Advice from Dr. Oz’s personal trainer

MindYourBodyHarperClick on the topmost title to open and scroll

Joel Harper is a celebrity trainer and the author of Mind Your Body. He is also Dr. Mehmet Oz’s personal trainer. Harper even created the personal workout chapters for the New York Times bestselling YOU: The Owner’ Manual book series. 

In Mind Your Body Harper explains the connection between meals, moves, and mindset. He presents a “Whole-istic” three-step weight-loss program that he says can ”quadruple weight loss, maximize workouts by 85 percent, and boost happiness and energy levels by more than 40 percent – in just fifteen minutes a day.” 

Here are Joel Harper’s 10 Rules Fit People Live By: 

Shut out of the noise – filter your thoughts to discern and disable disruptive mental static. 

Maximize inner motivation – determining your personal and emotion-driven reasons for wanting to change is what will sustain your motivation long-term. 

Cultivate grit – honing a sense of “try and try again” perseverance can up your success rate by more than 30 percent, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers. 

Set specific intentions – clearly knowing what path you are on helps eliminate distractions and self-defeating habits from your life. Establishing extremely detailed daily goals and a plan of action that resonates with the unique vision you have for yourself can result in twice as much weight loss, according to researchers from the University of Sussex and Warsaw University. 

Visualize success – mentally seeing your future develops a visual layout in your brain, which works like a road map showing you how to get where you want to go. The repetitive practice of visualization lays down actual physical frameworks via neural connections in your brain, which engages your muscles even when you are sitting still, and increases muscle mass. The more specific your mental image, the more specific your results will be. 

Eliminate excessive choices – variety may be the spice of life, but making many decisions can be overwhelming, which depletes willpower. Having at least one planned meal per day can help make healthy eating automatic; too many choices will more likely lead to a less healthy snap decision. 

Extinguish escape routes – anything that delays your goal or lowers your standards can take you so far off course, you’ll never get back on track. Don’t keep enablers like “fat jeans” in your closet that make it all too easy to get comfortable with anything less than the goal you’ve been working toward. 

Yield to traffic – have grace under pressure, go with the flow, and make on-the-spot adjustments as needed by accepting that there are times in life when things won’t work out exactly as planned. For example, if your husband surprises you by taking you out to dinner, embrace it and order something healthy off the menu, rather than freak out that you’re going off plan. 

Believe it & become it – you can set yourself up with a belief system that produces dramatic differences in your health. An Israeli study published in 2007 shows that confidence in your ability to succeed at weight loss can triple the amount you’ll lose compared to those who doubt themselves. 

Jump for joy – celebrating your success boosts your motivation. University of Connecticut researchers put women on a 12-week diet and offered half of them a weekly chance to receive small rewards if they lost a pound. Those who received rewards lost twice as much weight.


Don’t sabotage your success

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People make fun of New Year’s resolutions, especially those about getting into shape, and not without reason. It is well-known that crowds thin out at most gyms by the end of January.  Many experts even discourage making resolutions. I don’t, but I will warn you about sabotaging your success. 

If you want to stick to working out or maybe even lose a few pounds, don’t sabotage yourself before you even start by choosing a workout, diet, or gym that you don’t really love. And I said love not our like. Getting into shape takes commitment.  Ideally you need to work out at least three times a week to see results – and four times is even better. If you are older and work in an office you need at least an hour of vigorous exercise a day to keep weight gain at bay.  

I work out at club in nice hotel that offers intensive barre classes and yoga. It has a lovely staff, a stocked locker room, and exceptional teachers. It attracts a fit, upbeat, friendly, eclectic crowd.  I usually manage to get there five days a week. 

I hate “gyms.” I have a phobia about them. I never even took a gym class after grade seven, but I have dropped in and out of yoga and Pilates since I was 14.  It may sound crazy but yoga is my sport.  My husband shares my “gym allergy,” but he will golf in a light snow flurry and can walk miles at a fast clip.  Neither of us needs to be dragged to a workout because we love what we choose to do. 2champ

Finding the right place and people are as important as the activity when it comes to making fitness part of your life. A close friend is having a hard time getting to a workout because she agreed to move far from her fitness club and her workout “tribe” with her boyfriend. With her heavy work load the 45 minute trek there and back makes her old five-day a week workouts a no-go.


Don’t sabotage yourself with scheduling or working out at a bad time for your body. Getting fit can be challenging, so make it easy to get there and fun to be there. If you don’t like the crowd or culture at a gym or yoga studio, you will find reasons not to go. Take time to try a few different clubs and teachers to get a good fit. Even when you are a beginner, working out should make you feel good not discouraged or judged.  

Working out with a friend can be fun and help keep you motivated but focus on a good a teacher or trainer for real results. Fitness needs expertise and commitment. Friends walking together or doing a DVD can slow down or chat instead of working up sweat. Also really good teachers change routines often to challenge your muscles. They also have a sixth sense about when you need to push harder and when you should back off a little. 

If you want to lose weight you need to adjust your diet. Exercise alone won’t help you drop weight, but it can help you tone up. I will repeat that: if you need to lose more than two or three pounds you need to eat less and probably better. But refrain from crazy fasts that will screw with your metabolism and temper. The best diet plan will include real food that you enjoy. Spend your time with other health-orien2MPted people who support your goals and lifestyle. I don’t mean that you need to find friends who are all on diets or card-carrying members of Weight Watchers, but binge drinking and eating will sabotage your waist and will.  

Two smart books to check out for good tips on healthful eating: 

The Marshall Plan: Being Good to Be Bad: It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle by Cindi Marshall Oakey.  Cindi is a friend. I met her working out. She looks amazing and her book tells you exactly how she manages to stay fit and fabulous after 50. It is full of smart strategies for women who want to live it up and live healthy – and all hopefully in their skinny jeans. The Champagne Diet: Eat, Drink, and Celebrate Your Way to a Healthy Mind and Body! by Cara Alwill brings glam and sparkle to often dull, depressing subject of weight loss.  

Darlings, embrace your new goals and habits. Find the environment, plan, and experts who make fitness and healthful eating feel attractive, delicious, and desirable not deprivation. When something feels good you want more of it and you can finally put an end to sabotaging your success.



Staying fit – a dirty little secret

Heidi KlumRecently, one of my twenty-something friends was dealing with body issues. She is bright, intelligent, young, and beautiful, but she had hit a rough patch. We all do. I know; for the past few years, I have been wrestling with same few pounds that just won’t budge. It drives me nuts as I am in the gym breaking a sweat five days a week and watch what I eat. 


I have met very few good-looking women who don’t work to stay in shape. It may be a dirty little secret that staying fit is a battle for most of us, and that most of us have days we feel like we may be losing.

The world has watched the weight struggles of celebrities like Tyra Banks and Jessica Simpson. Even the gorgeous model Heidi Klum, known as “the body,” has struggled with weight.
"I was never a skinny, skinny type,” Klum told People magazine, “the more I tried, the worse it was. They'd say 'You have to lose weight', and I'd be like, 'All I can think about is muffins!’
“I don’t want to get too skinny,” she said. “I still want to have a round, womanly figure." 
The secret my darlings, is not to let it get you down and not to give up. That is easier said than done in a hyper-competitive world, but it can be done.
Get a grip
Almost everyone struggles and it is not easy. Some days you will feel worse than others: fatter, slower, clumsier, or sadder. It is painful and we have all been there. Power through it or slog through it. Studies say if you smile, you’ll feel happier. I do. Darlings, it gets better.
Get help
Experts can help you make the changes you want, but all trainers, teachers, classes, and gyms are not equal. If you don’t like your gym or the people who go there, you won’t go. We have all been there. Take advantage of two-week trials to try on a program and dump out of anything that doesn’t work for you. If you enjoy your classes or trading session you will show up.
Good trainers or teachers should correct and encourage you. You should see changes in your body and you should get stronger. They should also challenge you. Your routine should always be a little different, so you use new muscles and develop your body evenly.
Get nutritional support
A good diet plan, supplements, or even or even prepared meals can help get you over the weight loss hump.
Accountability and support can the key to success if you have to lose more than 10 pounds. I know women who have had dropped pounds on Jenny Craig and others who love Weightwatchers. I prefer private programs like those at Christine’s Fitness in Toronto or a private medical clinic that uses natural supplements. It is important to get a good a fit.
Never stick with a program just because a friend likes it or someone tries to pressure you. Get into something that works for you!
Get rid of saboteurs
The world is full of people who want to stop you from accomplishing your goals. I could write volumes on the reasons, but who cares why. Just get away from these spirit killers. If anyone makes negative comments about your new fitness regime, or tries to sidetrack you and tempt you off your diet, drop them. If so-called friends make cruel comments about your weight or willpower, why keep them in your life?
My young friend had a false-friend tell her she should just accept her "true weight” and stop struggling. This false-friend is a miserable girl with a bad job who smokes and drinks. Misery loves company. I told my friend, drop her and spend time with your healthier, happier friend. My young friend is miserable carrying the extra weight she gained. She’s better off spending her spare time with friends who support her goal of a healthier lifestyle, rather than with a slacker who has bad habits.
It isn’t all about the skinny
Many fabulous-looking fit women aren’t skinny. Don’t get hung up on size. But darlings, don’t cruise down the river of denial either. We all know when we are too fat and we all need to exercise. Enough said; you have to sweat and eat right.
Tune out negativity and focus on your goals
The world is full of thoughtlessness and competiveness. It can be hard to take when you don’t feel good about yourself. I remember when a friend said, “Oh you lost a lot of weight! You are so small that all that weight makes a huge difference on you.” It was not her most sensitive moment, nor was it actually true”. I had lost a few pounds and toned up. I looked good, and I looked fine before. She is otherwise a great friend, so I let it go. But that is not something I would have said to anyone else. I would never have mentioned her weight that way or anyone else’s – it's not nice, helpful, or polite. Realize that people, especially other women, project their own insecurities about looks on other women. Blow it off. Even a good friend on bad can make a dumb remark – assume she is having a bad day and focus on your goals. 
It takes an effort to keep fit and fabulous, but nothing makes you feel or look better than regular exercise. Nothing gives you a bigger boost than looking taut and toned in a new outfit. So if you get discouraged, remember everyone has a few bad days. That is the dirty little secret of fitness.


Get a good fitness fit!

Experts now say that  being a couch potato may be as harmful as smoking. A startling new study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, has confirmed that a lack of robust physical activity is as deadly smoking.
"The researchers stated that strong evidence shows physical inactivity increases the risk of many major adverse health conditions,” says the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, on its website. It says problems include “the risk for death (from any cause), coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Metabolic syndrome (including obesity and abnormal blood cholesterol levels), type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, and depression.”
Dr. I-Min Lee, of Harvard Medical School, put the problem even more bluntly: “Only about one quarter of the world’s population smoke but about two-thirds are inactive,” he was quoted as saying in an article in The Daily Mail.
So there you have it: being a couch potato is a bigger world health problem – in numerical terms – than smoking.
So darlings, get moving! Forget whatever you may have heard about exercising 20 or 30 minutes, three times a week. A healthy woman needs at least an hour of vigorous exercise five times a week. Your health depends on it, not to mention your figure. Remember the Harvard study that found that women over 40 need an hour of vigorous exercise every day, just to maintain a healthy weight. Women also need weight bearing exercise to maintain bone health. Weight-bearing exercise includes: brisk walking, golf, yoga, barre classes, and strength training. Darlings remember, the earlier you learn good fitness habits the better, but it is never too late!
Here are some tried and true ways to get moving and fit:
Schedule it
My noon class at the Exhale Spa is filled with busy professional women. Their ages range from early 20s to over 50. We all run in ready to sweat, and then make a lightning-quick change back into street clothes and our “real-lives.” The class is full of doctors, lawyers, and other busy women. We share the dedication to keep our workout date with ourselves. The morning and evening classes are even more jammed.
Have a backup plan
If you miss your class or appointed workout time, have a backup activity such as walk home or after dinner briskly. Or, have an efficient mini routine you can do at home to get in some exercise. DVDs can be a great backup to your regular routine, if you find one you like. Our favourite go-to source for the best workout DVDs is
Get a buddy or trainer
Accountability really works to keep you on track, if daily fitness is new to you. Clubs like Exhale and Christine’s Fitness in Toronto will even chase you down, if you miss a class or two, once they know you are serious! If you opt for a trainer, get a good one. Use personal recommendations; you can find one at an affordable price. Do not accept the first person your club offers if you don’t feel the connection. Small group personal training is also a fabulous option.
Get a good fitness fit
Classes or trainers are best, if you are not sports-minded or are already active. A good teacher or trainer will challenge you and help you reach your goals. The right club is fun social environment, but you need to find it. There is one for every budget and taste. Take advantage of introductory offers for free first classes or discounted trial weeks.
Look for opportunities to get more movement into your life to bump up your activity levels
You know the drill: walk or bike to work, or at least park farther from the door. Take the stairs. Cut lunch short and walk for 15 minutes. It all adds up!
Other types of movement you can add to your life include dance, housework, gardening, swimming, sports, and dog walking! Be creative and think of all the money you can save if you do your own housework or gardening!
Exercise will make you look better, feel better ,and now – it is official – live longer!

Tips form the Canyon Ranch

The name Canyon Ranch has been synonymous with fitness for decades. Celebrities and other A-listers have flocked to the Canyon Ranch Spas and resorts to relax and renew.
Now with the Canyon Ranch Strong & Sculpted DVD you can work out with the Canyon Ranch trainers at home. This70-minute DVD has three segments including yoga, Pilates, and core workouts that are designed to work together. You will need hand weights and a mat. You can enjoy stunning desert scenes and a deceptively strenuous workout – just like a Canyon Ranch guest.
Canyon Ranch trainer Heather Schmidt agreed to answer a few questions about how to get the most from your workout.
DD:  What is the best way to burn fat quickly?
HS: Combination workouts including cardiovascular intervals, strength training and plyometrics.  High intensity followed by bouts of recovery.
DD: Is it important to vary your exercise program and why?
HS:   It is important to vary workouts (intensity, duration, and modalities) to avoid burnout and injury.  Shaking up a routine can recharge motivation while challenging the body in new ways.
DD: How do professionals stay motivated as they train day after day?
HS: Setting goals in our busy life is not a new concept.  This holds true for our personal health and fitness.  To stay motivated set both long-term broad and short-term specific goals. This year I will run my first marathon. Today, I will run three miles in less than 30 minutes.  
DD:  What tips or techniques do trainers use that the average women can incorporate to amp her workout and meet her fitness goals?
HS: Cross train, cross train and cross train. Let go of one-dimensional training. Athletes no longer work on skills that are only specific to their sport. Incorporating different elements of training — flexibility, agility, strength, power, speed and endurance — will take individual fitness to an all-new level.
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The “Skinnygirl” is back!

The Skinnygirl Workout is a follow-up to Bethenny Frankel’s first yoga DVD, Body by Bethenny. This time Bethenny is working out with accomplished yoga and Pilates instructor Mike McArdle.  

Talking about the DVD, Frankel, the star of Bethenny is Getting Married, says “people always ask me how I stay in shape. This is what I do.”
The DVD contains three quick, easy-to-follow yoga segments that tone the whole body. There is also a 12-minute bonus stretching segment, as well as recipes from The Skinnygirl Dish.
I liked McArdle’s calm and detailed instructions. The DVD provides a thorough, moderate workout. Bethenny is her wise-cracking self, and provides a welcome distraction, especially for reluctant exercisers.
This DVD is a good workout for beginners, and a great gift for Bethenny fans. Remember, it is time to start holiday shopping. I have!

A spa “barre” workout at home

Creators of Exhale Core Fusion Elizabeth Halfpapp and Fred Devito

Elizabeth Halfpap and Fred DeVito the couple that created Exhlae Core FusionIf your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape, or if you just want to shake yourself out of the winter doldrums, you may want to try one of the hot new “barre” workouts that are so popular with celebrities. Barre workouts are done partly at a ballet barre — or you can use a chair-back at home. The best ones tone the whole body and build muscle mass. I have become addicted to the Exhale Core Fusion Workout offered at the Exhale Spas. I do it five days a week at the new Atlanta Exhale Spa. I hate to miss it.  If you don’t have an Exhale Spa near you – you can still try it. If you haven’t heard about the fabulous barre workouts that can reshape your body as well as build strength and flexibility, don’t miss a word of our interview with Elizabeth Halfpapp, the co-creator of Exhale Core Fusion. 
DD: What is the principle behind the Core Fusion workouts?
EH: Core Fusion fuses the disciplines of core conditioning, Pilates, Lotte Berk Method, and yoga.  This program creates long, lean muscles, a youthful body, and a sense of peace and relaxation.  It works from the inside out, delivering fast, safe results through emphasis on breathing, position, and alignment, creating washboard abs, dancer-like thighs, and a lifted high round butt, thus creating functional balanced muscles for any sport or activity.
The DVD's follow the popular mind body classes --and they do --I have done both!DD: How did you create Core Fusion? How did it evolve?
EH: Fred and I created Core Fusion combining respectively through Fred’s background of sports/physical education teacher and my ballet dance background, along with our 22 years of teaching, teacher training, and managing the Lotte Berk Method, and our yoga/Pilates background.
It has evolved through offshoots of Core Fusion Yoga, Core Fusion Sport (using weighted core balls and resistance bands), Core Fusion Cardio, and soon Core Fusion Boot Camp and Core Fusion Chill (a restorative/stretch class).
DD: Does Core Fusion work the entire body? Is it a complete workout?
EH: Yes, Core Fusion is designed to work the entire body plus balance all the muscles with strength and stretch.  It works the body through cardio interval training.
DD: If you do the whole 60-minute workout, do you still need to do cardio or weights?
EH: We use light weights and weighted core balls for our upper body exercises.  For the other body parts, we use the body as its own resistance.  All our Core Fusion classes are designed to have a cardio component.
Our Core Fusion, Core Fusion Yoga, and Core Fusion Sport are more cardio interval training based, while our Core Fusion Cardio is our fat burning cardio class incorporating long duration and low intensity movements.
DD: You use very light weights — only two or three pounds — for the workouts? Is that heavy enough to tone up arms? Will it get even tricky-to-tone triceps firm?
EH: Yes, you will tone your arms including the triceps with light weights.  We are adamant about the position and alignment, creating very precise deep muscular work which reshapes the muscles fast — a dancer training technique.
DD: There are many Core Fusion DVDs. Can you recommend one or two of them to start with, for anyone looking to get fit or even lose a pound or two?
EH: I would recommend combining either Pilates Plus or Sculpt with Lean + Toned or Boot Camp.  But to create variety and surprise the muscles, it is best to mix up all the DVDs.  All our DVDs have different movement sequences and positions for each body part.
DD: Will Core Fusion help with a weight loss program?
EH: Core Fusion will help with weight loss because we create muscle density, which at rest muscles burn more calories.  We look at the muscles, especially the thighs, as furnaces.  Get muscle density and you will heighten your metabolic rate.
The full listing of the Core Fusion titles are as follows:
Exhale: Core Fusion Pure Abs & Arms
Exhale: Core Fusion Pilates Plus
Exhale: Core Fusion Body Sculpt
Exhale: Core Fusion Thighs & Glutes
Exhale: Core Fusion Lean & Toned
Exhale Core Fusion Yoga: Energy Flow
Exhale: Core Fusion Boot Camp

Elan vital

Fitness is a fact of life. I have wished many times that I was born a naturally-sporty type of girl who loved the outdoors, tennis, swimming, horses, and all types of perpetual motion.

I am not. I loathe most sports. It’s sad but true, although I do not begrudge others. I had a childhood full of lessons that included swimming, tennis, skating and the like. Not much was neglected. I have fond memories of skating which may be why, along with growing up on Boston and going to school in Montréal, that hockey is the only sport I actually understand.
I joke that yoga is my sport. I do adore it, hot, fast and hard. I also like a good workout with weights. I miss my ladies-only gym and my beloved stiletto strolls. Fitness is not a choice if you want to have élan vital – a vital impetus to live and grow — after forty, in spite of one’s avocations. Nor alas is vanity. All this is harder if you don’t start working on it earlier. Thank heavens, the experts have told us that quick and dirty will get the job done.
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Gracey Hitchcock
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