Fitness for the Greater Good

Just Like Being at a Nightclub on Two Wheels!

Just Like Being at a Nightclub on Two Wheels!

This Motivation Monday arrives just after the long-awaited arrival of daylight saving time. Even though snow and the rest of Old Man Winter’s mess remain on many streets and sidewalks across the country, may the extra hour of daylight remind us a new season is coming. Warmth is on the way. Soon we’ll shed the cumbersome coats, hair-wrecking hats and trade in the bulky boots for fancier footwear.

Need some more staying power to make it until the official start of the new season? Take a cue from the thousands of people who helped provide some serious ammunition in the fight against rare cancers by sweating it out in Cycle for Survival over the weekend. The indoor cycling event was founded in 2007 by Jennifer Goodman Linn, a Memorial Sloan Kettering patient and Equinox member, and her husband Dave. That first year, the New York City event raised 250-thousand dollars with help from 230 cyclers who rode shifts on 50 bikes. In 2009, Cycle for Survival became an official Sloan Kettering Cancer Center event, and Equinox became the founding partner.

Sadly, Jen lost her own battle with cancer in 2011, but her fight lives on in the thousands of participants who have turned what I’d describe as the biggest dance party on two wheels into one of the country’s fastest-growing fundraisers. Last year, 17,000 cyclers put the pedal to the metal on 4,020 bikes in 13 cities across the country to raise 20-million dollars. Today, I had the privilege of watching along with the cyclers and their supporters as MSK Cancer Center President and CEO, Dr. Craig Thompson, received a ceremonial check for just over 24-million dollars – and this year’s fundraising isn’t over yet.

It’s always a privilege when my professional world as a producer allows me to be a part of a fitness-focused event that does so much to help so many. The get-your-blood-pumping playlists and palpable energy of the cyclers had me and my crew cheering and dancing in our own space as we made our way around the floor to capture the spirit of the event. In addition to the unwavering enthusiasm of the cyclers – some even sweat through an entire four-hour shift solo – the other unique feature of this event is that 100-percent of all the money raised goes directly to rare cancer research, and it’s all dispersed within six months.

No doubt it’s been a long, harsh winter for many of us. For patients battling cancer and their families, any season can bring a relentless storm. Thanks to events like Cycle for Survival, we can put our passion for exercise to good use and help others in their fight to get back on their own path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Challenge of Change

photo-29This Motivation Monday arrives just one day shy of two weeks since my return to the full-time work force. It’s been a wild ride so far, and of course, that’s in no small part due to adjusting to new procedures and a new schedule. New routines can be overwhelming and exhausting at certain moments, while exhilarating and exciting at others. So while I’ve struggled to find Physique57 classes that mesh with longer work days, get a pre-workout snack in at the right time and find healthy meals that work for a later dinnertime, I know it will all come together eventually. Sometimes we just need to step back, take a deep breath and remember to be patient and let the newness settle in.

In the midst of my finding my new groove, another St. Mary’s Gael inspired me to re-think my dinner options. Edith sent me a message on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page asking for some healthy meal ideas when dinnertime has to be later than usual. First of all, as you repeat-readers know, I’m all about prepping healthy food. Some items you can stockpile for the work week include:

  • Chop up veggies like celery sticks, carrots and red peppers and divide them into single-serving sized containers or baggies
  • Cook up a half-dozen or more hard boil eggs
  • Grill a half-dozen chicken or turkey breasts
  • Cook a cup or more of quinoa and then you can easily scoop out a 1/4 cup serving to add as a side or filler for lots of meals. (If you prefer brown rice or other whole grain, no problem!)

Now for some meal ideas incorporating the prepped foods and other quick-fix items:

  • Easy salads: Mixed greens, kale or other leafy green salad with grilled chicken, lean steak or fish. No time to grill up the fish? Open a can of tuna, add some of the veggies you already chopped up and use some olive oil and vinegar for flavor and you’re all set. You can even add the quinoa for some extra filler!
  • Have breakfast for dinner: Try an egg white omlette or scramble with some of those chopped veggies or even a bag of frozen ones.
  • Healthy pastas: There are so many gluten-free and/or whole grain options out there. Go ahead and cook up a box and then you can create individual-sized servings as needed. Add beans, tomatoes and some peppers for a healthy chili.
  • Soup: I find a lot of low-sodium soup options at Trader Joes. Sometimes a hot bowl of soup with a piece of whole grain toast does the trick for me in this cold weather!

I leave you with this final thought: Whether it’s a new job, revised after-school activity schedule for the kids or the unpleasant surprise of a loved one being diagnosed with an illness, something will eventually throw a wrench into your plans. Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t get to the gym one day or if you eat a little less healthy later at night. Get some sleep, shake it off and try again tomorrow. Sometimes being a little patient with ourselves is all we need to get back on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Want to Kick Those Winter Blues? Get Moving!

Thermometer FrostyIt’s hard for me to believe this Motivation Monday brings us nine weeks into 2015. What’s even harder to deal with is the fact that Old Man Winter obviously did some serious training in the off-season.

It seems practically all of us around the country are dealing with one of most brutal winters in years, if not decades. If  you’re struggling with a severe case of the winter blues, take a deep breath and realize you’re definitely not alone.

Exercise is a great way to lift your spirits thanks to all the endorphins that flow through the body when you workout. That energy surge also sticks with you long after the group exercise class or weight training session is done. Of course, with record-breaking snowfalls and below-zero temperatures keeping roadways and sidewalks slick in many towns, driving to the gym or going for that daily run or walk may simply not be an option. If you’re finding it hard enough to get from home to work or school and still want to break a sweat, don’t forget you can still get that endorphin rush right in the comfort and safety of your own home!

In an effort to share a warm reminder that spring will eventually arrive, I thought I’d re-post my “Tear-It-Up In Ten” workout video. Even though I demonstrate the circuit in Central Park, all the exercises can be done indoors and require no equipment. Hopefully, seeing some sunshine and greenery will also give you a glimpse at what we have to look forward to in the not-so-distant future.  So stay safe, stay warm and remember – sometimes taking  your workout and your mind to another place is all you  need to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

A Presidential Motivation Monday

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy President’s Day!

This is one of those Motivation Mondays that has everyone doing something a little different. That’s because while President’s Day is still an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February, it’s one of those holidays where many people still have to show up at the office. Others may be working from home. Some lucky people may be enjoying an escape from the cold thanks to it being winter break time for their kids. Whatever you’re doing today, make it great and try and get some exercise into your routine.

This holiday was originally established to recognize President George Washington, but today it’s viewed as a time to celebrate all U.S presidents. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you know I like to share motivational quotes once in awhile. So I thought today offered the perfect opportunity to offer a few words of wisdom from some of America’s leaders. (Please note, this is a total non-partisan group of quotes. I simply chose the words that moved me.) It amazes me how many sources of inspiration exist in history that can help us on our current quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”George Washington 

“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” –Andrew Jackson 

       “An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.” -Millard Fillmore
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” –Abraham Lincoln 

“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.” -Teddy Roosevelt

41

photo-28Call me superstitious, but I sort of believe in signs. So I hope the fact I get to start my 41st year on this planet on a Motivation Monday is a sign I’ll be stocked with enough adrenaline to tackle the new adventures and challenges waiting for me in the days ahead.

This birthday happens to fall in the wake of a brief but brilliant escape to the beautiful island of Aruba. It was the first vacation I’ve been on in awhile where I truly took it easy. Instead of the high-intensity cardio-fueled workouts I sweat through here at home, I enjoyed extended walks on the beach (sometimes two a day), stand-up paddle boarding and swimming. I even indulged in a massage. The result? Well, while I may have added a pound or two to my waistline thanks to the frozen cocktails and some decadent desserts, I also returned to the frenetic pace of my beloved New York city with relaxed muscles and a relaxed mind.

Not a bad way to wrap up my 40th year!

SUP Aruba Style: Not a bad way to wrap up my 40th year!

Part of my unwind time included embracing the fact that getting older doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you’ve read one or two posts about the fact that I’m definitely stronger than I was 10 years ago. Physically and mentally. I credit my experienced – both good in bad, in the gym and beyond – for giving me the confidence to make wiser choices today. Sure, I’ll still tweak a muscle during a workout now and then, and I’m the first to admit I’ve made some less-than-optimal choices when it comes to work or my love life. However, at least I believe I have a well-stocked mental file cabinet of information to guide my decisions.

So as we all start a new work week and I start my new year, let’s embrace all the surprises ahead that can only lead us on new paths to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

-Satchel Paige 

 

Motivation Monday: Super Bowl Edition

FootballOn this Motivation Monday, here’s hoping you’re not hurting too badly from your Super Bowl Sunday fun.

As you read this super short post, I happen to be in the midst of a mini-getaway…which will probably be the topic of discussion for next Monday.

So, as I scramble to cross the items off my vacation-prep to-do list, I offer a simple boost of motivation to get you moving today with help from last year’s day-after Super Bowl post. Click here for a reminder on why you do NOT want to skip the workout today!

Whether or not your favorite team won the Super Bowl, you’re certainly not alone in dealing with the aftermath of some serious splurging. Remember, one day doesn’t have to wreck your plans to pursue those longterm health and fitness goals. Just clean up the crumbs, recycle those beer bottles and re-focus on your commitment to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Unique Approach to Healthy Living

With Dr. Donald Hensrud, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program

With Dr. Donald Hensrud, Medical Director of Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program

It’s always a win-win when my multimedia production world collides with my lifelong love for health and fitness. On this Motivation Monday, I’d like to share a glimpse at how that happened just last week in Rochester, Minnesota. That’s home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, and it’s where I made a repeat visit to produce a satellite media tour for KickedUp Media Group.

I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Donald Hensrud, the medical director for Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program. The immersion program is aimed at helping people keep their health and wellness resolutions alive long beyond a few weeks or months in the new year.

Let’s face it: most of us realize the benefits of adding healthy eating habits and physical activity to our daily routines, but the tough part is sustaining those habits in the course of our hectic lives. To learn more about how the Healthy Living Program is helping people make better choices and maintain them, please click on the player window below.

Before you take a peek, I’d like to thank Dr. Hensrud and Mayo Clinic for not only making this production possible, but for creating such an innovative program to help people have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Another First for LauraLovesFitness: A Different Kind of Fitness Video

IMG_5190

At VIDICOM’s studio in New York City

Happy MLK Motivation Monday!

Now that we’ve officially tipped the scale toward the last half of the first month of 2015, it’s time to address one disappointing reality. Traffic is getting a little lighter at the gyms and some people have already started throwing in the towel on their health and fitness resolutions. For anyone out there who’s wavering, it’s time to re-focus and get back in the game!

I often write about the fact that you aren’t alone in your health and fitness journey. Hopefully the video below offers another reminder that there are simple steps you can take to embrace a healthy lifestyle.  The good news is there are tools out there that can help you!

Before you jump in, let me say thank you to LG, Culturelle and Flight Song Wines for the opportunity to spread the word about how to keep those resolutions alive all year long. Sometimes a helping hand is all we need to continue on our journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Family, Friends & Fitness

iStock_000018191976XSmallCongratulations! This second Motivation Monday of 2015 brings you 12 days into the New Year. That means you’ve done your best to stick with your health and fitness resolutions for a whole dozen 24-hour cycles!

If you’ve had one or two “bad” meals or even days since we kicked off the New Year, don’t sweat it. Nothing great is ever achieved without facing a few obstacles along the way. If you’re struggling to stay on track, here’s an idea – activate the buddy system! How?

  • Lean on a fitness friend: Pencil in some quality time with your bestie by planning a couple of morning or evening walks; shooting hoops or signing up for the same group exercise class. Sometimes knowing you have a friend waiting for you at the gym is all you need to show up.
  • Cold-Weather Hater? Try sweating through a fitness DVD or online workout with your spouse or significant other right in the comfort of your den.
  • Tech Support: Set the DVR to record your favorite show(s) and go ice skating with the kids or take the dog for an extra-long walk.
  • Friendly Competition: Instead of hitting the bar for happy hour, find a few co-workers interested in de-stressing with a barre workout or other group activity. Here in New York City, there’s a great place called Chelsea Piers which offers everything from hitting golf balls to organized group events for games ranging from dodgeball to sand volleyball.
  • Ask a Pro: Have no idea where to start? Treat yourself to a few sessions with a personal trainer to get you on the right track toward injury-free fitness.

In addition to exercise, talk to your family about embracing healthier food choices together. I’m not expecting your kids to start asking for kale and brussel sprouts, but they probably wouldn’t mind building their own colorful and yummy non-fat Greek yogurt parfaits with berries, almonds and honey drizzle. I know a lot of parents keep cookies, chips and other treats in the house and often end up eating more than the kids. Think about this: if you’re making meals at home, you’re the one ultimately shaping your kids’ idea of what a “normal” diet looks like. Packing healthy snacks for lunch and after school activities while saving sweet or salty treats for special occasions can instill healthy habits at an early age. Here are a few portable kid-approved snack options that taste pretty good to grown-ups, too:

  • One serving Wheat Thins with one “Laughing Cow” cheese spread wedge
  • Baby carrots and celery sticks with peanut butter
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey
  • Low-fat string cheese

Remember, embracing healthy habits and maintaining them is a lifelong journey. Aren’t trips more fun when you have company? While it’s great to find support from the huge #FitFam presence here in the blogosphere and on social media, never take for granted the strength you can gain from the people you love most to help you stick with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

 

 

Let the New Year Roll On!

GenericHappyNewYearWe made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2015!
Five days in to the New Year, I thought I’d offer my two cents to help you turn your health and fitness resolutions into lifestyle habits that will last all year-long – beyond! First, let me applaud all those who’ve decided 2015 is the year you’ll fit more physical activity and healthier food into your already action-packed schedule. Making that commitment is a huge first step toward a more FITASTIC you.
Laura’s Top Three Stick-With-It Tips
1. Break Your Big Goals Down: While I’m a firm believer in dreaming big, tackling big tasks can be overwhelming unless we establish some small steps to advance to the finish line. For example:
Daunting: “I need to lose 40 pounds by March.”
Doable: “By spring, I want to fit into my clothes more comfortably and have more energy.”
Setting an attainable long-term goal allows you to focus on what you want to accomplish today and in the week ahead. Again, make sure that focus isn’t all about weight loss. You don’t want a weigh-in steering your motivation to stay on track with healthy habits that can make a world of difference in the long run. So, instead of saying “I’m going to try to lose 2 pounds this week,” why not set one or two goals along the lines of:
1) “I will eat five servings of fruits and veggies every day this week”
2) “I am going to add 10 minutes of exercise to my day at least 3 days this week.”
This is probably a good time for me to remind you that healthy weight loss occurs at a pace of between 2-3 pounds each week. This slow and steady pace means you’re adapting eating habits that are sustainable as opposed to starving yourself or denying yourself certain foods. Fueling your body with nothing but juice and kale for six weeks as opposed to learning healthy habits about portion control and foods that keep you satiated is almost always a recipe for disaster. Once you go back to normal food, the pounds almost always find their way back to your waistline, and usually more than before.

2. Put Healthy Activities On Your Daily To-Do List. Between my iPhone, old-fashioned day planner and countless note pads in my apartment, I’m an avid list maker. I always have “Cardio at NYSC” or Physique57 Class” on my daily task lists, and it feels great to cross out the endorphin-portion of my day when it’s done. So, put “exercise” on your calendar – even if it’s “10-minute walk” penciled into your lunch hour. (Remember, 10 minutes of something is always better than ZERO minutes of nothing all day!) If it’s a rest day, put other healthy tasks on your list such as “buy produce” or “prep veggies and other snacks for lunches.” You’ll be surprised by the boost you get from crossing out something as simple as “buy bananas” on that list on your fridge. Consider it a visual affirmation that you did something good for yourself on any day of the week!

3. Be Realistic.  Enthusiasm is the key to getting anything done, but don’t let it get the best of you. If you put “work out” on your planner for seven straight days, you may be setting yourself up for failure. As soon as you miss that first day, you may think, “Well, I just blew the whole week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin-rush and other benefits from exercising, trust me, you’ll want to increase the frequency of your workouts. Just remember no matter how much you love working out, everyone should take a  minimum of one day off  each week to let the body rest.

Finally, I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are days I simply don’t want to workout and all I want for dinner are wine and chocolate. It happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course.  Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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