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Backyard Burn

06/26/2008

Beautiful Readers,

Our Fuji/Lipton 'Boy that's a Beautiful Bike Contest' is nearly at a close–and we'll be announcing the winner on Monday!  Thanks to all of our readers who posted comments about what makes them feel beautiful. The range of answers was awe inspiring, and the uniqueness of each I think showed their authenticity. Hopefully taking a moment to think about some of the large and small things that make you feel truly beautiful- a reflection of your priorities- put your daily concerns into perspective for a moment. It was small, tender, or exciting moments, not grand gestures or huge successes that made most of you feel great. Good to know.

Now for the topic of this post. I have been thinking recently about why I am doing something as bizarre as suddenly taking up tennis and golf, and pushing my children to do the same–all at once. I mean, I'm really busy these days, making sweeping changes and big decisions in my personal life, and always pressed for time, but yet I am spending any free time I may have researching and buying tennis rackets, trying to score as many good private lessons as possible, taking weekends away in places I never would have gone before because they have driving ranges and tennis courts, channeling my kids into last minute tennis and golf summer camps, and my nightstand is filled with books about the components of a good serve and the rules and etiquette of golf.

After years of disinterest and unfamiliarity with all kinds of sports, why all of a sudden have I become a sort of amateur sports nut? It's simple really. I'm getting older. And dare I say, no matter what your age, so are you. And as you get older a few things seem to happen that effect your fitness life:

1 You generally have other priorities that take over your life and have less time to do things like go to the gym. Frankly, this is why we're in business.

2. This lack of time for fitness seems to happen at the same point in life  when you need more exercise than ever. True dat. Once you reach 30 years old you start to naturally lose muscle mass, and in signifigant amounts too. 1 to 2 percent a year may not sound like much but if you consider that that is potentially a cumulative 50% during the course of your lifetime-that's a lot of muscle you'll be missing. If you thnk of your muscle as the stuff that burns calories for you, supports your skeleton, and makes you generally more resistant to injury-you see it's worth trying to hold on to.

3. Bone density may go on the wane once you reach 35 years old. As with muscle mass loss–that's not good, and while the results of diminishing bone mass may be invisible-you may be at greater risk for fractures. As many as 50% of women and 30% of men will suffer from a hip, spine, or wrist fracture within their lifetimes. That seems like a lot of me. Common fixes for this include increased calcium intake (including also calcium from sources outside of dairy products), regular weight bearing exercises (or exercise that includes some impact, like running or jumping), and adequate vitamin D (can be had through supplements or from daily 15 minutes of sun exposure-though please be aware that if you are wearing sunscreen that will decrease your vitamin D absorbtion during that time-so go without for15 minutes or increase your exposure)

4 During middle age your stress level is likely at an all time high, and rates of depression are far higher than they are typically in youth or old age. Exercise strikes me as a perfect cure for this.

5. People who exercise regularly have lower rates of dementia, tend to look better as they age (sometimes much better (you'd be amazed by the way some of the trainers I work with look versus their biological age–it has been absolutely mind blowing) and exercisers tend to live longer without signifigant illness or injury.

No how can you beat that? And how can you manage to fit in all the exercise that you need just as your life is becoming increasingly complex? Well, ok, first there's Beautiful Fitness a total model of efficiency in exercise and self-care. Really. But since we can't come to visit you on every holiday and business trip, there's also a whole bunch of other stuff you can do to fit in the exercise that you will need in increasing amounts as you age.

My favorite suggestion is to follow my lead and learn how to do every single fitness activity invented on Gods green earth -at least adequately. This is my favorite plan because of the rich variety of benefits it can offer. If you know how to do everything, you are more likely to have facilities available to you wherever you are. No gym? No problem. There is likely a local dance studio, yoga class, tennis court, swimming pool, golf course, basketball net, space for running, ski slope.

The other advantage to learning to participate in all kinds of fitness activities is that, unless you are trying to compete at something, or seeing your own improvement at a single activity is the only thing that keeps you motivated (we have clients like that) cross training gets you better exercise overall. If you perform different activities all the time, that means you are working different muscle groups every day, and also giving other muscle groups a rest –a perfect combination for maximal fitness.

Kids seem to understand the essence of cross training perfectly.They naturally want to 'do fun stuff' especially when it's something physical–which is why, for kids who tend towards obesity ( I recommend this for adults too) buying them tons of props to encourage physical play, and just getting out of their way, is the most effective way I know to get them to want to exercise. Items like boxing gloves, hula hoops, wobble boards, Twister, the Wii and Dance Dance Revotution, skateboards, bicycles, pogo sticks, jump ropes, tennis racquets, badmitton sets, balls of all kinds, and any other physical toys you can find can pique a kids interest in a way that no amount of pushing or cajoling can.

 Here's a clip of a kid jumping on a trampoline in their backyard- want to bet their parents never 'made' them jump on it. Want to bet this kid will be very unlikely to have issues with obesity as long as their interst in the trampoline lasts? Brilliant.

Click here to enjoy the Kid on Trampoline home video.

thanks again for reading,

Alix Florio – Beautiful Fitness

Beautiful Back to Bed

06/20/2008

Beautiful Readers,

Brevity is the essence of this post. It is one in the morning–and what I should be doing is sleeping. What I am doing instead is trying to ingraciate myself to a certain faction of Ogilvy Mather that seems to be interested in this blog and has good corporate sponsors who might love us for a very very long time should I play my cards right and write about things that seem relevant that they send me email about.

Now readers, don't feel used just yet. This one could be fun, and I applaud the corporate world for working creatively on their marketing. Select Comfort is having a sort of contest that involves trying to get participants to get an additional hour of sleep each night. They say 'only an hour of sleep each night' but you and I know that hour can be mighty illusive when you are busy. But certainly a noble cause given how chronically sleep deprived most folks are, and what serious consequences that can have.

If anyone has a spare moment, I wrote an article a while back for a little sidewalk box publication called Healthy Living NYC about the importance of Sleep.Follow this link if you're interested in reading it. Essentially I feel that sleep is in roughly the same list of 'very important things to pay attention to if you want to prevent major diseases and live a long time' as exercise, good nutrition, and trying to keep stess low.

So here's the story with the contest in the words of my contact at the agency:

Everyone that takes the Challenge will be entered to win a free Sleep Number bed or a set of contour pillows. That’s not it! Contestants will also be sent valuable sleep and lifestyle tips to help them achieve deeper, restorative sleep in order to improve their physical and mental health and performance.

 

Visit www.beds.com on June 20th to sign up for the Sleep-In Challenge.

 

That's all folks–and off to sleep for me.

 

Thanks for reading,

Alix

pres Beautiful Fitness

Beautiful Bogey

06/09/2008

Beautiful Readers,

So there’s no need to panic–you haven’t missed the fantastic Lipton White Iced Tea, Fuji Crosstown 2.0 bike contest! Just click the link to the right to go to the post called Boy,That’s a Beautiful Bike, and with just one comment on what makes you feel beautiful, the bike can be yours!

Now, there are a few good comments there already, but a couple are from guys I have slept with, so they’re exempt from winning the bike (and you thought that just being a guy I had slept with was bad enough!) So please keep posting your comments! Winners will be selected at month’s end.

Now for the title of the post. I’m learning to play golf and so are my kids. We’re learning to play tennis too. But frankly, golf seems like a far more complicated game, in many ways.

The goal of golf is to try to get your ball into each of a series of holes with as few strokes as possible. Sounds simple right? Nope. Golf is crazy. Insane.

First, the way you have to use your body in order to get any useful distance on the little white guy is very unusual, and really doesn’t play upon any kind of natural instinct or normal muscular reactions.

Good driving form, as I understand it, is an awkward combination of keeping your lower body totally static, as you lean forward towards the ground, and twist your upper body around way behind you (sounds comfy, non?) making yourself into a sort of human spring, and then with a quite quick release, you wail on the tiny ball, trying to hit it perfectly square so that it catches the angle on the face of the club you are using just the right way, and goes flying in an (ideally) straight line towards some distant goal. Somewhere between 50 to 250 yards. Bravo!

Then you pick up your jangling bag of clubs, and shlep it, usually in pouring rain, or blazing midday sun (midday certainly if you are a woman–who notoriously have trouble getting morning tee times at clubs), to somewhere near where your ball has gone to (presuming that you are able to find your ball, or it has not entered a lake or gone to hide itsself among the trees of the nearby woods).

And what’s up with the incredibly tense golf atmosphere? Golf is the most formal game in the world as far as I can tell. There is lots to learn in the way of etiquette and an entire macho subtext with a deep culture of, restraint, and ,testing one’s limits, built into it.

It’s not all bad though, I have decided. There is something oddly invigorating about feeling excruciatingly self-conscious on the first tee (or sometimes even at the driving range) and having to apply all kinds of self-soothing, and positive affirmation techniques in order to hit the ball at all without really being wracked with insecurity. Sounds ridiculous right? Who cares whether you hit the silly ball or not, whether or not anyone is watching. But see, that’s part of what is so funny about golf –it’s not so unusual to feel that hitting the ball just right is some measure of one’s soul.

In fact, increasingly I am coming to think that this aspect of the game has been cultivated on purpose–and I will go as far to say that I think men may really need this kind of thing. How else can otherwise, out of shape guys, with average desk jobs, really feel as if they are testing their mettle in just a few hours a week, while they hang out with some buddies, and get a little exercise?

Now, the trouble with the atmosphere is that that same “Let’s just see if you can do it.” vibe that is so exciting to men, can be seriously offputting for women. I know for myself, that the fewer people watching me perform at something I am not a hundred percent good at, the happier I am. If there are onlookers I pray for their supportiveness. In fact, sensing that someone may feel that I might fail can be like kryptonite for me.

 Not so for men, I think. First, they generally think they are good at everything (which from previous posts you know I actually admire a great deal–though it has certain drawbacks) and also, it is my feeling that guys like attention overall more than women do. Any attention. That whole little boy, ”Look at me fall out of this tree.” thing, never really seems to die.

It is clearer than ever to me now that I can play a little that golf is still massively exclusionary to women. That aspect makes it particularly challenging and yet exciting – rebel that I am. The Pro Shop at Essex Golf in Roseland NJ didn’t carry any golf clothes for women. Racks and racks of stuff for guys. When I asked the young man behind the counter about this, even trying to spare him any embarrasment by saying “I guess women don’t really ask about clothes.”  he answered honestly by saying “Oh no, they ask all the time. It’s just always been like this. It’s just easier not to stock it.” Gotchya.

No huge hissy fit on my part though. My personal brand of feminism is based in just showing up in places that women aren’t particularly warmly welcomed, and just hanging around, refusing to leave, acting relatively normal and relaxed like I belong there, and enjoying the benefits to be had there. It’s not as excting as a  bra-burning kind of spectacle (why burn all those perfectly good bras?) but in it’s own way quite effective I think.

When I go to a driving range I scan the stalls for women. When I see a few, I feel better and more at home. If I can provide that same benefit to some other woman just by being present (or for my daughter for that matter) then good for me. Speaking of my daughter, who is seven, she is focused like a laser at the driving range, very psyched to play, and mighty good, despite her small size, with her one pink ribboned club. We’ll see.

Thanks for reading,

Alix

President-Beautiful Fitness www.beautifulfitness.com

‘Boy, That’s a Beautiful Bike’ Contest

06/03/2008

 

Beautiful Fitness and Lipton present-

 

'Boy, That's a Beautiful Bike!'

 

LIPTON/FUJI CROSSTOWN 2.0 BIKE GIVEAWAY 

  Crosstown2

Beautiful Fitness and Lipton are proud to be able to offer our readers a great Lipton branded, Fuji Crosstown 2.0, elegant dark green, hybrid, bike, (check out the oh-so-sweet details about the bike that could be yours here)  Retails for $399. Thank you Lipton! And kudos again to Lipton White Iced Tea for allowing free and open exchange of ideas about their antioxidant-filled product!

 

The winner of this terrific bike will also recieve:

  • 5 coupons for free 1.5 Liter Bottles of Lipton White Iced Tea
  • a $75 check for professional bike assembly

CONTEST DETAILS: Very simple really. Post a comment to this blog describing something you do that makes you feel absolutely beautiful. Not leggy supermodel kind of beautiful (unless you happen to be a leggy supermodel–in which case that's fine) but good inside, free of the daily grind, ready-to-conquer-the-world kind of beautiful. And this fabulous bike can be yours!

The most original and inspiring answer (as selected by our staff) will win the Fuji 2.0 Crosstown bike, and the lucky runner-up (NYC residents only, please) will recieve our complete 2 session Beautiful Beginnings– bf Intro to Personal Fitness personal coaching package with at-home fitness assessment, plus follow-up, session FREE! (retails $120, details at Beautiful Fitness)

and no, Jim, we can't just give you the bike.

So good luck to you all! The race to inspire us, and other readers, with your comment is on!

And remember–we're a small company now, with only a select group of readers of this blog, so the odds of wining this terrific new bike are huge! Have fun! We'll announce the winners on June 30th!

The Pepsi/Lipton Partnership will provide a check for $75.00 to be used for professional assembly of all Lipton Fuji bicycles awarded.  Neither Pepsi Co. nor Unilever is liable for any injuries, damages or accidents that may result from the receipt, assembly or use of this bicycle.