The Motel 6 Workout


Since I’m on the road, I thought I’d share with you my very own Motel 6 Workout, 2012 Edition

It’s good anywhere you have a space the size of a yoga mat — though I will say, it’s useful to have a floor clean enough to lie on! So next time on the road, no excuses — put this one on blast|repeat, and bust out this 20 minute fat blaster.

1) Stretch your arms, hamstrings, & quads 

2) 30 Squats, hold down for 30, repeat 3 times. 

3) 1 Minute Plank followed by 1 Minute Mountain Climbers followed by 1 Minute Bicycle Kicks

4) 30 Right Lunges, hold down for 30, repeat 3 times.

5) 30 Left Lunges, hold down for 30, repeat 3 times.

6) Turn on CNN (or any cable news, for that matter)

5 pushups each time you hear any of the following words:

election, iran, economy, white house, polling, candidates, tweet, correspondent, and expert.

 Add them up when more than one is used in a sentence.

ie: “Our expert correspondent at the White House tweeted that the candidates of the election are concerned about new polling on the economy and Iran.”

That’s worth 45. 

Do’em until you’re all out of pushups. 

7) Squat against the wall for an entire commercial break.  

8) Stretch, and rejoice knowing you didn’t let your vacation get in the way of your butt-kicking.

another one of my favorite travel workouts



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Winning at the Supermarket…5 Useful Strategies

First, pictures of ice cream.

Got that out of your system? Good. If you’re headed to the supermarket to start off the week, here are some cupboard cleanups to consider for the restock.

1) Make a list. Figure out the week’s meals and needs and try not to deviate, regardless of how good the deals seem. Chances are, the buy one get one free sleeve of Oreos will catch your eye before the dollar off on clementines. Either way, don’t buy more than you need.

2) Shop the periphery. Do a lap first for fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy. If you fill up the cart with perishable goods, you’ll be more judicious about the processed bads.

3) Read the labels.  Keep careful note of important nutritional data for things like: protein, fiber, sodium, total fat, carbs, calories, and sugar. Once you start comparing, you might be shocked by the enormous ranges that exist in the market. Remember, just 150 extra calories per meal = an extra pound by the end of the week. (and that’s how many Burpies?)

4) Beware of artificial sweeteners. You might be saving a ton of sugars and calories by switching from ‘classic’ to ‘diet’, but research stills shows a strong correlation between drinking diet pop and struggling with a variety of weight related health-issues. A number of theories exist as to why, but more on that another time. For now, try to sweeten/flavorize your tea, oatmeal, and yogurt with fruits instead of Splenda.

5) Invest in nutrients, not calories. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the perverse food value system that highlights ‘calories per dollar.’ After all, that has been the direction of food marketing for years. ‘For just 25 more cents, you can supersize your meal!’ From a calorie to dollar ratio that’s an indisputable bargain — but we live in an environment where even the cheapest foods are laden with caloric content. Time to rearrange our thinking — food that’s good for you may cost more, but that’s an investment worth making. Once you start shopping for nutrients instead of calories, your body will determine where the value is.

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Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple, Ginger, and Lentil Soup


Fall’s fast coming, so you may be in search of a meal that’ll warm you right up. This one will fit the bill, and then some. With tons of reliable nutrients, a decadent texture, and a generous serving of fiber, this soup will clean you out and refill you with the good stuff.

You’ll need two big ole’ pots as well as a reasonably reliable blender. Also:

1/4 cup butter

1 chopped onion

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped.

1 thumb of ginger, sliced.

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon curry (optional)

4 cups vegetable broth

plain yogurt (for garnish)

(original version on this great site)

1) Over medium heat, melt butter in a big pot and sauté the onion, ginger, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apple. Stir frequently so nothing sticks or burns and cook until the onions are clear, about ten minutes.

2) Stir in the lentils and spices ( cumin, chili powder, paprika, curry) as well as the four cups of vegetable broth. Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat to low, simmering for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

3) Here’s the bit of work. Pour the hot, cooked down mixture into your blender and use pulses to puree until smooth. Pour the freshly texturized soup into your second pot and work as many batches as it takes to get through it all.

4) Soup’s ready to serve right out of the blender, so go ahead and garnish with yogurt and some chopped parsley or scallions if you’re feeling fancy. Add some salt and pepper, or a splash of veggie broth if the taste or texture needs any adjusting. Goes great with a nice chunk of crusty multigrain bread and a fall salad. Definitely filling enough to be the main event.

Soup’s on! 

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Why You Can’t See Your Abs… Yet


If you’re reading this on the iPad while doing crunches on the floor, go ahead and take a breather. Sure, you might feel a tighter tummy the next morning (not to mention a stiff neck), but chances are, the next 400 reps aren’t going to get you anywhere near that six pack.

While those hundreds of sit-ups and crunches can’t get the job done, these five tips will.

Eat less calories. You’ve heard them all: “You can’t outrun your fork,” or “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Cliches aside, you can kill it all you want at the gym, but it won’t count for pickles unless you find a way to reduce your body-fat and increase your muscle. Lose the flab, find your ab(s). Gosh, I just made that up.

But get what you need. Starving yourself isn’t going to do it either. You need to make sure that your body doesn’t start preserving fat in anticipation of the End of Days and a diet based around those few successful squirrel hunts. If it help, keeps a calorie journal to stay accountable while making sure you are still hitting your quotas for survival. Here’s a great one that’s even got a smartphone app.

Strengthen your core. A strong core is crucial for physical performance. Whether you’re balancing on a tight-rope over lava or lifting up your three-year-old (what on earth you feeding that kid?!) your core keeps your hips and back from injury by improving their coordination with one-another. Your core also serves as the foundation for those stomach ripples. So crunch all you want (be careful with that neck, though!) but set aside some time for planks, bridges, hip raises, and twists. More on these another day.

Do some cardio, and make it count. You already know that you need to get out there, on the bike, in the pool, around the track, whatever it is you do to get your pulse thumping like a rabid bunny. If you’re in reasonable shape, you can increase your gains by adding intervals to your workout. Research shows that high intensity interval training (HIIT) promotes fat burning while preserving muscle.

Take your time. Abs aren’t going to show up overnight. (certainly not after 20 sit-ups.) Stay on program at the gym and maintain that discipline at the dining table. You’ll find that as the flab goes, the exercise and energy will come easier and easier. See that person in the mirror, 8 weeks from today? I wouldn’t pick a fight.

New you.

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How to Tough it Out — 5 secrets all successful gym-goers know


It might be those last two miles on your run, the final ten minutes of your kickbox class, or the last 3 days of your diet challenge. All you wanna do is rest that weary body in a glorious Cheeto-laden heap on the ole’ potato maker. (read: your living room sofa.) It’s too easy. You can just head home, turn the tube on and call it a day.

We’ve all been there.

But you know what that road looks like. You know where it ends. How it feels when that cereal bowl of rocky-road is bone-dry and the laugh-track starts sounding stale. Honestly, how many euphemisms for “grisly demise” can those SVU detectives come up with? You can watch all Sunday afternoon and find out, but I guarantee there are more rewarding marathons out there.

Anyone can start a program of exercise and sound eating.

Day 1: “Eat raw carrots and broccoli for snacks? Pshh, I’ll eat them for every meal!! Half-measures are for the weak!!!”

But sticking to it is a whole different thing.

Day 6: “Maybe just a 1/2 mile walk today. After all, I did take out the trash earlier. And heck, the dog looks pretty tired too.”

Day 13: “Shut that alarm off NOW. You know we’re not going to iHOP until 10:30. Oh that diet thing? Let’s wait for New Years, it’s only a couple months away…”

So how do you tough it out? Where does that lady with the 3 kids and the day job find the resources to come in at the same time every day for an hour of hardcore butt-kicking cardio? Here are 5 things to think about next time you want to get started on the new you.

1) Make Modest Goals – and meet them. Not a morning person? Then don’t promise yourself that you’re going to get up for the 5:30 kickbox class five days a week for the next 3 months. Sure, you might make it through the first week. You deserve a pat on the back for the second. But if you’re miserable, you’re never going to really commit to this transformation. When planning, start small and stay reasonable. But once you’ve committed yourself, go hard.

2) Take a Day Off. Don’t hit it every day of the week. Not only does your body need time to recover from the barrage of intense activity you’ve now added to your regiment, but your mind needs the chance to take a breather as well. Use that time to enjoy the benefits of the program you’re on – the new energy you might have found and the endurance that your body is able to keep. Let loose on a meal as well, you’ll go crazy if you have to give up your old favorites for good. Plan this day in advance, so you won’t have the excuse to play hooky whenever you want. This way, there’s always something to look forward to.

3) But No More Than Two. A day off is fine. Two is okay as well. But any more than that, you’ll feel your newfound energy and momentum quickly depleting. Being on program is a commitment, and you need to make sure that discipline doesn’t lose steam during any time off you take. If you find yourself stuck in a stream of busy days, try to fit a quick 10 minute workout in, like this one.

4) Get a Mantra. The single greatest predictor of how successful your program is lies with whether you come in and do work on the days that you least want to. Maybe the weather’s nasty, your calves are a bit sore, and your husband just RedBoxed the Hunger Games. Here’s where you make it or break it. Close your eyes and tell yourself whatever it is you need to hear. “You’re doing it.” “Go slow.” “Head up.” “Whatever it takes.” Then take a deep breath, and get on with it. Cheat day’s not ’til Thursday.

5) Listen to Yourself. All this said, if you’re finding there’s an ache that just won’t go away or a hunger that is dramatically affecting your mood day in and out, you might need to reassess. You’re doing this to make that better, stronger, tougher you. You’re not in it to wreck yourself! Be kind to your body and find out what’s at the heart of your trouble. Maybe the program is too much too soon; maybe there are other factors at work like a lingering injury or external stresses at work or home. Make some adjustments, and come back harder than ever.

Hold on.

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3 Ways to Make Your Workday Better

1) Go outside at least once. No, it doesn’t count if it’s those twenty steps between the car and the office. The amount of sunlight and fresh air that we pick up on a daily basis directly correlates with the way we assess our mood. It’s no coincidence that the shorter days and longer nights of fall and winter are oft met with low energy levels, anxiety, and depression. Whether it’s for a quick walk after lunch or dinner, a morning jog, or just a two minute mid-afternoon breather, take the time to let your senses appreciate the change in space. Catch as many different colors and depths as you can with your eyes, breathe deeply in the unfiltered air, and listen carefully for the variety of activity that continues regardless of who you are and what you are doing. The recalibration might help you charge up and find that sense of purpose again.

2) Snack Smart. Regardless of the diet you are following, your level of physical activity, or any genetic predisposition you might have, food has a tremendous effect on your mood. So much of how you feel depends upon how well-fueled you are at that very moment in time. Consequently, there’s no better way to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward than to keep your stomach and blood stream satiated with the energies it needs. That said, any old Snickers bar isn’t going to do it. Most high-sugar and carbohydrate pick-me-ups set you up for a nasty spill soon after, with you grouchier and nastier than ever. Opt for nutrient-filled snacks like nuts, fruit, or yogurt — those that contain well-balanced ratios of fats, carbs, and proteins. These satiating choices keep you from looking like the Jack Nicholson Shining version of yourself, as well as binging when meal time comes around.

3) Make Contact. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you start digging deep into your to-dos. Sure, it’s good to have that kind of drive to get your work done. That kind of productivity is, after all, all you’re good for, right? Wrong. That’s the kind of thinking that leads to the worst lines of thought — that you’re only important as long as you keep producing – that your work could be done by anyone – that you’re replaceable. Take some time every few hours to dispel the magical glow of your computer screen and find someone to talk to. Anyone. Whoever it is, be it coworker, wife, or closest friend, listen to them with intention. Remind yourself that they have so much going on as well; their projects, their ideas, their anxieties, and their pressures. Doing so will not only bring you that much closer to them, it’ll bring you closer to yourself.

Best foot forward.

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10 Minute Body Weight Workout


10 Minute Body Weight Workout

Maybe you’re short on time, but you know you want to break a sweat in the next ten. Work these steps hard enough, and you might have earned yourself the day’s workout in the time it takes most folks finish checking their e-mail.

1 Minute Stretch. legs wide, touch it down, grab one ankle and then the next. turn for a deep runners lunge on both sides. feet back together, and raise it up one vertebrae at a time. pull one arm toward the chest, then the other. ready to play.

2 Minute Warm Up. Jacks for 15. High Knees for 15. Butt Kicks for 15. Lateral Touchdowns for 15. Repeat all four. Take 30 seconds to catch your breath.

1 Minute of Nonstop Pushups. Don’t cheat, get as close down to the floor as you can, modify as needed by elevating your hands onto a higher surface. Phone Book, Bed, or even the wall — you’ll make gains soon enough. 30 seconds off when you’re done.

1 Minute of Nonstop Bicycle Kicks. Get down on your back, put your hands around your head, and bring your opposite knee to your opposite elbow. Repeat vigorously until your time’s up. 30 seconds off.

1 Minute of Nonstop Squat Jumps. Squat down and explode up. Land in a squat and lower. Up and down, up and down. 30 seconds off when it’s over.

1 Minute of Burpie Bootcamps. Throw your hands in the air and jump as high as you can. Land on your feet and bend over to sink your hands into the floor. Thrust your feet out behind you so you plank out. Do a push up. Throw your feet back toward your hands and straighten up. Repeat. Finish hard.

Take a minute to stretch it out when you’re done and there you have it. Chances are, those beads of sweat will be just starting to form. Maybe you should consider hitting it for just another round… maybe 10 more minutes?

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