Category Archives: Health

Back in Action…Well, Sort Of

My August “Fashion” Accessory

Happy September!

I realize I’m probably “showing my age,” but I’m absolutely blown away at how each summer seems to fly by faster than the last. It’s even harder to believe my annual month-long hiatus from blogging has come to an end, too. I hope your August was filled with at least a few lazy days, plenty of laughter and some precious moments with friends and family. Let the memory of those happy days give you a boost when the back-to-reality blues come knocking at your door.

Since everyone seems to be in back-to-school mode, I thought it was the perfect time to offer what I learned in a different kind of summer school: physical therapy. Fortunately, I am close to wrapping up my PT sessions, but I’m still uncertain of the date I’ll be able to return to my ultimate happy place: the kickboxing studio. So the lesson I hope you take away from this first post of September boils down to this: do what I say, NOT what I do. Seriously.

Since 2011, I’ve written multiple posts about the importance of listening to your body and taking a step back if it tells you something’s wrong. And what exactly did LauraLovesFitness do in this situation? I didn’t listen. I ignored the pain that started as a small twinge in the medial region of my right knee after a kickboxing class back in February. Sure, I’d take a day off, maybe two, here and there, but I never rested long enough to give my body a real break. After several months, that twinge had turned into a steady, searing pain that began impacting life away from the heavy bag. It started bothering me during long walks, at Physique57 classes and even after periods of sitting. When the pain started waking me up at night, I knew it was time to do something. Fortunately, a MRI ruled out a tear in my meniscus or any ligaments surrounding the knee. However, I was diagnosed with bursitis and tendonitis due to a probable strain in my adductor followed by overuse. That meant I had to take a step back from kickboxing and get my butt to physical therapy.

Now, after five weeks of manual therapy, ice massage, various stretching and strengthening exercises and wearing kinesiology tape (also known as elastic therapeutic tape or K-tape), I’m finally feeling like myself again. For someone used to going a million miles a minute, it’s been frustrating as hell and I miss kickboxing more than any other workout in my life. The bottom line is I have no one to blame but myself. If I could go back in time, I would have addressed the pain not long after it started, made sure I was executing the moves in my workout with proper form and taken the rest I needed.

So, as I continue to heal and look forward to a return to kickboxing, I encourage everyone to take things nice and slow as we transition from the “lazy days of summer” into more intense routines. Many are shifting from long walks at the beach back into more intense fitness classes or weight training sessions at the gym. Be sure to warm up and cool down; stretch; hydrate and when something doesn’t feel right, don’t keep doing it! If you don’t start feeling better after a few days of rest, consider seeing a doctor to make sure you haven’t done something that needs more than just ice and elevation.

I close with a hearty thank you to Dr. Andrew Rosen at Upper East Orthopaedics and Jun Zhu Zhang at Orthology in Chelsea for their expert care and for understanding my need to get back to the heavy bag. Here’s to healthy and happy September ahead and making smart choices along the path to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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See you in September!

Here we are again on the brink of the true dog days of summer. This marks the time of year when my New York City neighborhood feels as close to a ghost town as you can get in the concrete jungle. Aside from the few tourists who wander north of Times Square and midtown, this is the time of year when I rarely wait in line at the grocery store or wait for an elliptical machine at the gym. It’s also the time of year when I take my an annual hiatus from writing new blog posts until after Labor Day.

Before I sign off on this Motivation Monday, I want to encourage each of you to enjoy these sunlight-filled days to the fullest. Lately, I seem to be bombarded daily with reminders of how truly short and precious life is. So whatever makes you happiest at this time of year, I hope you take every opportunity to steal as many moments as you can to enjoy those activities. Whether you have the luxury of escaping to the beach for a whole day or you can steal away to your backyard for only 10 or 20 minutes, savor whatever moments you can.

If you’re dealing with family or work-related drama, do your best to take care of your body and spirit. Go for a walk around the block to clear your head or grab a buddy for an outdoor workout and some iced tea and conversation after. Haven’t seen a special someone in awhile? Why not plan an impromptu barbecue or happy hour and enjoy a few moments of laughter and catch-up time. Have that ice cream cone. Have that second glass of wine. Whatever you do, wherever you go and whoever you spend time with, also remember to put down that smart phone once once or twice and be truly present in the moment.

As the iconic Ferris Bueller put it in one of my all-time favorite movies from the 1980s:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Summer is just one, tiny part of our lightning-paced lives. As it continues, I wish you plenty of sunshine, smiles and good times with the people you love. I look forward to being back here in September and picking up with new plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Strides in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth!

Instead of my usual Motivation Monday post, I decided to publish my latest Laura Loves Fitness musings on a much more significant day during this particular week. Today would have been Elizabeth Leonard Barton’s 45th birthday. My repeat readers may remember she is the dear friend from my St. Mary’s High School days who lost her brave battle with breast cancer nearly two years ago. While I know I’ll never get used to the fact Liz was taken from this world far too soon, I will celebrate her warrior spirit today by remembering her with love. In honor of her birthday, I could think of no better time to sign up to take my next steps in the fight against breast cancer – and ask for your support.

As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor and four-time walker in Avon39, I was sad to learn the June 2017 Walk in Boston would the last 39.3-mile journey I’d share with Sue, another beloved St. Mary’s Gael. However, this spring we learned Avon was shifting its breast cancer crusade efforts to become the first ever national presenting sponsor for all of the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events.

Just like she did with our inaugural Avon walk together back in 2014, Sue signed up first for the American Cancer Society’s Central Park Walk taking place on Sunday, October 14. She created the Gael Force Wind team in Liz’s honor. While the route will be different and the journey not as long, we’ll be walking toward the finish line with the same mission: raising money to kick breast cancer’s butt once and for all and to help fund the services assisting patients battling the disease today. Those services include helping patients get rides to and from their treatments; assisting with lodging for patients who may need to leave home for their treatment and providing support groups for patients and their families.

For the October event I have set a fundraising goal of $1800, which was the minimum amount needed to participate in my past Avon39 walks. To all my Avon39 donors, I thank you for helping me raise more than $20,000 since 2014 in the fight against breast cancer and hope you’ll continue your generous support. For anyone considering a donation, please know every dollar helps. Please click here to be taken to my personal page where you can make a donation – and maybe even consider joining the Gael Force Wind team. Obviously, this will be the first of several posts here and on my social media channels to encourage people to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

I close with a huge thank you for the support you’ve given me since I started this blog seven years ago. Whether you offered  words of encouragement to keep up with my mission to fight breast cancer or just get through a particular struggle in this windy road called life, I am beyond blessed to have family and friends who are always in my corner. Here’s to our next steps together in the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

 

 

Happy 7th Birthday, LLF!

It never ceases to amaze me how a date punctuates the passage of time. Especially as the number of years I’ve spent on this planet continues to climb. Now here we are on this particular Motivation Monday which kicks off a week commemorating the seventh “birthday” of this blog. I’m not sure how LauraLovesFitness.com keeps getting older, but I realize the years continue to pass thanks to all you wonderful readers who constantly inspire me to continue these weekly installments.

It was July 13, 2011 when I published my very first post. It would be impossible to discuss everything that’s happened in this world since then. When it comes to my own little world, through the end of relationships and jobs the beginning of new ones; the painful and sometimes sudden loss of family and friends; and the overall scary situations I think this country is dealing with on a nearly daily basis, my determination to stick with and even amp up my health lifestyle goals has helped me maintain some level of sanity when everything seems to be spinning out of control. A good sweat, some hard punches and kicks to the heavy bag or heart-pounding Tabatas at the gym (or the beach when I’m lucky enough to be on vacation) always seem to set my body straight.

It’s hard to believe seven years ago, I had never heard the word Tabata before, nor did I have any idea how good a kick-butt muay thai kickboxing session could make me feel. I also never knew starting the day with an Isagenix shake would become a solid way to start my day off on the right foot nutritionally no matter where work took me at any given hour of the day or night. While the ingredients may have changed a bit over the years, having a few go-to items in your daily routine when life is anything but can make all the difference when trying to keep this unpredictable thing called life from going off the rails.

So, as my “baby” blog enters a new year, her’s a look back at a few of my favorite posts from the past year:

My Project Runway Experience  (A once-in-a-lifetime experience made possible thanks to my involvement with Avon 39. Sadly, the 39.3-mile walk in the fight against breast cancer no longer exists in 2018. However, I do look forward to continuing the battle with my four-year walking partner, Sue, this fall. Stay tuned…)

Bring on March….Please! (A very candid look at my difficult struggle with the “winter blues” as we kicked off 2018.)

Another Milestone (A total break from the norm as I reflect on how my Dad’s retirement after 51-years as an internist impacted my life – and so many others.)

I close with a heartfelt thank you to all my LauraLovesFitness “fans.” If you aren’t already following me on social media, I hope you’ll consider doing so as we move into year number seven. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @FitnessLaura, and I also maintain a LauraLovesFitness page on Facebook. I hope to start posting more videos on my LauraDLovesFitness YouTube channel. If there’s anything you’d like to see more of or less of in the year ahead, please let me know. There’s nothing like the power of teamwork to keep us all on track with our plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Summer Sizzle Safety Tips

This is more than the first Motivation Monday in July. It’s also the fourth day the heat index has the temperature feeling like the upper 90s here in New York. As the heat advisories and alerts continue for the sweltering concrete jungle, I could think of no better time to offer some important reminders about staying safe in heat.

Whether you’re going for that daily run, signing up for an outdoor bootcamp session or meeting a friend for a power walk, here are some warning signs to look out for if you or your workout buddy start feeling out of sorts in the heat:

  1. Heat cramps: These are painful muscle spasms, usually in the legs or abdominal region, that could be a signal that a more serious emergency is imminent. What to do: If you experience heat cramps, stop exercising immediately. Find some shade or move indoors where it’s cool and drink water.
  2. Heat exhaustion: This is more severe than heat cramps, and can occur when you’ve been exercising strenuously for a long period of time in extreme heat or humidity. Signs and symptoms include: Moist, pale, or cool skin; headache or dizziness; muscle cramps; heavy perspiration; nausea; weak pulse. What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen all tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels, but not to the point of shivering. Also, be sure to get some cool water into your system.
  3. Heat stroke: This is the most severe heat emergency and usually happens when signs of heat exhaustion go unchecked.  In this situation, dangerously high internal temperatures will cause your body’s vital systems to fail.  Signs and symptoms include: Altered level of consciousness; rapid, shallow breathing; little or no perspiration; weakness; rapid pulse. What to do: Get out of the heat, loosen tight clothing and cool the body with wet towels. If you can find them, you can also put ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

Now that we’ve identified the emergencies, here are a few reminders on how to keep them from happening in the first place:

  • Mind the Time: Try to exercise outdoors before 9 am and after 6 pm.
  • Stay hydrated! Basic guidelines call for you to drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise, but you can drink an additional eight to 16 oz  if you’re exercising in warmer weather. At this time of year, you’ll never find me leaving the house without two things: my refillable water bottle and BFit Labs electrolyte sprays. (My repeat readers will know I’ve been using the zero-calorie, zero sugar, gluten-free sprays for several years.) If you want more information or are interested in giving them a try, just click here.
  • Health Check: If you have cardiovascular or circulatory problems and are taking medication, always check with your doctor before adding any outdoor activity to your routine.

I leave you with two important tips:

  • Always call 911 in an emergency.
  • Listen to your body. It knows when something’s wrong.

Of course, I encourage everyone to enjoy plenty of outdoor fun this summer. Using some extra care can keep you safe while moving ahead with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

These Are A Few of My Favorite (Summer) Things…

Here’s to the Season Ahead!

Hooray for the first official Motivation Monday post of the summer of 2018!

As I am just back from a week hosting the Health Channel, I hope you’ll forgive this short and sweet post. But now that my favorite time of year has finally arrived, I thought it was the perfect time great to offer a few things that help me make the most of the season.

Favorite Guilt-Free Treats: Frozen grapes, watermelon, strawberries, pineapple and mangoes. All of these fruits are packed with vitamins, including A and C, along with antioxidants. They also provide a sweet, juicy way to stay hydrated.

Favorite Summer Accessories: The pretty, purple MIRA insulated water bottle one of my besties gave me last Christmas; BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray; Athleta sports bras and moisture-wick shorts and tanks; “At the Beach” skin products from Bath & Body Works; Organic coconut oil to help repair my sun-kissed hair.

Favorite Summer Songs:  Having some motivational music along for a workout can sometimes mean the difference between throwing in the towel or sweating through one or two more steps or reps. If you’re looking to mix things up, here are some seasonal classics that continue to add a little spring to my summer steps:

  • “Summertime,” Will Smith
  • “All Summer Long,” Kid Rock
  • “Cruel Summer,” Bananarama
  • “Summertime, Summertime,” Nocera
  • “Summertime Sadness,” Lana Del Ray & Cedric Gervais
  • “Summer Thing!” Afrojack featuring Mike Taylor
  • “Summer Girls,” Dino
  • “Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams
  • “Boys of Summer, ” Don Henley
  • “Summer in the City,” The Lovin’ Spoonful

Now get out there, and find a few things that make you feel your best so you can savor every second of the summertime opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Healthy Business Travel Tips

Packing Up Some
Healthy Essentials

There was a lot of buzz in the LinkedIn world recently surrounding a Harvard Business Review story that examined the effects of business travel on a person’s health. It didn’t surprise me to read the data showed a direct relationship between the frequency of business travel and an array of physical and behavioral health risks.

Since you’re reading this Motivation Monday post as I kick off a week on the road hosting for the Health Channel in Miami, I thought it was a good time to offer some of my healthy survival tips when work takes me away from my favorite fitness classes and healthy fridge:

Book a Fitness-Friendly Hotel: Even if it’s not as well-equipped as your favorite gym at home, most hotels offer at least some forms of cardio equipment, free weights and maybe even a stability ball or two. If you do get stuck in a hotel that doesn’t have even a tiny fitness center (and I really hope you don’t!) here are some exercises you can do in your room that require no equipment at all:

Don’t Forget the Workout Wear: Whether you hit the hotel fitness center or bang out some burpees in your room, gym shorts, yoga pants, a couple of sports bra and pairs of socks all roll up into practically noting in a suitcase, even if it’s carry-on. So there’s no excuse not to take them along on the trip.

Pack Healthy Snacks: Along with the workout gear, you’ll always find a few small bags of raw almonds, and enough KIND snack bars and Isagenix IsaLean shake packets to last the duration of the trip in my suitcase. No matter how long I’m on location, I know I can start the day with a nutritious shake and when hunger hits later, I’m armed with good snack options.

Make Smart Choices: As someone used to 2am wake up calls for a 4am start and wrapping 16 hours later, I know how tempting it can be to go a little crazy with food as a “reward” for a job well done. While there’s no reason not to treat yourself, keep track of your portion sizes and perhaps choose to have a cocktail, but skip dessert; or skip an appetizer and a drink but indulge in something sweet after your meal. If you have to attend a client dinner or lunch, try the ever-other-drink rule for the duration of the meal. Start with a glass of wine or cocktail and then make your next drink water or seltzer. This way if you make it to the third drink, it’s only your second libation instead of a third.

I realize I’m a mini-business traveler compared to the true “road warriors” like my fiancé who has clocked hundreds of thousands of airline miles in his lifetime thanks to work. I do understand, however, how hard it is to feel “normal” again after just a few days on the road, let alone a week or more at a time. So the struggle is definitely real. But sometimes a little planning and adding a few healthy items to your suitcase for that time on the road is all you need to do your best to stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Time to Stock up for Summer

Bring on Summer!

I’ve decided if I keep writing about summer-related topics, Mother Nature will eventually get the hint and it will start to feel like we’re approaching the midway mark for the month of June. So on this Motivation Monday, I offer a list of the must-have items to for a season filled with outdoor workouts and sunshine-filled fun with family and friends.

1. Don’t Ignore Those Tootsies! As we speed toward the halfway mark of 2018, now’s the time to think about the last time you got a new pair of sneakers. If you’re a serious runner or involved in high-impact exercise and it’s been six months or longer, it’s time to consider getting a new pair. Every fitness routine needs the proper footwear to ensure you’re getting the right amount of stability and support.

2. Protect the Girls!  Ladies, it’s also time to take stock of the last time you invested in a supportive sports bra. Breasts have zero muscle, but without proper support, the skin and ligaments near the breasts which give them their size and shape can break down and eventually cause sagging. (The kicker: once those ligaments stretch out, they don’t bounce back!) Whatever your size, you will experience some level of bounce during exercise. So every woman needs to wear a sports bra whether she’s power walking, full-on running or exercising in any way that gets you moving. (In case you’re wondering what I wear for kickboxing, barre workouts and Tabata training, I’m a huge fan of the Athleta line of sports bras. )

3. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! As a former coconut-scented tanning oil addict who now gets annual scans of the many moles on my body, I implore you to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. There are so many lightweight SPF 30 and higher sunscreen options available today. That means there is no excuse for not wearing sunscreen for a long summer stroll or a super-sweaty session of beach volleyball. If the skin on your face is super sensitive like mine, you may want to give La Roche-Posay Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid a try. It’s been my go-to for years.

4. Smart Snacks: Planning to spend a good part of the day away from your healthy home base? Arming yourself with sensible snacks is a surefire way to avoid making less-than-optimal choices. While scenic, those mood-boosting long walks often don’t have much to offer by way of fuel except for hot dog vendors or vending machines filled with sugary drinks and candy bars. So be sure to pack some healthy, portable options such as almonds, apples or low-sugar protein bars. My go-to: KIND snack bars.

5. Portable Hydration: Last but certainly not least, don’t go anywhere without a reusable water bottle. (You can even fill it with ice cubes and enjoy chilled water as they melt.) Since we lose essential  potassium and sodium when we sweat, my repeat readers know I never I never leave home without a bottle of BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray. (Zero calories, zero carbs and zero food dyes.)

Remember, a little prep and having the right items in your arsenal can make all the difference when it comes to sticking with your summer plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

Get Your Grill On!

June got off to a cloudy, humid start here in New York. However, after the long, hard winter and with Memorial Day behind us, I have no doubt many people spent some time firing up the grills and getting the gang together. So I thought this Motivation Monday presented the perfect opportunity to offer some timely reminders on how to enjoy BBQ season without completely falling off the health and fitness wagon.

1) Don’t Skimp on the Pre-BBQ Prep: You never want to arrive hungry. That’s a surefire way to dig right into the chips and dips or other high-calorie platters. Have a snack with some protein about an hour before you head to the celebration. My go-to is usually a fat-free Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds or berries or a low-sugar Granny smith apple.

2) Weigh Your Options: If it’s on the menu, grilled shrimp is a great protein choice. Chicken has less calories than a cheeseburger or hot dog. By the way, I’d never tell anyone NOT to have a cheeseburger or hot dog if that’s what you really want. Just fill your paper plate with veggie or salad options first so you don’t have too much room for more than one burger or dog.

3) Be a Kid Again: Popsicles are a lower-calorie dessert option than cookies, cupcakes and other sweet treats. Maybe you even bring a box or two along with some yummy fruit salad or other healthy option for your host or hostess.

4) Lighten Up the Libations:  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. The same goes for soda and energy drinks. Pick the zero-calorie versions when mixing them with alcohol. A At home, I always have 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. Of course, if you plan to enjoy some adult beverages, be sure to designate a driver.

5) Fitting in Fitness:  Maybe there’s a group exercise class you can take before heading to that weekend BBQ, or you can always take a long walk when you get home from the fun. If you’re heading to the beach, there’s no reason you can’t take a long walk and bang out some planks and push-ups right on your beach blanket.

With a little common sense and some self-control, there’s no reason why June (or any other month) can’t be filled with opportunities to kick back with friends and family and still stay on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous.

The Power of Disconnecting

Hooray for the unofficial start to summer!

It’s hard to believe the unofficial kickoff of the summer of 2018 has come and gone. I hope everyone enjoyed a Happy Memorial Day and the rain that affected so many people didn’t put too much of a damper on your holiday fun.

My normal Motivation Monday post was delayed by a day thanks to the holiday and thanks to the fact that I spent the day returning from a five-day escape from reality in Grand Cayman. I’m happy to report that escape was 100 percent successful because of three powerful reasons:

  1. No laptop, no problem: Yes, I actually shut down my Mac and left it home. I haven’t done that in years. Don’t get me wrong. I am well aware the reality of disconnecting for one day – let alone several- is a luxury most of us can’t afford more than maybe once a decade if we’re lucky. And thanks to smart phones and other advances in technology, most of us are expected to be available 24/7. I just happened to be in between projects. So I was able to check email on my iPhone a couple of times a day and live without Microsoft word for a bit longer than usual. (Of course, James did have his computer which I always could have used in an “emergency.”)
  2. Swimming with Sting Rays: One of My Very Few Workouts on Vacation!

    Social media shut down:  I did cave once after posting a bye-bye photo at the airport last Tuesday morning. However, aside from that one slip, there were no worries about taking a post-worthy selfie or cute couples shot for the remainder of the trip. We took photos when we felt like it and it didn’t matter if we missed capturing an image of each and every frozen drink or delicious seafood dinner. What did matter was spending quality time with one of the people who keeps me grounded even on the busiest or most difficult days living in the concrete jungle of New York City – my fiance, James.

  3. Multiple rest days: I only made it to the fitness center once. Do I feel guilty about it? A little. However, the long walks along Seven Mile Beach were a welcome change to my usual Tabata training and extended cardio sessions. I can honestly say my body feels better after the rest and I am confident my muscles are ready to tackle the kickboxing and barre classes I have planned for the week ahead.

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

So now that the “lazy days of summer” have unofficially arrived, I guess this is my way of encouraging everyone to truly engage in the memorable moments as they happen. Enjoy catching up with family and friends by talking – not texting – at a barbecue or backyard party; savor the sight of a sunrise or sunset and try to find 10, 20 or dare I say 30 minutes to disconnect whenever possible. The emails, texts and all those social media channels will be waiting for you when you’re ready to tune back in. Remember, slowing down can be a powerful tool when it comes to staying on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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