These days, too many people get their exercise jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, dodging responsibilities, bending the rules, running down everything, circulating rumors, passing the buck, stirring up trouble, shooting the bull, digging up dirt, slinging mud, throwing their weight around, beating the system, and pushing their luck.
But fitness expert JJ Virgin's new book, 'Six Weeks to Sleeveless & Sexy' takes the "no excuses" approach to a healthier lifestyle. JJ, who appeared for two seasons on Dr. Phil as the nutrition expert and has successfully coached Hollywood's elite into red-carpet shape, told me that her powerful program isn't just for the rich and privileged -- it's for anyone with a little willpower and not much time.
No stranger to the office environment, JJ counts sedentary CEOs and administrators among her clients. (Oh, and don't let the title of the book throw you off -- the "sexy" part is just a state of mind when it comes to the workplace.)
Q. Your book is called 'Six Weeks to Sleeveless & Sexy,' but it's really about toning the whole body. What made you decide to spotlight the arms?
A. Because the media has been spotlighting arms ever since Michelle Obama stepped out in her sleeveless sheath. As it turns out, "arm angst" is a very popular issue -- a high percentage of women are dissatisfied with their arms, hiding them under shawls, shrugs and sleeves, which doesn't need to be. Arms are the easiest body part to turn around!
Q. What are some tips and tricks women can use while in the office to tone up?
A. In the fitness part of the book I instruct readers to do two things – burst-train to blast fat and resistance-train to build muscle. It is easy to add in some burst-training during your day, especially since you can do it in short increments (30-60 seconds) so you won't work up a sweat. My favorite way to do this at work is by actually taking the stairs- - run 'em, take 'em two at a time, just take them, it all counts! I also love the X-iser. This is a nearly indestructible portable stepper that can have your thighs and lungs screaming in under 60 seconds, and it folds up and can slide under your desk.
Q. What are some good, healthy food choices to make off the old "roach coach" lunch wagon? Let's say I always order the tuna-fish sandwich, baked chips, and a diet coke... how can I get the same basic thing, but healthier?
A. Ideally, I encourage you to pack your lunch so that you can control exactly what you are getting, but if you are forced to grab something quick, be sure it has a good source of clean lean protein, some healthy fat, loads of non starchy veggies and a high-fiber, low glycemic carb. If you are limited to the local lunch wagon, try a turkey sandwich on whole wheat – and eat it topless. Skip the mayo, replace with mustard. Grab a side salad or carrots and celery and a packet of almonds and you are good to go.
Q. Many office drones suffer from carpal tunnel-like symptoms and the last thing they want to do is lift weights... but, they'd like to bare arms. What else can they do to get sculpted?
A. If you suffer from carpal tunnel remember to do your stretches, wear your brace and take some extra Vitamin B6 (50-100 mg.). You can still do strength training, especially the big moves, just talk to your doctor or physical therapist about how to modify them so that they don't exacerbate your overuse injury.
Q. Is it true you can't "spot reduce" your chubby arms?
A. You can't spot reduce (i.e., burn the fat directly from that area) any part of your body because fat is lost systemically (i.e., from all over) but you can tone and tighten an area -- and nowhere does this show up faster than on your arms!
Q. Is looking fit on the job as important as doing a good job?
A. The job market is more competitive than ever, and employers want healthy, strong, confident employees they can count on to get the job done. When you show up looking fit, you convey a positive message and your increased confidence and energy will translate into every area of your work. It can't translate into competence: You will still have to know what you are doing and take action, but it will help you take that action at a high level.
In closing, I recommend JJ's book to anyone interested in being healthier and looking better. I read it in two sittings (I had to literally sit because JJ says if you can read on the treadmill or exercise bike, you are not doing the exercise right). Her suggestions on burst-training encouraged me to alter my own static workout, and I must say it's exhilarating. Another thing I liked about the book is her "tell it like it is" approach; what's more, she gives concrete advice on how to avoid the common temptation traps we've all fallen into. So, shrug off the shrugs and get ready for a sleeveless summer!