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Friday’s Final Thoughts

TGIF!

With the 2012 holiday hustle and bustle in high gear, there aren’t always enough hours in the day to come up with original material for my blog. So, I hope you’ll forgive my ending this particular work week with what I hope will be a little comic relief and some borrowed words for motivation.

First, thanks to my colleague and friend Valerie for this one:

Burpee picture

For those of you who aren’t sure why the above definition holds true, here’s an encore presentation of the quick video I posted over the summer showing what the burpee looks like in action:

Finally, I offer a few words from some famous folks that I hope will motivate you to conquer burpees and all the other “tough stuff” life can throw at you:

“All things ar difficult before they are easy.”-Thomas Fuller

“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough.” -Vince Lombardi

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.” -Roger Bannister

And finally, I figured this was the perfect quote to end a Friday post:

 “Always so sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”-Ernest Hemingway

Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and plenty of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Exercise is Nothing to be Embarrassed About

Knock Out Any Thoughts of Slacking Off!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Everywhere I turn, people are asking me for some extra words of encouragement to make sure they stay active during the hustle and bustle of the season. So on this Workout Wednesday, instead of posting a specific high-intensity workout, consider this an extra dose of motivation to make time for that favorite group exercise class or morning run.

I also want to address a related topic brought to my attention by one of my loyal readers, Toni (check out her blog at januarylace.blogspot.com). I thought she’d want to remain anonymous based on the issue she raised, but she said I could share her name. Toni recently told me she’s embarrassed to workout in front of her fiancé at home. My response? Exercise is nothing to be embarrassed about! In fact, my take is that her future husband would probably be impressed by her effort to do something positive and healthy for herself. Who knows, it could even motivate him to get off the couch and get moving, too!

Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder or fitness model, there’s no need to feel judged by your workout routine. Instead, be proud of yourself for wanting to add exercise to your life for a healthier and happier you. I can also tell you when I’m at the gym, I’m not looking at who’s lifting what and how many times they’re able to lift it. I’m also not looking at what the woman on the elliptical machine next to me is wearing. Sure, there will always be people more “buff” than me on a nearby treadmill or standing next to me in “Club Strength” class. There will also be people who are on a steady, safe pace to lose weight. However, they’re not the focus of my workout. I am.

Simply put, I say there’s no room for judgment at the gym. It’s a place to go to improve your cardiovascular health, strength, agility and endurance. It’s also a great place to find those much-needed endorphins. If you’re not comfortable in your gym, maybe it’s time to try a friend’s gym and see if it’s a better fit for you. If you simply “hate” the gym (and I know a lot of people who do,) then you should definitely find comfort in your own home. The real key is feeling comfortable in your own skin. Without that, it doesn’t matter if you’re working out in your living room in front of your family or a crowded gym full of strangers, you simply won’t stick with your routine.

So, leave the self-doubt at home. If you are working out at home, leave it in the closet. Focus on your breathing, focus on you form and focus on the fact that you’re dong something positive to continue on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Fresh Start

Iowa City, IA

Orlando, FL

Today’s dose of Monday Motivation is all about facing reality. There will always be wrenches thrown into your normal schedule. Unfortunately, those wrenches can wreak havoc on the activities that keep you feeling energized and healthy overall. I’m in the midst of accepting this reality right now. What’s getting me through it is knowing at some point, my routine will get back on track and I’ll feel like myself again.

It’s been a hell of a week and it looks like it’s going to be one monster month in general. Thanks to back-to-back business trips featuring five airports and 10-hour shoot days followed by a nearly-impossible edit deadline, I’ve been pushing it pretty hard at the office. I also lost my weekend as my editor and I had no choice but to keep working through it to meet our deadline.

This is not a pity-party post. I realize there are people who constantly deal with these kinds of demands. Running your own businesses is a 24/7 job, and if you’re in the business of saving lives, times like this are common and even expected. However in my world of video production in the public relations world, this is not my norm. In fact, one of the reasons I left the TV-reporter life behind was that I was sick of running on the hamster wheel. So when things gets this crazy, everything from my workouts to my REM cycles suffer.

I haven’t felt this unhealthy in quite some time. I’ve definitely gained a couple of pounds. Despite packing my sensible snacks for my travels, there are only so many healthy choices you can make when room service and deli sandwiches during a 15-minute break are your only options. So, I’m forgiving myself for the extra alcohol and larger-than-normal bread portions I ingested while I was on the road. While I managed to squeeze in workouts in both Iowa City and Orlando, I have NOT been able to keep up with my normal exercise schedule at home. That changes now.

Today marks the start of a new work week and one that doesn’t include a plane, train or automobile. While I’ll still be putting in extra hours at the office, I’ll bring my gym bag and pre-workout snack to the office everyday to motivate me to hit the gym afterward. Fortunately, I was able to push through a CrossFit UWS Central Park workout before heading to the office Saturday morning. That set my mind straight for the days ahead. After the workout, I was also able to hit the grocery store and stock up on my my healthy favorites like berries, bananas and non-fat Greek yogurt and veggies. Getting back into my healthy routine will no doubt help me sleep better, too.

When the unexpected happens at work or at home, your best laid plans will go awry. Just remember to keep breathing, do the best you can with what you have to work with and forgive yourself for the “slip-ups” that help you get through the craziness. When you see that first glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, embrace it and realize it won’t be long before you take your first steps back toward normalcy and all you do to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wednesday: Back in Action!

Don’t forget to pencil in some time for fitness!

This is always a strange time of year for me.

Even though I’m not a mom, the back-to-school, no-more-beach-weekend mode always arrives with a shock to the system. Here in New York City, all the people who spent a good part of the season in their summer homes are back. Students crowd into the subways along with the rest of the commuters. The incessant buzz of the city that never sleeps kicks up a notch back to its norm.

Wherever you live, we’re all faced with leaving the lazy-days-of-summer schedule behind. No more summer Fridays away from the office. The kids may have new school schedules and new after-school activities. There may be life changes that involve new responsibilities, too. If you’re trying to fit “working out” into your fall schedule, here are a few tips to make things a little less overwhelming:

  1. Be realistic: Saying you’re going to exercise two hours a day, seven days a week is sabotage. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged, and could wind up saying, “Well, I just blew the whole week, so why bother going back?” A better approach is to aim for two or three days each week for the first month. Trust me, as you start experiencing the benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more time working out.
  2. Adjust the Attitude: Think of exercise as a “chore,” and you’ll be done with the new routine in no time. Instead, think of exercise as “Me Time.” No matter what’s going on in my life, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral. Use exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
  3. Research deals: Backpacks and computers aren’t the only things you can get a good price on at this time of year. Many gyms are offering back-to-school membership rates. Just remember to make sure it’s convenient for you to get to. I don’t care if a gym is offering a free membership. It if takes you an hour from the house or office to get there, chances are you won’t go based on the distance.
  4. Reward yourself: No, not with cupcakes or candy. Instead, treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers, a hoodie or refresh your playlist with some new high-energy workout tunes. Really want to splurge? Set up one or two sessions with a personal trainer so you can receive a proper assessed and start on a safe program.
  5. Give yourself a break! If you’re starting on an exercise routine for the first time in your life or getting back into it after an unexpected hiatus, you can’t expect to see drastic changes overnight. Habits take about six weeks to take root in your psyche, so take it day by day, week by week and focus on the positive responses from your body.

Stay tuned for Friday’s post where I’ll offer some food for thought on getting your healthy eating habits back on track, too.

For now, remember even though getting back to the grind can be daunting, it’s also the perfect opportunity to sharpen your focus and welcome a whole new season filled with countless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Where Do We Go From Here?

As we kick off another work week, I realize I’m beginning my third month of being out here in the blogosphere. So I thought this was a good time to ask you, my readers, where you’d like things to go from here.

Please feel free to send me your fitness-related questions or topics for discussion by simply leaving a comment at the end of this post. As you can tell from what I’ve written so far, I believe there are so many components to fitness that go beyond the walls of your neighborhood gym or the path of your favorite hiking trail. The choices we make ranging from what to wear when we workout to what to drink at happy hour can affect our overall well-being.

Don’t be shy! If you’re curious about something, chances are someone else is, too. Would you like more music lists or information about specific areas of exercise? As I’ve said before, while I can’t promise to have the answers immediately, I’ll be more than happy to do a little research, ask opinions of my more experienced peers in the fitness industry and let you know what I find.

I’ll close by thanking you for taking the time to read my blog and for supporting me in this adventure. If you’re a “repeat reader” and haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, perhaps you’ll do that today. (If you have, perhaps you could ask a friend to do the same!) All you have to do is click on the “Follow Blog” icon at the top right hand corner of this page and give your email address. (It’s free!) You’ll then get an email asking you to confirm you signed up and that’s it. You’ll be notified every time I post something new.

There are icons on my blog’s home page to help you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and I also just launched a the LauraDLovesFitness channel on YouTube. Again, I thank you ahead of time for checking out my material and for spreading the word that together, we can all enjoy a lifelong journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Birthday Pass

So, I planned on writing another “serious” and informative segment for the latest installment on LauraLovesFitness, but it isn’t going to turn out that way. Instead, after enjoying a celebratory evening to honor my mom’s birthday, I’m reminded why one of my favorite expressions of all time remains “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My work schedule and my mom’s birthday celebration plans left no room for a workout today.  At dinner, I ended up having more wine than usual, and I even had a chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert after polishing off some amazing pappardelle for my main course.  I’m reminded that on special occasions, it’s okay to enjoy yourself and step outside your “normal” zone.

I enjoyed a wonderful evening of wine and conversation with my family – which included my aunt and uncle who are visiting from Italy.  I’ll get back on track tomorrow by eating my normal fare of fruits, veggies and whole grains and getting to the gym after work.  For tonight, it was nice to live in the moment and unwind after work…and for what better reason than to celebrate the most fabulous female I know – my mom.

So, I leave you with this: it’s okay to fall off the fitness wagon once in awhile. Life throws us curve balls sometimes. Whether you’re out celebrating something wonderful or dealing with something not-so-great, remember that tomorrow is another day…and another chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

On this Monday, October 3rd, we are three days into Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am either prepping for or in the middle of producing a satellite media tour for Susan G. Komen for the Cure featuring Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker. As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, it feels good to play a small role in the latest outreach efforts by an organization that is widely regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. The day she and my dad sat me down to tell me was probably the scariest in my life to date. Fortunately, because my mom has always been adamant about keeping up with her health screenings, the doctors detected the cancer early and she beat it. Today, I am lucky and blessed to be able to say my mom is among the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States.

Her diagnosis put me on alert regarding my own health and made me want to do research, speak with my own physicians and learn everything I could about reducing my risk and how to be even more proactive about my health. While I am still a few years away from my first mammogram, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps when it comes to staying current with my other healthcare screenings.

It looks like something else I do and enjoy could help me, too. According to the National Cancer Institiute at the National Institutes of Health, there is strong evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer. Add that to the already long list of benefits from exercise, and you have just one more reason why there’s no better time than now to get up and get moving!

I will never be able to thank my mom for all she has given me throughout my life (my dad, too). Along with unconditional love and unwavering support, she has taught me so many important lessons without even knowing it. One of the most important things I have learned is it is important to take care of yourself so you can give of yourself- your time, energy, compassion and love – to others.

To that end, exercise has been a key component for my own well being while giving me the energy to be concerned about the well being of others. I encourage anyone reading this post to take charge of your health:

  • Talk to your physician(s) about your family history and other risk factors for cancer and other diseases
  • Don’t put off important health screenings
  • Exercise
  • When it comes to your eating habits,  I believe moderation is crucial to maintaining a “diet” you can live with

If you’ve been looking for a time to turn your take-care-of-you goals into reality, here’s your chance. Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month your time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Workout Wear

It certainly doesn’t feel like the beginning of autumn here in New York City. The high temps and humidity have air conditioners working overtime, even at the end of September, and wardrobe choices are trickier than usual. Thanks to a suggestion from my friend and makeup artist extraordinaire, Deanna Bell, I figured it was the perfect time to talk about one fitness essential that helps make my workouts more enjoyable even on the stickiest days: the right workout wear.

I sweat a lot when I exercise, even on the coldest days of the year. So wearing cotton t-shirts, shorts or pants can be very uncomfortable as they cling to my body and make me feel even hotter. This is why I am a huge fan of clothes that wick moisture away from the skin. They actually make me feel cooler and less constricted.  For me, being comfortable is crucial when it comes to getting through even the toughest of workouts.

Adding a couple of these wicking items to your workout wardrobe doesn’t need to break the bank. (Trust me, I’d rather save my dollars for a great pair of shoes or boots!) You can find great deals on brands like Champion, Nike Dri-FIT and Under Armour at stores ranging from Target to Modell’s.  These labels aren’t just for the ladies, they have great gear for men and kids, too.

Along with the comfy and cool-inducing clothes, here are my other exercise essentials:

You’ve made the commitment to take better care of yourself through exercising, so why not “pamper” yourself a bit to make the activity as enjoyable as possible? Instead of throwing in the towel when things get too hot, something as simple as a comfy tank top can help you stay on the right track so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Getting Back On Track

It’s been an unprecedented week for most New Yorkers with an earthquake and a hurricane taking a bite out of the Big Apple.  As I made my way through my elliptical workout this morning, while my iTunes played in my ears, my eyes were glued to the TV monitors around the gym as live shot after live shot described all the preparations for Irene’s arrival.  Afterward, my usual Saturday errands were replaced with a hunt for batteries, tape and water. (Luckily, I found everything I need.) Now, I write this post not knowing how many people will be able to read it on Monday should we experience the major power outages predicted. As we brace for the storm, I realize this is a perfect example of how the best laid plans can be altered at any given moment and throw off our normal schedules – and that includes our exercise routine.

Weather aside, I just wrapped up a week filled with many unexpected happenings.  Most involved work, and a string of events forced me to stay at the office much later than expected for not one, but three nights in a row. This ultimately killed my workout schedule, with the worst of it meaning I had to scrap my favorite group exercise class of the week. I was also on my own at home, which threw off my eating schedule. I found myself giving in to my old, bad habit of not having small, smart meals every few hours and then ending the day eating almost nothing for dinner. (One “Lean Pocket” and a tall vodka-light-cranberry on the rocks is not what the body needs after a long day at the office.)

So, you could say I fell off the fitness wagon. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I know it won’t be the last. Do I feel more sluggish this weekend? Absolutely. Will this feeling last forever? Absolutely not! Instead of beating myself up about all the “bad” things I did last week,  I look forward to starting a new week with a brand new attitude and plenty of chances to take better care of myself.  Just like Hurricane Irene, the storms that sometimes make a mess of our everyday lives do pass. (For me, exercise is a great way to deal with the aftermath.)

The next time your best laid plans to follow a healthy lifestyle hit a tailspin, don’t sweat it. Just remind yourself of why you’re doing it in the first place, and before you know it, you’ll be back on the right track so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Exercise & Grief

I don’t mean to start the week off on a “down” note, but an unexpected event happened over the weekend that triggered the idea behind this brief post. As I left my apartment Saturday morning for the short walk to the gym, I called my parents to say hello. My mom then broke the sad news that a very dear family friend in Florida had lost her battle to cancer.

Her name was Anne, and she was like a surrogate grandmother to me during all my years traveling to Florida.  She was a fun, feisty Irish gal who always had a sparkle in her eye and a fun story to share.  While I was relieved to know she was finally at peace and reunited with her husband Bill, I was also sad and found myself reduced to tears in the street. (Luckily in New York City, no one finds this odd.)  I composed myself, said a prayer and continued on to the gym. I then unleashed my sorrow in an intense cardio workout that lasted just shy of 60 minutes.

I realize not everyone is going to run to the gym after receiving sad news to jump on an elliptical machine or start circuit training.  Each of us must deal with grief in our own way.  This experience, however, reminded me how exercise has helped me through some of life’s not-so-great moments and given me the strength to face the reality of those moments with a bit more clarity and energy.  Whether I was dealing with the loss of a loved one, an illness in my family, the demise of a relationship or trouble at work, even something as simple as a good, long walk managed to help clear my mind and unburden my heart  just the slightest bit.

No doubt life will throw challenges our way that make it difficult to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous.  When that happens, sometimes having a good cry or breaking a major sweat can help you get back on the path to the place you really want to be.

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