10 Super Simple and Easy Ways to Drastically Improve Your Workout

fitness-061. Build Your Mind Muscle. Meditate your way to a deep sleep every night. In order to have a great workout routine, you must have a nightly relaxation ritual that does not include a couple of drinks to calm you down. Some of the best guided meditations for sleep and relaxation are here.

2. Be your Own Best Coach – but first you must listen to how you feel. Do you hold any guilt, anger, resentment? You can’t carry that extra weight to the gym. It’s not like fat that you can burn off. That baggage is heavy and more exhausting to schlep around than those extra pounds.

 

Really get a sense of how you feel during the day. Log those emotions. Do you tighten up when you see your coworker? Feel anxious when someone stands just a bit too close on the train? Feel like you want to choke the loud cell phone talker on the street in front of you? Those emotions are invaluable. They’re keys to the things that will really improve your life if you dig into them, because those kinds of emotional responses that we quickly temper are signs of an internal disagreement.

More on how to be your own life coach here.

Remember, resolving the internal disagreements that lead to unhealthy emotions and choices  are vital for improving your life.

3.You can’t head to the gym in your paint-stained sweat pants that double as your bathroom/kitchen cleaning outfit. Eventually you will want to go pro and prepare with the right workout gear. This includes clothes, water, podcast or music playlist, headphones, FitBit, etc.

My favorite picks for the gym here and more here –

 1

Nike Team Training Gymsack Black/White Size One Size

2

Nike Women’s Free 5.0+ Running Shoe

3
Aquasana AQ-6006-BLU-TR 18-Ounce Glass Water Bottle with Silicone Sleeve, Blue

4
Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Capri Legging

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Champion Women’s Absolute Workout Sports Bra, Black, Medium

6

adidas Performance Women’s 24 Seven Deep V-Neck Tee, Midnight Grey, Large

4. Play the Leading Role in The Award-winning Film of Your Life – This is what worked for me. Weigh yourself, look in the mirror, see yourself as you are now.You are the star. This your time. Every day.  Then, in your mind, see yourself as you want to be. Visualize yourself. Want to drop 10, 20, 50 pounds or more, fit into a tight tee shirt or just feel more energized?  List the things you must do to become who you want to be. Write them down. Now do one simple thing each day on this list to get yourself closer to where you want to be during your workout. Note: you need to eat less to weigh less, so tracking calories for a 500 deficit each day is imperative to losing weight. Do this in conjunction with your work out if you want to lose weight.

5. Talk to YourselfIncessantly. I repeat the following to myself every time I walk into the gym. 123 Tone. That’s my goal weight of 123 pounds and my tone body. I have linked it to the photo of myself in my mind of what I look and feel like at 123 pounds with slim tone arms, a flat stomach and strong legs. Keep that vision in front of you as you work out. See yourself slipping into those jeans.

6.Set a time limit and and a target list of what you will perform while you are at the gym- don’t leave until you are done. Today my goal was 60 full minutes of cardio and three rounds of 22 push ups, 60 and sit-ups. Although I fought it – yes, I really did want to leave early, I did not walk out the door until I finished. It wasn’t easy.

7. Listen to Someone Motivating. If you have a smart phone, down load a motivating podcast to listen to while you are on the treadmill.  My favorite todayThe Good Life Project. Click here for more.

8.Sweat and track you success daily. I have come to understand that if I am not sweating or getting really heated up during at least a part of my workout, than, I are not working out hard enough. You have to push yourself.  But first you must know your target heart rate. It is a very simple calculation and you can find it at Every Day Health, here. After working out a while, you will be able to physically tell if you are in fat-burning mode by the way your body feels.

9. Switch it up. Do not do the same thing every day. You will get bored and you will not optimize your workout. Try new machines and classes, today I did 20 minutes on the tread mill -a set of sit-ups and push ups and then 20 minutes on the Elliptical followed by another set of sit-ups and push ups and then another 20 minutes on the other machine that looks like the Elliptical but it’s a stair climber thing. Play with the buttons on the treadmill – build an incline, jog for a minute, slow walk, then speed walk, etc.

10.  Move Every Single Day. Do something active every single day. I work out every day but every day is just bit different. One day is a 5-7 mile walk with hills and stairs, another a day at the gym, another is Spinning class, etc. I don’t take a day off from movement and do not believe it would help if I did.

Do you have a workout tip that is simple, easy and effective? I would love to learn from you, so please share in the comments below.

Dodging Raindrops, Brilliant Podcasts and Rising Above A Toxic Workplace

sitting-posture

Two words, good posture.

Stop. Did you just do what I think you did? Did you just sit up a little straighter?

Next time you walk into the elevator or a big meeting, think about what your posture says about you as you pass through those doors. Then try these exercises for better posture.

It’s early morning, pouring rain, headed to the office in Soho (70 minutes, stuck in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, followed by a soaking 30 minute walk). Rain coming in sideways. I feel like –

sunshine

Rain-jacket-Cover-620x400

Wellness in the Workplace

Now, while big corporate decides whether there’s enough ROI (return on investment) around creating a “corporate wellness” program at your office (read: you healthier in their work camp), organizations are adding things like energy-absorbing flooring and enhanced air and water filtration. That’s all well and good but you must take matters of health into your own hands and back to your cozy cubby.

offices1

Movement + Meditation = My Medication

When there is no time to work out in the morning I walk the five miles to and from work.

Walking at various speeds with intervals of stairs help me stay energized throughout the day and less guilty about not getting to the gym. Except when it rains really hard. Then I’m just like, what was I thinking?

That’s why I have invested in some serious commuter gear – I have provisions -umbrellas, rain coats, knapsacks, rain boots, you name it.

Love these rain boots and my  jacket below from Uniqlo

sperrySperry Top-Sider Women’s Pelican III Rainboot

UnknownTotes Signature SuperDome Auto Open/Close Umbrella, Black, One Size

goods_69_157491

Learning on the Go

Podcasts I listen to at the gym and on my warrior walk to work.

  1. The Unmistakable Creative – brilliant interviews with super creative people.
  2. The Tim Ferriss Show – the #1 business podcast on iTunes right now
  3. School of Greatness with Lewis Howes – because he just wants to get better and better and so do I.

Or sometimes I simply walk and meditate. Huh? How do you do that? Well, you breathe and walk and just be aware of the fact that you are breathing and walking. Unless you are like me and want to Instagram every little stupid thing. Then you might want the guidance of a walking meditation app.

Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind.

desk

Workouts During the Work Day

Not as powerful as sweating it out for 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym, moving throughout the day gently keeps my body and head in check. Evidently, according to this Forbes contributor, there is something to this fidgeting.

Here’s what I am trying to do every day at work.

  • 10 Exercises to Do at Your Desk on Forbes.com here
  • A full glass of water (8oz) every two hours.
  • A healthy lunch – salad with protein.
  • Two 100 calorie snacks. Almonds or apples. (buy in bulk at Costco).
  • Always take the stairs and go outside every few hours.
  • 1 minute of breathing meditation at my desk on the hour.
  • A moment or two to laugh. Best of Jimmy (Fallon) here
  • Network – spend a little time connecting with others.

waterbottlemarkedwithtimeAre you shy? Want to make friends but feel a bit socially awkward?

Listen to this brilliant Tim Ferriss episode How to Build a World Class Network in Record Time.

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True Grit, The Act of Envisioning and Living to 100

World___Italy_Jetty_on_the_island_of_Sardinia__Italy_065063_

I am adding yet another new daily habit of 30 minutes of focus and deep concentration by journaling precisely what I want to create in life with the honest intention of being in service to everyone I meet.  I imagine and behold a (super) better version of myself, eliminating any negative thoughts including envy, hatred, judgement, selfishness or cynicism. No matter what, I will carve out this time to make sure this becomes a ritual in my life.

“. . . in applying one’s whole soul to doing right and speaking the truth. There remains only the enjoyment of living a liked succession of good deeds, with not the slightest gap between them.”  – Marcus Aurelius

Study: Meditations (Hardcover Classics)

marcus-aurelius-quote-fridge-magnet-2_largeSystem Restore -A Metaphorical Moment

The other evening I was pulling my hair out while trying to free up some space on my computer with Daisy Disk (not worth the $9.99, a total waste). After backing up my laptop I had to restore my operating system. Not something I wanted to be doing at 11 pm at night. I have no patience for this, but it’s like laundry and cleaning the kitchen, it just needs to get done. But I had a moment of true realization while I waited for my Mac to restart with a new blank desktop –  I am also in the process of refreshing and restoring my operating system.  Some call it reinventing ourselves.

The Act of Envisioning the Future

The way I see it, we can worry about the future or we can focus on creating a better story for tomorrow. Recognizing that the dominating thoughts of my mind will eventually transform themselves into physical reality, I have committed to concentrating my thoughts on precisely who I want to become and I am creating a crystal clear picture of that person each day, by writing a new future. This also helps with incessant useless monkey-mind worry because I am putting my thoughts to better use. I highly recommend you try it for yourself.

True Grit

Just like building a start up or pursuing any dream, this life project of mine requires deliberate practice and focus and as many have come to understand a great dose of grit. Grit defined as perseverance and persistence coupled with an unwillingness to wilt, complain, or cry about my current state. It’s the ability to accept my reality and make the best of it, never wishing I was somewhere else, or in someone else’s shoes.

I have come to understand that people who value grit have a number of things in common. They appreciate everything in their lives and what they have right now.

small-daily-improvementsThe “gritty” among us also –

  • Remain cautiously optimistic.
  • Exercise their muscle of self-control.
  • Have a higher level of social intelligence.
  • Maintain the ability to preserver through even the toughest times.
  • Stay enthusiastic about the process.
  • Embrace the art of curiosity about everything. Even their problems.

Grit: harnessing the courage, the resiliency, and the power within.

Climbing Hills and Recreating Blue Zones

Barring heavy rain or deep wet snow, every day I take a 25 minute steep hill hike around my town. What I am trying to do is recreate the effect that blue zones have on the body.  Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy.

The five blue zones are as follows:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

Ikaria_1428628iThe people in blue zones don’t need to artificially incorporate exercise into their lives with machines.  The exercise comes for free, already built into their daily lives naturally.  Common across all of the blue zones is that the people climb mountains, walk through the hills, work the land, and generally use their bodies in a constant grind as they perform their daily activities.  And it doesn’t have to be high intensity “run as fast as you can” exercise either.

To live long and healthy requires a constant, daily lifestyle of positive enrichment for the body and mind.  For many this may seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read more about what it takes to live to 100 here.

blue

Read: The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

Insanely Useful Weight loss and Training Gear Investments

I’m not necessarily a gear girl because I absolutely believe it’s not the tools, it’s how you use them, however, on the other hand, I truly appreciate great quality when I find it. I wish I would have discovered a complete list of the best of everything when I decided to turn things around.

I have found the following weight-loss and training tools have stood the test of time, lasted way longer than I expected and helped me lose 25 pounds while getting stronger over the past year.

athleta Athleta Be Free Capris and the Relay Capris are both flattering with an awesome fit, even as I lost the weight. Perfect for warmer weather and summer months, even through 95 humid degrees in Florida summer heat.

Under ArmourUnder Armour Women’s Heatgear Capri Pants got me through the frigid temperatures last winter in New York, whether I was up at 5:30 am driving in my jeep to the gym or running to Soul Cycle in Union Square.

Extremely Mindful Eating – guarding Calories In & Out

I truly don’t believe I would have dropped the pounds if it wasn’t for tracking my calories. Now, I’m on my third Fitbit because I lost the first two “zip” models that you clip on your sports bra or pants, so I don’t recommend them at all. I have found that the wrist band stays on and when synced with the app is a truly mindful weight loss tool.

 Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

When I first started wearing my LG Headphones around my neck I got some pretty strange looks, but they have become incredibly popular and since I’m the kind of geek that has practically strangled herself with her earbud wires wrapped around the Elliptical arm, well, these babies are both blue tooth and powerful.

LG Electronics Tone Pro HBS-750 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headset – Retail Packaging – Black

Supposedly drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day will speed up your metabolism (read the NCBI study here), but regardless, staying hydrated is critical and also helps fill you up.  I dropped $24.00 on this Ello Glass water bottle at Whole Foods, and like everything else, I found it for much less on Amazon – under $10.00. It’s durable and dishwasher safe. Better for the planet, but also for your body.

 Ello Pure BPA-Free Glass Water Bottle with Lid, Coral Fizz, 20 oz.

Practicing Mindful Portion Control

I haven’t eaten off a regular size plate since I started enjoying nutrient-dense, high-fiber slow-carb meals. Small plates help keep portion sizes under control.

Boston International Ceramic Appetizer Plates, Nautical Flags, Set of 4

Speaking of fiber, I found Goya Beans, specifically black and small white beans added to every meal (just a few table spoons will do) are just what you need to keep the scale moving in the right direction.

Goya Premium Small White Beans 15.5 oz

It all started with changing the way I ate, which was absolutely mindless and mostly in front of my computer. The diet that changed my life, is The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss.

The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman

He’s the grandfather of self-improvement and performance coaching. Yes Anthony Robbins and yes his book Ultimate Power helped frame my new empowered mindset.


Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement

As fun as they are, do not buy the headbands at Free People or Urban Outfitters. They unravel and slide off, even during Pilates and Yoga and they don’t absorb jack. Try Mava’s instead.


Set of 6/4/2 PCS Multipurpose 12 in 1 Headbands for Athletic and Casual Wear, Highly Comfortable Seamless Bandana, Balaclava, Scarf, Face Mask, Best Moisture Wicking Headband With UV Protection, Suits Both Men & Women, Mava Premium Quality Headwear (Set of 6)

While they became a thing about five years ago, I am still in awe at how comfortable, light weight and long lasting my Nike Free trainers really are.

Nike Free 5.0

uni

And as the weather turns cooler here in the northeast, I love my Uniqlo down vests and jackets for working out. They are inexpensive, long lasting and wind resistant.

Do you have any workout favorites? Anything to recommend? I’d love to learn what helps you perform.

Robots Serving Fast-Food Quinoa Bowls in San Francisco

Eatsa is using technology like iPads VS actual wait staff in San Francisco. Unlike these droids serving up delicacies in China.
droids
At Eatsa’s automat it’s pretty simple, once you place your order at a kiosk, you pick it up a few minutes later behind a glass door. The only people in sight are the “concierges”, who can answer questions like those at CVS and Home Depot who are there to service those who are frustrated at the idea of self-checkout. From what I understand, there is still the prep work that needs to be done, and that is the reason for the  dozen or so staff in the kitchen. Eatsa is the brainchild of Scott Drummond, a techie focused on data-driven results. He says forgoing meat, along with staff, helps keep the cost of goods down.
Grains Packed with Protein
Eatsa serves up Keenwah or properly spelled “Quinoa” is known for its high protein content, and with good reason. The seed (yes, it’s technically a seed—not a grain) contains eight grams of protein per cup. Plus, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it packs all nine essential amino acids your body needs. But it’s definitely not the only grain stand-in out there that’s loaded with protein. In fact, these five options—spelt, kamut, teff, amaranth, and sorghum—all contain even more protein than quinoa.
 protein grains
Automats in Amsterdam
The concept is not new at all. Here we see Audrey Hepburn at a Hort & Hardart’s Automat in the 1950’s.
Audrey Hepburn
In Amsterdam, the automat has been the heart and soul of FEBO for over 40 years. In 1960, pastry chef J.I. de Borst was the first in the Netherlands to transform his pastry-snack business into a fast, “hit-and-run” snack bar, in which the automat played a starring role. He attributes his success to a focus on quality, a top priority for him since he started out in 1941 in Maison Febo in Amsterdam. Over the years, FEBO has grown to become a concern with franchises all over the Netherlands. Mr. de Borst has never outsourced the production of his snacks.
    1222411153878_fWith collaborative workplace with locations around the world, WeWork has been playing around with the concept of automated snacks and healthy food since 2013 with their Honesty Markets. I started an experiment in 2012 called The Original Snack Cart in 2012 at WeWork. Honestly, I can tell you, our research showed a spike in sales when healthy fare was served with a smile.
WeWork Honesty Market

Pattern Interrupt, Pushing Through and Improving Your Workouts

russian-twist-exercise-illustration

Usually habits are really useful. When we are on “auto pilot”  our brains have become so efficient at doing something we can tune out our conscious minds, which can be helpful sometimes, like when brushing our teeth, but not when working out.

More about the upside of habits in this awesome book:The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Problem with Mindless Patterns

Habits and patterns can also be a real problem. We can eat mindlessly and therefore overeat. We can tune out important people and not actively listen. We can exercise without paying attention and not get the most out of our workouts.

Russian Twists

I’m focusing on a bit of mid-course correction while making sure I don’t become weary from unconscious behavioral patterns during my morning exercise routine. The minute boredom sets in, I am reminded to “pattern interrupt”. It keeps things fresh – and improves results. So I do something different – I step up my stride, moving faster; add 20 more squats with calf stretches and try new exercises, like today – the Russian Twist (see illustration above) for toner abs.

Chi Walking and Core Movement

I’ve also been practicing engaging my lower abs throughout the day, especially when walking, jogging, running and sprinting. It has taken my routine to the next level.

When you correct your posture, you will be able to tighten your abdomen while you are walking. Leading your stride from your pelvis or what some call “Chi Walking” teaches us how to redirect the workload of propulsion to our core muscles around the pelvis and lower trunk area.

Pushing Through

When you are working out  every single day, it is easy to find yourself in a state of apathy about the mundane routine. Four things that help me push through –

Focusing on my super hero strength.  Yes, that’s me, in my mind, when working out. Lara Croft. Beautiful and brainy, with a fearless quest criss-crossing the globe, in an amazing attempt to save the world. 

Lara_Croft_film

Break it down into small increments. 200 squats in a row my ass. I do 10 sets of 20 deep squats and jog in-between. Before I know it, I’ve completed 200 squats with a tighter tush.

Goblet_Squat

Feel your body and get to know the slow, soft burn. Get to know what small progress feels like in your muscles. Where there is energy, there is life and growth – Seneca. More philosophy and wisdom here: Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)

b7935bffc8c3db080af229edccd571e0

Don’t focus on the time. Cover the clock and speed up the pace, even if it is just a bit quicker.

What are your workout tips? 

Do you have tips to push through to the next level? Something awesome to help make workout routines more fun? I’d love to know what you recommend. Leave a comment below.

 

Eating at Airports and Healthier Chow for Commuters

plane

I have been spending way too much time passing through airports this summer. I love to travel, but the food options along the way, let alone the lack of hospitality, leave much to be desired.

I’d like to think that I’m that girl that packs a healthy lunch from home for the plane, but I’m not.

The Commuter Chow Dilemma

In my humble opinion, airport food options haven’t gotten any healthier, tastier or better. When it comes to eating on the go, this whole “food revolution” might just be a farce.  It’s just pretty packaging and pricey promotion. Shake Shack – the new modern roadside burger – is simply a replacement for the old McDonalds brand. Exotic veggie chips-  just another processed fattening mindless bag of nothingness –  a big fat “0” of nutrients.

The shelves and signage look prettier – with better eye-popping packaging to lure you in with sugar-dense, dried-fruit (kettle-cooked??) candy replacements –

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Fattening Nuts – Weighing the Options

These pumpkin seeds and “healthy nuts” should come with a high calorie – extremely fattening warning. 1 cup of seeds = 747 calories.

terra chips 2terra chips

Wait! Terra chips seem to be “high fiber”. 12 grams per serving.

smoking

Photo from the bathroom plane – an ashtray in the door?  – smoking was banned in 1988 – wait, but this means my plane is over 25 years old.

I’d love to hear from nutritionists on what the healthiest food options are for airport travel. Do we have to pack our own snacks?

Mount Climbers, Transhumanism and Being Bored to Genius

transhumanismNever one to get too comfortable with my routine, I’ve added mountain climbers (fat burning, toning and strength-training all-in-one) to my daily workout, which now includes – 60+ minutes of interval cardio with strong sprints, 100 bicycle sit ups, 30 push ups, 50 squats, 50 forward and 50 backward lunges, 25 side lunges and 30 mountain climbers. I am aiming for 100 of each daily.

Podcast Picks

Tim Ferriss and Srivanas Rao of The Unmistakable Creative both had interviews with artificial intelligence experts this week.  You can listen to a fascinating interview about the future of technology and the human race with Zoltan Istvan, the transhumanist running for U.S. president here.

What exactly is a “Transhumanist?”Transhumanism_h+_2.svg

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Think bionic eyes and robotic hearts. Note: I am not a member of this tribe, I just find their stories of the future very intriguing.

One of my favorite Zoltan (his name even sounds transhuman) quotes from the interview –

“I do not let emotions be part of my decision making

process because it leads to dangerous things.”

Zoltan warns of the dangers of “going with your gut” when making big decisions. He claims that one should really consider the long term effect each decision may have. Emotions shouldn’t dictate every decision because they may lead to irrational choices – and you know what happens then.

I must remind myself that today I am a result of the decisions I made yesterday. Deciding to workout each day a year ago, has made me a healthier and happier person today.

The takeaway: Decisions are what get you where you want to go. Everything you are today is a direct result of a decision you made at one point in time.

Some should be made through the prism of reason.

In the meantime, back on the treadmill, I can make bigger decisions because I have Fitbit technology to track my workout habits and success.  Habits + technology help free up the brain. Not having to think about tracking my movements or what to eat for breakfast, leaves more brainpower for the bigger, creative ideas. Read more about the science behind being bored to genius.

Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband, Black, Large

fitbit

Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Black

As you think, so shall you become. – Bruce Lee