Back to School, Back to YOU!

A New Month of Opportunities Awaits!

A New Month of Opportunities Awaits!

Well here we are one week into September of 2014. My New York City neighborhood is back to its normal frenetic pace. The kids are back in school and everyone who vacationed outside the concrete jungle are back from their summer hideaways. That means the gyms are crowded again, too. So I figured I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone this is the perfect time to incorporate some fitness into your back-to-reality routine.

Parents are helping their kids deal with new teachers, new schedules and after-school activities. If you’re like me and you don’t have kids, the speed of everyday living tends to amp up a notch thanks to the end of summer Fridays and the beginning of new projects and deadlines. The good news is fitting some fitness into your September routine doesn’t have to be impossible.

Here are some tips to make things a little less overwhelming:

  • Set a Time & 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. Listing the activity in your smart phone calendar or on the daily to do-list stuck to the fridge can offer a visual boost to keep that workout on 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” as featured recently on the Working Woman Report. (Don’t forget to tune in for a new episode tonight at 8:30 pm NYCLife Channel, which is either 25 or 22 depending on your provider.)
  • “Fall” Into Healthy Eating Habits: If you pack lunch for the kiddies, why not add  just a few 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 or individual plastic bags. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack or as a side to a turkey sandwich. Some of my other favorite on-the-go eats include almonds, low-fat string cheese and non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Wardrobe Prep If you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, put your workout wear 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 Rome wasn’t built in a day. Getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier  you. If you indulged in more ice cream or margaritas than you planned over the summer, don’t sweat it. It’s a new month, a new season is coming and there will be plenty of chances to get your butt in gear so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy Labor Day!

What I Miss Most About Every Summer...

What I Miss Most After Every Summer…

Well, here we are. Labor Day – the unofficial end of summer – has arrived. Whether you’re working out, chilling out, beaching or grilling, I hope you savor every second of the holiday.

As I hope most people will abandon the Internet and spend more time with family or friends today, I offer a short and sweet post featuring my favorite  summertime songs. If you’re looking to make the season last a little longer, maybe you’ll download one or two and create a new playlist for your workout or cookout.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe Labor Day ahead and here’s to a whole September filled with new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Laura’s Summer Song Faves:

Help Me Walk the Walk

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

One of my Favorite Pictures with Mom

On this Motivation Monday, I find myself 54 days away from an event I’ve wanted to participate in for years.  I’ve committed to take part in the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in New York City. The two-day event takes place October 18th and 19th. Thousands of people will walk 39.3 miles to help fund life-saving research, education and advocacy programs.

I’ve wanted to participate in the Avon Walk ever since my Mom’s diagnosis back in 2008. She beat breast cancer, and I know thanks to other events like this, more people will, too. Within the past few months, I learned of two young women – one in my high school class, another in my fitness circle – who are now waging their own war against breast cancer. So I decided it was time to stop talking about joining the fight against the disease and start walking!

However, I can’t do any of this without some help. In order to join in the Avon Walk, I have to raise $1,800. Your generous donations will help make that possible. Please click on the the link below to visit my personal page at the Avon Breast Cancer Walk website. While I hope to raise more than the minimum, I’ll take all the support I can get!

http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/NewYork?px=7671099&pg=personal&fr_id=2366

While I’ve Zumba-d my bootie off for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and donated to other charities, I’ve never done anything on this scale before. It’s a wonderful way to use my love for physical activity for a good cause and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I look forward to walking with Sue, a fellow Gael from St. Mary’s High School Class of 1991, and thousands of others as we strive to top last year’s New York donations of $6.7 million.

I close with a big thank you for your support on this new adventure. For all of you who follow me on social media, I appreciate any likes, shares and double-taps you can offer on those channels, too!  I look forward to sharing more about an experience that will hopefully help more people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Savoring Summer

IMG_3886

Savoring every beach walk in Montauk, NY

It’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us exactly two weeks away from Labor Day. Most consider the holiday the unofficial end of summer. As I sat on the beach on the last day of my last vacation of the season, I realized how much time can be wasted thinking about how many hours or days we have left to enjoy something instead of seizing and savoring the present moment.

I stared at the roaring sea, listened to the waves crashing against the sand and started breathing a little more deeply. I wanted to savor the scent of salt and sunscreen and embrace the feeling of the heat on my sun-kissed skin. However, somehow the my-vacation-is-almost-over panic crept in to my head and in to my heart. Panic about the future. Back in the concrete jungle. Back amidst the cacophony of sirens and horns. Back amongst the crowds of students on the subways and more people in the streets.

I know I’m not alone in this constant struggle between living in the present and worrying about what’s to come. As my mom pointed out, how can we not project about what’s two days or two weeks in the future when we’re bombarded with back-to-school sales in June and Christmas promotions in July?

Then I went for a last long beach walk, and one of my all-time favorite quotes from the legendary Dr. Seuss popped into my over-analytical head:

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

And I did smile. I realized how fortunate I was to be back in Montauk with my parents after last year’s hiatus because of my father’s emergency heart surgery. I realized the ocean will continue to churn and then settle into a calm, just like the different seasons and stages of life. At some point, each of us may face the end of a vacation…a job…a marriage…a life. My goal as I move toward a new season is to remember it’s healthier for the body and the spirit to hold on to what was good than lose sleep and sanity over what went wrong and what we can’t get back.

So when life seems overwhelming, I will close my eyes and envision the mighty sea to give me the energy I need to keep going. Whatever gives you strength- a good workout, an image of your children laughing without a care in the world, a conversation with your best friend – enjoy as many of those moments as you can this week and in the weeks ahead. We can’t change the fact that time will always march forward. But savoring the only thing we have control over in that journey – the present moment – can help us take on life’s challenges while keeping us on the course to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Avoiding Heat-Related Emergencies

istock_000012020247smallIt looks like the true “dog days” of summer have arrived. New York City is emptier than ever as people take advantage of these last pre-back-to-school weeks to pack up the family and get out of town. If you have your own plans to spend extra time soaking up the sun at the beach, the park, or in your own backyard, be sure to use some common sense to stay safe in the warmer weather.

I must say we New Yorkers have been pretty lucky this summer. After a miserable winter, the last couple of months haven’t felt like the typical sauna I’ve grown accustomed to living in the concrete jungle of Manhattan. However, with most of August ahead of us, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to remind everyone how to recognize heat-related illnesses. Sometimes water, sunscreen and a good hat can’t prevent an unexpected emergency – especially if you’re exercising outdoors.

Here’s what you need to know if you or someone you’re with experience any of the following:

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.

Go ahead! Soak up what’s left of the season by working out and hanging out in the great outdoors. Just remember to use a little extra care so you can stay safe while you move ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Adventures for LauraLovesFitness!

With Allison Haunss, Host & Executive Producer of the "Working Woman Report"

With Allison Haunss, Host & Executive Producer of the “Working Woman Report”

It’s an exciting Motivation Monday here at LauraLovesFitness!

My worlds of journalism, production and fitness all collide tonight with the debut of the Working Woman Report. The half-hour lifestyle show was created by my talented friend Allison Haunss. We met during our graduate school days at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and later worked together at News 12 Long Island and News 12 Connecticut. Now in addition to my role at KickedUp Media Group and pursuing work in the voice over world, I’ve joined the Working Woman Report as Senior Producer. I will also serve as the in-house fitness expert, which means you’ll see videos of yours truly showing people how to add some healthy moves to their lives.

The show debuts tonight at 8:30 pm ET on NYC Life, which reaches New York’s five boroughs; Long Island; Westchester; New Jersey…and beyond!

Shooting videos in Central Park with Videographer/Editor Ash Kalmar

Shooting videos in Central Park with Videographer/Editor Ash Kalmar

The following is a list of where to find NYC Life based on your cable provider:

  • CableVision   22
  • Comcast 25
  • Time Warner 25
  • Verizon / FIOS 25
  • Over the Air 25
  • RCN   25
  • DirecTV 25

To learn more about the show, check out www.workingwomanreport.com In a nutshell, the stories showcase female entrepreneurs from all walks of life and how they’ve made their mark. The overall theme is aimed at empowering women to turn their dreams into reality. Since I’m always promoting how leading a healthy lifestyle can help you tackle your goals, I’m thrilled to reach a new audience about the benefits of incorporating exercise and a well-balanced diet into your daily routine.

At the MetroBVNS Studio

At the MetroBVNS Studio

Not in the New York area? No sweat! You’ll be able to watch my fitness segments on YouTube. (There’s a tab at the top of this page that takes you directly to the LauraDLovesFitness channel.) If you can tune in, please be sure to set reminders on your calendars or program your DVRs for future Mondays at 8:30 pm to catch more inspiring stories from some fabulous females and to see when I’m back with more fitness moves. Of course, feel free to tell your family and friends about the show and to let me know what you think! Behind the scenes

I close with a big thank you to all my readers, family, friends and members of the fitfam who keep me keepin’ on! Here’s to all of the new opportunities that lie ahead for all of us on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

When Patience = Progress

istock_000012020247smallThe body truly is an amazing machine. What’s even more amazing is how it can fix itself – when you give it time to heal!

It’s been about four weeks since my orthopedist kindly read me the riot act regarding my shoulder injury. Since then I’ve made some major adjustments to my workouts and my daily routine including:

  • Cutting out all overhead exercises
  • Modifying push-ups to the point of being more work for my triceps than any other muscle
  • Avoiding wearing my purse on my left shoulder and reaching for items in my kitchen cabinets and vanity shelves with my right arm.
  • Carefully executing all the reps and sets of the rehabilitative exercises prescribed by my doctor
  • Taking my anti-inflammatories at the same time every day as prescribed

The result? On this Motivation Monday, I can happily report I have minimal discomfort when I wash my hair or if I accidentally roll over to my left side when I’m in bed. While I still feel twinges of pain doing some of my rehab work, the dumbbell scaption reps are virtually pain-free. The bottom line is I’m healing and I know if I remain patient and “baby” my shoulder for just a little longer, I’ll be back in full form!

I consider this progress report a concrete reminder for myself and anyone else who has a tendency to sometimes push a little too hard in about the importance of listening to the body when it needs time to heal. Has it been mentally challenging and downright frustrating not to be able to keep up with the rest of my Physique57 classmates during full-form push-up sprints? Absolutely. Am I itching to sign up for PILOXING classes and master the moves so I resume my plans to start teaching my own classes sometime soon? You have no idea! However, when I feel the frustration building to a boil, I tell myself getting healthy now will only open the door to bigger and better fitness gains later.

So for now and probably the rest of the summer, I will continue to stabilize and strengthen my shoulder, modify my motion during my workouts and keep a sharp focus on eating healthy. One benefit about being extra caution at the gym?  I’ve noticed my kale and quinoa intake is up and some of my cocktail consumption is down!

I close with a thank you to everyone who’s sent supportive messages here and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Unfortunately, injuries happen. The good news, at least for me, is that I seem to be getting smarter with age about how to handle them. Sometimes, a little patience is exactly what you need to get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous.

FINALLY Getting In On the SUP Craze!

IMG_0135Think you can’t get a good workout and have fun at the same time? Then you need to give stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) a whirl!

I’ve been wanting to get in on this growing craze for a long time and finally took the plunge last weekend in Nantucket. After the first 60-minute attempt, I understood why nearly one-point-two million people gave SUP a try in 2013. It’s an activity that can help anyone improve balance and strength regardless of his or her fitness level. The bonus: if you wipe out – which I did at least a half-dozen times – you get a nice shot of cool refreshment to motivate you to get back up on the board.

Why does SUP provide such a good workout? It’s simple: in order to remain upright and propel yourself in the water, you need to stay balanced. That means you use virtually every muscle in your body to stand on a surface which can grow increasingly unstable depending on waves and currents. While I felt a good burn in my legs, I really felt my core muscles firing especially as I focused on keeping my navel drawn-in and glutes engaged in order to stay standing. The paddling also got my arms, back and shoulders pumping, but I was careful not to pump as hard or as often with my left side as I continue to nurse my left shoulder back to health.

IMG_0138What I also like about SUP is that it can truly be tailored to various fitness levels. Newbies can start on their knees before moving to a stand-up position. More seasoned enthusiasts may want to take their skills to rougher waters where bigger waves and stronger currents can present more of a challenge. Either way, you’re getting a low-impact workout which makes it kinder to the joints than running or high-impact group exercise classes. If you have access to the sport and like being on the water, your search for a new cross-training activity could be over.

What about calories, you ask? Just like any other activity, you’ll burn more calories as your intensity increases. For a “casual” hour, you can burn between 250 and 350 calories. If you’re paddling hard, that number goes up. I’ve read some SUP articles that include racers burning more than 1,000 calories in an hour.

While I won’t be adding a board and paddle to my New York City apartment decor anytime soon, I will be keeping my eyes open for SUP opportunities on future getaways. Whether it’s SUP or another activity, let this Motivation Monday post serve as a reminder that adding something new to your routine is still one of the best ways to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

LauraLovesFitness Turns Three!

iStock_000016093894SmallWow! It feels like it was just yesterday I was writing about LauraLovesFitness hitting the two-year mark. Now here we are 365 days later – well, 368 to be exact – celebrating the last of the toddler years for my baby blog.

This marks the 311th post published since July 11th, 2011. Topics have ranged from the importance of flexibility training to the importance of taking care of our mental health while focusing on physical fitness. You’ve read about a wide variety of favorites including Tabata workouts; lo-cal cocktail recipes and must-haves for my fridge. You’ve listened to me chat with fitness powerhouses on Lifestyle Accountability, 2FitChx and Curtis Harwell Fitness Radio.  You’ve learned about the ups and downs in my life as a corporate video producer. You’ve even shared my grief and sent supportive messages following some serious shake-ups including my dad’s heart surgery and the loss of several loved ones.

The topics vary from week to week, but I continue to write each and every post with the same purpose that inspired me to start this blog in the first place: to motivate people to take better care of themselves. Not everyone likes to exercise. Not everyone wants to choose celery sticks over cheesecake. However, if I’ve inspired just one person to find some sort of physical activity that makes him or her feel good; pack frozen grapes instead of chocolate covered ones for a family picnic or decide to unwind after a bad day at the gym instead of the bar, then I have plenty to celebrate on this special occasion.

Anyone who follows me on Facebook and Twitter knows I sometimes repeat my favorite quotes. In that vain, here are five posts from the past year that I deem worthy of a second read.  (Of course, I’d love to hear if there are one or two on your list!)

Turning the Big 4-0

Why I Can’t Wait to Start Teaching PILOXING®.

Physique57®: The Workout that Changed My Life

A Not-So-Typical Motivation Monday

Why Fitness Should Be All About You

If you haven’t connected with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram yet, I hope you will soon. Consider it a birthday present! And stay tuned for exciting things to come in the months ahead. While I don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet, I can tell you if you live in New York, you’ll be seeing me on television soon.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last and that is a heartfelt thank you to my family, friends and all my readers. Whether you’re a lifelong bestie who signed up for a blog subscription on day one or part of the #fitfam I found in the social media world, I appreciate anyone who takes time out of a busy day to check in. Moving forward, I’d love to know which topics you’d like to read more about as well as the ones you’d prefer to see less frequently. Three years into the blogosphere, I realize more than ever how much of a team effort is involved to stay the course on this lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Sometimes We Need a Push…to Slow Down

Getting Some Perspective by the Sea

Getting Some Perspective by the Sea

On this Motivation Monday, I’m not offering my typical boost to take things up a notch in your fitness routine. Instead, I’m offering the important reminder that sometimes you actually need to take a step back, or at least to the side.That’s the road I have to travel right now and I have no one to blame but myself. The bottom line is I’m paying the price for not following my own advice.

It’s been more than two years since I was sidelined by an injury. Unfortunately, the small discomfort that started during a set of push-ups around the time of my 40th birthday has turned into a minor tear affecting the function of my left shoulder. So I have no choice but to modify my activity or risk making things worse and possibly face surgery later. I’m kicking myself for not listening to my body in the spring, but I can’t go back now. However, I can follow my doctor’s advice and move forward carefully and intelligently. I may be down, but I’m nowhere near out.

The biggest disappointment in all this is that I can’t practice the PILOXING® choreography I so desperately want to master so I can begin teaching classes as soon as possible. A huge part of the boxing, Pilates and dance-inspired 60-minute workout features jabbing and punching. Those two moves can’t be a part of  my fitness routine for the next four to six weeks. Instead, I will incorporate the shoulder-strengthening exercises prescribed by my doctor and focus on healing. So, my grand PILOXING® plans are now on hold.

Fortunately, after a few calming hours listening to the sounds of the sea at Jones Beach, I was able to put things in perspective. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and remembered delays aren’t deal breakers. I won’t let this setback break my spirit or stop me from pursuing my goals. I will continue to workout over the summer, and in the end, hopefully I’ll train a bit smarter than I did during the first half of the year.

We all know the best laid plans often go awry. Hopefully this post serves as a reminder that it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. You simply have to accept the fact that sometimes you have to take a step back or to the side to move ahead. Embrace the new direction and focus on the fact that at some point, you’ll be back to full steam ahead in your mission to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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