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Fitness | Guest Workout

She's True to Her Pilates Program

November 23, 1998|CANDACE A. WEDLAN

Talk about scrupulous. The night before this interview, Judith Krantz did her homework. The novelist ("Scruples" [Crown, 1978] was her first book) did the math and figured out that she's put in at least 1,600 hours worth of Pilates exercise. "I started in 1966," Krantz said while we were talking in her living room, "and I've been doing it ever since three times a week." She works out now with Pilates trainer Diane Severino.

Krantz and her husband, movie and TV producer Steven Krantz, have a small fitness room on the second floor of their Bel-Air home--a treadmill for him and the Pilates equipment--a Universal Reformer--for her.

"The minute I hear Diane ring the doorbell at 5 o'clock, my iron discipline can shut down because her meter is running. I'm sitting in my workroom writing and I'm usually in pain by that time." Her 10th novel, "The Jewels of Tessa Kent" (Crown), came out earlier this month.

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Question: Tensed up from writing all day?

Answer: There's a lot of tension in the body after a day at a typewriter. In my case a computer, which is even more tension because how do I know it's going to work? I'm not a techie.

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Q; Do you warm up before the Pilates?

A: I work out first on a mat in my bedroom to stretch. You want to become completely warmed up and flexible before you start pushing and pulling on the machine.

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Q: And you're using your own weight.

A: You're using your own weight. Push and pull--nothing on the machine works without you. The whole point of Pilates is to develop the abdominal muscles so that you have a lot of strength holding you up--not to slump into your hip bones--and to keep your backbone flexible, to elongate you. I think you are as young as your backbone--the minute you can't bend over and touch your toes, you've started to lose it.

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Q: How much do you weigh and how tall are you?

A: I'm 5-2 1/2 and I weigh 102. I think the whole trick is what I call the 2-pound diet. The minute you go up 2 pounds, cut back a little bit.

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Q: Let's hear what you eat.

A: Breakfast is freshly squeezed orange juice, one piece of wheat bran bread, Quaker oatmeal. I put a little sugar on it because I believe there's nothing wrong with sugar. I don't believe in rules. And a little Lactaid milk because I'm lactose intolerant. And a cup of tea, which is one of my two cups of tea a day. And for lunch I have a chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad--one of those three things.

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Q: Do you pay attention to the kind of mayonnaise it's made with?

A: It's low-calorie. And I use at least one lemon of seasoning. I love anything that's sharp. I used to eat whole lemons as a child until I discovered that it had taken all the enamel off [a tooth].

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Q: What do you have for dinner?

A: For dinner, I have soup to begin with, made from fresh vegetables. And then we have either fish or chicken made in a hundred different ways and rice. Chicken and rice is my comfort food. And a small salad. . . . I don't eat a lot of vegetables. I don't eat a lot of roughage. I don't eat a lot of all of that good stuff that you're supposed to eat. And I never clean my plate unless I didn't take enough the first time. Dessert is fruit.

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Q: What do you normally drink throughout the day, besides the tea?

A: I drink tons of water. And I take every vitamin pill you can possibly imagine twice over.

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Q: No snacks in between meals?

A: At 3:30 my blood sugar seems to go way down, and I have something absolutely disgusting. I have half of an English muffin loaded with strawberry jam and a cup of tea with two teaspoons of sugar in it. Strong tea, heaping teaspoons. This gives me a caffeine-sugar high so I can work till 5 and then work out with Diane. Otherwise, I'd just be lying there in a puddle by the time she came.

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Q: You and your husband like to ballroom dance.

A: If you do a waltz for 15 minutes, you feel your heart beat very, very hard. We waltz. We tango. We fox trot. We rumba. The swing and the tango are our favorites--a lot of aerobic movement in the swing.

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Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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