Monday, April 30, 2007

Taking My Own Advice

OK, so last week I offered you the "No Excuses Workout," did you try it? I did it today. And it was a BLAST! I never wanted the workout to end because I was having so much fun! I kept light dumbbells in my hands and worked up quite a sweat!

What are you doing to move more and burn calories on a daily basis? Here are some suggestions:

1. Go for a walk with a friend. You can get in shape and catch up.

2. Take your dog out for walks more frequently. The dog will love it and you will get exercise. You don't have a dog? There are so many great pooches available for adoption that you could save a life in the process of getting in shape.

3. Take your children to the park and play tag, hopscotch or red light green light. Teach them about the skills of your favorite sport or activity. Anything that will get you moving with them, and it you will teach them life long skills of the importance of physical activity.

4. Go out dancing with friends, another multi purpose activity.

5. Join a club that is physically active: a running club, Dragon Boat team, volleyball, kickball, tennis, in line skating. There are so many options available. If you can't find a club you would want to join, start one of your own.

If none of those are viable options you can always clean your house. If your house is clean you can come clean mine! :-)

Let me know some of your suggestions for burning calories, especially if they don't look like exercise. The important thing is to move evryday and have fun doing it, this will make it much easier to incorporate it into your life!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Feeling Down?

Well, it is a typical rainy April day here in Philadelphia, and that is not helping me with my mood. I am feeling a bit tired today and the lack of sun continues to add to this mopey feeling. This is actually a crucial time because I know when I am tired or sad I have the habit of over eating or eating comfort foods. So what is there to do about it?

Here are the things I have tried with a lot of success:
1. I journal. When I write I am present to my thoughts and feelings and I can identify what is really going on in my mind. I have found this is an invaluable tool because it allows me to see why I am not feeling 100%, and writing also helps me identify potential self destructive behaviors. I am able focus on a solution to my mood, instead of feeling powerless.

2. I practice forgiveness. When my brain is caught in non-productive thought patterns, I allow it to be present instead of ignoring it. Then I acknowledge what is there and forgive myself for the thought patterns. We all go through times of our lives when we know we could have made a better choice, how can you gain value from that experience? Try this: forgive yourself and anyone else involved, LEARN from whatever happened, be thankful for the lesson being in your life. You may be surprised at the peace to be found within your mind when you practice forgiveness.

3. I workout. Not always the easiest thing to do when you are tired or depressed. The latest research is proving that exercise has an amazing positive impact on the chemicals in your brain that help elevate your mood. Go back to my blog from last week about the "No Excuse" workout and try that. The combination of uplifting music with the freedom of dance can pick you up out of the dumps, even when it is flooding outside!

4. I Laugh. This seems silly at first, but it really works! You can just start to laugh for no reason and it CAN improve your mood. If that is far fetched to you, put on a funny movie or think of a funny situation. At this time in technology you can even go to the internet and search for funny viral videos for a little comic relief.

5. I sing. Even if you can't carry a tune, this on is long as you are not killing anyone else's ears! Grab a spatula or hair brush and sing your heart out!

What I don't do:
I don't binge. I don't go out and buy Peanut or Almond M&M's, my favorite, because I know that is only going to make me feel worse! Instead I focus on feeding myself healthy food that I know will help me feel better, because I deserve to feel amazing.

I don't hide. I am a champion hybrinator! When I am sad or depressed I withdraw, but I have found if that goes on too long I get worse. So I pick up the phone and call my Dad (who I ADORE! Love you Dad!), a family member, or a friend, someone who I know will be there with love and support. I am SOOOOO thankful for EVERYONE of my siblings, all 7 of them, because I can always get love and support from them!

I don't allow myself to abuse me! This is a big one: stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. Stop being mean to you!!!! PLEASE!!!! (MHD) How do you do that? In addition to the list of things I do, you could pray, meditate, talk, just don't beat yourself up. Get in touch with someone else for help if nothing else is working. Believe me, I have recently had days when I did not want to get out of bed, I understand. It's OK not to feel great all the time, practice acceptance and forgiveness, and seek help from others if you need to.

I feel better already! Writing my blog and helping others always gives me a burst of energy and now I don't feel so bad!

What do you do to feel better? Let me know.

Have a great day splashing in the puddles!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Allergy and a Blessing?

Everything happens for a reason, right? That is part of the reason human beings are so resilient: because we can find hope and promise from even the most devastating of situations. Maybe that is just me, but I would rather live in an optimistic frame of mind than a pessimistic one any day.

Take my allergy, for example. I am allergic to gluten: no wheat, rye, oats or barley. It took a while to getting used to not eating bread, pasta, cookies, cake, donuts, etc, but think of this: aren't those all of the foods you should keep to a minimum anyway? These are all high glycemic foods that trigger an insulin response and help the body store more fat. So yes, while reading food labels all the time is a bit annoying, and so many processed food have gluten in them, there is a silver lining. It forces me to eat healthy. Fresh fruit and vegetables are gluten free. Most protein is also gluten free. As a matter of fact, the closer you keep to natural, whole foods (foods as nature intended, not manufacturers) the less gluten you encounter.

So what is my point? I know how difficult it is to modify your eating plan, I have had to do it everyday for the past 6 years or I get physically sick. But once you get used to it eating healthy feels amazing. My mood has improved, loosing weight has been easier, my skin is young and healthy and I don't get bloated with meals. I like to say that my allergy keeps me honest, because no matter how good that basket of bread smells, I can not touch it.

This is a pretty big WHY in my life. It is part of the WHY I use to eat healthy, but believe me, there are still a ton of unhealthy gluten free foods out there, I just know how wonderful I feel when I eat healthy. So I still choose my eating habits.

Which eating habits are you choosing? Why? Remember: nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Curvy Girl Body Image

Curvy Girl Fitness is not just a health and wellness resource, it is an inspirational resource founded on the belief that Beauty, Joy and Love are within every one of us. Sometimes we just need some coaching to find it.

Curvy Girl Fitness is a blessing to me, because it has given me an access point to share my personal wealth of experience with the world. I too have struggled for years to find comfort in the fit of my own skin. I can remember being 12 years old, and feeling fat when I compared myself to my sisters and girlfriends, but the truth of the matter was that was like comparing apples and pineapples.

I was shapely at an early age, developing my curvy features before others, especially in my lower body. At the time there were no healthy pictures of women in my area. All of the magazines featured rail thin models and I had shapely hips, butt and thighs. There were also no resources available for my mother to help me cope with my body image, and she did the best she could. (There is a funny story here that I will save for another time! Love you Mom!) But it was not enough. I began abusing diet pills and laxatives my freshman year in high school, and continued this destructive cycle of disordered eating and body image for the next 18 years. That is why I am thankful for Beyonce, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

Now, I know that may sound a bit strange, that I am grateful for three singers, but the truth is these three women have allowed a space in the media for women who are not of a rail thin, big boob variety. See, being Caucasian, there has been a standard of beauty prevalent within my familiar society: big breasts, tiny waist and no butt. Well, the only attribute that I possessed of those three was the tiny waist, other than that I was the opposite. What the breakthrough of these three women did for me was to put a beautiful, curvy, sexy figure of women into the forefront of mass media. I finally had my own role models, and even though they were of different races I believe they brought the consciousness of mass media into a new "frame of mind" through a new "frame of body"!!!

Can I get an HALLELUJAH!!!

There was never anything wrong with the way I looked, I was just looking at images of women in the media who did not reflect my body type. Now I am drawn to these three women and their careers because I can identify myself with their beautiful bodies. I am not like the super models of the world, and that is fine with me. My body and my image are unique and sexy: remember, it all comes down to what you BELIEVE you see. If I still thought I was fat, then I would be, if I believe I am beautiful, then I will be!

What are the images that you choose to surround yourself with? What are you telling yourself about your body? I love Beyonce, Shakira and J Lo. Keep healthy, real life images around you and see how it starts to make you feel about your body!

Let's all sing: "I like big butts and I cannot lie....." one heck of a theme song!!!!! :-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What You See Is What You See

I used to have a page from a magazine on my refrigerator door. It was of a woman rock climbing and the inset read: To look at yourself and see what is right instead of what is wrong, that is the mark of a truly healthy individual. I couldn't tell you where that inspirational message is today, this was probably 15 years ago, but I remember it as if it were still there. I remember the days I drew strength from it. I remember the days I scoffed at it's presence and I probably threw it out when I no longer felt it was necessary or appropriate to stare at a tattered image on my refrigerator door, but I have never forgotten it.

To look at yourself and see what is right instead of what is wrong, that is the mark of a truly healthy individual.

Take it and write it on a post it note and attach it to your dash board, write it out as your screen saver, or print it out with a picture of yourself and put it on your own refrigerator door. Take that line, or something inspirational to you, and put it around you where you will see it and reflect on it throughout the day.

You are anything you say you are. So what are you going to tell yourself today?

Monday, April 23, 2007

An AMAZING Weekend

How was your weekend? Mine was spectacular! I got to listen to John DeMartini of The Secret speak, not once, but twice. I was also fortunate enough to have met him on both occasions.
I was touched, moved and inspired by the lectures, and it reminded me of why I love Curvy Girl Fitness and the company I am building. I was struck by the timeliness of his words, and at times felt as though he was speaking directly to me. The themes that came to life during John DeMartini's seminars were echoing what I have begun to share with you over the past week. Have you ever felt like the Universe was trying to tell you something? What it was telling me was that I was on the right track in my life and my mission.
I am looking forward to sharing more insights, inspirations and motivations with you. Remember, whatever you focus upon the most is what will show up for you. I have been focusing upon Curvy Girl Fitness and creating beauty, joy and love for women all over the world. Then John DeMartini showed up for me. What are you focusing on? Is it adding value to your life and is it in line with what you want to create? If not, begin to focus upon what you want to create in your life and that is what will show up for you.
I am honored to be a part of your journey through this life. I am thankful for being able to offer you valuable information of how to obtain your health and fitness goals. As you succeed, I succeed. Thank you for being a part of my dream.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Lovely Day Workout, Rocky Style!

I know it is April 20th, but this really is the first day of great weather in weeks! I don't know about where you are in the world, but the weather here in the Northeastern United States has been unseasonably cold. We even had snow over the last week! Combine that with the torrential rains that left me searching for Noah and his Ark, and you will understand why I am so excited by this Lovely Day!

To celebrate how grateful I am for the break in the weather, today we are going to talk about an outdoor workout. As soon as the weather is nice enough I take my clients outside to train. It is a fabulous way to break the monotony of our long winter workouts, get extra cardio, and completely restructure their routines. And I have to say that there is something very moving about being outside with a client and watching the sky wake up with a spectacular SUNRISE. It never fails to take my breath away. The SUNRISE, I am truly thankful to witness it and I always pause and count my blessings. Is there any better way to start a day? ;-)

We in the Northeast are going to flock outdoors now, so pack your sneakers and get ready to FEEL GREAT!

Simply by getting out and walking you will begin your journey to health and fitness. Make sure you stand tall, pull your belly in and swing your arms to burn even more calories.

If you would like more of a challenge and can find a flight if stairs, even 5 or 6 steps, you can do this workout. Being a Philly Native, I am inspired by the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky Balboa ran up to fame and fortune. Remember, work at a level that is appropriate for you. You do not have to run or jump, if you believe walking and stepping through this routine is all you can physically handle, please do so.

Each one of these moves you are going to do for 45 seconds and repeat 3-5 times:

1. Run (or walk) up and down stairs for 45 sec with a minute or more recovery. Repeat.
2. Front/back hop on FIRST STEP only, 45 seconds, same recovery.
3. Lateral (side to side) hop on/off the first step, 20 seconds right side, 20 seconds left side. Same recovery

These are quick intervals that you can do to make your outdoor routine a little more interesting. Have fun and practice all of the universal standards of safety during exercise. Remember to warm up, cool down and stretch at the end of your workout.

Have fun and enjoy the SUNSHINE on this LOVELY DAY!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No Excuse Workouts!

As a fitness professional, I see the opportunity to exercise everywhere. I am also a reality TV fan, so I naturally I see a link between the two.

My friend the "Mighty" Joe Stankowski blogged today about reality TV in his "Morning Cup Of Joe," and that got me thinking about the impact of reality TV on the American viewing audience.

There are a few reality TV programs emphasising weight loss, such as "Celebrity Fit Club" and "The Biggest Loser." I have mixed emotions about these two shows specifically, because I LOVE to workout, but I often find myself shocked by the workout programs that the unconditioned participants are subjected to. I personally would not choose to subject myself to a great number of the workouts...and I LOVE to workout! I can't imagine what it must be like to be a completely unconditioned person watching a show where the participants are pushed to the point of tears or sheer exhaustion. I don't believe they create a realistic or healthy expectation about the types of programs available for the average person to participate in. That being said, I am personally aware of the many local groups inspired by the show "The Biggest Loser" and hope they achieve the goals they have set out for themselves.

One of my new Reality TV discoveries is "Dancing With the Stars." I had never watched it before this season, but I started taking Salsa lessons this year I was curious to watch the dancers for myself. WOW! These contestants are working their butts off to master these skills in a short period of time...and then they get on national television with the experts....and you know the rest..... Is anyone else as inspired as I am to dance more after watching that show? The moves are amazing! And it is a spectacular cardiovascular workout.

What is that mumbling I hear? You have no time for lessons and they must cost a fortune? I hear you, but I am going to suggest a FUN, PRACTICAL and FREE way to dance your butt off as well. I tried it today and I had a BLAST while I was sweating my way to health and fitness.

If you have 20 minutes (or longer) and access to your favorite music YOU TOO have a one way ticket to dancing your way into good health! Try this, ESPECIALLY if you DO NOT feel like working out! It is FUN, FAST and will put you in a GREAT MOOD!

I like putting my iPod on, because I can play the music as loud as I want. I also can listen to whatever I want and won't offend any one with my "taste" in workout music. Go to a room, or anywhere you feel comfortable, and put on your favorite music to dance to. If you are self conscious, go to a room with a locked door so you can really have fun! (See, NO EXCUSES)
Then DANCE, DANCE, DANCE...for as long as you would like. MOVE! Have fun! Shake your hips, move your arms, speed up, slow down. There is no wrong way for you to dance in private, it is all up to you. It is fun, freeing and burns calories.

Be silly, Be sexy, Be sweaty, but most importantly Be the cause of your health and fitness transformation. It will feel wonderful, just try it for yourself.

No Monthly membership fees, no trips to the gym, no baby sitters involved. In fact, if you have children let them try it with you. See, there are no excuses why you can't workout.

Have fun and feel good!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mastering Your Body

Sometimes we feel like tourists in our own skin. We know we wear it everyday, but we don't always follow the right directions and get lost on our journey to health and fitness.


Consider this: Most people have mastered something in their lives. Most of us have taken the time and effort required to be exceptionally skilled at something. Maybe you are an amazing cook, successful in your career or can write far better than I. So what have you mastered? Did it take some work? Effort? Did it happen overnight or did you have to put time and energy into acquiring that skill: both physical and mental. My point here is not to disway from the journey of attaining health and fitness in your lives, rather I am attempting to help you understand that whenever you really want something in your life you do what it takes to achieve that goal.

The first thing you did was you mastered your MIND. Before you acquired the skills it took to master something, you thought about it, you believed it, and you wanted it in your life. See, the first step to getting anything you want from your body is to BELIEVE you can have it first. What is the sense of trying to get in shape if you don't believe that you will achieve your goal? If you believe it, you can achieve it.

So the key to Mastering Your Body is to Master Your Mind. Start to see yourself the way you want to be. Start to FEEL what you want your body to be. Once you do these steps, and you BELIEVE you can have the goal, the journey will appear to be easier than you have ever imagined.

Master the power of your mind. Practice having faith in yourself, practice everyday, and the results will start to come to you, just as they did as you mastered other amazing skills in your life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ready To Change

Change is hard, there is no getting around that fact. And let’s face it, no matter what words or phrases we use to describe getting in shape, changes are going to occur. Back to my original statement: Change is hard.

How do we enter a fitness and wellness routine, and create a place where it’s just not so hard? We begin with the way we think. Because here is the killer….change isn’t hard, unless you say so. It sounds over simplified, and at first glance it is, but think about it and ask yourself a question: Who told you change is hard? Are they still standing next to you repeating it or are you telling yourself? I am not going to say it again, instead I am going to substitute another statement where I want change to occur. Try some of these:
I feel great when I workout
Eating healthy gives me energy
I treat myself with love and respect because that is what I deserve

You can create whatever statement you want. Look at what you are desiring to achieve, and make that your statement. If you find a negative thought or impulse in your thinking replace it with a positive statement. After all, who deserves love and respect more than you? No one.

We are in charge of our thought processes, and therefore we are in charge of what we believe. Pay attention to what you say to yourself, and open your mind to positive statements. You will be amazed by the results.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Day Of Blogging

So, my first official day of blogging. I am ready to impact the world! So what is it I want to share? What great words of wisdom are going to spring forth fully formed from my head and impact you? Well, I have one word: KEGEL!

Believe me when I tell you that Kegeling will change your life!

For those of you who do not know what a Kegel is: a Kegel is an exercise that strengthens the muscles of the pelvic floor. Think of this (Guys and Girls), you are going to the bathroom and you want to stop the flow mid-stream, that is a Kegel.

OK, so everyone do a Kegel! Hold for five then release. Cool, huh?

So you may be asking: Jo, what was so amazing about that exercise? Good question!

What do you think is the number one complaint of most people about their bodies? The Abs and waist line. Even lean women often have a pooch on their lower belly. The SAME muscles that contract for a Kegel also contract the lowest region of the abdominal wall.

Do it again, but this time put your hand on the lower part of your belly as you Kegel. Did you feel that it got TIGHTER and FLATTER? Need I say more? If you Kegel during ab exercises you are stimulating the same muscles that flatten your belly. Not only that, but it helps improve your posture, because these are the CORE muscles!

Repeat this throughout the day, hold for 5 seconds and release. INcrease the time you are holding the contraction and then use it during your normal ab routine.

This move will not only tighten the difficult lower abs, but may also improve your sexual pleasure and orgasms. Not to bad for such a small exercise that you can do right now!

So Kegel away!