We have a confession. We're a little tired of hearing about how easy it is to achieve a healthy life-work-health balance. It isn't easy. It isn't simple. And finding time for everything we need and crave is a nightmare all it's own.
Instead of listening to a slew of medical and fitness experts lecturing us on how we should be doing better, we reached out to a few real experts - active, entrepreneurial, very busy women. And the responses were nothing short of inspirational.
Take quantum leaps. Really.
Cherie Corso is a New York-based mom, blogger, media personality, and parenting and lifestyle expert with a bright smile and killer looks. While her infectiously positive attitude seems to come naturally, keeping busy, fit, and healthy takes some extra effort. When we asked her how she gets it all done, she simply said, "I never give up. I just keep going and staying positive, and learning. I keep my Chakras in line and pursue my dreams. I also believe in quantum leaps."
Quantum leaps? She had our interest piqued, so we dug a little deeper. Aside from all of the advice she has to give on a regular basis about beauty, kids, life and style - including novel ideas like actually talking to your kids and giving them their own debit card at an early age - Cherie stays fit by keeping busy, not despite being busy.
That being said, she also let us in on a little secret, straight out of the New York City Ballet. Somewhere in her insane schedule, Cherie discovered Ballet Muscle by personal trainer, health consultant, and ballet dancer Peter Cirolia. Understanding the needs and schedules of many of his clients, Cirolia crafted a set of simple ballet exercises that - wait for it - can be done anywhere, any time. Look no further than Cherie's blog for the full, step-by-step instructions on how to perform the Ballet Muscle exercises. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there, flex, relax, align your Chakras, and you're good to go!
Cherie Corso looking gorgeous during a late afternoon stroll in NYC. Because when you're a woman on the go donning a fab red evening gown mid-day totally makes sense. Photo from Cheri's personal archive.
Start your day right
Voted Hamptons' ”Best of the Best” Yoga and Pilates teacher four years straight, Claudia Matles is more than just an instructor. She lives and breathes the busy, modern lifestyle that many of us get lost in, only she does it with grace, mellowness, and poise. Based in the Hamptons but often traveling all across the country to hold retreats, full-sized classes, and one-on-one sessions, Claudia leads by example and teaches her clients everything from proper, adapted eating habits, time- management and organization to meditation, purpose, and that most coveted 21st century item - downtime.
"My mantra the last few years, that totally stops me in my path and helps me settle into each moment," Claudia shares,"is this - the way we do one thing is the way we do everything! How compassionate, wise, and loving are you right now, in this moment? Are your actions coming from a pure, beautiful place or are they fueled by thoughts riddled with fear or resentment?"
This mantra begs the question - do we stop enough times a day, a week, a month, to really consider where we are, what we're doing, and where we're headed or have our busy schedules completely conquered us?
Claudia is an endless source of knowledge on this and during our talk, we came to at least one important conclusion - it's all about forming healthy habits. Starting may be tough, but once the habits are in place a healthy lifestyle just seems to happen on its own. A piece advice this busy, traveling yogini shared was just about that - getting your day started right. Claudia suggests greeting your mornings with essential Sun Salutations.
"Sun Salutations are a set of postures performed in a flowing sequence," she explains. "They're often used as a warm-up at the beginning of a yoga practice. But the benefits are far greater than the warm-up. Sun Salutations help lengthen and strengthen, and they burn calories to aid weight loss. They can improve cardiovascular conditioning, prevent fatigue, promote a calm nervous system, relaxation and a provide a range of other mental and physical benefits. They help tone, strengthen and add flexibility to the entire body and can be performed in about the same time you would take a run or even less!"
Yoga and Pilates instructor Claudia Matles begins her day with a series of impeccable Sun Salutations and keeps her diet simple, natural, and diverse. Matles dislikes being called a fitness instructor because health is about balance and habit, not just about staying fit. Photo from Claudia's personal archive.
Stay fit to stay sane
When you run into a globetrotting nutritionist and personal trainer who justifiably calls herself This Fit Blonde, you want to stop whatever it is you're doing and take some advice from this woman. Amanda Dale, a.k.a. This Fit Blonde, says her long-lasting romance with a busy but healthy lifestyle began when she was most unwell - during grad school. Like far too many grad students, she was eating all the wrong foods, taking in ridiculous amounts of caffeine, barely sleeping, and working toward a goal that she realized she wasn't really interested in in the first place. So she dropped her quest for a PhD, got certification for personal training instead and never regretted the decision.
For Amanda, it was about finding her authentic self and wellness came with that. From her Chi town roots to sunny California and now living and working in Singapore, Amanda has meticulously put together exercise regimens for everyone from beginners and us busy folks to honest-to-goodness fitness aficionados. It was almost like she knew what we were going to ask in advance and had the answers already prepared.
Like any random individual who happens to be an ACE-certified personal trainer, AFAA-certified exercise instructor, Precision Nutrition-certified sports nutritionist, running coach, and holds Masters degrees in both Sociology and Education (because she obviously has a time travel device that she won't tell us about), Amanda immediately sat us down and told us exactly what to do, in detail and specifically.
"When clients are pressed for time, I recommend focusing on high-intensity interval training to make the most of a short workout. An example might be alternating one-minute sprints on the treadmill with one-minute walks or doing 45 seconds of heavy bench presses alternated with 45 seconds of plank, "active rest" for 20-30 minutes total."
Twenty to thirty minutes to look and smile like that, huh? Well, there goes our "I don't have time in my schedule to exercise" excuse. But before we could utter our first in a long series of reasons why we can't make it to the gym three to four times a week, Amanda jumped in with a carefully crafted home-based solution.
"If you're at home, invest in a jump rope, a resistance band, and a yoga mat - these three pieces alone can give you a cardio-and-strength focused workout in just 20 minutes," she lead with the 20-minute thing again, rendering us helpless. "Alternate minutes of jump rope, push-ups, sit-ups, and banded squats, for example. If you have a bit more time or can access a gym, set up small circuits - 4-5 exercises, alternating weights, cardio, and core work - and time yourself for 45 seconds of work, 15-20 seconds of rest. Moving quickly between exercises keeps your heart rate up, and using weights tones and sculpts your muscles while burning fat."
Needless to say, we're starting with these tomorrow. In case Amanda's watching. Much more advice on fitness and how to stay sane in this crazy world is available on Amanda's blog.
A woman after our own hearts, Amanda Dale claims that "Strong is sexy." Her passions, aside from fitness and wellness, are food and fun - all of which spell out a whole, healthy body and mind. Photo from Amanda's personal archive.
Start anywhere, do anything
And to top it off, here's the piece of advice that brings all of this full circle and answers the age-old question of where to get started. Miami-based fitness trainer and pilates instructor Grace Albin has an ingeniously simple solution to not only starting out, but finding the time and place to stay fit and healthy.
"The best way to get started is to do something — anything!" is Grace's straightforward motto. "I advise fitness newbies to try everything from jogging to boot camp to yoga to home workouts. The more you try, the more likely you will find a routine is that is fun and motivating for you. In addition to the aesthetic perks of having tight buns and a six pack, exercise is healthy for your entire body. It strengthens the heart muscle, improves posture, increases bone density, and makes endorphins in the brain."
Grace, who specializes in workouts anywhere, anytime, using any props she can get her hands on, also points out that the CDC recommends at least 30 minutes of cardio training five days per week and strength training at least two days per week. And just as we were about to whip out our faithful excuse of not having enough time in the day for that, Grace met us with yet another, scientifically researched and backed, solution. Foiled again!
"Becoming an early riser helps you work out more often, and with greater focus. When I rise with the sun, I am far more likely to exercise. My training session does not get derailed by social plans, family needs, nor by an appointment that ran late or an urgent message from the office. In fact, published studies report that waking up early reduces the chances of missed workouts."
To make it all even easier, Grace posts videos of exercises on her Instagram every couple of days, so we can literally follow what she does and do it ourselves, removing any hope for ever again having an excuse not to get our daily dose of fit. As proof that it all really does take just a few minutes and can be done anyplace and at any time, her videos are shot at the beach, poolside, in her doorway, living room, kitchen, and using two 5-pound pups as weights. We have been informed that no animals were harmed during the filming of these videos.
We promised inspirational and we believe these ladies delivered. So much so that we'll be talking to them about nutrition next. In the meantime, if you're stuck in a rut, feel free to reach out to us or any of the amazing individuals we feature on our blog. We're all followers of the mantra that #healthyissexy and health is an individual matter. There is no one single recipe that fits us all.