The Aftermath

super-bowl-sundayThe source behind this Motivation Monday can be summed up in three little words: Super Bowl Sunday.

If your team didn’t win the big game, it may be comforting to know at least you’re not alone in struggling with the aftershocks of food overload. It’s probably no surprise to hear Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest calorie-consumption day of the year after Thanksgiving. Just how many calories, you ask? Let’s put it this way: the recommended daily caloric intake for people looking to maintain their weight is roughly 2,000 calories. On Super Bowl Sunday, the majority of Americans eat close to 2,800 calories…in about three hours.

Even if you’re not a big football fan, Super Bowl Sunday has become an American tradition like apple pie. I think it’s because the big game and the big-budget commercials that play in between the big plays offer the perfect opportunity for friends and family to get together. Those get-togethers always seem to be fueled by many of the foods most of us try to avoid on a regular basis.

With some help CalorieKing, I put together a playbook featuring some of America’s favorite Super Bowl foods. Considering many or all of these items may have been on your game day menu, I’ll let you add them up based on how many pieces, slices or serving sizes you enjoyed. As you calculate the numbers in your head or using the calculator on your smart phone, I imagine you may have found a good reason to get off your you-know-what and start that next run or workout pronto.

  • Queso Dip = 71 calories per serving. (A serving is 2 tablespoons and most people have closer to 10. Each serving also includes 5 grams of fat)
  • Doritos’ Tortilla Chips, Cool Ranch Flavored (12 chips) = 140 calories
  • Lays’ Potato Chips, Sour Cream & Onion Flavored (17 chips) = 160 calories
  • 5 Pigs-in-a-Blanket = 470 calories
  • 5-wing serving of hot wings = Anywhere from 300 to 597 calories (depending on the sauce and dip they’re served with)
  • 1 Slice of Cheese Pizza = 240 calories
  • 1 Slice of Pepperoni Pizza = 298 calories
  • 1 Slice of Papa John’s “The Works” Pizza = 330 calories
  • Bowl of Chili = Calories range from 300 – 600 based on the recipe. (e.g. cheese v. no-cheese)
  • 1 Light Beer (12 oz) = 96 calories
  • 1 Regular Beer or Ale (12 oz) = 150 calories
  • 1 Regular Soda (12oz) = 140 calories

Whatever you ate and whatever team you cheered for, I hope your Super Bowl Sunday was a fun one. If that included going a bit overboard with the food and drink, don’t sweat it. Just use today as your chance to get back on track with your regularly scheduled, not-so-gluttonous plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Not-So-Typical Motivation Monday

I hope you’ll forgive my wandering off the normal Motivation Monday path, but I’ve spent the past week swimming through a sea of emotions.  Those feelings fueled some extra intense workouts, and I now find them guiding my fingertips on this keyboard as part of what could be considered my attempt at a mental-health workout.

On Friday, my parents & I said good-bye to a dear friend and someone I’ve considered the guardian of my spiritual health and well-being since I was a kid. I was in the second grade at St. Mary’s in Manhasset, New York when we first met the Reverend Ralph Ferro. As I was just a child, I couldn’t tell you the specific date or time when we all grew close, but it happened somewhere between my father caring for Father Ralph and his family as patients and the countless Christmas dinners he spent with us even after his parents and his brother passed away.

Through the decades we knew each other, he celebrated a gamut of monumental events ranging from my cousin’s wedding to my best friend’s dad’s funeral. He celebrated my own wedding, and later counseled me through the divorce and even the painful annulment process. He shared in my joy when I found love again and shared in my sorrow when it didn’t work out. He prayed for my parents when they went through health scares and surgeries. He prayed when we mourned the loss of loved ones to cancer, old age or unexpected tragedies. No matter what was happening, I could turn to Father Ralph who either face-to-face or through the phone line would tell me, “It’s gonna be okay, kid. God loves you. So do your parents – and so do I.”

At his funeral, a fellow priest described Father Ralph as a “diamond in the rough.” My parents and I – along with many of the people who filled Holy Spirit Church to say good-bye – couldn’t help but  chuckle in agreement. He didn’t look like a “typical priest,” but under his unique character was a true heart of gold. It was that heart along with his faith that led him to counsel people many of us would rather forget – prisoners in the Nassau County jail system. Sadly, that big heart stopped beating at the age of 71 – not even a month after we shared another memorable Christmas together.

While the news of his sudden death shook my parents and I to the core, it also reminded me of something so simple and so important, yet all too often forgotten. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, here it goes: Our time on this earth is far too short to put off living for one more day.

So if you’ve been meaning to make changes to follow a healthier lifestyle in the hopes of being on this earth as long as your body will let you, start today. On the flip side, if you don’t want to workout today because you’d rather spend that free hour visiting with the friend or loved one you haven’t caught up with in far too long, then don’t. If you’ve been denying yourself the indulgence of a certain treat, have it. If you can’t remember how a petty disagreement stopped all communication with a relative or friend, pick up the phone and start making amends. I’m not saying to spiral into an abyss and abandon all sense of order in your life. However, there’s no time like the present to stop delaying happiness when the opportunities to embrace it exist right in front of our eyes each and every day.

If there’s some semblance of motivation to be found amidst these 600 words, maybe I offered a push for you to think about doing the one thing you’ve put off for far too long. Sometimes we all need a  reminder to enjoy each moment and live as if today was our last chance to have fun, be fit & feel fabulous.

Why Stepping Back Doesn’t Make You Weak

Read the rest of this entry

Keep On Keepin’ On!

Stay Strong - You Got This! Photo by Lauren Bachner

Stay Strong – You Got This! Photo by Lauren Bachner

As a lifelong fitness lover, I always get excited at the start of a New Year. It’s wonderful to see a fresh crop of faces sweating it out on the elliptical machine next to mine at New York Sports Club or squatting away at the barre in my Physique57 classes. In the back of my mind, however, I can’t help but wonder how many of these glistening faces will disappear come March. I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday as a chance to encourage everyone to pause for a few moments and assess how things are going so far – and also forgive yourself for any slip-ups.

When I talk to people about why they abandon their fitness journey, most of their reasons can be put in two categories:

  1. Getting discouraged easily: Maybe these thoughts crossed your mind over the weekend “I’ve worked out every single day since January 1st. I haven’t had one piece of chocolate or even a glass of wine, but I don’t see the hint of a six-pack yet.” Well, consider this your reality check. First of all, I’ve never been a proponent of embracing extreme restrictions to make healthy lifestyle changes. Denying yourself the things you like for too long can only end in disaster, such as devouring a whole cake or pizza instead of one slice. Second, it’s important to remember it takes a minimum of six weeks for anything to become a habit. Whether that’s fitting those five servings of fruits and veggies into your daily diet or finding your groove in spinning class, be patient. Stick with your plan and focus on the positives you have experienced since making some healthy changes. (Don’t stop reading now, some of those positives are mentioned below.)
  • Doing too much too soon:  Similar to my mantra about restrictions, I’m also not a fan of over-the-top workout plans for newbies to the fitness world. Which of the following scenarios sounds better to you?:
  1. Banging out a series of squats, planks and even modified push-ups and feeling a healthy “burn” in the muscles afterward and being able to tackle another workout the next day or
  2. Plowing through 50 burpees and/or pull-ups in far-from-perfect form only to suffer lower-back pain and be out of the game for five days

Sure, it seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately too many people take the less optimal choice and end up with plenty of pain and no gain. Choosing quantity over quality is a surefire way to put yourself at risk for injury…which leads to discouragement…which can ultimately lead to throwing in the towel on those fitness goals altogether. You already know slow and steady wins the race.  When it comes to running down your health and fitness goals, I like to think of it as more of a lifelong marathon.

Finally, it you’re plugging away with your workouts and healthy eating choices, keep it up and remember to focus on the positive! In fact, I’ll be so bold to tell you forget what the scale says and take stock of any of these positive changes:

  • A sharper focus at work or tackling that to-do list on the homefront
  • A new “glow” to your skin
  • Increased energy for everyday activities like playing with your kids
  • Not needing to catch your breath after walking up that flight of stairs
  • Getting a better night’s sleep

I leave you with one last reality: there will be “off” days. Even this fitness lover can admit there are times all I want to do is watch TV while sipping red wine and eating  chocolate. It happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the cookie crumbs, chop some veggies, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

2014, Bring It On!

iStock_000027032354SmallHappy New Year! I hope the first few days of 2014 have been good to you. More importantly, I hope you’re using the New Year as  an opportunity to really start being good to yourself!

I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously pumped about the year ahead. Maybe it’s because the fortune teller I  met back during a bestie’s birthday weekend in Jamaica told me 2014 would be my “best year yet.” (I don’t place too much stock in all the thoughts she shared, but that was the one that stuck with me!) Maybe it’s because I’m one month away from hitting that milestone known as the “Big 4-o.” Or maybe it’s just the fact that I’m glad 2013 is over and done with. Whatever the case, I’m beyond excited about all the opportunities ahead to be healthier and happier than ever!

Speaking of opportunities, this first Motivation Monday of 2014 presents another exciting first for me. I’m thrilled to be today’s guest on the Lifestyle Accountability Show. I met Bate Brothers Adam and Devon via Twitter and was honored when they asked if they could feature me on their daily health and well-being podcast. Please click on the following link to listen to the interview where we discuss everything from my favorite healthy foods to the pitfalls I’ve encountered on my never-ending fitness journey:

I hope you’ll find the information helpful to make this YOUR healthiest and happiest year yet!

I close with a thank you to the Bate Brothers and to all of you for checking out the interview.  Feel free to share away on Facebook, Twitter and wherever else you’d like to spread the word about the show and all the sources of inspiration at Here’s to the remaining 359 days ahead of us in 2014 filled with so many chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

My (Annual) Christmas Gift to You

Christmas treeIt’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us just two days away from another Christmas! To celebrate, I hope you’ll enjoy my twist on a classic that’s becoming a LauraLovesFitness holiday tradition. I call it  “The 12 Days of Fitness.”

On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…a super surge of endorphins.

On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a big rush of endorphins.

On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven eccentric muscle actions, ten minutes rowing, nine neuromuscular benefits, eight endurance boosts, seven stability exercises, six static stretches, five fitness apps! Four minutes of Tabatas, three sets of squats, two tighter thighs and a super surge of endorphins.

Here’s wishing everyone who celebrates a very Merry Christmas! I’ll be spending time with family and friends and taking a break from blogging til the start of the New Year. Let me use this time to offer a huge thank you to all of my readers for your support during a tumultuous 2013. I’m definitely looking forward to the happy adventures that await in 2014 and continuing the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Holiday Party Crunch Time

iStock_000014614375SmallAs we all know, ’tis the season to be merry, and that means lots of cheer in the form of Christmas cookies, cream sauces and cocktails.  As the countdown to Christmas day ticks away, many of us will be cramming multiple holiday parties into the evenings ahead. So I’m using this Motivation Monday as a time to remind everyone how to get through these calorie-rich days ahead without throwing all your heathy habits out the window!

  • Plan Ahead:  If you have a party to look forward to after work, do NOT  starve yourself all day. Instead, eat a sensible breakfast and lunch and have a healthy snack up to one hour before the party starts. This way, you won’t arrive with a rumbling stomach and grab the first thing you see.
  • Choose “Smart” Foods First:  Many holiday party spreads are full of yummy appetizers. Why not load up on some of the healthier options first, like the crudités (celery sticks, carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower). Just try not to drown them in dip. Another good idea is to seek out some protein. I love shrimp, and the good news is with 18 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving, there’s no reason not to! Sushi, skewered chicken or beef tenderloin strips are also a better option than loading up on the cheesy breads or creamy dips.
  • Deal with the Dessert Dilemma: Cocktails, cupcakes and chocolates are sometimes the center pieces for a holiday bash.  I admit, I’m one dessert lover who’s a big fan of this concept, but it can wreak havoc on your efforts to eat healthy. If you’re attending a super sweet bash, you definitely want to eat a sensible small meal before arriving at the party and diving into the tray of sugary treats. When you do dig in, why not split a cupcake, cookie or piece of cake with a friend. If there’s any fresh fruit, eat that first.
  • Maintain Cocktail Control: The every-other-drink rule works just as well at a holiday party as it does for happy hour. To space out the alcohol consumption, start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, switch to a glass of water, seltzer or diet soda for your next beverage.
  • Get Moving! Despite the hustle and bustle of the season, you can find some time to be active. Remember, 10 minutes of exercise is better than nothing. If you have a party after work, hit the gym or pop in a fitness DVD at home in the morning. If you live in a city with sidewalks, don’t let the cold stop you in your tracks. Throw on an extra layer, pack the party shoes to go and burn some extra calories by walking to work and/or to the festivities.

Remember, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. For me, that includes enjoying some holiday cheer…along with some chocolate and probably a few cupcakes. So with a little planning, we can all make it through the holiday party circuit and still have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

‘Tis the Season to Mind Your Mental Fitness!

Christmas gift and baubles on defocused lights backgroundThis Motivation Monday leaves us with just 15 shopping days until Christmas. The way things were in the stores in my neighborhood on Saturday, you’d think Armageddon was coming! As I made my way through the throngs of people searching for stocking stuffers and indulgent treats, I kept closing my eyes to block out the general feeling of impatience permeating the air in the overheated stores. What better time to touch on the importance of keeping our mental health in check during the hustle and bustle of this joyous but chaotic season.

Last week, I encouraged everyone to put just 10-minutes aside for a workout as a way of keeping the holiday stress level under control. Along with working and managing family responsibilities, many of us are also juggling decorating, extra cooking, party planning, card writing, waiting in lines in crowded stores and spending extra amounts of time with extended family. Add online shopping and recipe surfing to the everyday stimuli of emails, texts, Tweets and status updates and it’s no wonder our minds are in overdrive.

So while I implore you to fit that quick-hit workout into your daily routine, it’s equally important to steal another few precious moments to re-boot. Here a few tips to make it happen:

  • Focus on one thing at a time: If you set aside an hour to write holiday cards or wrap gifts, make sure that’s all you do during those 60 minutes. No texts. No emails. Worried about withdrawal? Use social media to alert your network you’ll be offline and in elf mode for a bit.
  • Step away from the computer: I understand the need to check email once before bedtime to make sure you didn’t miss any late-day developments on the work front. However, try to shut down at least 30 minutes before bedtime to get your brain in mellow mode.
  • Turn off the TV: Try to establish one night where you set the DVR and turn a show’s normal viewing time into decompress time with family or friends. Play cards or a board game and forget about the holiday craziness for awhile. It may turn into a night of getting the Christmas chaos under control, but it’ll be time to tackle the holiday to-do list with fewer distractions.
  • Make me-time a must: If you’re making the commitment to find 10 minutes (or more) in your crazy schedule to exercise, add just five more minutes to stretch. Then add up to five more minutes to your post-workout shower. At this time of year, I always have a lavender-scented body wash or moisturizer in my arsenal to help me decompress in that nighttime shower. Also, don’t underestimate the power of caffeine-free teas or scented candles.

As you work through this holiday season and make an effort to workout, don’t forget the importance of standing still for a few moments, too! Never underestimate the power of your mind on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

‘Tis the Season for Tabatas!

holiday-party-picAs if the fact that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collided on the same day wasn’t enough to get people in a holiday frenzy, now we’re faced with a shorter shopping season than usual before Christmas. Faced with this added hustle and bustle to the 2013 holiday season, I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to touch on the importance of keeping your mental health in check throughout the last month of 2013. To me, there’s no better way to do just that than by breaking a good sweat!

Obviously, working out will help burn some of the extra holiday calories that come in all shapes and sizes ranging from homemade cookies to rich wines and sweet, seasonal cocktails. Weight maintenance aside, the endorphins that stay with you after a workout can also help you maintain a level of calm as you battle the crowds in overheated stores or spend extra amounts of time with the extended -and sometimes non-harmonious- family. (Bonus: if you’re visiting family for the holidays, there’s no better excuse than a run or walk to escape for awhile! Just don’t forget your sneakers!)

I bet some of you are saying, “Laura, between working, shopping, taking care of the kids, baking, cooking and going to all the holiday parties, there’s just no time to exercise.” Well, guess what? You OWE it to yourself to find 10 minutes somewhere in the day to get moving. Why? Simply because 10 minutes of anything are better than zero minutes of nothing! As some of you repeat readers already know, one of my favorite ways to make the most of abbreviated workout time is the Tabata.

Side Plank: One of my favorite Tabata moves Photo by Lauren Bachner

Side Plank: One of my favorite Tabata moves.                   Photo by Lauren Bachner

Need a Tabata review?  The four-minute high-intensity “formula” is pretty simple: eight continuous intervals of 20 seconds of maximum intensity followed by 10 seconds of rest. So if you truly only have 10 minutes today, why not give this a try. Bonus: You never even have to leave the house!

  • 60 seconds of jumping jacks
  • Rest only long enough to set your timer, then bang out one squat Tabata. (Need a timer? I use UltraTimerHD)
  • Rest for 60 seconds
  • Bang out one more 4-minute Tabata  (Choose from mountain climbers, push-ups, planks, side planks or crunches.)
  • Recover/stretch for 60 seconds or longer.
  • Congrats! You spent 10 minutes doing SOMETHING for your body!

(On the rare occasion the chaos dies down enough to give you a little more time, why not try to build a “Tabata Derby” by adding consecutive four-minute intervals and work your way up to a 20-minute total Tabata workout.)

While I love Tabatas, I realize they may not be your thing. So taking a power walk around the block a few dozen times, running up and down the stairs in your house or apartment building or dare I say meeting a friend for a group exercise class or game of basketball may be the fitness fix you need to feel a little stronger physically and mentally. Remember, while this is known as “the most wonderful time of the year,” don’t ignore your body’s need to escape some of the chaos so you can continue to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Timely Tips to Help You Gobble Gobble with Less Guilt

Thanksgiving feastWhile Thanksgiving is the latest it can possibly be in the calendar year, I still feel like it snuck up on me! The fact that Hanukkah starts on the same day (for the first time in something like 18,000 years!), we’re REALLY kicking off the 2013 holiday season with a bang. So, if you’re packing up or planning for your festivities, there’s no time like this Motivation Monday to get your mind focused on how to get through the holiday(s) without completely throwing your healthy habits out the window.

If you’re gearing up for a week filled – or maybe stuffed! – with food and drink (and a little football), here are some tips to help you avoid overdoing it.

  • Don’t skimp on the workouts this week: Even if you can’t get out of the house on Thanksgiving Day, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two wherever you have space to do push-ups or burpees. If you only have a short amount of time to escape the house, take a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. If your gym is open, get to a morning group exercise class or at least bang out some cardio and core work.
  • Don’t skip breakfast before the Turkey Day feast: Be mindful of your meals early in the week. On Thursday, eat something sensible in the morning to fire up your metabolism and to avoid being ravenous when you arrive for the holiday feast. If you’re not scheduled to fight for the turkey leg until late afternoon or early evening, make sure to have a second small meal so you don’t go overboard later. One of my favorite sensible fillers is a non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a serving of almonds mixed in. The protein-rich snack keeps me satisfied for hours!
  • Use a smaller plate (like a salad dish) for your Thanksgiving feast: If there’s salad or veggies, load up on those first, then take some turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. (There won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.)
  • Savor the flavor: Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait about 10 minutes before loading up on round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – before moving on to dessert, of course!
  • Watch the alcohol intake:  Turkey Day is a good time to follow the every-other-drink-is-alcohol plan. Enjoy a glass of wine, beer or cocktail then have a glass of water of diet soda before moving on to the next libation.
  • Give away leftovers: Hosting the holiday feast? Don’t be shy about giving what’s left of the turkey and trimmings to your guests.

If you have any “secrets” that help you enjoy the holiday without waking up feeling guilty on Black Friday, I’d love to hear about them! The season ahead is definitely challenging when it comes to watching our waistlines, but the good news there are some tricks that can help you continue your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


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