Read an Excerpt
No offense to the thinnest waist in the south, Miss Scarlett O’Hara, of Gone With the Wind fame, but tomorrow truly is not another day to start your six-week program. You know the drill: tomorrow will become the day after, and then some vague Tuesday when the planets align and the moon is full.
Make a vow with me to schedule your start date right now! Pull out your calendar and choose one day over the next three to begin the program. Circle the start date on the calendar. Unless there's a real emergency, you will not move this date. And just for the record, a sale at Macy’s doesn't constitute a true 911 moment. For this program to work, you've got to take it seriously. Think of the start date like an appointment with a doctor or dentist. It may not be a lot of fun, but you respect its importance and the goal of feeling and looking your best.
Perhaps you've canceled on yourself quite a few times over the years when it came to taking care of your body. Of course, your intentions are always honorable. You mean to get started, but then you have to drive the kids to sports practice and there's that extra work project. And how in the world could you miss that two-hour American Idol special episode?
The point is, there will always be something else you could do instead of focusing on your health and well-being. Once you accept this, it becomes a case of making a formal appointment with yourself. Carve out the time, stamp it as your own, and don't allow anything to get in the way of your new goals -- short of the house being on fire or a hurricane sweeping down the street. Inform your family that you’re checking out for that time to take care of yourself.
No exceptions. No excuses. And once the results begin, you won't ever look back.
An Important Message from Me . . . to You
By reading this book, you're committing to making life changes. You're entrusting me with your valuable time, body, and dreams. I take this responsibility very seriously. I will give 100 percent back to you. I'm invested in your success. To that end, I will teach you every single tool available to ensure your victory.
My vow: There is not one thing in this book that I'll ask you to do that won't directly contribute to your goal or that I don't actually do myself. Please do every single thing that I ask of you, because skipping even one small step can make all the difference in the world.
My plan has worked for so many people, and failure isn't an option if you truly follow it.
I know you can do it, and I’m right here next to you.
Okay, enough talking. Let’s go!
Task One: Clean Out Your Kitchen
Do you want to live in an emotional war zone when it comes to food and cravings? Just wave the white flag and declare peace by kicking the enemy out of your home. Yes, it's time to do a major overhaul of your kitchen by grabbing an XL-sized garbage bag and tossing the foods that are on my ''Most Wanted Enemy List.''
Now, I realize some of you may think that you don't need to clean out your kitchen, and you're strong and committed enough to the program to peacefully coexist with the temptations that will be in your line of sight every single day. You can handle it! Maybe you have a family that can't survive without blue cheese salad dressing and large bags of chemically enhanced microwave popcorn in the house. You're going to show those diet killers that you can walk right past them every single day and not even give them a momentary glance. You might even hiss at them.
So there you are, Ms. Willpower, eating that wonderful grilled chicken salad for lunch, but in order to get to the lettuce in your fridge, you have to navigate around a big tub of homemade rice pudding. The beautiful ripe tomatoes on your counter are sharing counter space with the cheese-covered bagels you bought for your son. An innocent walk into the pantry to find some extra-virgin olive oil means facing the open box of mint chocolate Girl Scout cookies that you purchased to support those cute young carb-pushing girls.
Do you really have the kind of willpower to always say no, always make the right call, and always resist?
Why would you want to put yourself through all the torment, anyway?
Yes, you could possibly do it, but then again, you could possibly skydive and live. Are you really going to take that chance with your body?
For me, it’s an all-or-nothing proposal, which is why I'm not living, sleeping, or coexisting with the enemy. I’m tossing it out before that box of chocolate calls to me late at night, saying, ''JJ, I’m here. Come to me just for a minute. You miss me. You know you do. Let’s talk.''
This is a time when you need to practice tough love and just get rid of any foods that will derail your plan, including these culinary culprits: cookies, cakes, pastries, white bread, bagels, doughnuts, chips, dips, creamy dressings, and anything -- or should I say everything -- that comes in a box and is full of preservatives. Say bye-bye to the fake butter sprays, the microwave popcorn, and those sugary ''healthy'' (I’m rolling my eyes here) yogurts with fruit on the bottom.
Say these words with me: ''There is no such thing as a healthy light Thousand Island dressing.'' It’s chock-full of chemicals and sugar, which masks the fact that the fat has been taken out.
My eating plan, which I'll explain in the next chapter, is clean and free of chemicals. You will see amazing results when eating real foods that don't wreak havoc on your system. That's why now is the time to get rid of foods that are full of ingredients you can't pronounce.
If you can't pronounce it, don't even try it. Just introduce it to Mr. Hefty Bag. It’s not real food.
Surprisingly, there are a number of chemically based foods lurking all over your kitchen. For starters, get rid of anything with the word ''diet'' in it. Diet foods are mostly not food at all but chemistry experiments. In order to take out the sugar or fat, more sugar or fat has to be added, depending on the promise of the food. Foods that are nonfat are usually higher in sugar. There is also a heap of chemicals thrown in to keep them semitasty. Not only are these foods horrendous for your system (and stop you from losing weight as your body goes into shock mode to process the chemicals), but they're not even satisfying. Ever eat a diet ''food'' and then crave the real thing before you're even finished taking the last chalky bite?
Chuck all diet anythings into the trash. This includes the heavily processed, chemically based diet meals from whatever popular and well-advertised diet plan of the week you're following because some celeb says she dropped 50 pounds and now lives in a bikini even when it's ten below outside. We're happy for her, but we don't need the frostbite or the tasteless, freeze-dried, chemically enhanced, crappy diet foods.
So just understand that you will not be having what she's having.
If you feel bad about throwing out perfectly good food, put it into a big bag and donate it to your local homeless shelter or food bank.
Foods to Toss
The Obvious Ones
White bread in any form, including bagels, bialys, and muffins (English and otherwise)
High-sugar breakfast cereals
Jellies, including the sugar-free kind
Ice cream and frozen yogurts
Creamy or sugary salad dressings (read the labels!)
Vegetable oils, including corn, safflower, and sunflower
The Not-So-Obvious Ones
All sodas, including the diet ones
Energy and cereal bars
Fruit juices—even the ones that are 100 percent natural
Fat-free flavored yogurt
All diet foods, including diet salad dressings and frozen meals
Anything with artificial sweeteners
Processed soy foods
Jam made with all fruit
Sugar-sweetened peanut butter
Replacement foods will be covered in the next chapter. I promise that you won’t starve and soon won’t even miss the tossed items.
How to Motivate Yourself
Now that your kitchen is free of problems, it's time to get your head equally clear. The first step in that direction is to think about motivation and how you will stay gung ho and committed during not only the next six weeks but for many months and years to come. Let's be honest here. You will need something concrete to really motivate you when times get hard. There will come a day when you have a big fight with your mother on the phone or your boss is really demanding. Maybe the car won't start and your kids are screaming. Suddenly the idea of motivation is out the window and all you want is a Snickers bar.
Or you didn't work out, and suddenly it's eight o'clock on a cold winter night. You're exhausted because it has been such a long day. You figure that it wouldn't be the end of the world if you just skipped one night of exercise. Then you remember that you already skipped another night … and another.
How can you keep from derailing your program? You need something that kicks you in the can when times get hard and all you want to say is “&^%$ it!”
Believe me, at some point you will say, ''&*^% it, I want that piece of cake.'' Or ''I’m a little too tired to put on my athletic shoes and move.'' It happens to all of us. But before you pick up a fork and dig into fatty, sugary frosting or write off the gym, I have an idea that’s personal kryptonite against program destroyers.
The Power of Projection
I’ve found one of the best motivators is simply projecting your ideal body. It may seem silly, but really, I want you to do the following ''before'' and ''after'' exercise. I promise it will keep you mentally motivated during even the toughest and most challenging moments.
Hit the magazines and find a picture of an actress or athlete you dream of looking like after completing this program. Maybe you love Hilary Swank's strong, sinewy arms. Perhaps your ideal body currently belongs to Halle Berry, Heidi Klum, or our first lady, Michelle Obama. Who it is doesn't matter one bit. The point is to choose someone who makes you stop each time you see her picture and think, If only . . .
Now take a picture of your face, roughly the size of the face of the woman in the photo, and paste your head on the celebrity's body. Make several copies of your creation because you will need them. Put one copy smack in the middle of your fridge, and keep another on you at all times, whether in a purse, wallet, or bag. Keep one on your nightstand and one on your bathroom mirror, and one each in your desk at work and your car. Now when you’re running around and just want to say, ''Forget it, I’m going to grab a slice of pizza for lunch,'' you can pull out the picture and renew your commitment.
This photo will be your emergency release valve. When you look at it, what you’re really asking yourself is: is this really worth it? Is it really worth it to eat that bag of cookies? Is that dried-out coffee store muffin really worth it? Is that tempting breadbasket worth it? Is it worth it to skip the gym to take a nap? Is it worth it to slog through my cardio burst training giving only half an effort? Half an effort will not result in Hilary Swank–ness. Half an effort won’t Klum your body. You can’t go all Halle Berry on everyone if you make burger your king or dairy your queen.
This mental photo trick is for every time you even think, Screw it. It will help remind you why you started this program in the first place. Now, before you point the car in the direction of the mall instead of where you work out, ask yourself, ''Did my goals change? Did I suddenly wake up this morning and think, 'I don’t really want to look that good anymore'?'' If the answer is no, then you will stop yourself and not toss in the towel. Yes, you still want to have the body of Ms. Cameron Diaz, and that photo of your head on her body has your attention.
It's completely normal to have days when your motivation lags and you really don't want to exercise or look at another salad. It's perfectly valid to be tired—no, make that exhausted—after trudging through a day during these stressful times. I too have days where I'd rather go to a spa and eat cake -- not necessarily in that order -- rather than go outside and do my burst training session (more on that in the exercise chapter). The thing that gets me through the cake day is looking at my motivator photo and cementing the idea (again) of why I want to stick with the program.
Keep Your Progress Journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to write down your goals and then monitor your progress. Paste your inspiration photo on the first page. Next, jot down a few reasons why you want to have better arms. In other words, what will toned arms do for your life?
Be specific about what great arms will do for you. What painful experiences will you never have to face again if you get your arms into shape? There are dozens, but for one, you won’t have to avoid buying certain clothes. And no one will grab your fatty upper arm and ask if you plan to lose some weight. And guess what? You won’t have to sweat under those annoying shrugs on a warm summer evening, nor will you be embarrassed at the gym or think, Why even bother? Even better, you won’t dread family vacations or slink away when it’s picture time, or hate formal events because all the gorgeous dresses are sleeveless. (Damn those designers!) But best of all, you won’t have to spend hours in a mall trying on clothes that hide your arms.
How many years have you suffered from most of the above? How many events have you missed? How many vacations weren’t as good as they could have been because you didn’t feel confident? And how many excuses have you fabricated to avoid embarrassment?
No, toned arms aren’t going to create world peace. But they will create peace of mind for you because suddenly you will be able to walk into a party in a sleeveless dress and not feel self-conscious, and you won’t recoil when someone suggests a beach vacation because—oh, the horror of it all—you will have to wear a bathing suit. Maybe you won’t have to feel bad at your child’s soccer game because it’s 100 degrees outside and you dared to wear (gasp!) a tank top.
These opening pages of your journal are a wonderful opportunity for you to write down all the benefits and goals of having great arms. Again, on days when your motivation lags, it will be extremely helpful to glance at them and remind yourself why you’re working hard. They will help you reach for your dreams again and go for it.
I’m not saying that toned arms will change your life. But I am convinced of one thing: the confidence that comes from feeling good about your arms and, subsequently, your entire body will make all the difference—not only physically but also emotionally.
It’s very important and helpful to write down specific goals. Let’s say your friend is getting married in two months and you’re required to wear a sleeveless bridesmaid’s dress. Write down that goal, and back it up by adding another paragraph about how you will feel walking around the reception feeling good about your bare arms instead of trying to hide them under some annoying wrap that’s trailing in your soup. Or let’s say that your husband really wants to go on a romantic trip to Hawaii over the holidays. Your goal could easily be to have great arms to flash in the strappy, figure-hugging sundresses that go so well with anything involving an island.
Special events or other specific goals are wonderful motivators.
I have a client who was in a steamy long-distance relationship in which she saw her significant other only once a month for a long weekend. Yes, she missed him between visits, but it was the best exercise motivator around because she had target dates to look her best and flash her new arms in a slinky little black dress—and an even slinkier one thirty days later.
Goals will keep you going through the dark times when motivation lags. Hurdles will come because life is unpredictable and full of challenges. You just have to be prepared to sail over those hurdles using whatever motivates you best.
Wait a second! You didn't do the picture yet and feel that you might just skip that part because it takes too much effort. That picture is not optional. Please do it now!
What Else Do I Need to Start?
My program doesn’t require a lot of fitness equipment, and what you do need can be purchased very cheaply.
Dumbbells. Invest in some dumbbells, but don’t buy those teeny-tiny ones that I joke about making great paperweights for your desk. You will need a range of weights, as some of the exercises use larger muscle groups, which require heavier weights. If you are
Oh, No, My Trainer Is Ticked Off!
It’s almost like a dating situation. If you have a personal trainer and then tell him or her that you’re about to embark on a new program, he or she will probably drop a 10-pound weight and toss you a hangdog hurt look. It’s almost as if you’re cheating with another fitness expert! Don’t feel guilty or get stuck in the middle. If you showed ten different trainers or nutritionists the same program, each one would have an opinion and tweak the new plan to make it sound an awful lot like their own plan. Experts have a way of wanting to criticize something new because that’s their job. We’re a verbal group with definite opinions.
You don’t really need to work with a trainer when following my program. If you want to, explain that you’re doing something new and would like to incorporate it into your workout with the trainer. As for my program, I can vouch for the results all day long. There is a specific and scientific reason for everything you’re about to do. Make sure you make this program your priority, and if you still see a trainer, have him or her ensure that you are doing the exercises correctly and pushing up the intensity. Think of your trainer as your accountability partner to help you get the job done.
just starting out, get a pair of 5-, 8-, and 12-pound dumbbells. If you are a regular exerciser, you probably already have a sense of your strength and ability. Your range may start at 8 or 10 pounds and go up as high as 25 pounds! (I have been known to hoist a few 35-pounders here and there, so don’t let the high numbers scare you, they will make you sleek and toned, not big and buff.) You will always want to lift the heaviest weights you can safely handle in good form for 8 to 12 repetitions.
Weights are dirt cheap these days, but don’t waste your money on those pretty “dumbbells for ladies” that are pink with polka dots and cost three times as much as the basic ones. Your weights just need to weigh what they’re supposed to weigh. There is no point in spending big money on something that is purely functional. The ones at Walmart, Kmart, or Target will work just fine! Remember, your weights are not an accessory!
A Big Burst-Proof Fitness Ball. You will use an inflatable fitness ball as your weight bench to do chest presses, along with various other exercises. There are so many great variations of exercises that you can do with a ball. It’s important to pay close attention to choosing a ball for your height and inflating it properly based on your needs. (See inflation instructions in chapter 4.)
A Bench or Wide Chair without Arms. You will be using this to do your exercise dips off of. You can use a chair, coffee table, bench, or whatever else you have that works for this purpose.
How to Choose the Right Fitness Ball
Choosing the proper-size ball will ensure that you maximize your workout and maintain good form. There are several ways to determine which size is appropriate for your body. You can use the 90-degree rule: when seated on the ball with your feet flat, your hips and knees should be at or slightly above a 90-degree angle. Or you can use the following table as a general guideline to match your height with an appropriate ball size.
Your Height and Ball Size
4'11” to 5'3”: 55 centimeters (about 21 inches) inflated
5'4” to 5'10”: 65 centimeters (about 25 inches) inflated
5'11” or taller: 75 centimeters (about 29 inches) inflated
An Exercise Mat. A colorful mat, with your weights lined up neatly in the corner, can be very inviting. You could just throw down a big beach towel on the floor, but I prefer that you invest in an exercise mat and place it in one designated area of your house to do your arm exercises. It helps create an environment for success. It’s not your cat’s place or where you throw clothes that need dry cleaning.
A Good Pair of Workout Shoes. Don’t go crazy thinking you need a new shoe for every different activity. For walking and running, buy a good running shoe. A good cross-trainer will serve all other purposes. I do think that you should invest in high-quality shoes, so this is an area in which to plunk down a little extra cash. Your shoes should serve you for at least six months, and since you will be in them almost every single day, you will want to make sure that they’re ultracomfortable and really do fit well.
armed and dangerous
If you haven’t purchased a new pair of athletic shoes in the last six months and you wear them almost every day, then toss them. Look at the bottom of shoes that seem iffy. If they look tired and old, it’s time to invest in a new pair. Working out in old, worn-down shoes is a great way to get injured.
A Jump Rope. It’s a cheap option and great for burst training. A jump rope is a handy tool for ladies who travel a lot because you can toss it into a suitcase and use it in your hotel room.
An X-iser. It’s my favorite little burst training machine and will travel easily with you. You can use it anywhere and everywhere. This is a totally versatile way to train. Don’t buy a cheap imitation. I recommend ordering the one found at bursttoblastfat.com that I use with all my private clients. It’s so strong that my teen and “tween” boys couldn’t demolish it.
Now that you’ve gathered your equipment, you’re just about ready to begin. Make it clear to your family that your workout area is off limits to them. There is nothing worse than reaching for your 5-pound weight and then realizing your son has used it to kill G.I. Joe, and now it’s under his bed.
The rule should be: No one enters your workout zone, and no one touches what’s in it. Them’s the rules. And when you’re choosing a spot, I prefer that you not set up your workout area in front of the distracting TV. Now, music is a great motivator. It’s far better to work out to a great pop or rock song than to try to focus while simultaneously watching housewives on Bravo go for each other’s throats. And you want to make sure that the music is upbeat and high energy. No offense to Enya, but I’ll take Aerosmith anytime during a workout. Michael BublÉ might be good for romance, but Michael Jackson is better for working on your triceps. You don’t need the sound track from Yentl here. The point is to shut off your TV and crank up the tunes because that will tell your brain that it’s workout time.
And Finally - It’s about Your Time Commitment
You made a commitment to yourself by picking up this book and gathering the required equipment. You have your motivation photo at your fingertips. The last piece of the puzzle is making solid time commitments between you—and you—to do your workouts.
When are you going to do the exercises in this book? You can’t just say, “Oh, JJ, I’ll do them after I put the kids to bed.” And I don’t want to hear “I like to keep things flexible because I’m a free spirit. Sometimes I’ll do them before work, and other times I’ll do them before I make dinner.”
Leaving the times of your workouts up to fate is a great way to fail. All of us lead busy lives, and it’s very easy for time to just run out.
I want you to write in your journal the exact times each week that you will do the workouts, and you can also post them on your daily planner. It’s a way of making an appointment with yourself and scheduling you into your day. There is something about writing down a goal and a time to accomplish it that makes it official.
Ideally, make your exercise appointment early in the day. I’ve found with my clients that as the day goes on, their resolve to work out becomes a fading dream and probably just won’t happen. Morning is better, because my own research shows that you will exercise more frequently with better consistency and won’t blow it off. If you’re not a “morning person,” go to bed half an hour earlier each night. I promise that you will feel great by starting your day with exercise and knowing that you “got it over with” and now can move on to other tasks.
If you let your exercise go until after dinner, chances are you won’t do it. I’ve found it’s iffy at best. You won’t want to do it because it’s late or cold or the laundry is waiting or you just sat down on the couch for five minutes, which turned into two hours and a quick nap. Or your favorite TV show is on, or you need to do homework with the kids … and then it’s bath time. If you wait until 9 P.M. when everyone else is sleeping, your exercise routine will actually derail your program, because it will leave you too revved up to sleep. In a later chapter, I will explain how sleep is crucial for your success. (Yes, you’re welcome on that one!)
The exercise sessions are short, and I promise that your spirits will soar if you do them when the day is new and full of promise.
Feel motivated? Got your picture? Got your workout area set up? Shoes laced up? Spirits revved up? Okay, good. Now it’s time to fix your eating habits.
© 2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc