Is it ok to exercise when sick?

Last month I was hit with a 4 day stomach virus. For the first time ever when sick, I did not have an appetite, not even for delicious homemade cookie.⁣

By the end of day 4, I was feeling better in that I started to feel hungry again and could consume more than one piece of toast.⁣

I wanted to workout. 4 days in bed felt like an eternity of inactivity. Then the boyfriend said, “Shouldn’t you keep a full meal down first before you hit the gym?”⁣

💯 yes, I should have food energy in my body before going to exercise (which is a stressor for the body). I had eaten less than 1000 calories total over 4 days!⁣

This reminded me of how I don’t take my own advice I give to clients when asked, “Is it ok to workout if I feel a little sick?”⁣

Dr Neil Schacter, Director of Respiratory Care at Mt Siniai Hospital (NYC) suggests the NECK CHECK (which is what most of us fitness coaches go by).⁣

If the symptoms are ONLY above the neck such as runny nose, teary eyes, sore throat or nasal congestion it’s OK TO WORKOUT.👍🏼⁣

Anything below the neck: lung congestion, deep cough, fatigue, body aches, fever, nausea, diarrhea, is a flag to STAY IN BED.😷⁣

The logic behind this makes sense. Working out with a deep congested cough would push the heart to strenuous lengths. Exercising with a fever could push the fever higher. ⁣

Working out without an appetite means no food energy to fuel physical activity. ⁣

Body aches and fatigue are body signs to get rest.⁣

Just stick with the neck check (and what you’d tell a sick kid) when trying to figure out whether it’s ok to workout.⁣

Weight Loss Is Not My Thing.

When a potential client explains, “I want to lose weight. I need someone to help me with food.”
I reply, “That’s not my thing.”

I turn away this type of request because I can’t help you. Anything I would tell her, she already knows. If I said, “Eat more veggies. Stop drinking wine. No more sweets and fried foods.” would that be divulging a fitness professional secret that few are privy to?

“What about the Keto (paleo, gluten free, carb free, fruit only) diet - what do you think about it?”

If you want to eat that way for life, then the diet will work. If you want to eat that way for 3-6 months to “jumpstart” weight loss, your body will shockingly surprise you when you incorporate back your old habits. 

95% of people who lose weight quickly on a diet regain the weight back within 3 years. Let me re-emphasize in a different way: ONLY 5% of people who lose weight quickly keep that weight off. Unless you plan on being on that diet your entire life, a diet is a ridiculous way to lose weight. And, I will not help you do that.

If you want someone to help you with your eating, I am not your coach. Ask your mom, she’s been coaching you on healthy eating since you were 5 years old.
 If you want to get f*ing strong and do some badass pull-ups, let’s talk.

PS I’m not a meanie, I just don’t want you to do those damn diets.

Even my 81 year old client asks, "How do I lose my belly fat?"

I remember when I first started training Marty four years ago, May 2015. He was 77 and a pretty active man. He was dancing once a week. He was walking a lot just by being a working New Yorker. He played sports most of his adult life.

We used to meet once a week and now we meet about 2x a month. He still asks me, “How do I lose my belly fat?”
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As I tell him and what I would tell you, WHO CARES ABOUT A LITTLE BELLY FAT? You are 81 and move well. Some of your friends have already passed away and you are still joyfully working your job as an architect. You are defying global human statistics.  
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When we meet for a session, Marty works on versions of the following movements to keep his spry 81 year old body mobile:

  1. Squats
  2. Deadlifts 
  3. Push Ups
  4. Rows
  5. Planks
  6. Balancing

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At age 81, why does a little happy belly fat matter? In fact, at any age, why does a little belly fat matter if you can move well for life, still keep working, still keep dancing, and still keep cracking jokes? Moving is a blessing.

My first time in Japan, and I was worried about my workouts.

I remember when I was planning my trip to Japan last year. I was really worried about finding a place to workout during my 2 week trip. I pretended it was going to be fine that gyms are hard to find. I didn’t tell my travel buddies that I needed to be able to workout.

Working out 4-6 days a week is my norm and halting that for a vacation felt, gulp, “bad”.

Trying to workout in Tokyo or Kyoto meant taking a train for 30-40 minutes to a gym, working out for an hour, then taking a train back to meet my pals. Was it worth 3 hours less of sightseeing and sleep just to lift?

So, I didn’t. Our vacation consisted of walking for 4-8 hours daily, eating what was around us when hungry and soaking in all the new Japanese thangs. 

Once I was back home to the US, I went back to my usual schedule. After a week back, my body was back on its usual health routine. Did I gain 10lbs on vacation? Did my body suddenly become unfit? Nope and nope.

That 2 week blip away from the gym in vast perspective of my entire life a brief interlude.
My memories of what I see and did in Japan is seared into my happy memories.

It is ok to be on vacation when on vacation. The health of your body is not affected by the short term 1-2 weeks but it is shaped by your long term daily routine. 

I remember the time when I couldn’t do a pull up.

That’s basically my entire life! 😮

Up until the age of 42, I couldn’t do a single pull up. Before age 42, I was also 10 pounds lighter! Younger and lighter and yet, no pull ups.

I get that lots of ladies can’t do one, but I wanted to. Pull ups are badass because I use my own strength to move my own body. I wanted to be able to do that and to defy gender statistics.

So, I went on a mission to get to a single pull up and it took an entire year.

What I learned in getting to the first is that a pull up is like a piano. 🎹 You cannot get it unless you practice it every day. For every female client that I have gotten to a pull up, this fact applied. Practice makes a pull up.

A pull doesn’t just happen by surprise. Neither does the ability to play a melodic song on the piano.
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When the mission started, I would do my 10 second holds every time I was in the gym. I repeat, every time - which was about 5 days a week. When my holds got stronger, I moved on to the next step, negatives.  
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If you are willing to devote this nearly daily practice for yourself, DM me and I will get you to your first pull up.

I USED TO CALL MYSELF FAT.

When I was 25, I would beat myself up for being “fat”. I would make myself run on the treadmill for an hour anytime I was at the gym. (Interesting side fact: the treadmll was originally created as a torture device for the English prison system in the 1800’s.) 🏢

I remember all the anguish I put young Tina through. Look at the photos above; that is 25 year old Tina! Obviously she wasn’t fat even tho she thought she was. 😲

Have you ever looked at old photos of yourself recalling how you used to feel badly about your body? Would you ever had said such things to your best friend? 

Young Tina was ignorant of any other way. 
Head over to @IronStrongFit where I tell you what I’ve learned 28 years later.

Now, 28 years later, armed with experienced wisdom, I have learned:

  1. I skip the scale. Occasionally at the doctor’s office, I get weighed. That’s the only time I step on a scale. The scale number goes up and down daily and being obsessed by the daily changes only make me feel like crap.
  2. Embrace my present self. I don’t have abs and I am strong. I love what my body has learned to do (pull-ups and kettlebell snatches). I love that I can accomplish feats of strength while my body continues to learn. I accept that I do not have 6 pack abs. I love cookies and acknowledge I choose not to live a life without cookies.
  3. Choose a lifestyle I am willing & desire to adhere to. I workout 4-6 days a week, not as punishment for cookies, but because it’s what makes my body and spirit feel good. I don’t diet. I eat 85% healthy. I often have cookies. I rarely have bread. These are choices I knowingly make and embrace.


I could lose 5lbs and create abs, for if I cut sweets. I also know I would gain it back once I reintroduced cookies. We make choices and our current lives reflect those choices.

What lifestyle choices are you happy to choose and what options are you willing to live with for a full self loving life?

Age F*cking Matters

When I hear the phrase “ Age is just a number”, I wanna punch him in the face.
WTF does that mean? Are you telling me that at age 35 you can drink all night and wake up at 6am and head to work unscathed like you did at age 25?
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A hangover is the physical example that age ABSOLUTELY matters when it comes to physical capacity and recovery.
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I’m not telling you to use age as an excuse why you need to slow down exercise or avoid exercise. I’m emphasizing that things change, recovery times change, joints change.
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For women, age matters even more because of our midlife hormonal changes. It freaking sucks but it’s the biological facts. Periods affect our bodies; perimenopause affects our physical and mental being; menopause impacts everything. Changes in female hormones, estrogen & progesterone affect weight loss/gain, strength energy levels, memory and our bone density (to list a few).
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AGE MATTERS. Now, I can do my physically at 48 is much more than I could at 28. That’s because I workout differently and I focus on strength. At 28, I would just hit the treadmill. Because at 28, I didn’t think about how age matters.
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What is important to note about age is that our bodies are slowly breaking down with mileage. Even a high end handmade luxury Rolls Royce needs more and more maintenance as the decades roll by.
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At ANY age, one must do what is within her control to maintain strength, fight the deceleration age definitely brings in order to live a high quality life. 
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Age absolutely matters. Regard age as the reason you remain committed to your health and fitness. With age comes the wisdom of understanding and appreciation of your own body.