Category Archives: Nutrition
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!
It’s hard to believe at this time last week, I was just starting my five-day escape to Texas. The trip was everything I hoped it would be: good times with good friends from different parts of my life. The fact that I got to enjoy some much-needed 70-degree sunshine for a few days was an extra bonus!
Here are a few of my favorite things from my trip to Texas (in no particular order):
- The three-cheese Texas toast grilled cheese at 24 Diner.
- Blueberry pancakes at Kerby Lane Cafe.
- Celebrating National Margarita Day at the Hula Hut and Chuy’s.
- A simply fabulous dinner at the Driskill Grill.
- Tabata training in the Westin’s fitness center to counter some of the calories ingested in the highlights above.
- Countless laughs with my Northwestern gal pals Tracy, Molly, Evva, Lisa, Jessica and Irene! (Laughing doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as my typical workouts, but it certainly felt good!)
- The “Five Meat Treat” at Red Hot & Blue BBQ.
- “Bleeding Heart” margaritas and Baja fish tacos at Ochos.
- Sipping pre-Oscar Prosecco with my lifelong friend Jeanne Marie while her husband (and bona fide “Grill Master”) Paul fired up a delicious steak dinner.
- Getting to know their four-month-old baby Charlotte!
- Watching the end of the Oscars while sipping red wine and sitting in their hot tub.
- Rolling out of bed and burning some calories from the above-mentioned highlights in their home gym.
By now, you’ve probably noticed a common theme in my vacation-related posts: Laura loves to eat and drink! This is why I always pack the workout wear and get in a couple of calorie-busting sessions wherever I go.
However, along with the moisture-wicking gear, I also work hard at letting my vacation mindset take over when I arrive at my destination. That means realizing the opportunities for these special get-togethers don’t come around as often as we’d like and since we enjoy catching up over fun food and cocktails, it’s definitely not the time to obsess over counting calories!
After a little bit of decadence, I actually look forward to getting back on track with my normal healthy eating habits and kicking it up a notch at the gym. On that note, I encourage everyone to enjoy whatever memorable moments present themselves in the weekend ahead. Life’s simply too short not to embrace all that you love in this world. If that includes chocolate and red wine, dig in, sip and enjoy and remember, even indulgences have a place in our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Happy President’s Day!
Guess what? Remember those health and fitness resolutions you made at the start of the year? Well, you’ve reached a major milestone as we’re seven weeks in to 2013. You may remember from some of my previous posts that it takes about six weeks for new behaviors to set in as habits. If packing your gym bag has become as routine as brushing your teeth before going to bed or you look forward to that daily dose of carrots and celery – kudos to you!
You’ve made it this far, so whatever you do, don’t stop now! On this particular Motivation Monday, I encourage you to sit down and set some new goals for yourself to keep your momentum in tact. Think about something that will keep you pushing through your weight training circuits; making it to that group exercise class on time and chopping veggies for the work week.
Maybe there’s a spring break trip in the not-so-distant future that involves pulling the bathing suit out from the back of the closet. Perhaps there’s a wedding, reunion or other special occasion that you’d like to show up for feeling your best.
Of course, your motivation could stem from your desire to gear up for a whole new season of new activities. This could be the spring you start training for your first 5K or marathon. Maybe you’d like to be able to play a sport with your son or daughter or simply have more energy for outdoor activities like hiking or cycling when the weather gets nicer.
If you’re still searching for your motivation, here’s a bit of humorous encouragement courtesy of the Huffington Post last week. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Joe for sharing this link with me!)
Remember, following a healthy lifestyle isn’t a sprint to the finish. It’s a lifelong marathon filled with countless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I end this week addressing one of the questions I get on a near-daily basis: “How can I make some simple changes and cut a few calories out of my daily diet?”
If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, you probably already know making that happen doesn’t take a degree in rocket science. You need to burn more calories than you take in. In all of my food-related posts, I make a point of reminding my readers that I’m not a licensed nutritionist or registered dietitian. However, I’m happy to share the “tricks” that help keep my healthy eating habits in tact. So, here are five ways you can cut 100 calories out of your diet at different times of the day:
- Use skim milk in your morning cup of java.
- Swap out that bulky bagel for a whole wheat English muffin.
- Top off that English muffin with egg whites.
- Use mustard instead of mayo.
- Ditch the chips and pop a 100-calorie bag of popcorn into the microwave instead.
You may be saying, “Okay, Laura, these are no-brainers.” Well, that’s the point. Making several small changes throughout the day really does add up over time. Add some exercise to these food “fixes,” and you’ll have a great foundation to get started on the path to a healthier you. Trust me, once you start noticing the positive changes, whether it’s your jeans feeling a little looser or having more energy walking up that flight of stairs, you’ll want to make the changes stick.
If you’d like to share some of the small but healthy changes in your own diet, I’d love to hear from you! Sharing information is one of the best ways to help each other keep moving along this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I kick off this new work week another year older. The jury may still be out on whether that means I’m also another year wiser, but I do know one thing for certain: life’s too short to really obsess about your age!
Between my many years of going to the gym, starting this blog and joining the world of Twitter and Facebook, I’ve met lots of people who share my passion for health and fitness. Some are fitness novices, some are seasoned veterans like me and others are hardcore professional body builders. They range in age from 20-something to 60-something and beyond. Our “bond” has nothing to do with what year we were born. It has to do with a common commitment to healthy living and understanding that leading this kind of life is an ongoing journey and not a sprint to a “quick-fix” finish.
So the motivation I offer on this particular Monday is a push for everyone at any age to get out there and get moving. Instead of worrying about a number dictating how old you are, put that energy toward finding a fitness program that works for your schedule and offers a challenge that makes your body feel its best. I can honestly say I feel healthier at 39 than I did at 29 and that has everything to do with the fitness and food choices I’ve adopted in my “wiser” years.
On the flip side, here are some of the numbers everyone should keep an eye on:
- Weight / Body Mass Index: I’m not talking about the “I-need-to-lose-five-pounds” kind of weight. I’m talking about the kind of weight that makes your doctor take notice because it puts you at risk for complications like heart disease and Diabetes.
- Blood glucose
- Blood pressure
Remember, you can win at the numbers game. Part of it is mind over matter. Part of it is reminding yourself certain numbers like your age shouldn’t matter too much. Perhaps the biggest part is remembering that keeping the important numbers in check is a lot easier when you make a lifelong commitment to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Guess what? You’ve made it to the sixth Workout Wednesday of 2013!
In about another week, the exercise and healthy eating habits you started in January should start feeling more like a part of your daily routine. So whatever you do, don’t give up now!
I’m actually a little miffed with myself that it’s taken me until this point in the new year to remind you about one of the most crucial yet often overlooked part of a well-balanced exercise program: flexibility training. One of my biggest regrets in my life-long love affair with fitness is that it took me far too long to incorporate a healthy amount of flexibility training into my own routine. Since many of you are still working out some kinks in your exercise program, I didn’t want this habit-forming time to end without reminding you to take care of the kinks in your body, too!
What kind of kinks am I talking about? Well, unless you’re a runway model, chances are your posture isn’t the best thanks to countless hours spent sitting at a desk crouched over a keyboard or stuck behind the wheel commuting or shuttling the kids around town. If you’re on your feet all day or paint houses or work in construction, you can also suffer from tightness thanks to repetitive motions.
While I can’t assess the exact points of tension in your body, one of the most common problem areas are the latissimus dorsi, or lats, in your back. I know when I’m on deadline at work and don’t take enough breaks to step away from the computer, my lats start screaming for some TLC.
So on this Workout Wednesday, here’s a look at one stretch for this sore spot that I think is worthy of an encore performance: the static latissimus dorsi ball stretch.
- The prep: Kneel in front of the stability ball with one arm on the ball and the other hand on the ground. (Training tip: For the arm that’s on the ball, make sure your thumb is pointed up.)
- The move: Draw your navel upward and reach forward with the arm that’s on the ball. You will feel a stretch along the side of your torso into the lower back.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Return to start position, switch sides and repeat.
For an active variation on this stretch, you would prepare for and execute the stretch the same way. However, once you reach your arm forward, hold the stretch for 2 seconds, then roll back to the start and repeat for 5-10 reps. Switch sides and repeat.
As we move forward in 2013, don’t be surprised to find I re-visit the importance of flexibility training in any fitness program. Taking care of those tight muscles is a surefire way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
If you’re in a food coma today, you’re in good company. I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest calorie-consumption day of the year after Thanksgiving. Just how many calories are we talking about? Well, think of this: the recommended daily caloric intake for people looking to maintain their weight is roughly 2,000 calories. On Super Bowl Sunday, the majority of Americans eat close to 2,800 calories…in about three hours.
The simple truth is whether you’re a football fan or not, Super Bowl Sunday has become an American tradition like apple pie. I think it’s simply because the Big Game offers a great opportunity to get together with family and friends and indulge in many of the foods most of us try to avoid on a regular basis.
Yes, even I tend to go a bit overboard on Super Bowl Sunday. So I can guarantee I’ll be pushing a little harder at the gym after work today to burn even more calories than normal. (I’m pretty sure getting up off the couch to dance along with Beyoncé’s half-time show didn’t do the trick.)
With some help CalorieKing, I put together a playbook featuring some of America’s favorite Super Bowl foods. Considering many or all of these items may have been on your game day menu, I’ll let you add them up based on how many pieces, slices or serving sizes you enjoyed. As you calculate the numbers in your head or using your iPhone, I imagine you may have found a good reason to get up off your chair and start your next run or workout immediately.
- Doritos’ Tortilla Chips, Cool Ranch Flavored (12 chips) = 140 calories
- Lays’ Potato Chips, Sour Cream & Onion Flavored (17 chips) = 160 calories
- 5 Pigs-in-a-Blanket = 470 calories
- 5-wing serving of hot wings = Anywhere from 300 to 597 calories (depending on the sauce and dip they’re served with)
- 1 Slice of Cheese Pizza = 240 calories
- 1 Slice of Pepperoni Pizza = 298 calories
- 1 Slice of Papa John’s “The Works” Pizza = 330 calories
- Bowl of Chili = Calories range from 300 – 600 based on the recipe. (e.g. cheese v. no-cheese)
- 1 Light Beer (12 oz) = 96 calories
- 1 Regular Beer or Ale (12 oz) = 150 calories
- 1 Regular Soda (12oz) = 140 calories
Whether or not you cared about which team won, I hope you had a fun Super Bowl Sunday! If that included going a bit overboard with the food and drink, no doubt you had your fun – which means today’s your chance to get back on track with your plans to be fit and feel fabulous!
I know I tend to offer a shot of motivation on Mondays. On this particular Monday, I have to say I feel more motivated than I have in recent memory. All it took was a trip to Amsterdam.
Whether you hop on a plane and fly across the Atlantic like I did or getaway for a few hours to a spa or even a quiet restaurant with a special someone in your life, there’s something to be said about escaping the realities of our everyday lives.
For me, that escape included forgoing my normal typical daily high-intensity workouts to relish in daily walking adventures in a beautiful, new city. We visited museums; sampled the local flavors in various cafes; boosted the economy with trips to flea markets and shops; escaped the cold on a heated canal cruise and then braved the frigid temperatures to see some windmills up close.
My escape also included hot chocolate, chocolate waffles, chocolate and banana pancakes (are you sensing a trend here?), some of the most amazing breads and cheeses I’ve ever had, Amstel and Heineken on draft and other libations that kept the bone-chilling temperatures from making things too uncomfortable. Last but certainly not least, there were countless laughs and lighthearted conversations with my gal pals – one of whom is among the special few I’ve had the joy of knowing since childhood.
You could say I “abandoned” my normally fit New York lifestyle to embrace a different approach to healthy living in Amsterdam. This is a city where people actually sit down to drink a cup of coffee and it’s not easy to find a to-go cup. It’s a place where people walk or use bicycles to get from points A to Z on a normal basis and where many shop owners don’t open their business until Monday afternoon – and still close at 6 pm. Compared to the incessant frenetic pace of my city that never sleeps, this vacation was a welcome respite.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a native New Yorker. However, I just can’t stress enough the importance of taking a break from the ordinary every now and then. When I am home, that break involves hitting the gym to let go of the stress from the daily grind. After time, my body and my mind need to escape from that routine, too. Throw in some real chocolate and other delicious treats, and I definitely like I’m away. I also believe that sometimes you need to be a little bad to get back to being good.
So, as we tackle a new week, I do so with a renewed love for my “routine” breakfasts filled with berries and lunches complete with chopped veggies. Thanks for sticking with me while I was away. If you have questions or topics you’d like me to address in the weeks ahead, don’t be shy! I look forward to seeing where the next part of the adventure leads on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This particular Workout Wednesday marks a first for me. Depending on what time you read this, I’ll either be getting ready for or in the midst of flying to Amsterdam! As I write this post, I’m beyond excited to meet up with my lifelong buddy Ania and her pal Tiffany for what’s sure to be a fun-filled adventure!
While I’ll be skipping the workout today, I do plan on making use of our hotel’s fitness center during the trip. While I’m gone, if you need a shot of motivation, don’t hesitate to scroll down to the “Search This Site” box on the right side of this page. If you type in anything from abdominals to Zumba, hopefully you’ll find something helpful from one of my previous 200+ posts.
I leave you with links to some “oldies but goodies” that offer tips on key training concepts. I hope they’ll help as you continue your hard work on turning those New Year’s resolutions into routine behavior:
- Core Training
- One Area That Almost Always Needs a Good Stretch!
- Healthy Eating Tips
- One of My Go-To, No-Brainer Workout Routines
My next post will appear on Monday, January 28th. In the meantime, feel free to leave comments or email me with any questions or with any topics you’d like me to touch on in the weeks ahead. Wishing everyone a great week and I look forward to returning with even more energy to continue on this journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Congratulations! You’re already two weeks in to making those health and fitness resolutions stick! Keep up the good work and when you get discouraged, remember, in just a few short weeks, those new healthy behaviors will be old habits. Before you know it, getting in those 30 minutes of cardio or downing those extra glasses of water will be as routine as brushing your teeth!
If you’re still looking for a reason to work toward your goal, why not try the “trick” that’s probably worked since you were a kid: set up some rewards. Think about it, if you know you’re going to get a bonus or an extra day off for putting in 150% on a project, you’re bound to put in some extra energy at work. So, why not use the same kind of incentive to break an extra sweat now and then and turn a health and fitness goal into a reality?
Goals can be short term, like saying you’ll make it to that Zumba class every Tuesday until February. You can also set up long term goals, like losing 10 pounds by May 1st or studying to get certified in the fitness industry by summer. Whatever the goal, having a reward attached offers that extra incentive to help pushing toward it.
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about high-calorie rewards. For example, instead of saying “If I stick with this health and fitness routine for the six weeks like Laura said I could, I get to eat cupcakes every day for a whole week,” why not try this: “If I stick with this health and fitness routine for the six weeks like Laura said I could, I’ll book a massage to help my body feel even better!”
For all the fitness chicks, rewards for short-term goals can be anything from new workout wear to a pedicure and for the guys, maybe you snag tickets to that big game. Reaching a long-term goal could reap a bigger reward like a spa getaway or special night out.
When you’re working hard to take care of yourself, knowing a “treat” is waiting for you down the road could be just what you need to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!