Last week, I had the pleasure and privilege of interviewing Even Lysacek, what a nice guy. Anyway, I wanted to interview him for my fitness column and find out just what he does to stay fit.
You all know there are those who are born to be fit and others, like me, who have to work to be fit as some of us were not touched by the great body fairy.
I have always believed that a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing. This includes exercise as well as nutrition. In other words, if you only have 15 minutes to exercise, do it, it’s better than nothing. And if you’re stuck at a fast-food restaurant and choices are limited, make the best choice you can. It truly is the little things that add up and eventually change your life and ultimately your body.
So while interviewing Evan I asked, ” What fitness tips would you give to busy adults?” Without hesitation he said, “5 minute workouts! That’s what I do all the time. In fact, my Dancing with the Stars partner and I do it together, it’s great.”
The truth is that I’m a firm believer in 5 minute workouts. As a mother of 4, when they were little, I had NO time to myself. So during lunch, I’d sneak in some lunges, dips on the chair, push-ups and squats, it took about 5 minutes to do a couple of sets. At night when brushing my teeth, more lunges and then some sit-ups while watching the news. 5 minutes and I felt great.
Evan said,”5 minute workouts make a difference, and this is coming from an Olympic athlete!”
So you’ve heard it here, 5 minutes DOES count which means, no more excuses.
Got 5 minutes? Get some exercise!
By Nicki On March 23, 2010 14 Comments
My daughter is a freshman at IU. ‘Sigh’ (Still mourning her absence).
She came home this past week (joy) and before I knew it, she packed up and headed back to school. The following morning I received a text from her:
“Mom, got a speeding ticket. UGH!”
That text was followed up by a couple of others, cursing her choice to put the pedal to the metal. After reassuring her that it wasn’t the end of the world, I reminded her about the importance of staying within the speed limit. This got me thinking about weight loss. I know, a surprise.
How many of you want to hurry-up and lose weight? How many of you have opted for fast and furious weight loss methods only to find yourself back where you started and in some cases, further back than when you started?
You see, my daugther was in a hurry to get back to school, I get it, but at the end of the day, she ended up losing time and getting a ticket, counterproductive.
The truth is, the best and most efficient way to lose weight and keep it off is to take it slow. What’s the rush? Studies show that the folks that take longer to take weight off, are more likely to stick to the healthy habits they created, resulting in more permanent success with weight loss.
So the next time you think about jumping on a fast and easy weight loss plan, take it slow and you’ll be more likely to arrive at just the right time, with the right results!
Here’s to your health!
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By Nicki On March 14, 2010 7 Comments
This past week, I had the privilege of getting away for 7 days on a cruise. To celebrate 25 years of marriage, I figured a cruise would be a nice way to get away and celebrate, I was right. For 7 days I was out of the loop, no phone, no TV (well, very little) and basically zero internet access, it was great. You realize when away from the convenience of technology, that life still goes on, with less stress and more “downtime.” However, on a cruise, that downtime comes with a price, less moving and a 24 hour buffet, a brutal combination.
I noticed on this cruise upon entering the buffet, the plate sizes have changed since my last cruise 6 years ago. On that cruise there were two plates sizes, 8″ and 10″. On this cruise, the plate sizes increased to 10″ and an oval plate that is much like a serving platter, yes, more space for more food. “You know what we need? MORE FOOD!” I watched as people opted for the “serving platter” as their meal plate and no one had a problem covering every inch of their plate. Now don’t get me wrong, I was on vacation along with the hundreds of other people on board, so I shouldn’t be judging what others are eating, right? Well, it wasn’t so much judgment as sheer shock and awe at the amount of food one human being consumed in a single sitting. All-You-Can-Eat Buffet sets a sort of challenge for people I think. “Let’s see how much I can really eat!” Unfortunately, this is the dysfunctional relationship people have with food, the emphasis on quantity vs. quality. Thanks to diets, everyone fears losing food so they have to “get it while they can!”
On the cruise, I felt the best part of the buffet was having healthy food options at the ready. But who wants healthy food options on vacation? (That’s what people said to me.) Ahhh, I get it, vacations are for over-eating. Who made up that rule? I guess if our country had healthy eating habits and vacation was more about availability of foods that aren’t normally eaten, that makes sense. But what I saw on this cruise, was many of the foods people were consuming are foods they eat every day, such as french fries, pizza and ice cream, just more of it! I saw kids taking the serving platter, loading it up with french fries and catsup followed up with a couple of ice cream cones. Why? Because they can. Because the challenge of “All-You-Can-Eat” has been set and people are heeding the call!
Again, if the cruise offered delicacies that are not available for the rest of the year and you imbibe, that makes sense. But to view a vacation as an opportunity to eat mass quantities of food with the acceptance of weight gain as part of the cruise experience, befuddles me. Adding insult to injury was the number of people that took the elevators vs. the stairs. People would WAIT for an elevator for 2 flights of stairs! Huh? Wha? And that my friends sums up the obesity problem in our country, too much food with too little movement.
Being healthy is not about deprivation, unfortunately, that’s the belief of many. Being healthy means finding a sound balance between healthy options and periodic splurges. The truth is that our country is on a 24/7 splurge with unhealthy food choices. As is evident with the obesity in our country, there is a serious issue with food in that it is viewed it as a means by which to gain or lose weight. During the gaining process, no food is out of the question and during the losing process, no food is allowed. There is no “center” or understanding that the better the quality of food you eat, the better your body will function. That thought is foreign to many.
Again, my thoughts here are not about judgment, rather a reminder of the lack of education that exists when it comes to living healthy. Food is too often viewed as a “reward” vs. what is is meant to be, fuel for function. The better we eat, the better we feel. But the “reward” means quality is irrelevant and quantity is what’s deserved. I continue to work towards changing that thought process and creating a healthier world. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Here’s to your health!
By Nicki On March 5, 2010 4 Comments
Well, I’m getting ready to head out on vacation, a much needed one. But didn’t want to leave without getting in a post and well, today I’ve got a good one.
Have you heard about the recent partnership between McDonalds and Weight Watchers? Is it me or is that an oxymoron? I don’t get it, or well, yes I actually do get it. You see, I have always held the belief that diets are not about health, simply about weight. Creating a calorie deficit (regardless of how it’s done) so you lose weight. And this partnership illustrates very well, it’s not about health.
For me, I’ve always been against diets because they rarely if ever set the dieter up for long-term success. Additionally, dieters are not often educated on long-term, proper nutrition. Think about it, how many diets have you been on that simply have you counting calories? Sure, sure, I know that some diets encourage healthy choices, but when you’ve got someone like Weight Watchers pairing up with McDonalds, I say, “Booooo!”
For me, it simply cements my feelings about these multimillion dollar diet companies. None of them are about long-term or helping people learn how to eat whole, nutritious foods, nope, it’s simply about losing weight and once you do, well, you’re on your own.
When diet companies start pairing up with fast-food companies it’s simply an indicator that the system is broken and my friends, the dieting industry has been broken for a long time. Perhaps now, people will finally see the past the smoke and mirrors of dieting and walk away from diets permanently. That would be a dream come true for me and well, a girl can dream, can’t she?
By Nicki On February 21, 2010 3 Comments
This past week I met with a client that I have been working with for a couple of months. He came in and shared his disappointment at gaining 7 pounds despite his level of hard work. What do you say to someone who is looking to feel successful through weight loss only? How do you encourage someone to get past “the weight” and focus on all of the other accomplishments that have been made over the 2 months? Education.
When starting to lose weight or embarking on a weight loss program you’ve got to remember some very important things folks, you cannot expect a body that’s been mistreated for years to turn around in weeks, it doesn’t work that way. Further, after years of inactivity and poor nutrition, every one has a different point at which their body finally trusts the positive changes and begins to respond, i.e. metabolic weight loss. In other words, building muscle and improving overall performance takes time. The most important thing you can do is be consistent. If you start exercising like a mad-dog and eating only carrots and celery, sure, you might lose weight right away, but where will you be in 3 or 4 weeks? Back where you started, why? Because who can subsist on carrots and celery and hours of exercise? Very few people.
Look, when you’re looking to lose weight it’s got to be because you want to GET HEALTHY! Remember my friends, weight loss is simply a by-product of changing your lifestyle. People have it backwards, they put all of their eggs in to the weight loss basket when in reality they should be distributing their eggs in the nutrition basket, exercise basket, stress-relief basket and finally weight loss basket. If you put all of your eggs in one basket, you’ll never find the balance or the secret to long-term success.
From a practical perspective, what is the reason most people want to lose weight? Too feel better, right? So consider changing your priorities around and let lifestyle changes take the driver’s seat. You see if you focus on the things that change positively, consistency is more likely to follow. If you’re just looking at the weight loss piece, and it’s not forthcoming (in the unrealistic way many believe it will) you’ll quit and go back to bad habits. Yet bad habits are exactly what you’re trying to get rid of if you really want to lose weight. Are you with me?
So, bottom line, you want to lose weight, start making the changes necessary to make that happen but rather than focus on the numbers on the scale, focus on the everyday improvement you can notice right away. If health isn’t an issue, that go ahead and stop eating for a week, you’ll lose weight. But if your real goal is to feel better and change the quality of your life, there is no argument, lifestyle changes are the most important strategy. Just make them appropriate, realistic and measurable. Keep a journal, celebrate your progress and you may find that all of those lifestyle changes over time have not only greatly improved the quality of your life, you’ve lost some weight too!
By Nicki On February 8, 2010 2 Comments
As I sat watching the Super Bowl yesterday, I witnessed the underdogs persevere and ultimately win. I thought about the parallels between the Super Bowl and weight loss. A stretch? See what you think!
1. Weight Loss is a team effort. You need a strong team around you to support you and keep you motivated and accountable. Without support, the journey is very difficult.
2. If you have a bad play, you acknowledge it and move on. Every one makes mistakes, yes, even Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. So if you have something that isn’t part of your healthy eating plan, acknowledge it and move on. Life is a series of wins and losses.
3. Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to what other naysayers believe, if you believe in your heart you can succeed, you will. It’s the pessimist that often sets the table for failure. If you believe, you can achieve.
4. Play to win. If you start off wondering “Another diet, I wonder if this one will work?” If you make up your mind to succeed, never lose site of that goal. Visualize your success and rock it!
5. Playing to win is hard work. During any weight loss journey, there will be times when you feel like you just can’t go on and it’s hard. Just know that hard work always pays off in the end.
6. Plan, plan, plan. Imagine if either football team went out on the field without a plan, it would be a disaster. Same applies for weight loss, plan out your strategy for success.
7. Have fun! Losing weight is not meant to be a sentence of some sort, rather a journey to discover what makes you your best! Have fun, don’t get so tied up in the “rules” and the “win” that you forget to have fun and even learn along the way.
Congrats to New Orleans Saints and Naperville’s Sean Payton!
By Nicki On January 31, 2010 2 Comments
So, I get it, people want to lose weight. But my struggle with the process is that most everyone focusing solely on weight loss, has temporary success or they crashed and burn. This result is due to obsessive weigh-ins. After 25 years in the fitness business, there is one constant, scales are not all they’re cracked up to be. In fact, many people fail simply because they gave the scale, “the power.”
Let me give you an example and see if you can relate. So, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do to lose weight, you’re eating well, exercising and well, making some pretty major sacrifices. Come “weigh-in” you’re feeling great, confident, proud of all your accomplishments…. and you step on the scale. “WHAT THE ????” You step off the scale, make sure the needle is dead center and step on it again. “WHAT THE ??” The scale shows a weight loss of 1/2 lb. and you’re thinking to yourself, “All that work for a lousy 1/2 lb?” So one of two things happens, you decide the “diet” isn’t working and you quit OR you go downstairs and drown your frustration in a half gallon of ice cream. So I ask you, how did the scale serve you well when that happened? Well, it didn’t which is why it’s probably worth considering letting the scale thing go if you really want to get healthy once and for all.
Let’s think about this for a moment, every time you have tried to lose weight, it has been ALL about the weight, the measurements. Given that has been your history, (with little if any or temporary success), are you willing to try something different? Going back to the beginning of my scenario, you’re doing everything right, you’re making good choices, feeling great and just because the scale doesn’t say what you think it should say, you’re willing to give up. Why not focus on how you feel, how great you’re doing, give yourself some positive feedback, kudos. Rather than punishing yourself, and for what? For not losing enough weight? You’re going to let the SCALE call you a failure? Yeah, that’s the power you give the scale, the power to scold you and lead you to believe that you’re not able to succeed. Yep, that’s right, the scale has ruined many an effort simply because you were willing to take the scales word for it vs. your word, your health, your accomplishments, your successes.
So I challenge you, give up the scale for awhile, what’s it going to tell you that you don’t already know? Why is it necessary to step on the scale the day after a big party? Is it to see the damage you really did since you couldn’t pass on the chips and dip? Is it to validate your nutritional indiscretions? Why do you need a scale to tell you that? To make you feel worse than you already do?
So, try giving up the scale, just for a while (but once you do, you probably won’t go back.) The scale cannot tell you anything you don’t already know. If you’ve been working hard and making great choices, you will know that by how you feel and how your clothes fit. And if you get tripped up, you’ll know that too, but the difference is that the scale won’t throw you in to some deep depression by confirming your misstep. Rather, you’ll know it by how you feel the next morning and then you’ll simply move on.
I have seen the damage that scales do, they tear you down vs. build you up. Scales wield way too much power over any effort to embrace positive change. A scale is the finger pointing observer that has no insight in to your changes, only what the numbers show. So again, I challenge you to trust yourself, to judge your success and move beyond your challenges- following your rules, not that of a scale. As long as you allow the scale to hold you hostage, you will never experience true, long-term success. I know, I’ve been there and done it. The best, hardest break-up I ever had was with the scale, but it was the best thing I ever did.
Be sure and check out a beautiful blog by Luis Urrea that sums up how you can change your thought process about moving in to a healthy lifestyle. The title, 15 Things I Learned From my Trainer.
By Nicki On January 16, 2010 3 Comments
Most of my adult life I have been driven to help others develop and maintain a dedication to healthy living. Trust me, it hasn’t been easy. Unfortunately, enthusiasm alone can not make others successful, people have to be ready and willing to step in to the world of change, period end of statement.
I have always been a follower of Dr. Oz and bought his original book, You on a Diet, when it came out a couple of years ago. He recently revised the book and has been touring the country to promote it. Little did I k now, the book that I so loved and encouraged others to read, would come back to me directly through Dr. Oz himself.
This past week, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Dr. Oz as part of a Weight Loss Challenge by Fox News here in Chicago. Mark Saxenmeyer of Fox News, put the challenge together and included not only some of his colleagues to participate in the weight loss challenge, but his viewers as well. On Wednesday, I received an email from Mark, letting me know that I would be part of a select group of people that would be able to meet Dr. Oz, talk to him, ask questions and be part of his Weight Loss Challenge using his new book. What I didn’t know is that I would also have the opportunity to meet and train a very special young man, Anthony Marzullo.
Anthony wrote to Mark at Fox News when he heard about Dr. Oz’s Weight Loss Challenge and shared his story about his life long struggle with weight. He has done every diet, tried every weight loss program out there, yet at 31 years old, he continues to struggle with his 350 pound frame.
“I did it to myself,” he said, “I put the fork in my mouth. I take total responsibility. But now it’s time to take responsibility in a positive direction.” So, I have the privilege of working with Anthony over the next year, using Dr. Oz’s book and philosophy which is exactly like mine (thank God, or I’d never do it!). Mark will check in with us during the course of the year to see how we’re doing.
I met with Anthony for the first time and reviewed where he’s been, what he wants to do and what is going to be different this time. I told him, “Anthony, your entire life you have ‘fought’ weight, it’s time to stop fighting. To be successful, you’ll need to change how you think and instead of focusing on weight loss, you need to focus on health gains. Every choice you make from here on out needs to be about your health. Up until now, it’s been all about the weight. So let’s try to redirect your efforts. Remember, a byproduct of healthy living is a healthy weight!” Anthony agreed and we set a few goals and are ready to forge ahead.
At one point Anthony told me that when he’d go to the gym or be out for a walk people would yell, “Hey Fat Boy.” I told Anthony, from now on you will be referred to as “Fit Boy.”
So our journey starts today. I am excited for Anthony and I’m lucky to have this opportunity with the help of Fox News and Dr. Oz. I remind my clients all the time, “You can spend the rest of your life trying to lose weight or you can enjoy each day by making choices that positively contribute to your overall mental and physical health, .”
I hope that you will join us on our journey. I’ll be blogging about it and hopefully I can get Anthony to do the same! Until then, join us on Facebook and share your thoughts and encouragement for Anthony and the millions of others that strive for a shot at a healthy body every single day.
By Nicki On January 10, 2010 No Comments
I have been in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years. And the one thing I have found is there are thosein the industry that spend their life trying to educate you honestly on realizing a healthy body, while others tell you what you want to hear, rarely delivering.
In addition to understanding the black and white of the health and fitness world, I have had an opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people, one of those is Jimmy Moore. You may have heard of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb and if you have, it all started with Jimmy Moore who has lost 180 pounds and has kept it off for more than 5 years now! Between you and me, those are the kind of people you want to listen to. And in his new book, 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb:How the Healthy Low-Carb Lifestyle Changed Everything I Thought I Knew, Jimmy shares his journey, some amazing insight and most of all honesty about the process and his desire to change the weight of the world.
As a fitness professional, it is my job to communicate honestly and without false promises. I’m a realist and although some of my thoughts are boring, the fact is that like Jimmy, I lost weight (50 pounds) and have kept it off for close to 30 years. I tell it the way it is, and so does Jimmy. I love that about him, you can hear his Southern warmth in all of his words, honest and passionate. But even more, Jimmy doesn’t just spout off his philosophy without backing it up, he does his homework. And whether you agree with his philosophy and findings or not, you will be impressed by the research information in his book. It’s all thought provoking.
There are few things that I am willing to endorse based on my years of experience, but Jimmy’s book is an interesting, warm, straight to the point read. If you’ve been struggling with weight, remember, your inspiration comes from many sources. I encourage you to check out Jimmy’s book, read about his journey and learn how incorporating a healthy low-carb (or as I fondly refer to, low carbage) nutrition program can change your life as it has changed Jimmy’s.
By Nicki On December 26, 2009 No Comments
This past week, a young actress in the prime of her life, passed away. Brittany Murphy, just 32 years old died of cardiac arrest. I didn’t hear about it on the news, my daughter told me. The first thing I said when my daughter told me was, “I bet they’ll say she died from a cardiac related issue.” I was right. How did I know? I knew because I have watched this lovely actress go from healthy and energetic to skeletal and exhausted in the past few years. Some say it could be drugs, while others say she had an eating disorder. I simply see her as yet another casualty in the “perfect Hollywood body” syndrome. But my observation suggests an eating disorder was part of the problem. An eating disorder such as anorexia can cause hair loss, infertility, stunted growth, osteoporosis, heart problems, kidney failure, and death.
As women in Hollywood receive more praise for their “miracle” weight loss ( post babies) or praise for losing weight prior to walking the red carpet, it seems to be all that we read about. Who has gained weight and who has lost weight. Imagine those that haven’t yet developed the thick skin necessary to shrug off comments about their body? My hunch is Brittany Murphy succumbed to that pressure and struggled to become more successful with less weight.
Personally, I can’t imagine the pressure in Hollywood, it’s bad enough in the real world. I am all about finding your healthiest you, finding the lifestyle that takes you to a healthy place versus a place of obsession and depression. After losing close to 50 pounds almost 30 years ago, I can’t help but feel grateful that I took the healthy route.
I’m in an industry where you need to be fit, I’m a trainer and I probably wouldn’t get a whole lot of interest in my training if I didn’t walk the walk. But that’s just it, the walk I walk is to make healthy choices as often as I can. If I felt pressure to be perfect or achieve a perfect body, my choices would be dangerously different, of that I’m sure.
I tell my clients every week, “Focus on being the best you that you can. A healthy you that is attainable, not through crazy diets or obsessive exercise routines, rather finding your center. Yes, you need to exercise and yes you need to eat well to have a healthy body. But you need to pay attention to how you FEEL. Unhealthy weight loss efforts will rarely leave you feeling good, strong and healthy. So, seek healthy options, NOT just weight loss options.” Unfortunately, in the world of Hollywood, healthy options are few and far between as most are seeking perfection. It’s too bad Brittany didn’t realize that perfection doesn’t exist in the real world.