Friday, January 27, 2012


January would not be complete without some last minute exercise tips.

No time to go to the gym? Bored with your elliptical? Tired of Trixie the Trainer’s uber enthusiasm at Jazzercise?

Try Lesley’s Big Box Retail Circuit Training Workout!

Yes, now you too can multi-task your exercise program! Do what you love to do and get a cardio workout AT THE SAME TIME! Yes, Lesley’s Big Box Retail Circuit Training Workout takes you shopping! 

Now, most fitness experts say that shopping does not count as exercise. They say that your typical “stroll and stop” action is ineffective at getting your heart rate up. Clearly these so-called experts have never power-shopped in big box retail!

Here’s my circuit from yesterday to get you started.  Or try your own shopping list in your own favorite big box stores. The important thing is to get out and SHOP!

Yesterday I was looking for towels and a desk lamp. I started at Bed Bath and Beyond. A big store, but not mega-sized. Here you want to give yourself 15 minutes for warm up:  

A few deep knee bends and lunges to check out bath sheets on the lower shelves. A round of overhead stretches to reach the wash cloths on top. And REACH, and 2 and 3 and 4. Take a walk…5 and 6 and 7, 8. To the beat….and 2 and 3 and 4….pop songs…. 5 and 6 and 7, 8….on the PA….and 2 and 3 and 4. Amble in aisles. … 5 and 6 and 7, 8. Browse in Bedding….and 2 and 3 and 4. Cruise in Cookware. …. 5 and 6 and 7, 8. Dawdle in Décor….and 2 and 3 and 4. Look at lamps….5 and 6 and 7, 8.

You will soon feel muscles starting to loosen up. You are now ready for your cardio workout.

Move on to Target.  The vista down the main aisle will make your heart race. This store must be a mile from end to end. Wooo-ooo! Pump up the cardio!  Allow 20 minute:

Start with vigorous walking to get the heart rate up. Grab a basket! Bicep curl – 2, 3, and 4. Change hands – 2, 3, and 4.  Pick up towels – 5, 6 and 7, 8. And squeeze – 5, 6 and 7, 8.  Dash to check out – 2, 3, and 4. Jog to the car – 5, 6 and 7, 8.

Now that your heart rate is up, your muscles are warm and you’re breathing deeper. Time for Full Cardio Blast! Yes, Home Depot!! 10 minutes full on:


Sprint across the parking lot! Run into that store! Grab a cart! Barrel through the Plumbing section! Thunder around the Electrical! Scream around to Lighting! NO LAMPS I LIKE! Pick up the pace! Finish your circuit! Careen down the aisle to Flooring! Race down to Lumber! Dart around the Nails and Screws! Scuttle around the corner at Brass Fittings! Home stretch, Ladies! Head for the check out! Throw the cart into the corral! Done! Let’s hear it: WOOOOO-OO! I can’t hear you! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Time for your cool down: Staples Office Supplies! Allow 10 minutes.

Brisk pace going in – you don’t want blood to pool in your legs. Keep ‘em movin!  Ask store manager to point you to Lighting. Far corner of the store. YES! There’s a lamp! Woo-oo! Jog to check out. Walk in place while the kid rings you up. Swipe your credit card. You’re done! Whew!


Repeat three times a week for optimum fitness.

Yes, the Big Box Retail Circuit Training Workout! Watch for my video coming out next week.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Right to Bare Arms

Do you watch the big awards shows? The Golden Globes? The Academy Awards? The Emmys? I’m a sucker for all of them.

Some people watch because of the actual awards. Some watch because of the celebrities or the host. Some tune in for the red carpet fashion parade.

I watch for sleeves.

Yes, sleeves that portion of a garment that covers your arms. I watch for sleeves because I am obsessed with finding formal wear for the galas we attend that will cover my arms and still make me look drop dead gorgeous. If a dress could make me look 6 inches taller and a bit like Angelina Jolie, so much the better, but I would settle for, “That sleeved gown makes her look 20 years younger!”

Decent frocks in this category are few and far between. Most fall into the “mother of the bride” category you know those ones with shorty jackets and glittery trim that you see at Macy’s in that kind of Grandma Blue color. (These dresses always remind me of my Grannie Dad’s mother an ample Scottish lady who always wore an ultramarine blue dress with ¾ sleeves and bejeweled brooches that pinched in the gathered shoulders making her bosom appear absolutely titanic.) There must be demand for these dresses because they show up year after year. Why? Because we need sleeves!

The common rule of thumb in polite society is that women of a certain age should not bare their upper arms. We in the menopause set all too easily comply with this social convention. Mind you, I know women here in Dayton, who are my age that have great, sculpted Michelle Obama/Kate Middleton arms. These Dayton gals wear fabulous gowns to the aforementioned galas. Their arms are envy-worthy and I say, “If you got ‘em, bare ‘em!”

I’m not one of them. I haven’t gone sleeveless since the Reagan administration.

Normally, you see the “more mature” actresses at awards shows wearing sleeves; women like Angela Lansbury, Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep. Still glamorous, still in beautiful gowns, but sensibly, modestly covered up. Jane Fonda must have killer arms with all those workouts she does, but even she had ¾-length sleeves at the Golden Globes this week. Then I noticed a handful of young, skinny actresses sashaying the red carpet in sleeved gowns. Dare I hope for a fashion trend?

My trainer is hell-bound to shape up my arms. I have been doing bicep curls, shoulder presses and tricep extensions for over a year now and I still have soggy, floppy arms. I’m not sure when the exercises are going to kick in. So, in the meantime, I’m searching for a good sleeve – one that makes me look drop dead sexy like one of my favorite mature actresses.

Or at least let me find a dress that doesn’t make me look like Grannie Malcolm at a Scottish country dance party.

Either that or I will start a movement to liberate our aging arms from the confines of sleeves. Who’s with me? (Ooo, stop waving like that, dear, your arms are flapping.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'll Be Signing Autographs...

I tend to start new ventures by imagining that I will become world famous at whatever I’m attempting. This is not confident self-assurance. This is just the goofy way my brain works.

In a few days, I will be submitting one of my blog essays to the University of Dayton-sponsored, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Competition. Already, in my head, I have accepted the prize and published my first book, which of course has received rave reviews and a Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s already in its third edition and has been translated into fourteen languages. I’ve embarked on a lecture tour where I 'll read my work to vast audiences who will nod to one another in agreement over my well-crafted, salient points, and then explode with applause and a standing ovation as I humbly gather my papers and head for the champagne reception.

Two seconds later, I’m thinking, “Who am I kidding? There’s no chance I’ll even get an honorable mention!”

The mind is tricky territory.

So is the fragile psyche of the creative impulse. It feasts on manic swings, going from wildly imagining adulation and celebrity to doing a crash and burn of self-doubt and defeatism.

I have been an artist with widely-acclaimed exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. I’ve toured as a tap dancer with the amazing Savion Glover.  I’ve made it on TV as a chef who gives the redoubtable Martha Stewart a run for her money. And I’ve been a fashion designer with spectacular collections worn by aging, yet still glamorous actresses like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep.

In my head, that is.

The rest of the time my brain is saying helpful things like, “Forget it, loser! You’re a no-talent hack!!”  

Statistics show that a good percentage of highly successful people suffer from this dichotomy of thinking. Even though they might be pulling in six figures and have a penthouse office with 200 staff around them, they actually perceive themselves as frauds who will eventually be found out as know-nothing, lay-abouts whose teachers and parents predicted they wouldn’t amount to much in life.  So, if highly successful people have moments of self-doubt, this means that a stay-at-home amateur writer such as me shouldn’t sweat the occasional dip into the pit of pessimism. A good yank up of the literary bootstraps into the buoyant stratosphere of sunny confidence and optimism is just the remedy.

Hmm, maybe I could be the next Erma Bombeck.

See what happens? As I said, the mind is very tricky territory. I wonder if Erma thought this way when she first started to write.

The always amusing writer and commentator, Erma Bombeck, lived and worked in Dayton, Ohio. The University of Dayton holds a biennial workshop in her name for humor and human interest writers. This year I will attend the workshop for the first time - and hope to learn a thing or two!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolution, Week

O.K. One more word on New Year’s resolutions. And that word is: BORING.

Lose weight. Get fit. Become a saint. The standard trifecta of resolutions. Don’t we hear these every year? Same old, same old. Yawn, yawn, and yawn.

C’mon, people. Here it is a brand new year and already we can’t have more fun than this? Are we stuck with the same, tired old pedantic, heavy-handed resolutions that only 1% of the population is going to keep anyway? Wouldn’t we all rather hear some original, off the wall ideas for becoming a better person? I certainly would. Let’s do try to be a bit more creative.

Besides, the diet/exercise/saint plan involves such monumental effort that apparently they produce an extremely high failure rate. Why? Because they are so drastic. Maybe you’ve participated in them for a period of time yourself. If you’ve made it to February in the past, you are a hero.

No, I’m here to recommend more manageable pledges. I mean the magazines and talk shows that will today promote New Year’s diets propose  all the rest of the year that we try “small changes that can make a big difference.”

So, let’s take that advice and apply it to finding some more imaginative opportunities for our self-improvement. Let’s spice it up a bit. Here’s my challenge: think outside the usual New Year’s resolution box and maybe post your ideas – all rated for family reading, of course.

Here’s a handful of small steps that I’m thinking about that will surely make my 2012 better. You are welcome to take them for yourself, or let them be inspiration for some creative resolutions of your own.

1.       “Remove Promptly from Dryer.”  Yes, I vow to take clothes out of the dryer as soon as the buzzer goes off (or soon after) so that our sheets, tea towels, tee shirts and jeans will cease looking like crumpled paper bags which they inevitably do if I let them sit in there for 3 or 4 days.

2.       Resist restacking the dishwasher after Ken has loaded it. For the sake of domestic harmony, I will try to accept the chaos in which I find the dishwasher after Ken has loaded the dishes. I will not remove the dishes and restack according to my obsessive-compulsive pattern which is the same each and every time. Even though this will make me nuts, and I swear I can get way more dishes in there than he can, I will learn to accept that his way of loading is driven by more creative impulses than my own.

3.       Have the cake and enjoy it, too. On the Today Show this week, Dr. Oz offered this advice: go ahead and have real sugar in your coffee instead of artificial sweetener. It will only amount to 20 calories, it will taste so much better and you will enjoy it. Elaborating on that note, I say, sure, it is wisest to shun cakes and pies over the long run, but if you do have dessert, enjoy it, for heaven's sake. Or as a birthday card I saw this week says, quoting Erma Bombeck, “Seize the moment! Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved-off the dessert cart.”

4.       a. Do something healthy for my heart. In a similar vein, I also saw a birthday card that quotes Benjamin Franklin as having said, “Wine is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Amen to that! But then, I wasn’t going to give up wine anyway.

b. Find sources for inspirational reading other than greeting cards.

5.       Throw out the fat pants. In the entire lexicon of weight loss advice that is out there, I stumbled upon this most useful suggestion. It means that you intend to move forward rather than dwell on the past. I will throw out the fat pants just as soon as I fit into the skinny pants.

6.       Try the peanut soup. On a visit to Winnipeg to see my mother one time when she was getting pretty close to 90, I took her out to lunch at her favorite café in the mall bookstore near where she lived. Her seniors’ residence took everyone on the shuttle bus to this mall for their weekly shopping. To my knowledge, mother had eaten only very ordinary, very plain food all her life. But this day she ordered the Spicy African Peanut Soup. I said, “Mum, are you sure?” “Oh, yes,” she replied nonchalantly, “I have this all the time. It’s quite good. You should try some, dear.” A metaphor to be sure.

So, there are some ideas. I hope 2012 will be an original year for you and yours.