LIFT your way to weight loss- and a healthier body!

That will be me-as soon as my weights are delivered!

That will be me-as soon as my weights are delivered!

So I had a birthday this past weekend, and like most women I hinted at what I wanted for a present. Most of you think I probably asked for jewelry or a new purse, but what I wanted, and received, will probably surprise you. I got a set of weights and a weight bench! Not what you thought, right?! Well, it was the perfect present for me and should be for you too. Let me tell you why.

As we get older, and who isn’t getting older I ask you, our metabolism begins to SLOOOOW DOOOOWN! And we also begin to lose muscle mass too. All that muscle that goes away begins to turn to…. fat unfortunately. Now of course the cornerstone of preventing this from happening starts and ends with a healthy diet. As they say, “you can’t train away a poor diet”, and I truly believe that as all of my previous posts attest. However, I notice that even though I do eat a healthy diet, and carefully control both the amount and kind of calories I am consuming, my body is starting to change in ways I don’t care for.


I also exercise 5 times a week for 45 minutes per session so it’s not that I’m not exercising, it’s what I’m doing, or in this case not doing that is making the (not so good) changes in my body. I mostly (90%) of my exercise time, do cardio- either biking or kick boxing. I’m not saying that cardio isn’t good, in fact it is essential for a healthy heart and body. What I am saying is that it’s NOT ENOUGH! I must begin integrating weight training into my workout routine and I will, as soon as my weights and bench are delivered (I’m waiting excitedly like it’s Christmas again!).

Here’s the great thing though, even though the salesperson at the fitness store tried to upsell us to the $3,000 machine, we gave that a pass and picked up some basic weights, a bench, a long bar and two dumbbell bars for $350! These are good quality items too, not something that will fall apart or be unsafe for me to use.


I know some of you have a membership to a health club (that may or may not ever be used :)), and if you do that’s great because I highly recommend a session with a personal trainer so that he/she can help set you up with a workout routine based on your strength and fitness level. However, if you’re a home exercise person (like me!) you can get yourself set up for a few hundred dollars with a quality weight bench and set of weights. I just have never been one of those people who likes to work out with a bunch of other people watching me. I feel self conscious and pressured somehow.

If you’re at home and doing it on your own my suggestion is to start out LOW AND SLOW. Use the lightest weights you are comfortable with and do very few repetitions at first. For instance, start with 10 reps each of-  bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, shoulder presses, squats, calf presses, and inclines for abdominals, beginning with light weights. Do this twice a week and start to add weight and more reps as the weeks go by.

I definitely want abs like this!

I definitely want abs like this!

Another great benefit to strength training is that it is a cardiovascular workout too; when you work out with weights you’re heart is pounding and you are sweating, ie, great cardio workout! Weight training improves insulin and leptin sensitivity (thereby getting rid of that pesky fat that gathers around our mid section) and boosts human growth hormone (HGH) levels, which is known as the fitness hormone. It helps with greater balance too, which decreases as we get older. It also improves bone density, cardiorespiratory fitness (that heart pounding, sweating thing I talked about), improves blood pressure, blood glucose control, aerobic capacity, gene expression, and telomere length- wow who knew! This is all in addition to increasing strength and muscle mass, and improving your body composition (that means looking HOT again!).

So anyway, this is what I’m excited about these days and I will be sure to keep you posted as to my progress. Let me know if you are going to try to integrate weight training into your fitness routine, and we can do this TOGETHER! Strength training is DEFINITELY good for your entire body and will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂


Just Do It!

Can I admit something? Of course I can, it’s my blog! Anyway, I must admit that I don’t like to exercise. Is anyone out there with me on that? I’m sure there are many of us, which is one of the reasons why our nation ranks among the top countries for obesity in the world.
My exercise philosophy

My exercise philosophy

Even though I don’t like to exercise I have consistently worked out 5 days a week for 45-50 minutes at a time for the last 10 years, despite flare ups of my chronic fatigue syndrome, times when my children were sick, working 40 plus hours a week, cooking, cleaning, running errands, being exhausted, etc.  You get the picture. We are all busy living our lives and that is the primary excuse I hear for why people don’t exercise and I get it, I really do. I just don’t believe that is a legitimate excuse. If I can keep up my fitness schedule with my other responsibilities and the fact that I really don’t like to exercise, then anyone can, believe me.

Another excuse I hear is that people can’t afford to exercise. My exercise regimen consists of a 20 plus year old road bike, stationary bike of equal age, hand weights from Walmart, 10 fitness DVD’s and Comcast On Demand. Total cost- pennies per day over the past 8 years at the most.  Are you in? If so, then read on for my ten easy steps to fitness success!

1. Integrate fitness into your daily life and find something you like to do- Since I am not one of those crazy exercise people I’ve tried many different forms of exercise over the years, from aerobics to Pilates to running and all forms in between. When I began cycling I realized how much I loved the feeling of wind in my hair,sun on my face and the sheer speed at which I could travel and I was hooked! That is my favorite form of exercise and I am faithful to it because I enjoy it so much. In bad weather I use my stationary bike so I can bike all year long. On my stationary bike I can also integrate weight training by utilizing hand weights while cycling, and I add more weight to them so I don’t plateau. Therefore I get both cardio and weight bearing at the same time. But the key here is to find an exercise you like and stick to it. Even if it’s not formal exercise, if it gets you outside and moving that’s great! Like gardening for example. Pulling weeds and hauling around a wheelbarrow full of mulch can be a great workout! Also if your children are young and you can’t leave them for long periods of time play basketball or tag with them, or if they’re really young, push them in a stroller for 30 minutes. Anything active is good!

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

Me and my babies out for a walk this past spring.

2. Start with walking- your dog or yourself- Of course before beginning any new fitness activities make sure to run that by your doctor to make sure it aligns with your wellness goals. The easiest way to begin is by walking. It’s an activity that needs very little coordination and anyone at most fitness levels can tolerate it. Get a pedometer, set a goal for yourself, and stick to it! If you have a dog, walk him or her, and they will benefit too. If you have young children, push them in a stroller, and if you have a friend who is interested in getting to a better level of fitness, walk with him/her. A friend can really help motivate you to continue even when you don’t feel like it.

3. My Fitness Pal or other apps to log your success- I utilize an app called My Fitness Pal and it logs all your exercise as well as your food, calories, and nutritional information. It keeps track of what you enter and shows graphs of your nutrition and exercise, as well as your weight and other measurements. I’ve used this app for 3 years religiously and am able to see my progress, which is very motivating for me.


4. Habit forming- Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days for something to become a habit, so make sure to continue your chosen form of exercise consistently for at least 66 days and it will become a habit.

5. Motivated by the healthy changes- One thing that is motivating for me is to see the changes that have taken place in my body as a result of my workouts. I have better muscle tone, more energy, my skin glows, my weight stays consistent, and I don’t have to buy new clothes! This helps me to continue when I’m not in the mood for a workout.

6. First thing in the morning or first thing when you get home from work- I alluded to this in an earlier post but I put on my workout clothes as soon as I get up in the morning and exercise as soon as I drink my coffee, and have a half banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter for breakfast. When I was teaching I exercised as soon as I got home from work. In fact, my next door neighbor commented that she’d see me pull into my garage after work and then within 10 minutes she’d see me ride out of the garage on my bike. That way I was more likely not to skip my workout by getting distracted by other things. I would exercise three times a week after work and each weekend day so that I’d get my five a week in. Now that I work from home I workout all week days and take off the weekends. I’ve read about recovery days but I do my recovering on the weekends.

7. Non-negotiable- this one is probably the most important for me. I don’t put off working out or avoid it because in the end it is something I MUST do and nothing will stop me from doing it. Of course, there have been days when I can’t work out, if I’m very sick or something of that urgent nature, but other than that I will exercise. NO EXCEPTIONS!

True dat!

True dat!

8. Variety is the spice of life- and working out- as I said I love to bike but I get bored doing the same thing all the time so in the past 2 years I’ve incorporated kick boxing and body sculpting into my week. Usually I bike twice, kick box twice and do body sculpting once for my five a week workouts.  That way I am strengthening different body parts, and combining cardio with strength training as well for an all around strong and healthy body. So switch up your workouts if you’re getting bored and that should help you to find your workouts fun and exciting again.

9. TV can be an exercisers best friend, not foe- Television plays an important role in my workouts. When I’m biking indoors I use that time to catch up on some of my favorite one hour shows that I’ve recorded, and when I forward through commercials it’s a perfect 45-50 minute workout for me. Also, as I said I use Comcast On Demand for their many fitness workouts. My favorites are kickboxing with Sensei Guillermo Gomez (he’s very good looking!), and Core Builders and Interval Training with Kathy Syphers. They are super workouts. I also have Physique 57 and yoga DVDs that I use occasionally to change things up.

My reward- a healthy, fit body and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

My reward- a healthy, fit body at 48, and the energy to keep up with my daughters!

10. Reward yourself-My reward is to see how healthy and good I look, but for some people extrinsic rewards are very important, so set some goals for yourself, say working out three times a week for thirty minutes.  If you meet your goals then reward yourself with whatever is a treat for you, like a piece of chocolate, extra glass of wine, or a pedicure. Whatever works for you to keep you motivated, just don’t make it something big that will cost too much money or derail you from your fitness goals!

I hope this helps you to achieve the healthy body you desire as it has for me. I wish you happy and healthy workouts!