It’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us just two days away from another Christmas! To celebrate, I hope you’ll enjoy my twist on a classic that’s becoming a LauraLovesFitness holiday tradition. I call it ”The 12 Days of Fitness.”
On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…a super surge of endorphins.
On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.
On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.
Here’s wishing everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas! I’ll be spending time with family and friends and taking a break from blogging til the start of the New Year. Let me use this time to offer a huge thank you to all of my readers for your support during a tumultuous 2013. I’m definitely looking forward to the happy adventures that await in 2014 and continuing the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
As we all know, ’tis the season to be merry, and that means lots of cheer in the form of Christmas cookies, cream sauces and cocktails. As the countdown to Christmas day ticks away, many of us will be cramming multiple holiday parties into the evenings ahead. So I’m using this Motivation Monday as a time to remind everyone how to get through these calorie-rich days ahead without throwing all your heathy habits out the window!
- Plan Ahead: If you have a party to look forward to after work, do NOT starve yourself all day. Instead, eat a sensible breakfast and lunch and have a healthy snack up to one hour before the party starts. This way, you won’t arrive with a rumbling stomach and grab the first thing you see.
- Choose “Smart” Foods First: Many holiday party spreads are full of yummy appetizers. Why not load up on some of the healthier options first, like the crudités (celery sticks, carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower). Just try not to drown them in dip. Another good idea is to seek out some protein. I love shrimp, and the good news is with 18 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving, there’s no reason not to! Sushi, skewered chicken or beef tenderloin strips are also a better option than loading up on the cheesy breads or creamy dips.
- Deal with the Dessert Dilemma: Cocktails, cupcakes and chocolates are sometimes the center pieces for a holiday bash. I admit, I’m one dessert lover who’s a big fan of this concept, but it can wreak havoc on your efforts to eat healthy. If you’re attending a super sweet bash, you definitely want to eat a sensible small meal before arriving at the party and diving into the tray of sugary treats. When you do dig in, why not split a cupcake, cookie or piece of cake with a friend. If there’s any fresh fruit, eat that first.
- Maintain Cocktail Control: The every-other-drink rule works just as well at a holiday party as it does for happy hour. To space out the alcohol consumption, start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, switch to a glass of water, seltzer or diet soda for your next beverage.
- Get Moving! Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, you can find some time to be active. Remember, 10 minutes of exercise is better than nothing. If you have a party after work, hit the gym or pop in a fitness DVD at home in the morning. If you live in a city with sidewalks, don’t let the cold stop you in your tracks. Throw on an extra layer, pack the party shoes to go and burn some extra calories by walking to work and/or to the festivities.
Remember, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. For me, that includes enjoying some holiday cheer…along with some chocolate and probably a few cupcakes. So with a little planning, we can all make it through the holiday party circuit and still have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
As if the fact that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided on the same day wasn’t enough to get people in a holiday frenzy, now we’re faced with a shorter shopping season than usual before Christmas. Faced with this added hustle and bustle to the 2013 holiday season, I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to touch on the importance of keeping your mental health in check throughout the last month of 2013. To me, there’s no better way to do just that than by breaking a good sweat!
Obviously, working out will help burn some of the extra holiday calories that come in all shapes and sizes ranging from homemade cookies to rich wines and sweet, seasonal cocktails. Weight maintenance aside, the endorphins that stay with you after a workout can also help you maintain a level of calm as you battle the crowds in overheated stores or spend extra amounts of time with the extended -and sometimes non-harmonious- family. (Bonus: if you’re visiting family for the holidays, there’s no better excuse than a run or walk to escape for awhile! Just don’t forget your sneakers!)
I bet some of you are saying, “Laura, between working, shopping, taking care of the kids, baking, cooking and going to all the holiday parties, there’s just no time to exercise.” Well, guess what? You OWE it to yourself to find 10 minutes somewhere in the day to get moving. Why? Simply because 10 minutes of anything are better than zero minutes of nothing! As some of you repeat readers already know, one of my favorite ways to make the most of abbreviated workout time is the Tabata.
Need a Tabata review? The four-minute high-intensity “formula” is pretty simple: eight continuous intervals of 20 seconds of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest. So if you truly only have 10 minutes today, why not give this a try. Bonus: You never even have to leave the house!
- 60 seconds of jumping jacks
- Rest only long enough to set your timer, then bang out one squat Tabata. (Need a timer? I use UltraTimerHD)
- Rest for 60 seconds
- Bang out one more 4-minute Tabata (Choose from mountain climbers, push-ups, planks, side planks or crunches.)
- Recover/stretch for 60 seconds or longer.
- Congrats! You spent 10 minutes doing SOMETHING for your body!
(On the rare occasion the chaos dies down enough to give you a little more time, why not try to build a ”Tabata Derby” by adding consecutive four-minute intervals and work your way up to a 20-minute total Tabata workout.)
While I love Tabatas, I realize they may not be your thing. So taking a power walk around the block a few dozen times, running up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building or dare I say meeting a friend for a group exercise class or game of basketball may be the fitness fix you need to feel a little stronger physically and mentally. Remember, while this is known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” don’t ignore your body’s need to escape some of the chaos so you can continue to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
While Thanksgiving is the latest it can possibly be in the calendar year, I still feel like it snuck up on me! The fact that Hanukkah starts on the same day (for the first time in something like 18,000 years!), we’re REALLY kicking off the 2013 holiday season with a bang. So, if you’re packing up or planning for your festivities, there’s no time like this Motivation Monday to get your mind focused on how to get through the holiday(s) without completely throwing your healthy habits out the window.
If you’re gearing up for a week filled – or maybe stuffed! – with food and drink (and a little football), here are some tips to help you avoid overdoing it.
- Don’t skimp on the workouts this week: Even if you can’t get out of the house on Thanksgiving Day, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two wherever you have space to do push-ups or burpees. If you only have a short amount of time to escape the house, take a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. If your gym is open, get to a morning group exercise class or at least bang out some cardio and core work.
- Don’t skip breakfast before the Turkey Day feast: Be mindful of your meals early in the week. On Thursday, eat something sensible in the morning to fire up your metabolism and to avoid being ravenous when you arrive for the holiday feast. If you’re not scheduled to fight for the turkey leg until late afternoon or early evening, make sure to have a second small meal so you don’t go overboard later. One of my favorite sensible fillers is a non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in. The protein-rich snack keeps me satisfied for hours!
- Use a smaller plate (like a salad dish) for your Thanksgiving feast: If there’s salad or veggies, load up on those first, then take some turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. (There won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.)
- Savor the flavor: Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait about 10 minutes before loading up on round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – before moving on to dessert, of course!
- Watch the alcohol intake: Turkey Day is a good time to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of water of diet soda before moving on to the next libation.
- Give away leftovers: Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving what’s left of the turkey and trimmings to your guests.
If you have any “secrets” that help you enjoy the holiday without waking up feeling guilty on Black Friday, I’d love to hear about them! The season ahead is definitely challenging when it comes to watching our waistlines, but the good news there are some tricks that can help you continue your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I remember making countless mix tapes back in college and more of those tapes were littered around my car when I went to gyms in the different states where I worked. Now my iTunes playlists have replaced those old-school cassettes. In the “old days,” I never went anywhere without my Walkman, and today, I make sure to have my ear buds with me at all times so I can play my motivational music for long walks in the city or when I work out at the gym or in the park.
Since music is such a big motivator in my routine, I thought I’d share my favorite top 10 songs of the moment. I always love to hear what everyone out there is listening to so don’t be shy about sharing your own top picks. Remember, whether you use music to move you or soothe you, it’s a great tool to add to your routine that can help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Laura’s November 2013 Faves:
- “Let It Go (Laidback Luke Remix)” by Dragonette
- “Cry Baby (Paul Oakendfold Mix” by Roisin Murphy
- “Berzerk” by Eminem
- “Little Bad Girl” by David Guetta
- “TKO” by Justin Timberlake
- “Starry Eyed (Penquin Prison Remix)” by Ellie Goulding
- “It’s All Good (The Scumfrog Mixshow)” by Fantasia
- “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)” by Fergie, Q-Tip & GoonRock
- “Victim” by WIN WIN
- “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” by Fall Out Bo
The 26.2-mile journey through the five boroughs of the Big Apple is the largest marathon in the world. More than two million spectators cheered on the participants ranging from first-timers to world-renowned record holders.
There were two big reasons this year’s marathon held special meaning for New Yorkers and for people all over the country. First, thanks to Superstorm Sandy, last year’s event was cancelled. Second, the presence of the runners, spectators and volunteers was a testament to our resiliency following the tragic events at the Boston Marathon earlier this year. The fact that the crowd didn’t let extra security measures or fear stop them from being a part of this event shows how the strength and endurance of a community can help us through whatever hardships life throws our way.
As you repeat readers already know, despite my lifetime love affair with fitness, I’m not a runner. Unfortunately, running is one activity that never gave me anything aside from knee pain and overall discomfort. So I admit, I’m a little jealous of the official “runner’s high” this body and mind will never experience. Because of that, I have nothing but admiration and respect for those who lace up and pound the pavement in any kind of weather to chase that high while doing their bodies a world of good. For those who take it to the next level and push their bodies to amazing limits by running mile after mile in marathons, I will forever be in total awe.
So whether this was your first marathon or your 10th, I hope all you inspirational souls are enjoying a well-deserved day of rest. Maybe you can even manage to fit a massage into your schedule today or sometime this week! Your discipline and commitment to training are big time motivators for all fitness enthusiasts to never give up the quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Unfortunately, one of the rest days arrived as the result of a minor injury. Last Tuesday, I strained my left pectoral muscle from either not executing proper form during a push-up sprint or gripping the ballet bar and leaning back a bit too during a “waterski” sprint at Physique57. By Wednesday night’s “UFX Burn” class at New York Sports Club, every amped-up inhalation during our high intensity cardio drill and each rep of standing reverse flies were pretty painful. So after icing the area and popping a couple of ibuprofen before bed that night, I took Thursday off. I even stayed away from the elliptical because I knew using the arm handles would or gripping the side bars too tight would have put unnecessary stress on my tweaked muscle. By Friday afternoon’s Physique class, I felt 90% better. After enjoying another gal-pal catch-up day on Saturday, I decided to extend my rest time to cover the entire weekend. In the end, I tallied four workouts in a seven day period. While that’s less than my typical five to six, you know what? My body is much happier on this Monday morning thanks to the extra TLC.
If you’re prepping for a competition or if you’re a serious bodybuilder, I understand there’s a strict schedule to follow to make gains in a certain amount of time. However, if you’re on a new health and fitness kick or if you’re like me and you’ve been attacking your workouts at 125% to get through a rough patch in your life, it’s not a bad idea to pause for a moment and remember rest is a crucial component to improving your well-being. Whether you’re a runner, strength-training class or Zumba addict, it’s actually the rest days that allow those amazing muscles in your body to recover and grow.
The bottom line is by not taking at least one rest day each week, you can put yourself at risk for overtraining. When you overtrain, the body is more prone to injury and instead of enjoying the typical endorphin rush from a great workout, you could find yourself feeling more tired than usual. Here’s a checklist of overtraining symptoms:
- Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
- Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
- Increased resting heart rate
- Slower recovery of heart rate
- Decrease in strength performance
- Constant muscle pain or soreness when moving, bordering on pain
Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength it needs to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
As you loyal readers know, I’ve been posting new material for Motivation Mondays since this blog started back in July 2011. While I didn’t plan to push this week’s post to land on Tear-It-Up Tuesday, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, realize there are only so many hours in a day and accept the way things work out. The bottom line is we can probably all do a better job at NOT beating ourselves up when we don’t cross out every single item on our to-do list every single day of the week.
That being said, I’ve finally “forgiven” myself for not getting to the fitness center during my business trip to Los Angeles. I did pack my workout wear, but when I factored in a five-hour flight, three-hour time difference and production call time of 3 am, I had to choose between getting the rest I needed to do my job well or sacrificing the few zzzz’s I could get for a workout. At the end of the day, the project went well, my boss and the clients were happy and by not running myself into the ground, I also warded off some serious cold germs provided by my fellow passengers during the flight home.
When I returned, it was just in time to enjoy a fun fall Saturday with a dear gal pal and her family and then round off the weekend spending quality time with Mom and Dad. Could I have banged out a post when I got back to the city on Sunday? Probably. Would it have been coherent? Probably not. Obviously if I had a work deadline, I would have sucked it up and got things done. However, when things that are supposed to be fun start stressing you out, it’s time to step back and ask yourself: “Is the world going to spin off its axis if this doesn’t get done for another 24 hours?”
So, instead of fretting over writing, I used the time to get organized, rest and recover. You know what? I had extra energy to kick off my Motivation Monday with a Physique57 class and then attack the computer. Now I’m ready to take on whatever the week ahead throws at me – physically and mentally.
Let’s face it, most of us have too much on our plates on any given day of the week. When crunch time gets extra crunchy, we sometimes have to make choices to make a whole laundry list of “stuff” a little easier to carry. Maybe your favorite group exercise class falls on the same night your child needs help studying for a spelling test or the only night you and your spouse or best friend have time to catch up on a long-overdue date or phone call. Make the choices that work for you in that moment and remember tomorrow’s coming…with a whole new set of opportunities to help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!