess (bawling my eyes out) and I think that's when it all clicked and I was like "there is no excuse, and if these guys can do it, and they are twice my weight, I can do it!" 

So, I have completely changed my eating habits and am actually conscious of calories now, and I've just joined the gym! I've joined before but really didn't know what I was doing and had no motivation, and didn't change my eating habits, but now hopefully I have it all in gear!

My first day at the gym I jogged at 6.0km/hr for 3 minutes and thought it was tough...and now I'm jogging 3K at 7.5km/hr and feel like I could still bump it up slowly or go a longer distance but don't want to kill myself doing it. I think mostly I've learned to just fight through the pain and it eventually goes away. My goal is to be able to run a 5K without stopping as a mini goal, and then maybe in a few years I'll be able to do a marathon (let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet)!

I do have a question about the rower. My first day, the trainer person had me on it at a level 5/10 and I rowed 1000m in 7 minutes. I'm now able to do 1000m in 5:30 but am wondering if next I try to go further, or if I try to beat the time, and when to actually increase the resistance?? I still find 1000m quite difficult to do as I have horrible upper body strength and absolutely no back strength!

I'll stop blabbing on for now. I almost didn't go to the gym today because I was feeling crappy and bloated but I felt so good afterwards and I'm so glad I just went!!!!"