Take 5 with Health Coach Sharon Arangio
Welcome to the Take 5 series, where we take five minutes and ask Lehigh Valley professionals and personalities five questions.
Name: Sharon Arangio
My favorite healthy snack: I’ve perfected the kale chip! Always season after cooking so that they get extra crispy.
Must-have item in my gym bag: My stainless steel water bottle. Yes, it’s a little heavy, but it’s a great reminder to keep hydrated!
Favorite dessert: A chocolate-covered strawberry–or anything else with chocolate–is my first choice.
My last dream was about: I was on the beach with my family and friends and we were having a get-together celebrating with a bonfire. There was a lot of laughter and sparkles.
1. In your previous life, you were a dancer and very into cardio. What changed?
I still consider myself a “dancer.” I have daily dance parties with my children, Giavanna, 5, and George, 3. My mom says I started walking at 9 months and danced soon after, so it will always be a part of my life. As far cardio, well, I still do cardio per se, but more sprints and less long-distance running. This simple change has made a drastic improvement in my personal stamina and overall energy levels. Cardio is important, but my strength, especially my upper-body strength, is better now than it was in my 20s. (I’m the big 4-0 this year!)
The big change came from the influence of my better half, and whom I consider to be the best coach, Joe Arangio. He started giving me workouts and I started to see the changes and the newfound strength and stamina. I learned that I was not going to ever look like a bulky “bodybuilder” but, instead, I was going to see my lean muscles and my abs. I can also eat more calories because strength training increases my metabolism; a benefit I did not think about and that I truly need because of my Hashimoto’s (low thyroid) condition.
When Joe and I were dating more than a decade ago, I remember not being able to walk in high heels or get on an airplane without compression tights because of the pain in my joints, due to lupus. That leg pain and joint pain that I experienced did not come back, so I continue to do strength training because it truly works.
2. A lot of women are afraid to lift heavy because they think they’ll look bulky overnight. What would you say to them?
I can relate to them, because I had that same thinking before I started training with Joe. Joe can tell you the many conversations that we had before I finally took the leap of faith.
The truth is there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the fitness world, and there are a lot of marketing buzzwords that women seem to swoon over, like “lean” and “toned” versus men’s marketing words like “build muscle” and “shred fat.” There is also so much fitness misinformation, it’s no wonder most are hesitant to change their thinking.
Bulky bodies happen when you are not eating unprocessed, portion-controlled meals, period. You cannot, nor will you ever be able to, out-train a bad diet. It’s hard work in the kitchen and a smart exercise program that is going to make you lean and, dare I say it, muscular not bulky. The objective is to have much more muscle mass than fat mass.
You will be healthier, you will be stronger, and you will be able to have the stamina you need for life.
3. Can you walk us through an average day of what you eat and the exercises you perform?
I wake up refreshed from eight hours of sleep, assuming no “little people” have ventured into our room at night! Sleep is a big part of training because you can only train as hard as you can recover.
After no more than 30 minutes from waking, I start my water intake. Drinking enough water each day is the difference between a good day and a great day. It hydrates you and keeps you feeling full. I shoot for half my body weight in ounces of water per day.
My day begins with a nutrient-dense meal bar or a shake with greens. I personally have to be really selective with my meal choices because I have developed food sensitivities with my lupus. I also avoid certain foods because of my thyroid condition. I make sure to eat portion-controlled and nutrient-dense foods every 2 to 3 hours. This includes a lean protein (chicken, turkey, etc.) and vegetables, like broccoli and sweet potatoes. I eat about six times a day and try not to eat past 8:00 p.m., so that digestion does not affect my sleep.
As far as my exercise routine, my husband is the fitness expert here. He programs my workouts, which change every four weeks, and I do them on my own. I train four times a week for about an hour per training session. If I am feeling great, I may still add some running or cycling in there to keep my blood moving, but I do not train every day.
It’s a balance and, like I said, you need to listen to your body, get good rest, and have some stress management in life. For me, I pray and meditate often: in the car, walking the kids to school, while training, upon waking, and before my meals. Keeping a positive mindset in a very negative world takes mental exercise every day.
Another lesson I have learned is that I can only really train in the morning. It’s something that I have found with age and with my health conditions that if I start the day with an excellent workout, well, the day gets be better after that. Morning workouts give me more energy, a clearer mind, and help me feel like I’ve accomplished something amazing before most people have gotten out of bed!
It’s a metaphor for life: Regular workouts are challenging, but they sharpen you and transform not only your body, but your thoughts about what is possible. They teach you that you are capable of accomplishing anything if you do the work. And the results boost your confidence.
4. Why do you work out?
I live life like an athlete. I don’t want to “shape and tone” but, instead, I want to train. I don’t want to work at a job; rather, I want to practice what I’m passionate about. Our fitness coaching clients, at WorkoutEngine Allentown, inspire me to help more people get healthy. Joe and I decided to do the HomeBody Challenge reality television show because we wanted to spread the word and help more people get healthy. Our health and fitness coaching business is our labor of love.
It’s also important to note that people will not take us seriously if we are not living the life that we preach. Healthy living is more than one area of your life and it’s more than focusing on one healthy habit.
I train to be a better wife, a better mother, a better sister, a better friend, and a better health coach. I am completely responsible for my good health. It’s a priority because I am passionate about people and the quality of their lives and I won’t be much of a support unless I can be healthy myself.
Every single person has the ability to achieve his or her full potential. Yes, it’s a lot of work and you have to commit mind, body, and spirit–but it’s completely worthwhile. Perfection is never the goal, because that is the worst form of self-abuse. Instead, the focus is optimal health. What do your thoughts say about who you are? Who do you want to be? Every day is a mental battle to be healthy in a very unhealthy world. It’s best to surround yourself with people that are going to be holding you accountable and guiding you to a better lifestyle.
5. What’s your ultimate “cheat meal”?
I never met a good burger that I didn’t like–in a nice restaurant–and preferably with grass-fed beef and gluten-free bun. Ha!