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!
I really don’t know where the time is going, but here we are kicking off the eighth Workout Wednesday of 2013!
As the nickname suggests, this is the one day each week where I tend to push it even harder than usual at the gym. Also, the fact that I’ve found a new group exercise class to add to my arsenal of calorie-busting, muscle-boosting workouts makes Wednesday one of my favorite days of the entire week!
As I spent most of yesterday traveling back from Texas and didn’t have time for a typical workout, I’m even more eager to get back in action today. It’s amazing how good you can feel after one day of rest. In fact, there are countless studies out there proving why you need to take at least one day off each week. It’s during the rest that your muscles recover and actually have time to grow.
If you need more evidence that taking a day or two off can actually be beneficial for your well-being and possibly help you amp up your energy levels, I’m sharing a recent article from NYTimes.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it!
There are certain weeks when life will throw some curve balls at you and put the brakes on your typical fitness routine. The key is taking things one day at a time and making this day work for your life at this moment. If this Workout Wednesday turns into your rest day for the week, remember, down time is a crucial component in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
While I’m still enjoying this mini-vacation, I didn’t want to entirely blow off my typical shot of “Monday Motivation” for anyone needing a little kick in the you-know-what to get moving this week.
In the essence of time, I’m borrowing this week’s words from some famous motivators. I often receive positive feedback when I share famous quotes, I figured it couldn’t hurt to offer a few more while I’m out of town. Enjoy!
- “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”-Wayne Dyer
- “I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.” -Ken Venturi
- “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” -Henry David Thoreau
- “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” -Ralph Marston
- “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” -Thomas Paine
- “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” -Victor Kiam
- “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” -Mark Twain
- “You can never quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” -Ted Turner
- “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” -Walter Elliot
If you want more motivational quotes, be sure to follow me on Twitter or find me on Facebook. (There are buttons on the top right hand side of this page to click on so you can connect quickly!)
Here’s hoping you had a chance to rest and re-charge a bit over the weekend so you can go out this week and grab every opportunity to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
I end this week on a short note of personal reflection, but it’s one I hope many of you loyal readers can relate to.
Thanks to President’s Day, this started as a four-day work week. Then it hit me that I’d be spending even less hours at the office because of the Northwestern gal-pal getaway planned several months ago. The mini-reunion turned into the perfect excuse to take a couple of extra days off to visit another lifelong friend and her husband who welcomed their first baby a few months ago. As you read this post, I’m either watching TV in my JetBlue seat or already having fun in Austin, Texas. No doubt there will be plenty of laughs and a few cocktails involved in the extended weekend ahead!
Somewhere in the midst of my excitement, an unwelcome visitor crept in to my mind: worry. I started worrying about getting everything “in order” before I left. Specifically, I found myself worrying about writing for my blog and scheduling a few posts while I was away. On top of that, I started worrying about making extra time to burn some extra calories before what’s sure to be another high-caloric good time. That spiraled into worry over whether I’ve had a few too many of those good times lately without enough time in between to reset my “healthy living” button. Then I took out my mental sledgehammer and smashed all that worry to pieces.
These are all “issues” not worthy of a second thought. This blog is supposed to be one of my outlets. If I don’t post on Monday, Wednesday AND Friday next week, the world will keep spinning. Working out is an even bigger outlet in my life, so why in the world would I waste time and energy worrying about that? Finally, if having one too many margaritas with friends I haven’t seen in years is a problem, well, then I’ve got much bigger issues to deal with when it comes to embracing some fun in this all-too-stressed-out world!
I guess sometimes we all need to step back and realize it’s okay to let go once in awhile. Reality will be waiting for me when I get home, along with the gym and my favorite group exercise classes. For now, the workout wear is packed and I’m ready for my Texas adventures. While I’m not sure what day my next post will appear, I am certain about one thing: I’m not going to worry about it while I’m away.
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend so we can all face the new work week with even more energy to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Even a personal trainer needs help with her fitness program.
This past weekend, I took a Corrective Exercise Training workshop offered by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). The eight-hour workshop provided a lot more than some of the needed Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for my personal trainer re-certification. It also forced me to take note of some of the issues with my body that could quite frankly be setting me up for injury.
The purpose of corrective exercise is to create a training program that can help someone maximize his or her movement efficiency. This happens by identifying dysfunctions and correcting muscle imbalances with a plan of action.
In my case, that concept boils down to this: my calves, hip flexors and hamstrings are overactive and need to be stretched while my glutes and tibialis anterior (the muscle closely located to the shin) are underactive and need to be strengthened. The catch is the muscles that need the corrective work are only on the right side of my body.
How did I figure this out? Brent Brookbush, our NASM instructor, used me as a case study for the rest of the workshop participants to observe. Without getting too deep into functional anatomy, the group focused their attention on my feet, knees, lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and upper body as I banged out multiple overhead squats. After giving them an anterior, lateral and posterior view, they assessed my right foot turned out and I have an excessive forward lean.
Of course, both actions are indicators of less-than-optimal movement. In order to increase my muscle efficiency, they then put together a four-part training strategy that would first inhibit and lengthen the overactive muscles through self-myofascial release and static stretching. The last two steps target the underactive muscles with activation through isolated stretching and integration using a full-body exercise.
Breaking it down again, my program involves foam rolling my right lateral Gastrocnemius (calf), TFL (hip) and biceps femoris (hamstring); static stretches of those same muscles; then activation of my glutes with clams or bridges; and the grande finale is an integrated exercise, like a squat to row. This whole program should take me about 20 minutes, which means there’s no reason for me to not make it a part of my workout routine. I would still have time to get on the elliptical and/or hit the weight circuit. The key is once I do move on to the core part of my workout, I’ve worked to correct the imbalances in my body. My form will be better, the muscles that are supposed to “fire” as prime movers will do just that and other muscles won’t be compensating for the action. Those compensations can lead to injury over time.
One final plug for corrective exercise: After we all practiced the techniques and exercises outlined in my program, I performed another series of overhead squats for the class to observe. I can’t say I was perfect, but my form looked tremendously better compared to when I first got up in front of the group. My foot was no longer turning out and my lean was nowhere near as significant.
Considering how much better I felt after one afternoon of corrective exercise, I can’t wait to see how I feel after making this program part of my normal routine. In my book, anything we can do to make our muscles move better is a surefire way 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!
If you’re like millions of people around the world, you spent yesterday indulging in some “sinful” treats ranging from chocolate chip pancakes to libations of different octane levels. My office added to the sugarfest by asking our resident bakers to whip up some goodies for all of us to enjoy as a late-afternoon treat.
While I’ll be extra glad to break a serious sweat at tonight’s “UXF Burn” class, there are a few reasons I refuse to be consumed by guilt over my behavior on this annual day of decadence:
- It happens once in a 365-day period.
- For the past seven years, Fat Tuesday has fallen on the same day of the week as my favorite group exercise class. I’m just sure to kick things up an extra notch at NYSC’s Club Strength on this specific Tuesday where I tend to throw moderation out the window.
- Workout Wednesday immediately follows Fat Tuesday.
If you went a little overboard yesterday, you have some extra motivation to make today’s workout count! Not sure you need the boost? Consider this: pancakes rank at the top of the Fat Tuesday favorite-food list almost every year. If you enjoyed this crowd-pleaser at a restaurant like IHOP last night, remember each pancake weighs in at approximately 180 calories and six grams of fat. According to CalorieKing, burning off the calories in just one fluffy combination of sugar, flour and eggs would require 50 minutes of walking, 21 minutes of jogging, 15 minutes of swimming or 27 minutes of cycling. If you enjoyed a stack of four or five…well, you can do the math.
All that being said, I wrap up this post with a common LauraLovesFitness theme: life is simply too short to deny yourself the things you really enjoy. For me, that will always include chocolate and red wine. On the rare occasions I do splurge and enjoy those decadent items on the same day, I simply make it a point to get back on track with my healthy food choices the next day and add an extra ten or fifteen minutes to my workout. Finding a balance for all the things that bring you happiness is a challenging but critical part of our 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!
So, as I sail into my birthday weekend on an easy-breezy note, I thought I’d share a few smiles courtesy of my top 10 favorite quotes about getting older. These words of wisdom are good reminders for all of us – yes, that includes me! – that age really is just a number.
- “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”-Satchel Paige
- “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”-Mark Twain
- “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty in every age of life really never grows old.”-Franz Kafka
- “Time ripens all things; no man is born wise.”-Miguel de Cervantes
- I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up wrinkles the soul.”-Douglas MacArthur
- “I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more, as I grow older.”-Catherine Drinker Bowen
- “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”-Muhammad Ali
- “When you are younger you get blamed for crimes you never committed and when you’re older, you begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed. It evens itself out.”-George Santayana
- “You are never too old to be what you might have been.”-George Eliot
- “A birthday is a good time to begin anew: throwing away the old habits, as you would old clothes, and never putting them on again.”-Bronson Alcott
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend filled with countless who-cares-how-old-your-drivers-license-says-you-are-moments and plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!