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!

A Fresh Start

Finding strength in letting go

Finding strength in letting go

On this Motivation Monday, I find myself starting over…yet again.

I have steered my career back on to the freelance highway. The idea is to stay the course until I decide what I really want to be when I “grow up.” The difference this time is that I’m more optimistic than ever that I’m on the brink of actually figuring it out.

Letting go or breaking free of a less-than-ideal situation is never easy. The unknown – daunting and scary – can be an unappealing choice compared to a comfortable routine, even if that day-to-day grind makes you unhappy. However, change can also be liberating.  I look at the days ahead as an opportunity for growth and the chance to explore ideas I never let formulate before, mostly because I was simply too scared to let them move to the forefront of my mind.

At 41, I realize I have many years ahead of me when it comes to working. Of course, if I win the lottery, all bets are off. If that happened, I’d simply volunteer my time as a health coach or something similar. So I thought it was the right time to not stand still in a place where the work was having a negative impact on the rest of my life.

This doesn’t mean the strong don’t get scared. I’m definitely a bit frightened of what lies ahead. However, at all the points in my life when fear has tried to cripple me, I’ve found it’s more important than ever to turn to the constants that provide the strength and fuel needed to move forward. For me, those constants include the love I’m lucky to have from my family and friends; my faith and last but certainly not least, the stress release I find in fitness. Sometimes an hour of sweat is all I need to give me the exact dose of endorphins and confidence I need to take the next step toward something better.

I hope you’ll stay tuned for more pages in this next chapter of my ever-evolving life. Of course, if you ever need a producer, voice over artist or media trainer- I hope you’ll keep me in mind!

Thank you for indulging me with this week’s post. My hope is maybe it gives someone else a push to take a bold step in his or her own life. Sometimes letting go is exactly what we need to do to stay the course on our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Allergy Season Survival Tips

coldI think it was about a month ago when I heard the first news stories telling allergy sufferers like me to brace for a killer season. The never-ending brutal winter kept the trees and other spring blooms dormant for a lot longer than usual, and then about two weeks ago – BAM! Everything exploded. Now, tree pollen seems to fall like rain, turning cars of every color a bright green shade while lawnmowers can be heard firing up in the ‘burbs to cut the newly awakened grass.

So I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to offer some tips on how to prevent allergy season from sidelining your long-awaited outdoor workout plans for spring.  Here are a few tricks that help me keep the itchy eyes, sneezing and that uncomfortable sensation of having cotton stuck in my throat to a minimum:

  • Mind the Time: Pollen counts tend to be highest between 5 am and 10 am. Unfortunately, that’s when many people enjoy their get-the-day-started jog, bike ride or walk. If you can move the activity to a time that’s not so pollen-heavy, great. If not, hopefully some of the following tips will help.
  • Wear sunglasses: You can create at least a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for a long period of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for several years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season every year. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I don’t like to take a lot of medicine, but as far as I’m concerned, I’d rather take something for a few months that will keep me from scratching my eyes out!) Talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication an hour before your outdoor workout. If you get out of bed and head outdoors immediately, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
  • Clean up: Get out of those sweaty and pollen-infused clothes, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible following an outdoor workout. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. (You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.)

Probably the best advice I can offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you sign up for an indoor air-conditioned group exercise class or bang out a Tabata derby at home to keep you sneeze-free on your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Feel Like a Kid Again!

photo-3Despite a chilly wind over the weekend, I think it’s safe to say spring has finally sprung here in New York City. That means it’s time to really embrace a whole new season of opportunities to mix up the fitness routine. For me, it’s meant getting back to a sport that was my one true focus on high school – and it’s done wonders for my physical and mental well-being!

I recently re-connected with one of my high school gal pals, Rita Joan, who was also a teammate on our high school’s varsity tennis team. We had the joy of being varsity champs in our division during our senior year in 1991! However, I’m sorry to say when I went off to college, I didn’t really keep up with the game. Then after I finished graduate school, my tennis racquet followed me to several states for several jobs, but all it really did was collect dust in the back of a closet. I think I managed to play a game now and then on various vacations, but that was about the extent of keeping up with my skills.

Then just last week, thanks to Rita Joan’s coaxing, I was trying to find my old stride to hit some solid forehands and backhands on a clay court in the middle of Central Park. It was probably the nicest evening we’ve had in the city since winter finally left town, and being in an oasis amidst the concrete jungle seemed surreal. Even better was the adrenaline rush I felt running from side to side on the court, and putting my body behind those shots to get that little yellow ball over the net. To say I was rusty would be a huge understatement. Still, it felt so good to get back into a sport that I absolutely loved playing in my younger days – and I was also glad to find my skills weren’t completely gone. They’ve just been on hiatus waiting for a spark to reignite them into high gear.

The next day, I was sore in places I hadn’t been for awhile – the heel of my hand hurt from gripping the racquet, my shins and forearms were tweaked and even my obliques were more tender than usual. The soreness felt really good because it was a sign of re-awakening parts of my body that had maybe been ignored for awhile on my fitness circuit.

I am beyond grateful Rita Joan got me back in the game and I can’t wait to play again next week. On this Motivation Monday, I encourage anyone who’s been missing a sport from yesteryear to think of a way to get back into it. Even if it’s once a week, or every other week, it’s a great way to put some variety into your routine and enjoy some nostalgia, too.  Why not consider bypassing the bar this week for that happy hour and instead get some co-workers together for a game of dodge ball or kick ball? Sometimes , bringing a bit of kid-type fun back into your routine is the kick you need to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Overwhelmed? I Feel Your Pain!

Weekend paperwork

Weekend paperwork

With this Motivation Monday post, I throw my support behind anyone struggling to get it all done. I’m with you. Lately it seems to take me longer to cross the tasks off even the most organized to-do lists. So, I offer a reminder  that sometimes you simply need to take a deep breath, remember you’re human and accept the reality that the world won’t end if one or two things have to wait until tomorrow.

Where is this all coming from? Last week, I posted about renewing my adult CPR/AED certification with the American Red Cross. I left that requirement until one of the last weekends I could get it in and still get my paperwork in for my NASM personal trainer re-certification. Two days ago, I blocked out time to take a NASM Integrated Flexibility Training online workshop so I could obtain the last continuing education units (CEUs) needed to actually get re-certified. The deadline is only a few weeks away. I got through the material, passed the online test and  rushed all my paperwork to the post office. Now I wait for it all to be processed, approved and then hopefully receive my new NASM certificate in the mail sometime next month.

I got it all done, but I have never been one to wait until the last-minute to get important items like these off my plate. But the clock seems to tick at a faster place lately, the work days bleed into the all-too short weekends and then the cycle repeats on Monday. I am looking to the energy of the new season to figure out new ways of doing things. That includes possibly re-vamping plans on how I schedule everything from my workouts to overdue catch-ups with friends and family.

Through any stressful time, working out and eating healthy always help me keep my cool. However, I hate to admit, over the past month, the frequency of my workouts has taken a hit thanks to longer-than-expected work days and overall fatigue. But there are peaks and valleys in every relationship – including the one we have with the gym.

So here’s to the new week with the NASM re-certification application crossed off my to-do list and the chance to find new energy to tackle what lies ahead. If today gets a bit manic, like Mondays often do, take a breath, close your eyes for a moment and remember this one thing: you are stronger than you think. Sometimes we all need a little reassurance to stay on the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous.

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