Highs and Lows

Looking Forward to the Good Times Ahead!

Looking Forward to the Good Times Ahead!

What a difference one week makes.

It’s hard to believe it was only seven days ago when I shared my excitement and exhaustion after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. On this Motivation Monday, I find myself experiencing those same polar opposites again. I’m overjoyed my father made it through severe spinal surgery five days ago, and I’m exhausted for the very same reason.

Obviously, this experience turned my normal routine upside down. Workouts were skipped; my eating-every-three-hours rule was broken; veggies and fruits were forgotten and sleeping came in small fits at best. However, one week of disruption is a small price to pay for my dad’s well-being. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this post, he’ll be on his way home from the hospital or maybe he’s already resting in his own bed. That makes today the start of getting back to normal.

Dad has four to six weeks of recovery ahead of him. That means a little extra worry for Mom and me while we try to keep him comfortable. But things will soon fall into a rhythm like they always do, even when those things are a little out of the ordinary. Workout schedules and healthy eating habits can be resumed, but having your loved ones healthy and happy can’t always be guaranteed. So, I’ll embrace the schedule changes knowing I still have my Dad going strong at 80-years-young.

I close this not-so-fitness-focused post with a huge thank you to my family, friends and everyone who offered prayers, support and concern during an overwhelming few days. With such an amazing support team behind me, I  know it’s only a matter of time before I get back on track with my own plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


Avon39 2016

Sue, Molly, Me, Liz & Lori Earn our 39!

“Troll Sisters” Forever!

While doing the same thing over and over again can sometimes lead to boredom, I guarantee walking 39.3 miles in the fight against breast cancer is not one of them.

fullsizerender-2As I sit here on this Sunday night covered in sports cream and fighting to stay awake after completing my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, I hope you’ll forgive this somewhat simplistic but heartfelt Motivation Monday post. I offer two lists that sum up my emotions another unforgettable weekend here in New York City.

What I’m Thankful For:

  • My mom is now an eight-year survivor.
  • My generous supporters who got me to the starting line.
  • Joining my friend Sue for our third Avon39 Walk together.
  • Adding Molly, another St. Mary’s Gael, to this year’s experience.
  • The birth of two new friendships with Liz, a survivor; and Lori, Liz’s friend who flew in from Dallas.
  • The fun “hairstyle” Sue created for all of us, quickly transforming us into the fierce five unofficially known as “Team Troll.”
  • Seeing countless survivor t-shirts and pins along the walk.
  • Meeting so many people with unstoppable strength and determination, including Mike, whose 39.3-mile journey in Manhattan marked his 100th Avon39 walk to date.
  • The Avon39 crew members who kept us safe and cheered for us along 26.2 miles on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday.
  • The strangers who took some time out of their weekend to stand on a street corner and offer a high-five of support.
Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

Gaels Forever! Liz comes out to cheer us on.

What I Hope For:

  • To see even more survivors, including another high school gal pal Elizabeth, on next year’s walk.
  • To see more New Yorkers out on the streets on future walk weekends showing the pink warriors some love.
  • That one day in my Goddaughters’ lifetimes, we won’t have to ever walk again.

I wrap things up with a huge thank you to everyone who generously supported my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Because of you I threw a  5,175-dollar punch in the fight against breast cancer, making this my biggest fundraising year yet. Please know that money will be used to support organizations that help men and women, regardless of their ability to pay, receive the medical care they need. I also want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails and texts and all those who liked or shared my social media posts documenting my preparation for the journey right through the weekends’ highs. I simply couldn’t have done any of this without an amazing team behind me. If you’d like to see even more fun photos from the weekend, you’ll find them on my LauraLovesFitness Facebook page.

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

The Trolls with 100-Walk Mike!

If you’ve been thinking about being a part of Avon39 or other activities to wage war against a disease that remains the number one cancer killer of women, now’s the time to get out there and do it! Putting your best foot forward – literally – is probably one of the most empowering ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Hitting the Pause Button

Don't forget to stretch!

Don’t forget to stretch! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Wow. Here we are celebrating another Columbus Day and marching toward the middle of October. Meanwhile, more holiday displays keep popping up in the stores. To me, it’s all proof that time flies by faster each year and life simply gets more hectic as we get older.

If you’re a parent, you struggle with the complexities of your children growing up. All of us eventually face challenges as our parents age. At times, situations can be overwhelming and paralyzing. This is why it’s so important to carve out some precious moments of time to pause and regroup. Little did I know I’d find a big jolt of strength spending 30 minutes doing something I hadn’t done in far too long.

On Saturday morning after my usual Physique57 workout, I stayed an extra half hour for stretch class. Those 30 minutes did more wonders than I can explain. If I had an internal pause button, I’d say it clicked. That allowed me to worry only about three things for 30 minutes: inhaling, exhaling and holding stretches to release some of the tension in the multiple tight spots of my body.

I often write about the importance of making  for ourselves, but today I offer the reminder that sometimes that means finding a few moments to simply breathe deeply and stretch. What is your body telling you? Maybe it doesn’t need the hard-core boot-camp experience today. Maybe the lungs need to fill up with some extra air and your muscles need some TLC. As my wonderful instructor Lindi reminded us throughout the stretch session, sometimes you also need to shut out the noise and remember the good things in your life: the people who make you smile or a memory of a family get together or carefree moment at the beach.

As we all get back into fall sports, now’s the perfect time to re-focus your attention on flexibility and the all-important stretches too many of us skip as we rush out of the gym to our next busy activity. A lot of injuries happen at this time of year as people get back to their not-so-lazy-days-of-summer routines. Remember – if you haven’t played fall ball since…well, last fall…you need to warm up and be careful with muscles that may have been inactive for awhile.

If you’re off on this Motivation Monday for the holiday, why not take just 10 minutes to breathe in some air, think about stretching out the kinks in your hard-working body or at least plan a 10 to 20 minute block of time this week when you can. Whether you want to try a new group exercise class, meditation or a new nutrition program, deciding on a new goal is the first big step in making things happen on our never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Putting a Healthy Twist on Seasonal Snacks

FootballThis Motivation Monday is all about one of my favorite food groups: snacks!

I classify snacks in two groups:

  1. The healthy ones you choose throughout the day to keep you body fueled and your blood levels at an even keel and
  2. The not-so-healthy ones you enjoy at a party or on those rare occasions you get to chill out on the couch.

As a strong believer in the power of eating several small meals throughout the day, I’m always on the lookout for healthy snack options. My go-tos include hard-boiled eggs, raw almonds, green apples, fat-free plain Greek yogurt and KIND bars. If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you also know I also enjoy my treats, especially when I can share them with friends and family. Which brings me to one of the biggest reasons people get together in the fall: football!

If your idea of “Sunday Funday” includes sporting your team’s jersey, sipping a few beers and savoring some indulgences, here are three ideas to enjoy those good times without the side serving of guilt:

  1. Spice Up Your Popcorn: Microwave popcorn has always been one of my favorite lo-cal snacks. To make it more fun for game day, try adding some chili powder, pepper or paprika to the bag or bowl. (Just be sure to put some muscle into it and shake well!)
  2. Healthy chili: How would you like to enjoy a hearty, hot bowl of chili packed with only 75 calories and 1. 5 grams of fat? It’s possible, thanks to this Weight Watchers “one-point chili” recipe my mom introduced me to years ago. Click here for the easy recipe. Since I’m not a big cook, I like to make a big batch so I can freeze some and nuke it later.
  3. A Better Way to Dip – Swap out breads and chips for crunchy, healthy celery or carrot sticks and dip those veggies into a whole new kind of creaminess. Chobani’s Meze Dips have just 25 calories and one gram of fat per serving. (Traditional French onions dips pack five or more grams of fat and at least 60 calories per serving.) With flavors like Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa and Smoked Onion Parmesan, there’s a yummy fix for all your savory cravings. The following are some of Chobani’s tasty and colorful alternatives to those traditional chip-and-dip days:


So, what’s YOUR favorite healthy football or other seasonal snack? Remember, if you do go a little overboard on Sunday Funday or any other day of the week – don’t sweat it. Sometimes you have to be a little bad to get back to the good on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Special Saturday Edition: Happy October!

Getting Pumped for Walk #3!

Getting Pumped for Walk #3!

I’m making this rare Saturday “appearance” to wish everyone a happy and healthy start to the new month! October is important to me for two very good reasons:

  1. This is the month the most important woman in my life, my mom, came into the world and
  2. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In exactly two weeks from the moment you’re reading this, I’ll be making strides in my third Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. Thanks to a generous group of friends and family, this looks to be my biggest fundraising year yet. Now I’m pulling out the stops to bring in as many dollars as I can in the fight against breast cancer.

The money raised will help fund research, awareness and education while also providing assistance for those affected by breast cancer and their loved ones. My beloved mom is a breast cancer survivor and one of my high school friends continues to wage her own war against the disease, so I can tell you from experience how each and every dollar really does count. I hope you’ll consider joining the fight. All you need to do is click here to make your tax-deductible donation. In case you’re wondering, more than 3,500 people participated in Avon39 here in New York City and raised more than $8.7 million. Since 2003, Avon39 walks around the country have raised nearly $590 million.

Aside from fundraising, I’ve been busy breaking in my sneakers on 10- and 13-mile training walks with my amazingly supportive boyfriend. I have at least two more training “sessions” in my future before the October 15th start. Soon, I’ll be buying my moisture-wicking socks, Band-Aid Friction Stick and other Walk “tools” for the 39.3-mile journey around Manhattan. Each day, I’m getting more and more excited to join fellow St. Mary’s Gael Sue for our third walk together. This year, we’re excited to have Molly, another high school gal pal, join in the fun! While Avon39 has become one of my new favorite fall traditions, my hope is that one day we won’t have to walk anymore.

One final note before you go off and enjoy some well-deserved weekend fun: thank you to all my readers for supporting all my adventures on this never-ending road to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Time for Fall Fitness Fun!

Here Comes the Fall!

Welcome Fall!

Welcome to the first Motivation Monday of fall! I’ll admit I tend to get a little sad when summer, my favorite season, comes to end; but I perk up quickly when I think about all the opportunities to try new things on the health and fitness front.

Talk about perfect timing: I was recently inspired by Cotopaxi who offered a great infographic to share with my readers featuring simple ways to make healthier choices. It made its debut around World Health Day, but since I consider each day we’re lucky enough to open our eyes a new opportunity to own our healthy decisions, I thought it offered a great perspective at the start of the new season. As of today, there are 84 fall-filled days to try some new activities and simply do great things for our bodies, minds and souls.

Here are my top two tips for the season ahead:

  • Take a Hike – seriously! You don’t have to climb to the top of a mountain to get your heart rate up and muscles moving in the great outdoors. Even if you live in a concrete jungle like like yours truly, a nearby park, deserted beach or those trails you’ve always wanted to explore are just waiting for you. For some added weight resistance, wear a backpack filled with minimal but important essentials including a water bottle; a healthy snack; identification, and a few portable first aid items like Band-Aids and some antiseptic wipes. Don’t have a backpack? Why not treat yourself to one from Cotopaxi, since a percentage of every sale is donated to various organizations that support global health initiatives. (Learn more about the company’s mission here.)
  • Stock up on seasonal snacks! Whether you pick them in an orchard or find them at a nearby farmer’s market or grocery store, ’tis the season to bite into lots of crisp, delicious apples! Consider pairing one with a handful of almonds, pistachios or pumpkin seeds for a portable, powerful snack wherever the day or trail takes you.

So what’s on your fitness agenda for the fall of 2016? I’d love to hear from you! Thanks again to Cotopaxi for reaching out and for the additional ideas below. Sharing tips and tricks will always be a surefire way of helping people on their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


Make Your “Me Time” Belong To You

Knock Out The Noise! Photo by Leslie Hassler

Knock Out The Noise!
Photo by Leslie Hassler

This short and sweet Motivation Monday post is all about you. Specifically, it’s a reminder that’s exactly what the time you make to exercise should be –  time for you and nothing else.

I can’t tell you how many times I’m surrounded by people on elliptical machines or even at the weight rack who focus on their texts or emails when they should be concentrating on their form, their breathing and the oh-so-wonderful benefit of clearing the mind. Snap your Instagram photo and move on to your exercise routine, people! Honestly, if you’re not a doctor or emergency worker on call or a mom with a sick kid at home, how many of us really need to respond to that new email right away? Will the world stop spinning if you update a client on a project 30 minutes after you receive the message instead of ten?

In a world where we search workouts that give us the biggest benefits in the shortest amount of time, we absolutely owe it to ourselves to make those precious minutes count. So here’s my challenge for you this week: whether you decide to take a 20-minute walk in the morning, squeeze in a 30-minute workout on your lunch break or commit to a total hour of a group exercise class after work, tell your colleagues, family and friends you’re simply not available during that window of time. Before you snicker and say, “Laura, that’s impossible,” think about this: if taking 10 minutes out of your day to bang out some burpees or take a brisk walk is going to make you calmer and think more clearly when challenged by deadlines; difficult clients or your kid’s core math homework, then you owe it to yourself to be strong and tell people when you need a few minutes of me-time.

Sometimes the hardest part of taking care of ourselves is telling even the people who love us the most what we need to be a healthier and happier person. Why not use this week – when we welcome a brand new season – to take a chance and see what happens. If the world doesn’t stop spinning because you waited 20 minutes to respond to a few texts, then I’d say you’ve taken a bold step forward in your journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

9/11: 15 Years Later

img_2647I hope you’ll forgive this diversion from my weekly dose of Monday Motivation. It’s hard for me to write about healthy snacks or fitting fitness into your back-to-school schedule when my mind has been flooded with memories of the day that changed our world forever. At some point this past week, I simply lost count of how many times I uttered or heard the phrase “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since 9/11.”

Time may march on, but each year the memories are just as vivid as they were on that bright, beautiful day in 2001. I remember the shock, the silence and then the chaos that erupted in the News 12 Connecticut newsroom where I worked as a reporter at the time. I remember the nonstop news coverage and the countless live shots from the Fairfield train station. That’s where a triage team waited to treat injured survivors – only to look more and more despondent with each passing hour that none arrived. It’s also where I interviewed people with dust on their clothes, still in shock from what they had escaped in lower Manhattan. I remember calling my parents to tell them how much I loved them. And I remember the phone calls I received from panicked friends who wondered if I had any information about people working in the World Trade Center.

In the days that followed, I met too many people who lost people they loved. I learned Glen Pettit, one of my News 12 Long Island colleagues and a NYPD officer, was killed. I held back tears while interviewing people who held on to the hope a son, daughter, husband or wife would return home. I held back tears while speaking with members of the Stamford fire department who wanted to do more to help their brothers in the city. In the fleeting moments when I was alone, I let the tears flow freely. Yet in the midst of the sadness, fear, anger and confusion, I also remember people treating each other with kindness and banding together in a way I’d never seen before. Quite frankly, I haven’t seen it since.

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Yankee Stadium: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years later, I found solace going to Mass before taking the subway to Yankee Stadium. I originally felt somewhat guilty accepting the tickets my Dad offered for this game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. However, I came to realize doing something I loved on a sunny Sunday afternoon was a testament to the fact that our American way of life survived that terrible day. It turns out, the Devil Rays were the team the Yankees played two weeks after 9/11 as the nation tried to return to some semblance of normalcy, which included resuming the season for America’s pastime.

Before the start of yesterday’s game, with tears in my eyes and pride swelling in my chest, I witnessed a moving ceremony featuring the booming sounds of the NYPD Emerald Society’s Pipe and Drum Corps. I watched Yankees manager Joe Girardi shake the hands of wounded veterans from Walter Reed Hospital who were honored in front of home plate. I listened to the powerful voice of firefighter Frank Pizzaro as he belted out our national anthem while New York City’s bravest unfolded an American flag in center field beside the Port Authority Police Department’s Color Guard. I cried, I applauded and then as I cheered for the Yankees through what turned out to be a loss, I thought: the human spirit is a truly amazing thing. And it is in times of sorrow and struggle that banding together makes us stronger than standing alone. So in the company of that packed stadium, I found another way to honor the promise made 15 years ago…we will never forget.

God Bless America.


Get Ready to FALL into Fitness!

Here Comes the Fall!

Here Comes the Fall!

Is it me, or does the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day fly by faster with each passing year? I know the calendar says we still have 16 days until the official start of autumn, but for me, summer ends with Labor Day. Sigh. I hope everyone enjoyed the end of the season and that the new month is off to a strong start.

One thing I love about September is the fact that all the back-to-school buzz makes this the perfect time to re-focus your attention on getting your health and fitness routine in tip-top shape. Maybe you’re thinking: “Laura, are you kidding? I’m too busy trying to get the kids back on a regular schedule, I have no time to even think about working out!” Well, why not turn that challenge into an opportunity? As you help the family re-adjust to the non-summer-Friday work weeks and new start times for school and after-school activities, it’s also the time to fit some fitness into your own routine. Who deserves to carve out some time get that daily dose of much-needed endorphins? The answer is simple – YOU!

Here are some tips to set the pace for a FITASTIC fall ahead:

  • Seek Out New Schedules & Offers:  Group fitness schedules often change in September. Maybe this is the season that total body conditioning class finally fits into your schedule. Be sure to ask about any back-to-school specials, including friends and family rates. This is a great time to make exercise a family affair or schedule bi-weekly workouts with a buddy!
  • Fall Into Healthy Eating Habits: Packing lunch for the kiddies? Add just a few more minutes to the prep time and create some healthy snacks or small meals for yourself. I spend approximately 30 minutes every Sunday slicing and dicing veggies including peppers, celery sticks and carrots and then pack them in reusable containers. I can grab a portion anytime as a healthy snack or side dish or I can mix the veggies with brown rice for a mini-meal. Some of my other favorite go-to eats include raw almonds, green apples and hard boiled eggs.
  • Put It In Writing: If you drive your kids to school or your spouse to the train station, figure out if there’s time immediately following a drop-off or right before a pick-up for a workout. You could hit the gym for a group exercise class, drive a few more blocks to the park for a run or meet a friend for a brisk walk. Typing the activity in to your smart phone task list or putting an old-fashioned sticky note on the fridge is a great visual boost to keep that workout on the schedule.
  • Ten Minutes of Something is Better than Nothing!  As time seems to grow more precious each day, there are plenty of workouts geared toward gaining maximum results in less time.Click here for a refresher on my “Tear-It-Up-in-Ten Circuit”  Do you really only have five minutes to spare? No problem. Click here for a reminder on how you can burn some calories and get the heart pumping with the four-minute Tabata workout.
  • Wardrobe Prep Do you help your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed? Then go ahead and put out your own morning workout gear, too! Put your clothes in the bathroom the night before. It’s usually the first room we visit after we wake up, so if your clothes are staring you in the face, it may be harder to ditch the workout. If you’re exercising after work, pack your gym bag the night before and leave it by the door to grab on your way out. (And don’t forget to grab one of your prepped snacks for some healthy fuel, too!)

Finally, it’s important to remember getting fitness on your schedule and healthy foods into your fridge are two big steps toward a healthier you in the season ahead. During my annual August blogging hiatus, I had many conversations with several different gal pals (who also happen to be great moms) about their frustration over falling off the fitness wagon over the summer. Between keeping the kids entertained and all the BBQs, they found themselves eager to get back into a leaner, meaner routine. I’ll tell you what I told them: leave the “sins of the summer” in the past, but keep the memories close in your heart. Just as the leaves are sure to fall in the days ahead, you’ll soon find yourself back on track with your efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Happy Labor Day 2016!

Soak Up What's Left of Summer!

Soak Up What’s Left of Summer!

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had a FITASTIC August and are enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer of 2016. Since this Motivation Monday falls on a holiday, LauraLovesFitness will be back in full force tomorrow for the first Tear-It-Up Tuesday of September with some tips to help make this your best fall ever.

For now, I wish you all a relaxing holiday and look forward to having you back for the season ahead. Whatever you’re doing today, be sure to stay safe so that tomorrow, you can continue the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!


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