Aging Gracefully Blog

Archive for February, 2013

When a Midlife Crisis is a Physical Awakening

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Here's a bold example of the life-changing power of exercise! I first met Dr. Alvin Jones a year ago when he interviewed me on his radio show about my book Strength Training for Women. Afterwards, he asked for my help in a weight loss program, and to date, he has lost 73 pounds. (Scroll back to see more posts about Dr. Alvin).

Alvin was 56 when we met over the air waves and began our "virtual relationship" by e-mail and phone. He recently told me that this past year has been "the first year of my life, of being an adult, of maturing. I look better, feel better and it's been the best year of my life."

The program I gave him is so elementary that anyone can do it, no fancy equipment or gym memberships required! You just need your body and commitment to your goals. Consistency and dedication are key. The formula is basic but well-established: daily exercise combined with better food choices equals dramatic benefits for your health, appearance and state of mind.

Beyond weight loss, the positive lifestyle approach has caused a "paradigm shift" for Alvin. Taking care of his body has improved his mental discipline, which extends to other areas of his life. The skill set he learned from our program - consistency, accountability, perseverance – is the baseline for high performance and the foundation for doing something great.

Coming of age can happen anytime in life!


Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and Squats: You’ve been doing them incorrectly for decades!

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Push-ups, sit-ups and squats - timeless bodyweight exercises - provide a mini full-body workout that you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment needed. But are you making common mistakes in form that can sabotage your efforts?

Join us live on Sirius XM's Dr. Radio Show this Wednesday, February 20 from 8-9 am. I'll share all the insider tips that I've learned over the past 25 years as a fitness professional and answer questions such as:

  • What are the biggest mistakes that people make in performing each exercise?
  • Why is spinal alignment the key to getting the most out of these moves?
  • How can you work these exercises into your lifestyle, no matter what your fitness level?
  • What is the difference between a sit-up and a crunch?

Call in with your questions and comments to 877-NYU-DOCS

Vivacious host Dr. Marina Kurian sets a lively tone in her show and engages her audience with humor and personal insight. I'm always delighted to appear with her! Catch us live this week:

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show
DATE: Wednesday, February 20
TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET
LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81
Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS


Are You at Risk for the New Silent Disease?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

We all do it, every day. Some of us do it for most of each day. We do it at home, at school, at work, at ball games and at the movies.
What is this pervasive risk factor that can cause early death? It's called "sitting" and Americans average 9.3 hours a day compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping.

The dangers of too much sitting have been making recent headlines:

  • Extended sitting slows the body's metabolism reducing levels of fat burning enzymes and HDL cholesterol.
  • Sitting too long raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart, kidney and liver disease, and certain kinds of cancers, even for people who meet the recommended physical activity levels.
  • Sitting more than 6 hours a day increases your risk of death, even if you work out.
  • Watching TV for 6 hours a day robs 5 years off your life.

Being sedentary for the average 9 hours a day is killing us! So what to do if you can't quit your day job? And if exercise won't help anyway, what can Americans do to truly combat the negative effects of sitting for long?

  • Set a daily schedule and periodically, at least once an hour, take a 2-minute break of light to moderate activity. Walk around your office, climb some stairs.
  • Make exercise a part of your meetings: Switch your coffee meetings to walking meetings. Block off time in your calendar.
  • Stand at the back of the room during company meetings or ask your company to create a collaborative meeting space at standing height.
  • Develop an "active work station" such as a standing desk or a treadmill desk.
  • Instead of hitting the vending machine at 3 pm, make a point to stand up, stretch and do a few leg exercises like squats and calf raises.

A small, simple change can have a dramatic impact on your health. Even if it seems elementary, the consistency of doing a "little bit a lot" is a formula for success.


The Simple Seven: Lifestyle Choices for a Healthy Heart

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Are you in the pink when it comes to that all important muscle, your heart? The American Heart Association has developed a simple assessment tool to find out if you are managing all seven lifestyle factors for a healthy heart.

  1. Get Active: Accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity  physical activity per week. You can do it in 10-15 minute "doses". For some great ideas on how to fit more exercise into your day, check out these books and resources.
  2. Control Cholesterol: Give your arteries the best chance to stay free of plaque, blockages which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Keep your total cholesterol under 200 and learn how to increase the percentage of good cholesterol (HDL).
  3. Eat Better: Eat a heart-healthy diet: foods low in saturated and trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars, and foods high in whole grain fiber, lean protein, and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  4. Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is called the silent killer because it has no symptoms - one in three American adults has it and may not know it. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.
  5. Lose Weight: If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you're at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Measure your waist-to-hip ratio and learn your body mass index (BMI).
  6. Reduce Blood Sugar: Our bodies convert the foods we eat into glucose (or blood sugar) to use for energy. If your fasting blood sugar level is below 100, you are in the healthy range. If not, your results could indicate diabetes or pre-diabetes.
  7. Stop Smoking: Any and all smoking is a risk factor for heart disease; and the more you smoke the more you are at risk. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Your lungs can begin to heal as soon as you quit.

For more detailed information and to get your own personal assessment, go to and click on "Get Your Assessment."

Beat Heart Disease Now!

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Are you more afraid of getting cancer than heart disease? If so, you're not alone. According to the American Heart Association, while it’s true that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in women, only 1 in 5 American women believe that it is her greatest health threat. The best defense against heart disease is a hearty offense, and from the physical activity standpoint, that means cardio exercise and strength training.

Cardio (or Aerobic) Exercise: Regular cardio exercise can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels, reduce body fat and enhance circulation. Cardiovascular stamina is associated with a stronger heart muscle, slower heart rate, decreased chance of heart attack, and a greater chance of surviving if you do suffer a heart attack.

Lifting Weights: The heart is a muscle that gets stronger and more efficient with training, pumping more blood with each beat. Strength training, like cardio exercise, can improve the function of the heart and lungs and provide additional benefits such as:

  • Enhance glucose metabolism
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes
  • Aid in weight control
  • Ease the demand on the heart in response to physical or emotional stress

Why would you want another medication when instead you can take this "magic pill" – truly magic because the only side effects are totally beneficial! Click here to see more about my easy-to-use books on strength training.