Category Archives: Health
As you can probably tell from my last few posts, I’m very excited about the arrival of my favorite season. Since this Motivation Monday falls just five days before the start of the summer, I thought I’d offer a quick hit list of some of my seasonal fitness survival tools:
2) Moisture-wicking clothing: Sometimes the gear I wear makes all the difference between sweating it out and throwing in the towel.
3) Portable / non-perishable snacks: My new favorite are KIND protein bars, but some old stand-bys include bananas, apples and almonds. If you’re packing a cooler for the beach, watermelon, pineapple and frozen grapes are a few of my picks for refreshing sweet treats.
4) Jump rope: My favorite portable workout tool of all time! Winds up and fits in any backpack and can be used anywhere from the park to the beach.
5) New kicks: You may recall I get a new pair of cross trainers twice a year. Since I tend to ask Santa to leave one pair under the tree for me on Christmas Day, this is the time of year I look for the next pair that I can start wearing down.
6) Sunscreen: I’m the first to admit I did a ton of damage to myself as a sun worshipper in my teens and 20s. After developing Rosacea in my 30s, I’m a lot better of protecting my skin from harm. The sensitive skin on my face does well with a lightweight fluid called Athelios from LaRoche-Posay. I also like the sheer touch formulas by Hawaiian Tropic and I’ve heard great things about the Banana Boat sports sunscreen line.
7) Good tunes: I simply cannot get into my workout without some heart-pounding beats. Here are the five songs currently giving me the biggest boost for cardio, Tabatas and weight training (some are old, some are new):
- “Truly Madly Deeply (Thomas Gold Radio Edit)” – Cascada
- “Crank It Up” – David Guetta & Akon
- “Can’t Hold Us (featuring Ray Dalton)” – Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis
- “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” – Fall Out Boy
- “Stay Hungry” – Twisted Sister
Now bring on the start of summer 2013 and plenty of sun-filled days so we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous right through Labor Day!
I’m not sure how it happened, but here we are three days in to the month of June!
This Motivation Monday post comes courtesy of an Internet search where I looked into what “celebrations” take place this month. Turns out there are several things going on that tie in with the healthy-living theme here at LauraLovesFitness. Did you know June is:
- National Safety Month. In fact, this week is National CPR & AED Awareness Week. While I recently renewed my certifications with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America, it turns out my CPR and AED certification with the American Red Cross expires at the end of the month. So it’s time for me to take a refresher course and get up to speed! I encourage everyone to consider taking a CPR / AED class. Even if you don’t work in the health or fitness industry, you never know when someone you care about could need your help in an emergency.
- National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. This is my favorite time of year to snack on juicy peaches and nectarines; plump blueberries; sweet strawberries and refreshing watermelon. Check out this great recipe for watermelon salad. (Thanks, Snack Girl!) Looking for a portable snack that can also help you beat the heat? Give frozen grapes a try!
- Great Outdoors Month. No time like the present to go explore that park or hiking trail in a town near you. With sunlight lasting longer, why not add some minutes to your evening walk or spend a little more time on the bike trail. Get the whole family involved with a fun game of Frisbee or old-fashioned tag in the backyard. The sky’s the limit when you take your activity routine outside! (Need some ideas? Click here for a second look at my park-bench workout video)
- National Tennis Month. I was a varsity tennis player in high school, but am sorry to say I stopped playing when I got to college. I’ve always wanted to get back in the game as tennis is an amazing sport to build cardiovascular endurance, balance, strength and coordination. If you’ve ever thought of giving the sport a try, make this the month you go for it!
As June also brings us to the halfway point for 2013 (yikes!), this is also the perfect time to assess where you’re at in reaching your health and fitness goals for the year. Maybe it’s time to take things up a notch or simply add some new workouts and healthy foods into your daily routine. Remember, mixing things up is a surefire ways to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Happy Memorial Day!
I hope you’ve been making the most of the holiday weekend. Today’s post will be a short and sweet one as I continue to enjoy a getaway to Pompano Beach, Florida with my parents, aunt and uncle. Here’s what I wish for everyone today:
1) Take some time to stop and remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could continue to enjoy our way of life here in the USA.
2) Fit some fitness into your holiday fun. I’ll hit the elliptical, bang out a Tabata Derby and probably take a long walk on the beach today. (Click here if you need a few reminders on how to squeeze some exercise into your day.)
3) Whether you’re at the beach like me or just planning to be outdoors, don’t forget the sunscreen!
4) Regardless of whether you’re celebrating Memorial Day indoors or out, stay hydrated. If you do plan to drink anything with a kick, make sure to designate a driver to ensure everyone gets home safely after the Memorial Day fun.
5) Hitting a BBQ today? Don’t arrive hungry! Click here for some reminders on how to keep your healthy habits in check while you celebrate.
Wishing everyone a great holiday and here’s to the summer ahead and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
As we kick off a new week, I’m excited to tell you about some new “stuff” going on with my blog.
I’ve recently connected with Jon Meterparel, one of New England’s signature on-air personalities in the world of sports. If you live in the Boston area, you probably know him as the play-by-play by voice of Boston College football and basketball and from his many days on the Dennis and Callahan show. Jon has been looking for “experts” to appear on his new website and today, I’m sharing what I hope will be the first of many videos that will be placed on JonMeterparel.com. Be sure to check out Jon’s website for some great sports stories and to also find advice from other experts on topics ranging from golf to gadgets.
Keep an eye on my Facebook posts and tweets to learn when this video will make its official “debut” at JonMeterparel.com. In the meantime, I need to give a major shout-out to Ash Kalmar who shot and edited this video with me on a glorious Saturday here in New York City.
I look forward to hearing your comments and your ideas for future fitness videos. Don’t be shy! Your support and feedback inspire me to continue looking for ways to keep all of us motivated on this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I can’t believe this Motivation Monday brings us to the two-week countdown to Memorial Day. For many, this is crunch time before the start of bathing suit season. If the holiday is giving you extra motivation to pump up your fitness routine, remember, it’s also the perfect time to take a hard look at the one thing that can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing your workouts: your diet.
There’s a reason why you almost always hear the words diet and exercise in the same sentence when people talk about healthy living. You really can’t have one without the other. I can tell you from personal experience that reaching your fitness goals isn’t just about what you do at the gym or at that bootcamp class in the park. It has everything to do with what you buy at the grocery store, cook at home and order when you go out to eat.
From my college years to my early working days, I often found myself going to the gym to negate whatever bad things I did at the Friday night frat party or Saturday afternoon tailgate. (Those were the days: brat and beer splurges without worrying about calories. Sigh.) As I’ve gotten older and allegedly wiser, I’ve learned a lot as my body and metabolism have changed. The bottom line is you can’t work hard at the gym, then eat a bunch of junk and expect your body to get where you want it to go.
My latest exercise kick at Physique57® has really helped me re-focus my attention on healthy eating. Does that mean I deny myself the things I love like dessert or red wine? Absolutely not. So, what does it mean?
- Buying even more fruits and veggies to snack on or make part of my meals.
- Having two types of veggies with dinner instead of one.
- Drinking even more water and things like iced green tea, which along from giving me a little afternoon pick-me-up also offer the benefits of antioxidants. Want an easy way to sneak some more H20 into your daily routine? Have a glass of water first thing in the morning. You’ll get a few ounces in your system before rushing out the door for work or getting the kids to school.
I’m truly in awe of those who commit themselves to “eating clean” practically 24/7. Many of these people never drink alcohol or eat anything processed or that comes in the color white (e.g. rice, pasta), and they fuel up mainly on tuna, broccoli, chicken and sweet potatoes. I know I can’t be that restrictive with my own diet for the simple reason that I truly enjoy rich foods and cocktails. However, I still do the best I can to keep it healthy while enjoying life in New York City. The nice thing is the harder I work at the gym, the better I want to be about my diet. The same works in reverse, too. When I eat well, I have more energy and can take my workouts to the next level. I guess you can call it the one double-edge sword that can actually help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
You know that old saying ”Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it”? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened to me when it comes to my fitness routine.
As a lifelong fitness lover, I’ve known about the benefits of traditional exercises like squats, lunges and crunches for years. While I’m not knocking the strength and conditioning benefits of these exercises, let’s face it. You do the same thing all the time and it’s bound to get boring. That makes it too easy to fly through the exercises with poor form or worse, simply skip them altogether. That’s exactly what was happening to me. While I hate to admit it, my glutes and legs haven’t been pushed to their maximum capacity for quite some time. That all changed thanks to three workouts during the past seven days.
For months, my friend Amy has been raving about some amazing workouts courtesy of Physique57®. Considering Amy lives a mere three blocks away and the classes are offered in her building, scheduling conflicts were the only thing keeping me from getting there. I finally had a free morning last Sunday and met Amy for a beginner class. Fifty-seven minutes later, I was 100% exhilarated and 100% hooked.
The workout is based on classical ballet and the Lotte Method and combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches. This doesn’t mean you have to be a dancer to get hooked on this intense workout. Believe me, ballet was never my thing. (I’ve always said there’s a reason why Grace isn’t my middle name.) All you need is a desire to focus on your body movements while listening to great music and the motivational cues from instructors who push you to work each muscle to failure. Those exercises include everything from never-ending reps with free weights for your arms; leg and glute work at the bar; “thigh dancing” on the floor; hard-core core work; and plenty of push-ups, planks and tricep dips. They also incorporate stretching throughout the class to help the muscles recover after each leg-trembling set of moves.
I realize there may not be a Physique57 in your hometown and you may not even be interested in the idea of this kind of fitness-fusion class. The real point of writing this post was to offer a Motivation Monday nudge to take stock of your fitness routine. If you’re just going through the motions, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to remember the importance of total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that takes you outside your “comfort zone” and pushes you to put all your energy into each and every rep.
During this past week, I’ve actually been happy about being sore in places that haven’t been sore in far too long. I’m excited to see how incorporating this workout into my routine can make my body stronger and leaner for the summer. Another buzz about Physique57 and similar programs that use the “Bar Method” concept is that they’re designed to improve your posture. As one of the millions of Americans who spend too many hours each day at a computer, anything I can do to stand taller and feel better about it is a huge plus! Stay tuned…and remember, it’s never too late in the game to introduce your body to new challenges to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Old Man Winter definitely hung around a lot longer than we wanted this year, but now that spring has sprung, so has another allergy season. During my morning walks to work, I notice more leaves popping up on the trees along my route and also filling the skyline of Central Park. That makes taking my daily dose of allergy medicine more important than ever.
Many doctors have predicted this one could be a real doozy here in the Northeast thanks to higher humidity levels created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Despite the predictions, it’s still the perfect time to take your fitness routine out of the confines of concrete walls and head outside. Whether you’re just getting started on a fitness program or looking to add some variety to your current routine, adding some outdoor activity is a great way to spice things up.
Unfortunately, if you’re like me and the thousands of other allergy sufferers around the country, the outdoor activity can trigger more than an endorphin rush. Instead, you can find yourself sneezing, coughing or wheezing and trying to find relief for those itchy eyes. So, I thought it was a good time to offer some of the allergy-season survival tips that keep me in motion.
- Take note of 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 remaining tips will cut down on any discomfort.
- Wear sunglasses: Create a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for extended periods of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.
- Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for nearly five years when I was a kid. They helped my acute reactions become less severe over time, but I still battle through the spring hay fever season. 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 out of the year instead of constantly scratching at my eyes and sneezing at everyone who comes near me.) Before you take anything, be sure to talk to your doctor about what treatments will best alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of a full-blown allergy attack, I find it helps to take my meds 30-60 minutes hour before my outdoor workout. If you head outside as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, 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 certainly don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed. If you have a pet, remember, animal fur can also trap pollen, so you may want to bathe your four-legged friend a bit more often in the spring.
My last piece of advice for all you fellow allergy sufferers is the same I offer for almost every other fitness-related situation: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but only feeling miserable, be smart. Stop. Head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in an exercise DVD to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s hard to believe seven days ago at this time I was sitting on the beach in Aruba. In fact, the only times you wouldn’t find me sitting under a small but shady hut on the soft, white sand staring at the turquoise sea during my three-night getaway were:
- Between 7 – 8:30 am ET when I was at the hotel fitness center getting my cardio, core and Tabata training in before turning into a slug for the remainder of the day
- The 45 – 60 minutes I’d abandon my lounge chair and stroll along the gorgeous stretch of paradise known as Palm Beach
- Happy hour or any other hour of the day when I simply had to satisfy my craving for some kind of frozen concoction
There was only one item on my agenda for this particular vacation: rest. While the trade winds, swaying palms, blue skies and starry nights created the perfect peaceful setting, there was one other factor that made this a true escape. I refused to pay the crazy international rates for roaming charges to keep up with texts, tweets, status updates or emails. My iPhone remained in airplane mode the entire trip. I used it only to take pictures or listen to music while working out or chilling out. In other words, I shut myself down for three-and-a-half glorious days.
While going on vacation no doubt offers enormous benefits for both our physical and mental well-being, I realize we can’t just escape to our happy places at the drop of a hat. We all have financial burdens, professional and / or family obligations and part of being a grown-up is dealing with our responsibilities. So, if a getaway isn’t in the cards for you right now, why not look at another escape plan? Find a minimum of one to two hours this week where you turn the world off.
Yes, it’s a bold idea, but you can do it. I’m sure some of you parents or physicians are shaking your heads at me right now, but I know even doctors get a day off from being on a 24-hour call. If you must have your pager or cell phone with you for work, only take the call that’s from work. Leave the texting and other typing behind. Parents, you can “warn” your spouse or another family member you’re going off the grid for a bit.
Seriously, you can find an hour to shut down. Then take those 60 minutes and use it to focus on a workout, focus on the backs of your eyelids or focus some attention on a family member or friend. You’ll escape a bit of the daily grind that burdens us all. In our over-stimulated world where we not only watch a TV show, but tweet and post about what’s going on almost simultaneously, wouldn’t it be nice to give some of our senses a break for a change?
I came back from Aruba rested and ready to tackle new goals, new workouts and chase down new dreams for this spring and beyond. I’m going to do my best to find times in the work week to slow down – even just a bit – so the daily grind doesn’t get the best of me. At the end of the day, if you’re making an effort to eat well, exercise and take care of yourself, you simply cannot neglect the importance of down time as part of the plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
There’s definitely an extra spring in my step today. Along with riding a residual sugar rush from my annual Easter candy splurge, it also happens to be Motivation Monday and opening day at Yankee Stadium! Not wanting to ignore the “other” New York baseball fans, I should mention it’s also opening day for the Mets at CitiField. (Of course, whoever’s responsible for having both games start at 1:05 pm ET on the same day should not be in charge of scheduling next year.)
Even though many of my beloved Yankees are starting this year sidelined thanks to a range of injuries, I’m going to stay positive that they’re back in action in time to make this another championship season. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with an injury of your own in the “off-season” and just returning to your fitness routine. If that’s the case, remember to start slowly and listen to your body. (Make sure you’ve cleared any activity with your doctor before you get started.) Remember, it’s better to sit out a few first games of your softball league than risk a serious injury that could bench you for the season – or worse, secure a trip to the operating room.
My short and sweet message for this Motivation Monday is to use it as another reason to get active. If you’re sick of the treadmill, then think about pounding the pavement in your neighborhood for a morning or post-work run. Maybe this is the year you get the tennis racquet re-strung and find a friend for a few sets during the week. It may not be quite warm enough for the beach yet, but there’s no reason you can’t find an outdoor volleyball net in a park and get a group together for some post-work de-stressing or weekend fun.
If you can’t figure out a way to coordinate schedules with family and friends for a team sport, then take that jump rope outside and start skipping. Park benches are also perfect spots to brace yourself for push-ups or take box jumps to a different level. Tree branches (sturdy ones!) are also the perfect prop for pull ups. If you really want to have some fun while breaking a sweat, don’t underestimate the power of swinging on the monkey bars at the local playground. There’s also no rule that says you can’t bang out some Tabatas in the great outdoors.
As we get ready to tackle another work week, remember, now’s the perfect time to embrace each minute of extra sunlight and add some extra outdoor activity to our typical routines. It’s all part of the overall game plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!