Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Years Resolution check-in

Here we are, nearly half way through the year. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along?

Have you lost weight?
Reduced your stress?
Improved your health?
Saved some money?
Reduced your carbon foot print?

I am not sure all of these were on your resolution list but if you are like most people, chances are a few of them are. What if I told you that just one action done consistently would allow you to put a check mark by all of these things. You would want to know, right? Well there is. It’s something we can all do with just a little forethought and about 5 minutes. What is it?

Bring your lunch to work.

I talk in my book Red Carpet Ready about the importance of this from a weight control standpoint. Losing weight is hard enough without the extra difficulty of waiting so long to eat and then rushing to get the most convenient (not necessarily the healthiest option) and scarfing it down in 5 minutes because the line was long and now you are running late. Imagine instead that during your lunch break you calmly open you cooler and pull out your healthy salad or wrap. Maybe you nosh on some baby carrots and hummus while you browse one of your favorite magazines or lose yourself in a chapter of a favorite book, such as “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Before anyone else has gotten back with their fast food fix, you have enjoyed your lunch and had a few quiet moments to yourself. You have also saved approximately $7 and with a 5 day work week that is $35 in savings. That is $140 per month that you’re saving. But wait, there’s more! You can reduce your carbon foot print by bringing your lunch in a reusable cooler which means that you’re not contributing to the 1.8 million tons of trash created by the packaging that take-out food comes in!

That is a lot of benefit for one small action. Be part of the club that brings their lunch to work!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Red Carpet Ready Success Story

Since releasing my eBook, Red Carpet Ready, I have received such positive feedback and heard many success stories, I thought I’d start sharing them with you to get you inspired to reach your own goals.

I received an email from April Dunn on April 4th of this year. She had just purchased the
Valslide and was excited to get started. She had a couple of questions for me and shared a few of her struggles:

“Valerie, I’m 33 years old and a happy size 10. I’m going to be in my sister’s wedding in 7 weeks and could stand to lose 10 pounds. I started lifting weights last fall in preparation for the wedding. I was doing a strength program that I found on the internet three times a week using 5 lb weights (for a total of 40 minutes each time – 10 minutes on abs, butt, thighs and arms). To my surprise, I ‘bulked up’ rather than toned down! After doing this consistently for four months, I quit cold-turkey. I’ve been very scared to try any weight lifting again. I tried the Valslide workout and whoa…what a workout!”

After reading April’s email I suggested that she do my program
Red Carpet Ready, and three weeks later she sent me a progress report. In just 3 weeks, April had lost inches in her chest, waist, hips, thighs, calves, and biceps, and dropped 1 dress size!

“When I started your program three weeks ago, my attitude was “I can do anything for six weeks”. Now I’m realizing I want to keep doing your workouts even after my six weeks are up. I can do the weights in 50 minutes (three times a week) and the cardio only adds another hour and a half to my week. So, I figure with only four hours of commitment weekly, I can look and feel a whole lot better!”

In the end, April met her goal! Here's what she told me:


Where do I begin? Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting together an AMAZING workout! I met my six-week goal! In Six Weeks, I accomplished the following:

· 13 pound weight loss
· Chest – 3 inches lost
· Waist – 2 ½ inches lost
· Waist (2” below Bellybutton) – 2 ½ inches lost
· Hips – 2 inches lost
· Thighs – 1 inch lost
· Calf – ½ inch lost
· Bicep – ¾ inch lost
· From a tight size 10 to a loose size 8

These are REAL numbers – REAL results! It’s amazing!

I must admit I was skeptical – How much change could you make to your body in just six weeks? See the attached “Before and After” pictures for the answer! I felt confident, toned and fit! I had so many wonderful comments from friends and family members. I actually had people refer to me as “skinny”, “thin” and “hot”! I’m a 34 year old mother! What a thrill! Your workouts are the most effective I’ve ever done. I had dreaded the fact that I was 12 years older than all the other bridesmaids in my sister’s wedding…that was until I didn’t look like it!

Hearing these stories is what makes my job so rewarding; and not just because April saw the numbers change, but because she is more confident and happy because of it. What I know, and what April learned, is if you do the Red Carpet Ready program and commit to it for the full 6 weeks, you will undoubtedly see results! Great job April!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Indiana Jones workout

I recently saw the new Indiana Jones movie and while it felt a bit old fashioned, it was still good fun and great to have Harrison Ford back as Indy. You’ve got to admit the guy still has it; rugged good looks, a sense humor and the ability to get himself and others out of a jam.

If you were wondering how Harrison is able to look so good at 65 then read on. My good friend Jamie Milnes is one of Hollywood’s premier personal trainers and Harrison’s long time trainer. So I had to ask him how Harrison does it, and of course share the inside scoop with you. Be sure to watch the video of a sample Harrison Ford workout and try it for yourself!

Behind the Scenes:
With Jamie Milnes

Personal Trainer to Indiana Jones star, Harrison Ford

Jamie, tell us a little about your background and how you came to train Harrison Ford?

I’m originally from Manchester, England. I came to the States almost 15 years ago and established my training career in New York City. After a few years I moved to LA, primarily for the lifestyle. I love mountain biking, snowboarding and kayaking, which isn’t very easy to do when you’re living in New York City. I was introduced to Harrison through another client of mine who I have worked with for a number of years. He started training with me in preparation of his role in Hollywood Homicide, and we’ve been working together ever since. For me, word of mouth has been the best way to build a clientele.

Harrison has been an action hero for many years. How is it that he can still kick the bad guy’s butt and look good doing it, regardless of his age?

Very good stunt men! Just kidding. Joking aside, Harrison moves extremely well…especially for someone in his mid sixties. He's a living testament to the fact that you can maintain a high level of athleticism if you continue to work at it. He leads an active lifestyle which doesn't just mean he just goes to the gym to workout. He still skis and plays tennis, among other things, which has also allowed him the ability to “keep kicking the bad guy’s butt.” Working in the gym will definitely help you maintain your health and fitness, but I think playing outside gives you that extra edge. I also think it gives you extra incentive to workout if you know ski season is around the corner for example, rather than just "I'm going to the gym because it's good for my health".

I see you and Harrison in the gym regularly and his workouts look tough and ever changing. Is there a method to the madness?

Yes there is. For Harrison, and many of my clients, time is an issue so we don’t necessarily work to the hour. I have set work for Harrison to do each session and when it’s done he leaves, whether it’s 20, 30 or 50 minutes. We put the emphasis on movements that integrate the whole body in multiple planes of motion with high athletic demand. This gives us the most bang for the buck, especially when he is pressed for time. This type of training, does however, require a high level of fitness.

It has been written that Harrison is quite the adventure seeker. He flies helicopters, does most of his own stunts yet he seems to be quietly living his life on his own terms. Do you think diet and exercise plays a part in this?

Undoubtedly. You can't be as physical as he has been for so long without taking care of yourself. He has definitely taken his fare share of knocks over the years but still managers to do a lot of his own stunts and lead a very active lifestyle. You can be a daredevil and an adventure seeker, and never workout a day in your life…but only for so long. You must stay strong and healthy if you intend to keep it up year after year. If you have passion for adventure you can experience a lot more, and keep on doing it for much longer if you take good care of yourself. But you’ve got to have the passion…and either you have it or you don’t. Harrison has it.

There is no question that Harrison Ford is always in great shape. Does he diet before a movie role or is he pretty consistent year round?

He keeps active all year round, whether it’s in the gym with his workouts, playing tennis or skiing in the winter. You have to be consistent throughout the year. I don't mean you have to train hard all year round. Professional athletes don't even do that. I think the best philosophy is to always maintain a base level of fitness and then when you have something coming up, such as ski season, take it up a few notches. Harrison, like all smart athletes, treats a movie the same way and just shifts into a higher gear for a few weeks before he needs to be ready.

I know they change regularly but can you share a sample Harrison Ford workout?

Circuit 1
Single Arm Dumbell Snatch---- Do 8-10 reps, then switch arms
Hanging Knee Tucks ---- Do 12-15 reps
Hamstring Curls on Valslide ---- Do 12-15 reps
Repeat circuit 3 times.

Circuit 2
Standing Single Arm Pulley Row ---- Do 10-15 reps, then switch leg/arm
Push Ups on Stability Ball ---- Do 10-15 reps
Crunch with Single Arm Press on Stability Ball ---- Do 12-15 reps, then switch arms
Repeat circuit 3 times.

view video here:

Any final tips or quotes you can share if we want to keep kicking butt when we’re 65?

Find something that you enjoy doing or something that excites you. That may be mountain biking, hiking, or surfing. Then think about how you can improve your ability to enjoy that activity. The more fit you are the better you are able to handle the work required for any particular activity. And when you can handle that work, you can start to hike steeper hills, or bike more mountainous terrain or surf bigger waves. In other words…get fit and go play! Keep working at it and keep exploring new activities. Don't settle for quick blasts of activity followed by long stretches of inactivity. Always maintain at least a base level of fitness because you never know when you may need it. Stay ready.

To learn more about Jamie visit

Monday, June 9, 2008

Eat Better Mondays: Favorite Sweet Treat

Even when you're eating the Red Carpet Ready way, you might still have a craving for something sweet. Here's one of my favorite new treats that won't blow your diet. It's a little like chocolate fondue. I've used strawberries in this example, but any fruit will do.

The Un-Happy Meal

If you haven't completely given up fast food, then check this out. It will make you think twice about ordering a burger and fries or picking up Happy Meals for your kids.

Remember that hamburger you ate last year? It may still be in there!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Get Happy!

What brings you joy?

I would love to know the first thing that popped in your head. Have you experienced that lately?

If not, why not?

I have been taking surf lessons the last few days and when I am on a wave, I have a smile from ear to ear and feel so happy I might burst. It got me thinking about joy.

Joy is defined as the emotion of great happiness. If we all felt joy more often, I believe the world would be a better place.

Here are a few things that bring me joy:

• Surfing 
• Playing with Cody & Lexi
• Watching someone I don’t know, using the Valslide at the gym
• Dancing
• Finishing a great workout
• Seeing a client master a tricky new move
• Reading nice blog comments
• Running with my tribe (more on this later)
• Reading Red Carpet Ready success stories
• Watching motivational sport movies like The Rookie, Miracle, and Rocky.

Want to feel happier? 

Here are my top 4 tips for getting more joy:

1. Know what brings you joy and do more of that. Okay, we can’t always be surfing or dancing, or what ever it is for you, but certainly there are small things you can do each day. Maybe it is watching a funny or motivational video on youtube. Maybe it is surprising a loved one with a love note in their brief case or lunch box. Maybe it is taking a few minutes to read a couple of pages in your favorite novel or motivational book. Find something you can do today that makes you smile or laugh.

2. Fake it until you make it. If you are really stressed or are having a hard time finding joy in your life, act as if you are happy by smiling at others. Generally the response you get will make you feel good. 

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said:

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, 
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

3. Exercise regularly. I don’t need scientific studies to tell me that exercise can ease depression, anxiety and stress. I have long considered exercise my wonder drug. My motto “you are one workout away from a good mood” says it all. If you are not exercising regularly you might find it difficult to dump daily stress, worries or frustration. Think of exercise as the “Norton Utilities” for your body. When you’re clogged with worry and stress it is hard to hear joy knocking on your door.

4. Count your blessings. Recognize what is good in your life and focus on it. You will quickly be reminded that you do have things to be joyful about.

Joy Blockers

If you haven’t experienced much joy lately, check to see if one or more of these joy blockers are in the way.

• Clutter: It is nearly impossible to relax or feel happy when every surface is covered with papers, bills, magazines, and other clutter. I recently did a major clutter clearing and it was almost as if I could breathe easier.

• Lack of sleep: Stop with the bragging about only needing 5 hours of sleep and go take a nap. Besides the fact that failing to get enough sleep heightens the risk for a variety of major illness such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, it is really hard to feel happy when you are chronically sleep deprived.

• Poor nutrition: Much like the lack of sleep, poor nutrition contributes to a variety of major illness but it in addition, it simply does not allow you to function optimally. Think about how you feel when its 3pm and you haven’t eaten or if you over indulged on some greasy Mexican food. It’s hard to feel really joyful. 

• Over-scheduled: We have become a society of schedule driven Blackberry (aka: Crackberry) obsessed people. Often joy wants to sneak up on you, but without a little breathing room it can’t get in. So create some breathing room. Take your child to the park and watch her laugh as she feeds the ducks. Share a funny story with your best friend. Take an early morning walk and you might see something special like an amazing rainbow or a mama duck feeding her babies. These moments of joy might have been missed if you were rushing to your next appointment or texting on your Blackberry.