Our mini challenge at Life Time Athletic Westchester

We continue our quest to become fitter.

(Editor’s note: For August WAG, I began a mini version of the “60day Challenge” at Life Time Athletic Westchester in White Plains to see if I could tweak my exercise routines and eating habits to drop 10 to 15 pounds. Here, my odyssey continues…)


I have a breakthrough that is more mental than physical yet helps me physically. Finally, I get it. All the treadmill work and weightlifting rotations are designed to make me fitter — leaner, tighter, more energized. I have turned a corner about getting up at 6 a.m. I now do it without thinking about it. And though I still watch the clock, I am slowly building more endurance.


“Barre Strength” class with instructor Lydia Magnoli, one of the ancillary programs at Life Time. Somehow, I thought this would actually have ballet positions and stretches. I was primed to do tendu. But although the room is designed like a ballet studio, the class is more about isometric exercises that work isolated muscles subtly yet deeply. This seems easier than my weekday cardio/weightlifting classes, but that illusion makes it much more of a challenge. Still, I persist. I may not have Lydia’s ideal (to me) body — long, lean but with a curve. But I can certainly practice her attitude of gratitude.


Another weigh-in and while I’ve only lost half a pound, I’m feeling good about my training. Plus, I excelled at situps. (Finally, something I can do.) Class ended 10 minutes early so we could toast classmate Julie Staple on her July 23 nuptials with Champagne. I toasted but did not imbibe (so virtuous). Saving my calories for birthday cake July 22.


I survived the birthday weekend (five parties) nutritionally by eating only a small portion or a few bites of the birthday desserts. This wasn’t satisfying to me, but I have put in so much hard work that I cannot go backward.

Today, I met with trainer Natalia Pagni to go over the nutritional aspect of my weight loss program. She advises drinking lots of water (four to six 12- to 16-ounce bottles a day); taking a multivitamin, Omega-3 (fish oil) and a probiotic for “gut health;” going gluten-free and dairy-free as “a good way of keeping down inflammation, which can prevent weight loss;” eating protein with every meal; and small meals every three to four hours.

As she talks, I realize I need to rebalance my Mediterranean diet to include more protein and water and less fruit. I’m also going to buy eight pound weights and work with Life Time onboarding specialist Samantha Sciavillo to create an exercise program I can do on my bike that will help me hit my target heart rates. (Plus, as a writer and eternal student, I’m going to love writing in the Life Time food journal and manual Natalia gave me.)


Another weigh-in day, and it’s a miracle that I gained no weight, considering my birthday celebrations. It shows just how hard it is to lose weight, though. Today our Team Burn is on the treadmills while Team Boot Camp — it’s just what the name implies — works out nearby. (There are four teams in ascending order — Burn, Cut,  Boot Camp and Alpha — with the idea that you would ultimately progress through them.) Those poor Boot Camp devils — doing pushups on the treadmill, running on the maximum incline, extending one leg back and forth on the treadmill while squatting off of it, hands in prayer position. Believe me, you need to be praying to do all that. Our group is glad to be on the team we’re on.

I get my first taste of an apparatus called the F 12 — all pulleys and bars. One of the exercises involves leaning slightly over the bar on your toes, your body on a diagonal. Some classmates find this hard but I like it.

AUG. 4-6

After missing one class thanks to my Achilles sinuses, I had to miss another to head to Washington, D.C., for the OutWrite book festival. And while The Dupont Circle Hotel blends elegance and economy, liveliness and solitude in a way that includes a nice gym, I felt the hotel’s historic setting calling me, so I walked (and walked) up New Hampshire Avenue to 16th Street and the faded Italianate glory that is Meridian Hill Park with its many pebbled steps winding about niches; benches; a terraced, palm-lined waterfall; a pool with jets and aquatic plants; and statuary that includes an equestrian sculpture of Joan of Arc and a bronze and granite memorial to our 15th president, James Buchanan, that features two fine male and female nudes.

I would’ve walked all the way to the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center, farther down on 16th, but in the heat and humidity of a D.C. summer I thought it a bit much.

AUG. 9

My last class and I’m feeling a mixture of relief, regret and accomplishment. While I lost only four pounds, I feel as if I have greater strength, muscle tone and endurance. The mixture of cardio and weights has been a big help with my rehabbed shoulders and foot issues. (One woman in the class told me it got her off blood pressure medication.) And I’m ready to go forward with the home workout Sam devised for me. 

I only wish I had the time, money and schedule to continue the class as I think I could drop the weight I want staying in the program another two months. As Natalia said to me, “It really does work.”

For more, visit lifetimefitness.com.

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