Category Archives: Nutrition

Practice Makes Perfect…I Hope!

13 weeks out….

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.

 

Who says you can’t eat healthy at the beach?

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!

14 Weeks Out….

Small Gains Mean So Much!

As this post goes live on another Transformation Tuesday, I’m at the start of one of my few morning workouts in this NPC Brooklyn Grand Prix show-prep journey. My normal routine usually allows me to get two meals in my system before a lunchtime workout. However, one thing I’m learning early in this process is how crucial it is to make adjustments when life takes your routine in a different direction. So today, I’m training early so I don’t miss my workout and I’ve shifted my meal times accordingly. Here are some other valuable lessons I learned during the past week:

  • Helpful Hardware: My food scale, measuring spoons and measuring cup have become my new best friends to keep track of portion sizes.
  • Smoothie Solution: As my coach keeps reminding me, real food is always best. However, one morning I just didn’t have time to cook up the egg whites and oats. So I threw the following ingredients in my blender and enjoyed every sip of the creation: 1 cup Amazing Greens Super Greens; 1 scoop Vega Sport Chocolate Protein powder; 1/2 cup oats; 1 tbsp organic peanut butter; ice, 16 oz water.
  • One Go-To Pre-Workout Meal

    Timing is Everything: Tonight before I go to bed, I’ll write down tomorrow’s meal times and the actual meals I plan to eat. This allows me to map out how to hit my nutritional targets for the day and make sure I have enough time to digest before a workout and also replenish my fuel supply after. So far, I’ve been able to keep a relatively steady schedule of eating every three and-a-half to four hours.

  • Favorite Meals (So Far): Many of you have asked about what typical meals look like. Here’s my go-to breakfast: 1/2 cup liquid egg whites and 1 whole egg scrambled; 1/2 cup oatmeal; 1 tbsp. organic peanut butter.  My go-to pre-workout meal: 6 oz chicken breast; 1 cup brown rice; 2 oz avocado and 1 cup of greens. I’ll keep you posted on any adjustments to my meals as the weeks continue.
  • A Harsh Reality: I’ve simply ignored my legs for far too long and being 100- percent honest, I still dread lower body workouts. I remember even 25 years ago in college, I’d bang out a couple of sets of leg extensions and prone leg curls as fast as I could and call it a day. Getting back into the groove of serious squats (so many squats!), glute bridges, hip thrusts, leg presses, walking lunges and more has required a lot of energy and discipline. I don’t think there will be a day between now and September 28 when my legs and glutes don’t ache.
  • One No-Time-To-Cook Breakfast Idea

    Support is Key! I am still blown away by the messages of encouragement from friends and family near and far thanks to the wonder that is social media. Thank you all for the amazing support!  Let me know what you’d like to know more about as the weeks continue. Later this week I’ll have my first posing session with my coach. Yikes! Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be an eye-opening experience on that front…

I look forward to falling into more of a groove at the gym and in the kitchen in the days and weeks ahead. Here’s to the best laid plans and the surprises that always come along that keep us on our toes along the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

A Whole New Adventure…

Let the Transformation Begin!

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.

Back to Some Basics…

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.

Getting a Grip on Meal Prep

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!

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Time to Stock Up on Summertime Essentials!

Hello, faithful followers! As many of you already know from my sporadic social media posts, it’s been a hectic time with Mom having her right knee replaced exactly two weeks ago today. I’m happy to report her warrior spirit continues to help her make strides each day. (A big thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to send her good wishes before surgery and during her recovery!)  I thought I’d use the first workout Wednesday of June to make a reappearance in the blogosphere – especially since we’re on the verge of ushering in the summer of 2019.

If Memorial Day weekend snuck up on you before you had time to stock up on some seasonal essentials, there’s no time like today to write up your shopping list. Being prepared is a surefire way to enjoy those summertime outdoor workouts and sunshine-filled fun with family and friends. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Don’t Ignore Those Tootsies! As we speed toward the halfway mark of 2019, 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 to all my fellow fitness chicks, you should wear a sports bra whether you’re power walking, full-on running or basically doing anything that gets your moving. (In case you’re wondering, I’m a huge fan of the Athleta line of sports bras. They offer support and moisture-wicking comfort whether I’m kickboxing, Tabata training and taking a long power walk along the Hudson River.)

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 (I was diagnosed with rosacea in my 30s), 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 prepared meals in a portable cooler can help stick with your healthy eating habits even while you’re at the beach. Many hiking trails or other walking venues don’t have much to offer in terms of fuel except for maybe the occasional hot dog vendors or some 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.

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!

Hippity Hop To It!

Here’s hoping this Motivation Monday post finds everyone happy and healthy after a wonderful holiday weekend! Whether you’re in the midst of observing Passover or waited for the Easter bunny’s arrival, chances are your holiday was commemorated with a few treats.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration to get moving today, take a look at the empty Easter basket on your kitchen counter. Here’s a tally of the damage from some holiday favorites:

Peeps: 4 Marshmallow Bunnies = 130 cals, 0 g fat, 29 g sugar

Cadbury Creme Eggs (my favorite!): 1 = 150 cals, 6 g fat, 97 g sugar

Cadbury Chocolate Eggs: 12 = 190 cals, 8 g fat, 27 g sugar

Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny: 1 – 890 cals, 48.6 g fat, 20 g sugar

Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg (my second favorite!): 1 = 180 cals, 10 g fat, 16 g sugar

Reese’s Reester Bunny: 1 = 760 cals, 40 g fat, 72 g sugar

Brach’s Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg: 1 = 43 cals, 1.3 g fat, 6 g sugar

Jelly Belly Assorted Jellybeans: 35 = 140 cals, 0 g fat, 32 g sugar

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

Of course, for many of us (including yours truly), these treats come after a heavy meal filled with traditional favorites ranging from pasta dishes to honey baked ham and potatoes. There may also be some wine or other libations involved.

Anyone who’s been following this blog for awhile will tell you the last thing I want you to feel reading this day-after-Easter post is guilty. The fact is holidays almost always include more food and drink than usual. Don’t sweat it. Instead, make some smart choices today and remember, celebrating special occasions with friends and family will always be one of the most joyous ways to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

More Zzzzzzzs, Please

This Motivation Monday is bound to be a brighter one – literally. As we attack the first work day of Daylight Saving Time, most of us can look forward to catching a glimpse of some blue sky (albeit faded) as we make our way home after the manic workday. However at this moment, quitting time may seem like an eternity away as many of us are also dealing with what I call the change-the-clock hangover. (It gets me every year.) The good news is like all hangovers, the grogginess will eventually fade away and our bodies will get back to normal. While we wait for the fog to lift, it’s the perfect time to take stock of something that’s 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 writing a script to maintaining good form for a roundhouse kick. 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Stress:  This is an area under never-ending construction in my own life. One thing that’s helped is writing down my next-day to-do list and even some long-term project ideas at least an hour before getting into bed. Putting my tasks and even a few worries “on paper” gives me a clear outline of exactly what’s ahead instead of letting my mind get the best of me while I stare at the ceiling.
  • Caffeine: I am simply amazed at how some people (my fiancé included) can drink 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. Don’t forget to check for “hidden” caffeine in things like flavored teas and sweet treats.
  • 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.

So, you’ve made the commitment to workout and follow a healthy diet? Kudos to you! Just remember, your body also deserves time to rest and recharge. It’s all part of the winning formula to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

New Month, New Simple Healthy Eating Tips

Prepare Now for a Big Win with Those Healthy Eating Goals

On this Motivation Monday, many of us are dealing with Old Man Winter showing off his strength and the aftermath of some crazy weather from the weekend. The good news is he will eventually give up the good fight and spring will arrive. This in-between time offers a chance to take stock of your health and fitness goals for a new season. I thought I’d use this opportunity to offer three simple tips for getting those healthy eating habits in shape for the season – and all the seasons to come.

  1. Don’t Avoid Your Favorite Foods: All or nothing is never a good option for creating realistic longterm behaviors. Whether your weakness is wine, chocolate, cheese or chips, cutting out our your favorites altogether can lead to a binge where you make up for all or more of the servings of the treats you denied yourself for too long. While I’m not a huge fan of total “cheat days,” going a bit overboard for a special occasion or having that glass of wine after a super stressful day, isn’t going to destroy all your hard work. Remember, one “naughty” meal doesn’t mean throwing in the towel on an entire week of trying to make good choices.
  2. Maintain A Schedule: Habits are formed based on repeated behavior – good or bad. And studies show you can train the body to want to eat at certain times by making those times more routine. I have to eat something every few hours to stay sharp and avoid the not-so-pleasant side effects of being “hangry.” So whether I’m working from home or on location, I make sure I have a few small meal options ready to grab – whether it’s an Isagenix snack bar; fat-fee Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds or a green apple. If you are someone who’d rather eat three meals a day, try and have them at the same time.
  3. Add Strength Training to Your Spring Fitness Routine: I know I’m excited about getting outside for power walks and maybe hitting the tennis courts again once the weather warms up. But remember, the body needs some strength training to maintain or build muscle – which can be lost if you’re focusing on losing weight. This doesn’t mean you have to walk into the nearest gym and pick up the heaviest weights. Starting with the basics including squats, lunges, planks and push-ups – can add some solid bodyweight exercises to the mix. For an “express” option of some simple but effective exercises, click here to revisit why I love Tabata training all year long.

Do you have any new healthy hobbies you’re looking forward to trying this spring? Let me know! Sharing ideas is one of the best ways we can all keep each other on track on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

We’re Going to Make It

Ready to Turn the Page!

Well, we made it to the last Motivation Monday of February. Aside from my birthday, I admit this has always been my least favorite month of the year. (Luckily, it’s also the shortest.) It’s cold, it’s dark and everyone seems to be in hibernation mode as many of us struggle with some degree of the winter blues.

So here’s a short and sweet reminder that we’re on the verge of starting a brand new month with lots to look forward to. Some of the highlights ahead in the not-too-distant future:

  1. Let There Be (More) Light! Daylight saving time starts in 12 days.
  2. The Spring Countdown Clock Ticks Away. We’re 23 days away from the official end of winter. Who else is pumped to take the workouts outside?
  3. Baseball. The 2019 MLB season kicks off in 31 days. Let’s go Yankees!
  4. More Fruits & Veggies, Please! March means more nutrient-packed fruits and veggies are at their peak season. Now’s the perfect time to look for healthy recipes to incorporate yummy broccoli, cauliflower, endive, artichokes, grapefruits, oranges, clementines and kiwi into your diet.
  5. Retail therapy. Jump start the season by picking up a new pair of sneakers or bright-colored yoga pants for the not-so-dreary days ahead.

What are you looking forward to in the new month ahead? Help me add to the list of reasons why we should be excited about brighter days ahead and so many chances 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!
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