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This guide is for those who workout and for those who don't, but know that they should. If you already workout but have difficulty finding time to keep a regular workout schedule, if you are interested in getting a better workout in a shorter time, or if you want to begin working out but never seem to find the time, this book provides solutions. It contains expert advice from workout specialists for building a short program that works for you.
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by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane,
and Joe Glickman

Macmillan USA, Inc.
201 West 103rd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46290
A Pearson Education Company

To our families, our friends, and our readers.
Copyright  2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and
Joe Glickman
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher. No patent liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained herein. Although every
precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and authors
assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for
damages resulting from the use of information contained herein. For information, address Alpha Books, 201 West 103rd Street, Indianapolis, IN 46290.
THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO and Design are registered trademarks of
Macmillan USA, Inc.

International Standard Book Number: 0-7865-3437-0
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: Available upon request.









Interpretation of the printing code: The rightmost number of the first series of numbers is the year of the book’s printing; the rightmost number of the second series of
numbers is the number of the book’s printing. For example, a printing code of 01-1
shows that the first printing occurred in 2001.
Printed in the United States of America
Note: This publication contains the opinions and ideas of its authors. It is intended to
provide helpful and informative material on the subject matter covered. It is sold with
the understanding that the authors and publisher are not engaged in rendering professional services in the book. If the reader requires personal assistance or advice, a competent professional should be consulted.
The authors and publisher specifically disclaim any responsibility for any liability,
loss, or risk, personal or otherwise, whi; ch is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of this book.

Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright
infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability

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Unlike some folks I know —and unlike some of my best running partners over the
years—I’ve never been one of those people who needs to be prodded to work out.
While I’ve always loved exercising, like so many others, I’m faced with the constant
challenge of balancing my professional obligations, my family life, and my fitness.
Today, at age 45, as a married man with three children and a busy work schedule, I no
longer have the time to work out for hours on end. Still, with a little creativity and
planning, I’m able to find ways to work out on a consistent basis and remain a competitive athlete.
My exercise methods might not be conventional, but I’ve found that they work for
me. While my travel schedule might seem like a deterrent to exercising, I’ve found
that the best way to get a sense of a city is with a vigorous run through town. You discover stuff no tourist sees.
My wife and I have begun the regular practice of stretching together for 15 minutes at
night. It allows us to spend some quality time together and helps us stay injury free.
I’ve even found myself at the local high school track doing what I call “kid intervals”—running laps with my two oldest children. During my harder efforts, they play
on the infield, and during my recovery laps they run the track with me.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Short Workouts, you’ll find a variety of practical timesaving tips that can help you incorporate exercise into your busy lifestyle. In fact,
while the book is full of sound guidance and scientific exercise principles as well as
photos to clearly demonstrate proper form, what sets it apart from so many other fitness publications is that the authors recognize that most people can’t dedicate all day
to working out. This Guide provides you with ideas for everything from quick stretches
you can do at your desk to strategies for exercising while you’re on the road. It even
has tips for training for a marathon or century bicycle ride with limited gym time.
By following the guidelines presented in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Short Workouts,
you’ll learn what I’ve found out through experience—staying in shape (or getting in
shape) isn’t just for childless lottery winners with fully equipped gyms in their basement. It’s possible to balance your professional obligations, family life, and a fitness
routine and still get some sleep at night. That balancing act is made much easier with
the guidance you’ll find here.

—Tom Phillips
Tom Phillips is CEO of and has served as president of ESPN and ABC News
Internet divisions. In 1985, he co-founded Spy magazine. At age 45, Mr. Phillips is a competitive runner and fitness enthusiast and the father of three children aged 9, 6, and 3.

Way back in the twentieth century, the main problem faced by those of us who tried
to encourage people to exercise was convincing them of the many benefits of working out. Whether it was the talk of decreased injury, lower blood pressure, or just
plain good looks, by the time the century came to a close, millions of Americans were
believers. Unfortunately, many of these converts found themselves faced with a new
set of challenges: balancing 60-hour work weeks, family life, and an attempt at a social life left precious little time to exercise.
We’ve all seen the hyperbole-filled TV infomercials that stop just short of promising
to transform a couch potato into a pro beach volleyball player with just eight minutes of exercise a day. We’ve also seen the movie-star action hero who works out four
hours a day to achieve that implausibly gorgeous body. Luckily for us real people,
there’s something in-between. That’s where we come in.
While we’re not so bold as to claim that the short workouts that we outline will perform miracles, we’re confident that they can help you toward your fitness goals. As
you read this book, you’ll find everything from quick exercises you can do at your
desk or in your hotel room to thorough 60-minute gym routines. Maybe 15 minutes
of jumping rope and stretching isn’t as good as a two-hour session at a state-of-the-art
gym, but it sure beats wolfing a doughnut while you sit at your computer monitor
wishing you had more time to exercise.

How This Book Is Organized
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Short Workouts is organized into five parts. We start
with fitness basics and your needs and then lead you into the cardiovascular, strength,
and flexibility routines that you can perform in a limited time.
Part 1, “The Basics,” takes a look at the value of short workouts and how to fit a
workout—even as short as 15 minutes—into your busy day. Chapter 2 gets you
started by explaining the physical and psychological value of even very short periods
of exercise. In Chapter 2, you’ll discover fragments of time that you can put to good
use with a short workout. Chapter 3 assesses your needs and helps you measure your
fitness level and define your goals. We’ll give you the lowdown on how your body responds to different types of exercise as well as what happens when you miss workouts. Then, in Chapter 4, we’ll discuss your eating habits and review healthful
nutrition recommendations.
Part 2, “The Components of Fitness,” describes the major components of fitness:
cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. Chapter 5 explains how to calculate your target heart rate and reviews different kinds of aerobic classes. Chapter 6
gives some solid reasons for taking strength training seriously, and Chapter 7 reviews
some basic but oh-so-important stretches. In Chapter 8, parents of youngsters will
find strategies for combining child care and fitness.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Short Workouts
Part 3, “The Workouts: 15 Minutes to 30 Minutes,” gives you ideas on how to break
a sweat in 15 minutes. In Chapter 9, you’ll realize that walking, jumping rope, and
climbing stairs can increase your cardiovascular fitness as well as a 15-minute circuittraining workout. Chapter 10 discusses resistance bands, working with a partner, and
good old calisthenics to give you 15 minutes of strength training. In Chapter 11
you’ll learn about the benefits of interval training and find out how to do a threeminute triathlon. Chapter 12 outlines a half-hour strength-training workout, complete with photos and tips.
Part 4, “The Workouts: 45 Minutes to 60 Minutes,” shows you what you can do
with a little more time. Chapter 13 reveals that 45 minutes is plenty for an efficient
and effective workout. Chapter 14 is dedicated to three-quarters of an hour of cardio
workouts and Chapter 15 details a variety of muscle-building routines for upper and
lower body that you can complete in 45 minutes. Chapter 16 outlines a full hour of
cardio, strength, and flexibility routines. Chapters 17 and 18 describe what you can
achieve with an hour dedicated to cardio training and muscle building, respectively.
Chapter 19 explains how to exercise correctly and which exercises to avoid. Chapter
20 will get you in condition to play your favorite weekend sports.
Part 5, “Away from the Gym,” shows you how to keep exercising when you are not
able to get to the gym or do your usual workout at home. Chapter 21 outlines strategies for working out when you are traveling and Chapter 22 gives five-minutes workouts you can do at the office. Chapter 23 looks at what to wear for comfort and ease
while working out and Chapter 24 provides information on how to safely exercise
under changing weather conditions.

Additional information is presented alongside the text. You’ll find sidebars in each
chapter containing four types of informational inserts.


Stop Short

Info to Go

This sidebar highlights issues that
ensure that you have a safe
workout. Heeding these warnings
will help you stay free of pain
and injury.

These sidebars contain tidbits and
anecdotes that you might find
fun and informative.


Short Cuts

Workout Words

Tips to make your exercise a little
more effective and efficient.
These pointers alert you to little
things that can make the difference between a so-so workout
and a great one.

Here you’ll find clear, concise
definitions of new terms introduced in the text. You may have
a hard time working your new
vocabulary into dinner conversation, but it will help in the gym.

Putting a book together can test friendships and weaken one’s grip on sanity. Thankfully (especially for the married couples among us), we’ve managed to do it again.
With-out the invaluable help of some great colleagues and friends, it would have
been impossible. Among them are our models: Barrie Lifton, Lauralee Giovanella,
Sejal Vyas, Aristides Maisonave, David Duhan, and Chris Zogopolous. You’re goodlooking and work cheap—what could be better? Thanks also go out to Susanne
Elstein, a talented and forgiving photographer. Special thanks to Ralph Anastasio of
New York’s Printing House Fitness Center for his continued support.
Deidre thanks her father, Robert, and her sister, Lynette, for their love and support.
Special thanks from Jonathan to his family, his coauthors, and all his teachers, without whom he’d never have the nerve to try half of the things he does.
Joe wishes to thank his wife, Beth, and beautiful daughter, Willa, who, at age four,
will soon be correcting her Dad’s spelling.

All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be or are suspected of being
trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Alpha Books and
Macmillan USA, Inc., cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term
in this book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.


Part 1

The Basics
In this part, we’ll do our best to convince you that you can be healthy and fit without
giving up your job, disowning your family, or having your mail sent to the gym. No
matter how jam-packed your work and social calendar may be, we’ll help you get and
stay fit in far less time than you may have thought possible.
Short workouts can be effective in helping you gain and maintain fitness, and some
exercise is almost always better than none. Once we’ve made our compelling case for
short workouts, we’ll help you fit them into your busy schedule. We’ll give you the
lowdown on how your body responds to different types of exercise as well as what
happens when you miss workouts. We’ll provide guidelines for healthful nutrition and
tips on how to eat out without blowing your diet.

Chapter 1

Why Try Short

In This Chapter
➤ Efficient workouts save time
➤ Short workouts are better than no workouts
➤ Exercise is the best stress-buster
➤ Exercise keeps you going

While we assume there are a few people out there who would rather be built like Bugs
Bunny instead of Michael Jordan or, say, Olive Oyl rather than Jessica Rabbit, most of
us would take svelte over soft, firm over flabby. The issue for most of us isn’t desire.
Few people who have ever worked out doubt that exercise is good for your body and
mind. The problem for most of us over the age of 21 isn’t why or how to work out,
but when. Ironically, when you were young and had ample time to work out, you
didn’t really need to.
Without a doubt, the most common reason people offer as to why they miss workouts
(or give up exercise entirely) is the ubiquitous “I’m too busy” refrain. While this is a
legitimate excuse—the time constraints of work and family are considerable—with regard to health, it’s the biggest mistake one can make.
Lean-and-mean screen stars such as Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda
Hamilton, and Jamie Lee Curtis can work out all day like mules plowing a dry field—
and why not, their bodies are their meal tickets. But the bottom line is that you can
maintain, and even improve, your fitness on less than one hour a day.

Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Pick Up the Pace
The cowriters of this book admit they’re workout fanatics. Among their friends, the
husband-and-wife team of Jonathan and Deidre are known as Mr. and Ms. Endorphin. Deidre is a former two-time national and world power-lifting champ who makes
her living as a physical therapist. Jonathan is a competitive cyclist, multisport enthusiast, and exercise physiologist who actually looks forward to footraces up the Empire
State Building.
The most frequently asked question they get is “What
is the most common mistake people make in the
gym?” Much to nearly everyone’s surprise, their answer is “People spend too much time in the gym!” It’s
an answer that often elicits an eloquent wide-eyed response: “Huh?”

Short Cuts
A good way to keep track of
time in the gym is to get a digital watch. Start the timer as you
enter the gym and pay close attention to your rest periods.

The reason so many people are taken by surprise is
that more often than not even busy gym rats spend
too much time schmoozing and not enough time taking care of their fitness business. (Don’t get us wrong:
Gyms are great places to socialize. In fact, Jonathan
and Deidre met over the leg extension machine at the
Hunter College Gym in Manhattan, but Jonathan insists that he never stopped doing leg extensions while
they chatted.)

In the pages that follow we’ll show you how you can build a physique you’ll be
proud of without spending half your free time in the gym. We also educate you on
how you can improve your cardiovascular fitness without logging major treadmill
Don’t get the wrong idea. Working out an hour a day won’t have you auditioning as
Wesley Snipes’s body double in his next film or as Xena in her next TV adventure.
Nor are you likely to qualify for the Boston Marathon on a handful of cardio hours
a week. To compete with the big boys and girls requires a significant investment in
time and effort. When Deidre competed as a power lifter, she logged one to four
hours a day pumping iron, stretching, and doing cardio workouts. Joe Glickman, the
third wheel in our writing team and a two-time member of the U.S. National Marathon Team, routinely crams his six-foot-four frame into a tippy kayak 12 to 15 hours
a week when he’s preparing for a big paddling marathon. (And he trains less than
many of the guys on the squad.)
The moral of the story is obvious: Big results require big effort. But after years of
cramming in workouts at all hours of the day, we’ve become masters of workout efficiency. Our aim in this book is to show you how to feel and look great as well as reduce your stress level on a far more modest allotment of that precious commodity:


Chapter 1 ➤ Why Try Short Workouts?

Info to Go
Perhaps one of the reasons so many people with noble workout intentions don’t break a
sweat on a regular basis is that their expectations are out of whack. Open any healthand-fitness magazine and you’re confronted with scores of models with bulging pecs, abs
of steel, and pearly whites to boot. Anyone who’s spent time pumping iron knows that
such physiques are hard to come by. As a result, they assume that if they don’t work out
three hours a day, they won’t measure up to the buff bod in the underwear ads. No, an
hour a day won’t get you into Calvin Klein’s next ad campaign, but it will make significant
improvements in how you look and feel.

Something vs. Nothing
One of the key points to remember is that doing something is always better than
doing nothing. Once you eliminate the mindset that you have to hammer like a galley slave for two hours or more a day, you’ve already cleared a significant mental hurdle. We’ll help you tackle your fitness obstacles by …
➤ Giving you sample workouts you can do in as little as 15 minutes.
➤ Fine-tuning your workouts to maximize results.
➤ Helping you manage your time and squeeze in workouts before or after work, or
even on your lunch hour.
➤ Providing workouts that you can do without going to the gym.
➤ Offering a variety of stress-busting stretches that you can do at your desk.
➤ Providing you with nutritional guidelines for eating at home, in restaurants, or
even on a plane.
➤ Detailing workout options you can fall back on when you hit the road on business or vacation.
Next thing you know you’ll be doing short workouts three times a day and start
thinking about entering a triathlon. But before we begin turning you into a maven
of workout efficiency, here’s an insightful quiz we’d like you to take:


Part 1 ➤ The Basics






The only way to maintain an exercise program is by
going to the gym.




The longer you spend in the gym, the more productive
you are.




Fifteen to thirty minutes of exercise a day isn’t worth the




Once you become a parent, get promoted, or run for
the U.S. Senate you can kiss exercise good-bye.

Here’s how you should have replied:

Belief Number 1. False.
Yes, it’s wonderful that we live in a culture where health clubs are nearly everywhere,
but there are roughly 874 options to get and stay fit that don’t involve the gym. (In
fact, in prehistoric days there were very few indoor gyms and most of those oldtimers were able to chase a woolly mammoth for miles.)

Belief Number 2. False, Falser, and Most False.
Often there’s an inverse relationship between how long you stay and how fit you
are—as in, the longer you stay the less fit you are. Check it out, next time some leanand-mean lifting type walks into the gym, glance at the clock and see how long he
stays in the gym. More often than not, he’s a model of efficiency—in and out in less
than an hour. More often than not, many “gym rats” work out wagging their tongues
more than they do working their muscles.

Belief Number 3. False, Unless You Know What
You’re Doing.
Significant cardiovascular or strength benefits can be gained in 15 or 30 minutes if
you know what you are doing. In fact, if you spend much more than 45 minutes lifting weights during one session you’re probably wasting time.

Belief Number 4. False.
The irony here is that the busier you are, the more you need to exercise. That’s because exercise reduces stress, boosts your energy, and improves your health. When
you’re busy you can’t afford to get sick. The fact is that working out is excellent


Chapter 1 ➤ Why Try Short Workouts?
preventive medicine. Again, you’re not training to climb Everest, just to get or stay in
shape, which in our culture has become a rather “lofty” goal.

Top Ten Reasons to Work Out
Let’s get a bit more specific about why you can’t afford not to work out. Exercise …
1. Improves your appearance as well as your self-esteem.
2. Lowers your blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease.
3. Makes your muscles, joints, and bones
stronger. This is particularly important for
women over 40 who lose bone density as
they age.
4. Is practical: Carrying groceries or your kids,
or changing a tire are far easier when you’ve
got some oomph.
5. Reduces stress and helps people counteract
depression. For a society that pops Prozac and
other psychotropic drugs like candy, that’s
6. Improves your ability to concentrate.
7. Increases your levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.

Workout Words
Cholesterol is a hormone manufactured by the liver. It is an
important component of cell
membranes and is necessary in
repairing cell membranes and
manufacturing vitamin D on the
skin’s surface.

8. Improves your sleep.
9. Speeds up your metabolism—a huge factor in
a country with more obese people than any
other in the Western world.
10. Keeps the stock market on an even keel. Well,
maybe not, but the preceding nine reasons
are legit.

Stress Management
There’s been tons written on the biggest, baddest,
and most silent killer in our society today: stress.
Many health experts feel stress has more to do
with disease than any other single factor. In our
fast-paced, industrialized world we’re surrounded
by umpteen factors that can get our blood pressure
rising: finding a job, apartment, or spouse; dealing

Info to Go
Not all stress is bad. In fact,
often stress is necessary and
helpful. Trying to, say, lose
weight or learn how to rock
climb may leave you temporarily
anxious, but the opportunity to
challenge yourself for a healthy
aim is well worth it.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
with hostile co-workers, traffic, tidal waves, invading armies, and more. Even “good”
stress like getting married or moving into a plush new home can leave you frazzled.
There are many strategies to deal with stress (and many books that deal exhaustively
with the subject), but one common problem we find with people who suffer from
chronic stress is a feeling of little or no control in their life. One simple but very effective way to gain a sense of control is to plan your day so that you exercise regularly. Even if you’re doing a short but brisk 30-minute workout, the sense that you’re
doing something “just for you” is incredibly therapeutic.

Hear the Hormones
When you’re under stress, two hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are released in your
body. During extended stressful periods of time, excessive amounts of these hormones are emitted, often with rather devastating effects:
➤ Depression of cartilage and bone formation.
➤ Inhibition of the inflammatory response.
➤ Depression of the immune system.
➤ Changes in cardiovascular, neural, and gastrointestinal function.
➤ Increased blood pressure.
➤ Weight gain.
➤ Depression.

Workout Words
Cortisol, or hydrocortisol, is a
hormone released by the adrenal
cortex. It is closely related to
cortisone in physiological effects
as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Adrenaline is known as the
“fight-or-flight” hormone.

Remember the all-nighters you pulled in college or
when you had to prepare for one of the most important meetings of your career? Odds are, soon after the
event was over you got sick. That’s because high
amounts of stress-induced cortisol lowered your immune system making you more susceptible to getting
What does all this have to do with exercise? Exercise
can help reduce your stress, which will in turn reduce
high levels of cortisol in your body.

Work Out Your Stress
We’ve already talked about how exercise helps you deal with stress—30 purposeful
minutes of lifting or a brisk walk in the park can do wonders to soothe the savage
beast. When you experience the dramatic changes in both your mood and overall
state of well-being, you’ll be amazed.


Chapter 1 ➤ Why Try Short Workouts?
One often-overlooked point is the importance of finding the activity (or activities)
that suit you best. If you know that running or an aerobics class is just what the doctor ordered, but you absolutely loathe running or group activities, you’re actually
adding to the stress level in your life. Experiment with the variety of options at your
disposal: in-line skating, hiking with your dog, ultimate Frisbee, mountain or road
biking, and soccer are just a few. As the philosopher Joseph Campbell said, “Follow
your bliss.”

Keeping Up Good Habits
Anyone who’s ever started an exercise program
knows it’s difficult to begin and easy to stop. For
most of us the demands of work, family, illness,
and more threaten to derail even the best intentioned among us. The key is to stay focused on
your goal of good health and fitness.
In the chapters that follow, we’ll show you how you
can carry on with your exercise program when you
have to put your normal routine on hold. Armed
with the right tools and attitude, you can seamlessly
transition from your normal routine to the proverbial bump in the road and back to your routine
again. In Chapters 21, “Working Out on the Road,”
and 22, “Five-Minute Workouts at the Office,” we’ll
offer plenty of ideas of how to handle your workout
when you hit the road or when your boss throws a
folder the size of an encyclopedia on your desk on
Friday at 4 o’clock and matter-of-factly asks you for
a full report by Monday morning.

Stop Short
Too often people just starting to
work out let temporary setbacks
throw them off the fitness trail.
Follow the model of one of the
most determined athletes on the
planet—a child learning to walk.
Think of fitness as a lifetime activity that is built around joy and
play, not work and deprivation.

Keep It Moving
Stu Mittleman, an exercise physiologist who happens to be one of the best ultradistance runners in America, typically runs 20 miles a day, six, even seven days a week.
(An ultra marathon is any race over 26.2 miles.) In 1986, Mr. Mittleman set a world
record by running 1,000 miles in under 12 days. When Joe was interviewing him for
a profile, even he was amazed how he was able to endure so many miles on his slight
frame. “Why,” Joe asked, “do you run 20 miles every day?” Without pausing,
Mittleman said, “Because I don’t have time for more.” While few of us will ever run
that much in a week let alone one day, Middleman’s point is sound— our bodies are
made to move. Still skeptical?
This explains why being inert for hours at a time feels so bad. Just think about how
you feel at after a long airline flight or when you’re tied to your desk all day: Your
back, neck, and shoulders hurt. The same holds true when you oversleep. Often you


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
feel hung over. Only when you get up and go are you able to shake the cobwebs and
feel more energetic.
While this sounds counterintuitive, when you’re inactive for too long, your circulation becomes sluggish, your joints become stiff, and your muscles tighten up. This
physical discomfort clouds your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Confined
to your seat, you start rolling your shoulders, swiveling your head, jiggling your legs—anything to try and
jump-start your stalled engine. The moral of the story?
Stop sitting around so much and move. And here’s the
obvious but oft-neglected point: Do something you

Short Cuts
Early in your workout career, the
best way to motivate yourself is
to think about how good you’ll
feel when you’re done. Once
exercise becomes part of your
routine, your body will crave it.
In other words, early on, use
your mind to motivate you; later,
listen to your body.

Workout Words
Endorphins are natural opiates,
which become elevated in the
body during exercise. They are
responsible for providing you
with a sense of well-being.
Hence the term endorphin


Head Games
Sports psychologists tell us that your mind is 85 percent responsible for whether you win or lose, succeed
or fail. This is why it is important to prepare yourself
psychologically for virtually everything you do. Integrating exercise into your life is no exception.
Psychologically, working out offers a handful of invaluable benefits.
➤ Exercising for as little as 15 minutes in a day can
rev up a sluggish system by increasing circulation and oxygen intake as well as removing
metabolic waste from muscles. This boost of energy comes from the release of endorphins, which
reduces (or alleviates) stress and provides you
with a feeling of well-being.
➤ Exercising for even short segments reminds you
that you’re involved in a healthy lifestyle. In
other words, by making sure you weave physical activity into the fabric of your life you’re
more likely to become conscious of what you’re
eating and whether you’re drinking enough
➤ Working out with others is a great way to meet
positive-thinking people. In addition, hooking
up with a partner or two usually means you
won’t miss a workout.

Chapter 1 ➤ Why Try Short Workouts?

Physically Speaking
Not that you needed convincing, but let’s say that we’ve convinced you more that exercise can help you psychologically. Now let’s list a few of the physical reasons why
you should work out:
➤ Exercise encourages blood flow. Blood flow removes metabolic waste from tissues and provides fresh oxygen. When blood flow is restricted, metabolic waste
builds up in the tissues and oxygen flow is restricted. Want to know what your
muscles feel when this happens? Hold your breath for as long as you possibly
➤ Exercise lubricates your joints. With decreased movement, the fluid surrounding your joints stops flowing. (Think Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.) As we’ve
said, movement encourages flow. Hence the stiff-legged, balky back gait you see
from people walking down the aisle after a three-hour movie. Physiologically
speaking, your joints are dry. Once you move, synovial fluid begins to flow
again and it’s easier for you to walk.
➤ Exercise provides you with more energy. Movement increases blood flow, removing waste products and delivering oxygen. Exercise also stimulates the release of feel-good hormones known as endorphins.
➤ Exercise makes you look good! Whoever invented the mirror probably knew
that Homo sapiens are vain. Regular exercise is the best way we know to improve
you appearance. Not only will you lose weight, your skin is apt to look better
and your muscles will grow tauter. Know this: Feeling good about the way you
look is highly contagious.
Yes, energy has both psychological and physical components. If you need to keep up
with a boundless two-year old, there is no better way to do so than to get in a short
workout or two during the day.

How Can 15, 30, or 60 Minutes Be Enough?
Why do short workouts make sense? Short workouts work for you when they fulfill
the following two requirements:
➤ Effective.
➤ Efficient.
Still wed to the too-busy excuse? Let’s say you only have 30 minutes between big
meetings. Clear your head and strengthen your heart and legs by going for a brisk
walk. Heading back to the office? A stair workout is probably one of the most effective and efficient exercises if you’re on a tight schedule. And there are always trees
to climb—though that may cause your coworkers to whisper behind your back.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
Got 40 minutes? Walk for 25 minutes and then spend the next 10 minutes doing
push-ups and crunches. Use the last five minutes to stretch. Just think of all the exercise possibilities you can do with an hour.
If your day is so busy that you’re literally running from one meeting to the next,
then consider the following:
➤ Take the stairs.
➤ Walk instead of taking a car or public transportation (you’ll probably get there
➤ Ride your bike or jog to and from work.
When you integrate exercise into your life, the possibilities are endless.

The Least You Need to Know
➤ You can find time for short workouts.
➤ Exercise does wonders to alleviate stress.
➤ Short workouts are the best way to maintain an exercise routine, especially if
it’s new.
➤ Short workouts provide you with both psychological and physical benefits.


Chapter 2

Fitting It In

In This Chapter
➤ Time management tips for busy people
➤ A good excuse is usually just that
➤ Morning, noon, and evening workouts
➤ Exercise on the go

Even when you can’t wrestle the time to go to the gym to do your full workout, you’ll
find that a short workout can do a world of good—making you more alert and relaxed
throughout the day. In addition, by keeping active you avoid any setbacks in your fitness program. So while a 15-minute workout isn’t enough to make huge improvements
in your fitness (unless, of course, you’ve been inactive for a while), it can prevent any
“detraining” effects. Plus if your goal is to lose weight, burning a few extra calories
never hurts.
Often people say they don’t have enough time when in fact what they lack more of is
energy and willpower. Don’t get us wrong: We’re sympathetic to the demands of a
busy life. But we’ve stood in the catbird seat countless times and seen that the same
busy people who can’t find 30 minutes to work out, spend an hour a day checking
their e-mail, talking on the telephone, and/or watching TV and playing solitaire on
the computer. If you think you don’t have the time, think again. You can make it
work if you just make some adjustments in your daily habits. And while it sounds a
bit dramatic, it’s crucial to know that if you don’t work out now, you’re likely to pay
for it later.

Part 1 ➤ The Basics
In this chapter we’ll provide you with tips on detecting just how much time you are
wasting as well as ways to develop successful time-management habits.

Excuses, Excuses
Before we continue, let’s see if any of the following reasons for not working out
sounds familiar:
➤ I have to work late tonight.
➤ I’ve got to pick up the kids.
➤ I have to make dinner.
➤ I travel so much for my job I can’t stick to a workout routine.
➤ I spend so much time working I don’t want to spend my free time working out.

Short Cuts
What we find again and again is
that people who make the effort
to squeeze in a quickie workout
begin to crave the buzz that vigorous exercise supplies. Once
people learn to make working
out part of their weekly routine,
the “can’t find time” dragon is

Free time? What’s free time? We’re here to tell you
that you don’t have to spend every bit of your leisure
time exercising and that you can have positive results
with as little as 15 minutes a pop. Armed with the
knowledge that exercise—any exercise—can energize
you and make you more productive during the day
makes people more motivated to do even the shortest
of workouts.
Therein lies the rub: If you lack the energy to work
out, you’re less likely to get to the gym or do an athome workout. However, once you get to the gym or
your exercise equipment in your TV room (isn’t that
where you keep your Stairmaster?), you’ll see that you
have more energy. What will get you over the hump?
Willpower and the belief that you don’t have to workout like an aspiring Olympian to improve your fitness.
And, as we’ve already stressed, finding activities you
enjoy is crucial.

Time Management
There’s a great expression, “If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” While that’s probably true, if you are busy the only way to remain productive is
to be organized. In fact, the busier you are, the more organized you have to be if you
want to keep body and soul together. The catch-22 here is that often people who
think they’re busy assume they have less time because they’re poorly organized. We
all know people who spend much of their time sifting through papers in search for
their to-do list. (The first item was undoubtedly “straighten up desk.”)


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In
There are, of course, different ways to skin a cat. Witness this goofy example: While
writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Weight Training, it became increasingly clear that
the husband-and-wife team of Deidre and Jonathan have very different styles of organization. Jonathan is Oscar Madison: papers scattered all over, books piled on his
desk and around his chair like a minifortress. (Deidre calls it a disaster area; Jonathan
considers it a sign of high intelligence.) While Jonathan’s personalized system looks
chaotic, he knows which end is up and is very efficient at organizing and prioritizing.
On the other hand, Deidre, the Felix Unger of this odd couple, cannot tell you her
middle name if her pencils aren’t sharpened and facing in the same direction. The
bottom line is that while no one way is perfect, you need to be organized if you want
to get things done.
Still dubious? Here are some ways to help you manage your time more effectively:
➤ Plan a week at a time, keeping your long-term priorities in mind. Considering
the many hats you may have to wear in the course of the day (not to mention
the various goals you have), it’s easy to get distracted and lose your focus. By
planning for the entire week, you can factor in your multiple roles and goals
and get things done.
➤ Make a to-do list with no more than seven key items. Assign a letter of priority
to each item on your list: A for must do first, B for should do after A, C for must
get done but not necessarily today, and so forth. Cross each out when completed and make a new list of your top goals.
➤ Keep your written goals where you can see
them—and not under a pile of papers on
your desk. Seeing them is like having a
benevolent drill sergeant at your side so you
stay on track.
➤ Just say “no”! Essentially, this means prioritizing your needs. Participate in a few key activities and politely decline others.
➤ Stop trying to be perfect, when you don’t
have to be. Instead of taking tons of time
writing the perfect thank-you note to your
Aunt Tilly, jot down a quick heartfelt card or
note. When leaving a message with a friend
or business associate that doesn’t need a
reply, call after hours and leave a message on
his answering machine.

Short Cuts
Combine tasks so you can do
more than one thing at a time.
Before you know it you’ve freed
up valuable hours in your
cramped day.

While all of these tips sound good in theory, let’s give you a few day-to-day tactics to
illustrate just what we’re talking about.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
➤ If you take a lunch to work, make it the night before. This will give you more
time in the morning to get the children ready for their day.
➤ If you have school-age children, make their lunch the night before.
➤ To leave more time in the morning, lay out the clothes you plan to wear the
night before. (Make sure you listen to the weather report.)
➤ Bring work-related reading material with you when you’re running errands. If
you’re on a long line at the supermarket, for example, whip it out and read
while you wait.
➤ Establish routines with regular chores like paying your bills. This way you won’t
fall behind (which means paying extra) and it won’t absorb much of your mental energy.
The key to time management is learning how to reorganize your life so that you have
some stress-free time to exercise.

Finding the Time
If you still think you don’t have time to fit exercise into your already scheduled life,
please do the following written exercise. For one week, record the amount of time
you spend on the following activities.



Nonwork-related phone calls
Watching television
Listening to the radio
Playing on the computer
Eating out
Schmoozing with neighbors who
dropped by to say “hello”
Hanging out with your friends
after work







At the end of a week, add up the amount of time that you spent on the above activities and odds are that you could squeeze in a few hour-long workouts at the gym.


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In

Info to Go
The average American watches more than four hours of TV each day. At this rate, by age
65, that person will have spent nine years of his or her life watching television (or 28
hours per week, two months of nonstop TV watching per year).

While many people think that getting organized means they have to become rigid,
the reality is that discipline and order help you become more free. No longer must
you burn tons of mental energy holding on to idle fantasies that you never acted on.
If you’re able to manage your time effectively, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to
get things done as well as the added time you’ll have to just do nothing.
The eight activities listed above are rather obvious ways that we waste time. However,
according to Warren Wint, who runs Total Success Training, a London-based management consulting firm, other copious time wasters include the following:
➤ Indecision and procrastination. If you are unsure about how a task should be
done and feel silly about asking, you are more likely to continue to put it on the
back burner until you are forced to come to grips with it.
➤ Tasks you do that you should have delegated. The manager who takes the minutes at office meetings, types them, and makes copies of them for distribution
in addition to other duties is not making the most of his or her time.
➤ Acting on a project without sufficient information. If you don’t understand the
exact purpose or meaning of the project, you are apt to make a mistake that
would require more time to correct.
➤ Unclear information. If you don’t understand what you are supposed to do and
you do it wrong, you’ll have to do it all over again. Get the facts before you
➤ Lack of planning. Literally, think about what you want to do before you do it.
Plot it out and consider any and all possibilities.
➤ Stress and fatigue. When you are under stress and are fatigued, your thinking
becomes cloudy and your ability to make good clear decisions is compromised.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
➤ Inability to say no. Stretching yourself too thin can result in poor execution of
➤ Personal disorganization. Spending most of your time looking for papers and
other assorted items can be a colossal waste of time.
When Jonathan sets up exercise programs for clients
new to exercise, he stresses that the most important
thing they can do over the first few weeks is make exercise part of their daily routine. He asks them about
their daily routine and helps them integrate fitness
into their day.

Stop Short
To live a fitness lifestyle, change
from a sedentary lifestyle is essential. The key, however, is to
seek small changes, not big end
points. Once your weekly workout pattern is established, (usually after about eight weeks) the
hardest part of the battle has
been won.

During those precious first few weeks, he’s far more
concerned with them developing that habit than with
the particular exercises they do. The key is getting
people to show up at the gym. Even if all you do is
talk about Lance Armstrong’s win at the Tour de
France or the last great movie you saw, he’s satisfied
that you’ve begun to integrate working out into your
daily routine.

If you work out at home, make a promise to yourself
that you’re going to find time to work out. Often writing in your daily planner that you must work out is all
the commitment you need. You can reward yourself
by popping in a video to watch as you spin on your
stationary bike. If, however, you realize that you’re not getting the job done on your
own, think seriously about joining a gym, running club, or some other organized fitness group.
By now we assume that we’ve convinced you that working out for an hour or less is
enough to help you improve your fitness. Now let’s figure out when you’re going to
find the time.

For Early Birds Only
There’s an old expression that goes something like: “An hour in the morning is worth
two in the evening.” In other words, working out in the morning is a great time to
exercise—assuming you’re able to wake up and get out the door. It’s quiet, there’s less
traffic if you ride your bike or drive to the gym, and it’s a great way to organize your
thoughts for the day ahead. After a good workout and shower, you’re bound to head
to work feeling energized and virtuous at the same time. That way, no matter how
busy you get later in the day, your workout is in the books. If the morning seems like
a good time slot for you, consider the following to make it easier.


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In
When Deidre was winning national power-lifting championships, she was also a fulltime student in physical therapy school and working a part-time job. Needless to say,
she was pressed for time and had no choice but to work out in the wee hours of the
morning. Here are her early morning workout tips.
1. Listen to the weather forecast and lay out your clothes for both work and working out the night before. That way you won’t have to rush around looking for
your favorite shorts and matching socks.
2. If you take your lunch to work, make it the night before. Don’t forget to take it
out of the fridge when you leave in the morning.
3. Lose the snooze button. One wake-up call is all you get.
4. A coffeemaker with a timer is often a good get-out-of-bed incentive.
5. Put your feet on the floor before your mate smashes the alarm clock or sabotages your incentive to stick to your exercise program.
If you live within walking/jogging distance from work, a great way to commute and
work out at the same time is to hoof it to work. Jonathan, who loves cycling far more
than running, often jogs to work with his work clothes in a backpack a few times a
week instead of taking the subway. (He dislikes crowded subways more than he does
Considering that the ride on the train takes only
five minutes more than the run, the time commitment is virtually the same. If you don’t have the
luxury of working in shorts and a T-shirt like
Jonathan, you can carry a week’s worth of work
clothes in a garment bag every Monday and
change at the office. Of course, without access to
a shower you’re bound to alienate even the most
tolerant of your co-workers.
Another good idea assuming that you belong to
a gym near your job is to run to the gym in the
morning. If you have extra time, you can lift
weights and stretch there before you shower. Most
gyms offer rental lockers, so you can keep all your
toiletries there.

Short Cuts
Prework workouts are great if
you have some exercise equipment at home. In Chapter 6,
“Strengthening,” we’ll give you
some ideas for setting up a home
gym without sapping your bank
account or crowding your space.

Don’t like running? Cycling is a practical alternative to driving or taking mass transportation.
(Often it’s faster.) According to the August 2000 issue of Bicycling magazine, commuting 15 miles, three times per week, can save $271 in depreciation on your car and
save you more than $7,000 in gas, insurance, and car payments. Factor in about
40,000 calories burned and you’re way ahead of the game.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

How About Lunch?
Lunchtime is a great opportunity to take a step away from your busy day in order to
get in a quick workout. Not only will you be physically rejuvenated for the rest of the
day, you’re likely to work with a clearer head as well. However, working out during
lunch is tricky and you have to be extremely focused and organized.
The toughest part about a midday workout is making sure you have enough to eat to
prevent you from getting hungry once you’re back at work. The best way to do that is
to bring food with you to work so you can eat throughout the morning and early afternoon. This is called grazing and it’s really the best way to eat, as long as you are
eating healthful foods such as fruits, raw veggies, nuts, and yogurt. Once you’re back
at the office from your workout, you can eat a turkey sandwich or a tuna sandwich.
Here are some criteria for working out during lunch:
➤ Make sure the health club is near your job. You
don’t want to spend 20 minutes of your lunch
hour traveling.

Stop Short
Keep in mind that lunch is the
meal when many people’s diets
come undone. Unlike meals that
you prepare at home, you usually
have less control over what you
eat when you dine out. Take a
look at Chapter 4, “Nutrition,” for
nutrition tips when you eat out.

➤ Take a class (spinning, aerobic, step, toning).
The great thing about a lunchtime class is that
it’ll be geared to people like you with no time
to spare. Odds are they’ll be sure to get you
back to your desk in under an hour.
➤ Look for a club that provides amenities such as
soap, shampoo, and towels. This saves you the
trouble of having to lug these things with you.

Even if you don’t have access to a gym during lunch
or a full hour to spare, try to do some physical activity, since some is better than none. Don’t have your
lunch delivered if you can take a walk to go get it instead. Take a short break and stretch for a few minutes. Breathing fresh air will leave
you more alert and ready to do your best work.

After Work Workouts
While some of us are ready for nothing more ambitious than watching the evening
news after work, there are plenty of people who get their second wind once they
leave the office. If this is the best workout time for your, here are some tips:
➤ If your gym is near your home, go straight there rather than heading home first.
Once you open your own front door, there’s a load of reasons for you to miss
your workout. (Did anyone say nap?)


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In
➤ Grab a snack such as a piece of fruit, pretzels, a nutrition bar, or another healthful snack an hour or two before your workout. There’s nothing worse than going
to the gym hungry. You’ll be distracted and less energetic.
➤ Of course, like our early birds that ran, skated, or cycled to work, you can do the
same from your office to your home.
The bottom line is experimenting to see what
works best for your body and schedule. If you prefer working out in the morning because you have
more pep but have a friend who will run with you
in the evening, try both and see which you prefer.

On the Run
Nothing interrupts a workout routine faster than
lots of overtime and business travel. With a little
dedication and planning for the unexpected, you
can continue to work out while tending to life’s
surprises. Whether you’re stuck at work or on the
road, there are ways you can help manage your fitness goals.

Stop Short
If you exercise outdoors after
dark (or before sunrise), be sure
to wear reflective clothing or
wear a portable light on your
body or bike.

Work Out at Work
When overtime beckons, you have to step up to the plate. Again, please heed our rallying cry that exercising for as little as 15 minutes at a time is beneficial. You can take
several 15-minute breaks by doing the following:
➤ Take a brisk walk. It will burn a few calories, get your blood flowing, and clear
your head. If you have to go to a meeting, consider walking instead of driving
or using public transportation if you can.
➤ Use the stairs. Deidre usually hustles up the stairs in lieu of the elevator when
she visits her patients. By the end of the day she’s often totaled 50 flights.
➤ Stretch. There are lots of great stretches you can do at your desk. Check Chapter 22, “Five-Minute Workouts at the Office,” for some ideas.

On the Road Again
People who have jobs that require a lot of travel face some of the biggest fitness hurdles. In Chapter 21, “Working Out on the Road,” we’ll outline equipment—from rubber bands to jump ropes to water-filled dumbbells—that you can take on the road.
(We’ll also give you some workouts you can do while when you’re on the road.)


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Info to Go
Running as transportation is “easier” and has a different feel than running purely for
recreation. (Even if the results are the same.) Jonathan, who manages several fitness centers throughout New York City, regularly runs from site to site. While some of these jaunts
take just a few minutes, the mental and physical benefits would be lost had he driven or
taken public transportation.

Many gyms have national affiliations that allow you to use their facilities all over the
country for a nominal fee. Even if you don’t have a gym, we’ll give you ideas of how
to get a good workout on the road.
We’ve given you some ideas of how and when you can squeeze in a productive workout. Not convinced? In Chapter 5, “Aerobics,” we’ll outline all sorts of time management ideas that will help you free up the time that you need.

Setting Goals
Before any fitness professional promises you the moon, we want you to understand
that everyone has a particular body type and genetic makeup that cannot be altered.
This means that no matter how much you work out, if you are five foot two and 140
pounds, even dropping 20 pounds isn’t going to make you look like a professional
model. In fact, dropping that much weight is going to make you look like a fitter version of you. So don’t set goals that are impossible to achieve. That’s a prescription for
failure and disappointment.
There are, of course, three specific fitness goals that you can set for yourself: to increase your cardiovascular fitness, your physical strength, and your flexibility. Below
we will outline why you want to achieve these various fitness goals.

Why Develop Your Cardiovascular Fitness?
Too often, we think, people assume that being fit means lifting weights. While total
fitness and toned muscles often go together, strength training alone is just one piece
of the workout puzzle. Another key component is your ticker—cardiovascular fitness
to you sophisticated types. The benefits are obvious and many.


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In
➤ To achieve and maintain weight loss.
➤ To reduce and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
➤ To reduce the risk of heart disease.
➤ To manage high blood pressure.
➤ To reduce tension and control stress.
➤ To reduce anxiety and depression.
➤ To boost your energy level.
➤ To keep up with your kids.

Info to Go
According to Steve Ilg, a personal trainer that Outside magazine labeled one of the fittest
men on earth: “Your body is a masterpiece, intricate in function, unique in its mix of attributes and abilities. Give praise—you are wonderfully, singularly made!” So while it’s fine
to aspire to look like an Olympic swimmer, don’t despair if you fall short of your expectation. Remember that the athletes who make it to the Olympics are blessed with great
genes and an incredible work ethic.

Why Build Up Your Physical Strength?
Conversely, we know plenty of runners and cyclists who have done so much cardio
training that their heart beats only on the weekends. We applaud their efforts; however, there are just as many reasons to add a bit of strength training to their regime as
there are for strength-training devotees to improve their cardio fitness.
➤ To increase your lean body mass, which helps you burn more calories at rest.
➤ To prevent bone loss, which can begin in your 30s.
➤ To reduce tension and control stress.
➤ To improve your self-image.
➤ Easier pregnancy and delivery. Quicker recovery postpregnancy to prepregnancy


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
➤ To help you accomplish physical tasks such as carrying the baby carriage up the
stairs or groceries home from the supermarket.
➤ To help you age gracefully. We begin to lose muscle mass in the third decade of
life at a rate of about one pound of muscle each year or 8 percent per decade.
It’s no wonder that the elderly are virtual prisoners in their own homes, often
unable to stand without assistance, clean, or shop.

Why Extend Your Flexibility?
Stretching is probably the most neglected aspect of working out. Why? Because, first,
it’s hard, especially if you’re tight. Second, many people don’t feel as if they’re doing
anything. We’re sympathetic to both concerns, but trust us when we say that stretching regularly is essential, especially when those grey hairs start appearing. Here’s why:
➤ To prevent injury to tight muscles that are not
properly warmed up.

Short Cuts
Don’t weigh yourself every day—
it only leads to frustration since
your weight fluctuates throughout the day. (For women,
throughout the month as well.)
Try weighing yourself at the same
time and on the same day of the
week once a week. We usually
tip the scales first thing every
Monday morning.

➤ To maintain muscular balance. What does that
mean? Imagine sitting at your desk in that typical forward slouched position. The muscles in
the front part of your body become contracted
and tight, which in the long term can lead to
permanent postural changes (like the upper
back hump that the elderly get).
➤ To continue being able to perform normal, daily
tasks like reaching up in the cupboard for dishes.
➤ To continue being able to scratch your back
➤ To continue being able to give yourself a pedicure if you are on a budget.

With proper diet and exercise you can be the best
physical specimen that your particular genetic makeup allows you to be. Your goal should not be to look
like the actresses or models that peer out at us from every magazine cover and poster.
Base your goals on your own desires—a smaller dress or pants size, to be stronger
or more flexible. These are goals that are tangible and will keep you interested and

Values-Based Prioritizing
Values-based prioritizing may sound complicated, but it’s really just another way of
saying that you decide which aspect of fitness is the most important for you at the


Chapter 2 ➤ Fitting It In
time. Is it weight loss? Cardiovascular fitness? Are you eager to get stronger? Once
you set your goals, we can help you design a workout stacked in that direction.
In the chapters to follow we’ll give you specific routines that you can do to make
your fitness goals a reality even if you’re pressed for time.

The Least You Need to Know
➤ Time management is an important tool in being effective and productive.
➤ You can plot your time to determine how much is spent doing nonproductive
➤ Success with your fitness regimen requires making it a priority.
➤ Base your workout routine on your personal fitness goals.


Chapter 3

Workouts and
Your Body

In This Chapter
➤ Assessing your fitness goals
➤ Exercising with asthma, hypertension, and diabetes
➤ Figuring out what your level of fitness is
➤ Debunking a few myths

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of working out, let’s step back and assess the status of
your current health and fitness. While we agree that this isn’t an overly exciting topic,
it is important. As a result, this chapter will discuss the basics of getting a clean bill of
health from your doctor as well as questions that relate to specific medical concerns.
The good news is that very few medical conditions should prevent you from working out.
Once we’ve established what you need to know before you start, we’ll help you figure
out what your exercise options are, how to measure your current level of fitness, and
how your body responds to working out. Equally important, we’ll tell you how it responds when you miss workouts.

What’s Up, Doc?
Clearly if you’re a member of the U.S. Olympic team, able to leap tall buildings in a
single bound, or under the legal drinking age, you can start a new exercise program
without a physical. However, if you’ve been inactive for a while, recently ill, or have
a specific medical issue, it’s a very good idea to see a physician for a checkup. Remember, even if you do have a health problem, there are plenty of exercise options

Part 1 ➤ The Basics
available; however, a little knowledge will give you more confidence as well as make
your workouts safer and more productive.
If you’d rather not get a physical, at the very least you should take a look at the
Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR Q), a chart developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. This nifty screening tool was designed for anyone between the ages of 15 and 69 and should give you an idea of where you stand.
Use PAR Q as a screening
tool before you start an
exercise program.

Look at the PAR Q. If you honestly answered no to each of the questions, then according to the PAR Q it’s fine for you to get started. Although, to state the obvious,
even if you’ve just completed an Ironman triathlon, start a new regime slowly and
build up gradually.
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions or are over 70, you should definitely
check with your doctor. As we said, it’s unlikely that exercise will be nixed, but you
should get the okay first.
Now let’s take a look at some of the most common medical conditions that need to
be addressed.


Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects about
50 million Americans. For most people with mild to
moderate hypertension, exercise is one of the most
effective treatments. And though many doctors
won’t rush to tell you this, a regular exercise program can help you decrease or entirely eliminate
medication. Here’s why. When you do aerobic exercise your blood vessels dilate—and remain dilated
even after you stop. That causes your blood pressure
(BP) to decrease. (One of the most common categories of BP medications is vasodilators, so as we
said, exercise could have the same effect as medication.) While it’s generally safe for people with hypertension to lift weights, it’s especially important
not to lift real heavy weights. When you “max out,”
you tend to hold your breath. This is known as the
Valsalva maneuver to us physio types, and it’s quite
dangerous for anyone with high blood pressure.

Workout Words
Hypertension is defined as a
resting blood pressure of 140/90
or greater. Textbook “normal”
pressure is 120/80, though there’s
no need to worry if it’s a little
higher. The top figure, or systolic
pressure corresponds to the pressure as your heart contracts,
while the lower number, or diastolic pressure is the pressure as
your heart relaxes between beats.

Diabetes is a condition in which an insufficient
amount of insulin (the hormone necessary for the
metabolism of blood sugar/blood glucose) is produced by the body. Under normal conditions insulin is released to counteract the increased blood
sugar that comes after a meal. If you have Type I or
juvenile onset diabetes, the body typically doesn’t
release enough insulin. Those with Type II, or adult
onset diabetes, tend to be resistant to insulin, which
means insulin doesn’t do what it supposed to.
Because exercise has an “insulin-like” effect, your
doctor needs to know if you are diabetic and
beginning an exercise program. This is important
because your doctor may adjust the timing of your
medications. And, in the case of insulin, change
where you make your injections. (Injecting an
exercising muscle is likely to increase the rate of

Info to Go
If you’re diagnosed with diabetes
and worried about not reaching
your full athletic potential, know
that three of the best athletes of
the twentieth century—Ty Cobb
(baseball), Arthur Ashe (tennis),
and Joe Frazier (boxing)—were
athletes who managed diabetes.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Short Cuts
A review by University Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, has found that moderate weight loss
is more likely to be maintained over time. Setting an attainable goal helps you stick with
your exercise program. Plus, if your blood pressure is high, modest exercise will help normalize it even if it takes longer to reach your ideal weight. Reducing your weight only 5
percent to 10 percent may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes,
and the need to take medications for your blood pressure.

There is a host of do’s and don’ts that diabetics need to become familiar with:
1. Weight loss and modifications in your diet can play a large role for people with
adult onset diabetes.

Stop Short
It’s a good idea for diabetics to
carry a piece of candy with them
while they exercise in case of a
hypoglycemic episode.

2. If you have adult onset diabetes, it’s important—
no matter how busy your day becomes—that
you don’t let too much time pass between meals.
(Skipping meals is a real no-no.) In order to stabilize your blood sugar, it’s important that your carbohydrate intake as well as the timing of your
meals remain consistent. Again, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist for more info.
3. It sounds odd, but diabetics are advised to wear
good socks and sneakers and carefully check their
feet for cuts or blisters because of a condition
known as diabetic neuropathy. As a result, diabetics occasionally have decreased sensation in their
feet and can therefore be unaware of damage.

Many of us think of asthmatics as woefully frail sickly people who double over when
they run up a flight of stairs. Well, consider Olympic gold medallist Jackie JoynerKersee, a heptathlete who is arguably the greatest female athlete of our time. Our


Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body
poster boy for dealing with this tough condition, Jonathan Cane, has done 150 bicycle
races over the past five years and, for the record, has raced up the stairs of the Empire
State Building four times. In other words, asthma
does not need to prevent you from working out.
Asthma medications have come a long way in the
past few years, and most are very effective and free
of side effects. (Although it’s quite possible that one
of the lesser-known side effects is an irrational need
to sprint up stairwells in skyscrapers. If this happens more than once, please have your doctor adStop Short
just your medication.)
As Jonathan has learned firsthand, asthma sufferers may want to avoid exercising in cold and dry
conditions. If you’re working out and find that the
cold air is bothering you, often breathing through
your nose helps filter and warm the air before it
hits your lungs.

If you have asthma, it’s real important for you to warm up
thoroughly before any aerobic
activity. The gradual increase
helps prevent attacks.

Measuring Your Fitness Level
Think of someone getting in the car and driving aimlessly without a map, directions,
or destination. This might be a good agenda if you’re checking how many miles to
the gallon your car gets, but otherwise it’s a good way to get nowhere fast. In short,
that’s the mistake many people we see make—novices and seasoned veterans alike.
Sure, it’s great that you’re in the gym, but without a specific plan it’s surprisingly difficult to make real progress. Here are two important points to consider:
1. What are your goals? Do you want to get stronger? Improve your sports performance? Your appearance? Are you trying to lose weight or gain muscle?
Improve your ability to carry the baby stroller up the stairs or are you in the
gym to improve your 10K time?
2. Where do you stand today? How fit are you? How flexible? What about muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance? What’s your percentage of body fat?
(Aren’t you glad we’ve begun to thoroughly confuse you?) By clearly defining
your goals and establishing your current state of fitness, you can have a direction to your training and measure the progress that you make. Remember, even
the most brilliant architect follows a plan.
Each of us has different goals and no single goal is right or wrong. If the only motivation you have for working out is to look good in a bathing suit, no worries. If you’re
a racer like Jonathan and Joe who head to the gym to enhance their cycling and
marathon kayaking performances, you’ll be spending a fair bit of time doing specific
exercises geared toward that goal. (Although Joe won’t admit it, he’s been considering


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
paddling this season in a pink Speedo.) When Deidre competed as a power lifter, she
focused on her three primary lifts. Now that’s she’s retired and spends a lot of time
polishing her trophies, her gym workouts have virtually nothing to do with lifting
small buildings and everything to do with looking and feeling good.
The good news, of course, is there’s plenty of overlap. The runner, who lifts to get
faster on the road, inevitably winds up looking better before and after the race. The
person who trains like a Trojan to squeeze into the tiniest bathing suit possible each
summer will, on a good exercise regime, wind up having more energy to play with her
kids and be better able to run through the airport with her luggage to catch a plane.
While you need to know where you’re going, it’s also valuable to find out where
you’re at. You can do this in a variety of ways. The best is to go to a lab, fitness center,
or physiology department at a university and have some number-crunching physiologists like Jonathan poke and prod you to measure your cardiovascular fitness, muscular
strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. If you know where you can
get tested, we strongly suggest that you take advantage of them. If you don’t have a
qualified professional to perform these tests, there are still benchmarks that you can
test yourself. (Of course you can call Jonathan, but he might ride his bike there and
that gets time consuming.) If you live in the Australian outback or just can’t be bothered, here are a few measurements you can take to gauge your own fitness.

Resting Heart Rate

Stop Short
Heart rate can also be measured
at the carotid artery in the neck,
but we recommend that you stick
to the radial pulse in the wrist. If
you press too hard on your neck
it can cause a reflexive decrease
in your heart rate and cause you
to become dizzy or faint.

The first thing you should do is monitor your resting
heart rate. The best time to do this is first thing in the
morning—after you use the bathroom since having to
go may otherwise elevate your heart rate. Here’s what
to do.
1. Place your index and middle fingers together on
the opposite wrist, about half an inch on the inside of the joint, in line with the index finger.
2. Feel for a pulse by pressing lightly on the artery.
3. Once you find a strong pulse, count the number of beats you feel for one minute.
4. Begin your count with zero. When exercising,
it’s more practical to take your heart rate for 10
seconds and multiply by six.

Knowing your resting heart rate does not necessarily tell you much—it’s a number
relative to nothing—but noting changes over time generally indicates a change in
your level of fitness. As your heart and cardiovascular system becomes stronger and
more efficient, your resting heart rate (RHR) will decrease. This indicates that more


Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body
blood is being pumped with each beat and that your body is more efficient at extracting oxygen from the blood.
Often we’re asked, “What’s a good normal resting heart rate?” That’s a good question
with no real answer. Normal RHR ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute; the average is approximately 70 for men and 75 for women. Extremely well-conditioned athletes sometimes have heart rates as low as 40 beats per minute. Former tennis great
Bjorn Borg was said to have a RHR around 36 beats per minute.

Weight and Body Composition
The “Body Mass Index” (BMI) is a quick way to gauge if you’re at a healthy weight.
But because it does not differentiate between muscle and fat, or take frame size into
account, it is clearly a flawed method. However, for someone who isn’t extremely
muscular, it’s a reasonably accurate and quick method. High BMIs—the bane of many
American’s existence—are associated with an increase risk of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Here’s a chart to look up your BMI:

Body Mass Index
Weight Category

BMI Range

% Above

Normal weight
Seriously obese

Over 35

Over 100%

Regardless of what the scale says, the best way to determine if you need to lose weight is
by measuring your body composition. That’s because body composition measurements
take your muscle mass in to account and can differentiate between a lean, mean bodybuilder who’s covered in muscle and weighs 210 pounds and a couch potato with a gut
who’s the same height and weight.
There are a variety of tests available in lab settings: Underwater weighing is the gold
standard, and skin-fold calipers are dependable and reliable. Other methods such as
bioelectrical impedence are impressive looking (and sounding) but notoriously inaccurate. If you don’t have access to those tests, here’s a quick test you can do to estimate your body fat percentage.
1. Measure your height in inches.
2. Measure the widest part of your hips in inches.
3. Using the chart, take a straight edge and match up each end to your corresponding height and hip girth. The point at which the ruler intersects the middle
line is your estimated percent body fat.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
Use this chart to estimate
the percentage of body fat
you carry.

Muscular Strength and Endurance
Push-ups—that simplest of exercises used by drill sergeants and gym teachers—are a
good way to test your upper-body strength quickly and easily. Women should use a
modified push-up, with their knees bent and on the floor, and men should keep their
toes on the floor with legs out straight.
Start at the top position with your arms straight and lower yourself until your chest is
about a clenched fist’s distance from the floor. Keep your back straight throughout.
See how many you can do without breaking form or resting at the top or bottom.
Test yourself every few months to measure the progress of your strength routine.
Below are norms so that you can check yourself against other in your age category.

Push-Up Norms for Men














Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body

Push-Up Norms for Women












Info to Go
To some people, the standard test of strength is the one-rep-max bench press. While
some folks like to do maximal tests for strength, we see no reason to take the risk. There’s
a much higher incidence of injury in attempts to lift as much as possible for one rep, so
unless you’re a competitive power lifter, there’s no justification. It doesn’t matter how
strong you are if you’re on the disabled list with a shoulder injury or a pulled pectoral

Cardiovascular Tests
Again, there is no replacement for the testing available in a lab, but there are a few
you can do on your own to estimate your cardiovascular fitness.
A simple yet arduous test, widely used in the military and law-enforcement agencies,
is the 1.5-mile walk/run. The procedure is simple:
1. Find a treadmill, quarter-mile track, or another accurately measured, flat
1.5-mile course.
2. After a thorough warm-up, run and/or walk 1.5 miles as fast as possible.
Here are the norms for men and women, broken down by 10-year age groups.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Women’s Norms per Age Group






Very Poor






Men’s Norms per Age Group






Very Poor






We’re constantly amazed how many strong and “fit” men we see in the gym who are
unable to touch their toes. This begs the question: Can you be truly fit if you’re as
flexible as an elephant’s tusk?
The most common test used by physiologists to measure flexibility is known as the
“sit-and-reach” test. This is basically a seated toe touch using a specially designed box
to measure how far forward you bend. The test is valuable because poor performance
usually indicates the likelihood of lower-back injury.
Odds are you don’t have a sit-and-reach box at home, but you can still get a basic
idea of your lower back, hip, and hamstring flexibility. Try this. In your bare feet, sit
on the floor with your feet six inches apart and flat against the wall. Bend forward
slowly, without bouncing. If you can easily touch the wall, your flexibility is fine. If
you can barely reach the wall, it’s fair. If you can’t reach the wall (don’t cheat and
bend your knees), jog to your nearest yoga teacher. Actually, walk; you might pull a
hamstring otherwise.


Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body

Looking Good
As we mentioned earlier, if your main motivation for exercise is looking good, fret
not. A good body usually means that you’re on the right track. Just as important,
looking good is good for your mind. Having someone say he thought you were 5 or
10 years younger than you are is a simple yet satisfying pleasure. And appearing
younger than your peers is also great for your self-confidence as well.

Feeling Healthy
It sounds simple, but people who exercise usually take better care of themselves. When
you’re committed to working out, it becomes a part of your life and begins to influence
many small decisions you make throughout the day. Will you have ice cream for a snack
or a piece of fruit instead? Will you have the chicken Parmesan or the spaghetti with
marinara sauce? For dessert, will you have the Mississippi Mud Cake or the fruit custard?
After a while, you will begin to notice how much better you feel with more healthful
food choices. What you’ll also realize is that the better you eat, the more energy you
have at work, play, or working out. You’ve heard of vicious cycles? Well, this is a good
“vicious” cycle that you want to initiate.
Here’s an important point that turns many people off. Eating better doesn’t mean you
have to swear off ice cream or filet mignon. What we are saying is that with exercise
and healthful eating, you’ll feel so good that you will want to make the major indulgences a minor part of your life.

Being Strong
We know we don’t have to convince men that being strong is a good thing, since the
male psyche seems to relish the role strength plays in life. Women, however, are a different story. Many women equate being strong with having “bulky” muscles. (Not
that there is anything wrong with that.) Simply put, this is a misconception that
keeps many women from lifting weights in the first place. Those that do lift, often
use weights that are so light you’d need to do 9,000 repetitions to get the full effect.
(For the record: Three sets of 9,000 take about eight hours.)
Below are some myths about women and strength, and the facts that set the record

Myth 1: Being Strong Means Having Big Muscles
Strength and muscularity are not the same. Strength is the ability to resist force or
strain. Muscularity is the ability to develop mass and has to do with your genetic makeup. Huh? We all have a genetic code that determines everything from the color of our
eyes to the length of our legs. The size of our muscles is also determined by the genetics
passed along by our parents. This is why you can have a guy who looks like a fire truck
who can’t lift as much weight as a lean, wiry guy built like a greyhound. Why? Because
Mr. Fire Truck has the genetics for big muscles and Mr. Greyhound does not.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Myth 2: Heavy Weights and Low Reps Give You Bulk; Light Weights
and High Reps Give Your Muscles That Long, Lean Look
Again, the shape and size of your muscles is genetically predetermined. Whether you
perform biceps curls with 20 pounds for 10 repetitions, or 10 pounds for 20 repetitions, your muscles will look the way they are wired to look.

Myth 3: Lifting Weights Makes Women Look Muscle-Bound
This is a little hard to answer because it depends on what your definition of musclebound is. If you are thinking about the superpumped women on the cover of Muscle
& Fitness, don’t worry about it unless you have a testosterone level equal to Arnold
Schwarzenegger (and a steroid level equal to that of a well-medicated racehorse).
Achieving any level of muscularity requires long-term dedication—a level of time and
energy that most people don’t have. In other words, going to the gym three times a
week to strength train is not going to make you any more “muscle-bound” than running on the treadmill several times a week will make you an Olympic-level marathoner.
Fortunately, being strong does not require you to
look like Ms. Olympia and the benefits are well
worth putting in the time.

Info to Go
An inactive 60-year-old will lose
25 percent to 30 percent of the
muscle mass she had at age 30.
This can lead to decreased mobility, slowed metabolism, and an
increase in the chance of getting

Not only can increased muscle and strength help
you perform better on and off the court, it can have
practical benefits as well. Deidre, a physical therapist who works with many elderly patients, finds
that many of her clients are unable to do things
that we take for granted. Things like going grocery
shopping alone, doing laundry, and even getting in
and out of the shower. Many of these people are
forced to hire aides to help them with normal activities of daily life, making them virtual prisoners in
their own homes. Often such dependence is the result of years of neglect. This is reason enough to
begin participating in a strengthening routine.

How Your Body Responds to Exercise
While virtually everyone knows that working out makes you look and feel good, not
that many know how and why. What happens physiologically when you exercise?
Let’s look at how your body responds to different types of exercise.

Cardiovascular Exercise
Your cardiovascular system is made up of your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. With
continued exercise, your cardiovascular system becomes stronger and more efficient.


Chapter 3 ➤ Workouts and Your Body
As we mentioned earlier, as your heart becomes stronger, it is capable of ejecting
more blood with each beat. (This is known as your stroke volume.) This means that
your heart doesn’t have to beat as often. In addition, your lung capacity increases and
your muscles are capable of extracting more oxygen from the blood as it’s delivered to
the exercising muscle. Other benefits of cardiovascular training are lowered blood
pressure at rest and improvements in your cholesterol.

Strength Training
What happens to a muscle when you lift weights is one of the simplest, yet most misunderstood areas of physiology. Here’s the scoop. When you force a muscle to work hard, as
in strength training, it increases in size and strength. Simple. This happens by the growth
of each individual muscle fiber in a particular muscle. Despite what you may read in some
publications, strength training does not increase the number of muscle fibers. In addition,
the connective tissue around the muscle increases in strength as well.
Contrary to the myths floating around most gyms (not to mention books and videos),
lifting doesn’t make a muscle smaller or longer, no matter how many reps you do or
what weight you use. Think about it: That guy in the corner of the weight room doing
biceps curls isn’t doing them to make his arms smaller, yet we often see women doing
leg extension or hip exercises in the hopes of “slimming” their thighs. Sorry tummy
tuckers, it doesn’t work that way. Keep that in mind next time you see someone doing
side bends hoping to reduce her waistline.

Most people know that they should stretch, but they don’t really understand why or
what happens when you properly stretch a muscle. Here’s a quick rundown.
Stretching allows your muscles to retain elasticity, which prevents injury. With repetitive activities—running, cycling, weight training—certain muscles are used over and
over again, which effectively shortens the muscles. This leads to something known as
muscular imbalance. When a muscular imbalance occurs, the stronger muscles take
over the work of the weaker muscles, causing
the weaker muscles to lose so much strength
that strains, sprains, and tendinitis occur. For
more on this essential ingredient to health and
fitness, check out Chapter 7, “Start with

Weight Loss
Clearly, losing weight is a frustrating topic for
millions of Americans. The good news is that
there’s a simple formula for weight loss: Eat
less and exercise more. Okay, it sounds glib,

Info to Go
Approximately 18 million Americans are classified as “obese” or
at least 30 percent over their
ideal body weight.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
but it’s true. Of course, while it is simple, it’s not easy! Nevertheless, the way you lose
weight is by burning more calories than you take in. A pound of fat has 3,500 calories worth of energy. That means in order to lose one pound, you need to create a
“caloric deficit” of 3,500 calories. The best way to do this is with a combination of
decreased caloric intake and increased caloric expenditure.
Here’s a nice, neat textbook example. If you decrease your daily intake by 250 calories
and increase your activity level enough to burn an extra 250 calories, you’ll have a
caloric deficit of 500 calories for the day. Multiply that by seven days in a week, and
you’ve got 3,500 calories for the week.

Detraining—Missing Workouts
Now that we’ve discussed what happens when you work out, let’s look at what happens when you don’t. (If you’re an obsessive-compulsive like Jonathan it means a copious level of angst and guilt.) Surprisingly, many athletes who train often and hard
find improved performance after a short layoff. That’s due to the fact that many of
them are overtrained and in need the rest. Of course, an extended layoff can cause a
significant loss in fitness. While there’s far less research and information on the topic
of detraining than there is on training, there are some basic things to note.
After as little as two weeks of inactivity, there can be measurable decreases in aerobic
capacity and muscular strength. This is all the more reason to do all you can to remain active. Remember, just two 30-minute weight-lifting workouts are enough to
maintain and even gain strength. Similarly, two or three cardiovascular workouts lasting as little as 15 to 20 minutes can help keep you in shape.
As you read this book, remember that you need to do all you can not to miss workouts. The good news is that we’ll help you find the time as well as provide workouts
that take less time to maintain or improve your fitness.

The Least You Need to Know
➤ Before embarking on an exercise program, save time and energy by deciding
what your needs and goals are.
➤ Working out is not only for looking good, there are numerous health benefits
that a consistent fitness program will provide you with.
➤ Muscle size is a function of genetic predisposition; women are not naturally
capable of getting muscle-bound by weight training.
➤ If you want to lose weight, eat less, exercise more.


Chapter 4


In This Chapter
➤ Follow the Food Guide Pyramid and do away with fad diets
➤ Restaurants need not be verboten
➤ All servings are not created equal
➤ Have water, will travel

One of the most important aspects of your overall health and fitness is proper nutrition. Eating the right food in the right combination with the right exercise program
can pay huge dividends. Unfortunately, a busy lifestyle in a culture littered with fastfood chains can be a major obstacle when you’re trying to eat right.
Even if you know what you should eat, finding it isn’t always easy. Try this one at your
local diner: “Waiter, I’d like organic greens with balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the
side, four-grain bread, hold the butter, and pasta with marinara sauce.” It gets even
more challenging at Taco Bell. Factor in grabbing a quick bite at your desk, finding
something edible (let alone healthful) on a plane, or whipping something up quickly
when you come home from work ravenous, and you’ve got pepperoni pizza written
all over you.

Know Your Nutrients
First, of course, you have to figure out what’s healthful. With literally thousands of
theories, fad diets, and confusing, even misleading, food labels, that can be a formidable task. Before we talk about specific menu plans and strategies for eating on the go,
let’s discuss a few basic facts about nutrition.

Part 1 ➤ The Basics
First, let’s take a look at the six essential nutrients. They are …
➤ Carbohydrates

➤ Vitamins

➤ Protein

➤ Minerals

➤ Fat

➤ Water

The first three—carbohydrates (carbs), protein, and fat—supply the calories (energy)
for your diet. Carbohydrates can be subdivided into complex or simple. Complex
carbs supply sustained energy through a gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream for use as fuel. These are found in pasta, grains, and cereals and should be the
mainstays of your training table. Simple carbohydrates—found in soda, jam, cakes,
and cookies—are high in sugar and best avoided as a staple of your diet since they
tend to cause extreme shifts in blood sugar levels and have little nutritional value.
Protein forms the structural basis of muscle tissue and is used for energy only when
there is an insufficient supply of fats and carbohydrates. Meat, poultry, eggs, and
legumes are all high-protein foods.
Fats, as you might suspect, are generally chock-full of calories, but low in vitamins
and minerals. Certainly, you need some fat in your diet because without it you
couldn’t process or absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
The next question is how much of each of these nutrients does one need each day?
That, dear reader, is the source of considerable debate. However, the smart money according to most nutritionists recommends the following breakdown:
➤ 60 percent to 65 percent of your daily calories
should come from carbs.
➤ 10 percent to 12 percent of your daily calories
should come from protein.
➤ 20 percent to 30 percent of your daily calories
should come from fat.

Info to Go
Olive oil, avocados, and nuts,
while high in fat, have some nutritional value, unlike other fatty
foods such as chips, which have
no significant nutrients.


The key to a healthful diet is getting proper amounts
of each of these nutrients. When you’re armed with
the facts and the willingness to plan ahead, it’s possible to eat a healthful and tasty diet without driving
yourself loco.
First things first. Let’s talk about the basics of a healthful diet. After that, we can discuss how to work those
guidelines into your lifestyle.

Chapter 4 ➤ Nutrition

General Nutrition Guidelines
Growing up, most of us heard about the “food groups” and the importance of eating
from each of them in order to ensure a safe and healthful diet. A little meat loaf,
canned peas, Wonder Bread, and mashed potatoes and you were ready to take on the
world—or so they said. In 1992, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services expanded those four groups to six and
represented them in the “Food Guide Pyramid.” The Food Guide Pyramid gives a
graphic representation of how much we should eat from each of the six categories.
They include …
1. Breads, cereal, pasta, and rice.
2. Vegetables.
3. Fruits.
4. Milk, yogurt, and cheese.
5. Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.
6. Fats, oils, and sweets.
The Food Pyramid gives a
good picture of a healthy

Here’s the skinny on each of these groups. Obviously, there’s volumes written on the
subject, but what we really want you to know is the difference between nutritious,
“essential” food, and food that doesn’t help you achieve optimal health and fitness.
Having experienced the gamut of the food spectrum—from Mickey D’s to an organic,
veggie-based diet—we know of which we speak.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Consuming Your Carbohydrates

Short Cuts
In the bread, cereal, rice, and
pasta food group, a serving is
about 32 strands of spaghetti,
one slice of bread, half a cup
of rice, or one cup of cereal.
A serving of fruit could be an
apple, banana, or orange, a
wedge of melon, or half a cup
of chopped fruit or berries.

As we said, this should be the staple of your diet
(roughly 6 to 11 servings per day). The key here is to
choose whole-grain products. These are higher in fiber
and other nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, B6,
B12, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic
acid, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper. For
example, whole-wheat or seven-grain bread is better
than enriched white flour. Brown rice is preferable to
white rice. In other words, any product that’s been
processed is inferior to its more natural brethren.
The other thing to think about is that carbohydrates,
or “starchy” foods, aren’t fattening if you don’t eat
them with butter, cheese, or cream sauces. When
some people hear that eating a plain bagel with cream
cheese isn’t the best food choice, they react as if
you’ve told them they’re being deported to Rwanda.
Making changes to your diet is one of the hardest,
most personal, and even most political decisions a
person can make. It’s also an emotional subject. But if
you want to see results and improve the way you look
and feel it’s worth considering the options.

It’s the Berries
Stop Short
Avoid fruit processed with heavy
syrups and juice that is sugarsweetened. It’s also best, whenever possible, to eat organic fruit
since it’s treated with fewer
chemicals and pesticides.

While we’re sure there are people who don’t like fruit,
most people salivate when they lay their eyes on an
assortment of beautifully displayed fresh fruit. Part of
the reason, no doubt, is the taste. Fruit is delicious.
But because fruits are such rich sources of vitamins
(most notably vitamin C), your body has an inherent
craving for these juicy treats.
Try to get at least three servings of fruit per day. If you
can, drink fresh fruit juice, at least 3/4 cup.

Eat Your Veggies
Perhaps because many of us were badgered as kids (dare I say tortured?) by our parents to eat odious green stuff like lima beans, cauliflower, and spinach, vegetables are
seen by many people as a chore to eat. That’s too bad, since vegetables are high in
fiber, low in fat, and filled with vitamins (especially A and C). Vegetables with dark,


Chapter 4 ➤ Nutrition
leafy greens pack the most nutrients per serving.
(When in doubt go for kale over beets, broccoli
over carrots or corn.)
Again, stay away from lots of butter and salad
dressings with sugar and/or hydrogenated vegetable oils. (Hydrogenated fats, like margarine and
shortening, can contribute to heart disease.) Eating
three to five servings per day is optimal. And going
organic is best.

Protein and Its Alternatives
This category gets people hot and bothered. Some
claim that eating animal products is bad nutrition
as well as bad politics. Everyone must make his or
her own decision; however, from a nutritional
standpoint, animal products are premium sources
of protein, iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Since most
of you won’t be hunting your own meat sometime
soon, it’s worth noting that nonorganic beef and
poultry contain steroids that many experts say are
dangerous to ingest on a regular basis.

Short Cuts
One serving of vegetables would
be one cup of raw leafy greens,
half a cup of other chopped
vegetables, or 3/4 cup of vegetable juice.
A serving of protein would include two to three ounces of
lean meat, poultry, or fish; one
egg, half a cup of beans, and/or
two tablespoons of seeds and
One serving of dairy products
equals one cup of milk or yogurt
or 1.5 ounces of cheese.

Certainly, no such debate exists when you talk
about beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu (made from soybeans), which are also excellent sources of protein
and other essential nutrients. Nuts make an excellent between-meal snack. Some, like almonds, are
fine sources of vitamin E. Try and eat two to three
servings from this food group per day.

Devouring Dairy Products
Dairy products are high in calcium and also provide protein and vitamin B12. Here again, there’s a
healthy debate in the nutrition field on how much
of the stuff to knock back. Some experts say that
dairy is best avoided, especially people who are
“lactose intolerant” (people whose bodies don’t digest milk products well). Others say you should try
and eat two to four servings per day.

Info to Go
When people are asked to pour
a “serving” of cereal, they pour
four ounces, while the label
serving size is one ounce.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics
For whatever it’s worth, Joe stopped eating dairy products a while back and noticed,
without changing anything else, he lost body fat and had a bit more bounce in his
step. The key is to make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet (to ensure
this, make sure you are getting enough leafy green veggies, which are a rich source of
calcium). If you are a big dairy fan, try and choose low-fat products that keep the
calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat at a minimum, while keeping all the calcium.

Yum, Yum
This is the category that falls under the “use sparingly” heading. Foods such as fats
(all chips, peanut butter, butter, french fries), oils (frying oils), and sweets are the
most overused foods in the American diet. Unfortunately for many people, they offer
loads of calories but little else nutritionally. (Scooter Pies, anyone?) Two exceptions
are vegetable oil (olive oil, flaxseed oil), which is a good source of vitamin E (one tablespoon is enough), and molasses, which is a fine source of iron.

Servings on the Road
When we discussed the six food groups, we gave you an idea of what exactly constitutes a serving. But how do you know how much is enough if you go out to eat?
A good, though less-than-poetic guide to help you figure out what’s up, is Picture
Perfect Weight Loss: The Visual Program for Permanent Weight Loss, by Dr. Howard
Shapiro (Rodale). Dr. Shapiro uses common, albeit less-than-savory, examples to give
an approximate idea of what a serving size is.

Stop Short
Restaurant portions are usually two to four times larger than a Food Guide Pyramid
serving. This usually leads to overeating. (How often have you left a restaurant and uttered this classic phrase: “I’m stuffed!”) Food labels usually express serving sizes in ounces,
but unless you’re walking around with a food scale in your pocket, you’re out of luck. At
your typical steak house, a portion of meat or poultry is 8 to 12 ounces as opposed to the
2 to 3 ounces outlined in the Food Guide Pyramid.


Chapter 4 ➤ Nutrition
For example, he says one serving of fruit or vegetables is roughly the size of a tennis
ball. A serving of pasta, rice, or cereal? Think hockey puck. A cassette tape is a bread
serving and a succulent bar of soap is roughly the size of a serving of meat, poultry,
or fish.
When we prepare food at home, there’s a tendency to make far more than what’s
considered a serving. Part of it is practical—leftovers, especially late at night, are more
valuable than gold. Part of it is that endurance athletes like Jonathan and Joe, guys
whose metabolisms are as high as the Bolivian national debt, eat a lot. At restaurants,
as we said, it’s worse. Obviously, food should be both enriching and enjoyable.
However, what you eat is hugely important and we are the most obese nation in the
Western world. Yes, enjoy your food, but it’s highly practical to have a few strategies
when you eat out so that you don’t look down one day and see that you’ve tacked on
5 or 10 unwanted pounds. With a little thought, you can manage to eat well and still
enjoy yourself. Here are some do’s and don’ts for dining out.

Dining Out


When you arrive
Start with little bread or breadsticks.

Butter them.

Order a salad with low-fat dressing, or
preferably just some lemon juice; olive
oil and vinegar is also a good choice.
Try raw or stir-fried vegetables.

Order fatty dressings like French,
Russian, or blue cheese.
Order fried and/or breaded appetizers.

Choose clear broths, vegetable or
noodle soups.

Order cream-of-anything soup.

Go with steamed, baked, or roasted
poultry and remove the skin.

Choose anything with the following
words: fried, buttered, creamed,
au gratin, béarnaise, au lait, crispy, à la
mode, au fromage, buerre blanc, doublecrust, sautéed, panfried, deep-fried,
escalloped, en croûte, gravy, hollandaise,
and prime.

Look for broiled, boiled, poached,
baked, and roasted.


Part 1 ➤ The Basics

Dining Out




Give fruit or sherbet a try.

Order a skimpy dinner and then
eat rich, calorie-filled deserts from
everyone else’s plate. This is called
the Deidre Dinner Special.

Opt for angel food cake if you want
something a little more substantial.
(Angel food cake will make you feel
more virtuous.)
Here are some tips for specific type