Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Six Pack Looks Like a Party Ball

If you want a flatter tummy, the first step is to get your body fat down as low as possible. I know, you have heard it before, but most of the time, the major problem with abdominal muscles is that they are hidden. Try pressing your fingers into your waist line. Do you feel your muscles buried there? Your abs should have a firmness to them.
We hear a lot of talk about working the core. Working the core is important. Without strong core muscles, our posture suffers, our digestion suffers, our lower back suffers. What is the core? The core is the entire torso area. This includes all the abdominal muscles, as well as lower back and even into the glutes.
Abdominal muscles are special. Since they work constantly to support us in an upright position, they are used to daily workouts. So unlike most other muscle groups that need rest and recovery, you can do something for your abs every day. I would recommend breaking up the exercises, however, into groups. One day, concentrate on upper abdominals with a series of crunches. Another day, concentrate on lower abs with variations of leg raises. Another day, concentrate on obliques ( the sides of the torso) with twisting exercises. Don't forget the lower back. Work each muscle group to the point of discomfort, but not pain and you will start the toning and shaping process. Good luck. For more information about working out, you can contact me through my web page:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

No More Jiggily Arms

Many people, women in particular, suffer from the dreaded jiggily arm syndrome. No one wants the back of arms to continue to move after the front of the arm has stopped. For some, the jiggily arm syndrome is so bad that they won't wear sleeveless shirts. The sad truth is that some of the problem is too much body fat and the only way to lose body fat is through proper nutrition and exercise. But if you want to get a start on toning up the arms, try these few little exercises:

1.  Dips. Sit on a straight back chair with your hands gripping the sides of the seat. Scoot forward until your rear is off the chair, then lower yourself down towards the floor about 6", then straighten back up. Repeat 15 times for 3 sets. For a power move, straighten your legs in front with your heels on the floor and your toes up.

2. Triceps Extensions. Stand with your knees together and slightly bent. Lean forward with your upper body (like you were lifting off the ski jump in Sochi). Extend your arms straight back and above your hips. Lock your elbows, then rapidly lift your arms about 2-3" toward the ceiling and back. Shoot for 100 repetitions.

3.  Triceps Squeeze.  Start in the same position as with triceps extensions, except this time instead of raising your arms, squeeze them toward each other, as if you were going to clap your hands behind your back. Remember to keep your elbows locked. Shoot for 50 repetitions.

4.  Arm Circles.  Stand straight up with feet hip width apart. Raise your arms until they are level with your shoulders. Lock your elbows. Now make 10 circles about 6" in diameter going forward, then 10 circles going backwards and then lock and hold your arms for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.

5.  Push Ups. Everyone knows this one. Girlie push ups are fine, but watch your form and keep your hips in line with your shoulders (no butts in the air). Go deep, don't cheat yourself on this one, as many people do. Go until failure.

Your arms will look better after just a few Jiggily Arm Sessions.  Good luck and if you need more information on this, contact me through my web page:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Better Thighs

Many times clients request workouts for a specific area. While we all know that many of the problems that we have with our bodies is due to an excess of fat and we all know that you cannot spot reduce fat. So reducing the total amount of body fat is essential to achieving the shape that we desire.

Ok. But we can start to tone and shape while losing body fat. So many of my female clients are not happy with the space from the hips to the knees, so I have come up with:

1. Reverse lunges. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
2. Squats w/toe raises. 15 each. Do three sets. 1 minute rest between sets.
3. Pelvic thrusts. 20 each.  1 minute rest between sets.
4. Side Lunges. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
5. 1-legged Squats. 15 each leg. Do three sets.  1 minute rest between sets.
For my more advanced clients, I add upper body movements to the exercises. If you are interested in learning more about the mini skirt workout, contact me through my web page:
Expect soreness!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Bosu Ball Workout

Don't know what to do with your Bosu Ball? Here are a few suggestions:
Lunges up on the ball. Step up with one leg, land squarely on the ball, bend both knees. Return to starting position. Repeat 15 times, then switch legs.
-Squats on the ball. Stand on the ball, find your balance, then squat deeply. Repeat 15 times.
-Crunches on the ball. Lie on the ball with your lower back fully supported, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and back arched over the ball. Extend your arms over your head, then crunch up with your elbows pointing to your knees. Work your way up to 100 crunches without rest.
Flip the ball over, dome side down.
-Squats on upside down ball. Stand with feet on the flat surface, find your balance and squat as deeply as you can. (It is a good idea to have a chair close by in case you need to grab hold of something.) Repeat for 15-20 repetitions.
-oblique planks. Start in a push up position with hands to the outside of the Bosu ball. Rock back and forth until fingers touch the ground. Keep abs tight. Do 15 alternating oblique planks.
Or if all else fails, you can use the Bosu ball for a place for the cat to curl up on.

More Reasons to Exercise

Not that we need more reasons to exercise, but here goes:
  1. Exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
  2. Exercise reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
  3. Exercise reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
  4. Exercise reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
  5. Exercise helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.
  6. Exercise reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
  7. Exercise reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
  8. Exercise helps control weight.
  9. Exercise helps build and maintain healthy bones.
  10. Exercise helps build and maintain healthy muscles and joints.
  11. Exercise helps older adults become stronger and better able to move without falling.
  12. Exercise helps maintain balance.
  13. Exercise promotes psychological well being.
  14. Exercise helps maintain balance in your life.
Do you need another reason? Exercise makes you healthier. Go to the gym. Take a run or a swim. Climb the stairs. Then do it again. Then do it again.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Beat Goes On

An average man has a heart rate of 70 beats per minute. An average woman has a heart rate of 75 beats per minute. This means that in this month of 28 days, your heart will beat somewhere 2,822,400 and 3,024,000 beats. Your heart is working hard for you. Isn't it time to return the favor? Get your heart in shape by eating the right foods and exercising.
What type of workout is best for you?
A workout that maintains an elevated and steady level of intensity is best for improving cholesterol levels.
An interval workout, which alternates a period of 2 minutes of intense exercise with 1 minute of killer intensity is best for weight loss.
A pyramid workout, which builds in intensity over 10-15 minutes, then backs off for 10-15 minutes and repeats is best for building the strength of your heart and lungs.
All three styles are effective in improving your health and all three are effective in weight management.
Get out there and exercise. Do it for your heart.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Aerobic Exercise

All exercise is good for you and your heart, but exercise that targets heart health is called cardiovascular or aerobic (meaning  - with oxygen) exercise. Aerobic exercise puts a demand for more oxygen on your body. For heart health, aerobic exercise should be sustained for a minimum of 20 minutes. The longer you continue, the better and faster the results. (Look at the contestants on "The Biggest Loser". They exercise for 6-8 hours a day to get the results. Not that I recommend that - the wear and tear on the body is tremendous and that kind of rapid weight loss is really hard to maintain.) The ideal amount of time for aerobic exercise is 40-50 minutes per session. This gives you time to warm up, sustain your elevated heart rate for 20-25 minutes and then cool down. For the greatest health benefits, experts recommend that you do 40-50 minutes of aerobic exercise 3+ times per week. If you are trying to lose weight, you should do aerobic exercise 6 times a week and supplement it with 2-3 weight training sessions.
Here is another little tidbit - aerobic exercise takes place when your heart rate is at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. Don't know that, here is the formula:
                   220 - (your age) = maximum heart rate
                   60-80 % of that number is your goal for optimum aerobic benefit

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Good Morning Breakfast

My mother always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We children were headed off to school and we needed to be alert and awake so we could learn, so we could pass our classes, so we could get into a college and so we could get a good job. I am no longer heading off to school, but I am heading out to work and I still need to be alert and awake, so I still need breakfast.
Untold studies have been done about the role that a nutritious breakfast plays in our lives. Eating early in the morning starts our metabolism and fuels our bodies. Ideally, you should wake up a little bit hungry. If you are not, reflect for a moment on what and when you ate the night before. Play with this a bit. If you are not hungry in the morning, cut back on your evening feedings. If you are starving in the morning, maybe you should eat a little more in the evening.
So what is the best breakfast? Well, everyone has different tastes, but you should have something with protein, simple carbohydrates and fat. Examples of this:
Greek Yogurt with blueberries and almonds
2 Eggs with a banana
Protein smoothie
Learn to read labels and keep complex carbohydrates under 45 grams. Keep fat under 6 grams. Keep sugar under 4 grams. Eating the right foods at the right time will help you sleep better, so you wake up feeling refreshed and a little bit hungry.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

I know a few people (maybe quite a few people) who cannot pass a mirror without looking at themselves. I know a few people (maybe quite a few people) who can go days without looking in a mirror. I fall somewhere in between. Most days I look at myself while combing hair or brushing my teeth and most days I take a look at what I am wearing before I leave the house. I am one of those people who doesn't see what I really look like. I see a fatter person than I am. I know this sounds kind of egotistical, and I don't mean it that way. I just think I am fat. I know I am not fat. The scale and the size on my clothes tell me I am not fat, but I think I am fat. My husband bought an adorable outfit from LuluLemon for Valentine's Day. I took one look at the shorts and said, "I will never get my butt into these." He insisted I try them on. They fit. It is really pretty odd, because the number on the scale is a number that I can live with. The clothes are small and still I think I am fat. Go figure.
Anyway, next time you are in front of a mirror, stand with your feet together and your back straight. Can you see through your legs in four places? (1. at the top of your thighs  2. between your mid thigh and knees  3. between your knees and your calves  4. between your calves and ankles) When I was a teenager this was the goal. Nowadays, there is the thigh gap. A space between your thighs when standing. Unfortunately, this is a physical impossibility for most people and they are dieting and exercising to extremes to achieve the thigh gap.
Girls, leave it alone. You want to work on something, attack the muffin top.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's On Your Plate?

Last Friday, a dear friend of mine invited myself and another girl out for a "Galentine's" lunch. The other girl was easily half my age and when I told her that I was a personal trainer and a nutritionist, she immediately began asking me questions about her weight issues. She is in her late 20s, works full time, newly married (3 months to an ex-Marine) and has put on a few pounds during the winter months. She plays kickball and softball on community leagues and the seasons are just around the corner. She and her husband alternate cooking and she feels that she is eating pretty good, but she is gaining weight. What is a poor girl to do?
Well, for starters, let us look down at our plates. We were at Traverna's Ristorante, a fabulous Italian restaurant that has recently moved to Knox Street in Dallas. I ordered a salad, no cheese and no added meat. The salad was great - greens, avocado, hearts of palm, bacon, onions and an herbed vinaigrette dressing. I had a water to drink. The other girl ordered Eggplant Parmigianino with a side of angel hair pasta and a cola to drink. She also had cheesecake for dessert, which she only ate half and took the rest home. While I don't obsess over every calorie, I am mindful of what I eat, especially when I eat out. There are all kinds of hidden calories in restaurant foods - butters and sugars and salts to enhance flavor. She thought eggplant was a healthy alternative, but in this case, maybe not so much. She could have eliminated a bunch of empty calories by drinking water and skipping dessert.
Having said all this, I also think that from time to time you have to throw caution to the wind and just eat whatever you want. If you don't, then staying on a strict diet becomes too hard and people will just quit. So, the bottom line - watch what you eat. Cut out unimportant calories, like cola. But don't  deny yourself everything all the time. You gotta live!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day, filled with love. Did your lover write it across the sky? Scene from my front porch on Friday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Heart Day

Today is Valentine's Day and February is Heart Health Awareness Month. Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. One  third of those who die from heart disease are under the age of 76. They might just be the lucky ones. Those who survive may suffer many hardships, including physical disability, job loss, lack of independence, and other health risks.
You know what, many of the factors that lead to heart disease are lifestyle choices, and therefore manageable. Factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol consumption and stress management are all things that we can control with proper diet and exercise. Other risk factors, like age, gender, race and family obviously we can't do anything about.
Keeping your weight in a healthy range is the single most important thing you can do for your heart. If you want to give a really special Valentine's present to your loved ones this year, make a commitment to lose weight and get healthier. Prove to them that you love them by staying alive.
Love your heart!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are you losing your mind?

I walk into a room and can't remember why I went in there. I forget names of people. If I have more than 2 items to get at the store, I have to write a list. Are you like me?
Did you know that aerobic exercise helps to rejuvenate the aging brain? Physical exercise plays a role in slowing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's. In a small study conducted in Seattle, the participants with an average age of 70 were divided into 2 groups. One group participated in aerobic exercise 45-60 minutes a day, four days a week and the second group did only stretching exercises. After 6 months, the group doing the aerobic exercise not only stalled memory loss, but improved it.
If you think of our bodies as the magnificent machines that they are, it only makes sense to keep up the maintenance required to run at optimal performance. You change the oil in your car, don't you? You replace the filters in the A/C, right? Do the maintenance on yourself as well. How much is the right amount? You should strive to exercise one minute for every year of your life daily. (50 years old = 50 minutes of exercise)
What was I going to do next? Oh yeah, go to the gym.
                                                                          (If I were coral, I would be brain coral cuz I work out!)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

English Proverb

Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork.

Stress Out, Exercise In

People are stressed out these days. Times are hard. Unemployment is up, the stock market looks like an EKG and who knows what is going to happen with the health care system. In addition, the kids need more for school, the dog is sick, you haven't had a vacation in 2 years and there are no raises in sight. Life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations and demands.
Stress is a normal reaction to events that leave you feeling threatened or upset. When you feel this way, the body's defenses kick into high gear. This stress response when you are threatened is a good thing - it allows you extra strength to defend yourself or provides the tools to rise to a dire situation. However, if life is just stressing you out, it can be pretty bad. Your memory falters, you can't concentrate, you exercise poor judgment, you become irritable, cortisol levels sky rocket, you can't sleep and you want to eat everything in the kitchen. If you continue to stress out, your body really can take a beating - chest pains, diarrhea, dizziness, weakened immune system and loss of sex drive.
Learning to recognize your own personal stress triggers is the first step in controlling stress in your life. While we might not be able to control what is stressing us out, we can take some positive steps in reacting to stress.
Guess what the #1 way to reduce stress is. You got it - EXERCISE. Exercise remodels the brain, making it (your control center) more stress-resistant. When you exercise, your brain releases a neurotransmitter, serotonin; often called the happy brain chemical. Scientists now know that increased serotonin is not necessarily the best stress reliever. Exercise also causes your brain to release another neurotransmitter, dopamine, and this is the good stuff. Dopamine stimulates relaxation and is very helpful with stress management.
But wait, folks, that's not all. Exercising increases the body's release of antioxidants. Anxiety has been linked to oxidative stress, which can lead to cell death, including cells in the brain. Exercise dampens the effects of oxidative stress resulting in less disruption to brain function, lower heart rates and reduced anxiety.
Exercise may not cure everything, but it sure helps out a lot!