Leslie Sansone’s Walk Away The Pounds Ultimate Collection: A Review

I first became acquainted with Leslie Sansone and her fabulous walk videos when I joined Nutri System a few years back (a program I highly recommend for anyone who prefers a bit more structure in terms of their eating plan…but that’s a review for another post). Included in my starter it along with my first month’s worth of food was a special 2-mile walk DVD Leslie had created specifically for the weight-loss company and their clients.

Although I typically prefer to exercise outside and in particular, to power-walk along A1A where I can simultaneously take in the beauty of the beach and ocean, there’s about a 5-6 month stretch during the year in South Florida when the intense heat and humidity takes its toll on even the most dedicated fitness adherent, unless you’re out very early in the morning or after the sun goes down at night. Then there’s the little matter of the flash-flooding, tropical rainstorms that can gather and unleash their fury in a matter of mere seconds, transforming a sunny, dry day into a washout.

So Leslie’s DVD seemed like the perfect way to ensure a good indoor workout for those times when outdoor exercise wasn’t doable, since I sure as heck wasn’t about to partake of the “meat market” gym scene that characterizes this part of the Sunshine State. Been there, done that.

I have to admit though, I was a bit of a skeptic at first believing the walk would lack any sort of challenge. So imagine my surprise when I popped it in the DVD player and quickly realized how well Leslie packs a high-energy, calorie-burning routine into 27 minutes — perfect for the busy woman who just wants to get ‘er done and move on to other important activities. Even better, the walk routine didn’t require a lot of space, which is a definite plus when you live in a condo, although I usually move the coffee table back a bit before starting.

My only complaints with the two-mile Nutri-System walk were the generic music (remedied by muting the DVD and creating my own workout playlist on Grooveshark on my laptop) and her constant touting of the Nutri System plan throughout (quite understandable, since I am also in the marketing biz). From the outset however, I was taken in by Leslie’s genuine charm, warmth and obvious love for her profession and clients.

Looking to step up my game a bit, I recently ordered Leslie’s Walk Away The Pounds Ultimate Collection, which contains a 1-mile, 2-mile, 3-mile and 4-mile walk — thrilled to be able to find a workout on one DVD that I could tailor to my schedule and mood on any given day. This one also came with a nice, wide purple resistance band, which is an optional addition that enhances the upper body movements done in accompaniment with the sidesteps, kicks, leg raises and power-walk movements.

As with the Nutri System DVD, a beaming, smiling and ever-encouraging Leslie guides you through and demonstrates easier modifications for novice exercisers to employ until they work their way up to the pace, rhythm and movements demonstrated by her team of enthusiastic walkers. Unlike the Nutri System version, there are no “commercials” — just lots of exuberant testimonials to better health through walking.

Don’t be fooled, however: it may be called a “walk” but every one of Leslie’s routines is a full-body workout that employs every muscle and helps to tone and strengthen the all-important core. And depending on the mileage you select, you can get a great workout in less than a 1/2 hour or a little more than 1 hour — all in the comfort and convenience of your own home.

So if you’re not a gym person, or if the thought of sweating outside in heat and humidity doesn’t move you, Leslie Sansone’s Walk DVDs are the perfect solution. Order one today — and start walking toward better health and fitness!

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Cyberspace and the Single (Conservative) Girl, Part Two

Published by Parcbench on March 18, 2010:

As I discussed in Part One, while it’s easy to blame the internet for the plethora of dishonest players, the truth is, it is simply another vehicle through which to play the serial dating game. In the 21st Century, technology has provided an efficient method for both the upstanding and not-so-upstanding among us to either genuinely seek out a meaningful relationship, or secure the next superficial fling in a relentless hunt for a sexier, prettier, hotter version of the previous week’s hook-up.

Case in point: last summer. To make a long story short, a gentleman (ahem) unexpectedly contacted me via email, after coming across my website in cyberspace. For the next two weeks, we engaged in regular communication in the form of email and telephone conversations. Seemingly holding much in common, including a desire to save the United States from ruination, it seemed a logical conclusion that we meet in person to determine if there was any potential for a real relationship.

Granted, geographical distance between the man and the woman does present a unique challenge, as does older age. Unlike the America of the past where families tended to live together in the same geographical area, and the daters in question tended to be much younger (most folks in their 30s and above having already been joined in the bonds of marriage), today the “safety net” of having a man pick up a woman at her parent’s home is almost non-existent. In this example, my suitor would have to drive about six hours just to meet me. An inconvenience? Possibly, but also a fact of life in the contemporary dating scene.

For obvious reasons, including my own personal safety, I’d set the expectations well in advance: the man who desired to make my acquaintance in order to determine if we had a corresponding physical “spark” to accompany the intellectual one, would have to stay at a nearby hotel. Over the phone, he appeared quite understanding about the arrangement. I’d also informed a few close friends and family of his name, hometown and location of our get-together, simply as a precaution. And since the suitor in question was a self-described “old-fashioned kind of guy from Texas,” it never occurred to me he’d take issue with buying me a $20 entrée at a mom-and-pop establishment by the beach.

Admittedly, along the way I’d ignored some serious warning signs such as his distasteful tendency to divulge intimate details of previous relationships, his confession that the only photo he’d sent was over 12 years-old and the fact that (on his way over in the car!) he phoned to alert me that the birth date on his Facebook profile was indeed, false. In actuality, he was much older than the posted birth year would suggest. And in spite of my inquiries, he begged me to keep an open mind and wait for the answer until I met him in person. I chalked it up to nervousness and decided to give the guy the benefit of the doubt; after all, he was taking some time and expense to meet me. I could cut him some slack.

Note to self: never do that again!

When at last we met face-to-face, I was a bit disappointed inasmuch as he did not remotely resemble his photo. However, being an open-minded person, I determined to spend the next few hours listening and talking, understanding that the heart and soul within supercedes the exterior package. And yes, while I do believe in “chemistry,” I don’t simply base it upon the first two minutes of a physical interaction involving a friendly hug and a warm greeting. Sure, in many instances, it does develop within a matter of seconds; however, in my experience, this isn’t always the case.

This man and I went on to have dinner, although his reluctance to do so should’ve provided another clue. Unknown to me, “Zack” had already determined back at the Comfort Inn parking lot that the elusive “spark” he was seeking was nowhere to be found in Deerfield Beach—at least not with me. And as I mentioned, the feeling was mutual, although I was willing to give the guy a chance. As we sat at the dining table, he mentioned how “full” he was from lunch, having been treated to the Cheesecake Factory earlier in the day by a client. Undaunted and hungry (it was dinnertime after all), I ordered a chicken entrée, which came with a side of unwanted pasta, a dish I willingly gave him once the waiter arrived with the home-cooked food.

After he paid for our meal (the water-with-lemon was free as far as I know), we proceeded to walk along the beach, talk and even dance for the next several hours. If Zack wasn’t feeling the “spark” he must’ve been desperately trying to create one because at various points throughout the evening, he’d put his arm around me and even rub my bare feet and place his head on my thigh as we sat by the sand. Alas, these efforts were in vain as he later announced in no uncertain terms back at the hotel parking lot that he just wasn’t that into me.

Fair enough, especially considering the feeling was mutual; however, for him the disappointment ran so deep he didn’t even want to meet for breakfast the next morning. And although I am no psychic, I picked up on a subtle vibe that my crestfallen date truly resented having to sacrifice any gas, time and money for a girl he’d only ever regard as a friend. For him, no initial spark = Dutch treat; it also meant he’d be hitting the highway first thing in the morning, rather than spend any quality time with a new platonic relationship. Too bad he hadn’t enumerated his ground rules from the start to this “old fashioned kind of girl.” When I inquired about attending a free concert as buddies the next evening he protested, “But what if I see a girl there I am interested in? I won’t be able to talk to her because I’ll be with you!”

Needless to say, that was my cue to leave in spite of his protests to “talk it out” some more. This unfortunate interaction led to a few emails back and forth, including this little gem, so eloquently written without the benefit of proper grammar and punctuation (bold emphasis mine):

its more than just me paying for ur dinner…First of all, we were not in the “dating routine”…I had never even met u before so i would hardly say we were dating…Secondly, i expended money, time, gas and personal committment to drive there and meet you…Dont u think the least u could have done is take ME out to dinner, split the bill, or found me free acomodations??…I think it highly presumptuous of you to just assume things that had not even matured yet….Once again, u are over assuming…my coming to see you was not a “date” as in romance or after having established more between us…What it was was to see if there might be a spark where a romantic relationship could grow…Obviously it wasnt there…Apparently from ur reply letter, you considered this a date and as such the man should be responsible to pay for everything…Im sorry for that assumed delusion…Maybe u should grow up a little and understand that when someone (whom u dont know) has invited u to meet them for the first time, it is proper etiquette to split monetary charges between the two and to even extend accomodations to the weary traveler…If we had already established a romantic interest in each other prior to this weekend, then everything u said in this email would be correct, but that simply is not the case…Even u yourself said i knew what the ground rules were before i came; meaning no sex or intimacy…That being the case, how could u expect to have received more than what u got..Daria, when i go out with my female friends (of whom i have no romantic interest) we always split evenly all things we do….Why couldnt u have extended the same graciuosness to me until the two of us decided whether or not there was a romantic spark to further the relationship along into something more that just friends??…You are stil a very sweet girl and I wish u the best in all you do…

Silly me! I should have realized from the start that the fact I wasn’t planning to put out would automatically transform my evening from a “first date” with a guy I met online to an actual audition, whereby if my mere presence didn’t generate those elusive fireworks within his entire being, I would immediately lose all rights to the hotly contested $20 dinner.

Rather than complain about this modest output of cash, good ol’ Zack ought to thank his lucky stars that I am not a Boca Babe, or he’d have been out a heckuva lot more money. Oh how I sometimes wish I had time machine to transport me back to the Fifties! In spite of the benefits of modern technology, in a culture gone to extremes, a good man is still hard to find.

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Cyberspace and the Single (Conservative) Girl, Part One

Published by Parcbench on March 8, 2010:

Recently, when I was bemoaning yet another disappointing date (a gentleman I met by chance via the internet when he came across my book website) to a sympathetic girlfriend, she blamed the information superhighway for the breakdown of respect I repeatedly bent her ear about during the course of our one-hour conversation. According to her theory, we should blame cyberspace for making it too easy for liars to lie and players to play.

While I understand and even share her sentiment, which does contain some merit, I submit that it is merely a symptom of a much larger problem that has its roots in every liberal Baby Boomer’s favorite decade— the “illustrious” Sixties. While today’s traditional-minded Americans rightfully rail against cultural killers like the breakdown of the family; the prevalence of sexual promiscuity among pre-teens and teens; and the objectification of little girls (as a quick trip through any girls’ department in a retail store will affirm), it would also be useful to acknowledge the genesis and evolution of these formidable problems.

Our current cultural crisis did not develop overnight; nor will it be a simple task to undo an unfortunate phenomenon that has been over 40 years in the making. And while it would be quite convenient to place the blame fully on technology, that’s a bit little like blaming the messenger for an unpleasant announcement: simply because modern communication provides another (admittedly easy) vehicle through which to deceive, does not deem it culpable for the preponderance of deceivers.

As someone who was raised in a traditional home with parents who not only espoused values like respect, integrity and honesty—but actually demonstrated them in their daily interactions—dating and relating in the modern world has been and continues to be quite a challenge for me. If practice indeed makes perfect, I should’ve achieved a Gold Medal by now; unfortunately in the stiff competition between conservative upbringing and contemporary culture, there truly are no winners, although the latter seems to prevail most of the time. And for that, I hold those self-proclaimed “champions of women,” the Betty Freidan’s, Gloria Steinem’s and Jane Fonda’s of the world at least partially responsible.

Once upon a time, long before the Summer of Love (which should be more accurately titled “The Summer of Free Sex without Commitment”), there was a quaint little practice in America known as courtship, whereby if a man found another woman to be attractive, he would invite her on a date, fully expecting to pay for dinner, regardless of whether or not he felt a “spark” within two minutes of talking to her across the table. Cognizant of three possible options, e.g. the first date could pave the way for 1). a second date only; 2). an exclusive relationship; or 3). end with the understanding that there would be no future dates for a myriad of reasons, the man simply expected he’d have to make this small investment of time and money. Call it the price of dating, if you will.

But as last summer’s events involving David Letterman and Sarah Palin so aptly demonstrated, we are (sadly) light-years away from the world of Ozzie and HarrietLeave it to Beaver; and I Love Lucy. Somewhere between the 1960s and now, it became acceptable to reduce females to sex objects, rather than desirable potential girlfriends or wives to be wooed with dinner dates, flowers and—most importantly — respect. Spurred on by alleged feminists who believe it a matter of equality for women to imitate the bad behavior of some men (i.e. engage in meaningless sex with multiple partners without the benefit of a verbal commitment, let alone a ring), our culture began to change for the worse.

Often referred to as “the mother of modern feminism,” Betty Freidan, author of The Feminine Mystique, sought to “free” women from the shackles of marriage and motherhood— the very foundation of a strong and prosperous nation. But what conservatives view as an honorable life purpose, women such as Freidan condemned as indentured servitude:

“Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to even ask herself the question ‘Is this all?’”

I am not quite sure how Freidan conducted the necessary research to make such a sweeping pronouncement. Suffice it to say, I am beyond grateful that my own mother took great pleasure in raising her five children (including one with special needs); nurturing her marriage; managing the books for my father’s medical office; volunteering for various school boards and organizations; and cultivating genuine, lasting friendships with other women who were also happily engaged in similar activities.

Of course, I am also eternally grateful that my parents were pro-life, having been conceived at the worst possible time — financially speaking — when they already had four young mouths to feed, a daunting mortgage payment and a dearth of furniture in their two-story suburban colonial.

But I digress.

Somewhere between Woodstock (every self-absorbed Boomer’s most cherished memory) and The Vagina Monologues (Eve Ensler’s incredibly distasteful play that did more to objectify women than any man ever could), we reached a point in this country where a woman’s worth in pop culture was judged by the quality and size of her breast implants; her prowess in the bedroom (a once private matter reserved for her and her husband); and — if she happened to be a celebrity — her latest drunken sexcapade with the pool boy while her young children were left unattended in her Beverly Hills mansion.

And then there’s the Internet.

As with everything else, it is not the invention itself, but its misuse by dishonorable people that presents the problem. For the most part, the Internet has been a positive force in my life, enabling me to self-publish my novel, write political and cultural commentary for a variety of websites, and express my views as a co-host on countless Blog Talk Radio programs. But with respect to dating, it has wrought more harm than good.

More on that in my next post.

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