A Motivation Monday Shout-Out to Two Very Special People

Montauk 2012This Motivation Monday happens to fall on a very special occasion. Today is my dad’s 78th birthday. Since it’s also the day after I joined the rest of the country celebrating the special women called moms, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to acknowledge the positive force these two people have had on this crazy ride called life. Mom and Dad – you’re simply the best!

Sure,  my parents and I have had our share of disagreements and heated exchanges during the 40 years I’ve been on this Earth, but at the end of the day, I know they always have my back. Whatever dreams I’ve pursued and continue to chase down in my professional and personal life, they’re behind me. Having that kind of support helps me stay focused on my goals and keep the fear of failure at bay.

I realize not every family is tight. However, I’ve also learned family ties extend beyond a blood line. Even though I’m an only child, I’m lucky to have friends who may as well be siblings. I also have many “Aunts” and “Uncles” thanks to my parents’ talent at nurturing and maintaining their own friendships. Between these special people, those I’ve met at different junctures in my life – school, work, fitness adventures and even here in Cyberspace! – I’m grateful to have some solid teammates in my life.

My wish for you on this Motivation Monday is that you recognize and embrace the people in your own life who give you strength. I also hope you find the strength to no longer waste your energy on those who wear you down and hurt your spirit. Life’s too short to deal with negative energy. Whether you’re trying to turn your health and fitness goals into a reality or pursuing a new career, do yourself a favor and surround yourself with as much positive energy as possible.

Speaking of strong people, I wrap today’s post with news of another exciting opportunity. Competitive bodybuilder, personal trainer and life coach Curtis Harwell asked me to be  today’s guest on The Harwell Fit Radio Talk show! I’ll be chatting with Curtis and his co-host, Kelli Richardson, about health and fitness. Here’s the link where you can tune in and listen live at 6 pm ET:  http://bit.ly/SDL4se (If you miss it, you can always pull it up in the archives.) As always, Mom and Dad are my biggest cheerleaders as I gear up for this latest opportunity. I thank my readers and followers for your ongoing support, too.

Remember, whether it’s Motivation Monday or any day of the week, be sure to surround yourself with the positive people and energy you need to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Motivation Monday x Three!

Photo by Leslie Hassler

One Fit Chick…Photo by Leslie Hassler

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of May! Every month brings new opportunities, and I’m happy to report this one started off with a bang. Once again, I can thank my time in Twitterville for making it happen.

It’s been nearly two years since I met fellow fierce fitness femmes Monica Gauntt and Lori Ross. They’re actually part of about a dozen tweeps that make up our #fitfam. (For you non-tweeters, that’s short for Fitness Family.) We live in all different parts of the country, but during the past couple of years, we’ve said virtual hellos almost every morning to get moving; sent multiple shout-outs to keep us energized throughout the day and even sent hugs and prayers via cyberspace to help each other power through injuries, job losses, divorces, deaths and other challenging times.

Monica and Lori took their relationship beyond Twitter to become 2fitchx. Each fabulous “Frista” has overcome major hurdles in her quest to find a healthy balance in this crazy ride called life. Lori lost 125 pounds and Monica broke free of the yo-yo dieting prison and other unhealthy habits. They share their very personal stories along with tips and motivational messages in a weekly radio show. I was honored to be a guest on that show just this past Friday.

Meets 2FitChx, Lori & Monica

Meets 2FitChx, Lori & Monica

Please click here to find out what happens when three fit chicks get together. (The fact that we’re all blonde just adds to the fun!) I hope you’ll find some motivation to stay on track with your own health and fitness goals in our candid, fun-filled banter ranging from the workouts we love to how “stripping” has changed our lives. (Bet that piqued your curiosity!) Be sure to catch Monica and Lori’s future shows on Fridays live at 11 am CT or 6:00p CT for the replay. Listen on Indio Radio via the tunein app on your smartphone or  IndioRadio.com. You can check out the archived shows 24/7 at 2FitChx.podomatic.com.

I’m still blown away by some of the amazing people I’ve met through social media, and Monica and Lori are part of a group of that keeps me motivated. Even positive peeps like me can have a low day now and then, and I’m thankful for 2FitChx and the other members of my #FitFam who inspire me to chase my own dreams to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My Newest Workout Boost: “Stripping”

IMG_2745On this Motivation Monday, I’m excited to tell you about a new addition to my fitness routine. I tried it for several days last week and experienced the same positive results each time. What did I do? I “stripped” before each workout, and I “stripped” again halfway through each sweaty ordeal.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain exactly what I’m talking about: a rapid electrolyte replacement oral thin film strip made by Sportsfood, Inc. Just like the company’s website says, the strips are small and thin, and dissolve instantly in your mouth. Once dissolved, each strip immediately begins to replace the all-important electrolytes - sodium and potassium – your body loses when you sweat. The kicker: the strips contain no calories, no sugars, no carbs and no food dyes.

I admit I was skeptical when I first tried the strips. I took two strips about five minutes before my Physique57 workout started. (Note: the strips have a slightly salty taste, but they dissolve so fast, I didn’t find anything unpleasant about them.) I used another two after the warm up, thigh sprints and one side of the glute work was done. (That’s about 30 minutes into class.) While I still felt the burn from the intense workout, my muscles didn’t tire out quite as quickly and that means I banged out more reps than ever before. I used the strips again before a 60-minute cardio-only session at New York Sports Club the next day and I had the same results. I was able to extend my time on the elliptical machine, stationary bike AND rowing machine – which means I extended my normal workout by an additional 15 minutes.

IMG_2697The bottom line is while I will always drink my water before, during and after any workout, the strips definitely gave my body an “edge” I haven’t experienced before. Please note, this is not an “energy” strip – they don’t contain caffeine or stimulants. They are strictly made up of the electrolytes our bodies need to live. From an active standpoint, sodium and potassium help maintain water balance and prevent muscle cramps and fatigue.

Remember, being hydrated is the single most important factor in activities of any intensity level. That includes activities that aren’t strictly fitness-focused. I can’t wait to pack these strips in my beach bag to keep me moving during a long walk on the sand or even before some heavy lifting of yard furniture and other seasonal items at my parents’ house.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I don’t normally write rave reviews about products, but tend to discuss certain workouts or unexpected food finds that I find helpful. I hope that assures you that I’m only writing about this particular product because I do consider it a bona fide find for my diet and exercise regimen.

If you want to learn more about the product, please visit the Sportsfood website. If you’re interested in giving them a try, here’s a bonus for you LauraLovesFitness followers: use “Laura” as your coupon code and get 15% your order. Of course, if you do try them, I want to hear from you! As always, exchanging ideas on how we all stay active and healthy can only help on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Holiday Aftermath

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Considering most of my Motivation Monday posts wrap in 500 words or less, I think it’s safe to say the following two pictures speak volumes. They illustrate the reasons I’ll be pushing my workouts a little harder today.

Thanks Easter Bunny!

Thanks Easter Bunny! 

IMG_2723

Red wine goes well with any holiday!

Whether you celebrated Easter or another special occasion over the weekend, I hope you enjoyed yourself. If those good times happened to involve a little extra food and drink, don’t sweat it. Think about the happy memories you made and don’t forget the gym bag as you head out the door and tackle a new work week filled with plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

‘Tis the Season…for lots of Sneezin’!

coldI hope wherever you spent the weekend you were lucky to enjoy some sunshine and warmer temperatures. Here in New York, it seemed everyone made the most of the glorious spring weather including yours truly. Of course, as I went for a long walk through the tree-lined, grassy suburban neighborhood where I grew up, it hit me – the pollen that is.

The last thing I want to do after the horrendous winter is complain about the arrival of allergy season. (However, the experts are predicting one of the worst spring and summer allergy seasons in a long time.) So as we New Yorkers welcome a 70-degree Motivation Monday, I’ll simply offer some advice for anyone who’s ready to move your fitness routine outside but wants to keep the sneezing, itchy eyes, coughing and potential wheezing to a minimum. Here are some of my springtime survival tips:

  • Timing is everything: 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 following tips will help.
  • Wear sunglasses: You can create at least a minimal barrier for your eyes by wearing sunglasses (or even goggles) if you plan to exercise outdoors for a long period of time. Using eye drops before you head outside can help, too.(Non-prescription Alaway eye drops helped me a lot last year and I recently added a new bottle to my medicine cabinet.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for many years when I was a kid. They helped make my acute reactions less severe over time, but I still battle through hay fever season. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. (Important note: I do NOT like to take a lot of medicine, but I’d much rather take something for a few months than cut back on my workouts and start scratching my eyes out!) Talk to your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication one hour before your outdoor workout. If you get out of bed and head outdoors immediately, ask your doctor if you can take your medication before bed so it’s in your system when you head outside.
  • Clean up: At the end of an outdoor workout, your clothes are covered in a lot more than sweat. Get out of that pollen-covered workout gear, take a shower and wash your hair as soon as possible. The longer that pollen lingers, the more severe your reaction can be. You also don’t want to spread the pollen around your home by sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.

To wrap things up, the best advice I can offer is simple: listen to your body. If you’re trying to get your heart rate up outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, 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 your favorite Zumba DVD in at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Fresh Start

istock_000015612296smallI think I lost 10 pounds since last week.

Don’t worry, I didn’t start some crazy diet or workout eight hours every day. The weight I lost was in my mind, and it melted away thanks to a little spring cleaning. Well, in full disclosure, it was really more like spring cleaning on steroids.

I decided to spruce up my apartment with a fresh coat of paint. Anyone who’s been through it knows you might as well be preparing to move. While I wrapped up my fragile knickknacks and made room for the painters to work, I also cleaned out my closets, desk drawers and other storage spots that were surprisingly chock full of papers and plain old junk. I also came across some bittersweet memories – photos and other memorabilia of special people who aren’t around anymore. Even putting those items in a special box and tucking it away in a closet was cathartic. The memories will be there if I want to relive them down the road.

Starting my mornings with a workout gave me a solid shot of those forever-welcome endorphins which only made me more enthusiastic about loading pounds of paper into the shredder and putting other items aside to donate. As I finish putting my photos and books back in their nooks and paintings back on the wall, I feel a little lighter after getting rid of the “stuff” I simply didn’t need anymore. I think I’m truly ready for spring. (Now if Mother Nature will just cooperate, it’ll be a great season!)

So on this Motivation Monday, I encourage you to take stock of what’s around you. Something as simple as eliminating the clutter in your life can have a huge impact on your psyche. Removing any kind of negative energy – things, people, habits – can only be good for your overall health and well-being. Remember, creating positive surroundings can give you a boost when you’re not working out and only help you stay  the course on your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My First Blog Tour

iStock_000009363193SmallI realize this is a departure from my Motivation Monday norm, but as you know, I’m a big proponent of mixing things up.

I’ve been invited to participate in a “blog tour” by writer and blogger Paula Rizzo. I guess you could call it a sort of chain letter for blogs. However, unlike the chain letters I usually ended up tossing as a kid, I thought this would be a bit more fun. I have to answer four questions about my writing process and introduce you to three bloggers who will pick up the baton next week. They’ll introduce you to another trio…and so on, and so on. Ready…set…go!

1. What am I working on?

Along with my Motivation Monday posts and other social media outreach, I’m in the infancy stage of writing a proposal for my very first book. Without giving too much away, my goal is to draw on my personal experience – including more than a few mistakes- to write an easy-to-follow blueprint for people of all ages and skill levels. On the non-fitness front, I’ve been keeping a journal since the age of 12. One day, I hope to draw from some of the events in my life to create some form of realistic fiction, but that’s down the road a piece.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While there is no shortage of fitness experts in Cyberspace or on TV, I can’t truly relate to many of them as a 40-year-old woman. I don’t believe you have to go to injury-inducing extremes to make positive, healthy changes in your life at any age. I promote choices that people can live with for more than a few days or weeks at a time and promote finding fitness routines and diet regimens that make you feel good so you’ll stick with them for the long haul.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I’ve loved to write and I’ve loved to exercise for as long as I can remember, so bringing the two together feels natural. At the age of 40, I can honestly say I’m stronger than ever. By taking better care of myself physically during the last five years, I know I’ve also gained strength mentally and emotionally. I share my favorite workouts, foods and even some fitness faux pas in an effort to inspire others to find their own path to leading a healthy lifestyle.

4. How does my writing process work?

Each workout, each trip to the grocery store and each week can present its own inspiration. If I enjoy a particularly grueling Central Park workout or add a new item to my fridge, there’s a good chance you’ll read about it here. I also rely on the calendar to address timely topics like staying healthy through the holidays or hydrated through the summer.

Who’s On Deck…

LoriAnn LaRocco (Lori Ann LaRocco.wordpress.com) Lori Ann is one of my dearest friends and the author of three books including her most recent, “Opportunity Knocking” (Agate Publishing).  She is also the Senior Talent Producer for CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Lori Ann has used her “trillion dollar” Rolodex to gain real-world insight into business and finance. Her work, including her blog, is an inspiration for all entrepreneurs or anyone who needs a swift kick in the you-know-what to stop dreaming about what you want to do and put a real plan into action.

Lauren Muscarella (traumatoart.org/inspire/) Lauren and I met several years ago at a NASM workshop while preparing for our personal training certification exams. Along with sharing a passion for health and fitness, I soon learned Lauren lost her mother to breast cancer at a very young age. She eventually found comfort for her grief in writing a blog called MamaQuest. After receiving countless emails and letters expressing how her blog inspired others to use creativity to cope with their own losses, she wanted to do more. Lauren founded TraumatoArt.org to help young adults find their own unique path through grief using creativity, rituals and community contribution.

Stephanie d’Orsay (itrainthereforeieat.com) Stephanie is certified as an athletic trainer and strength and conditioning specialist and has a MS in Applied Nutrition. We met in Twitterville and in addition to falling in love with the name of her blog, I appreciate her love of food and her outlook on what it means to follow a healthy lifestyle. We share a common belief that there is no one-size-fits-all diet and fitness plan and Stephanie’s blog offers an honest and uplifting approach to reaching goals and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading and as always, I wish you all a great week filled with tons of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Welcome Spring!

Another Springtime bonus? Baseball season is almost here!  Photo by Leslie Hassler

Another Springtime bonus? Baseball season is almost here!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

It’s the first Motivation Monday of the Spring of 2014! Obviously, Mother Nature has yet to catch up with the calendar. (We’re bracing for more snow here in New York tomorrow.) So for now I’ll enjoy the little rush I get from just wishing people a happy Spring! As we all try to catch the buzz of a new season, it’s also the perfect time to think about shaking up your fitness routine.

There are three reasons why change is good when it comes to how you exercise:

  1.  Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
  2. Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I mix up my cardio days and take different Physique57 signature and mat classes throughout the week. I also take at least one day off each week.
  3. Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and weight training circuits can keep things fresh. 

The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety to your routine:

1) Start jumping rope: Along with making you feel like a kid again, jumping rope can burn up to 20 calories per minute! Also, since you only need one portable piece of equipment, you can do it just about anywhere. (Just watch your ceiling height!) Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next level. Try this: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes and then jump rope for 1 minute. Keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.

2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest. (Feel free to use stairs in your house or outside your building as the step!)

3) Take it outside: Sometimes a change of venue is all you need to put that extra spring in your step! Take Tabata training to the park, the backyard or the deck. Take advantage of the extra daylight and meet a friend or catch up with that special someone over a walk before or after dinner.

4) Get some new gear: I recently strayed from basic black to purchase a few new pairs of workout pants and tank tops. (I’m now a first-time owner of purple yoga pants!) Whether it’s a new pair of cross trainers or a moisture-wicking sports bra or pair of shorts, sometimes a pop of color can go a long way in lifting your mood and getting you pumped to workout. Who doesn’t like to show off new clothes or kicks?

5) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, here are some of my latest favorites:

  • “Made Of (Chuckie Mix)”  by Nause
  • “September (Neil McLellan Remix)” by St. Lucia
  • “Fire In Your New Shoes” by Kaskade (feat. Dragonette)
  • “What’s Up Suckaz” by TJF
  • “#Selfie” by The Chain smokers

So, how are you planning to take things up a notch this spring? Let me know so we can all share some ideas on our neverending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous! 

” Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ “

-Robin Williams

New Food Find

Newest Go-To Meal: Grilled Fish & "Superfood Pilaf"

Newest Go-To Meal: Grilled Fish & “Superfood Pilaf”

Today’s Motivation Monday message is all about fuel. If you make a commitment to move more, it’s crucial to give your body the fuel it needs to keep moving – both in and out of the gym. Since people are always asking me what I eat to stay healthy, I thought I’d share one of my new favorites. On top of being tasty, it goes from my microwave to my plate in about seven minutes. Anything but a master cook, I always look for foods that are nutritious, filling and super easy to prepare.

My newest find is a Trader Joe’s product called “Superfood Pilaf.” An organic combination of quinoa, sweet potatoes, kale and carrots, it’s rich in iron, dietary fiber, vitamins A and C and it’s the perfect complement to a piece of grilled chicken, fish or lean red meat. It’s also a nice break from the “ordinary” brown rice or the whole grain farro I usually make.

IMG_2399The bottom line is you don’t have to spend tons of time in the kitchen to follow a healthy lifestyle. A little bit of prep goes a long way. For me, that means spending a little time every Sunday chopping and slicing fresh produce into individual serving containers that I can grab each day of the week. Along with an ample supply of microwavable frozen veggies (like the “Superfood Pilaf”), I also stay stocked with go-to proteins like chicken breasts or frozen tilapia filets. Taking two minutes in the morning to move a piece of protein from the freezer to the fridge to defrost can mean the difference between grilling up something healthy for dinner or ordering something filled with extra calories, extra grease and extra guilt.

I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-prepare and healthy meals or snack items, so if you have one or two, I’d love to hear from you! Remember, striking a healthy balance between diet and exercise is the best way to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Extra Sleepy This Monday? You’re Not Alone!

iStock_000008015531LargeThis weekend presented a good news – bad news scenario for most of us. The good news: we added some much-needed sunlight to our days at the end of a winter that just won’t quit. The bad news: we lost an hour of sleep thanks to changing the clocks for daylight saving time. So on this particular Motivation Monday, instead of offering a boost to squat or stretch more often, I encourage you to use this drowsy day to take stock of something that’s crucial to our overall health but often overlooked: your sleep habits.

Why do we need sleep? Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps regulate our mood and learn and retain valuable information. There are even studies out there linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from my work to my workouts and I definitely get more annoyed by the little things that usually roll off my back.

Here are some ideas for incorporating those all-important zzzz’s into your healthy routine:

  • Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol: Anyone who’s read this blog for some time knows I enjoy a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. Of course, having a hangover the next day after too many libations is never a good thing.
  • Caffeine: I have some friends who can have a cup of coffee after dinner at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like herbal teas and chocolate.
  • Hunger:  The bottom line is you don’t want to go to bed hungry, but you don’t want to be too full either. I try not to snack at night after dinner, but if I do, I go for a single-serve bag of 94% fat-free popcorn, a skinny cow fudge pop or a few clementines or mandarins. Frozen grapes are great for taming those sweet cravings, too.
  • Stress:  This an area I hope to manage better this year. I recently read somewhere it’s a good idea to write down all your worries an hour before getting into bed. Whether it’s the to-do list for the next day or some project that’s been on your plate for awhile, writing things down gets the worry “out there” and you can deal with it in the morning. I find the nights I write in my journal (which I’ve been keeping since I was 12!) helps me unwind more than the nights I don’t.
  • Shutting Down:  If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be overstimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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