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To celebrate the end of another work week and help you enjoy one of the last weekends of summer 2011, here’s a fun Friday hit-list: how to enjoy some of your favorite summer cocktails without all the guilt!
On the rocks:
- 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.)
- Calorie-Conscious Creamsicle: I haven’t tried this yet, but learned about the option at a recent Weight Watchers meeting. Put one packet of a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie mix into a blender, and add WW orange-flavored fat-free yogurt, crushed ice and one shot of vodka. Blend and enjoy!
- Speaking of Weight Watchers smoothie mixes, if you can get a hold of them, they’re really good and come in several flavors including vanilla, chocolate, caramel latte and even a berry blend. Mix one packet in the blender with fresh strawberries, blueberries or banana, along with crushed ice, skim milk (or water) and a shot of vodka or rum. (These taste just as good without the alcohol.)
Wow! We made it to July! I seriously can’t believe we’re past the halfway mark of 2019. Perhaps even more unbelievable is in four days, I’ll be just 12 weeks away from stepping on stage for the NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix!
During this past week my coach, Jen, was kind enough to meet with me before a well-deserved vacation to start teaching me the ropes in what I consider the most terrifying part of this entire process: posing. Let’s just say I need all the help I can get!
This is completely different from maintaining poise and composure in front of a camera even in the sweltering heat or bone-chilling cold during my TV reporter days. This is about mastering a routine that includes four poses in a blur of 10 to 12 seconds. That’s the amount of solo time I’ll have in front of the judges. The poses themselves are totally foreign to me, and then there’s the added challenge of executing those moves wearing four-and-a-half inch platform heels and transitioning between each move as gracefully as possible. (Oh, and of course, I need to do it all with a smile!) Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed during that first hour of practice. However, Jen encouraged me to simply practice, practice and practice some more. If you want a good laugh on this first Tuesday of the new month, click the play button on this video to see how I did.
All you pros out there know I have a lot of work ahead of me! However, I hope sharing this not-so-perfect video serves as a gentle reminder that anytime you try something new, you can’t expect to be perfect right out of the gate. Whether it’s a new job, maybe even a totally different career; a new fitness or nutrition program or a new hobby, we can put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We’re usually the first to beat ourselves up when we slip and fall. So, I’m going to try and remind myself to do what my coach and so many other people who’ve been through this competition prep have told me: trust the process. So, I may stumble and fall – literally! – practicing my posing routine, but I’ll get up and try again. I’ll keep the faith that with some serious effort on my part and the ongoing support from my family, friends, my coach and the fitfam universe, I can make this happen!
I close with a wish for everyone to have a safe and Happy 4th of July! (Click here for a reminder on how to get through what could be a long weekend of food-filled fun without totally falling off the healthy lifestyle wagon.) As for me, the holiday will be my last real “cheat” day before crunch time begins. That doesn’t mean I’ll go totally crazy with the food and drink. I’ll get to the gym super early, eat a couple of my prepared meals before heading to the annual pool party my family and I look forward to every year and I’ll choose my “cheat” foods with care. (I do see a cheeseburger and one or two cocktails in my holiday future…) I’ll also be sure to drink my gallon of water or more throughout the day.
Here’s to celebrating America’s birthday, a fitastic July and all the opportunities ahead to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Fifteen weeks out. I’ve always wanted to say those three little words, but until now, I’ve either been too scared or simply made too many excuses to utter them outloud. However, when I turned 45 earlier this year, I decided it was time to cross this item off the bucket list. No more excuses. In late September, I plan to walk on stage as a bikini competitor at the NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix.
Some of you who’ve known me for decades may think, “No problem, Laura, you got this!” Sure, I’ve loved exercise and tried dozens of different sports and fitness routines since taking my first gymnastics class at the age of six. I’ve also adopted a relatively “clean” diet over the past five years. However, what many of you also know about me is I do like my cocktails, my desserts and fried, cheesy things are pretty great, too. The next fifteen weeks will involve a totally new nutrition and workout plan, and it will require more discipline than I’ve ever exercised before. One important note: I’ll be doing this 100-percent naturally.
Here’s a candid reveal: I haven’t really lifted weights in a long time. I didn’t plan for that to happen, but when I turned 40, I found myself gravitating toward group fitness classes that focused on cardio and body weight exercises. My routine became a mix of extended elliptical machine sessions; barre workouts; Tabata derbys filled with push-ups and core moves; and finally two years ago, I discovered kickboxing – my all-time favorite mix of a physical and mental workout. For the next three months, I need to put those activities on hold and get back to lifting. I thought I’d be able to sneak in a kickboxing class here and there, but after one week of what feels-like-the-first-time weight training, I realize I need to focus my energy on the longer gym sessions, allow my body to recover properly and do all I can to avoid any injuries.
I also need to focus on finding my groove again in the weight room. Even the biggest fitness fanatics can feel intimidated when stepping into a space filled with so many people adjusting benches with ease and executing reps in perfect tempo. During this past week, I repeatedly told myself what I’ve written about many times over the years: The time I spend in the gym is for me and only me. I do not have to lift what the fitness chick is lifting two benches down from me. I need to breathe, focus on my form and remember, I’ve pulled the trigger on turning a longtime goal into a reality.
I’m so happy to have found Jen Carlson, a Team D1scipline coach, to guide me on this journey. Not only will she offer nutrition and training plans for the weeks ahead, but she’ll help with what I consider my biggest challenge in this entire experience: posing. I’ve never been the most graceful gal, so the thought of walking across a stage, executing turns and posing – in platform heels and a bikini – honestly scares me to death. I’m sure there will be some fun blooper moments to share from that part of the prep process!
I plan to use future “Transformation Tuesdays” to post updates on my progress. Knowing this prep time was going, I used the past month to drop some of the pounds I truly enjoyed putting on during an amazing croissant-filled vacation in Paris with James. At 134 pounds, I am eight pounds lighter than when we returned to New York at the end of April, and my body fat is just under 20 percent. Moving forward, I’ve been warned I may see drastic changes one week, plateau the next and feel totally depleted during another. I’m excited and nervous to experience it all.
I couldn’t do this without the support of my fiancé, my parents and my dear friends. (I hope they’ll enjoy some of the margaritas I won’t be sipping this summer.) Stay tuned here and on my social media channels (@fitnesslaura) for more about changes to my diet and workouts; posing snafus; bikini shopping and more. I plan to provide a 100-percent honest account of the whole process – the good, the bad and yes, the ugly.
So do you have a dream that’s been sitting on the back burner for far too long? Remember, tackling a new challenge is a surefire way to stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
With Thanksgiving behind us, this marks the first Motivation Monday of the 2017 holiday season. Along with the hustle and bustle of cyber shopping, decorating and meal planning, it’s also the time of year many of us find our calendars filled with family get-togethers, office parties and drinks with friends.
For me, this season has turned extra festive now that I am newly engaged! (Can’t you just feel my smile jumping out at you from these typed words?) That means I’ve received even more of those “we-must-get-together-and-raise-a-glass-before-Christmas” invitations. With many bubbly-filled evenings in my immediate future, I realize now more than ever, I’d better follow my own tips when it comes to trying not to throw all those healthy habits out the window between now and New Year’s Day.
If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile you know chocolate, wine and Prosecco are a few of my favorite things. Like other indulgences, I always do my best to enjoy these treats in moderation. However, if you find yourself face-to-face with a sea of hors d’oeuvres, candy-cane-themed cocktails and sugary sweets, fear not! Here are some simple ways to get you through the season with your healthy lifestyle goals in check:
- Plan Ahead: If you know you’re going to share some holiday cheer in the evening, do not starve yourself all day. Eat a sensible breakfast and lunch and don’t forget to have a healthy snack packed with some protein up to one hour before the party starts. This will help you avoid arriving super hungry and grabbing the first (cheese-smothered, bread-heavy) thing you see. My sample menu for this type of day: Breakfast: Isagenix shake Lunch: 2 hard-boiled egg whites with grape tomatoes and pepper strips & one slice of toasted Ezekiel bread. Snack: 1/2 cup of blueberries or small green apple with handful of almonds. (Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated with water.)
- Cocktail Control: The every-other-drink rule works just as well at a holiday party as it does for happy hour. To space out the alcohol consumption, start with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and when your glass is empty, switch to a glass of water or seltzer for your next beverage.
- Choose “Smart” Foods First: More and more holiday parties are a cocktail and appetizer bonanza. Load up on some of the healthier options first, including the crudités – celery sticks, carrots, bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower. Tip: Try not to drown veggies in high-calorie dip. Instead, use mustard for a tangy, low-calorie alternative Another idea: Attack the protein! I love shrimp, and with 18 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving, there’s no reason not to! (Unless you are allergic to shellfish, of course.) Sushi, skewered chicken or beef tenderloin strips are also better options than cheesy breads or creamy dips.
- The Dessert Dilemma: What could be better than arriving at a party to find nothing but cocktails and cupcakes or wine and chocolate? If you know you’re attending one of these sweet celebrations, be sure to eat a small, sensible meal before arriving and tearing into the treats. When you do dig in, split a cupcake, cookie or piece of cake with a friend. If there’s any fresh fruit, eat that first.
- Get Moving! I know, you’re busy. Trust me – you can find the time to exercise. Pushing through two four-minute Tabatas or dare I say a whole 20 minutes of cardio or half of your favorite workout DVD is better than nothing. If you have a party after work, hit the gym or take a walk in the morning. If you live in a city like I do, don’t let the cold stop you in your tracks. Throw on an extra layer, pack the party shoes to go and burn some extra calories by walking to work and/or to the festivities.Remember, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. For me, that includes enjoying some holiday cheer…along with some chocolate and cupcakes!
Remember sometimes all you need is a little planning to make it through the holiday season and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This Motivation Monday may bring us just one month into the fall season, but to me it feels like the summer of 2017 happened ages ago. Add the fact those longer, darker days are coming when Daylight Saving Time ends in less than two weeks…and it’s no wonder this bona fide beach bunny’s mind has already started daydreaming about getting away from the soon-to-be cold concrete jungle of New York City.
Wherever you call home, it’s no secret each of us fights a constant battle of how to fit so many tasks into one day, let alone one week. Between working; dealing with family obligations; and trying to take care of ourselves by working out and preparing healthy meals, there never seem to be enough hours to get it all done. (Especially when you throw in the extra chore of finding some time to sleep!)
In the midst of the daily madness, I couldn’t help but smile when I stumbled across the Tommy John website while doing some daily research on the good ol’ Internet. Even though the company is focused on base layers for guys, I learned those items are all about feeling confident and comfortable no matter where you go. I decided there was no better place for my mind to go than on a brief journey into fantasy land thinking up the dream fitness vacation. Talk about the perfect opportunity to get lost in some writing and escape the daily grind. So here it goes…
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn the ideal destination for this relaxing yet healthy getaway would be somewhere with a beach and a view of the water pretty much everywhere on the property.
The non-stress trip would start before I even set foot on the soft, white sand thanks to the fact that there would be very little to pack. Just the casual, low-maintenance necessities: bathing suits, flip-flops, sneakers and plenty of moisture-wicking workout wear. I’d gladly leave the “high-maintenance” hair styling and heavy makeup at home, but I’d be certain to pack plenty of sunscreen and at least one bottle of BFit Labs Rapid Electrolyte spray to keep my electrolytes in check while I sweat through those sports bras and yoga capris.
Which leads me to the ideal itinerary at this dream getaway destination: The morning would start with a high-intensity workout around 8 am and continue with a recovery breakfast filled with healthy but satisfying foods ranging from fresh fruit to egg whites with plenty of veggies tossed in. After some beach and pool time and maybe a little stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking, I’d gladly hit another low-impact workout or stretch session later in the day. On at last one day, I might swap that late day workout for a massage.
I should point out one important feature about my ideal getaway: while I would NOT want this to be a “dry” destination, I’d love if it offered some lo-cal cocktails. So instead of the sugar and calorie-filled frozen mudslides, I’d opt for margaritas featuring not much more than tequila and agave and lime juice or vodka and club sodas with a slice of fresh pineapple or orange.
Finally – and I realize this is the difference between 43-year-old Laura and 23-year-old Laura- I wouldn’t mind if a “quiet rule” was enforced after let’s say, 9 pm. That would make the atmosphere ideal for some solid rest and recovery before the next sun-filled day filled with one or more workouts.
So what would be in your ideal fitness trip agenda? I’d love to know! Even if we don’t get to take those trips anytime in the immediate future, sometimes a few minutes of daydreaming can help us deal with the daily dilemma of finding ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
On this Motivation Monday, I’m feeling a little sad. I can’t believe there’s only one week left in my favorite month of the year. Where is the summer of 2017 rushing off to in such a hurry?
Since I’m a firm believer that this is the season to savor every minute of mood-boosting daylight, I plan to keep these last couple of posts before my annual hiatus as short and sweet as possible. Today, I offer this simple reminder: variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to your fitness routine. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage everyone to use the waning days of July to shake things up.
My mom gave me the nudge to mix things up by encouraging me to sign up for ILoveKickboxing classes at a studio near my parents’ house. It’s been five months since I started the kick-butt workouts in the city and I really missed them when I’d visit Mom and Dad for an extended period of time. I finally signed up for some classes last week and in addition to getting my punch-and-kick fix while out on Long Island, I also experienced the benefits of trying out different instructors and class styles. Even within the same workout program, no two fitness instructors are the same. That means you’re bound to enjoy some variety in everything from the music playlists to the exercise selection from the warm up right through the cool down.
Whether it’s trying a new instructor at your favorite group exercise class or moving your Tabata routine to the beach or the backyard, now’s the time to try something new. If you’ve got some outdoor time planned with family or friends, go ahead and toss a football, Frisbee or paddles and a rubber ball in your bag for a game or two. There’s nothing like a little friendly competition to burn a few calories before enjoying those summer cocktails and barbecue favorites.
The great news is there’s still plenty of time left in the season to mix things up to the max and continue your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Happy New Year!
I can’t believe it’s already the ninth day of 2017. So many firsts lie ahead. For me, this marks the first Motivation Monday post of 2017. I’ve also embarked on my first business trip and tomorrow, I’ll produce my first satellite media tour of the New Year. It seems unfathomable that at this very moment last week, I was soaking up the sun in Antigua and not giving much thought to anything other than which frozen drink I planned to order next.
One slight unpleasantry occurred two days into my vacation: I hurt my knee when I fell off a paddle board and hit the board instead of the turquoise water on my way down. So all the workouts I planned in between the sun and fun (and high-calorie cocktails!) were not meant to be. However, I was able to create some interesting hop-on-one-leg dance moves for the New Year’s Eve festivities! After getting slightly miffed about the unplanned rest days, I decided to chalk it up to a sign that my body needed a break. Taking it one step further, I also realized I just needed a break from everything – even writing, something that usually brings me joy. So, I let go and accepted the fact that the world would keep spinning if I didn’t post a new blog on January 2nd. Now that I’m back dealing with the cold, snowy reality of a New York winter, I’m hoping to keep that mindset in check in the days and months ahead. Sometimes you need to pause and take a pass on the things that normally fill our forever-hectic days.
While I didn’t fret about future commitments while I was on vacation, I did have time to think. I thought about the big happenings of 2016: the high school friends taken from this world far too soon; my dad’s surgery; my parents’ move. But as I thought about those life-changing events, I also realized I managed to deal with all of them. No doubt my focus on fitness and healthy eating helped keep my body strong through the tough times, but it was also my faith and the love of friends and family that made it all a little easier. While I’m definitely hoping for a less turbulent 2017, the truth is I have no idea what will happen in the days, weeks and months ahead. As a detail-oriented planner, that’s been a tough reality to accept, but it’s also a reality I’m coming to terms with as each year passes by. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s the simple fact that the people you care about will always be more important than deadlines and conference calls. Maybe it’s the knowledge that each person we encounter on this crazy ride called life struggles with his or her own demons and burdens. All of this thinking lead to my ultimate resolution: to make 2017 the year of living in the present.
As we all begin new journeys and tackle new goals, I offer a simple reminder not to sweat the small stuff that comes along. And it will come. If you’ve made a commitment to be healthier this year, remember it takes at least six weeks for any habit – good or bad – to become part of a daily routine. Click here if you’d like a refresher on some other ways to keep your resolutions on track.
I leave you with this: if you’ve skipped a workout more than once since January 1st, don’t throw in the towel. Everyone needs rest, and sometimes your body and mind need a nap or an overdue chat with a loved one more than a kick-butt workout. The same goes for your diet: if you’ve had a few extra sweets or other treats as you try to get rid of the holiday leftovers, brush off the crumbs and move on. Remember, each day we’re lucky enough to open our eyes is a new chance to start over on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
We made it to the very first Motivation Monday of 2016! It’s a first of many kinds for me as I’ve never sent Happy New Year wishes from the Caribbean before today. Knowing how eager people are to kick their health and fitness resolutions into high gear, I didn’t want to let another day go by without sharing some tips to help your goals take shape.
When I get home, I’ll have to reserve my barre space at Physique57 a little earlier than usual and wait longer for an elliptical or to start a weight set at New York Sports Club. I love seeing so many new faces at the gym at this time of year, but I hate the fact that usually by March, many of those enthusiastic newbies are long gone. So, I kick off 2016 with a these ideas to make those fitness resolutions stick long after Old Man Winter has made room for Spring.
- Leave the past where it belongs: I know we all want to erase the “sins” of the holidays that came in the form of chocolate, cheese and cocktails. Don’t waste your energy regretting the times you overdid it last year. I have my own memories of indulging in that second piece of lasagna and too many chocolates to count. Today is a new day.
- Adjust your attitude: Thinking of exercise as a “chore” is a surefire way to put the brakes on your new routine. Instead, think of exercise as “Me Time.” No matter what’s going on in my life, the time I spend working out is the one time my brain goes into neutral and the only thing filling it is some good music. Use exercise as a break from the ordinary, and before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to sweating out whatever ails you.
- Reality check: Saying you’re going to exercise seven days a week is one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for failure. The first day you miss, you’ll be discouraged, and could find yourself saying, “Well, there goes the week!” A more realistic approach would be to aim for a minimum of three days each week for the first month. As you start experiencing the endorphin rush and other benefits from exercising, you’ll want to spend more than three days working out. Discouragement aside, everyone should take a minimum of one day off each week to let the body rest.
- Do what works for YOU: You woke up Christmas morning to find Santa left the latest exercise program under your tree. Meanwhile, all your exercise DVDs have been hanging out with the dust bunnies under your bed since VHS went out of style. Why not return the program and put the money toward a new pair of sneakers and moisture-wicking workout wear? Grab a friend and start those power walks or sign up for that Zumba class at your local community center. Have no idea what to try? Splurge and hire a personal trainer to get you started on the right track.
- Avoid severe diet restrictions: If you deny yourself something you truly enjoy for too long, it’s only a matter of time before you break down and go overboard. So, the chocolate bar you could have had last week turns into five chocolate bars, washed down with a chocolate shake and a side of cupcakes two months later.
I leave you with this reality: there will be “off” days. Even as a lifelong fitness enthusiast, there are times I simply don’t want to workout and all I want to eat is cheese and chocolate. As you read this post, there’s a good chance I’m having my first high-calorie frozen cocktail of the day. Stuff happens. Just don’t let one bad day throw you off course. Just wipe away the crumbs, prep your gym bag and remember tomorrow is your next chance to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!