Category Archives: Health

Even Fitness Fanatics Need a Healthy Re-Boot Sometimes

A handful of people have asked me about the recent, healthy glow to my skin. So I thought I’d use this Motivation Monday post to share my secret: I just spent nine days eliminating one of the biggest toxins in so many American diets – sugar.

I made a serious commitment to eat clean and cut out some of the crap I’d let sneak back into my life a little more than I should have. That meant eliminating alcohol and dairy. (Check your food labels – many dairy products contain hidden sugars.)  After my go-to chocolate-flavored Isagenix shake for breakfast, it was nothing but clean food choices for the rest of the day: raw veggies galore, leafy lettuces, green apples, whole grains, Ezekiel bread, lean proteins (chicken and shrimp were my go-tos), hard-boiled eggs and lots and lots of water and caffeine-free herbal tea. (Yes, I even skipped my daily iced coffee fix with non-fat creamer.) I snacked smarter, too. I kept the raw almond consumption to a smart portion of 8 to 10 at a time while adding a green apple or hard- boiled egg for extra satiety.

The result? Each morning, I found myself feeling better rested than I can remember without what I call a sugar-induced fog. I also found the reflection in the mirror looking back at me with less of the puffiness than  what can appear after a night of having that extra glass of wine or super sugary treat for dessert.

As we kick off a new week, I offer this idea: – is there something you can cut out of your diet today, tomorrow and maybe the next day that’s become more of a “comfort crutch” than a nutritional necessity? Whether it’s eliminating the soda, the bread, the sweets or the booze, sometimes just a few days of being extra good can help you find new zest for the healthy habits you’ve been trying to maintain.

Will I be drinking my iced coffees and sipping Proscecco and Sangria as we continue moving into the warmer spring days? Absolutely! But scaling back once in a while to save up for a special occasion can make those indulgences even more enjoyable. There’s no time like the present to take stock of the one or two things in your fridge or pantry that could be holding you back from your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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‘Tis the OTHER Season for Sneezin’

It really doesn’t seem fair. After suffering though one of the dreariest winters in years, many of us are spending every possible moment outdoors minus the winter coats and soaking up some much needed vitamin D. Unfortunately as the mercury rises, so do the tree and grass pollen counts. That means we’ve started a whole new season of agony for the 50 million allergy sufferers around the country.

So on this Motivation Monday, I offer a few survival tips that have helped this life-long allergy sufferer continue to enjoy those outdoor workouts and other fun times in the sun:

  • Smart scheduling: 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: Wearing shades (or even goggles) can create a barrier for your eyes while you’re outside. I also make sure to use eye drops before heading outdoors. My Dad told me about Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops several years ago. Using these drops twice a day has prevented me from scratching my eyes out even on high pollen count days. (Even though you don’t need a prescription to get the drops, you may want to check with your doctor if they’re okay for your eyes.)
  • Don’t forget your meds: In my younger years, I got allergy shots for nearly a decade. Over time, they helped lessen the severity of my allergy attacks, but I’m still sensitive to all kinds of pollen. Luckily there are so many over-the-counter 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. Speak with your doctor about what treatments might work best for you. To prevent the onset of symptoms, it helps to take your medication at least 30 minutes before you head outdoors. If you wake up and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
  • Clean up ASAP: 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.

Of course, there will be days when the pollen counts are simply too high for allergy sufferers to be comfortable outdoors for extended periods of time. The bottom line remains the same: listen to your body. If you’re trying to so something good by exercising outdoors but feeling nothing but misery, be smart. Stop; head indoors; wash up and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you sign up for an air-conditioned group exercise class or bang out some Tabatas at home to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Spring-ify Your Hydration

Easy Ways to Wow Your Water!

After a weekend escape from the concrete jungle to help my parents with some spring cleaning, I’m enjoying an extra spring in my step on this Motivation Monday courtesy of some much-needed vitamin D. It’s amazing how uncovering the patio furniture and sweeping up the leaves and other remnants of a long, hard winter can do wonders for the mind and spirit. (The bonus: tackling the first stages of a spring spruce up after a killer ILoveKickboxing class helped me burn a few extra calories so I could enjoy some of Mom’s cooking without a side of guilt!) The weekend  also marked the first time since last fall that I was able to sit outside to write a blog post. All that fresh air did wonders for my soul!

While I stayed busy helping Mom and Dad, I lost some of my usual writing time. So I hope you’ll forgive this short and sweet shot of inspiration to kick off the new work week. As we all continue shifting our routines for spring, it’s the perfect time to freshen up some of our healthy habits. That includes how we stay hydrated.

As far as I’m concerned, water remains king when it comes to healthy beverages. However, after awhile the same ol’ H20 can be more than just a little bland. Instead of reaching for calorie-loaded sports drinks, why not try these three, easy ideas to add a little “wow” to your water:

  1. Expand Your Citrus Horizons: Who says lemons should have all the fun? Add a squeeze of lime, grapefruit or even a clementine for some extra zest in your water.
  2. Chill Out: Mix in some frozen apple chunks, grapes, blueberries or strawberries for instant yum.
  3. Go green: Add slices of cucumber and a few sprigs of mint for a more savory flavor option.

Once you find your favorite flavor infusion, make a pitcher to keep in the fridge so you can have a refreshing drink at home or fill up your reusable water bottle to bring to the office and wherever your workouts take you. Remember, adding a little zest to even the healthiest of habits can help you stick with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Spring Cleaning for the Soul!

FINALLY Feels Like Spring! (And Yankees Baseball Season)

After enjoying some beautiful weather over the weekend, this marks the first Motivation Monday where I feel like spring has actually sprung! So I thought it was the perfect opportunity to offer a reminder about making time for one seasonal activity that can do wonders for your mind and spirit. (Depending on the intensity level, you may even break a sweat.)

I’m talking about spring cleaning! I recently spent several hours not only attacking some serious dust bunnies around my apartment, I also started eliminating some of the piles of paper in the “hidden” areas of my apartment. Despite being part of the digital age in my cozy 585-square foot co-op, somehow the receipts, old invoices and other paperwork manage to get an extended lease on life throughout the winter. After a few hours of cleaning and giving the paper shredder a good workout, I felt so much lighter. There really is something cathartic about getting rid of the  “stuff” that simply has no place in your life anymore.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  • Clean Out Those Closets and Drawers: I know it may hurt, but maybe this is the spring you finally get rid of that college T-shirt with the permanent sweat stains. I’m not suggesting you toss your school pride in the trash, but maybe this is the year you add a piece of alumni gear to your wardrobe.   While you’re at it, why not treat yourself to a few bright-colored, moisture-wicking items to those freshly de-cluttered drawers?
  • Don’t Forget the Pantry!  If you still have leftover holiday candy taking up space on the shelves, now’s a good time to bring those treats to the office where they’re guaranteed to be gobbled up quickly. (Better than you being tempted to eat an entire box of empty calories, right?) Of course, anything existing beyond an expiration date should just be tossed.
  • Freshen Up the Fridge: This is also a good time to add some healthy variety to your diet. Lots of colorful fruits and veggies are hitting their peak which is good news for your daily menu. As you head to the grocery store or local farmer’s market, remember to fill your basket with a variety of color ranging from red to green to make sure you’re taking in a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. (Those are the plant chemicals known for helping to fight and prevent disease.) Need a few ideas? Try rainbow chard, arugula and strawberries.

In addition to moving your workouts outdoors and trying some new fitness classes, cleaning out the clutter in your life is a surefire way to make this a spring filled with endless opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

A Hippity-Hoppity Motivation Monday!

If you need some motivation to get moving on this particular Motivation Monday, let me direct your attention to the empty Easter basket in your house.

If you were lucky enough to get your own personal visit from the Easter bunny or perhaps you simply swiped some of your kids’ loot, you joined thousands of others in a sugar-filled holiday celebration. After Halloween, Easter is the second-largest candy-giving holiday. So if you enjoyed savoring some sweetness, now’s the time to work it off!

Still need a shot of motivation to kick the candy coma and get your butt to the gym? Here are some calorie counts of some of the most popular treats:

  • Cadbury eggs – my all-time favorite! One egg = 170 calories; 6 grams of fat
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (probably my second favorite) One egg = 180 calories; 11 grams of fat
  • Solid chocolate bunny (small, 1.75 ounces) = 298 calories; 18 grams of fat
  • Brach’s Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg: 1=43 cals, 1.2 g fat,6 g sugar
  • Jelly Beans: 20 candies = 160 calories, 0 grams of fat (But oh, the sugar!)
  • Jordan Almonds: 13 almonds = 140 calories, 5 grams of fat
  • Peeps: 5 Peeps = 160 calories, 0 grams of fat (Again, the sugar!)

For those celebrating Passover, here’s how a few menu items break down:

  • Dark chocolate covered matzah: 3 pieces – 200 calories; 11 grams of fat
  • Coconut macaroons: 2 cookies = 142 calories; 7 grams of fat
  • Chocolate coconut macaroons: 1 cookie – 190 calories; 11 grams of fat

Remember, whatever and whenever you celebrate, enjoy the quality time with family and friends and don’t sweat the extra calories. There’s always post-holiday time to get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

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 

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