Published & Provided By: McGraw-Hill
Introduction: Greatness Is In You
I’ve trained Denzel Washington for years, helping him shape up for his demanding movie roles. Though he’s blessed with beautiful genes, working out has never been his first love, so I’m accustomed to seeing his fitness levels slide between roles. At first, I thought this was simply how it was going to be, training Denzel – after all, what if a role came up that demanded he
Published & Provided By: McGraw-Hill
gain a lot of weight? Since each role requires a different body, how could he do consistent training?
Then, I realized that I’d focused on the job, not the person. Whatever Denzel needed to do for his career, he’d do. I understood that his slipbacks had more to do with his emotional and spiritual relationship with his body than the pressures of Hollywood, and I began a focused program of working, with Denzel, on his relationship with his physical self.
One day recently, while we were running the loop in Central Park, I noticed he was as fit as I’d ever seen him, even though he was coming off a hiatus. The program was beginning to work. “I’m starting to do this for me, not for the camera,” he confided with that trademark wide smile. “I’m working out because I want to have a long, great life. I want to be fit and healthy for whatever comes along.” Amen!
Most people start exercise programs for all the wrong reasons—because they hate their thighs or want to get rid of a spare tire. That kind of superficial negative motivation can’t sustain positive change. That’s why they lose and gain the same 30 pounds over and over for years on end. (Yes, even celebrities are susceptible.) The big problem is that, as soon as that ass gets a bit smaller or that spare tire recedes, people who don’t love their bodies suddenly see all sorts of other things they think are wrong with their physical selves. It’s been so much hard work… and they still don’t have bodies they like (let alone perfect bodies!)… so out comes the cheesecake.
Women who fall into this trap get so bogged down by being unhappy with their physical selves that they block their spiritual and emotional progress. Even if they get appreciably closer to a lean body, they don’t appreciate it! I believe it takes all three— physical, spiritual and emotional work—to realize true success. By being honest with yourself and working hard, you can tap into your inner strength and reach your fullest potential.
Show It Love is a step-by-step process to appreciating and honoring your body—something all women desperately need to do right now. We’re marrying later. We’re having kids later. We’re asking our bodies to be strong, sexy, powerful, and most importantly healthy well into decades when our grandmas would have just thrown on the muumuus and pulled out the rockers. Now, more than ever, you need to love your body and do what’s right for it. And you know what? The reward is being in the best damn shape of your life.
I Am: The Mindset
These days it seems like everyone wants you to be someone else. So many of the fitness mags want you to have Rebecca Romijn’s thighs, Ashlee Simpson’s belly, Halle Berry’s ass. But they miss the most important person: YOU. Knowing who you are and what you need is essential to achieving lifelong fitness and embodying a physical being you truly love and feel proud of.
The plain truth is that almost any fitness program you try will work…at least for a little while. But after a few weeks or months, the vast majority of programs will also cease to work.
The reason most programs fail to yield lasting, meaningful results: They only address women on one level—the physical. They treat us like a composite of body parts, as though we’re nothing but belly, butt, and thighs, when that’s only the outside—the vessel that holds our hearts and our minds. They teach us to “banish” our body instead of showing it love. In the end, it never works. Not long-term. That’s why women go from program to program, forever searching for the one that will “click”—that will resonate with who they really are. Instead of a total focus on the physical, the fitness program that works needs to nurture every woman’s mind, feelings, and spirit.
That’s why the first section of this book, I Am, is devoted to exploring your mindset. Think of I Am as taking a complete emotional inventory. In it, you’ll find all the tools you need to explore the complicated, intricate relationship you have with your body, including what you love or hate about exercise, how your mirror image makes you feel, and what drives you to the box of Triscuits instead of the gym. This level of self-awareness is especially hard for women, who are constantly looking outside of themselves at other people and comparing and competing (knowingly or not) with the women around them, especially celebrities, which is the cruelest comparison of all because all most people know of the “rich and famous” is what they’re allowed to see.
I have the privilege of working with some of the most beautiful bodies and sought after celebrities in Hollywood—names like Bruce Willis (even sharing a magnificent Thanksgiving with him, Demi, and Ashton), Gwen Stefani, and Kirsten Dunst, and I can tell you that while they certainly have a more glamorous life than most of us, they aren’t all that different otherwise. They get up and brush their teeth in the morning. They take out the trash at night. They have lives and families and hopes and fears. They worry about how they look. What the most successful, self-assured celebrities have that sets them aside, however—and what you can have, too—is a strong sense of self.
That is the true foundation of a movie star body. That is how I help my clients achieve the body of their dreams. By building a solid, emotional relationship with your body, and learning to respect and honor your body, you may not turn into Kristen Bell overnight, but overtime you will stop being your worst critic. You’ll stop all the negative self-talk and the body hate. You’ll finally make measurable progress in the gym. And, you’ll (finally!) truly love what you see when you look in the mirror.
If you’re ready for some real results, I strongly encourage you to kick back and take your time while exploring the I Am section of this book. This is your foundation. Think of it as building your dream house. You wouldn’t just toss down some old sheets of plywood and plop a house on top of it. No. You dig deep and pour a rock solid foundation so your beautiful construction can weather any storm and lasts and lasts, bringing you joy for the rest of your life. That’s what I Am will do for your most precious shelter of all—your body.
My personal journey through I Am
Even after all these years, I still revisit the principles in I Am almost every single day. As a high profile fitness trainer in New York, I feel tremendous pressure to meet people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to look like. And I’ll be completely honest with you here: Sometimes I don’t. I am not a twig. Nor do I have bulging, cut up muscles. I am solidly built, with full, feminine curves. I’ve also gone through many of the special rites of passage that women go through. I’ve been married. I’ve been pregnant. I’m working to be a good mother and put a kid through college. I am no longer 22. The exercises and lessons in I Am have allowed me to enjoy and respect my body throughout every stage of life, and to be comfortable with who I am and what I look like in an industry that practically worships youth and perfection.
Most recently, I had a very personal setback. I had to have an ovary removed. On an emotional level, I was forced to close the door on my life as a fertile, reproductive woman. Spiritually, I wasn’t motivated to go to the gym, and I wasn’t sure how much I could manage physically even if I did. So, I practiced what I preached. I looked myself in the mirror and I honored my body. I thanked it for my beautiful son Milan. I thanked my thighs and my (now slightly scarred) belly for carrying me and giving birth to so much strength and creative energy throughout the years. I showed it love. Then I told my body to get ready for the next level of adventure. I promised it that once it healed, we’d go and have fun together and do something to celebrate its strength and perseverance. I’ve decided I’m going to learn to swim, and I’m going to do a triathlon. That’s my next step on my journey.
That is the power of I Am.
I Can: The Motivation
Once you are able to say I Am _____ and fill in the blank with positive affirmations, you’re ready to say I Can. Part II is all about motivation. The motivation to try something new; to show your body love, and to take it to the next level because you want to do it for yourself. The ultimate goal of I Can is to become your own life’s motivation.
It’s common knowledge that more than half of women who start an exercise program throw in the towel before six months are through. I believe that’s because A) They didn’t start with a strong, emotional foundation (which I address before I even think of asking a client to step on a scale) and B) They don’t believe in themselves, so they make excuses and lose motivation. That’s where I Can comes in.
Society has put so many restraints on women’s thinking that they can’t let their expectations fly. In I Can, you will learn firsthand the strength and potential contained in your body, no matter your shape or fitness level. My signature Woman Warrior exercise sequences will lengthen your spine so you stand tall and proud. You’ll feel the power of your chest, work your legs in new ways that reveal their potential and power, and solidify your core—the creative center of your being. Spiritually emboldened, you’ll see that exercise is not some mechanical set of movements you sleep walk through for 45 minutes, two to three days a week. It’s the act of screaming, “I am alive!”
Then get ready to look at food in a brand new way. This is no diet book. I’m not going to limit your daily snacks to 15 raw almonds a day or guilt you into swearing off wine, chocolate, and Italian bread for the rest of your days. In fact, some days that will be exactly what you need (just wait ‘til you taste my City Girl Trifle!) Instead, you’re going to learn how to feed your body and soul. Instead of stuffing food down to quiet your feelings, you’ll tune into them and hear exactly what your body craves and needs to feel happy… and healthy.
I Can is also where you finally ditch all those tired old excuses for skipping workouts, because you simply won’t need them anymore. You’ll have purpose. You’ll have meaningful goals. You’ll be making measurable progress. And you’ll look at moving and caring for your body as a way of rewarding and honoring yourself, not as a punishment for not fitting into size 0 designer jeans or blowing the diet of the day.
My personal journey through I Can
My second marriage was a traumatic, abusive affair. Without digging up all those old skeletons, suffice it to say my husband spent a whole lot more time saying “You can’t” (as in, “You can’t succeed in the fitness business. You can’t make it on your own”) then “You can.” It would have been easy to believe him, to bury my dreams under his blanket of putdowns. I could have pulled up the covers and stuffed down the potato chips. But I knew that would be the biggest disgrace I could level against the body that had brought me so far as a dancer, instructor and trainer. I couldn’t deny the body that had carried and delivered my son. Most of all I couldn’t let someone outside of myself—especially someone so negative—be the motivation for my actions.
So I left. It was initially devastating. But I healed my emotional wounds with time, oxygen, and exercise. I moved my body in powerful ways. I challenged myself. I put my goals and dreams directly in front of my line of sight to be my guiding light. I put the negative past where it belonged—behind me. That’s where it stays, in the background as my radar. That way my experiences move forward in a positive direction while I avoid repeating past mistakes.
It’s what happens when you say, I Can.
I Do: The Movement
Now that your mental and spiritual energy is going in the right direction, it’s time to let your body soar! I Do, the final step of the Show It Love program is all about working your body to its fullest potential. While most fitness books talk about whipping your body into shape, I talk about building it up and appreciating its power and strength. Make no mistake, you can have the tight, high butt, the flat abs, and all that physical flash. But in this program it’s not the end-all be-all—it’s the icing on the cake.
The secret is in realizing the potential of your individual physique. The moves in I Do are designed to tap into that deep physical awareness, so you can realize and embrace that potential and create a beautiful, statuesque body unique to you. It’s what happens when you take that powerful emotional and spiritual pedestal and build a strong, stunning sculpture on top of it. My clients accomplish physical feats and achieve lean, gorgeous body lines they never thought possible because they know and love who they are; they believe in their abilities, and they learn how to get the most out of their physical selves.
Though it comes straight from my heart, this body-love philosophy is firmly rooted in the bedrock of science. Stanford University researchers recently reported that people who start a fitness program feeling the happiest with their bodies are more than twice as likely to meet their goals as those who are the least satisfied. That’s a reality I see in the people I train every single day.
Though I Do is the most physically challenging of the three sections, it is not about beating yourself up. So many clients come to me for the first time expecting me to kick their ass and trash their body. If that’s what you expect, you’re in for a big surprise. Sometimes realizing your fullest physical potential means doing a little less. Recently, I had a client come in to me who had been hitting the weights so hard day in and day out, she almost looked like a linebacker—just big bulky muscles everywhere. She wasn’t happy with how she was shaping up, but she thought that was what she was supposed to be doing—hammering her body with heavy weights—and was afraid to let up. For her, I Do was about calming down and letting her muscles relax. I told her to put down the weights and do my muscle lengthening Woman Warrior moves, instead. I look at her now and I think “Wow.” She looks amazing.
Contrary to what you’ve probably read a million other places, you do not need heavy weights to tone and strengthen your muscles. You just need to move your muscles through a range of motion that thoroughly challenges them. That’s what you’ll do in I Do. And your body will look, feel, and perform better than it ever has.
Finally, a finely tuned body deserves high quality fuel. In I Do, I’ll show you how to best feed your physical self for maximum energy and performance. You’ll not only find all you need to know about healthy protein, carb, and fat choices, but also I’ll share a few of my trade secrets, including an incredible drink called Acai that tastes like a blend of blackberry, strawberry, and blueberry, and delivers a better energy boost than anything they serve up at Starbucks. (I even used it as a facial in Brazil!)
My personal journey through I Do
I have always lived a very physical life. I ran track and competed in aerobic dance competitions. I trained as a dance therapist and later worked as a Nike Body Elite personal trainer. But ironically, it wasn’t until relatively recently that I really lived through my body like an athlete. Athletes aren’t out there pounding themselves into the ground 100% 365 days a year (like I was trying to do). They stop and go and let their training wax and wane with life’s rhythm and flow. It took some episodes of burn out and injury, but I eventually learned that taking your body to its highest heights means regularly laying low and allowing all that hard work to sink in. Today, I won’t hesitate to take a whole week off when I need to. Sure, I may be a little soft around the edges when I return, but believe me, I get back into the game faster and stronger than if I hadn’t have taken the rest.
The result: I’ve been able to stay in top shape throughout two decades of constant challenge and change. Despite childbirth, divorce, career changes, knee surgery, 9/11, partial hysterectomy, and everything else, both good and bad, that life has thrown my way, my body is still rocking and rolling and ready for what’s next.
All it takes is saying, I Do.
Your Journey Starts Now
Now I invite you to turn the pages and start your own journey through the Show It Love system. Begin with an open heart and mind. Be honest with, but also kind to, yourself. Chances are you’re coming into this book already having tried (and maybe not been very successful with) other programs. Like many of my clients, you may be unhappy, dissatisfied, or maybe even angry with your body. Maybe working out hasn’t been very fun, let alone joyful, for you in the past. I’m going to do my best to change all that. I’ll give you 100%. But you have to be right there with me giving 100% right back. That’s how successful relationships work.
A lot of what you’re about to read may also seem strange to you. Throughout my life, I have drawn inspiration from powerful goddesses like Isis (the goddess of love and healing) and Aurora (goddess of the dawn). Despite popular notions of the word “goddess,” these women weren’t just some eye candy. They were brilliant. They were together. And they were seriously bad! I’ll share their stories with you throughout the book, as well as other morsels of ancient healing techniques in the form of meditations and herbal tinctures. Don’t get nervous. I’m not trying to change anybody’s religion. And I’m not all about some new age, woo-woo hocus-pocus. Experience has simply taught me that we can draw a lot of wisdom from ancient cultures, which in many cases had it more together than we do in modern life!
Even the exercises will be remarkably different from anything you’ve tried before. In the spirit of those strong, powerful goddesses, I created the Woman Warrior exercise sequences—flowing movements that raise your heart rate while pumping and elongating your muscles for heightened mind-body awareness and beautifully etched body lines.
Each Woman Warrior move is designed to allow you to appreciate where your body is right now and where it can go in the future. The three Woman Warrior sequences in I Am, I Can, and I Do are total body workouts that function like Pilates or the sets of strength training and endurance poses trainers teach in many gyms.
The difference: They are specifically designed for women’s bodies, to show the grace and strength within. I encourage you to seek the gifts of each goddess, whether determination, victory, courage, fertility, or power, to embrace your workouts and fully develop your strength, balance, poise, and posture. With centuries of wisdom and power on your side, there’s nowhere to go but up. Now let’s begin your fitness quest.