The Countdown to Spring Continues…

Can’t Wait to Take the Action Outside!
Photo by: Leslie Hassler

The calendar says this is the last Motivation Monday of the winter of 2017. Here in New York and much of the Northeast, however, we’re bracing for yet another potentially messy storm to arrive on the first day of spring. If you’re like me and sick and tired of bundling up in the cold weather gear as March marches on, then I propose we shift our focus to the warmer days that will eventually arrive.

Thinking about ways to spice up your health and fitness routine for the new season ahead is a great way to shake off what’s left of the winter blues. However, instead of creating an overwhelming healthy to-do list, why not try this: change just one thing in your routine this week. Sometimes making a small adjustment to your daily grind is all you need to jump-start a chain reaction of fun, positive changes. Not sure where to start? Here are five simple ideas: 

  1. Try a new workout: Have you been curious about those sign up sheets for outdoor bootcamp classes in a park near you?  Been curious about trying some Tabata training outdoors? Maybe they’ve added a new group exercise class or two at your gym. Now’s the perfect time to mix things up! Find a fitness buddy to join in the fun and get an extra shot of positive energy from spending a sweat session with a supportive pal. 
  2. Grab some new fitness gear: Sometimes a bright pair of yoga pants or tank is all you need to perk up your routine. And if you still haven’t tried my go-to fitness essential – BFIT Rapid Electrolyte Spray – now’s the time to order a bottle or two. The zero-calorie, zero-sugar, great tasting sprays will help me stay hydrated and fueled during all my indoor and outdoor spring workouts. 
  3. Make a new playlist: Don’t be shy about asking your instructors about the music he or she plays to keep you going. Now with Spotify, Apple Music and other music sharing options, it’s easier than ever to find the right beats for your body.
  4. Move for a cause: Sign up for a walk or run that supports something that moves you and /or consider supporting family and friends in their own efforts. I’m sad this is the first spring in four years I won’t be training for another Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, but I am eager to learn about Avon’s new direction as it continues its efforts through the Breast Cancer Crusade. 
  5. Add a new fruit or veggie to your diet: Toss blueberries or strawberries into that morning smoothie or bowl of oatmeal; add half an avocado to your egg white omelet or pair an apple with almonds, a non-fat plain Greek yogurt or your grab-and-go snack of choice.

Remember, sometimes adding one new thing to the mix is all you need to stay on track with turning your healthy goals into a reality. Here’s to the coming spring and a whole new season of chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


A Sleepy Motivation Monday

It’s that time of year again. The time when many of us face the second Motivation Monday of March groggier than usual thanks to the start of Daylight Saving Time. So it’s also time for my bi-annual reminder to use this drowsy day to take stock of something that’s often 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 my work to my workouts. 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Caffeine: Some of my friends can have 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. Make sure you check for “hidden” caffeine in things like flavored teas and sweet treats.
  • Stress:  This is an area under never-ending construction in my own life. One thing that’s I’ve worked on during the past year is writing down my to-do lists and long-term product ideas at least an hour before getting into bed. Putting my tasks and even my worries “on paper” gives me a clearer outline of what’s ahead instead of letting it swarm around in my brain while I lie in the dark.
  • 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.

Remember, if you’ve made the commitment to workout and watch what you eat, you owe it to yourself to give your body time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Month, New Plans

Get pumped! Spring is right around the corner!

Hooray for the first Motivation Monday of March! With only 15 days until the official start of a new season, there’s no time like now to start carving out a plan to freshen up your spring fitness routine.

I understand a new season with new after-school activities and other responsibilities can make finding time to exercise a bit of a challenge.  So I offer a bit of motivation courtesy of a family of four who were part of an ILoveKickboxing class I recently took on Long Island. I was nothing less than inspired to see all of them participating in the high-intensity, sweat-filled class together. Dad did a fantastic job keeping up with his teenage son and daughter at the heavy bag while Mom offered words of encouragement and water bottles between rounds from the sidelines. I have no idea what was on the rest of their weekend agenda, but it was refreshing to see a family spend an entire hour together without one of them fixated on a smart phone or tablet. The added bonus: they were motivating each other to do something healthy.

So while you’re making plans to manage the time crunches this spring, make sure to budget at least a little quality time with the people who are important to you. In addition to making time for the kids, maybe you and your guy or gal plan a power walk together at least one day after work. Of course, you can always check for new group exercise classes you’d like to try with a friend or family member. Finally, my favorite part of the upcoming spring: is simply offers the perfect backdrop to get outside and get moving!

Remember, getting active with family and friends is just one thing to look forward to as we gear up for a new season filled with endless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Bring on March…Please!

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”

– Philo of Alexandria

I can’t put my finger on one particular reason, but it seems so many people in my life – family, friends, colleagues, even  workout buddies – have been dealing with a serious case of the winter blues.

Maybe it’s because this was the first really dreary winter we’ve experienced (at least here in the Northeast) for several years. Maybe it’s because of all the anger and divisiveness circulating on a daily basis on social media. Most recently, it could most likely be attributed to our nation reeling in the aftermath of yet another unfathomable tragedy at another school.

On a personal note, I can say the winter of 2018 has been one of the most difficult on the emotional front in recent history. I have been waging a daily battle with anxiety over my aging parents; the uncertain path of my career and witnessing some of my dearest friends trying to make the best of some seriously difficult situations. I guess it boils down to this being the first time I can honestly say I’ve been afraid in a long time.

That being said, there’s a new month on the horizon with the promise of better days- and definitely better weather- ahead. In the meantime, I continue to do the one thing that gives me a sense of strength even if it’s for only an hour amidst an otherwise “scary” day: exercise. For anyone out there struggling with your own difficulties as we trudge through 2018, I encourage you to find one activity that gives you peace. If you’re like me, that could mean unleashing your fears by hitting and kicking a heavy bag with all your might. For others, it could mean taking a power walk or spending ten minutes meditating, praying or reading a book.

I realize this is another of those slight diversions from my usual posts. Then again, maybe it’s not. For the past six years, this blog has been an outlet for me to cope with some of the big happenings in this crazy ride we call life. I thank all my readers for supporting me when I need to shake some of the cobwebs out of my mind. If you’ve been struggling with the blues this season for one or a variety of reasons, I hope you find comfort knowing you’re most definitely not alone. Even those who appear to be the strongest among us have their dark days. (Which is why I started today’s post with one of my favorite quotes.)  So as we make our way through this last Motivation Monday of February, let’s all find strength knowing there’s a sunnier spring ahead for all of us – and plenty of new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!





A Shot of Presidential Motivation

This Motivation Monday is a little different for everyone. It’s one of those American holidays when the mail isn’t delivered and the banks are closed, but not everyone has the day off. Here in my New York City neighborhood, it’s a little less crowded in the gym and the grocery store as lots of people escape for a mid-winter getaway while their kids are out of school. Whatever you’re doing on this President’s Day, I hope you find the time to fit some exercise into your routine.

Today offers my annual opportunity to offer a few words of inspiration courtesy of a handful of American presidents throughout history. Please note, this is a non-partisan group of quotes. I simply chose statements that moved me. I think it’s great when words from history can provide a source of inspiration and help us on our current quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“Life takes its own turns, makes its own demands, writes its own story, and along the way,we start to realize we are not the author.” -George W. Bush
“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” -Ronald Reagan
  “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb … Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” -Calvin Coolidge

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

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” –Abraham Lincoln 

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

“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 

Another Year Older…

It doesn’t seem possible this Motivation Monday marks the first of my forty-fourth year on Earth. Especially since I feel like I only wrote about turning 43 about five minutes ago. But here I am, another year older, thanks to the unstoppable force of time. Each year, I realize it’s one of many unstoppable forces that make up a lifetime.

I think most would agree birthdays present the perfect opportunity for reflection. Reminiscing about the many experiences that will forever define my forty-third year, it was no surprise I found the most defining moments didn’t surround producing any particular shoot for a client or the various business travel delays getting there. The times that will always matter most are the ones spent with family and friends. Of course, not all those occasions can be joyous, especially when saying good bye to those we love who won’t be sharing in another birthday celebration. However, I know each of those experiences gives us some sort of strength that we build upon and take into the next year – and beyond.

I was blessed to spend the weekend celebrating with both my parents. Their love remains one of the strongest beacons in my life and will be no matter how old I get. Meanwhile, this birthday also marked another “first.” This was the third time I started a new year with James by my side, but it marked the first we shared as an engaged couple. Add all the birthday love I received via phone calls, emails, texts and social media posts from family and friends near and far, and the fact that I feel healthier and stronger at 44 than I did at 43…and I know I am one lucky lady!

That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few bumps in the road. Each year, the number of people in my life challenged by attacks on their physical and mental well-being grows. Whether it’s the sudden death of a loved one; a terrible diagnosis; a job lost or financial stress; the end of relationships or other family trouble, things just seem to get more complicated as we get older. In a world filled with so much uncertainty, the one thing I can control year after year is how I take care of my body. Exercising and eating healthy continue to help keep my immune system strong even when events and emotions seem overwhelming. Of course, the other “thing” that continues to work for me is embracing the everything-in-moderation mentality. That’s why I refused to feel zero guilt about all my birthday treats that started on Friday and added up throughout the weekend. Today starts a new week and a chance for me to get back on track with the non-birthday treat regimen.

As I start my new year, I encourage everyone to remember taking control of your health is something anyone can do at any age or fitness level. Don’t be afraid to strike out and try something new. There’s no doubt the road ahead can trip us up at any time. So instead of looking back, let’s use the lessons of the past to move toward the future and all the opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


Super Recovery Monday

If you’re struggling with the decision on whether or not to do something active today, let me ask just one question: What did you eat yesterday?

It’s probably no surprise to learn Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest calorie-consumption day of the year after Thanksgiving. The recommended daily caloric intake for people looking to maintain their weight is roughly 2,000 calories. On Super Bowl Sunday, the majority of Americans eat close to 2,800 calories…in about three hours.

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

With some help CalorieKing, here’s a “playbook” featuring some of America’s favorite Super Bowl Sunday foods. After you calculate your personal tally based on how many servings you enjoyed yesterday, you can decide if you have more than a few good reasons to get off your you-know-what and start that next run, walk or other workout pronto.

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

Whether or not your team won and whether or not you enjoyed any or or all of the indulgences mentioned above, I hope you enjoyed some Sunday Funday downtime. If that did go a bit overboard with the food and drink, don’t sweat it. This first Motivation Monday for February is the perfect time to get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Back in Fighting Form

Ready to Re-Focus & Get Back in Action!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

Somehow today’s Motivation Monday post marks the last one for the first month in 2018. To be honest, I’m more than happy to say good-bye to January.

My repeat readers have gotten used to my candid confessions in many of these weekly installments. Today, I feel it’s time to come clean about a truth that affects even the most fanatical of fitness freaks. Sometimes we’re just not that into the whole working out and  healthy eating “thing.” That’s the state I’ve found myself in for a good part of this month.

I can’t blame just one thing for catapulting me into this particular funk. Making the five-hour-flight transition from 82-degree sunshine in Grenada to the eight-degree tundra in New York City probably had something to do with it. The frigid weather aside, it was also time to face reality and get my career goals sorted out for the year ahead. (In addition to the “Sunday Scaries,” I find I suffer from a more serious case of the “Year-Ahead Scaries” with every birthday I face.)  On a more pressing note, it was time to replace the high-calorie drinks and snacks I’d indulged in while on vacation with my normal healthy menu items. However as the cold days persisted, it was just easier to order comfort food for delivery rather than make the trek to the grocery store (though I realize we’re talking about a three- or four-block walk) to re-stock the fridge and pantry with better options.

Then there were the nonstop reminders about turning our 2018 resolutions into reality. Whether those resolutions involved exercising more often or cleaning out the closets and getting more organized, the pressure to make it all happen simply comes at you from every angle – the TV set, the pages of a favorite magazine that’s supposed to provide a brief escape from reality and of course, the stream of each and every social media feed. All the Instagram photos of six- or even eight-pack abs and “amazing diet tricks” had me scrolling through my feed a little less. For some reason, those posts made me feel “guilty” about my less-than-healthy behavior in the new year to date. Instead of inspiring me to get moving, I had simply lost my motivation to work out. When I did exercise, I definitely wasn’t putting 100 percent into the workouts.

Then about 10 days ago, one morning turned into a couple of mornings of slowly getting back into my usual groove. I stretched more and modified my moves at ILoveKickboxing and Physique57.  I started feeling better and was able to get in my normal, sweat-infused doses of exercise. I started eating smaller, cleaner meals throughout the day and didn’t pour the second glass of wine with dinner. I finally re-stocked the kitchen with my healthy go-tos: hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, veggies, berries,  brown rice and almonds. After a few days of rediscovering my healthy stride, I started to feel better. My energy level has improved, I am sleeping better and I feel more positive about the new month ahead and beyond.

I share these not-so-optimal moments from the start of 2018 in the hopes that it helps anyone who’s feeling discouraged by not “crushing” those goals for 2018 right out of the box. It’s okay. We all have bad days or even bad weeks. But every day  offers a new opportunity to start over. Be kind to yourself and don’t downplay the good things you have done for yourself so far this year. Are you drinking more water instead of sodas or other sugary drinks? Have you added five minutes or five push-ups to your exercise routine? Did you add a few healthy items to the family menu? Are you shutting your devices down a little earlier before bedtime? If you’ve done any, all of the above or made other healthy choices this month, kudos to you!

So here’s to using these last few days of January to stock up on whatever you need – from food to fitness gear – to make February and beyond a time to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


This Super Simple “Move” Can Help You Stay in the Game

On this Motivation Monday, I send my usual shot of encouragement to all of you who are still busy crushing those healthy living goals for 2018. However, since I also know at least a dozen people battling nasty colds or the flu, I’m also sending lots of get well wishes to anyone who’s been sidelined by a bug. Since my neighborhood has joined the ranks of others around the country registering very high on the “Sick Score” on a daily basis, I know I’m talking about a lot of people.

Whether waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in Church for Sunday Mass or clocking some miles on the elliptical machine, I’ve been surrounded by people sneezing and coughing at all different levels of ferocity. So I thought this was the perfect time to remind everyone of one move that can play a huge part in protecting you against picking up someone else’s germs and getting sick: wash those hands!

Sure, I’ll be the first to encourage exercise as a natural immunity booster, especially at this time of year. Working out is also a great way to improve your mood and beat the dreaded winter blues. But let’s face it: as much as I love going to the gym, it is one of the dirtiest places you can hang out. Since not everyone wipes their sweat and grime from machines or mats as they make their way around the floor, washing your hands could be the smartest move you make before walking out the door. If you’re taking the time to meticulously count your reps, time those Tabatas and monitor your heart rate, you owe it to yourself to add one or two minutes to the end of your workout with a quick but effective clean up. Consider it part of your cool down.

Here’s the official reminder from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to effectively wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

During your workout – and anytime really – do your best to avoid touching your eyes and nose. They are easy gateways for germs to pass through and take over your body. Finally, if you do get sick, click here for a few reminders on when it’s time to consider an extra rest day so you don’t spread your germs to the rest of your fitness friends.

Remember, armed with some basic hygiene and common sense, we can all navigate our way through another cold and flu season and stay on track with all those plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!



MLK Motivation

We kick off the third week of 2018 celebrating a very special person in our history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since that means this Motivation Monday is also a holiday for many of  my readers, I’ll offer some short yet powerful quotes from the inspirational leader to help us face whatever challenges lie ahead. Whether you’re tackling the next level of your health and fitness goals or dealing with the struggles of every day life, we can all take a cue from Dr. King to help us on our  journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” 

We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

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