You look GREAT!! What are you doing? Pilates? Carb counting? PALEO? Cabbage Diet? How TALL are you? How many CALORIES do you eat? Exactly WHAT do you do for EXERCISE and how much? Do you walk to work-have kids-a husband-pets-diseases-restriction of motion-high blood pressure-no ailments-bunions-no time-all the time in the world-how TALL did you say you were and how much do you WEIGH? What exactly do you EAT every day? Do you have food RULES for yourself? Drink water? Drink booze? Ever? Always? Lots? Little? My nosy inquiries… I MEAN my SERIOUS INTERVIEWS continue!
This week I feature the lovely Aliza Loewy!
Interview: ALIZA LOEWY
Employed: Freelance: Yoga Studios/Event-Wedding Planner-Personal Assistant (Aspiring Blogger and Writer?)
Profession: Certified Yoga Instructor/Performer/Freelancer
How does she stay in shape: What DOESN’T she do to stay in shape! What I gleaned from my interview with Aliza is that she may NEVER sit still! Cardio machines at the gym, yoga classes (taken AND given), walking her dog for what seems like the entire length of Manhattan +++
What does she eat: From our interview it seems Aliza sticks to eating very little during the day (unless family or social outings are involved!), then at midday starts with snack foods (nuts and trail mix type stuff) until she has a big dinner with a healthy portion of that dinner being made up of vegetables. Enjoy!
INTERVIEW ~ April 2012
ME: Have you always been interested in Health and Fitness?
ALIZA: When I was a kid I was the last person chosen for all of the teams and I hated it. I ran away from any organized sports; dodgeball kickball everything like that. But every once in a while I thought of myself as invincible! I thought ‘I am going to organize a family and friends olympics!’ Then we’d do these family and friends Olympics and I of course would be the slowest person, the last one finished with the race, the one that nobody wanted to run with… so it really put a bad taste in my mouth about being athletic and what it meant. Then I went to college… got out of college… came back to NYC and I realized that I wanted to be in better shape, and better shape didn’t necessarily mean being athletic, because back when I was a kid being in good shape was really associated with being athletic. So I decided I was going to join a gym. I joined a gym – and I wasn’t running on the treadmill, and I wasn’t doing any of those things at a very high level – but I was consistent, I was going every day. I paid for it, so I was going to go every day! AND I started to notice changes in my body. Which was so much more attractive than winning a trophy or getting top scores AND I noticed how clothes were starting to fit me better and how I was starting to feel better about myself, how I was being able to take a (NYC) block or ten blocks much faster, keeping up with people! I wanted to become stronger, I looked for ways to build my strength, to build my stamina and ultimately it came to YOGA. YOGA is less about cardio and it’s more about building these long lean lines that are going to support you over a lifetime as opposed to a washboard stomach or just building really great biceps to show off. It’s really about having an inner strength that supports an outer strength.
ME: Do you remember what it was that brought you to YOGA?
ALIZA: Pure competitiveness! It was purely competitive, which is such an anti YOGA ideal! My husband said something about thinking he MIGHT be interested in doing YOGA… and I said ‘Oh? YOU’RE interested in doing YOGA? Well… I’M going to try YOGA too! So I did, and I really kind of fell in love with ‘the math’ of it because there’s alot of alignment in YOGA. In order to VINYASA well, safely, in a healthy manner, you really want your limbs and your body to line up in a certain way… This is very fascinating to me because it really is about arithmetic and mathematics and it’s amazing how – as long as things line up – you can build more strength. It’s like building a building, unless things line up well in a building, its gonna fall over! The same concept as your body!
ME: With YOGA there is a spiritual aspect associated with it, do you find that helpful for yourself, something that you get into or that you looked for when you started? Or is it purely about strength and fitness for you?
ALIZA: Historically the goal – if you want to have a goal in YOGA – is to lead you to… bliss, peaceful easeful meditation where you can just sit, and you can calm and control the fluctuations of your mind. It’s not necessarily about clearing your mind of all thought, it’s about taking the thoughts that pass in and out of your head and getting them to kind of flatline for a few moments. Thoughts are there, we are recognizing them, and letting them pass by. To do that you have to start with the physical practice. So I find the physical practice is something that really leads me inward, it calms me, calms my body, so I can calm my mind. It helps me to ‘work out’ the problems of the day, the challenges, and helps me relieve stress. A really invigorating YOGA practice can release some of the crap that happens in a day – and – what you think is such a giant challenge doesn’t become as much of a challenge anymore. In terms of spirituality I think that when you are able to train the body you can train the mind. Many people (practicing yoga) continue with studies of stuff like Buddhism, they believe in alot of the hindi goddesses and gods and I think historically, all that stuff is really interesting. I just feel like for me the physical practice is the physical practice.
ME: When you started doing YOGA, was it hard, was it ever such a challenge that you thought oh… I… can’t… do… this…
ALIZA: Absolutely! YESTERDAY’S YOGA practice as a matter of fact! I thought I can’t do this! When I FIRST started my arms would hurt, my legs would hurt, everything would be sore all the time. I understand being sore after a YOGA practice. Trying to keep yourself in plank, trying to keep yourself in downward dog just seemed like an impossibility. It takes time, but it DOES get better. Now I notice my body really yearns to get into downward facing dog. If I’m spending the entire day over the computer or if I’ve just spent 20 minutes on the subway crowded in and amongst other people I need to stretch in certain ways. It does get better. There are some posses that I hold in class that I think ‘when is this going to END!’ But a teacher once said to me ‘all moments of intensity must come to an end’. So you know that there is an end in sight, you can get through it, you just have to breath through it.
ME: So YOGA is your main focus for fitness? What type of YOGA? Do you have any other fitness regimes beside YOGA?
ALIZA: For me I have to have a cardio routine, some aerobic fitness to go with my YOGA practice. I need it quite frankly because I like to eat and I like to eat a lot and I like to eat alot of what I like to eat! So I need a cardio. I need to sweat in a different way than YOGA affords me. I feel like the cardio burns and then the YOGA slims. YOGA stretches, it builds stronger muscle… what was the other part of the question?
ME: What is your cardio routine?
ALIZA: Treadmill, PRECOR bicycle… but I’m not getting my heart rate up very high. I’m doing a consistent hour of aerobic activity. It tends to be the same almost all the time, but for me it’s reliable… there was another part of that question?
ME: What is you favorite, or most practiced, form of YOGA?
ALIZA: You know I like a VINYASA YOGA which is aligning the breath with the movement. Alot of times in VINYASA you see people moving in between poses from plank CHADURANGA upward facing dog to downward facing dog. I like alot of that but I like alot of alignment posed YOGA. I like the IYENGAR YOGA as a compliment to VINYASA, so alot of IYENGAR purists would hate me right now! But I do like things to be nice and aligned and moving slowly and in a sensitive way through the poses linking them together.
ME: If someone was just starting out, do you have a class that you think they should try first?
ALIZA: I think what’s great for beginners is going to your gym. It’s really great going to a very basic beginner class because that gives you the opportunity to try it without any risk. You can walk out of the class! Classes tend to be crowded, you can kind of melt into that crowd. I also think you’re going to want to look for a class that’s purely HATHA. I think a VINYASA class for one who has never taken a class before, who doesn’t know what downward dog is, I think it’s going to move too fast and be intimidating. So a HATHA class or even a basic IYENGAR class is really good.
ME: Living in the city as we do, what do you think contributes to fitness besides your formal practice?
ALIZA: Well I think naturally in the city we are walking alot. so that is going to be a huge fitness issue.
ME: And having ISIS? (the dog)
ALIZA: We walk alot right?! We go out for hours and hours at a time. In reality we are going for long hour and a half 2 hour sometimes 3 hours walks in the middle of the day and first thing in the morning. So you know you combine that with going to a YOGA class and the gym on a regular basis you know I would hope that you would show some of the results! But on top of that just getting around the city running up and down stairs, running to catch a bus, the elevator is broken at some building and you still have to get up there for a meeting rushing rushing around, you know what I mean? Rushing around also helps you plan better for meals and spending! You know you are going to be rushing around all day so you’re going to pack a giant case of nuts and a bag of carrots and stuff like that because 1) you don’t want to pay a hundred dollars for food that you’re not going to really like and 2) who has the time to stop in many cases! In general the city is very exercise friendly.
ME: I LOVE snack packing! You gave two good examples (nuts and carrots; portable and good for you!). When you pack snacks, you KNOW what you’re going to get! And you won’t have to pay alot if you bring something with you.
Is NUTRITION something you pay alot of attention to? Do you have certain FOOD RULES for your self? Or do you go with the flow…
ALIZA: Like I said previously I exercise, workout, and do a lot of what I do because I like to eat… Ok I’m going to admit it right here! I might have the most balanced dinner but I’m gonna have a half a dozen chocolate chip cookies after dinner before I go to bed! Because they taste good, they really are great and they make me HAPPY. Back in the day one might have categorized me as a bad eater because I’m a little bit picky. I like what I like, and my spectrum of things that I eat for dinner or for regular meals is not very broad. I tend to eat the same things over and over again. Typically I find myself out all day so it really is about snacking all day. I am not a breakfast person. I don’t find it fuels me. I find that typically breakfast just makes me hungry all day long and I tend to be more careless about my eating when I have something first thing in the morning. I probably won’t eat until noon or one o’clock and then its very often, almost all the time, some form of nuts raisins or dried fruit type of thing. Then you know if I make it home in the afternoon its going to be what ever’s around; maybe some crackers, stuff like that. I will probably not eat a ‘meal’ until the evening. I typically eat by myself and what I will make a lot of times is a giant plate of Brussels sprouts and broccoli and cauliflower. Olive oil and garlic and pepper and salt on it. I will also make a giant salad with turkey on top of it or tuna, I love tuna fish! I will often times have a giant thing of vegetarian chili with tortilla chips and soy cheese on the top.
The few things that I try to avoid, I try to avoid dairy, because basically before I got married I went to a person who gives facials and she asked me if I ate alot of dairy products. I said well some, and she said ‘they give you pimples!”. So since then I stopped eating dairy products! They are also not that great for your heart FYI. I avoid caffeine because it makes me crazy and gives me chest pain. I tend to avoid fried food mostly cause there are so many better ways to cook everything and so many options here in the city to pick up. Don’t get me wrong if my husband is home for dinner and we go out, I’m gonna have the burger with bacon and cheese. If we order in I’m probably going to have Moo Shu Vegetables from the Chinese Restaurant with sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce and rice. I like to indulge. I like to eat what taste good to me but I also try to balance it, so instead of daily intake I really look at a weekly intake to see where I’m coming from and where I’m lacking.
ME: When you go out socially what is it like for you? Do you find it easy or do you find social situations with family or friends a challenge because you ‘pay attention’ to how you eat?
ALIZA: With friends I actually find it very easy because we kind of all are in the same boat. If we’re going out and we’re going to go for a nice meal, or even a casual meal at a bar, I’m going to have what I want, MOST of the time. And I’m not really going to worry about it because we all know how it is, we balance good meals with indulgent meals to keep ourselves in good shape. People in my family have a different lifestyle and have struggled with their weight. They’ve had successes and set-backs and their weight can be an everyday struggle. When I go out with my family I will have a full meal. I eat the QUESO. I will have the GIANT burrito. I will have all of that. They will ask me how can you do that and stay so slim? I explain to them three hours a day I am actively moving, on purpose. I am going, and not just walking, from place to place, not just catching the bus. I am deliberately working out my body so I can balance it with this wonderful indulgent meal. It does become a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit stressful, and you know when you say something like that its almost… you know… accusatory? So you have to try and pull back from that, but at the same time you need to defend yourself because you DO work hard!
ALIZA: I think ISIS (the dog) has some questions…
ME: Do you (to dog) want to talk about YOUR raw food diet?
ALIZA: Ok now THAT’S an Interesting thing! The dog is on a Raw Food diet of Duck Patties. Her coat is beautiful, her poops are amazing… it’s the same concept as it is for a dog as it is for a person! Right?! We put her on other food but it was expensive and there was alot of processed stuff in it and let me tell you there was a lot of GAS… but she’s healthy so there is something to be said about putting raw food into your body, giving your body good ingredients.
ME: Speaking of Raw Food and putting good stuff in your body – do you adhere to taking any supplements? Do you think they are a good idea?
ALIZA: Personally I believe that supplements are a miracle cure! I believe! I’m kidding…
They are NOT a miracle cure. But there’s a part of my mind that says if I take a really good and expensive supplement or multivitamin it will change my life… my skin will be clear forever, I will always be skinny, I can have that entire bag of potato chips if I want … none of that is true. Supplements, particularly for me, because I eat so lightly and snack all day long and wait to have a bigger meal at night, for me, they are a very good idea because it gives me a little extra boost throughout the day. So I take a lot of supplements. I take a multi-vitamin, I take all sorts of oils, I take an evening primrose, I take an omega 3, a flax seed, I take a vitamin c and a vitamin e, I take a zinc, I take calcium (you know because I am a woman of ‘that age’). I ALSO take a TBPS full of chlorophyll everyday because I hear its good for your skin. Reece Witherspoon in an article said she does it and it keeps her skin clear.
(those are all excellent supplements to consider but we also urge you to consult your medical professional when adding these or any, to your diet!)
ME: I heard it makes you smell good too?!
ALIZA: Sniff Sniff – I guess so!
ME: In THAT vein, when speaking of supplements you mentioned ‘I’m of a certain age’ so… How old are you?
ALIZA: Wait let me think…
ME: That old?!
ALIZA: What year is this? 2012? I am 43 right now!
ME: Ok, you look WONDERFUL!
ALIZA: Thank you!
ME: You’re welcome! I hear you work hard?!
ALIZA: I DO work very hard and I like to eat!
ME: At “This Stage” is there anything in particular you find that you have to do different to keep your sh*t together? Ha ha!
ALIZA: No question about it, no question about it. I find that there is a little bit more work involved in all aspects of my exercise. I do also notice the affects of OVER working things much more quickly than when I was maybe 10 years younger. There are also things just medically that you really have to keep on top of. Calcium being one of them, bone density stuff like that. As a kid I never really thought about putting too much weight on my hands or bending over the computer but now I’m starting to feel it in my wrist’s, now I’m starting to feel it in my shoulders. SO I really have to be focused on making the alignment (in YOGA) perfect, as perfect as I can, so that I can start from a place where everything is one hundred percent as opposed to already starting behind the eight ball. I am lucky in that I have been nurturing this healthy routine for a while, so I believe that alot of people that are my age right now, who haven’t, who are just coming to exercise, who are just coming to better nutrition now, it is MUCH harder. You know I notice people who are having a harder time keeping weight off or gaining weight in areas that they never gained before, and I also notice alot of people who are approaching exercise in a very lazy way. If you’re going to go to the gym the reclining bike is not just something you’re meant to just sit and read the news paper on… You know with the attitude of ‘but I went to the GYM!’ So alot of it is mental, you need to prepare yourself, you almost need to think like you’re 25 but with an awareness that you’re 43. Things are more challenging, but I am lucky that I started early. I think that plays a huge part if you’re coming to it later in life. I would say you really have to start very slowly, don’t try to tackle everything at once! If you’re holding onto an extra 20 lbs and you don’t go to the gym normally, stop eating bread and pasta for a couple of weeks and see where it goes. You’re gonna take off a little weight and that will give you the inspiration to move forward and try other things. The next week maybe give up your soda, and then as you start to see result, ad some exercise in but start very slowly because you really need to be encouraged along the way. You need to see the results right? If you don’t see the results no one is ever going to continue with it. Start slowly and know that the results are gonna come!