Happy October!

I always love kicking off a new month on a Motivation Monday! October is full of activity. It’s my mom’s birthday month. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And it’s the time when fall’s signature squash is at its peak. Yes, I’m talking about pumpkins.

If you’re a fan of pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ravioli and good ol’ pumpkin pie, now’s the time to get your fill. The good news is there are several good reasons to add some pumpkin to your diet this season – or anytime of year.

  • Post-Workout Power!  Bananas get lots of rave reviews as a natural source of energy thanks to being full of potassium. However, it may surprise you to learn one cup of cooked pumpkin packs 564 milligrams of potassium compared to 422 milligrams in one banana. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
  • Good for Your Baby Blues…and Browns, Greens and Hazels, too!:  One cup of mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A. Also, pumpkin is full of carotenoids, a fancy name for the compounds that create its orange color including Beta carotene, which has been linked to eye protection.
  • Keep Your Appetite in Check! This often forgotten source of fiber packs three grams in a one-cup serving with only 49 calories. Countless studies show a fiber-rich diet can help you stay full longer so you eat more sensibly throughout the day.

So, while it’s always a good idea to enjoy the pumpkin pie in moderation, there’s no reason not to indulge in some of the other healthy options provided by this seasonal favorite to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous !

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Here’s to a Happy and Healthy Fall!

Happy first Motivation Monday of the fall of 2018!

Many of us mark the official change of seasons by packing up the beach gear and craving all those pumpkin-flavored treats. So I thought it was the perfect time to offer yet another reminder about how a little patience can go a long way when it comes to adjusting to a new season filled with new demands. That reminder isn’t just for my loyal readers. Putting the words “on paper” in this post is another kick in my own you-know-what to be better to my body in the days ahead.

The great news is I start the fall season with a discharge from physical therapy! After nearly two months of treatment for an overuse injury in my knee, my wonderful physical therapist Jun Zhang deemed it safe to let me back into the wild. However, just because I no longer have to meet with Jun at the Orthology studio in Chelsea, I still have work to do on my own. The stretches and strengthening exercises he taught me for my adductors and abductors will continue to be a part of my daily exercise routine. I also have to wait just a little bit longer before I can run back to the heavy bag at Best Kickboxing NYC. I’m going to “test” my knee over the next couple of weeks with jab / cross / weave drills to make sure my knee can handle the twisting needed for the tough muay thai inspired classes. Now that I’m so close to getting back to doing what I love, it’s almost harder to wait it out. But I will. I keep reminding myself of something I’ve told others so many times: going back too quickly could mean end up exactly where I don’t want to be – back in physical therapy.

I have shared a little about my physical therapy journey as a reminder that injuries can happen whether you’re a novice or a bona fide fitness fanatic. The key is to not ignore the pain in your body or the voice in your head telling you something’s not right. The longer you put off treatment, the longer it can take to get back in the game that you love. So, listen to your body and follow through with your prescribed treatment. In a world of instant gratification, it’s important to realize slow and steady will always be a way to win the continuous race to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Less Than One Month To Go…

This Motivation Monday marks the less-than-one-month countdown until I lace up for my first Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Central Park. So it’s time to pull out all the stops in trying to raise as much money as possible in the fight against a disease that claims too many lives in these modern times.

Full disclosure: I miss the long, weekend morning training walks of Septembers passed when I’d prepare for the 39.3-mile journey that was Avon39. However, though my walking buddy Sue and I face a shorter distance to complete our first Making Strides Walk, the mission remains the same – to raise money for research to put an end to a disease estimated to kill more than 40,000 women before the end of 2018. The dollars will also provide patients with transportation to and from treatments and even help with lodging for those who need to travel far from home to receive that essential care.

To all my generous donors so far, I offer a heartfelt thank you. For anyone considering making a donation, please click here to be taken to my personal page. Like any good fight, I truly believe we can win the battle against breast cancer with teamwork. Strength in numbers is an essential component in our collective efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

Remembering 9/11: 17 Years Later

Today, the old saying “time heals all wounds” is nothing short of senseless. Some might even call it offensive. Seventeen years after the day that changed the world as we know it forever, it’s impossible to imagine anyone who lost a loved one on 9/11 not experiencing sadness and pain.

No matter how much time passes, I am simply overwhelmed each year by the all-too vivid memories of what started out as a crisp and clear picture-perfect day here in New York City. As my longtime readers know, back then I was working as a reporter at News 12 Connecticut. My colleagues and I watched the newsroom’s multiple TV screens in horror as the second plane hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center. That moment when we realized it wasn’t an accident was the first and only time I can remember a newsroom being completely silent. Then, in what seemed like a blurred frenzy, our assistant news director shifted into auto-pilot and sent us out into the field with videographers and live trucks. There were no lessons from my journalism classes at Northwestern or past experiences as a reporter that could have prepared me for that unfathomable day. Before leaving the newsroom, I left a message on my parents’ answering machine telling them how much I loved them.

I don’t remember how many live shots I did that day or how many people I interviewed. I do remember the faces of the medical team anxiously waiting to treat injured survivors; the tearful embrace between an ash-covered man and the woman waiting for him on the platform; and all the cars that remained in the parking lot as midnight approached. I wondered how many people would never return to claim them.

In that pre-Facebook world, many of my friends tried to reach me on my cell phone – when the circuits weren’t down or busy – to see if I could help find any information about a loved one who worked in the city. Receiving those messages in between countless live reports broke my heart, and I’d learn later that several of those people being searched for were indeed gone. In the days that followed, I also learned a former friend and News 12 Long Island colleague, Glen Pettit, was killed. A talented videographer, Glen was also a NYPD officer. He was last seen with his camera on his shoulder running toward the towers to capture footage. Glen was 30 years old.

Along with the sadness, shock and anger felt around the country after the attacks, I also remember another unprecedented turn of events. Stores were selling out of Americans flags and random acts of kindness were reported everywhere. Seventeen years later, I realize all three of my Goddaughters – all born after that fateful day – never witnessed that kind of unity in the country they call home. Today, they see social media feeds where bullying takes on a whole new level as people lash out at others who don’t share their beliefs. Simply put, when I think about the state of our world today, it makes me want to cry all over again.

Never one to be political in this blog or on my social media channels, I can’t help write about what’s in my heart. As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, we’re bombarded with headlines surrounding the latest discord in Washington and looming disasters as hurricane season continues. We also continue to struggle with volatile issues ranging from gun control to the cost of healthcare. We even post scathing, combative messages for all the world to see about everything from Nike’s choice of a spokesperson to Serena Williams’ loss at the U.S. Open. What a mess. 

On this September 11th, as we all stop and pray for all those lost on this day 17 years ago, let us also honor their memory by remembering the power of love and compassion.

God Bless America.

Back in Action…Well, Sort Of

My August “Fashion” Accessory

Happy September!

I realize I’m probably “showing my age,” but I’m absolutely blown away at how each summer seems to fly by faster than the last. It’s even harder to believe my annual month-long hiatus from blogging has come to an end, too. I hope your August was filled with at least a few lazy days, plenty of laughter and some precious moments with friends and family. Let the memory of those happy days give you a boost when the back-to-reality blues come knocking at your door.

Since everyone seems to be in back-to-school mode, I thought it was the perfect time to offer what I learned in a different kind of summer school: physical therapy. Fortunately, I am close to wrapping up my PT sessions, but I’m still uncertain of the date I’ll be able to return to my ultimate happy place: the kickboxing studio. So the lesson I hope you take away from this first post of September boils down to this: do what I say, NOT what I do. Seriously.

Since 2011, I’ve written multiple posts about the importance of listening to your body and taking a step back if it tells you something’s wrong. And what exactly did LauraLovesFitness do in this situation? I didn’t listen. I ignored the pain that started as a small twinge in the medial region of my right knee after a kickboxing class back in February. Sure, I’d take a day off, maybe two, here and there, but I never rested long enough to give my body a real break. After several months, that twinge had turned into a steady, searing pain that began impacting life away from the heavy bag. It started bothering me during long walks, at Physique57 classes and even after periods of sitting. When the pain started waking me up at night, I knew it was time to do something. Fortunately, a MRI ruled out a tear in my meniscus or any ligaments surrounding the knee. However, I was diagnosed with bursitis and tendonitis due to a probable strain in my adductor followed by overuse. That meant I had to take a step back from kickboxing and get my butt to physical therapy.

Now, after five weeks of manual therapy, ice massage, various stretching and strengthening exercises and wearing kinesiology tape (also known as elastic therapeutic tape or K-tape), I’m finally feeling like myself again. For someone used to going a million miles a minute, it’s been frustrating as hell and I miss kickboxing more than any other workout in my life. The bottom line is I have no one to blame but myself. If I could go back in time, I would have addressed the pain not long after it started, made sure I was executing the moves in my workout with proper form and taken the rest I needed.

So, as I continue to heal and look forward to a return to kickboxing, I encourage everyone to take things nice and slow as we transition from the “lazy days of summer” into more intense routines. Many are shifting from long walks at the beach back into more intense fitness classes or weight training sessions at the gym. Be sure to warm up and cool down; stretch; hydrate and when something doesn’t feel right, don’t keep doing it! If you don’t start feeling better after a few days of rest, consider seeing a doctor to make sure you haven’t done something that needs more than just ice and elevation.

I close with a hearty thank you to Dr. Andrew Rosen at Upper East Orthopaedics and Jun Zhu Zhang at Orthology in Chelsea for their expert care and for understanding my need to get back to the heavy bag. Here’s to healthy and happy September ahead and making smart choices along the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

See you in September!

Here we are again on the brink of the true dog days of summer. This marks the time of year when my New York City neighborhood feels as close to a ghost town as you can get in the concrete jungle. Aside from the few tourists who wander north of Times Square and midtown, this is the time of year when I rarely wait in line at the grocery store or wait for an elliptical machine at the gym. It’s also the time of year when I take my an annual hiatus from writing new blog posts until after Labor Day.

Before I sign off on this Motivation Monday, I want to encourage each of you to enjoy these sunlight-filled days to the fullest. Lately, I seem to be bombarded daily with reminders of how truly short and precious life is. So whatever makes you happiest at this time of year, I hope you take every opportunity to steal as many moments as you can to enjoy those activities. Whether you have the luxury of escaping to the beach for a whole day or you can steal away to your backyard for only 10 or 20 minutes, savor whatever moments you can.

If you’re dealing with family or work-related drama, do your best to take care of your body and spirit. Go for a walk around the block to clear your head or grab a buddy for an outdoor workout and some iced tea and conversation after. Haven’t seen a special someone in awhile? Why not plan an impromptu barbecue or happy hour and enjoy a few moments of laughter and catch-up time. Have that ice cream cone. Have that second glass of wine. Whatever you do, wherever you go and whoever you spend time with, also remember to put down that smart phone once once or twice and be truly present in the moment.

As the iconic Ferris Bueller put it in one of my all-time favorite movies from the 1980s:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Summer is just one, tiny part of our lightning-paced lives. As it continues, I wish you plenty of sunshine, smiles and good times with the people you love. I look forward to being back here in September and picking up with new plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Strides in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth!

Instead of my usual Motivation Monday post, I decided to publish my latest Laura Loves Fitness musings on a much more significant day during this particular week. Today would have been Elizabeth Leonard Barton’s 45th birthday. My repeat readers may remember she is the dear friend from my St. Mary’s High School days who lost her brave battle with breast cancer nearly two years ago. While I know I’ll never get used to the fact Liz was taken from this world far too soon, I will celebrate her warrior spirit today by remembering her with love. In honor of her birthday, I could think of no better time to sign up to take my next steps in the fight against breast cancer – and ask for your support.

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and four-time walker in Avon39, I was sad to learn the June 2017 Walk in Boston would the last 39.3-mile journey I’d share with Sue, another beloved St. Mary’s Gael. However, this spring we learned Avon was shifting its breast cancer crusade efforts to become the first ever national presenting sponsor for all of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events.

Just like she did with our inaugural Avon walk together back in 2014, Sue signed up first for the American Cancer Society’s Central Park Walk taking place on Sunday, October 14. She created the Gael Force Wind team in Liz’s honor. While the route will be different and the journey not as long, we’ll be walking toward the finish line with the same mission: raising money to kick breast cancer’s butt once and for all and to help fund the services assisting patients battling the disease today. Those services include helping patients get rides to and from their treatments; assisting with lodging for patients who may need to leave home for their treatment and providing support groups for patients and their families.

For the October event I have set a fundraising goal of $1800, which was the minimum amount needed to participate in my past Avon39 walks. To all my Avon39 donors, I thank you for helping me raise more than $20,000 since 2014 in the fight against breast cancer and hope you’ll continue your generous support. For anyone considering a donation, please know every dollar helps. Please click here to be taken to my personal page where you can make a donation – and maybe even consider joining the Gael Force Wind team. Obviously, this will be the first of several posts here and on my social media channels to encourage people to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

I close with a huge thank you for the support you’ve given me since I started this blog seven years ago. Whether you offered  words of encouragement to keep up with my mission to fight breast cancer or just get through a particular struggle in this windy road called life, I am beyond blessed to have family and friends who are always in my corner. Here’s to our next steps together in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

 

Happy 7th Birthday, LLF!

It never ceases to amaze me how a date punctuates the passage of time. Especially as the number of years I’ve spent on this planet continues to climb. Now here we are on this particular Motivation Monday which kicks off a week commemorating the seventh “birthday” of this blog. I’m not sure how LauraLovesFitness.com keeps getting older, but I realize the years continue to pass thanks to all you wonderful readers who constantly inspire me to continue these weekly installments.

It was July 13, 2011 when I published my very first post. It would be impossible to discuss everything that’s happened in this world since then. When it comes to my own little world, through the end of relationships and jobs the beginning of new ones; the painful and sometimes sudden loss of family and friends; and the overall scary situations I think this country is dealing with on a nearly daily basis, my determination to stick with and even amp up my health lifestyle goals has helped me maintain some level of sanity when everything seems to be spinning out of control. A good sweat, some hard punches and kicks to the heavy bag or heart-pounding Tabatas at the gym (or the beach when I’m lucky enough to be on vacation) always seem to set my body straight.

It’s hard to believe seven years ago, I had never heard the word Tabata before, nor did I have any idea how good a kick-butt muay thai kickboxing session could make me feel. I also never knew starting the day with an Isagenix shake would become a solid way to start my day off on the right foot nutritionally no matter where work took me at any given hour of the day or night. While the ingredients may have changed a bit over the years, having a few go-to items in your daily routine when life is anything but can make all the difference when trying to keep this unpredictable thing called life from going off the rails.

So, as my “baby” blog enters a new year, her’s a look back at a few of my favorite posts from the past year:

My Project Runway Experience  (A once-in-a-lifetime experience made possible thanks to my involvement with Avon 39. Sadly, the 39.3-mile walk in the fight against breast cancer no longer exists in 2018. However, I do look forward to continuing the battle with my four-year walking partner, Sue, this fall. Stay tuned…)

Bring on March….Please! (A very candid look at my difficult struggle with the “winter blues” as we kicked off 2018.)

Another Milestone (A total break from the norm as I reflect on how my Dad’s retirement after 51-years as an internist impacted my life – and so many others.)

I close with a heartfelt thank you to all my LauraLovesFitness “fans.” If you aren’t already following me on social media, I hope you’ll consider doing so as we move into year number seven. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @FitnessLaura, and I also maintain a LauraLovesFitness page on Facebook. I hope to start posting more videos on my LauraDLovesFitness YouTube channel. If there’s anything you’d like to see more of or less of in the year ahead, please let me know. There’s nothing like the power of teamwork to keep us all on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Sizzle Safety Tips

This is more than the first Motivation Monday in July. It’s also the fourth day the heat index has the temperature feeling like the upper 90s here in New York. As the heat advisories and alerts continue for the sweltering concrete jungle, I could think of no better time to offer some important reminders about staying safe in heat.

Whether you’re going for that daily run, signing up for an outdoor bootcamp session or meeting a friend for a power walk, here are some warning signs to look out for if you or your workout buddy start feeling out of sorts in the heat:

  1. Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent. What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.
  2. Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include: Moist, pale, or cool skin; headache or dizziness; muscle cramps; heavy perspiration; nausea; weak pulse. What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.
  3. Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include: Altered level of consciousness; rapid, shallow breathing; little or no perspiration; weakness; rapid pulse. What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Mind the Time: Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. At this time of year, you’ll never find me leaving the house without two things: my refillable water bottle and BFit Labs electrolyte sprays. (My repeat readers will know I’ve been using the zero-calorie, zero sugar, gluten-free sprays for several years.) If you want more information or are interested in giving them a try, just click here.
  • Health Check: If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Of course, I encourage everyone to enjoy plenty of outdoor fun this summer. Using some extra care can keep you safe while moving ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

These Are A Few of My Favorite (Summer) Things…

Here’s to the Season Ahead!

Hooray for the first official Motivation Monday post of the summer of 2018!

As I am just back from a week hosting the Health Channel, I hope you’ll forgive this short and sweet post. But now that my favorite time of year has finally arrived, I thought it was the perfect time great to offer a few things that help me make the most of the season.

Favorite Guilt-Free Treats: Frozen grapes, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and mangoes. All of these fruits are packed with vitamins, including A and C, along with antioxidants. They also provide a sweet, juicy way to stay hydrated.

Favorite Summer Accessories: The pretty, purple MIRA insulated water bottle one of my besties gave me last Christmas; BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray; Athleta sports bras and moisture-wick shorts and tanks; “At the Beach” skin products from Bath & Body Works; Organic coconut oil to help repair my sun-kissed hair.

Favorite Summer Songs:  Having some motivational music along for a workout can sometimes mean the difference between throwing in the towel or sweating through one or two more steps or reps. If you’re looking to mix things up, here are some seasonal classics that continue to add a little spring to my summer steps:

  • “Summertime,” Will Smith
  • “All Summer Long,” Kid Rock
  • “Cruel Summer,” Bananarama
  • “Summertime, Summertime,” Nocera
  • “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Ray & Cedric Gervais
  • “Summer Thing!” Afrojack featuring Mike Taylor
  • “Summer Girls,” Dino
  • “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams
  • “Boys of Summer, ” Don Henley
  • “Summer in the City,” The Lovin’ Spoonful

Now get out there, and find a few things that make you feel your best so you can savor every second of the summertime opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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