Sunday, August 5, 2018

Seasonal Workouts...Be Inspired and Make a Change!

   
   
     If you're living in a climate that has a change of Seasons as I am in New Jersey, you can be taking advantage of those changes when it comes to your workouts.  I've been a Fitness Professional for over 30 years and am always looking for a variety in my workout routine so I don't get bored. The photo of the Water-skiing Santa wan't taken in New Jersey, but on the Potamic River and apparently takes place on Christmas Eve every year since 1986...couldn't resist using the photo! (https://www.tripsavvy.com/water-skiing-santa-washington-dc-1038629). I tried water skiing once before I had my kids and actually got up on the first try and thought it was a lot of fun!
     One of the complaints I hear from people coming to me as a Personal Trainer is that they don't like working out (or don't have the time). If your goal is to be healthier, more fit, and to become happier with yourself, then you need to find activities that you will enjoy so you will be more likely to stick with it.
I tried Arial Yoga for the first time this winter at Country Flow Yoga in West Milford, NJ with Melissa and I absolutely love it! Ultimately, you want to find activities that increase your endurance, strength, and flexibility, and hopefully make you smile at some point, even if it is after you're done😀.
     Although I don't like the cold temperatures, I do know that once you start moving around, you get warmed up, but I still tend to avoid outdoor activities in the winter.  Many of my clients share my feelings about that and would rather meet me at the gym. For me, time has also been a factor in doing sports such as skiing, snowboarding, etc... since I'd have to drive a bit to a location to do it, plus rent the equipment.
     I only tried skiing once when I was 30, and I did enjoy it but haven't made the time to go back. Having some balance, strength, and endurance to last more than 30 minutes without breaking a leg is always helpful, which is why you start with baby steps. I highly suggest taking a beginner lesson if you're just starting out. It helped me stay up most of the day! I haven't tried cross-country skiing yet but would definitely like to try that instead of using the elliptical one day. Central Park in NYC allows people to ski on Sheep Meadow, The Great Lawn or any of the large meadows as long as there is 6 inches of snow or more (https://www.centralpark.com/things-to-do/sports/cross-country-skiing/). If any of you have tried it, leave a comment! Love it? Hate it? Do you own or rent the equipment?
     When I was a kid I would go to the duck pond in Secaucus with my dad, uncle and cousins when it was frozen and I'd ice skate while they played ice hockey. I always enjoyed ice skating and was happy when the outdoor ice rink was built in my town because I lived close enough to walk there after school to skate. This carried over to roller skating outside in the warmer months, which I did all throughout high school. I received a pair of roller blades for my birthday a couple years ago and just realized I haven't used them yet this year. Now it's on my "to-do list"!
     
Spring time in New Jersey gets me excited, as well as for many people who suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder. There's something about taking a long walk or jog when the flowers are blooming that is very uplifting! Both women and men take my indoor cycling classes when it's cold, but this is the time when skateboarders, runners and bicyclists get to take their cardio workouts outdoors again. Sometimes I take my clients outside to do some workouts in the fresh air just using some resistance bands or dumbbells and a mat.   I sometimes take my own workouts outdoors and will use the monkey bars for pull-ups, a park bench to do leg raises, or just sit somewhere peaceful to meditate and enjoy nature at it's best!
     Summer will be over before you know it and the trees will start turning colors...but not yet!!! Take advantage of the warmer water temperatures and try swimming laps. If you can't swim, call the local YMCA for lessons and go enjoy the water! I was fortunate enough to have a pool growing up and learned to swim early, but since gymnastics was my favorite sport, I really spent most of my time at the pool doing flips off the side of the deck, rather than swimming laps.
   
      I enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding when I have the time, but I recently tried paddle board yoga and loved it (thanks again Melissa "Bee" Gentile)! I was able to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, soak up some sun and work on my balance and flexibility while clearing my mind with a little meditation. There are so many fun water sports to enjoy such as water skiing, surfing, sailing or riding jet skis and wave runners, etc...some of which I have not tried yet but would like to eventually.
     Autumn is another time of the year when it is beautiful outside! With the leaves turning colors and the temperatures just a little chilly, it's a perfect time for hiking (if you're not afraid of snakes), bicycling, or just walking and photographing along the way. This is a great time to enter an obstacle race such as the Bill Botino Mud Run for cancer, a Spartan Race to challenge yourself, Avon's Walk For Breast Cancer, or one of the many charity events that are fun and raise money for good causes.
   As a Personal Trainer and X-Ray Tech in a hospital, I've spent the majority of my life working weekends while my friends and most people I knew were out enjoying all of these activities. Raising three kids as a single mom, and bouncing from job to job has always been my excuse for not having the time. My kids are all grown up, and although I'm still a bit home-bound because of my aging dog, I fully intend on making the time to try some new outdoor activities in the future. I'd love to hear from any of you who participate in outdoor activities who might have suggestions for anyone looking to try something new. Leave a comment!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Proud USAF Mom X3 - My Princess Is An Airman Now!

   
     I started this particular blog several months ago when I started helping my daughter Tiffany get as physically prepared for USAF Basic Training as she could be in only 6 weeks. Being in school and working took up all of her time so she hadn't been working out for at least 6 months prior to this. I knew the PT at Basic Training was going to be very hard for her at first but I was confident she would keep up and do just fine!
   
 I think I was a little more concerned about how she would be emotionally since she was never really that person who liked being away from home. We had gotten into a routine of watching some TV shows at night while snacking and chatting over a glass of wine while she laid on the couch with her skinnypig "Kramer". We were both in our "comfort zones" for quite a while. Ironically, my dog started waking me up at 5 am every morning, starting the week before she left and has continued the whole time she has been gone. It's almost like Willie decided that we were going to be supportive and be awake when Tiffany was up jogging to her cadence in Texas.

     Tiffany was most concerned about doing the running every morning since that was not something that came easily for her, and she was also worried about not finding food that she would eat. Not only is she a very picky eater, but she is also vegetarian, plus she doesn't sleep well at night. Given all of these "possible" set-backs, Tiffany was made "Element Leader" after the first two weeks of Basic Training and academically made it to the top 10% and was an Honor Graduate having her name announced at graduation with the other Honor Graduates. I am so freaking proud of this girl!
     Before Tiffany actually had time to get into the gym to start training, I told her to just start doing push-ups and sit-ups at home and if she had 15 minutes after work, she should just jog around the complex.  I think initially she struggled with doing 6 push-ups and couldn't jog half a mile without stopping. In her second week of Basic Training, she ran 1 1/2 miles in 15:08 and her final PT test after 6 weeks she did a mile and a half in 12:47! She was practicing sit-ups at home so she was able to do 44 in a minute her second week of PT and by week six she did 60 push-ups in a minute. The recruits were also given one minute for their push-ups, which she went from doing 16 the 2nd week and worked up to 35 in one minute by her sixth week which I think is very good!
     As a Personal Trainer for more than half of my life, I've seen many people go from being completely inactive, unhealthy, and weak, to becoming healthy and fit, and some even going on to run full marathons! Many people have injuries or physical disabilities that prevent them from doing some of the thins they'd like to do, but the power of intention and a strong desire to succeed will take all of us much further than we'd ever imagined we could! I'm so proud of all of my children who chose to join the United Stated Air Force and not only make this personal transformation, but to serve our country when many are incapable or unwilling. I thank all of the military men and women for their service!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Proud USAF Mom X3 - Training My Daughter Before Basic Training - 1 Week and Counting!

   
 I started this "Training My Daughter Before Basic Training" blog 5 weeks ago when my daughter Tiffany finished her semester at school and finally had the time to focus on her physical goals, which was to be as ready for Basic Training as best as she could be. As a Personal Trainer and her mom, it only seemed natural that I'd want to advise her and help her in the gym. Once she leaves for Lackland Air Force Base (San Antonio, TX) in a week she will only be able to communicate via hand-written letters...the good old fashioned way (NO social media, cell phone, or computer) and I will continue this journal for her based on those letters I receive.
     The three things I know Tiffany will be doing a lot of once she leaves is running, push-ups, and sit-ups so I started her on an interval-training program which incorporated those three exercises along with weight-training, plyometrics, and other cardiovascular conditioning exercises. Plyometrics,  also known as "jump training" or "plyos", are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed strength) (Wikipedia).
     We did all of her training at the Secaucus Recreation Center (Secaucus, NJ) where I teach classes and train most of my clients. They have a small indoor track in which 19 laps around is 1 mile. At first I had her jogging 3 laps and doing push-ups after each set of weights that I gave her to do. The next week I increased it to 5 laps, and on days she wasn't with me she just did a walk/jog on the track or treadmill trying to build up her endurance to be able to jog 1 mile without stopping.which she did for the first time on January 16th.
 
     With very little time left and still working 30 hours a week, Tiffany still had a lot of things to organize and get done, people to see, and fun to be had before being cut off from everything she now calls "her life". She has only been hitting the gym 3-4 times a week but finally ran 1 1/2 miles without stopping (required) about a week ago. My son Dakota, who is in the Air Force Reserves and lives home with us, told her that as long as she can do the required mile and a half when she gets there she will be OK. The PT (Physical Training) they do every morning in Basic Training will have her endurance up in no time!
     My oldest son Jesse is also in the Air Force National Guard and was full-time for three years, two of which were spent in Germany at Ramstein Air Force Base. He met his girlfriend Taylor, who was also stationed there but originally from Texas. They both live a few blocks away from us and are also very involved in Fitness and Nutrition.
Taylor has been a source of encouragement for Tiffany and also a good friend and "Training Buddy", which is always good to have in times like this!
     We are all going to miss Tiffany since she will be in Texas training for almost a year. She has become my best friend in her adult years and the person I've always planned so many fun things to do with. Last weekend Tiffany and I did the Cupid's Undie Run NYC (fund raiser for the Children's Tumor Foundation) for the 4th year together.
Taylor has joined us for the last 2 years and we always have such a great time!

     This year we wore camouflage-themed clothes (with pink and red hearts, of course!) to show support of Tiffany's decision to join the Air Force. By the way...Tiffany is ahead of both of us in that photo!
I don't know if we'll do it again next year but it sure has given us some fun memories, as well as many other things we've done together over the last few years.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Proud USAF Mom X3 - Training My Daughter Before Basic - 6 Weeks and Counting!

   
      My daughter Tiffany has decided to follow in her brothers' and father's footsteps and enlist in the United States Air Force National Guard. My oldest son served 3 years full-time and now continues in the National Guard at McGuire Air Force Base, which is where my daughter will eventually go for her monthly drills . My youngest son has been serving for 2 years as a Boom Operator in the Air Force Reserves, and after a year of training in Texas, he also reports to McGuire AF Base.
     Tiffany started with MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) a year ago and was working out fairly regularly getting ready to enlist, but she was holding out for a military job to become available that she was willing to commit to. In the meantime, she continued her education and obtained a job as a beauty consultant since she has been a licenced Aesthetician for five years. I've been very fortunate to have my own personal Make-up Artist for various events I've had to attend over the years. She is an amazing Make-up Artist!
     With the extremely tight schedule she has had the last 6 months, Tiffany didn't have time to keep up with her workouts. In September she was notified of a opening for a Medical Technician position in the Air National Guard and she had 1 week to decide and get sworn-in. She accepted the position with the condition that she would not leave until after this past semester of school was over. She now has less than 6 weeks left to get physically and mentally prepared to leave for 8 weeks of Basic Training in San Antonio, Texas. Being a Personal Trainer allows me to at least help her with that!
     We've decided to keep a log of her journey together. She is more into the videos and photos used on Instagram, and doesn't enjoy blogging as much as I do. I will be training her a couple times a week (besides her own workouts she is doing) and taking photos as well as blogging along the way. Once she leaves for Basic Training she will no longer have access to anything but a pen and paper to write with...NO Social Media AT ALL! That's where my blogging will take over! I will continue to report her journey as I receive letters from her. I know the first few weeks will be the hardest for her both physically and emotionally, especially since it takes some time to start receiving letters of encouragement from home.
   
I've written plenty of letters to my sons while they were in Basic Training, hoping to cheer them up when they might've been feeling discouraged or just home sick, plus it gave me a temporary sense of having them with me. My niece Nina just finished all of her training in Texas for the Air Force Reserves. I am so proud of her! She was working so hard to get physically prepared and totally kicked butt taking my classes before she left.
     Tiffany was always pretty athletic in school and even after high school did a little bit of kickboxing, weight training and was taking some of my spin and interval training classes. The one thing she didn't enjoy was running and pretty soon she'll be doing a lot of that! Last night she came back from the gym after being sick all week and ran her first mile without stopping, which is a great start for her. Tiffany has been getting advice about what to expect at Basic Training from her her cousin, her brother Jesse and his girlfriend Taylor, who is also an Air Force Veteran, and her younger brother Dakota who lives home with us.
      I'm sure it will be a little strange having their sister gone with the Military for 10 months but it is going to be very difficult for me to not have my Princess home with me for that long. You can follow +Tiffybopp on Instagram and Youtube for the next 41 days and after that just stay tuned to my blogs.
   

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Battle The Holiday Bulge - No Thanksgiving Muffin Tops...Please!

     
     I probably only know two or three people personally that I do not think over-indulge during the holidays to some degree, and they were all anorexic at some point in their lives. I think it's safe to say that the majority of us, at least here in the United States, tend to go above and beyond for the holidays when it comes to food and festivities. I'm not complaining, and I know I can relate to all the people who will be complaining about all the weight they will have gained over the holidays, or how the dress they bought for New Year's Eve is too tight by December 31st.
     So how do we get to eat all of the delicious holiday meals, drink all of the pre-holiday celebratory cocktails that are poured over the next 6 weeks, eat the desserts brought in to work as left-overs,  and the candy sold in the stores 75% off... without increasing a clothing size? Weight gain really is simple arithmetic...burn the equal amount of calories that you've consumed or you gain weight. If you burn more calories than you've consumed then you lose weight...it's that simple! So ask yourself this question... "Do I want to run/walk the equivalent of a marathon (besides regular workouts) each week to offset the over-indulgence? I can tell you after doing only one HALF marathon in my life that the answer to that question is "Hell NO"!
     It has taken most of my adult life to find some sort of balance and reduce the self-loathing that typically used to occur after the holidays. I've been a Fitness Professional for over 30 years, doing Personal Training as well as teaching a variety of group exercise classes. Shortly after conquering 20 years of Bulimia I read the book Skinny Bitch (by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnounin) which opened my eyes to the horrific treatment towards animals that occurs every day in most slaughter houses. It broke my heart and made me not want to consume any animal products ever again! It also made me feel bad about all of the food I consumed over the years just to purge it after wards, while animals were suffering. Over the years I've had so many people tell me that I don't need to worry about what I eat because I'll just burn it off in my class, but the truth is...it takes more than one workout to burn off a really bad binge!
     Most of the foods and desserts put out for the holidays have some sort of animal products in them (baked goods have eggs and chocolate has dairy) so I walk away from it for the animals. That doesn't mean I can't do some serious damage with chips and hummus and some red wine!
   With all of the fitness apps and devices available to help you track your "steps" and count your calories, it is so much easier now to be accountable for your daily consumption and activity for the day. Since I've spent about 30 years of my life "dieting", I really have no interest in putting someone on a diet. I tell my clients to keep a food journal for 5 days and bring it to me so I can tweak it and give some suggestions or healthier options. Some people go for so many hours without eating but then their sugar level drops and they over eat on at dinner time or they immediately look to eat sweets.
     I also tell my clients to download "My Fitness Pal" (or another calorie-counting app) on their cell or get a Fitbit and start keeping track of their intake and output. After setting up your own profile and setting a goal for yourself, the app will let you know how many calories you should be consuming per day to meet your goal. As long as you're consistent with including all of food and beverages each day, you'll know if you're eating too much or too little to stay on track. You can even redeem yourself by doing an extra cardio workout if you go a couple hundred calories over (not 600 calories over!). FYI...50 minutes on the stationery bike will barely burn off ONE dessert!
     There are many ways to cut the amount of calories you consume on a daily basis that will ultimately assist in weight loss over a period of time as well as working out. Checking food labels and purchasing items that have less calories per serving can easily skim a couple hundred calories off of your daily intake.  I did an experiment recently to see if I could reduce my belly fat and see my abs again by cutting back on my wine consumption and I lost 3-4 pounds over two months (which made my abs somewhat visible again). I got into a routine of drinking 2 glasses of red wine 5-7 nights a week, so I cut back to only having it 3-4 nights a week and the scale started going down without changing anything else! The same would happen for someone who drinks a lot of soda or beer. 
     With the holidays upon us, now is a good time to start cutting back on bread, pasta, rice, and sweets throughout the week so when you go to a party or out to dinner you don't have to worry as much about what you're eating. You might want to also consider choosing between having the cocktails OR the desert, or having both but then only having an appetizer or salad as your meal instead of eating everything and then needing to do an hour of a cardio workout for the next 5 days to undo the damage.
     Back in my "obsessive" dieting days, I would be sure to do an extra hard workout before going to my family's for a holiday dinner so I'd feel less guilty for everything I was about to eat. I also figured I'd skip my meals early in the day and save the calories for the good stuff later on...BIG mistake! Fasting all day just makes your sugar levels drop causing you to have sugar cravings, usually causing you to over-indulge or just go straight for all of the carbs. Then the insulin in your body rushes in to metabolize the sugar, you feel tired and lethargic, and eventually look for more sugar to pick you back up. The photo is vegan cake (no eggs) with Trader Joe's Vanilla Soy Ice Cream and raspberries...yummy!
     Working out before going to a Holiday party or dinner is a great idea because it will make you feel good about yourself and more in-control, but you should be sure to eat some sort of protein and healthy fats (hummus and veggies, peanut butter and apples, salad with avocado and beans) a couple hours before leaving so you don't arrive feeling famished. I'm just working on my holiday vegan menu now but will post some photos on Instagram @cindyfoxfitness when I make some new recipes. Be sure to also check out some amazing recipes (some vegan and some not) from @hellocheftaylor on IG as well as her website/food blog at www.diaryofahungrygirl.com. Feel free to comment and share this with your foodie friends and workout buddies and have a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, September 30, 2016

When One Door Closes...

     
When one door closes another door opens...or so I've heard many times from friends and family over the years. I've caught myself forwarding those words of wisdom to some people close to me for one reason or another lately. As hard as it is to "let go" of the things or people we've grown to love, I believe it's not until you finally do let go that you truly open yourself up to something better coming into your life.
      Many times we complain about our situations, relationships, jobs, etc...but don't have the courage to leave and find something that might make us happier. We get comfortable in our surroundings even though some of the "attachments" we are holding on to are just giving us a false sense of security. It's not until we either find the strength to release the hold on us, or in some cases we are "let go" not by our own choice. It's normal to be sad over a breakup, or worry about losing a job or being relocated. I personally tend to obsess over many things less important than that. so I am not excluding myself from this. Live and learn is what it's all about!
     We all recover from set backs at different paces, but once we finally do come to terms with the inevitable, there's a sense of a weight lifted off of our shoulders and finally we can see the light again. If only there was a way of skipping all of the pain and suffering that comes with worrying, and just realize how many obstacles we've overcome in our lives already, we would KNOW everything will work out one way or another. It's that moment when we release the negative energy and stressful baggage in our lives that we make room for the positive energy and new great opportunities to fill our hearts, minds and our lives. This was just meant to be a little reminder of what most of us already know :)