Strong is the New Beautiful

Strong is the New Beautiful by Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn is the number-one fitness book I’ve ever read.

I urge you to go out and buy this book or install it on a device.

Turn to page 156 for this gem alone which makes it worth buying the book:

“The more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to die early from any cause, according to research.”

Lifting weights twice a week and doing cardio once or twice a week can be all that’s needed to get a person in peak condition mentally and physically.

You might be turned off by the photos of Lindsey Vonn without clothes on. Yet if you ask me she poses that way to show women of all shapes and sizes that we’re beautiful just the way we are.

After winning Gold, Lindsey Vonn interacted with celebrities and started to question if she was beautiful because she had a muscular build. She wasn’t stick-thin like the women who are movie screen idols.

What Lindsey Vonn wrote bears repeating here because I’m living proof of what she speaks: you can gain a few pounds from lifting weights and drop a dress size.

Indeed, I didn’t lose any weight when I started strength training. However, I did drop one pant and one skirt size.

I’ve fit into the same size pant and skirt for over 5 years now. No–I didn’t lose weight I actually gained a few pounds. Yet I fit into a smaller size.

The secret is to not give up after only two months. It takes one year at least of consistent, dedicated strength training to see significant results that will last.

The number on the scale really shouldn’t be a woman’s concern in this regard.

As it is, I’m muscular not skeletal thin and I prefer to have muscle.

This summer I will be posting here photos of meals and recipes that readers can try at home.

It’s Greenmarket season–my favorite time of year.

I will also be posting lists of exercise motivation tips and other fitspo as it’s called for fitness inspiration.

Drinking Plenty of Water

I’m on a big kick now to get people to drink plenty of water.

Divide your weight in half to get the number of ounces of water to drink each day.

I’m as guilty as anyone of resisting drinking water.

If you don’t drink enough water you could wind up needing to go to the ER for hydration via an IV drip.

Without enough water you could get so fatigued that you can’t get out of bed.

If drinking water doesn’t appeal to you, try using a bigger glass and filling it halfway so you’re not overwhelmed. Or use only a 10-ounce glass and fill it all the way.

I’ve ordered one of the Ellen DeGeneres Joy mugs to use throughout the day to drink water.

Drinking water flushes out toxins. Drinking water gives you clearer skin. Drinking water keep you hydrated. Thus drinking water helps you maintain your energy level.

What’s not to love about drinking water?

A Practical Guide to Health IMHO

Before you listen to me feel free to consult an M.D. or other professional.

I just wanted to write on the weekends about fitness and nutrition again. Like anything I tend to draw from my own experience because I want to uplift and inspire others.

Making positive changes is possible at any time along the road in your recovery and your life. A lot of time making a drastic wholesale change isn’t warranted unless you’ve gotten to the point of being in dire straits with your health.

I wanted to give some hope to readers and talk about what I think makes sense.

A bone density test revealed that I don’t have osteoporosis. This amazes me because I don’t consume 2,000 mg of calcium per day. It totally mystified me. Yet I think it’s proof that everything in moderation is really the way to go.

The older you get strength training becomes more important. I dead lift 175 pounds now because I do 3 sets of 10 reps. With lower reps I can dead lift 180 pounds or more.

I have no scientific proof that strength training can give you strong bones. I should Google this before I go off leaping into telling readers things about building better bones.

Yet I thought I’d talk about this to demystify all the hype and hoopla about what a person is supposed to do to be healthy. Expert advice aside I think a healthy dose of common sense is warranted.

My calcium intake consists of 3 sticks of string cheese a day (different kinds) for 600 mg. calcium – plus 1 cup reduced-fat chocolate milk (300 mg calcium) – plus 8 oz of skim milk with cereal in the morning (100 mg calcium) – plus whatever I get from dark green leafy vegetables or broccoli or another source.

I found out that Buitoni wild mushroom agnolotti (a kind of pasta) has 150 mg of calcium per package.

This all adds up to about 1,000 to 1,200 mg calcium per day. Plus I take a 2,0000 IU Vitamin D3 gel cap in the morning. If memory serves Vitamin D increases calcium absorption.

To prove a point I can prove without Googling because it makes sense to me: cutting out all dairy from your diet doesn’t make sense.

The anti-psychiatry crowd will recommend not consuming dairy. The health faddists will recommend not consuming dairy. At all.

Yes I’m living proof that there’s a happy medium. See this Mediterranean Food Pyramid for the details:

mediterranen_pyramid

You can have eggs, cheese, and yogurt on this beautiful “diet” which isn’t actually a diet just a sensible and healthy and yes delicious eating plan.

I really don’t eat white food like potatoes, french fries, regular pasta, and white rice. Nor do I eat a lot of whole grains either as a rule though you’re supposed to. Nixing refined grains is a must so I don’t have any of this kind either. High-fiber whole grain cereal in the morning is more my style.

The Mediterranean Diet has been written about in books since 1993 and this “diet” has been around forever as practiced by Italians in Italy and in other Mediterranean countries.

Really now. I don’t even think you need to exercise 5 times a week for an hour a day. Like some experts insist you need to do.

Tamara Allmen M.D. (certified menopause doctor and author of Menopause Confidential) and Lindsey Vonn (Olympic gold-medalist skier) and Miriam Nelson (Strong Women,  Strong Bones founder) all recommend strength training 2X per week and mixing in bouts of cardio.

That’s all folks.

The cardio can be spinning or Zumba or the treadmill or walking at a brisk pace or any kind of aerobic exercise you want to do for cardiovascular fitness. For maximum benefit to your bones and your body and your mental conditioning I recommend lifting weights as your primary exercise routine.

I’ll end here by also recommending the Mediterranean Diet as a good eating plan to follow 80 percent of the time. Striving to consistently eat healthfully 80 percent of the time sounds right to me.

NAMI Blog Article This Summer

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The arms look OK here if you ask me. This or another photo might accompany a news article I’m having published in the NAMI blog online either this summer or in the fall.

I took my Top 10 Fitness Motivation Tips and expanded it into a news article to pitch to NAMI. The article will be published in the NAMI blog online.

Here now I want to suggest hiring a nutritionist to be on your treatment team. I’m going to hire a nutrition pro to help me this summer.

In the 1990s I employed an M.D. who had a private practice in health and nutrition to help me lose weight. I saw her at most five times through those years. Yet having seen her was the stepping stone to taking action on my own to have better health.

At a Left of the Dial book talk I recommended this M.D. to a father whose daughter struggles with atypical-drug weight gain. That’s why I champion hiring a nutritionist to be on your treatment team.

This M.D. wrote on her prescription pad the RDAs of fiber, protein, and calcium I was supposed to get. She gave me handouts like a sheet that listed sources of calcium and the amounts of calcium in each serving. She examined my food journal I kept to record what I ate every day for two weeks.

Keeping a food journal is the first step in tracking what you eat to see how you can change your behavior. Enlisting a professional to help you can also benefit you in the long-term even if you see this person for only a few sessions.

The ironic yet true thing is that if you train intense at the gym like I do and are active elsewhere you might need to eat more food as fuel. Which is not to say eat any food–eat more protein and more healthful food to fuel your body everyday.

The response was quick–NAMI responded in 24 hours to tell me they’re going to use my news article. I’ll give readers a link to this article here when it appears on the NAMI blog.

 

 

The Top 10 Fitness Motivation Tips

Set a SMART goal: one that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive.

Be realistic yet challenge yourself. Research shows that setting easy goals makes us less motivated to try to achieve them. A challenging goal can be achievable when it’s a personally meaningful goal that we’ve set for ourselves not one that others have told us we should embark on. To achieve a goal we must be invested in it.

Focus on what you did do not on what you didn’t do.

Setting up impossible demands on yourself will set you up to fail. Be proud you exercised twice in one week instead of beating yourself up for not exercising five times.

Change one behavior at a time.

In the 1990s I started my inchoate quest to have better health. The first week I replaced whole milk with skim milk. Next I cooked chicken without the skin. Then I stopped cooking meat. And so on.

Reward yourself often for little victories as well as milestones.

My favorite is to shop at Banana Republic with coupon codes. The cost of the treat should be commensurate with the goal. I’m not advocating for spending a lot of money on rewards just on the kind of reward that boosts a person up.

Set performance goals as you go farther along.

Achieving perfect form, lifting higher weights, doing more reps or mastering an exercise you previously weren’t good at all count as possible performance goals.

Find the kind of exercise that is best for you.

I’m a big fan of strength training most of all for everyone as we get older and want to maintain a healthy weight and have functional fitness throughout our lives.

For you, your own Tour de Fitness might be taking spinning classes.

Focus on the positive long-term consequences of developing a consistent fitness routine instead of dwelling on the occasional setbacks that are often only temporary.

If for a week or two you haven’t exercised as often as you wanted or have “fallen down” in a way that upsets you be kinder to yourself and remember that “fitness is forever” and you’re not perfect. Aim for progress instead.

Remember that nutrition is 80 percent of fitness.

Food habits go hand-in-hand with exercise habits. Endless snacking and unhealthful eating can torpedo your efforts at the gym.

Re-frame your perception of “exercise.”

In my own life I use the umbrella term fitness not exercise. Fitness is an organic approach that encompasses lifestyle (thoughts and feelings, spirituality, finances, career and relationships, among other things).

Have fun.

 

The Champion’s Comeback

I’ve finished reading The Champion’s  Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite by Jim Afremow. He also wrote The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive.

Buy these two books along with Fight Your Fear and Win by Don Greene. The three books are the winners in terms of self-help. The Champion books can be used to excel at the game of life as well as on the playing field in sports.

From The Champion’s Comeback: “Ask yourself, ‘What are my big-picture goals–not just in sports and fitness, but in life?’ Then establish some daily, seasonal, and career goals that are challenging and reachable.”

You can install the two Champion books on an iPad or a Kindle.

Afremow tells it like it is: instead of trying to lighten our load we should seek to have broader shoulders.

Life isn’t easy yet as long as we try our best there can be no shame if we fail. If we didn’t give it our best shot we have to accept the outcome.

The Michael Jordan quote on the top right side of this blog is so true.

I know something readers:

Like Freddie Mercury sang in Queen:

We are the champions.

Buy these books and you won’t be disappointed.

Their tactics apply to life as well as sports.

How to Be Successful

I know of no other way to be successful than to work longer and harder at a goal that resonates with you as life-changing.

I was 46 when I started to work out at the gym like a madwoman in training for the prizefight of her life. Before that I hadn’t lifted even 5 pounds.

If you have a life-changing goal that you want to make happen I find it helps to focus on this goal with a laser-precision.

A lot of things you decide you want to do might not work out in the long-term or you might abandon those goals along the way.

Yet a life-changing goal is one that should be pursued with all the energy and focus you can drum up for yourself.

I’ve been strength training for over 5 years now. I added two new exercises to each routine I do. The benefits accrue the longer you keep at a goal. I’m fitter than I was 5 years ago. The longer you continue to strength train the better your body will get.

Engaging in a fitness routine is one foolproof way to be successful in life. Our bodies are workhorses that can help us accomplish our goals.

I have always exercised in some way ever since I was a freshman in high school.

I could only do 5 sit-ups in one minute in gym class back then. My goal was to achieve the highest score: 50 sit-ups in one minute. I kept at it until I was able to do 50 sit-ups in one minute.

You could say that was the first meaningful goal I ever set.

Ever since then I’ve done some form of exercise throughout my life.

Now I strength train 2 to 3 days a week with cardio every so often.

I think it’s a myth that success is ever quick and easy. It’s a myth that you don’t have to exert effort to be successful. Nothing worth having comes without effort.

I’ll end here by saying that sticking with an exercise routine is what counts. Think long-term. If you slip up here and there just recommit.

I recommend the Jim Afremow book The Champion’s Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite. His first great book was The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive. I have his first book on my iPad and will buy the second one soon.

Forget the Kardashians. Stop thinking other people have it easier or have it better. Find realistic role models who can inspire you.

It’s going to take years and years sometimes to get to where you want to be. Keep up a positive spirit. For some of us success might come quicker. Yet when it doesn’t the secret is to not give up.

The bottom line: if you commit to strength training for 5 years and then continue on after that you can continue to see even better results. Giving up on exercising after only three months is not the way to go. Even if you only train or exercise two days a week for a certain period that’s better than quitting totally.

I was just an ordinary person. I had no guarantee that I would succeed. The difference was I trusted myself to take action in the direct of my goals.

Not everything I did worked out (hello – gray flannel insurance career). Not everything you decide you want to do will work out.

It’s the process of trying your best every day that counts – not the result.