Summer Fitness Shopping List

Bring on Summer!

Bring on Summer!

On this Motivation Monday, we are six days away from the official start of spring. As you can probably tell from my last few posts, this bona fide beach bunny is very excited about the arrival of my favorite season. So for my last pre-summer post, I thought I’d offer a few fitness-related items to add to your shopping list as you gear up for fun in the sun and new chances to get outside and get moving.

1) Re-usable water bottle:  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My rule of thumb is unless you’re playing a sport for 90 minutes or longer, stay away from sugary energy drinks.

2) Sportsfood strips: Whether you’re hitting the trails for a run, the beach for a swim or the park for a picnic, throw a cartridge or two of these no-calorie, no-sugar electrolyte strips in your bag. Click here to see why I never go anywhere without them. (And when you order them, don’t forget to use coupon code Laura for a 15% discount.)

3)  Moisture-wicking clothing: Sometimes the gear I wear makes all the difference between sweating it out and throwing in the towel.

3) Portable / non-perishable snacks: Open any of my backpacks or beach bags, and chances are you’ll find almonds, a banana and a protein bars. At this time of year, some of my other favorites to pack in a cooler are celery, watermelon and frozen grapes.

4) Jump rope: My favorite portable workout tool that can be used just about anywhere.

5) New kicks: You may recall I get a new pair of cross trainers twice a year. Since I tend to ask Santa to leave one pair under the tree for me on Christmas Day, this is the time of year I look for the next pair that I can start wearing down.

6) Sunscreen: I did a lot of damage to my skin with all the sun worshiping I did in my teens and 20s. After developing Rosacea in my 30s, I’m much more diligent about protecting my skin. I look for products that are lightweight, waterproof and formulated specifically for sensitive skin.

7) Good tunes:  I simply cannot get into my workout without some heart-pounding beats. Here are the five songs currently giving me the biggest boost for cardio, Tabatas and weight training (some are old, some are new):

  • images“Girl Gone Wild (Dave Aude Remix)” – Madonna
  • “The Walker” – Fitz & The Tantrums
  • “Ease off the Liquor” – Timbaland
  • “Love Runs Out” -One Republic
  • “Bigfoot” – W&W

Now bring on the start of summer 2014 and plenty of sun-filled days and chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous right through Labor Day!

Bring on Summer!

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SO ready for summer!

After an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in New York City, this Motivation Monday has me completely pumped for the official arrival of summer 2014!  At this time of year, I’d rather be out doing something active than reading about it. So, today I offer three simple tips to help make the most out of this month and the summer ahead.

1) Stay hydrated:  As the mercury rises, we tend to be more aware of getting the right amount of fluids throughout the day. Be sure to drink 16 ounces of water one hour before your workout and keep sipping throughout. I’m also a big fan of the latest addition to my fitness survival tool “kit.” If you haven’t tried Sportsfood electrolyte strips yet, there’s no time like now give them a test run. Click here for a reminder on why I use the zero-calorie, zero-guilt take-anywhere strips. One final note on hydration: Unless you’re an athlete running up and down a court or field for 90 minutes or longer, skip the extra calories in those sugary energy drinks and stick with water.

2) Love The Skin You’re In: ‘Tis the season for short shorts, tank tops, bikinis and all-things skin revealing. Which makes it all too easy to start the self-sabotaging act of comparing ourselves to others. So, here’s an important reminder: no two bodies are built the same. Let other fitness fanatics motivate you to move simply because you want to feel the same endorphin rush they’re experiencing. It shouldn’t be about getting the same “six-pack” abs as the woman who just ran by you in the beach or the same pecs as the guy banging out push-ups on the park bench. If you’re doing all you can to exercise and eat healthy, give yourself a high five and bask in all the positives you experience because of your lifestyle.

3)Mix it Up! Since variety is the spice of life, gearing up for a new season is a great time to mix up your exercise routine. Summer is the perfect time to explore your options beyond the four walls of a gym. Maybe this is the year you try paddle boarding, Saturday morning boot camp classes in the park, Tabatas on the beach or join a social volleyball club in your community. Turn the outdoors into your fitness playground and have some fun!

If you have any tips that add to your summertime fitness fun, I’d love to hear about them! Here’s to another great week ahead filled with lots of opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Ready for Action!

IMG_3183On this particular Motivation Monday I find myself in a bit of shock trying to re-adjust to the concrete jungle after spending a few days surrounded by sand and palm trees.

The sound of the ocean has been replaced by the horns and sirens that scream up and down Broadway. Instead of a salty sea spray, my nostrils are filled with the aroma of hot dogs and other “street meat” wafting from countless food trucks and vending carts.

The beach is my safe haven. It’s not only where I get to mix up my fitness routine by banging out squats or planks in the sand. It’s also where my brain can truly reboot. Whether I’m sitting under a sunny sky or a veil of darkness with nothing but the stars as my light, the beach provides the space where my mind can wander and feel free. It’s where my dreams never seem to big or too foolish…and where positive energy is restored. Now as reality sets in, I know I can close my eyes and escape to that peaceful spot in my mind whenever the stress starts creeping in.

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To Enjoy Some Treats Later!

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Started Each Day At the Gym…

My wish for you as we start another week and a brand new month is that sometime in the near future you can find the time to escape to your happy place. Maybe it’s a true vacation lasting a week or longer. Maybe it’s a full day or just a few hours in another town. It could even be an hour of solitude sitting in your backyard or on a cozy couch. Get there. Dream a little and make some plans to start going after what you want. While you’re add it, why not get up from that recharge and take a walk, go for a run or check your group exercise schedule for your next class.

I DID Miss Physique57!

I DID Miss Physique57!

Here’s to a great new week and month ahead and all the opportunities we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day!

On this Motivation Monday, we celebrate the unofficial kick off to the summer of 2014. However, the most important thing about today is to stop and pause for a moment of gratitude.

Whether you’re beaching, barbecuing, or laying low on this holiday, be sure to take a few moments to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so the rest of us could be free. That freedom allows us all to speak our minds and live each day the way we choose in the ongoing pursuit of happiness. Let us also remember the families who continue to grieve their loved ones lost to war. Finally, if you see a veteran or someone in uniform, why not stop and say thank you.

If you need a few tips on how to keep your healthy habits in check as you head out to enjoy the holiday, click here for a little refresher. I wish everyone a very Happy Memorial Day! If you plan on raising a glass or two, remember to designate a driver and stay safe so that when the holiday’s over, we can all get back to our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Mental Health Motivation Monday

1509997_1402357560012338_777970855_nIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I sometimes take a break from writing about specific workouts or food favorites to touch on the importance of doing things that help maintain or improve our mental health. While eating well and working out are crucial components in maintaining a sound body and mind, sometimes people need more than a good diet and steady exercise regimen to find mental wellness.

May happens to be Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness month. If you’ve never heard of BPD, you’re not alone. However, that’s a problem in itself since experts estimate as many as 18 million Americans are affected by this complex psychiatric condition. The word often used to characterize BPD is “instability,” but its symptoms are often similar to those for which many people seek psychiatric help including:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictive behaviors and
  • Low self-esteem

The only reason I learned about BPD was because one of my oldest childhood friends, Paula Tusiani-Eng, and her family have first-hand knowledge of this heartbreaking condition. Paula’s younger sister, Pamela Tusiani, suffered from BPD before her untimely death at the age of 23. Pamela’s mother, Bea Tusiani recently co-published Remnants of a Life on Paper: A Mother and Daughter’s Struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder which includes excerpts from Pamela’s diaries and provides a side-by-side account of how her whole family coped with Pamela’s condition and struggled to find treatment for her.

I recently interviewed Bea Tusiani along with Dr. Frank Yeomans, who is director of training at the Personality Disorders Institute at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and who also wrote a teaching manual for clinicians to accompany the book. I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the interview and listen for cues for that someone in your own life who may need help for BPD. I also encourage everyone to read the book, which can be purchased at Amazon.com It is a raw and eye-opening account from a very courageous family who put the spotlight on an untold story that morepeople need to hear.

 

In 2003, the Tusiani family established the Borderline Personality Resource Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Pamela’s memory. The Center offers countless resources and information, all of which can be found at bpdresourcecenter.org  You’ll find more information about the book at remnantsofalife.com

Again, I know this post is a break from the ordinary, but I believe important stories need to be shared in different venues to make sure more people have access to information that can help each of us achieve well-being in our body, mind and spirit.

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! 

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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!

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