Looking good and feeling good. Wouldn't it be nice to wave a magic wand and both would be true? With the insanity of this thing called life, it's easy to say to ourselves, "I'll start working on that in (insert number of weeks, months or years)." But the unfortunate truth is that we have only one body, and as far as I know, one life. We owe it to ourselves to start TODAY on that journey toward optimizing our health and fitness. I've been the guiltiest of anyone I know of putting it off. I always have some excuse for having no time to care for myself. Taking care of my kids is probably the excuse I use the most, but the fact is that I won't be around to experience their growth if I don't start taking better care of me.
Anyone know the guy on the right? Watch out for the left hook, Steve!
Getting back in the saddle after a long hiatus can be somewhat overwhelming. Where does one begin? If we have time to focus on only a few things, what should they be? So I decided to reach out to someone who has been trusted by New York and Hollywood celebrities for over 15 years: Steve Jordan, Trainer to the Stars. He's been on the Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and he and his advice have been featured in magazines like Self, Men's Fitness, and many others. He's trained the likes of Gerard Butler (why wasn't I called to be his assistant that day?), Amy Poller, Dustin Hoffman, Colin Cowie (remember Oprah's party planner?), Quincy Jones, and a few others that I'm not permitted to print because they are on the A+ celeb list. Celebrities can typically have any trainer that money can buy, and many choose Steve. I'm planning to take Steve's advice, and I hope you will, too. Here's a bit from our interview. It inspired me. I hope it will do the same for you.
Jennifer: Life is hectic. We push self-care off to the future, and sometimes, for too long. If one hasn’t exercised regularly in a while, how should he/she begin to get back into the swing of things?
1. Create a commitment/intention. Write down what you want to do or achieve, and you’ll be more likely to follow through. Many go to the gym and “wander and wonder.” You need intention and a goal. It's better if it's specific, but it can be general until you refine it. Some examples: I want to lose 5 pounds. I want to run a mile three times a week. I want to feel better. I want to be healthy and fit. Creating that intention will help you begin and get into the rhythm.
2. Take the first step. Do something you're more likely to continue to do. If you've never done yoga, I wouldn’t recommend that. If you like to walk, run or cycle, go back and do that the first few times so you have familiarity. That creates momentum, and then once you are in the rhythm and have success, you can explore new things if you want variety.
3. Make sure you have fun doing whatever it is. If it's too intense or hurts, you’re less likely to stay committed. Two things we want to do in life is to avoid pain and move toward pleasure. So do whatever is pleasurable.
Jennifer: What are your top diet recommendations to achieve optimum health and fitness?
1. Water. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces daily.
2. Cut dairy. We are the only mammal that drinks milk from another mammal. I grew up drinking a half gallon of milk a day. But about 15 years ago, I began researching possible causes of inflammation. So I took it on as an experiment. My mom actually became worried that I looked too thin, but it was just a tremendous reduction in inflammation. I didn’t have the asthma attacks that I used to. My allergies were less severe. I felt better overall. Once in a while I'll indulge and have ice cream, but I’ll take vegan or dairy-free if I have a choice.
You can get calcium from vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, spinach, and soybeans (non-GMO). I use almond milk in my cereal, but not all are created equal. Look at the ingredients to ensure it doesn't have a lot of additives like gums and carrageenan. I like New Barn, which is sold at Whole Foods.
3. Cut gluten. Lots of people are sensitive even if they are not allergic. The type and level of reaction will vary. Many women get rid of the "pooch" in the area just below their belly button when they remove gluten by reducing the amount of gastrointestinal inflammation.
4. Enjoy the food that you eat. We get stuck and many think eating healthy isn’t fun and doesn’t taste good. It tastes GREAT! It takes a little more effort, but there is a lot of variety and flavor in whole and clean foods. There are obviously more options in urban areas and out west to purchase it already prepared, but there are tons of tasty options.
Jennifer: What recommendations would you make to someone who doesn’t have an hour each day to dedicate to exercising?
Steve: Just do little things. There is a lot of current research on the effects of training and exercise, and it suggests that doing short amounts of exercise over a period of time has similar, if not better, effects than doing one longer workout. In other words, you'd get the same or better results if you worked out 10 minutes two times per day over seven days as you would working out one hour a day three days a week. Do things that fit into your schedule. Exercise in ways that won’t burden you if you’re time sensitive. You want to do things that will make you more productive. When you exercise, you feel better, you have more energy, and you begin creating routine all around because you’re disciplining yourself in one specific area. You'll become more efficient and you’ll end up having more time in general. Start with less/what you can handle. Be successful at completing 10-15 minutes 6-7 days versus upsetting your schedule. I actually specialize in 30 minute sessions at my studio because I work with lots of people who are time-constrained.
Jennifer: How does one motivate on days when we just aren’t feeling it?
Steve: Put your sneakers on. I don’t know anyone who has ever turned back after putting on their sneakers. I don’t think I’ve ever done it (maybe once or twice). Getting out the door is the hardest part.
I also feel strongly that if you're feeling tired or rundown, then your body is telling you something, and you should take time to nap or rest. Go to bed earlier or sleep later if you really don't feel well. But definitely do not skip a workout to fill the time with something else. Rest. Exercise can create more stress on your body if you're exhausted. Consider stretching, getting a massage, or sitting in the sun to get some Vitamin D. Our world is filled with stressors like excessive communication, work, etc., and we end up feeling worn out and burned out too frequently. Listen to your body.
Jennifer: If you were forced to do only one type of exercise/workout, what would it be and why?
Steve: That’s like asking someone what their favorite food is. The most bang for your buck and time that would incorporate all of your senses would be walking or running OUTSIDE. Getting out and connecting to all five of your senses is important. Do it alone. Don't look at your phone. Use your upper body. Smell the roses. See new perspectives. I have a 93-year-old client, and I asked about her secret to aging gracefully. The one thing she’s done consistently throughout her lifetime is walking. You’re breathing fresh air and taking in everything around you. Walking is one of the most therapeutic things you can do because it doesn't stress your body. It burns calories. You’re looking up vs. down. Posture is also incorporated. It’s the one thing you can do forever, and you should do it as often and for as long as you can. If you're not a runner, you can do intermittent walking and running like our hunter and gatherer ancestors when they were hunting down a buffalo. The animal would run until it got tired and stop. We had better endurance because we could run/walk intermittently, and we would eventually catch it. (Steve and I had a good laugh over this analogy. There's more to it in the entire interview, but I'll spare you all. Message me if you want to hear it.)
Jennifer: Mindfulness, a healthy spirit, and low stress are important for overall well-being and long term health. How do you reduce stress and maintain a healthy mindset?
1. Breathe, connect to your breath, not necessarily in meditation, but while you're walking down the street, on the phone, or exercising. Make sure your breath is deep and not shallow.
2. SMILE! That's my secret sauce. You can't be unhappy or stressed when you're smiling. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. When clients come in stressed, I'll suggest they smile, and while smiling try saying, "You mother fucker!" [We both die laughing.] You can say it, but it’s not articulate because you laugh. Laughter reduces stress. Instantaneously. Completley opposite hormones are present when you’re stressed vs. laughing.
3. This is metaphoric, but stop to smell the roses. Look at your surroundings and feel a sense of gratitude for what you have, the world, and the life you've created. Even if you're not in the most wonderful place, there is still beauty somewhere. You may just have to look harder. Look outside of what you’re used to. We are creatures of habit. We get caught up in patterns and do the same things over and over again. And when you can step outside of those patterns, you’ll notice things you haven’t noticed before.
Steve and his wife, Yuki, enjoying the beauty of life together
4. Exercise. Obviously.
When your annoying blogger friend insists on using this selfie in her blog post. If I looked like this, I'd have a selfie stick permanently strapped to my arm.
I'm not a celebrity, but fortunately I've known Steve for nearly 25 years. We went to school together at the University of Maryland. A few weeks ago, I posted a teaser on Instagram and said something to the effect of, "You'll start feeling as good as he looks." But what you don't know is that Steve's true commitment to this journey of health and fitness wasn't really motivated by what you see on the outside. It was born out of a way to nurture his soul and heal from the inside out. When Steve was in college, he fell from the roof of his three-story fraternity house. He suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and almost lost his life. It took him over a year and a half to recover. Before the accident, Steve was known as the guy who was always in shape and had a killer six-pack. But his miraculous recovery after his accident inspired his peers, and they began asking him to train them. He realized he had the power to heal himself and to change the lives of others for the better.
I asked Steve when he knew this dream career was one he wanted to chase. For him, it wasn't a specific moment in time or a light bulb that suddenly turned on. It was an evolution and a series of events that all pointed him in this direction. While at the University of Maryland, he earned his certification and began training local clients. During his senior year, he was hired by the director of the White House Athletic Club to train White House staff and politicians. After college, Steve moved to the NYC area and was the star trainer at Sports Club LA in Rockefeller Center, where he trained Ann Curry and a local news anchor and was featured on the Today Show. When he first moved to LA, he became an educator for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Steve trained trainers to help them earn the most prestigious personal training certification that exists. From one job to the next, each getting better along the way, Steve realized he had the power to create programs that changed the way people looked, but more importantly, he had the unique ability to connect and relate to people and change the way they think. He motivated people to motivate themselves.
But being Trainer to the Stars isn't enough for Steve. He's presently working on a book called I Am...Healthy & Fit, and if we're lucky, we should be able to get our hands on a copy within a year. Steve feels strongly that you have to believe it before you can achieve it. The book has been in the works for a few years. That wasn’t always the title, but that title came to him about a year ago, and people really get it. You have to change your mind before you can change anything else. It doesn’t matter what exercise or life modification you choose. If you don’t believe it’s going to work for you, then it won't. Steve shared, "People believe in me because of my track record, history, and the people I've trained, so there's a perception that I bring value. People believe I have the answer, but the answer really lies within. And that's simply the belief that they’ll reach their goal."
Steve lives in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, Yuki. His studio, Steve Jordan Acceleration, is there, as well. Reach out if you’re ever in the area and want a training session, and mention that I sent you!
I hope this post has inspired you and provided you with a few ideas on how you can begin to change your life for the better TODAY. Tell yourself, "I am healthy and fit!" And choose one thing from my interview with Steve to begin doing TODAY.
Steve & Dr. Oz