As this post goes live on another Transformation Tuesday, I’m at the start of one of my few morning workouts in this NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix show-prep journey. My normal routine usually allows me to get two meals in my system before a lunchtime workout. However, one thing I’m learning early in this process is how crucial it is to make adjustments when life takes your routine in a different direction. So today, I’m training early so I don’t miss my workout and I’ve shifted my meal times accordingly. Here are some other valuable lessons I learned during the past week:
- Helpful Hardware: My food scale, measuring spoons and measuring cup have become my new best friends to keep track of portion sizes.
- Smoothie Solution: As my coach keeps reminding me, real food is always best. However, one morning I just didn’t have time to cook up the egg whites and oats. So I threw the following ingredients in my blender and enjoyed every sip of the creation: 1 cup Amazing Greens Super Greens; 1 scoop Vega Sport Chocolate Protein powder; 1/2 cup oats; 1 tbsp organic peanut butter; ice, 16 oz water.
Timing is Everything: Tonight before I go to bed, I’ll write down tomorrow’s meal times and the actual meals I plan to eat. This allows me to map out how to hit my nutritional targets for the day and make sure I have enough time to digest before a workout and also replenish my fuel supply after. So far, I’ve been able to keep a relatively steady schedule of eating every three and-a-half to four hours.
- Favorite Meals (So Far): Many of you have asked about what typical meals look like. Here’s my go-to breakfast: 1/2 cup liquid egg whites and 1 whole egg scrambled; 1/2 cup oatmeal; 1 tbsp. organic peanut butter. My go-to pre-workout meal: 6 oz chicken breast; 1 cup brown rice; 2 oz avocado and 1 cup of greens. I’ll keep you posted on any adjustments to my meals as the weeks continue.
- A Harsh Reality: I’ve simply ignored my legs for far too long and being 100- percent honest, I still dread lower body workouts. I remember even 25 years ago in college, I’d bang out a couple of sets of leg extensions and prone leg curls as fast as I could and call it a day. Getting back into the groove of serious squats (so many squats!), glute bridges, hip thrusts, leg presses, walking lunges and more has required a lot of energy and discipline. I don’t think there will be a day between now and September 28 when my legs and glutes don’t ache.
Support is Key! I am still blown away by the messages of encouragement from friends and family near and far thanks to the wonder that is social media. Thank you all for the amazing support! Let me know what you’d like to know more about as the weeks continue. Later this week I’ll have my first posing session with my coach. Yikes! Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be an eye-opening experience on that front…
I look forward to falling into more of a groove at the gym and in the kitchen in the days and weeks ahead. Here’s to the best laid plans and the surprises that always come along that keep us on our toes along the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Fifteen weeks out. I’ve always wanted to say those three little words, but until now, I’ve either been too scared or simply made too many excuses to utter them outloud. However, when I turned 45 earlier this year, I decided it was time to cross this item off the bucket list. No more excuses. In late September, I plan to walk on stage as a bikini competitor at the NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix.
Some of you who’ve known me for decades may think, “No problem, Laura, you got this!” Sure, I’ve loved exercise and tried dozens of different sports and fitness routines since taking my first gymnastics class at the age of six. I’ve also adopted a relatively “clean” diet over the past five years. However, what many of you also know about me is I do like my cocktails, my desserts and fried, cheesy things are pretty great, too. The next fifteen weeks will involve a totally new nutrition and workout plan, and it will require more discipline than I’ve ever exercised before. One important note: I’ll be doing this 100-percent naturally.
Here’s a candid reveal: I haven’t really lifted weights in a long time. I didn’t plan for that to happen, but when I turned 40, I found myself gravitating toward group fitness classes that focused on cardio and body weight exercises. My routine became a mix of extended elliptical machine sessions; barre workouts; Tabata derbys filled with push-ups and core moves; and finally two years ago, I discovered kickboxing – my all-time favorite mix of a physical and mental workout. For the next three months, I need to put those activities on hold and get back to lifting. I thought I’d be able to sneak in a kickboxing class here and there, but after one week of what feels-like-the-first-time weight training, I realize I need to focus my energy on the longer gym sessions, allow my body to recover properly and do all I can to avoid any injuries.
I also need to focus on finding my groove again in the weight room. Even the biggest fitness fanatics can feel intimidated when stepping into a space filled with so many people adjusting benches with ease and executing reps in perfect tempo. During this past week, I repeatedly told myself what I’ve written about many times over the years: The time I spend in the gym is for me and only me. I do not have to lift what the fitness chick is lifting two benches down from me. I need to breathe, focus on my form and remember, I’ve pulled the trigger on turning a longtime goal into a reality.
I’m so happy to have found Jen Carlson, a Team D1scipline coach, to guide me on this journey. Not only will she offer nutrition and training plans for the weeks ahead, but she’ll help with what I consider my biggest challenge in this entire experience: posing. I’ve never been the most graceful gal, so the thought of walking across a stage, executing turns and posing – in platform heels and a bikini – honestly scares me to death. I’m sure there will be some fun blooper moments to share from that part of the prep process!
I plan to use future “Transformation Tuesdays” to post updates on my progress. Knowing this prep time was going, I used the past month to drop some of the pounds I truly enjoyed putting on during an amazing croissant-filled vacation in Paris with James. At 134 pounds, I am eight pounds lighter than when we returned to New York at the end of April, and my body fat is just under 20 percent. Moving forward, I’ve been warned I may see drastic changes one week, plateau the next and feel totally depleted during another. I’m excited and nervous to experience it all.
I couldn’t do this without the support of my fiancé, my parents and my dear friends. (I hope they’ll enjoy some of the margaritas I won’t be sipping this summer.) Stay tuned here and on my social media channels (@fitnesslaura) for more about changes to my diet and workouts; posing snafus; bikini shopping and more. I plan to provide a 100-percent honest account of the whole process – the good, the bad and yes, the ugly.
So do you have a dream that’s been sitting on the back burner for far too long? Remember, tackling a new challenge is a surefire way to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Hello, faithful followers! As many of you already know from my sporadic social media posts, it’s been a hectic time with Mom having her right knee replaced exactly two weeks ago today. I’m happy to report her warrior spirit continues to help her make strides each day. (A big thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to send her good wishes before surgery and during her recovery!) I thought I’d use the first workout Wednesday of June to make a reappearance in the blogosphere – especially since we’re on the verge of ushering in the summer of 2019.
If Memorial Day weekend snuck up on you before you had time to stock up on some seasonal essentials, there’s no time like today to write up your shopping list. Being prepared is a surefire way to enjoy those summertime outdoor workouts and sunshine-filled fun with family and friends. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Don’t Ignore Those Tootsies! As we speed toward the halfway mark of 2019, now’s the time to think about the last time you got a new pair of sneakers. If you’re a serious runner or involved in high-impact exercise and it’s been six months or longer, it’s time to consider getting a new pair. Every fitness routine needs the proper footwear to ensure you’re getting the right amount of stability and support.
2. Protect the Girls! Ladies, it’s also time to take stock of the last time you invested in a supportive sports bra. Breasts have zero muscle, but without proper support, the skin and ligaments near the breasts which give them their size and shape can break down and eventually cause sagging. (The kicker: once those ligaments stretch out, they don’t bounce back!) Whatever your size, you will experience some level of bounce during exercise. So to all my fellow fitness chicks, you should wear a sports bra whether you’re power walking, full-on running or basically doing anything that gets your moving. (In case you’re wondering, I’m a huge fan of the Athleta line of sports bras. They offer support and moisture-wicking comfort whether I’m kickboxing, Tabata training and taking a long power walk along the Hudson River.)
3. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! As a former coconut-scented tanning oil addict who now gets annual scans of the many moles on my body, I implore you to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. There are so many lightweight SPF 30 and higher sunscreen options available today. That means there is no excuse for not wearing sunscreen for a long summer stroll or a super-sweaty session of beach volleyball. If the skin on your face is super sensitive like mine (I was diagnosed with rosacea in my 30s), you may want to give La Roche-Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid a try. It’s been my go-to for years.
4. Smart Snacks: Planning to spend a good part of the day away from your healthy home base? Arming yourself with prepared meals in a portable cooler can help stick with your healthy eating habits even while you’re at the beach. Many hiking trails or other walking venues don’t have much to offer in terms of fuel except for maybe the occasional hot dog vendors or some vending machines filled with sugary drinks and candy bars. So be sure to pack some healthy, portable options such as almonds, apples or low-sugar protein bars.
5. Portable Hydration: Last but certainly not least, don’t go anywhere without a reusable water bottle. (You can even fill it with ice cubes and enjoy chilled water as they melt.) Since we lose essential potassium and sodium when we sweat, my repeat readers know I never I never leave home without a bottle of BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray. (Zero calories, zero carbs and zero food dyes.)
Remember, a little prep and having the right items in your arsenal can make all the difference when it comes to sticking with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
The temperatures are nowhere near what I’d consider normal for May, but there are a few signs that prove we’re definitely in the midst of another spring: red, itchy eyes; runny noses and scratchy throats. Allergy season is here again and with lots of wacky weather around the entire country, many of us seize any opportunity we can to get moving outside when the sun finally breaks through. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen.
Since the rain will eventually stop here in New York and the pollen counts will return to high levels in the not-so-distant future, this Motivation Monday provides the perfect opportunity to offer some timely survival tips for the season ahead:
- Smart scheduling: 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 make things more bearable.
- Wear shades: Wearing sunglasses can help create a protective barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also never step outside without being armed with eye drops. One of the first five things I do each morning is apply Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops. Using them twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on the highest pollen count days. (While you don’t need a prescription for the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes – especially if you wear contacts.)
- Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got weekly allergy shots for nearly a decade. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I’m still sensitive to all kinds of pollen. Luckily there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can provide relief. While I’ve never been a fan of taking lots of medicine, I’d rather take something for a few months to help me stay alert and active than miss out on enjoying the outdoors. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. To prevent the onset of symptoms, it helps to take your medication at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors. If you wakeup and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
- Clean up: When you get home, shed the pollen-infused clothes, 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.
The best survival tip I can offer to get through the season is this: listen to your body. It’s hard to say you’re doing something “healthy” if all you’re feeling during an outdoor workout is sheer misery. That’s the time to head indoors, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a workout DVD at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Here’s hoping this Motivation Monday post finds everyone happy and healthy after a wonderful holiday weekend! Whether you’re in the midst of observing Passover or waited for the Easter bunny’s arrival, chances are your holiday was commemorated with a few treats.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get moving today, take a look at the empty Easter basket on your kitchen counter. Here’s a tally of the damage from some holiday favorites:
Peeps: 4 Marshmallow Bunnies = 130 cals, 0 g fat, 29 g sugar
Cadbury Creme Eggs (my favorite!): 1 = 150 cals, 6 g fat, 97 g sugar
Cadbury Chocolate Eggs: 12 = 190 cals, 8 g fat, 27 g sugar
Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny: 1 – 890 cals, 48.6 g fat, 20 g sugar
Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (my second favorite!): 1 = 180 cals, 10 g fat, 16 g sugar
Reese’s Reester Bunny: 1 = 760 cals, 40 g fat, 72 g sugar
Brach’s Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg: 1 = 43 cals, 1.3 g fat, 6 g sugar
Jelly Belly Assorted Jellybeans: 35 = 140 cals, 0 g fat, 32 g sugar
For those celebrating Passover, here’s how a few menu items break down:
- Dark chocolate covered matzah: 3 pieces – 200 calories; 11 grams of fat
- Coconut macaroons: 2 cookies = 142 calories; 7 grams of fat
- Chocolate coconut macaroons: 1 cookie – 190 calories; 11 grams of fat
Of course, for many of us (including yours truly), these treats come after a heavy meal filled with traditional favorites ranging from pasta dishes to honey baked ham and potatoes. There may also be some wine or other libations involved.
Anyone who’s been following this blog for awhile will tell you the last thing I want you to feel reading this day-after-Easter post is guilty. The fact is holidays almost always include more food and drink than usual. Don’t sweat it. Instead, make some smart choices today and remember, celebrating special occasions with friends and family will always be one of the most joyous ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s no secret I haven’t been here much the last couple of months. I guess my mind has been on hyperdrive since hitting the 45-year-old mark in February. I hate to say something as trite as my absence here is reflective of my own version of a mid-life crisis, but it’s a little bit of that and then some. The interesting thing is the more people I talk to at this age and stage of life, the more I realize I’m not alone.
No major event has rocked my world. Dad is getting back on his feet after a shaky fall and winter. Mom is feeling good and gearing up for her other total knee replacement surgery. My main “dilemna” has been an internal one and it boils down to a simple but seemingly impossible question that makes me reach for the ZzzQuil® on more nights than I probably should: what’s next for me?
I realize I’m lucky to be an independent contractor and even more fortunate to have the support from my fiancé and friends to continue my new and growing role as caregiver to my parents. However, the reality is I am also at a crossroads in that I know I want to find something new to do with my skills. So I’ve been vacillating between looking for more on-camera opportunities as a lifestyle host and questioning what’s holding me back from pursuing completely new opportunities in the one thing in my life that’s always kept me grounded and never feels like “work.” I’m talking about the world of health and fitness.
So as I navigate through these crossroads, I ask for your patience and some positivity. Maybe one day soon I’ll be encouraging my fellow New Yorkers to sign up for a kickboxing class taught by yours truly. Perhaps I’ll be asking for good vibes as I start new health and wellness related coursework. Perhaps this blog morphs into something bigger where I can address a wider range of topics that have seemed to take over my physical and mental well-being in this decade supposedly known as the “Fabulous 40s.” The bottom line is I am both overwhelmed and exhilarated about the opportunities I hope to find in the days, months and years ahead. I know whatever path I choose, however many times I stumble or take another detour, a good sweat will always help bring me back to the a strong starting position. Armed with that strength and the support of my readers and my entire “fitfam,” I hope the excitement will conquer the fear and keep the sleepless nights in check.
You longtime readers have been here through many ups and downs over these past eight years. As I embark on another unsure and unmarked path, I thank you for sticking around if the installments become sporadic at times. Even if you don’t find my posts here, you know the chances are you can find me tearing away at a heavy bag or searching online for the next big thing…and all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
We made it to the first Motivation Monday of spring! Now’s the time to get psyched for those outdoor workouts, new group fitness classes and maybe even splurge on some new workout wear. As we tweak our routines, it’s also the perfect opportunity to make a conscious effort to eliminate one horrible habit I see far too many people engaged in during a workout. It also happens to be my biggest pet peeve when I’m at the gym. I’m taking about texting while exercising.
Texting simply distracts even the most focused fitness fanatics. Being distracted doesn’t only lower your intensity level and lead to a less-than-optimal workout; it can be downright dangerous. According to a 2017 study published in Performance Enhancement & Health, texting during exercise:
- Impacted balance and stability by 45%, compared to not using a phone.
- Talking on the phone made balance 19% worse—less than texting, but still significant enough to contribute to injuries
Simply put, texting can raise the possibility of injury from everything from falling off a treadmill or rolling your ankle during that power walk.
Then there’s the fact that texting and taking up space on a machine is just plain inconsiderate. If something is so important that not replying immediately will put someone’s life in danger, step away from the machine, let someone else attack a set and work back in when you’re focused. Sure, emergencies will happen, but unless you’re on call as a physician or some kind of emergency responder, the world won’t end if you take 10 extra minutes to reply to a text.
If you know you’re easily distracted by that smartphone, you may want to consider signing up for more group fitness classes this spring. You’ll be forced to put that phone away for the duration of the class and you can focus on your form and intensity level. Don’t be shy about telling your family, friends and even co-workers if there’s a time of day that you’ll be unreachable. You’re making the effort to exercise and take care of yourself, so you also deserve a sliver of time that truly belongs to you. It’s having those few precious moments of me time that can help all of us be better partners, parents, caregivers and employees.
Smartphones provide tools that can help many of us in our health and fitness journey. They give us access to online workouts, heart-pumping music and apps to keep track of everything from our steps to our calories to whether we’re getting a good night’s sleep. But texts and emails shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s workout routine during any season of the year. So let’s make this the spring we stay focused on what we really need to attack our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This Motivation Monday is bound to be a brighter one – literally. As we attack the first work day of Daylight Saving Time, most of us can look forward to catching a glimpse of some blue sky (albeit faded) as we make our way home after the manic workday. However at this moment, quitting time may seem like an eternity away as many of us are also dealing with what I call the change-the-clock hangover. (It gets me every year.) The good news is like all hangovers, the grogginess will eventually fade away and our bodies will get back to normal. While we wait for the fog to lift, it’s the perfect time to take stock of something that’s overlooked in too many health routines: our sleep habits.
Research shows along with helping us stay energized, sleep helps us retain information and boost our mood. Search the Internet, and you’ll even find studies linking inadequate sleep to weight gain. On a personal note, when I rack up too many consecutive nights without enough shut-eye, it’s harder to concentrate on everything from writing a script to maintaining good form for a roundhouse kick. I also find myself being annoyed by the little things that usually roll off my back.
Here are some ideas to make sure you get those all-important zzzz’s:
- Shutting Down: If you scan the Internet, you’ll find plenty of research on how watching TV in bed and using smart phones and other portable devices can be over-stimulating when your body is trying to wind down. Aim to power down at least 30 minutes before closing those tired eyes for the night.
- Exercise: Physical activity can help you sleep. However, if I exercise less than two hours before going to bed, the endorphins keep me up. Aim to wrap a workout three hours before bedtime.
- Stress: This is an area under never-ending construction in my own life. One thing that’s helped is writing down my next-day to-do list and even some long-term project ideas at least an hour before getting into bed. Putting my tasks and even a few worries “on paper” gives me a clear outline of exactly what’s ahead instead of letting my mind get the best of me while I stare at the ceiling.
- Caffeine: I am simply amazed at how some people (my fiancé included) can drink coffee at 8 pm and still fall asleep at 10:30 pm. If I have caffeine after 3 pm, I’m looking at a rough night ahead. The key is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Don’t forget to check for “hidden” caffeine in things like flavored teas and sweet treats.
- Alcohol: My repeat readers know I enjoy a glass of wine or prosecco at the end of the day. However, too much alcohol can have the opposite effect of calming the nerves and end up wrecking your night. Obviously, having a hangover in the morning is never a good thing.
So, you’ve made the commitment to workout and follow a healthy diet? Kudos to you! Just remember, your body also deserves time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
On this Motivation Monday, many of us are dealing with Old Man Winter showing off his strength and the aftermath of some crazy weather from the weekend. The good news is he will eventually give up the good fight and spring will arrive. This in-between time offers a chance to take stock of your health and fitness goals for a new season. I thought I’d use this opportunity to offer three simple tips for getting those healthy eating habits in shape for the season – and all the seasons to come.
- Don’t Avoid Your Favorite Foods: All or nothing is never a good option for creating realistic longterm behaviors. Whether your weakness is wine, chocolate, cheese or chips, cutting out our your favorites altogether can lead to a binge where you make up for all or more of the servings of the treats you denied yourself for too long. While I’m not a huge fan of total “cheat days,” going a bit overboard for a special occasion or having that glass of wine after a super stressful day, isn’t going to destroy all your hard work. Remember, one “naughty” meal doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on an entire week of trying to make good choices.
- Maintain A Schedule: Habits are formed based on repeated behavior – good or bad. And studies show you can train the body to want to eat at certain times by making those times more routine. I have to eat something every few hours to stay sharp and avoid the not-so-pleasant side effects of being “hangry.” So whether I’m working from home or on location, I make sure I have a few small meal options ready to grab – whether it’s an Isagenix snack bar; fat-fee Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds or a green apple. If you are someone who’d rather eat three meals a day, try and have them at the same time.
- Add Strength Training to Your Spring Fitness Routine: I know I’m excited about getting outside for power walks and maybe hitting the tennis courts again once the weather warms up. But remember, the body needs some strength training to maintain or build muscle – which can be lost if you’re focusing on losing weight. This doesn’t mean you have to walk into the nearest gym and pick up the heaviest weights. Starting with the basics including squats, lunges, planks and push-ups – can add some solid bodyweight exercises to the mix. For an “express” option of some simple but effective exercises, click here to revisit why I love Tabata training all year long.
Do you have any new healthy hobbies you’re looking forward to trying this spring? Let me know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways we can all keep each other on track on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Well, we made it to the last Motivation Monday of February. Aside from my birthday, I admit this has always been my least favorite month of the year. (Luckily, it’s also the shortest.) It’s cold, it’s dark and everyone seems to be in hibernation mode as many of us struggle with some degree of the winter blues.
So here’s a short and sweet reminder that we’re on the verge of starting a brand new month with lots to look forward to. Some of the highlights ahead in the not-too-distant future:
- Let There Be (More) Light! Daylight saving time starts in 12 days.
- The Spring Countdown Clock Ticks Away. We’re 23 days away from the official end of winter. Who else is pumped to take the workouts outside?
- Baseball. The 2019 MLB season kicks off in 31 days. Let’s go Yankees!
- More Fruits & Veggies, Please! March means more nutrient-packed fruits and veggies are at their peak season. Now’s the perfect time to look for healthy recipes to incorporate yummy broccoli, cauliflower, endive, artichokes, grapefruits, oranges, clementines and kiwi into your diet.
- Retail therapy. Jump start the season by picking up a new pair of sneakers or bright-colored yoga pants for the not-so-dreary days ahead.
What are you looking forward to in the new month ahead? Help me add to the list of reasons why we should be excited about brighter days ahead and so many chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!