Fall Fitness Fun

iStock_000003725849LargeHappy October!

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!


Bring on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Let's Kick Breast Cancer's Butt!

Let’s Kick Breast Cancer’s Butt!

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!

When It Rains…

Bring on Fall!

Bring on Fall!

I hope everyone enjoyed the last official summer weekend of 2015. Now that we’re just two days away from the official start of fall, I can sum up how I’m feeling in one word: overwhelmed.

I can’t explain why, but this year I’m finding it harder to get back to the normal swing of things following the easier, breezier days of summer. The crowds returning from their beach houses to crowd the neighborhood, the students swarming the streets and subways and the sudden spike in my freelance work load has me struggling to find a balance in my daily routine.

However, as I soaked up my last dose of summer sun over the weekend, I had an epiphany: worrying about why it’s taking some extra time to get back to normal is 1oo-percent non-productive. I realized I’m better off using my energy to push forward and keep on top of the elements I can control. For me, that means making sure I find time to exercise. My brain functions best when I get that daily dose of endorphins only a good sweat can provide.

While I hope you find your own strength through exercise, I’m using this Motivation Monday post to encourage you to find 30 or 60 minutes in a day to do whatever helps you deal with your own demands of the new season. Maybe you relish a daily walk or find comfort preparing healthy meals. Maybe this is the season you start adding a hot bath or an extra five minutes to a shower at night to unwind or simply catch up with some old friends on an old-fashioned telephone call. We all deserve to find some moments of peace in the midst of our demanding daily grinds. If you have a secret for staying grounded when things get overwhelming, I’d love to hear about it!

So if you feel like you haven’t gotten it together for the new season, remember, you’re not alone. (And seriously, who really has it altogether all the time?) Take a few deep breaths, find one constant to get you through whatever the day throws at you and let’s welcome a fall filled with new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Back-to-YOU Season is Here!

Keep Your Summer Memories Alive!

Keep Those Summer Memories Alive!

It happened again. I blinked and the unofficial end of summer, also known as Labor Day, came and went before I could figure out how all the days since Memorial Day slipped by so quickly. I hope everyone enjoyed a season filled with sun, fun, family and friends and that your September is off to a great start.

New Year’s is often touted as the perfect time to get your health and fitness routine in tip-top shape. However, I think this back-to-school season offers another opportunity to re-focus your attention on making healthy changes in your life. Why? It’s simple: this is when we adjust to the non-summer-Friday work weeks along with new start and stop times for school, sports and all the other activities that fill up our hectic lives. That makes this the ideal time to fit some fitness into the waning days of summer and get a routine in place for a FITASTIC fall ahead!

New Opportunities Await!

New Opportunities Await!

Here are some tips to get yourself in a feel-good groove:

  • Stay Alert for New Workouts: Many gyms offer a new group fitness schedule in September. Maybe this is the season that cardio kick box class fits into your schedule. Also, ask about any back-to-school specials. Some fitness centers may offer their spin on friends and family rates. Talk about the perfect reason to make exercise a family affair or schedule a bi-weekly workout with a buddy!
  • Put It In Writing: If you drive your kids to school or your spouse to the train station, figure out if there’s time immediately following a drop-off or right before a pick-up for a workout. You could hit the gym for a group exercise class, drive a few more blocks to the park for a run or meet a fitness friend for a brisk walk or game of tennis. Typing the activity in to your smart phone task list or putting an old-fashioned sticky note on the fridge is a great visual boost to keep that workout on the schedule.
  • Ten Minutes of Something is Better than Nothing!  As time seems to grow more precious each day, there are plenty of workouts geared toward gaining maximum results in less time.Click here for a refresher on my “Tear-It-Up-in-Ten Circuit”  Do you really only have five minutes to spare? No problem. Click here for a reminder on how you can burn some calories and get the heart pumping with the four-minute Tabata workout.
  • “Fall” Into Healthy Eating Habits: If you pack lunch for the kiddies, why not add just a few more minutes to the prep time and make some healthy snacks or meals for yourself? I spend about 30 minutes every Sunday slicing and dicing veggies including peppers, celery sticks and carrots and then pack them in reusable containers. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack, side dish or to mix with brown rice for a mini-meal. Some of my other go-to eats include raw almonds, green apples and non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Wardrobe Prep Do you help your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed? Why don’t you plan your own morning workout wardrobe, too! Put your gear in the bathroom the night before. It’s usually the first room we visit after we wake up, so if your clothes are staring you in the face, it may be harder to ditch the workout. If you’re exercising after work, pack your gym bag the night before and leave it by the door to grab on your way out. (And don’t forget to grab one of your prepped snacks for some healthy fuel, too!)

Finally, it’s important to remember getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier you in the season ahead. During my annual August blogging hiatus, I had many conversations with several different gal pals (who also happen to be great moms) about their frustration over falling off the fitness wagon over the summer. Between keeping the kids entertained and all the BBQs, they found themselves eager to get back into a leaner, meaner routine. I’ll tell you what I told them: leave the “sins of the summer” in the past but keep the memories close in your heart. Just as the leaves are sure to fall in the days ahead, you’ll soon find yourself back on track with your efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!



Time For a Break

Can't Wait to Return to One of My Favorite Places on the Planet!

Can’t Wait to Return to One of My Favorite Places on the Planet!

This first Motivation Monday of August officially brings us to the start of the dog days of summer. Just when you thought the New York City summer couldn’t be any quieter, these are the days we Manhattanites savor shorter lines and fewer crowds at the gym, the supermarket and all those happening hot spots. This Motivation Monday also happens to bring me closer to my annual escape from the sizzling concrete jungle to the beautiful beaches of Montauk. I can practically smell the sea air now.

This year’s trip seems to be arriving at a truly perfect time as I shake off the remnants of a nasty bug that literally threw me off-balance for nearly three weeks. Who knew a virus could set up shop in your inner ear and make you feel seasick 24-hours a day? Needless to say the dizzy spells and nausea seriously interfered with my normal workout routine. It was tough for this exercise junkie to take a break from what provides a daily boost to my physical and mental well-being. However, it’s equally if not more important to listen to your body when something’s wrong. While some prescription medicine slowly brought balance back to my life, the remedy came with some not-so-optimal effects including many sleepless nights. I now look forward to finishing the healing process at the beach – my absolute favorite place on the planet.

Finally, this is also when I say ciao for the rest of the month. As my longtime readers already know, I use this time as an opportunity for a little writing hiatus as the calendar marches toward Labor Day. So, I close with a thank you to all my readers for your ongoing support and wish you a grand finale to the summer of 2015. I look forward to re-connecting in September and taking advantage of all the new opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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!

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