I love Thanksgiving. Just like the Fourth of July, it’s a 100% all-American holiday with no gifts required. What makes this day so special is the opportunity to pause and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. What better way to slow down than to sit down and enjoy some quality time with family and friends? Of course, that time ends up being stuffed with food and drink, and maybe a little football, too.
Since this is an abbreviated work week for many of my repeat readers, I wanted to get these annual survival tips posted in time for the calorie-loaded holiday ahead.
- Get moving: Don’t skimp on getting some activity into your daily routine this week. Ten minutes are always better than nothing, and mentally, you’ll feel good knowing you made an effort prior to the Turkey Day feast. On Thursday, even if you’re hosting the holiday fun and can’t leave the house, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata first thing in the morning. If you can get some fresh air, take a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. Your gym is open? Great! Try a morning group exercise class or attack some cardio and core work. A few solid planks can make you feel strong before filling belly up with yummy food!
- Do NOT skip breakfast: Be sure to eat something sensible on Thanksgiving morning to get your metabolism going. If you’re not feasting until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or sensible snack so you don’t go overboard later. Two ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in or a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and salsa. These protein-rich snacks will keep you full longer.
- Size DOES matter: Use a salad or other small dish for your meal. Start with salad or veggies and then add the turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. There simply won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.
- Savor the flavor: Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait about 10 minutes before going back for round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – before moving on to dessert, of course!
- Mind the libations: This is a good day to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of water of diet soda before moving on to the next cocktail.
- Give away leftovers: Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings to your guests.
I close with a heartfelt wish for you to enjoy a Happy and healthy Thanksgiving! On this holiday, I give thanks for so many things including my family, my friends, my health and for the support I receive from my “fitfam,” which includes you loyal readers. Remember, a few extra calories are worth it if it means spending time with the people you love. Laughter, good food and even good wine can be good for the heart and the soul as part of our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This Motivation Monday brings us less than two weeks from the official start of the 2015 holiday season. With all the hustle and bustle ahead, I thought it was the perfect time to address an often overlooked piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle: sleep. What better time to post about it than halfway through National Sleep Comfort Month? I know, there’s a month and a day for everything. However in all seriousness, rest is a necessity for our overworked bodies and overtaxed minds.
My repeat readers already know I am a huge promoter of taking at least one day off from the workout routine each week. That time off allows muscles to recover, repair and rebuild. It can also help you return to the norm with more energy to kick some serious butt. When it comes to sleep, even those who can survive on less shut-eye than others still need to maintain healthy sleep habits to keep the mind alert and stress levels down.
Here are a few of the tricks I use to try to keep my zzzz levels at an even keel:
- Social Media Shut Down: 30 minutes before bed, eliminate all electronic stimulation. If you post a good night on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds, t’s not the end of the world.
- Soothing Tea: At this time of year, I always have a box of “Sleepytime” tea from Celestial Seasonings somewhere in my kitchen. There’s something about the caffeine-free blend of chamomile, spearmint and lemongrass that helps me wind down after a long day.
- Soothing Scents: Other supplies in my fall and winter stockpile include the “Sleep” products from Bath & Body Works. I love the combination of lavender and vanilla in everything from body lotion to linen sprays. There’s something about a soothing scent that can help block out all the noise from the outside world.
Need more ideas? I’m sharing this handy guide created by the sleep experts with one perfect mattress at Casper. Thanks to their team for reaching out and offering these tips to my readers.
Remember, never underestimate the power of a good night sleep to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
If you’re finding it hard to be inspired on this Motivation Monday, you’re not alone. Blame it on the one thing most of us simply can’t escape: the end of Daylight Saving Time.
Even though we just wrapped up a week of ridiculously warm November temperatures here in New York, the one normal thing that took place each day was the disarming loss of sunlight before 6 pm. We’ve started the time of year when many of us leave home each morning in the dark only to leave work at the end of a long day and find ourselves enveloped in darkness once again. Add the inevitable drop in temperatures looming in the days ahead, and you have the perfect mix to want to ditch any exercise plans and head straight for the cozy couch.
So, I thought it was a good time to offer a few tips to help you stay on track this season:
- Do NOT Leave Home Without the Workout Wear: If you normally exercise after work, make sure to bring your gym bag to the office. If you have to go home to change before your workout, you’ll only find yourself face-to-face with that comfy couch tempting you to take a load off – and stay there.
- Get Physical at Lunchtime: If you usually hit the gym before heading to the office or after dropping the kids off for school, why not consider moving your workout to lunchtime? Even under a cloudy sky, it’s brighter at midday. Sometimes that’s all you need to get your butt into the gym. It’s also the perfect time to see if that group exercise class you’ve been curious about is offered at lunchtime.
- Make More Workout Dates: Plan to meet a friend for that morning power walk, lunchtime body conditioning or evening barre workout. Wanting to avoid the “guilt” of standing up a friend can keep you committed to your scheduled exercise plans.
I leave you with this final tip: remembering how good you feel after a workout may provide the biggest incentive to stick with your routine even on the darkest days ahead. Never underestimate the power of that post-exercise endorphin rush as you continue on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
For this Motivation Monday, I can think of no better place to look for FIT-spiration than the tens of thousands of men and women who laced up for the 45th running of the New York City marathon! Congratulations to all who crossed the finish line! My repeat readers know I’m forever in awe of anyone who run for any length of time. As much as I love my endorphins, I never became a runner – and I’m happy to cheer on anyone who enjoys that high on a regular basis and then pushes it the extreme in this amazing show of stamina and endurance.
Also over the weekend, another group of determined athletes put their strength and endurance to the test in the Tough Mudder competition out in Southern California. Before the action-packed weekend got underway at Vail Lake, I had the honor of speaking with retired U.S. Army Colonel Joe Adams to learn more about what it takes to be a part of the mother of all obstacle courses. I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about it – and maybe you’ll even consider signing up for one yourself!
If you enjoyed as much Halloween candy as I did this weekend, maybe these fitness fanatics will inspire you to get back on track with your normal plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
How can you go out to dinner and not fall off the healthy-lifestyle wagon?
Whether you face multiple business dinners or date nights during the week, you don’t have to abandon all your healthy habits just because you leave the safety of your own kitchen! Here are five tricks that help me stay on track:
- Skip the fried stuff: Select fish, poultry or lean meats that are broiled, grilled, baked or steamed. Save the fried dishes (and share them!) as a “treat” when you’re out for a World-Series-watching night out!
- Don’t be shy: It’s okay to ask for foods that fit into your eating plans. Ask the waiter to hold the bread basket. Request dressings or sauces on the side. While you’re at it, go ahead and ask for a double order of vegetables in place of French fries or other starch.
- Spice things up: Speaking of veggies, opt for side dishes that are seasoned with herbs or spices rather than butter, sour cream or cheese. Or get those thicker sauces on the side and use sparingly.
- Splurge on sharing: Who says you can only split dessert? Consider having a hearty salad for an appetizer and then split an entrée, too. If no one wants to share, ask to take half of your portion home.
- Limit the libations: My repeat readers know I’m a huge fan of the every-other-drink plan. Have a cocktail or glass of wine, then order a seltzer with lemon or diet soda for your next round. Perhaps by the time you’ve finished those two drinks, you won’t want another cocktail. If you do, you’re only on round two of the libations instead of three. Want to skip the booze altogether but still have something fun to sip on? Have seltzer with a splash of cranberry or orange juice. Keeping sugary juices to a splash can save a bunch of calories.
With the holidays creeping closer every day, developing a few healthy eating-out habits now can only help make the season more manageable. Consider this week a time to start “training” so you can wrap up the last few months of 2015 on track with those plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
As I sit here on this Sunday evening slathered in sports cream, I feel beyond blessed to have completed my second Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City. I’m thankful I could join my fellow St. Mary’s High School Gael, Sue, for our second journey together and equally elated we could add Christine, Stephanie and Lisa to this year’s pink warrior adventure. While each of us walked for relatives and friends touched by the disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women in the United States, we also teamed up on behalf of an organization aimed at improving the quality of life for those living with breast cancer and their families.
You Can Thrive! offers free and low-cost support services and long-term prevention and survivorship tools for breast cancer survivors. This includes everything from acupuncture to massage to nutritional education and to peer support. Sue and I learned about the foundation thanks to the group’s volunteers who have helped our fellow Gael pal, Elizabeth, who is still waging her own war against breast cancer. Being greeted by You Can Thrive! volunteers and many survivors with hugs, pom-poms and loud hoorahs at their cheering station one mile from the finish line was in a word, overwhelming.
When our fierce team of five finally crossed the finish, we did so hand-in-hand and tears immediately filled my eyes. I was bombarded by a flood of visions from the two-day trek: the woman wearing a pink cape covered with too many ribbons showcasing the names of those she’s lost to breast cancer since she her first Avon walk 11 years ago; the volunteer firefighter wearing full gear for the entire Walk; the woman who completed the journey with help from an amazing support group who not only pushed her wheelchair around the city streets, but even carried it up the stairs to the Manhattan Bridge; and the survivors – young and old – proudly wearing sashes and smiles. I thought of my own mom, now a seven-year survivor. I thought of Elizabeth, and how much I want her to join us in this journey next year. Finally, I thought about how wonderful it will be when we don’t have to have to walk ever again.
I end with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my journey. Thanks to you, I raised more money than last year, reaching $3860. I also want to thank all of you who sent supportive emails and texts or liked and shared my social media posts documenting everything from my preparation for the journey to the weekend milestones. I couldn’t have done this without an amazing team effort! If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that’s hit close to home, get out there and do it! Putting your best foot forward – literally – is probably one of the most empowering ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ravioli…it seems everywhere you go, pumpkin is on the menu. I look forward to a big slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving (which is surprisingly not too far away), but it turns out there are several good reasons to enjoy pumpkin more than once a year!
On this Motivation Monday, I offer just a few of the health perks found in fall’s signature squash:
- Post-Workout Power! You’ve probably heard the rave reviews for bananas as a natural source of energy. However, one cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium with 564 milligrams compared to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
- Good for Your Baby Blues…and Browns, Greens and Hazels, too!: One cup of mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin. Also, pumpkin is full of carotenoids, a fancy name for the compounds that create its orange color including Beta carotene, which has been linked to eye protection.
- Keep Your Appetite in Check! This often forgotten source of fiber packs three grams in a one-cup serving with only 49 calories. Countless studies show a fiber-rich diet can help you stay full longer so you eat more sensibly throughout the day.
So, while it’s always a good idea to enjoy the pumpkin pie in moderation, there’s no reason not to indulge in some of the other healthy options provided by this seasonal favorite to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous !
After a soggy start to the month here in New York, I say bring on the crisp, cool days of autumn! As the leaves start to fall and we lose a little more daylight with each passing day, it’s also a time to welcome some new ways to get the heart pumping.
If you’ve been craving a little spice in your fitness routine, all you have to do is turn to Mother Nature for inspiration. Here are a few ways to add some fun to your fall fitness routine:
- ‘Tis the season for kayaking, canoeing, rowing and horseback riding! If you live near the water, look for clubs that offer fall water sports. Along with enjoying some scenery, you’ll get the added benefit of squeezing some cardio and upper body strength training. Horseback riding helps build lower body strength while taking in the beauty of a brightly-colored trail. If you’re a city dweller like me, consider trying a rowing class or at least adding a 500-meter sprint on the rowing machine to your gym routine.
- Make those chores work for you! Did you know a 150-pound person can burn up to 135 calories by raking leaves for 30 minutes? Turn raking leaves into a family activity to have some fun with the kids, too!
- Outdoor bootcamps, anyone? Check out opportunities to workout in local parks or other outdoor hot spots before the colder temps and darker days chase us indoors. Depending on the intensity of the class, these full-body workouts can burn up to nearly 500 calories an hour.
- Adjust the time you workout: I don’t know about you, but as it gets darker, it’s harder for me to get motivated in the evenings. While I’m adjusting to the lack of sunlight, I try to get my workouts over with pre-work if possible. Check if there are morning group classes that fit your fancy. Not only can the group dynamic offer a boost of motivation, but you’ll start the day with a shot of endorphins to keep the energy up at work or wherever the day takes you. Also, by working out in the morning, you can welcome the tired feeling that creeps up on you earlier than usual and spend your evenings relaxing or enjoying down time with family and friends.
So what’s your fall fitness plan? Let me know! Whatever you do, remember this: sometimes all you need is a little help from Mother Nature to help you find new ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This Motivation Monday arrives just two days away from the kick off of another Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While we’ve made strides in the fight against this awful disease, there’s still so much more to do. Consider these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer in the United States is—
- The most common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity.
- The most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women.
- The second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
We all know someone affected by breast cancer. As you repeat readers know, my mom is a survivor. Today, my St. Mary’s Gael-pal Elizabeth, continues her own battle. So, in 19 days, another St. Mary’s Gael and I will reunite for our second Avon 39 Walk against breast cancer. Sue (my “partner in crime”) even got two of her friends to join us this time. It’s sure to be another epic weekend.
I’m beyond grateful to all of you who’ve supported me so far. Because of your generous spirit, I will start the 39.3 mile journey early on the morning of October 17th. When the going gets tough over the weekend, I’ll do what I did last year. I’ll simply think about how aching muscles and a few blisters are nothing compared to what it’s like to experience cancer.
As you read this post, I’m either in the midst of a corporate video shoot or on my way home. Because of my schedule, I thought about letting this week’s post slide. Then I realized I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to remind everyone that together we can make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. If you’d like donate to Avon 39, simply click here to be directed to my personal page. Every dollar helps provide life-saving screenings and treatment along with support for patients and their families.
One final note: Motivation Monday is also a great time to remember multiple studies have shown exercise is a great defense against all kinds of diseases including cancer. So maybe this is the day you break a sweat for your health and consider giving a few dollars to help others. Together, we can do so much to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!