Gearing Up for The Summertime Cocktail Season

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Could the weeks be flying by any faster? I think the crazy weather we’ve been experiencing here in New York (along with much of the country) adds to my sheer disbelief that this Motivation Monday brings us exactly one week from Memorial Day – the unofficial start of summer.

In anticipation of the mercury rising and the sun finally shining in full force, I know I’m looking forward to a little margarita madness and other refreshing get-togethers with friends and family. Always one to promote the everything-in-moderation lifestyle, I also subscribe to the notion that a little preparation can make for a smart season ahead.

So for all my fellow libation lovers out there, here are a few of my go-to ricks for enjoying those booze-infused beverages with less guilt!

  • Use Real Fruit for Flavor: Orange, cranberry and pineapple juice are great mixers, but they’re loaded with sugar and unwanted calories. A better bet is to pick your poison and mix it with seltzer and lots of ice. Then add a couple of slices of fresh oranges, lemons, limes or even some pineapple chunks for flavor.
  • Other Low-Cal Options:  Pick the zero-calorie versions when mixing them with alcohol. At home, I like to keep a pitcher of Crystal Light in my fridge. When I add vodka, I measure the serving with a shot glass to keep tabs on how just how much alcohol I’m drinking. Finally, whether you’re partying at home or at a friend’s house, throw back water, seltzer or diet soda for every other drink to stay hydrated and keep the calorie intake under control.
  • The Every-Other-Drink Attack: Whether you’re partying at home or at a friend’s house, throw back water, seltzer or diet soda for every other drink to stay hydrated and keep the calorie intake under control.

On-The-Rocks & Frosty Alternatives: 

  • When mixing a Cape Codder (vodka & cranberry), replace high-sugar cranberry juice with light or reduced-calorie cranberry juice. For an even “slimmer” version of this summertime classic, mix one shot of raspberry or blueberry vodka with Diet Sprite, Diet 7Up, Sprite Zero or Fresca. You get the berry flavor without all the sugar.
  • Use diet tonic water when mixing with vodka or gin.
  • For the taste of cream soda with a kick,  add a shot of vanilla vodka to a tall glass of  Diet Coke.
  • Mudslides are delicious, but wow, do they pack a punch when it comes to calories! My recipe replaces the Bailey’s with a Weight Watchers latte flavored ice pop – minus the stick, of course! Put the frozen “ice cream” into a blender, and add crushed ice, 4-6 ounces of skim milk and a shot of vodka.  Blend and enjoy! (You can also add Kahlua, but that will up the calories a bit.)
If you’re planning to stock up for a fun Memorial Day weekend ahead, I hope these tips give you some helpful ideas. Of course, wherever and whenever you celebrate the holiday and approaching summer, be sure to keep things safe! Now, here’s to a great week and moving toward a season filled with plenty of sunshine-filled chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Don’t Let Allergies Put the Brakes on Your Fitness Fun!

'Tis the season for sneezin'!

‘Tis the season for sneezin’!

During the last few weeks, I realize I’ve been encouraging everyone to get outside and get moving. With spring in full bloom, I also know exercising outdoors can be tough when your eyes are burning or you find yourself sneezing and coughing thanks to a high pollen count.

As a longtime allergy sufferer, I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to post some timely reminders on how we can all survive the 2016 spring allergy season.

  • Mind the time: 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 sunglasses: Sporting shades (or even goggles) can create some sort of barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also recommend using eye drops before you head outdoors. For the past several years, using Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway over-the-counter eye drops twice a day has helped me avoid scratching my eyes out even on high pollen count days.
  • Don’t forget your meds: I got allergy shots for many years as a kid. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I still battle through hay fever season each spring. Today there are so many over-the-counter and prescription allergy medicines that can offer relief. While I don’t like taking a lot of medications, I’d rather take something for a few months to help me stay alert and active than miss out on enjoying the outdoors altogether. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best to alleviate your specific symptoms. To prevent the onset of those symptoms, it helps to take your medication an hour before your outdoor workout. If you wakeup and then workout outdoors, 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.

As with most situations, the best advice I can probably offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to do your body good by exercising outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head inside, 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!

Fitness for a Cause

Push-Up: One of my Tabata training faves

Photo by Lauren Bachner

This Motivation Monday post will be a short and sweet reminder that fitness can be used for so many good reasons. In addition to keeping the ticker in tip-top shape and helping us maintain a healthy weight, it’s also a great resource to get people involved in good causes.

Last Monday my fellow St. Mary’s Gael, Danielle, nominated me to take part in the 22 push-up challenge. The goal is to bang out 22 push up for 22 days to honor those who serve in our military and raise awareness about suicide among our nation’s veterans.

I think the push up is of the most empowering full-body exercises anyone can do. Getting through them knowing you’re bringing attention to an important issue only adds to the endorphin rush at the end of the set. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen the past week’s worth of push-up videos. Below is a link to my favorite one of the week when I dropped and did my 22 at the Yankees game on Saturday afternoon.

If you want to make sure I’m keeping up my end of the bargain, I hope you’ll check out my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page and Instagram account (@FitnessLaura) to watch my daily videos. And if you’ve been looking to add a kick to your fitness routine this spring, why not consider going the distance for our veterans. You’ll find all the rules for the challenge at 22kill.com

So, who’s up for the challenge? Remember, breaking a sweat for a good cause is one of the best ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Spray Your Way to a Better Workout

Spray2It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since I wrote about how “stripping” changed my fitness routine. On this Motivation Monday, I’m excited to let you know the same company that introduced me to the power of the electrolyte strip has found a great way for everyone to spray their way to a better workout!

Adding a bottle of Bfit Labs Rapid Electrolyte Spray to your gym bag is a great way to stay fueled and hydrated wherever the day takes you. The spray is made by Sportsfood, Inc., the creator of the rapid electrolyte replacement oral thin film strip that dissolves instantly in your mouth. Just like the strips, each spray of Berry Blast of Very Vanilla contains 0 calories, 0 sugars, 0 carbs and 0 food dyes.

In addition replenishing the all-important electrolytes sodium and potassium, the liposomal spray also delivers a shot of vitamins B6 and B12. In addition to drinking water, I gave the spray a try during one of my forever challenging Physique57 workouts: two sprays before the warm-up and two more half-way through class. While I still felt the burn, my muscles didn’t completely give out as quickly and that means I banged out more reps than usual. I can’t wait to see how the spray keeps me moving during my “strictly cardio” days at New York Sports Club and the variety of outdoor activities ahead of us as we march closer to summer.  I should mention one bottle costs $19.95 and contains approximately 180 sprays. If you use up to six sprays per workout, one bottle should last you about a month.

Spray1One final important note: this is not an “energy” spray – it doesn’t contain caffeine or stimulants. It contains only the electrolytes our bodies need to help maintain water balance and prevent muscle cramps and fatigue along with hits of B12 and B6.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I don’t write a lot of product reviews, but I do like to share fitness or food finds that help me in my own efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I hope that assures you I’m only writing about this particular product because I do consider it a bona fide find for my diet and exercise regimen.

You can find more information and of course order the Bfit Labs Rapid Electrolyte Spray at Sportsfood.com Of course, if you do try it out, I want to hear from you! Sharing ideas on how we stay active and healthy is a great way to stay the course on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Park Bench Workout Encore

Outdoor picIt seems everyone here in New York has definitely caught the get-outside-and-workout bug. This Motivation Monday comes after a sunny, mild weekend and temperatures should be in the mid to upper 60s all week. Add the fact that we have sunlight till around 7 p.m. and you have all the inspiration you need to try something new. Maybe this is the week you ditch the same old indoor routine for just one day so you can get outside to get moving!

If you’re looking for something to amp up or compliment your normal run or brisk walk, here’s a second look at one of my favorite outdoor workouts.

  • What you need: your body weight, a park bench and water.
  • What you’ll get: a good sweat and a reminder to use Mother Nature as a motivator in your ongoing efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Three Years Later….

FullSizeRender-2On this Motivation Monday, I find myself amazed once again about the passing of time. Here we are marching toward the end of April. It feels like just yesterday I was posting tips about setting realistic goals for those New Year’s Resolutions. Meanwhile, I’m gearing up for projects in my production world that I worked on one year ago and catching up with clients I met as many as five years ago.

Then one morning last week, as my jelly-like legs struggled to take me back home after a Physique57® workout, I was zapped with another time check: it was three years ago this month when I started the fitness program that changed my body -and my mental health! – for the better. In April 2013, my longtime gal pal Amy brought me to my very first Physique57 class, and I’ve been hooked every since. After hundreds of classes, I’ve never gotten bored thanks to an amazing group of instructors who never serve up the same workout twice. Despite being comfortable with the class format, my body is still sore as hell after a 57-minute barre workout that combines interval training, isometric exercises and stretches.

While I’d encourage everyone to try a Physique57 workout at a studio or online, the true purpose of sharing this “anniversary” is to offer proof that finding an activity you love is crucial to sticking with a fitness routine. Equally important is realizing your likes, dislikes and needs may change through the different stages of your life. During my Northwestern years and the ones that followed as I entered the working world, I had no problem working out solo and pushing myself to extremes in the weight room. As work and life grew more complicated over the years, I started gravitating toward group exercise classes. While I still do my own thing on certain days, I feed off the energy of a group dynamic. There’s something about being surrounded by the power of my fellow workout warriors pushing through seemingly never-ending planks and squats along with the positive vibes from my instructors and high-energy music.

I hope sharing my Physique57 journey to date encourages you to take stock of your own fitness routine. If you find yourself going through the motions this spring, it’s time to mix things up. If you’ve been ignoring certain muscle groups, now’s the time to get back into total body training. Sign up for a few personal training sessions so a pro can check your form and take your routine to the next level. Or do what I did and find a class that makes you feel like you can take on whatever the world throws at you. Sometimes, taking a moment to realize where you’ve been and how far you’ve come is all the motivation you need to take the next steps in your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Still Need Some Spring Fitness Ideas?

Photo by Leslie Hassler

Photo by Leslie Hassler

It certainly doesn’t feel like it here in New York City, but according to the calendar, we’re three weeks into the spring of 2016. If you’re still struggling to find some ways to get more activity into your daily routine while taking advantage of the extra daylight, I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday to offer a few pointers.

1. Get Dirty & Break A Sweat in the Garden!

For all of you with green thumbs, this is the time of year you’ve been waiting for! Getting your garden ready for the season can involve some serious heavy lifting.  There are lots of muscles involved when it comes to clearing away debris, digging, hauling dirt, mulching, and planting. Garden maintenance – weeding, trimming, clipping – can also help you break a bit of sweat. Are you going to burn a ton of calories? Probably not. Still, it’s a great way to spend time outdoors and feel good about breaking a sweat and getting dirty.

2. Take the Action Outside!

Love doing burpee sprints or Tabatas at home? That’s great! If you have a little space outside where you can get a dose of Vitamin D in addition to those blood-pumping endorphins, why not take your tried and true routine out there? Remember, getting 15 minutes of sunlight is a good thing – it helps reduce your risk of a vitamin D deficiency. We all need vitamin D for strong bones and healthy hearts.

3. A Little Pick-Up, Anyone? 

I love walking by the many parks around Manhattan and coming across adults playing games I remember fondly from my youth like kickball or dodgeball. Chances are there are leagues or groups in your own community that are looking for people to join a weekly game of soccer, baseball or volleyball. You can always look to Google to find out. If not, who says you can’t start your own league with a few fellow enthusiastic friends? Instead of meeting at the bar after work, a once-a-week sweat session with friends could be a healthy addition to your after hours routine.

If you have other ideas for using the season put some extra spring in your fitness steps, I’d love to hear about them! It’s always great when Mother Nature gives us a natural boost to stay on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

It’s Time for Spring Cleaning!

A little spring cleaning for your health & fitness routine can keep you smiling! Photo by Leslie Hassler

A little spring cleaning for your health & fitness routine can keep you smiling! Photo by Leslie Hassler

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of April! Now’s the time to embrace three staples of the season: Yankees baseball, spring showers and spring cleaning! As you carve out some time to de-clutter the closets and desk drawers, remember this is also the perfect opportunity to get rid of what’s sabotaging your health and fitness goals, too!

Here are my top three tips to help you take stock of what’s working, what’s not and what new things you can look forward to this season:

  1. Do NOT Skip Meals! It seems everywhere we look at this time of year, we’re bombarded by ads pushing us to get that bikini-body ready pronto. One of the biggest mistakes people make in trying to make that happen is skipping meals. If you’re thinking “Well, if I skip some meals, I’ll consume fewer calories and I’ll lose weight,” think again! The reality is you’ll probably end up consuming the same amount of calories if not more because when you do eat, you’ll be ravenous and consume extra calories you didn’t need. Also, when you don’t eat for long periods of time, your blood sugar levels drop which can leave you feeling fatigued, less focused and less productive in general. Instead, go ahead and use this time to develop the healthy habit of eating smaller meals every few hours to keep your blood sugar stable and control your appetite.
  2. Clean Out the Closets, the Drawers…AND the Pantry!  I know it may hurt, but maybe it’s time to get rid of that college T-shirt with the permanent sweat stains. I’m not saying you should toss your school pride in the trash, but why not treat yourself an order an alumni shirt online? While you’re at it, add a few bright-colored, moisture-wicking items to freshly de-cluttered drawers. We all like getting new duds for the season, so why should your workout wardrobe be any different? While you’re getting rid of old stuff in your closets or drawers, let’s not forget the dust bunnies collecting on those sweet or salty treats that have been hanging around in the pantry since the holidays. I know no one likes to waste food, so if you can bring the leftover boxes or bags of treats  to an office or school break room (and you know you have the will power to avoid digging in) let some other people enjoy them. (Assuming they haven’t stuck around past their expiration date, of course!)
  3. Mix Up Your Workout Routine! Don’t let boredom stop you in your tracks! Check for new group exercise classes at the gym or see what workout opportunities exist in the great outdoors. Whether you bang out some Tabatas in your backyard, play kickball with a community group or take an extra long walk in the evening, now’s the time to use Mother Nature as the ultimate motivator.

With a whole new month to look forward to, now’s the time to explore the many different ways we can all have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Oops!

Good morning, FITASTIC followers of LauraLovesFitness!

Earlier this morning, you all received an email with an unfinished post. If you haven’t read it yet, please trash it and wait for the spell-checked and grammatically correct post next Monday.

I realize this has happened a few times in the past few months. Let’s just say I have a lot going on and I need to find a better way to make sure my calendar is managed here on the blog. I thank you for your patience and for all your support since my very first post.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to do all you can to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Thanks for the Motivation, Easter Bunny!

Here’s hoping this Easter Monday post finds everyone happy and healthy after a great weekend!

If you’re looking for some motivation to get moving today, perhaps all you need to do is look at the empty Easter basket on your kitchen counter. Here’s a tally of the damage from some of the 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

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!

 

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