LauraLovesFitness Turns Six!

Six years ago, this Motivation Monday fell on July 13th. That day marked the very first installment of LauraLovesFitness. As my blog turns another page into a new year this week, I am simply overwhelmed by the passage of time.

Pick a topic ranging from the political climate; global warming; the roller-coaster ride that is forever Wall Street or the revolving door of celebrity relationships, and it’s obvious we’ve witnessed so many changes in the country and throughout the world since that first post back in 2011. Closer to the home front, I have found this to be a significantly big year when it comes to upheavals and surprises.

While I continue my career in production both on-camera and behind the scenes and maintain my fitness certifications, there were so many changes within my family and circle of friends. At this time last year, my parents moved out of my childhood home. While that move turned into the biggest production of my life, today I can happily report Mom and Dad seem content with their new routine at a new address. Since last July, I’ve also laced up for not one, but two more Avon 39 Walks  – one here in New York City and another in Boston. Sadly, not even a month after conquering the 39.3-mile journey in New York City journey, we said good-bye to our dear friend Liz after her three-year battle with breast cancer. There have been other sad good byes, but there have also been celebrations of new beginnings thanks to a few weddings and a few new bundles of joy arriving in our world.

I realize life is a journey filled with road bumps and unexpected turns, but with each year that passes the highs and lows seem to make a more powerful impact on my heart and soul. I also know I’ve managed the ups and downs of another year thanks to my faith; an amazing network of people I am blessed to call friends and family and that daily surge of endorphins I get through exercise. It’s amazing how a good sweat helps bring me back to center even when I feel like life is more than I can handle. Then there are the weekly installments here at LauraLovesFitness. In this chaotic world, I find some sense of clarity when I can get my thoughts out “on paper.” It’s cathartic to share my successes and failures on the never-ending quest for well-being.

Here are some of my favorite posts since July 2016:

Avon39 Boston

Strong IS Sexy!

Pardon the Interruption…

Kicking off 43 with a Bang…& a Kick! 

Hitting the Pause Button

I close this blog birthday post like all the ones before: I offer a heartfelt thank you to all my readers who inspire me to keep writing and keep moving! Whether you’ve been following my blog since day one or just last week; if you’ve taken the time to share, like, or comment on any of posts on my other social media channels –  each act of support goes a long way! If there’s anything you want to read more or less about here, I’m always looking for suggestions on ways to take LauraLovesFitness through another year.

Here’s to what comes next not only for my blog, but for the adventures that await on our continuing journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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Tips & Tools to Have Fun, Be Fit & Feel Fab This Summer

Wow! Can you believe this is the first Motivation Monday of July? I hope you’re enjoying the start of summer and having some good times with family and friends as we get ready to celebrate the 241st birthday of our great United States of America.

Since I want to let you get back to your holiday fun as quickly as possible, you only need about four minutes to check out the video below where I offer a few tips and tools to help you feel and look your best all summer long. Thanks to Vanity Fair, Fiji Water and Sebastian Professional for giving me the opportunity to represent their products and to the crew at Vidicom in New York City for another smooth production.

Before you dive in to the video, let me wish everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July. Don’t forget the sunscreen and to designate a driver if you’re driving to and from your holiday fun. Here’s to barbecues, burgers, fireworks and all the things that help us have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Avon39 Boston

An Emotional Finish

While this isn’t the first time I’m writing a Motivation Monday post about the Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer, it is the first time I’m writing about it from a train.

A Toast to the End of Day One! (Thank You, Eileen!)

On this Sunday night, I’m making my way back to New York City from Boston just hours after completing my fourth Avon39 Walk to End Breast Cancer. It was the first time my friend Sue and I ventured outside our home state for the 39.3-mile journey. As I sit here next to James, my boyfriend and best cheerleader, with lactic acid attacking my muscles, I feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

The mission behind the weekend-long journey remained the same: raising money for the fight against breast cancer in the hopes that one day, it will be just one more disease future generations only read about in history books. However, I never imagined how walking the Walk in a different city would open the door to so many amazing moments.

One of Many Welcoming Neighborhood Gestures

The main reason behind those moments were the people of Boston. As a die-hard Yankees fan, many of my previous encounters with Bostonians have happened thanks to some contentious baseball games and interesting post-seasons. So, it was truly heartwarming to hear the cheers and honking horns of these same people encouraging warriors from 36 states as we walked through the rainy city streets on Saturday morning.

Later that day when the sun came out, and again today when the humidity finally disappeared, the route took us through several lovely surrounding towns including Roxbury, Readville, Canton and Milton. That’s where cheers and high-fives could be found on many street corners and where homeowners offered everything from cold water and candy to a spritz from a garden hose or front- lawn sprinkler. Families set up tables with goodies outside their front doors, and kids of all ages made signs covered with words of encouragement.

This 8-Year Survivor Danced with Walkers At Many Stops

That support – along with help from the Avon39 crew who offered everything from safe passage at busy intersections to peanut butter snacks, blister triage and all the ice cubes you could want – made conquering each mile more manageable. Of course, getting hugs along the route from James, along with my cousin Claire and gal pals Eileen and Connie made the journey even more memorable.

Then there was the finish on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Carson Beach. While I’ve shed several tears crossing the finish line before, this was the most emotional finale yet. I felt a surge of happiness knowing this marks my mom’s ninth year as a survivor, but I was also overwhelmed by sadness thinking of our friend Liz who lost her brave battle with breast cancer last November. The last time we saw Liz was along the route of the New York City Walk less than one month earlier. I cried because I miss her, but also because I knew she was with Sue and me every step of every mile in Boston, just like she’d always been since our first Walk in 2014. Liz’s warrior spirit will continue to motivate me on all my future Avon39 Walks – and all the journeys in this roller coaster called life.

So I close with a thank you to all the warriors out there who inspire me everyday. Those we’ve lost their battle; those who beat it and those who continue to fight the biggest fight of their lives. I also want to thank all the friends and family who joined in the battle against breast cancer. Your generous donations made my first Avon39 Walk in Boston possible and were part of the total 2.9-million dollars raised by all those involved in this event. That money will help fund cancer research; treatment and preventive screenings and help patients cover the costs of everyday needs including childcare during chemotherapy; rides to medical appointments and meals for patients and their families. It’s amazing what we can accomplish together on the never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Strong IS Sexy!

On a Mission to Be Like “Wonder Woman” Circa 1978

This Motivation Monday post is brought to you by my favorite fierce fitness chick of all time – Wonder Woman.

I was one of those little girls who simply worshipped the super hero during my childhood. Back then, I was fascinated by her tiara, her protective bracelets, that truth-inducing lasso and of course, her overall ability to kick butt in such a cool outfit. Just this past week, I joined the millions of moviegoers who’ve watched in awe as the strong and beautiful Gal Gadot brought her version of Wonder Woman to life. Now that I’m older (and allegedly wiser), I have a whole new set of reasons for idolizing this super hero even more today.

Sure, her armor and accessories are still amazing. However, what made a bigger impact on this 43-year-old fan is Wonder Woman’s display of physical and mental strength. Seriously, how cool is it that she grew up on an island where women kicked butt on a daily basis during their warrior training workouts? Each and every one of those women looked healthy and strong – not one stick figure in sight. I’m not saying you need to know how to wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow to be fierce. (Of course, I wouldn’t object to learning some of those moves in kickboxing class!) These characters offered the reminder of just how important it is to have confidence in your abilities, build on your strengths and push them to the limit when you can.

In addition to enjoying every minute of watching Wonder Woman take on the bad guys, it was also nice to escape all the negativity in our current world. (Truth be told, looking at Chris Pine on the big screen was a pretty nice escape, too!) I realize this story was based on all the fantasy that goes into creating a comic book, but it was nice to hear the message that love and justice are what matter most and what should be the two driving factors behind our decisions. I realize it’s fantasy land, but it was nice to witness life in that world even for just a couple of hours.

Finally, I was thrilled to see the theater full of both men and women, and of course, I love hearing stories from today’s girls about how much they love Wonder Woman. There’s nothing like a super hero to remind us of the power of being fearless and never giving up on your quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Don’t Let Allergies Break Your Stride!

After a long, rainy spring here in New York and many parts of the country, I know plenty of people have been seizing every opportunity to get outside and get moving. Of course, for serious allergy sufferers like me, that also means sharing the space with pollen. Since pollen counts remain high to medium in the days ahead, I thought this Motivation Monday was the perfect time to offer some reminders on how to survive the season ahead.

  • 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 recommend using eye drops before you head outdoors. Also, I’m a true believer in Bausch + Lomb’s Alaway eye drops.  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 for 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 and prescription 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 wakeup and then workout outside, ask your doctor if taking your medication at bedtime can help.
  • Clean up: 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.

As with most situations, the best advice I can probably offer is this: listen to your body. If you’re trying to do your body good by exercising outdoors but all you’re feeling is misery, be smart. Stop. Head inside, shower and re-group. Maybe that’s the day you turn to an air-conditioned group exercise class or pop in a workout DVD at home to help you have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Pulling Out All the Stops

Thanks for all the support along my training walks!

We made it to the first Motivation Monday of June! It’s hard to believe we’re quickly marching toward the halfway mark of 2017. What’s even harder for my brain to comprehend is at this time in three weeks, I’ll be recovering from the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in Boston.

As the days leading up to the weekend-long, 39.3-mile journey wind down, I’m pulling out all the stops and asking more of my wonderful readers to join the fight against this devastating disease. Every two minutes, someone in America is diagnosed with breast cancer. As most of you know, my mom was one of them. So was my dear high school friend, Liz. My mom beat the disease, but sadly, Liz did not. We lost Liz less than one month after the New York City Walk last October. A true warrior to the end, Liz’s spirit will no doubt guide me and my friend Sue as we take to the Boston streets for our fourth Avon 39 experience together.

While the ultimate goal of Avon 39 is to wipe breast cancer from the face of the earth, funds raised will immediately assist the local and national organizations that help women and men – regardless of their ability to pay- get the care they need. These programs provide everything from food and financial help to transportation and childcare assistance for patients going to treatment sessions.

I’m beyond grateful to the family and friends who’ve donated so far. Thanks to your generous spirit, I’m on the verge of breaking the $5,000 mark. For anyone who’s put off donating until later, well, later is now. It takes just a few dollars and a few minutes to make a difference. All you have to do is click here and you’ll be taken to my fundraising page. If you happen to live in the Boston area, I also hope you’ll consider supporting Sue, me and all the other pink warriors from the sidelines. A few cheers and high-fives can really make a difference!

Thank you again for all the support here and on my social media channels. It’s another reminder about the power of teamwork when it comes to our efforts to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

 

Happy Memorial Day 2017!

This may be my favorite Motivation Monday of the whole year.  Not only do we pause to remember those who gave their all so the rest of us could enjoy our freedom, we also get to celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

I hope the long weekend leading up to this important holiday has already been filled with sun, fun, good barbecue and even better times with family and friends. Since I want you to get back into the fun as quickly as possible, I offer this short “wish list” for you on Memorial Day 2017:

1) Take a moment to stop and remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could live in this wonderful land we call home.

2) Fit some fitness into your holiday fun. Maybe there’s a group exercise class you can take before heading to today’s BBQ, or 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.

3) If you’re enjoying time outside, don’t forget to apply and re-apply the sunscreen!

4) Whether you’re celebrating the holiday indoors or out, stay hydrated. If you plan to drink alcohol, make sure to designate a driver to ensure everyone gets home safely.

I close by wishing all my readers a very safe and Happy Memorial Day. Here’s to the summer ahead and all the chances we’ll have to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Make the Moment Yours

I guess you could call this Motivation Monday post a present. Well, it’s actually about the importance of being present where you are at any given moment. I’m talking about focusing on what’s happening right now. Not what happened fifteen minutes ago or what will happen fifteen minutes from now. This. Very. Moment.

This hit me last week thanks to a reminder from Chad Levy, a Physique57 instructor who inspires me with his energy and positivity in each and every class. I signed up for one of Chad’s classes after returning from a particularly grueling business trip. In full disclosure, I was a total stress case walking into the studio just a few minutes before it started. As if sensing my negative energy, as we started our warm up, Chad encouraged all of us to be present in the moment. He then peppered us with subtle reminders throughout the 57-minute workout.

Just a few words forced me to focus on my form and leave the “junk” from the past few days or behind. Those words also helped me think only about the thigh, glute, total body or ab exercise I was pushing through and forget about what was waiting for me in the outside world at the end of class. With that laser focus in place, I ended the hour feeling stronger but lighter at the same time, thanks to having some dead weight shaken from my weary mind.

I realize there are days when it’s impossible to have a full hour to exercise. Even if you only have ten minutes, as long as you truly focus on the task at hand – a few laps around the block; a few trips up and down the stairwell at the office; a Tabata derby in the den – being present can only increase the power of those precious minutes can have on your body, mind and soul. On a rest day, be sure to stay present in the calm moments while they last to help you deal with the not-so-calm moments that are sure to pop up later.

Remember, whether you’re sweating through a high-intensity workout or enjoying a leisurely walk with a friend, never underestimate the power a focused mind when it comes to continuing on the journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

The Last One Standing

Stay true to you…the rest will follow!

This Motivation Monday post follows the same theme as that old tale about the tortoise and the hare.

I was recently reminded how rewarding it can be to be like the tortoise. In one of recent kickboxing classes, I was the last one to finish the “pyramid” during a rather intense 12-minute warm-up. Rather than feeling defeated, I felt energized knowing I maintained the integrity of my workout. I didn’t cheat by skipping a rep while sweat poured down my face and my heart raced. As we all headed to the heavy bags, I felt extremely focused and ready to tackle the high-intensity  drills and combinations.

What is the pyramid? It’s a non-stop switch-off between squats and squat thrusts. You start out doing 10 squats, then one squat thrust. Next, you move down to nine squats, and bump up the squat thrusts to two. Then you bang out eight squats followed by 3 squat thrusts, and you keep the inverse actions going until you finish at one squat and 10 squat thrusts. Out of the eight warriors starting our day with a bang, I was the last one to finish the pyramid. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t care.

This is just another example that sometimes you just have to block out the noise of comparing yourself to others to focus on your own goal. Many of my classmates, mostly women, are at least 20 years my junior. I look to these fierce fitness chicks for motivation, and there’s definitely something to be said about friendly competition, but I stop myself short of wanting to be exactly like any of them. I’d rather push my body to its own limit, knowing I maintained proper form and did the best I could do. There’s no use pushing yourself so hard you end up hurt and out of the game for who knows how long.

The bottom line is whatever you choose for your exercise routine, staying true to yourself is the best way to stay on course with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

Pardon the Interruption….

If you’ve been stopping by here for awhile, you know I sometimes stray from my usual themes. This happens to be one of those  Motivation Mondays. 

Over the weekend, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the biggest challenges I’ve struggled with since turning the “Big 4-0” a few years ago: saying goodbye.

There are the goodbyes we say to our loved ones. Some will suffer from drawn-out illnesses of the body or the mind that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Others are taken too young and too tragically to ever fully comprehend or find any semblance of “closure.” Then there are the goodbyes we say to certain places that meant so much for so long. For me, that goodbye became a reality at the end of last week. That’s when a demolition team reduced the place my parents and I called home for 37 years to rubble in a matter of hours. Even though we knew the tear-down was coming, I was overwhelmed by the sense of finality once it happened. 

It’s amazing how the heart and mind can find so much comfort in stone, brick and siding. Of course, it’s not the materials that make a house special. It’s the memories created within those sturdy walls with help from countless friends and family members who walked through the doors throughout the decades. Those special times are what made the house a beautiful home. Here are just a few of those beautiful moments for which I will be forever grateful:

  • More than 30 Christmases  
  • Learning how to swing a bat and throw a baseball thanks to the guidance of my Dad and my beloved Nonno on the front lawn while Nonna sat with a watchful eye under a shady tree.
  • Learning how to make passatini and other cooking adventures with Mom.
  • Giggling with Grandma Julia while we were supposedly napping during her visits from Florida for the holidays.
  • Getting rid of the training wheels and learning how to ride my bicycle in the driveway, with help from my “big brother” Robbie.
  • Running through the sprinklers to stay cool on summer days with my childhood gal pals, who are now my lifelong friends.
  • BBQs in the backyard and bocce matches on the front lawn.

As the list of memories grew in my mind, I realized that’s where they’ll live forever. (We also happen to have fun reminders of so many happy occasions thanks to the dozens of old photo albums that now live in my parents’ new home!) This is why I’m able to type the last words of this post with a smile on my face. Because saying goodbye doesn’t erase the past. It just helps accentuate when a new chapter can begin. And new chapters are the perfect time to re-commit the heart and soul to make the most of each and every day on this never-ending journey to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

*Please note, I intentionally left a photo out of this week’s post to emphasize the fact that sometimes the best place to find an image that can help the heart feel better is in the mind. 

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