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Throughout the years, I’ve shared more than a few stories of pushing through injuries or putting them on the back burner until they couldn’t be ignored any longer. I guess I can file this post under the same category as I’m finally addressing a health issue I was diagnosed with back 16 months ago. Today marks day number six that I’m wearing a hearing aid.
Rewind to the summer of 2018, and that’s when I woke up one morning with what felt like a huge ball of cotton in my right ear. After a day of straining to hear out of the ear and several unsuccessful attempts at “popping” it like I would during a flight or an elevator ride in a tall building, I assumed I had a wax buildup and made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist. To my surprise, the doctor found no wax and sent me down the hall to his audiologist for a hearing test. My next surprise was learning I had significant conductive hearing loss in my right ear. A few days later, a CT scan confirmed what the doctor already suspected to be the cause: a rare condition called otosclerosis.
WebMD offers the simplest definition of this condition that affects a little more than three million Americans:
“Otosclerosis is a condition that causes hearing loss. It happens when a small bone in your middle ear — usually the one called the stapes — gets stuck in place. Your stapes bone has to vibrate for you to hear well. When it can’t do that, sound can’t travel from your middle ear to your inner ear. That makes it hard for you to hear.”
In addition the main symptom of hearing loss, I also experience tinnitus – which alternates between roaring and ringing sounds in my right ear. (Click here to learn even more about otosclerosis.) With a definitive diagnosis, I had to figure out what to do. In full disclosure, I initially found myself a bit depressed and more than a little scared about being diagnosed with significant hearing loss at the age of 44. So, I did what many of us do when faced with unpleasant surprises: absolutely nothing.
Fast forward to December of 2019, and I’d had about enough of straining to follow conversations in crowded places (which is practically everywhere when you live in New York City!) and asking people to repeat themselves. During a very informative consultation with another ENT -where another hearing test indicated my hearing loss had deteriorated since my initial diagnosis- I learned I had two options:
- Stapedectomy: a surgical procedure where an ENT removes the non-working stapes bone and replaces it with a micro prosthesis or
- Try a hearing aid.
I decided I had nothing to lose with giving the hearing aid a shot. Now my only regret is not having tried one sooner. The very first day I wore it, I attended a Church dinner for a volunteer group I joined last year. Halfway through the evening, I nearly started crying when I realized I was having a conversation with two women sitting to my right and I could hear them despite the din of the crowd and music playing in the background. Since then, I’ve had easier conversations with friends in a crowded wine bar; watched TV at a lower volume and even heard whispers in movies without much difficulty.
I am sharing this particular story in the hopes of preventing others from suffering in silence. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms I described, talk to your primary care physician or see an ENT. Getting a hearing aid can be a an overwhelming experience, and I realize I was fortunate on many fronts. My journalism background definitely helped on the information-gathering process, but I also had the guidance of a dear family friend who happens to be a retired ENT; advice from a childhood friend who has worn hearing aids for many years and I also found a very patient and compassionate audiologist. Now I have a 60-day trial period with my hearing aid and can make adjustments if needed. I’d like to think this will do the trick and that I won’t need surgery down the road. For now, it’s one day at a time.
If you have any other questions about my hearing loss journey, please don’t hesitate to ask. While I never expected to be wearing a hearing aid 20 days shy of my 46th birthday, I’m optimistic it will continue to have a positive impact on my quality of life. As I approach the start of a new year on this planet, I look forward to seeing and hearing more of what this crazy life has to offer. So, when life throws you a curve ball, don’t be afraid of getting the facts you need to take control of the situation and get back on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Yes, it’s true. We’ve arrived at the last Motivation Monday of January. As we gear up for the second month of 2019, many of us are also bracing for some of the coldest temperatures on record around the country. If the extreme weather and sunlight-starved days are giving you a case of the winter blues, close your eyes, envision your sunniest memory and take comfort knowing you’re definitely not alone.
If you need a boost, never underestimate the power of breaking a sweat. Exercise is a natural way to lift your spirits thanks to all the endorphins that flow through the body when you workout. That energy surge stays with you long after the group exercise class or weight training session is done. Of course, bad weather can sometimes put the brakes on making that drive to the gym or lacing up for that daily run or power walk. The good news is there are plenty of exercises you can do in the comfort and safety of your own home. Here are 10 moves that require nothing more than your body weight (or some creative props) and a little space to call your own:
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Push ups
- High knees
- Squat thrusts or burpees
- Tricep dips (Use a stable chair or stairs for an extra challenge)
- Bicep curls (use cans of soup or laundry detergent bottles for weight)
Try doing each of the exercises nonstop for 30 seconds with no breaks in between. After you get through all ten, rest for one minute and start over again. Aim for three sets. With the rest built in, you can get your heart pumping and work virtually every muscle group in approximately 15 minutes. Feeling extra motivated? Try banging out three sets in the morning and another three at night. There’s 30 minutes of exercise split up for the day.
If you have any ideas for indoor sweat sessions to keep the winter blues at bay, I’d love to hear about them. With a little teamwork, we can all get through the worst of the winter season ahead and stay on track with our goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Since January isn’t over yet, I feel I can still offer my heartfelt wishes for a very Happy New Year.
It’s hard to believe we’re already thee weeks into 2019 and somehow this is the first time I’ve managed to get a post together. I hope you can forgive my extended hiatus, but caring for Mom (and keeping an eye on Dad) after her knee replacement surgery because my full-time job after returning from vacation. I’m happy to report Mom’s doing great, continuing her physical therapy and being a great patient overall. (Thanks to all of you who’ve kept up with my other social media posts and sent so many good wishes to Mom!)
The beginning of a new year is always filled with so much promise. I love seeing new faces at the gym and all the posts on social media sharing new workouts, new workout wear and new recipes. However, with three Motivation Mondays behind us, this is the time I also start seeing frustration and even defeat in other posts as people feel badly about missing a day at the gym or enjoying that extra glass of wine or helping of mac and cheese after a cold commute home. In an effort to kick any self-doubt to the curb, here’s a reminder that habits take a minimum of six weeks to take root in mind, body and spirit. So don’t give up now!
Here are three realities to accept right now:
- Even the biggest fitness fanatics (including yours truly) have off days. If you miss a day of exercise, the next opportunity is just 24 hours away. One missed workout shouldn’t lead to throwing in the towel for an entire week.
- There will be days when the diet goes out the window: A birthday celebration; a bad day at the office or even a snow day spent indoors with too many cookies lurking inside the pantry. Own whatever triggered that “naughty” splurge on libations or high-fat comfort foods, and move on. Just like that missed workout, one “bad” meal or entire “cheat day” doesn’t have to ruin a whole week.
- You will NOT drop three sizes or 50 pounds in a few weeks. (And if you do, chances are you didn’t get there in a sustainable fashion.) Healthy living isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon that lasts a lifetime.
If this post reaches you on an “off” day, I hope it helps you get back into fighting form tomorrow. If you’re having a great day, good for you! Use the momentum to propel you forward. Here’s to a great end to this first month of the New Year and to making 2019 the best year ever when it comes to tackling our goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
This marks the first Motivation Monday to fall on Christmas Eve since 2012. I can’t think of a better day to share a seven-year-old signature gift from LauraLovesFitness. Keeping up with tradition, this fitness-inspired twist on a holiday classic will also be my last post of 2018. Today I give you a kickboxing addict’s version of…
The 12 Days of Fitness
On the first day of fitness, my workout gave to me…my favorite kind of therapy.
On the second day of fitness, my workout gave to me…two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the third day of fitness, my workout gave to me…three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the fourth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the fifth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the sixth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the seventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the eighth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the ninth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the tenth day of fitness, my workout gave to me….ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the eleventh day of fitness, my workout gave to me…eleven side planks, ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
On the twelfth day of fitness, my workout gave to me…twelve reps of lunges, eleven side planks, ten burpee push-ups, nine jab-cross combinations, eight back-fist punches, seven side kicks, six speed bag intervals, five roundhouse kicks! Four minutes of tabatas, three sets of squats, two boxing gloves and my favorite kind of therapy.
Whatever you and your family are celebrating as another year winds down, I wish you a very happy and healthy holiday week ahead. I close with a huge thank you for all the support throughout another year filled with highs and lows. Here’s to ringing in 2019 with a bang (and a punch!) and ushering in all the new chances to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
If you find yourself in a haze after another weekend full of holiday cheer, take comfort knowing you’re definitely not alone. With Christmas only eight days away, the festivities have spun into overdrive. ‘Tis also the time those items on the to-do list grow a little more daunting with each day that passes leading up to the 25th. So, in order to let all you busy elves get back to business, here are a few survival tips to get through the next week while keeping some healthy habits in check:
- Drink water: One cannot exist on egg nog (or wine, or bubbly) alone. It’s no secret that boozy libations are high in sugar and calories. Just remember, if you’re reaching for an alternative, stick with water instead of soda or other sugary drinks that can also make you feel sluggish after the initial caffeine or sugar rush wears off. Water is still king when it comes to staying hydrated. In addition to helping us keep our appetite in check, proper hydration also promotes better sleep which is something most of us can use.
- Try a Little Culture: I’m talking about the live cultures found in foods like yogurt that can help keep our tummies balanced during a time when we tend to indulge a little more. The majority of our immune system is found in the digestive tract, so it’s an important place to take care of. Think about adding a yogurt to your daily routine this week, or try a food known for beneficial bacteria like miso or kimchi.
- Do NOT Skip Breakfast: I was definitely guilty of this bad habit during in my younger years, especially at this time of year filled with so many after-work festivities. Skipping meals may sound like a great way to save calories for the fun night ahead, but all it usually does is open the door for a hangry arrival at a party followed by a fast track to the richest, highest-calorie option on the table. Make sure to have breakfast with some protein. Whether you’re an Isagenix shake lover like me, or just have a hard-boiled egg or a non-fat plain Greek yogurt, getting something in your stomach is important to get the metabolism going. If you don’t want a full lunch, make sure to at least have a few snacks throughout the day – maybe almonds and a green apple or celery sticks and hummus – to stay fueled. And definitely have something at least an hour before the party so you don’t inhale a plate of hors d’oeuvres the minutes you walk in.
- Find Creative Ways to Exercise: Is the party taking you away from your normal group exercise class after work? Then maybe try to get up a little earlier and go for a power walk or bang out some Tabatas in your living room. If you drive to work, park farther away from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator to your office. Try and sneak out for 10 minutes at lunchtime for another walk, or if the weather is bad, use the stairs. Remember, 10 minutes of anything is always better than nothing!
- Pack Healthy Essentials: Traveling for Christmas? Be sure to pack your sneakers and a couple of sports bras, tees and yoga pants along with the presents. Don’t forget the portable shaker and shake packets for a healthy breakfast or snack option, and don’t be shy about bringing your own raw almonds, KIND bars or other portable snacks so you’re always armed with some healthy options for the time away from home.your normal routine.
As Christmas crunch time winds down, remember this: the key is to do simple things for yourself so you don’t turn into a holiday humbug and stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
In full disclosure, this Motivation Monday post filled with gift ideas for the 2018 holiday season was supposed to be posted last week. However, this elf was simply overwhelmed with other life responsibilities and well, something had to give. So while I realize the Hanukkah festivities have wrapped for this season, I hope to help a few others scrambling to cross some names off their lists with only 15 days left before Christmas.
Here are five feel-good items that everyone can enjoy regardless of their fitness level …
- Scented candles: After a long day of work, working out and holiday happenings, a soothing scent can help even the most frantic mind unwind. Diptyque candles are a longtime favorite among those looking for something a little special for those special someones.
- Earth-friendly water bottles: I received a Mira water bottle several years ago and I never leave home without it. It’s amazing how it keeps water perfectly chilled even on the hottest days.
- Athlete Recovery Sleepwear: Anyone who gives or receives one or more of these Under Armour items for this holidays will have to send me some reviews. These are pretty pricey pajamas, but they’re supposed to help promote better sleep,
- Portable, complete hydration: I’ve been touting the benefits of these perfect stocking stuffers for several years now. A few pumps of BFit Rapid Electrolyte Spray before, during and after your workouts give you all the electrolytes your body needs. The spray keeps you moving without weighing you down with what you don’t need – sugar, calories or gluten. (As to other stocking stuffer ideas, gift cards to a favorite athletic apparel shop; a 10-pack of fitness classes or grippy socks are always a hit.)
- Soothing teas: My friend Michele recently introduced me to the soothing power of Yogi’s Kava Stress Relief tea. It’s perfect on a chilly, winter night after a long day. There are dozens of varieties of great tasting teas. Consider one box as a stocking stuffer or fill a gift bag with a variety and let that lucky someone on your list decide which one he or she likes best.
Remember, giving gifts that promote a healthy lifestyle is a great way to let the most important people in your life know you support every step in their journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It’s hard to believe this Motivation Monday brings us to T minus 29 days until Christmas and less than one week away from the beginning of Hanukkah. As crunch time commences, the growing number of items on our to-do lists can get a bit overwhelming. In addition to the daily work grind and family responsibilities, many of us wish there was even just one more hour in the day to get all the holiday “stuff” done including decking the halls; cooking and writing cards. Add online shopping and searching for recipes to the daily frenetic stimuli of emails, texts, and status updates…and it’s no wonder our hustled-and-bustled minds are in overdrive.
While I implore you to fit that quick-hit workout into your daily routine, I also remind everyone to remember it’s equally important to steal another few precious moments to re-boot. Here a few tips to make it happen:
- Focus on one thing at a time: If you set aside one hour to write holiday cards or wrap gifts, make sure that’s all you do during those 60 minutes. No texts. No emails. No multiple posts on Instagram. Worried about withdrawal? Use social media to alert your network you’ll be offline and in elf mode for a bit.
- Step away from the computer: I understand the need to check email once before bedtime to make sure you didn’t miss any late-day developments on the work front. However, try to shut down at least 30 minutes before bedtime to get your brain in mellow mode. The same goes for social media. The Facebook world will continue to spin if you don’t wish it good night.
- Turn off the TV: Try to establish one night where you set the DVR and turn a show’s normal viewing time into down time with family or friends. Play cards or a board game and forget about the holiday craziness for awhile. It may turn into a night of getting the Christmas chaos under control, but it’ll be time to tackle the holiday to-do list with fewer distractions.
- Make Me-Time a Must: If you’ve committed to finding 10 minutes (or more) in your schedule to exercise, add just five minutes more minutes to stretch. Then go ahead and add another five minutes to your post-workout shower. At this time of year, I keep lavender-scented body wash or moisturizer in my arsenal to help me decompress. (I’m a big fan of Aveeno.) Also, don’t underestimate the soothing power of caffeine-free, herbal teas. My two favorites are Yogi Kava Stress Relief® Tea and Twinings Nightly Calm® tea.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. However, if you find yourself wanting to throw your hands up and scream “Bah Humbug,” rest assured you’re not alone. While I applaud any effort to make time to exercise even when you’re jingling all the way, I also want to stress the importance of standing still for a few moments when you can. Never underestimate the power of your mind on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Thanksgiving remains my all-time favorite holiday because it’s a day that provides a chance for us to pause and give thanks for all that’s good in our lives. As I continue to reflect on and recover emotionally from the events of last month, I know I have even more to be grateful for this year. And what better way to embrace what’s good than spending quality time with family, friends and plenty of delectable food and drinks?
It’s probably no surprise to learn between the snacking and sitting down for a traditional holiday meal, the Calorie Control Council reports the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day. (And we won’t even address the leftovers many of us forage on throughout the extended holiday weekend.) So, I thought I’d help everyone start the week of strong with a few holiday feasting survival tips:
- Move it! Don’t skimp on the activity this week. Remember, ten minutes of some type of exercise are always better than doing nothing. The bonus is you’ll get a mental boost knowing you made an effort prior to the the indulging. On Thursday, even if you’re hosting the holiday fun and can’t leave the house, you can pop in an exercise DVD or bang out a Tabata or two first thing in the morning. You could also try and sneak out for a brisk power walk or abbreviated run. Your gym is open? Great! Try a morning group exercise class or attack some cardio and core work. A few solid planks can make you feel strong before filling your belly with those delicious eats!
- Eat breakfast! Be sure to eat something sensible on Thanksgiving morning to kick-start your metabolism. If you’re not feasting until late afternoon, make sure to follow breakfast with a small lunch or smart snack so you don’t go overboard later. Some ideas: non-fat plain Greek yogurt with a handful of almonds mixed in; a green apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread topped with a sliced hard-boiled egg and salsa. These protein-rich snacks will keep you feeling full longer than a sugar-infused snack. For me, blending a chocolate Isagenix shake for breakfast is always a surefire way to know I started the day off on the right foot – even if it all goes downhill later!
- Mind Those Portions! Load up a smaller dish, like one you’d use for salad, for your meal. Start filling it with salad or veggies and then add the protein-rich turkey. Use the remaining space for the potatoes, stuffing and other starches. There simply won’t be as much room left as you’d have on a regular dinner plate.
- Savor the Flavor! Eat slowly! If you do clean your plate, wait 10 minutes before going back for round two. This will help you decide if you’re really hungry. If you aren’t, you’ll feel good knowing you had one helping – and saved room for dessert, of course!
- Keep Tabs on the Libations! This is the perfect day to follow the every-other-drink plan. Enjoy your libation of choice, followed by a glass of still or sparkling water before moving on to cocktail number two…and so on…
- Doggie Bags Make Great Favors! Hosting the holiday get-together? Don’t be shy about giving sending some of the uneaten turkey and trimmings home with your guests.
I wrap this year’s post like the others by extending my heartfelt wishes to all my readers to enjoy a very Happy Thanksgiving! Your support is one of the many things I am thankful for at the holiday, and all year round. One final note: If you end up breaking the calorie bank this Thanksgiving, don’t sweat it. Laughter, good food and even some good wine can be the perfect ingredients for a happy holiday as we continue our ongoing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
It doesn’t seem possible, at least to me, but this Motivation Monday brings us to week 45 of 2018. If someone can explain how we only have seven weeks left in the year, please clue me in. I do find some comfort knowing many people share my sentiment that this year flew by faster than others in recent memory. Maybe it’s because here in New York, we had a not-so-hot spring, followed by a rainy summer and now we’re in the thick of darker, chillier days. Or maybe it’s just a symptom of getting older with each week bringing more responsibilities and more headaches than we remember as kids. Whatever the reason, now’s the time to embrace a take-charge attitude when it comes to your health and making sure 2018 ends on a high note.
Some of you might be thinking, “Laura, you do realize we’re about five minutes away from the start of another holiday season, right?” I do indeed. In fact, with Thanksgiving only 10 days away, there’s no time like the present to make some plans to do what you can to make healthy choices before the onslaught of festivities, food and cheer fill our calendars and our stomachs!
Am I saying now’s the time to re-arrange your entire life when it’s going to be re-arranged by that barrage of holiday happenings? Heck no! I simply want to encourage everyone to remember as the days grow more hectic, it’s even more important to carve out even 10 minutes for yourself to keep yourself physically and mentally focused. Here are three easy tips on how to keep being good to yourself as the year winds down:
- Maintain Healthy Shopping Habits: Be sure there are fruits, veggies and whole grains on your holiday food shopping list. It’s okay if you want to bake cookies for your kids’ class party or neighbors’ holiday get-together. Just don’t skimp on the healthy stuff to keep your immune system strong and help you make smart pre-party choices on the days you are going to be indulging in some treats.
- Fit Fitness Into Your Routine: I can’t think of a better time of year to try one of those “express” group fitness class at the gym. Many offer options ranging from 30-minute abs and stretch to 45-minute glutes classes.
- Add Some Lavender to Your Life: If you’re adding vanilla, cinnamon or evergreen scented aromas to your holiday decor, add a hint of lavender, too. The fragrance from the oils of the lavender plant is believed to help promote calmness and wellness and it’s also said to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Be sure to check in next week when I’ll offer my annual smart feasting tips for Thanksgiving. I’ll keep the festive themes going as we get through the season together. Remember, a few smart choices can help you stay on track with your goals to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous – even as we gear up for the craziest time of the year!
On this Motivation Monday, I send huge kudos to the tens of thousands of FITASTIC men and women who laced up for yesterday’s TCS New York City Marathon. As my repeat readers know, despite my love for kickboxing, barre classes, Zumba and all types of exercise, I never caught the running bug. So I will forever be in awe of anyone who can run for any amount of time – and 26.2 miles is simply incredible.
In addition to some well-deserved celebrating and indulging in treats galore, I hope the more than 50,000 runners are also taking a well-deserved rest day after pushing their bodies to the ultimate extreme. While the rest of us may not have clocked 26.2 miles on our fitness trackers this weekend, it’s important to remember each and every one of us regardless of our fitness level needs at least one rest day each week. If you don’t allow your body to rest and recover, you’re simply putting yourself at risk for overtraining. That can lead to a gamut of problems ranging from stress fractures and joint pain to sleepless nights.
To put it simply, too much of a good thing – even exercise – can be bad. Why? Because working out, especially at high levels with high impact, breaks down your body tissue. Resistance training actually breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears and it is on rest days when the muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissue get the needed time to rebuild.
So if this Motivation Monday turns into a rest day, don’t sweat it. Sometimes your body and mind need some extra zzzz’s or an overdue chat with a loved one more than a heart-pounding workout. If you’ve made the commitment to exercise and watch what you eat, you also 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!