Category Archives: Exercise

How to do a pull up

Recently, I did my first chin ups. It was the first time since I was a kid that I’ve done one, and I was thrilled to be able to do it again. I had a trainer that was trying to get me to do them a while ago, but I was not successful. But practicing on my own and using the technique that P90x teaches allowed me to finally do them. Here’s how I did it:

1. Building my upper body: Pull ups require a lot of upper body strength — many women don’t possess this naturally in the way that men do. I started building my upper body with weight machines like the lat pull down, rowing machines, and cables to build chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. I also did a vigorous yoga program that includes sun salutations, side arm balance, crane, head stands/hand stands, and other upper body strengthening poses.

2. Easy does it: pull ups are hard enough as they are – so why go for the most difficult kind at first? I started by going for chin ups first – the grip (palms facing you) makes them a little easier to do than the standard pull ups (palms away). Also, it’s easier if you keep your grip standard – about shoulder distance apart. Wide or close grip pull ups can be more difficult and should be attempted when you are more advanced.

3. Getting support: When I worked with my trainer, he put me on a pull up bar and said, “OK, do a pull up.” Obviously that wasn’t going to happen – there was no way I could pull up all of my weight from hanging straight down with feet dangling in the air. I needed to decrease the amount of weight I was pulling. I learned that you can practice the pull up move by resting one or both feet on a chair and pulling up a portion of your weight. As I got stronger, I tried to just barely rest one foot on the chair while pulling up as much of my weight as I could handle. One day, I was able to one pullup. The next time, I tried for two, and I did it. As I get stronger, I see how many I can do. Right now, I’m up to 6 at one time without a chair.

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Visualizing Your Success

Watching the Olympics last night, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. Many of the women about to compete in the hurdles competition were swinging their arms and seemed to be talking to themselves while they gazed down the track. What they were most likely doing was visualizing their race – running it in their minds before they physically ran it. And by doing so, they were seeing themselves winning by projecting success in their minds before the race.

Visualizing success this way is not new. Sports coaches do this regularly when they are coaching their teams. In one of his many interviews, Michael Phelps mentioned that his coach “taught him to use his imagination” – probably starting when he suggested to Phelps at age 11 that one day he would be on the Olympic swim team.

Many health, career and life coaches also teach their clients to imagine succeeding to make success a reality.  Self-improvement gurus often tell clients to “act as if” what they want to happen has already happened. The Secret is built on this premise – that by keeping a thought in your mind, you will attract that wish into your life.

Anyone can use this to succeed at whatever they want. The question is, why doesn’t everyone use visualization to attract everything that makes life delicious? Instead, so many of us project things that we don’t want – worrying about the future, or living in the past.

But it’s easy to turn things around – just start today by visualizing something that you really want and seeing yourself getting it. Imagine your new job in the most ideal work environment, surrounded by people that you like and appreciate. Imagine finding that significant other, and how wonderful and beautiful they are and how they make you feel. Imagine yourself in the best shape of your life and enjoying your strong, healthy body. The clearer your picture is of your goal, the more likely the chances you will achieve it. If you can see it, and stay focused on how you can achieve it, you will find and seize it when the opportunity arrives.

Olympic Diet

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh

I’m not really into sports, but I love watching the Olympics. The stamina, dedication and nearly flawless performances of these elite athletes is astonishing.  I’m inspired to work harder and take better care of myself watching their amazingly strong bodies compete in what looks like effortless competitions.

How do Olympians keep their energy up? Most of them follow regular healthy diets and get to sleep as early as they can to recharge. You can’t get into amazing shape and be able to compete at your best if you’re not taking good care of yourself. Here’s a great slideshow about the training and diet regimens of many of the top U.S. Olympians: How to get an Olympic body.

Michael Phelps’ regimen, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily the healthiest – he’s more focused on bulking up his caloric load to make sure that he has the energy to keep winning the gold metals.

Most healthy men consume about 2,000 calories a day; upping consumption to 12,000 calories a day would make any ordinary man obese. But for Phelps, he needs this staggering amount of calories just so that he can perform.

And another article about Phelps’ diet is here: Pasta and Pizza? That’s Phelps’ Gold Metal Secret?

Older neighborhoods = less weight gain

I saw this interesting article from the NY Times‘ health section: a study shows that residents of  older neighborhoods (e.g., ones that were built decades ago) are less likely to gain weight. It points to the fact that you can walk to places – like stores – in older neighborhoods.

I grew up in an older town that had a main street several blocks from my house. As kids, we used to walk down to “town” or ride our bikes there. Of course, we were going to town looking for candy, but at least we were getting out and walking towards it instead of having mom drive us to it.

P90x Day 61: My first chin ups

Monday’s workout marked a true milestone for me – I did my first chin ups without the use of a ladder to support some of my weight. I did 2.5 chin ups before I had to resort to using the step ladder for the rest of my reps. I think the last time I was able to do a chin up was in grade school. Even when I was working with my trainers, I was never able to achieve the strength that I have now.

This work out really works if you follow the instructions. I have been showing off my arms quite a bit lately. I will post pictures soon – I need to take some new ones.

The Wedding Diet

Oh yes, the infamous wedding diet. This is when brides-to-be do everything they can in their power to get slimmer, trimmer and tinier before their Big Day. For some, the BIGGEST DAY OF THEIR LIVES. And, in order to be fully prepared for the biggest day of their lives, it’s essential that they become as tiny as they possibly can to fit into the smallest wedding gown, because as you know white is not slimming like black is. Oh no. It’s time to work out till you drop and diet until you pass out. Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll be prepared for the BIGGEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE.

Ok, I have to admit it. I have been working out, and fairly hard for the past two months, partially for vanity reasons. And yes, I’m getting married very soon. And yes, I have to admit that I have been watching the scale. And happy that the numbers have become smaller. Even though I know that they’re just numbers and really it’s more about how I feel in my clothes. But yes, I have this slight vanity urge happening that makes me want to be in the best shape of my life, look my prettiest, see my thighs at their thinnest that I can ever remember when I’m sitting on the deck chair in my bikini during the honeymoon. Pure vanity.

The thing is that I know that my wedding is just one day. One special day, but not the only good day I’ll ever have. And good health is more than looking amazing in a dress for a day or a bikini for a week. It’s not about numbers, calories, miles run, reps performed.

A Delicious Life is about feeling good inside and out. Yes, when you take care of yourself with good diet and regular exercise, you start experience life in a more delicious way. But a delicious life is feeling good about your whole life – the work you do or aspire to do, the relationships you have with friends, family and loved ones, and the connection you have to your own spirit in whatever way makes sense to you. Living a delicious life can start with your diet or your exercise routine, but to truly have it all you need balance in all areas. That’s when you can really have a delicious life.

While I’m working out for extreme vanity reasons now, I know that I’ll keep these healthy routines way after the big day. I’m happy to be in great shape again. I’ve been in good shape before – especially when I was training for my triathlon and the 5k races I used to do. It’s a great feeling to be back in excellent physical shape, even if my healthy habits only started because of a white dress.

The best way to get in shape

Part of having a delicious life is about loving the skin you’re in. Finding movement that feels right for you can help you love your body that much more. When you take care of your body with vitality-building exercises, you are rewarded with higher energy levels and more positive emotions (not to mention a sexy hot bod).

I work out in the morning because I know there’s no way of getting out of it. At 6:00am, I’m too sleepy to reason with myself. If I make myself just get up and do it, I’m already 10 minutes into the workout by the time I fully wake up, and then I’m not resisting working out.

Sometimes I have an awesome workout. And sometimes I want to die. Most of the times, I like working out. But sometimes, if I’ve stayed up too late the night before (like last night), I really don’t want to get out of bed. I think about hitting the snooze button. But then I get up anyway.

Why? Because the best – and only – way to get in shape is to consistently put one foot in front of another. That means, just show up.

Even if it’s not your best workout day, or if you can only work out for 20 minutes. Or 15. At least you showed up. That’s 15 more minutes than you would have done had you stayed in bed. And once you get into the habit, you won’t think twice about skipping a workout. It will become second nature like brushing your teeth, just another step in your routine.

It takes about 21 days to ingrain a new habit. Once you do something consistently each day for about 3 weeks, it becomes part of your daily routine. If you continue past that time, you’re probably going to keep the habit for quite a while.

I’m 19 days into my new workout routine. I’ve noticed that the shape of my body is starting to change. All of my pants are loose, and most everything else in my wardrobe fits well or is moving to the “too big” side. And while I’m sleepy today, my overall energy has definitely increased over the past few weeks.

I highly recommend trying a new workout routine and committing to it for at least 3 weeks. Try something that challenges you. If you’ve been a runner forever, take up a new cardio sport such as biking or swimming. If you lift weights, try yoga. If you’re a weight lifter, try Tai Chi. Even if you’re in amazing shape, you may be surprised how difficult a new type exercise can be. And, if you’ve been bored with your same old routine, you might find yourself loving working out again.

Something to get you started (if you’re in New York City/Brooklyn):

Free yoga and tai chi classes in Bryant Park
Body Church – free full-body workout Sundays in McCarren Park
Shape Up New York – free fitness classes in New York City
Swimming Pools – free adult lap swim in mornings and evenings throughout the summer

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Want to kick start a new diet or exercise routine? Try my week-long cleanse class – a quick, flexible, easy way to get moving. The class starts May 7, so sign up today!