Fuel for the Day

Some of my favorite fueling options

Some of my favorite fueling options

Today’s Motivation Monday post has been inspired by the team at ETB Fitness.

Petro Martynyuk, community coordinator for the sports nutrition-based lifestyle business – which stands for “Eat the Bear”  – was kind enough to reach out to me after reading my post, Spring Fitness for Your Fitness Routine. He had some questions about the kind of fuel that energizes me before, during and after my workouts. While I haven’t tried any of ETB’s products (yet!), I’m grateful for the opportunity to share some tricks that work for me. Here’s what Petro wanted to know:

What foods do you eat pre workout? 

This all depends on what I’m doing:

  1. If I start a morning with fasted cardio, the only thing I’ll have before hopping on the elliptical machine and/or stationary bicycle and/or rowing machine for a 60-minute kick-start to the day is six to eight ounces of water while walking to the gym. I should mention I do “strip” twice during the cardio session. I take one rapid electrolyte replacement oral thin-film strip made by Sportsfood, Inc. at the start of the workout and another halfway through.
  2. If I’m taking a Physique57 class, I’ll have a green apple or some reduced-fat wheat thins with almond butter about an hour before class starts. If I need a real grab-and-go option, a banana always works in a pinch as will a serving of raw almonds and a 1/2 cup of blueberries. If I’m in a real hurry, a banana always works in a pinch. (Want to know more about the total-body, kick-butt barre-based method based program I’ve been addicted to since 2013? Click here.)
  3. For more heavy lifting, whether it’s a free-weight based group exercise class or if I’m pumping iron on my own, I’ll eat some more carbs before the workout. My go-to for that fuel is oatmeal with strawberries and/or blueberries. If I want an extra kick, I’ll stir in a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter.

What do you listen to during your workout?

I’m a firm believer that having the right music can make the difference between going the extra mile or throwing in the towel. Like my pre-exercise prep, I have different music for different workouts. Fortunately, my group exercise instructors have fantastic playlists and Spotify selections. For my fasted-cardio sessions, I need beats that keep me moving with some help from Calvin Harris, Tiesto and other master mixers. My current top three Workout Playlist favorites for cardio:

  • “Pray to God (featuring HAIM)”, Calvin Harris
  • “Let Me In (Astma & Rockwell Remix)”, Kleerup & Susanne Sundfor
  • “Comeback”, Ella Eyre

If I’m lifting, I tend to listen to music with a bit more of an edge. Because of my age and variety of music tastes, the bands that provide that inspiration range from Nine Inch Nails to Twisted Sister.

How do you switch up certain routines daily/weekly to stay motivated?

No matter what you’re doing, variety IS the spice of life. As I mentioned above, I do mix things up between strict cardio sessions, group exercise classes and one-on-one time with the iron. I’m also sure to give myself a minimum of one rest day each week to recover. Those off-days help me feel stronger physically and mentally when I do get back in the game.

What do you eat or do after your workout to make sure you got the most out of your workout?

I always make sure to cool down and stretch after my workouts. What I love about Physique57 classes is that stretches are incorporated throughout the class after high-intensity sprints.

As far as the post-workout food plan goes, I admit this area of my routine remains a work in progress. The key is getting some protein into my system as quickly as possible – preferably within 30 minutes and no more than 45. Thanks to the nutritional cleansing program I did in the spring and the maintenance program I follow now, I’ve found a protein recovery shake I really like. On most days, I’ll accompany the 8-ounce shake with a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and almond butter.  One final food note: I make a point of trying to eat five to six small meals each day. This keeps my metabolism fueled, hunger in check and blood sugar levels on an even keel.

Thanks again to ETB Fitness for giving me a reason to make sure I’m keeping my fitness routine energized with the right fuel. At the end of the day, the right food, the right music and even the right workout wear can motivate fitness buffs of every age and fitness level stay on track with their goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Staying Safe in the Summer Sun

As the Mercury Rises, Be Sure to Keep the Water Handy!

As the Mercury Rises, Be Sure to Keep the Water Handy!

There’s nothing like a summer bug to throw off everything from your workout routine to a blog post. I’m finally starting to feel human again after an off week. Since we’re starting to feel some serious heat here in the concrete jungle with heat advisories in effect for the start of a new work week, I thought you’d forgive this Motivation Monday re-run of some important safety reminders.

Sometimes sunscreen, a good hat and a bottle of water aren’t enough to protect you from the effects of the sweltering sun. Here’s what you need to know if you or someone you know experience heat-related illnesses:

Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent.

What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.

Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Moist, pale, or cool skin
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Weak pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.

Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include:

  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Little or no perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Rapid pulse

What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. Personally, I simply have water with me at all times and take a sip or two whenever I rest between sets or just stop for a breather.
  • If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Don’t let this post prevent you from soaking up the summer season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to keep the water bottle full and use a little extra care move ahead with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

LauraLovesFitness Turns Four!

iStock_000016093894SmallThis happens to be an extra special Motivation Monday. Today, my “baby” blog turns four.

Just like when my own special day rolls around, my blog’s birthday always triggers thoughts about how life can change in the blink of an eye  – let alone in the days since my very first post on July 13th, 2011.

Let’s face it – change can be tough. However, I wouldn’t go back and re-write any of the pages of my life’s history so far. I know it’s a combination of the good, the bad and the ugly that have made me as strong as I am today, both physically and mentally. Along with my faith and the unwavering support from an amazing group of people I’m lucky to call family and friends, there’s one other constant that has always helped me work through life’s challenges: my love for exercise. While I admit a second cupcake or glass of Prosecco made getting through some of the tough days more bearable, it’s the endorphin rush from a good workout that never fails to boost my mood. Physical activity also keeps my immune system strong and my mind focused on the light at the end of even the longest tunnels.

Writing my weekly blog posts has also been more cathartic than I could have imagined. Getting things out “on paper” has helped me see sticky situations a bit more clearly, and that dose of reality has often provided a powerful kick in the you-know-what to get moving on something. To that end, this was a monumental year for me physically as I’m finally back to my own “goal weight” and feel healthier than ever. Who would have thought a nutritional cleanse would help me feel more energized than ever at the age of 41?

To re-cap my journey back to my “goal weight” and some other favorite posts from the past year, here are links for quick reference:

New Month, New Me

Taking My Fitness Tips to TV

The Walk that Changed My Life

Finding Strength in Letting Go

Using Fitness to Make a Difference 

I close with a thank you to all of you of you who have inspired me to keep the writing going since 2011. Whether you subscribed to LauraLovesFitness on day one or just recently, your “likes,” comments, questions and shares have motivated me to keep plugging away on some of my own down days. In the year ahead, I plan to continue writing this blog, and hope to share my writing with an even bigger audience. As always, I’d love to hear suggestions for writing topics or ways I can help you with your own health and fitness goals. You can always leave private comments at LauraLovesFitness@gmail.com

So, here’s to the next steps as my blog marches toward its fifth birthday and all the steps on our shared journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Beach Plank Tabata Encore

Here’s hoping this Motivation Monday finds you rested and maybe looking a little sun-kissed after a happy fourth of July weekend!

I’m happy to report I enjoyed plenty of beach and BBQ time. However, that left very little time for writing. So, after a fun-filled weekend, I hope you don’t mind this re-boot of one of my summertime videos. It features my favorite core exercise done on my favorite setting on the planet. If you’re looking for ways to bring your workout moves out of the gym and into the great outdoors this season, look no further than the beach plank Tabata.

I hope your first day back to reality isn’t too manic and that the week ahead offers plenty of opportunities for you to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Change Just One Thing

IMG_1507With summer in full swing, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to offer some positive reinforcements. Yes, it’s beach season.  That means bikinis, shorts, strapless dresses and tanks are everywhere. It also means people can put way too much pressure on themselves to be in “prime” condition for this season of extra exposure.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with an uber-restrictive diet or adding daunting amounts of exercise to your already stretched-too-thin schedule, I offer this advice: why not try to make ONE change that can make a healthy difference over time. Here are five ideas for you to choose from  – and there’s no time like today to get started!

1) Swap out soda or juice for water or seltzer. Cut down on unwanted sugar, calories and sodium by making the switch to good ol’ H2o. Need some flavor? Add a slice of lemon or orange to your water bottle or an individual packet of  Crystal light.
2) Cut back on the booze. Saving the frozen cocktails or wine-time for the weekend or adding one or two more “dry” nights to the work week also cuts back the unwanted sugar and calories. Flavored seltzers make for wonderful mocktails on those booze-free evenings!
3)  Scale back on the sweets. If you have a wedding, backyard barbecue or other summertime fun fest on the weekend agenda, the work week is the perfect time to save up for the treats. Curb an after-dinner sweet craving with a green apple sprinkled with some cinnamon.
4) Add a flight or two to your weekly activity. Instead of stressing over when you’ll be able to squeeze in another 60-minute group exercise class to your busy schedule, why not take the stairs at work a few days this week? If you’re a commuter, skip the escalator and take the stairs up from the underground to civilization. You can also park the car a little farther away from the entrance to your office building or the grocery store. The extra steps DO add up over time!
5) Love yourself more. Embrace you who you are and feel good about the positive choices you make everyday. Don’t worry about always following the latest trends and buy clothes that make you feel good.
The only thing left to do is get outside and enjoy a healthy Vitamin D-filled season (with sunscreen, of course!) and all the opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Digestive Health & Fitness

medinsigniaThis Motivation Monday brings us about two weeks away from this year’s Tour de France. The 3,360 km race features the world’s most elite cyclists and today, I’m thrilled to share an interview with one of them.

Lucy Garner is a British racing cyclist and part of the professional Team Giant-Alpecin. She won her first junior world title at a road world championship in Copenhagen, returning a year later to claim a second world title at Valkenburg, Netherlands. Joining the senior levels at the start of the 2013 season, Garner claimed  her first professional victory on the opening stage of the Tour of Chongming Island in Shanghai, China.

Garner recently teamed up Brooke Alpert, nutrition expert and author of The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great and Look Years Younger to discuss the role of nutrition as part of an overall healthy and active lifestyle. I hope you’ll enjoy their discussion from Amsterdam filmed a little earlier this month and sponsored by n Culturelle® Probiotic.

Don’t Drink Your Calories!

Don't Let Frosty Temptations Get the Best of You!

Don’t Let Frosty Temptations Get the Best of You!

The calendar says we’re still six days away from the official start of summer. However, here in New York City, signs of the season popped up weeks ago. Flip flops and sundresses are out in full force. It also seems everywhere I look, people are carrying those whipped-cream-covered coffee drinks that serve as summertime’s keep-us-cool beverages of choice. So on this Motivation Monday, I thought I’d remind everyone to keep the frosty favorites on the treat list.

I know, nothing offers a little lift on a hot, humid day like an ice-infused combination of coffee and chocolate or some other sweet favor. It’s just important to remember those kicks can pack quite a punch when it comes to calories, fat and sugar.

Even though Starbucks has created quite a buzz with the new mini Frappuccino®, the 10-ounce regular coffee flavor still has 120 calories and 24 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, the new S’mores Frappuccino packs a whopping 330 calories and 43 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce tall serving. (I won’t even list the numbers in the grande, venti or trenta sizes. You can check out those eye-opening digits for yourself by clicking here.)

If you’re a Dunkin’ Donuts drinker, this may be the time of year you start sipping the signature Coolatta®. Here’s how the small frozen coffee flavor breaks down:

  • Coolatta with cream: 210 calories; 23 grams of fat; 49 grams of carbs and 43 grams of sugar.
  • Coolatta with skim milk: while you knock out the fat (O grams total), you still end up drinking in 210 calories and 49 grams of sugar. (The full list of frozen beverages can be found by clicking here.)

As you repeat readers know, I would never tell anyone not to enjoy a treat once in awhile. However, it’s a good time of year to pay attention to what’s on your daily menu. If a frozen coffee beverage becomes a routine extra at breakfast, lunch or snack time, remember, those are extra calories you’re adding to the entire day. Also, substituting real food with a large or extra-large frozen anything is never a good idea. Your body needs the proper fuel to keep running. And when you come down from your frozen-sugar buzz, you’ll probably still be hungry.

Yes, treats are a fun part of life. We just need to keep them in check so that we take the best care of our bodies. If you’ve already taken that positive step of adding  exercise to your daily routine, you will only reap extra benefits by eating wholesome, healthy foods. Remember, you really are what you eat – and during these hot, steamy months -that includes what you drink! Keep track of those treats and you’ll be able to stay the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Small Victories

VictoryOn this Motivation Monday, I hope to quash some of the negativity that tries to sabotage your plans on the windy road to health and wellness.

Monday has the unfortunate stigma of being the least favorite day of the week. However, it’s also the springboard allowing us to start fresh on so many levels. First and foremost, it’s time to forget what didn’t happen last week. Maybe you didn’t get to the gym as many times as you planned. Don’t sweat it. Instead, celebrate the fact that you did get there at some point. Even if you didn’t, pat yourself on the back for the times you:

  • Took the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Added a few more steps to walk from the parking lot to your office building by parking the car further from the entrance
  • Carried some extra bundles and/or your kid up the stairs without stopping to rest

The same goes for eating. Okay, so you had a little more wine than you wanted over the weekend. However, you ordered the grilled fish instead of a cheese-covered entrée to go with that wine. That’s a win. Maybe you indulged in dessert, but did you share it? If so, you found a way to cut down on some of the decadent calories. Remember, healthy habits take time to take root in our often all-too comfortable routines. So instead of beating yourself for what you didn’t do, feel empowered by the better decisions you did make.

Finally, don’t be shy about rewarding yourself for those little victories. Perhaps you set a goal to stay away from the wine this work week and make a date to enjoy an extra good glass with a gal pal next weekend. That way, you get to savor the flavor and enjoy the wonderful wellness booster known as laughter and good conversation. And what better way to reward yourself for making it to one extra group exercise class than with a new tank top or other fun workout wear?

Remember, just like other good deeds, taking care of your body and your mind should be recognized and rewarded. Celebrate your small victories because before you know it, they’ll add up to healthy lifestyle changes in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Month = New Me

March (L) & Today (R)

March (L) & Today (R)

I love when a brand new month kicks off on a Motivation Monday! The calendar basically gives us a boost to get things started in so many parts of our lives. So, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to share the positive health journey I’ve been on since March.

My repeat readers will know I’ve never been shy about discussing the slips in my own health and fitness routine. The injuries brought on by my own stupidity. Too many days off between workouts. The extended stints of chocolate and Prosecco-filled nights out. It’s all part of who I am. However, back in March I decided to do something to give my healthy routine a reboot. Three months later, I feel healthier than ever.

Before I get into my routine, let me say this: I realize I’ve never been what any medical chart would define as overweight. However, over the last few years, I simply didn’t like how I felt. When I turned 41 back in February, I was at my heaviest weight ever and my same old routine just wasn’t giving me the energy I wanted. Today, I’m back at the weight I feel most comfortable at and have more energy to do the things I love.

Never one for extreme measures, I was able to follow a 30-day nutritional cleanse that simply made me focus on the fuel I was putting in my body. I’ll be the first to admit the idea of a “cleanse” scared the hell out of me. However, it tuned out all I was really doing was following a program that helped remove impurities from my system. For 30 days, I simply cut out anything artificial or processed which was basically anything with empty calories.  Instead, I streamlined superfoods into my diet including fish, quinoa and eggs and I even discovered a new favorite pre- or post-workout snack: toasted Ezekiel bread with almond butter.

LauraBeforeAfter4I won’t lie, I still had a few “cheat moments” during the month. However, thanks to my new focus, I realized these treats didn’t need to be part of my everyday routine because I liked how I felt being fueled by superfoods. Finally, I believe I was able to better manage my stress levels because my body was getting what it really needed.

The result: at the end of 30 days, I was down 10 pounds and lost two inches from each thigh; 1 and 1/2 inches around the hips and a 1/2 inch in my waist and arms. Numbers aside, my skin never looked better and I had more energy at a steady level throughout each day.

Since then, I’ve managed to maintain a regimen that’s kept my weight at the level I feel good at and I can still enjoy my night’s out, Prosecco, chocolate and the other treats that simply make me smile. The bottom line is this: I always write about how working out is a part of healthy lifestyle and not a hobby. The same goes for nutrition. Eating good foods and the right nutrients is crucial to improving your overall wellness.

A couple of final notes:

  1. It’s never too late to start healthy habits that can make a huge impact on the rest of your life.
  2. Don’t let others keep you from going after what you want.

If you’d like to learn more about my journey, I’m just an email away! Whatever goals you set for yourself this week and this season, here’s to making them a reality with
some help from that ever-burning desire to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope your extended weekend has been filled with fun in the sun and good times with friends and family. Today, I offer my “wish list” for you on Memorial Day.

1) Take a moment to stop and remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could live in this wonderful land we call the United States of America.

2) Fit some fitness into your holiday fun. Maybe there’s a group exercise class you can take before heading to that BBQ, or take a long walk when you get home from the fun.

3) If you’re spending time outside, don’t forget to apply and re-apply the sunscreen!

4) Whether you’re celebrating the holiday indoors or out, stay hydrated. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure to designate a driver to ensure everyone gets home safely.

I close this short and simple post with wishes for a very Happy Memorial Day! Here’s to the summer ahead and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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