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Four Fast Tips and Tricks For Getting Fit


Beautiful Readers,

How's that title for alliteration! (now try to say it five times fast). That's what happens to folks when they start to Twitter. Suddenly the world becomes a place of instant cleverness forced through 140 characters or less. If you want to hear me Tweet (that is, presuming you know what Twitter is, or care) you can "follow" me by going to Twitter, joining up, and finding my handle alixatbeautiful and electing to "follow" me. You will then begin to experience the rapturous joy of knowing what I'm thinking about things like, the bus, my nails, the gym, my kids, and all kinds of other navel-gazing sorts of stuff. Hooray!

So here are my quick fit tips:

1) If you go to a gym and use the inner thigh machine (the one where you squeeze two platforms together with your legs)–I bet that half of you are doing the exercise with your calves instead of your inner thighs. Try this test: attempt to do the exercise using only your thighs (well, inside of your knees, really), just take your feet completely off the machine and put them in front of you (like you're riding on the back of a bike, trying to avoid touching the pedals with your feet) and see if suddenly you have to drop the weight down a lot. I recently discovered that, like, half of the 90 lbs. I believed I was pressing with my thighs was actually being pushed by my calves. I now set the machine at 50 lbs.

2) I am convinced that green tea, drunk throughout the day, contributes enormously to weight loss. Every time I have tried to shed some pounds and have drunk green tea I find it comes off faster. For awhile I thought it might be the caffeine in it speeding up my metabolism, but coffee does not seem to work as well. There's some scientific research that seems to support this idea, but nothing conclusive. Here's what Mayo Clinic has to say about Green Tea. I love Mayo Clinic. They do a ton of original research and as much as they want to believe in alternative medicine–they always give you the straight dope. They give Green Tea a 'C' (in an A through F scale) for quality of research on weight loss benefits.

3) Use music for motivation for exercise. Lean on it heavily. Every trainer I know will tell you that music plays a huge role in their ongoing workouts. I have walked home from the gym (10 minutes from my house) to pick up my Ipod and walked back again. I have bought extra earphones when I have forgotten mine. I now own three Ipods and, like, five sets of headphones and keep them in every bag I might conceivably use at the gym.

4) Meditation works. Like, really, no joke. There is no single thing which seems to improve people's lives quite as substantially (I'd say exercise, for non-exercisers, is a close runner up). It lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, even in small doses, which corresponds with greater feelings of wellness in general, greater weight loss (high levels of cortisol trigger a stress reaction that tells your body to retain fat), and over time, a greater ability to manage stress in one's life coolly.

Thanks for reading! Happy spring!

Alix Florio, President, Beautiful Fitness

Fight the good catfight.


Beautiful Readers,

Women are catty and jealous, right? They begrudge each other's achievements, and feel insecure when confronted with other women's successes. They are threatened by other women's ambitions, and generally prefer not to help each other out. They don't like to get too chummy with women they perceive as "better" than them in any one of a number of categories of life because it makes them feel badly about themselves.

Even if you don't recognize yourself in this description, if you are a woman, don't some of these tendencies sound familiar to you? Have you never seen another woman you felt was more beautiful, happier, and more successful than you, and you really had to work hard to get past an initial "Eeew." response?

What if I told you that you can embrace this natural discomfort around women you perceive as "better" and that to feel this way is totally normal and fine, evolutionarily advantageous even, and can be very positive–if you know what to do with it. 

First, let's presume that people have a natural comfort with folks they feel are "like them", similarly rich, smart, happy, and good-looking. Ok, that's easy. So just hang around with the people who seem no better or worse than you are. Super-comfy.

Yet in modern life one encounters people of a diverse range of abilities, looks, social standing, wealth, and confidence. Then the whole "I like them because they are just like me" thing goes haywire. First you are forced to confront a natural human tendency to feel afraid of people and things that are "different" in general. Then, if that perceived "difference" takes the form of someone who might get the job you want, buy the house you can't afford, attract the member of the opposite sex you want noticing only you, you've got a double dose of discomfort. And don't be fooled, that perceived threat that they might unfairly reap advantages that you might like to have, is true.

Now this is the critical moment where you get to make a choice. As I see it there are 3 distinct options about how to react to your immediate (and natural) feelings of jealousy:

1) Try to ignore any feelings of inadequacy, set them aside, force them out of your mind, stop yourself from making any comparisons at all, and accept deeply that you are who you are, and that they are who they are. Focus on being at peace with yourself. The Dalai Lama is probably great at this.

2) Hate them, avoid them, try not to think about them. Whisper to your friends about them later.

3) Acknowledge that they really do have an edge in some way that makes you feel annoyed and competitive, take this as a sign that you may want to improve some aspects of yourself, or your life. Work hard and make changes accordingly. Dare I say—try to be more like them.

Now, choice one, is super and all but mighty hard to achieve, at least consistently, and also frankly whether or not that is the best choice depends on what you are looking for in life. If your goal is ease and comfort, work on choice one, but as someone who has never been a big fan of stasis, I am always more interested in what I see as improvement, as opposed to rest. Through fitness and other things, I am also increasingly convinced that there is no real stasis, that things overall are either improving or deteriorating all the time. And that's where jealousy can be your friend.

I think that jealousy and competition may be that little Darwinian gift that just keeps on giving. If you accept that encounters with people who "seem better than you" make you tense, there's a certain energy in that. Now, you can always just sublimate that energy, but there's a good chance you'll end up feeling bad. However, you can also take that opportunity to capitalize on that threat-rush to fuel your own drive. This environment can make you work harder on improving your own shtick so that next time you encounter the threatening individual (or someone you percieve as like them) you can say to yourself "Well, they may have a big house in the Hampton's and way nicer hair than I do, but I just wrote an awesome poem on the back of my newspaper, I'm a much better poet than I used to be." and you'll be right.

I love this approach, especially because of the effect it has socially. Instead of hating the Sag Harbor redhead, you may actually feel slightly grateful to her because in a certain way she helped you write a better poem. Does it guarantee that you will be comfortable being close friends with the woman you are jealous of? Not necessarily, there are certain jealousies and perceptions of difference that can be very hard to overlook, but at least you have leveled the playing field a little, and if given the chance, perhaps someday you can look past your differences to focus more on the people you both are inside.

Thanks for reading!

Alix Florio\ President     Beautiful Fitness