I did it again this morning. I got up early, worked out, and had a few minutes to spare to watch the sunrise before it was time for Miss P to wake up:
(I promise, it looked much better in person.) So, to what do I owe this new found motivation? A thought I had, and a book I read.
I was out walking with Penelope the other day when a word popped into my head: “sustenance.” It came to mind because, as it’s been six months since she was born, I’ve been thinking a lot about knocking off that last bit of baby weight in my midsection, and I was debating how I should do it. I need to do something – not a fad, or even a “diet” per se – but something I could continue to do every day. To start as I mean to go on. Something I could sustain. It was pure coincidence that, when I got home, I picked up a copy of “Fitness Confidential” by Vinnie Tortorich.
If you don’t know Vinnie, (a.k.a. “America’s Angriest Trainer,”) here are some quick facts about him:
- He is fitness trainer to Howie Mandell and other stars
- He has a degree from Tulane University
- He cuts through most of the bullshit surrounding fitness and nutrition
It’s that last point that really made me love this book.
“I’m going to show you how. And I’m going to make it fun. This is a crusade for me. A passion. Exercise changed my life – and I mean that literally.”
Pushing his ego to the side, Vinnie shares what led him down the path of personal training, mistakes and hard feelings included. It was so refreshing to read because we often listen to gurus who act like they came out of the womb sporting leg warmers and a six pack, already knowing what to eat and how to work out. Hearing Vinnie’s trials and setbacks –major trials, and heavy setbacks – help the reader learn from his mistakes and apply it to their own life. (Seriously: your heart might break a little bit while reading, but you’ll leave feeling good, I promise.)
It’s reassuring to have someone give you information without an ulterior motive or trying to sell you on a diet, or products, or a monthly subscription. Vinnie gives it to you straight, and his conversational approach makes you forget you are reading a book and feel more like you have a good friend in the business offering you free advice over lunch.
He shows the reader what the weight loss and exercise industries don’t want you to know, which is that losing weight and staying fit and healthy can actually be surprisingly simple. That if you can clear all the bullshit out of your mind and get down to the basics, you will be far more successful and happy with your results than if you were to follow fad diets and dead-end workouts, resulting in a downward spiral of being out of shape and unhappy which will, of course, only propel you back into the machine (as most are really designed to do in the first place).
There are so many things I loved about this book, but here are a few reasons it appealed to me personally:
- Vinnie offers explanations – surprisingly simple explanations – as to why some of us work so hard and yet don’t seem to lose a pound.
- The book explains why fitness in many ways is more a mental game than a physical one, which made a lot of sense to me. For instance, if I don’t have a solid plan of a fitness routine, or a clear picture of what foods I should eat, it’s pretty damn hard to get motivated.
- He gives you the dirt on gyms, explaining how you can score great deals on memberships, and what to look for in a trainer.
- Vinnie is a fellow Italian, so he writes lines that made me laugh, like this: “Because I come from an Italian family, my mother won.”
- He made me feel better about my failed workouts (hot yoga, anyone?)
- He settled a disagreement between Greg and I over egg yolk. You’ll have to read the book to see what the correct answer is but, thank you, Vinnie. Ali=1, Greg=0.
- He gave me permission to chuck my god-awful Ezekiel bread.
Perhaps most importantly after reading Fitness Confidential, I finally felt like I had a plan I could get behind, which sparked my 6 AM wake-up routine and my little epiphany. Morning people: this may not sound like an accomplishment for many of you, but let me tell you, I do NOT belong to your club. It was a huge effort for me. But I was motivated.
If you are looking for pure motivation and an entertaining read, grab a copy of Fitness Confidential.